Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Other Side of Life

My sweet friend Molly has been a rock of support for me after my miscarriage.  Today I'm honored to share some of her wisdom with you.

This year has been rough.  Since April of 2013 I have been pregnant twice.  I have gone through almost two complete first trimesters even though neither of my children ever developed far enough to have a body.  I have gone through a prolonged miscarriage that ended in an urgent D&E that shook me to the core and a natural miscarriage that is my new rock to stand on.

I’m not writing today to tell you about those experiences, the events or emotions that have led me through this year.  Right now, as I impatiently wait for my HcG to finally disappear from my natural MC only a few weeks ago, I want to tell you about the flip-side.

I’m a Catholic convert, and yes part of that process has been developing and making peace with what is often called married couples “openness to life”.  I’ve learned charting and more about my bodies signs, symptoms and patterns than I ever knew existed.  My husband and I try our best to approach our family life in a way that makes sense in combination with our religious teachings.

When you talk about a Catholic being “open to life” the first image folks normally see is a large family; a never-ending stream of close in age children.  When people first start approaching Catholic teaching on the subject of their fertility and family planning that is all we see.  We come to grips, or not, with the idea that being “open to life” means that we’re going to be the clown car family of constant pregnancy and birth.  After all, all good Catholic families are large. 


In many cases, yes; I definitely have my share of friends with five or more children and in some cases the oldest isn’t even ready for first grade.  But, there’s a side that’s not as well considered in the “open to life” discussion.  We work hard to teach our new couples to budget, work hard, and live thrifty lives to support those broods that might be just around the corner and all the time we forget that for every light there is a dark.

The birth of my son almost three years ago opened my eyes to what it means to be open to life.  It radically changed my outlook on how I considered my children and the things that might get in their way of a normal life and development.  It wasn’t long after he was born that I told my husband point blank that every child I conceive will be given the best chance we can make at being held and told “I love you”, no matter how long that time lasts.  I felt like I understood what it meant to be “Open to Life”.

The deaths of my two children this year showed me otherwise.  As I sat in my bedroom recovering from my natural loss a few weeks I realized this.  Being “Open to Life” isn’t just about learning to chart, discerning good times and learning to anticipate and sacrifice for a baby boom. 

It’s a willingness to be disappointed.
It’s a willingness to wait to get excited.
It’s a willingness to say goodbye.
It’s a willingness to be scared and frustrated and mad and every emotion other than joy and happiness.
It’s a willingness to accept what you’ve been given even if it’s not what you want.

I do not know what the future holds for my family.  There’s a chance that three is our perfect number, and there’s a chance that the third time will be a charm.  I’m nervous and I’m uncertain, but I know so much more of this call to Life.  Because it is not just a call to Life; it is a call to Life, Loss and everything in between. 

The past year was the “Year of Faith” in our church and I’ve reflected, often bitterly, about the irony of it being a “Year of Faith” during the year that has really tested mine.  But, I’ve learned and I’ve grown.  My faith has been tested and my faith is stronger.  Being open to life encompasses it all – life, love, loss, joy and tears – but the other side of Life is not death. 

In the words of St. Teresa of Avila –
“To have courage for whatever comes in life – everything lies in that.”

The other side of Life is Faith, and everything lies in that.

Molly W is a Catholic wife and {working} mother to one amazing toddler and two souls in heaven.  She loves book-lists, backyards, and the BBC, but not necessarily in that order  She writes at Molly Makes Do about bringing a love of Learning, a love of Life and a love of Faith into her home.


  1. So beautiful, Molly! I really liked you you explained the term "openness to life"...never heard it explained that way before, but how right you are! Praying for you and all Mom's who suffer the loss of miscarriage.

  2. I applaud this entry on so many levels. SO many levels. <3 All my love and much appreciation for the way your faith has touched mine. Bless you.

  3. Beautiful and moving piece. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  5. This is so beautiful! It seems to me that every time hard times happen it's because you'll meet someone down the road who needs to hear that you survived it. Thanks for sharing :-)

    1. The blessing of all of this is that I've been knowledgeable and experienced when friends have needed me.

  6. Oh yes. You put it all so well, Molly. As another mother who has had a hard time having as many babies as I would like (though my experience differs from yours significantly), I know what you mean about the "other side." Being open to having lots of kids must be balanced with an equal openness to fewer children if that's what comes our way. To disappointment and loss. You put it so much better than I could.


    1. Thank you Kathleen, I know you understand all too well.

  7. Thank you for writing and sharing this. It needs to be heard.

  8. This was beautiful, and goes to the heart of what this teaching is about. Thank you for being brave enough to share this.

  9. I think this is amazing wisdom. You are so inspiring in your faith, I really believe you are showing so much of God's love through your experience. Still praying for you, dear friend!

  10. Thank you for articulating faith and love, and that disappointments and pains of all kinds come with them.

  11. Molly, thank you so much for sharing your heart. This post really touched me!

  12. Yes, to all of this. It took me a looooong time to understand that openness to life doesn't just mean a NEW life, but openness to everything our own life has to offer. Pain, sorrow, joy, happiness.... all mixed together in one messy, beautiful heap.

    Praying for you Molly, and Mandi too.


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