"Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark."  This quote by George Iles could well have been the catalyst for my first novel, Emily's Hope, which is based, in part, on my own spiritual trials in the journey towards motherhood.

Our first pregnancy 24 years ago resulted in the conception of twins. A first-time mother, I never expected anything but a child (or two) in my arms.  Sadly, we lost those babies early on.  Two healthy pregnancies, resulting in the births of our oldest two sons, were soon followed by two very difficult miscarriages. After that, I was hesitant to become pregnant again because I wanted to avoid the emotional and physical roller coaster of another loss.  I became filled with despair, then fear, both of which can rob a soul of hope and trust.

This reaction is not unusual.  Three years ago, an acquaintance of mine tragically lost her first baby at birth.  Within days, she asked her doctor to perform a tubal ligation because she "didn’t want to go through that kind of loss again." I didn’t agree with her decision to become sterilized, but I understood her reaction, which was devoid of hope and designed to shield her from future heartache.   I have experienced those same feelings, although I did not resort to such extreme measures.

Despite our previous pregnancy losses, my husband and I felt that God was calling us to be open to more children.  It was only in prayer that I was able to muster up any hope.  Eventually, hope became dependent upon trust that God knew what He was doing.

We were later blessed with three healthy pregnancies and we joyfully welcomed our three youngest sons to our family.

We have, however, also had to endure three more pregnancy losses. During one particularly heartbreaking miscarriage, I cried out to my spiritual director and shared with him that I was torn between saying, "God, Your will be done," and "Please, God, don’t make me go through this again."  My spiritual director’s hope-filled response was, "Perhaps God is asking you to sacrifice the joy of holding this child in your arms so that He may quickly hold your child for all eternity in heaven."  His comment helped me to realize how important it is to accept God’s will, whether it’s a healthy full-term infant or a cherished unborn baby He gives us for a short time.  It means trusting that whatever God plans, He does so out of love for us and for the good of our souls.

Today, I am the proud mother of five sons ages 11 to 23.   I am also the mother of seven precious souls in heaven, children I did not get to hold in my arms, but will continue to hold in my heart.

Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach