A blog about prayer, poverty and the unexpected joys of the Christian life

August 31, 2010 | 13 comments

Today I’m guest posting over at my friend Abigail’s blog, writing about her birth story and the lessons about fear and anxiety that we can all take away from it. You can read it here.

While I’m at it, I figured I might as well introduce you to her blog, since it’s one of my favorites. Abby has a great story: she was a liberal feminist lawyer from Smith College who has since become a devout Catholic housewife and Third Order Carmelite. If you’re looking for some meaty essays to linger over with a warm cup of coffee, you’ve come to the right place.

Some of her most powerful posts are about embracing life in our culture of death — especially that she did not always see things the way she does now. Her “How I became pro-life” piece was what originally inspired me to write mine, and I was fascinated by her recent post about how she receives more scorn as a housewife than she did when she was a deacon at notoriously secular Smith. One of her best posts (which is among the best blog posts I’ve ever read) was about how she and her husband dealt with the news that any children they have are at significant risk for Cystic Fibrosis:

Then came the devastating news from the genetic counselor [responding to their concern that genetic CF could impact their children’s children]. “No, your baby has the 1/4 chance of having a fatal disease, not your grandchildren.” Then to ease the burden on my stricken face, “Don’t worry. This is the only baby who will have that risk. For all the other babies, we’ll do an amino, if the fetus is CF positive, we’ll take care of it. Sorry that we didn’t catch this one until it was too late.” […]

I cried into fist after fist of tissues. I argued my way out of a same-day amino by saying “I don’t want to worry about miscarriage on Christmas. Let me go home, now.” I felt scared. I felt alone. There was all this intense medical pressure to do a test which would only tell us a basic hands up or hands down CF result a mere two weeks before my due date. [MORE]

She’s also written powerful posts on pregnancy loss that delve into the complexities of grief. She writes of losing her baby to a late miscarriage:

Each morning I would wake up and the first thought was “I’m not pregnant anymore.” My first thought, before I even registered that it was morning or that we had moved into a new apartment or even that my husband was sleeping next to me. My first thing each morning was this loud shouting sentance “I am not pregnant!” I would just realize that my stomach was fine and my muscles weren’t sore and the whole host of physical sensations that are so annoying when you are pregnant were missing. Feeling back to normal was my punch in the gut. My grieving thing would start all over again. [MORE]

But her posts aren’t all about sad stuff! I was very inspired by her tips on taking young children to daily Mass. I love all her stories about embracing poverty, like the humorous and poignant one about life on the bus after they couldn’t afford a car anymore:

Last Sunday, my husband shouted to me “I can’t believe we both have Graduate Degrees!” as we waited at a bus stop for an extremely late City bus. […]

I looked at Jon in confusion. I didn’t immediately understand the meaning of my husband’s statement. After all, it was our gigantic $200, 000 joint student loan debt which necessitated us taking the City Bus to Mass in the first place. [Then] I suddenly “got” the irony of our current situation. In grad school, we’d spent hours hunched over lap tops in dimly lit libraries. We mastered courses in vague Latin terms and 18th Century Japanese Landscape Painting. We wrote term papers. We passed finals. We aced hours of job interviews. If not tons of wealth and worldly honor, there was supposed to be some sort of comfortable middle class existence that came as a reward to all of that hard work.

Never once, in all those years of study, did we consider that our future children would wander snow banks in their church clothes as we waited for a late City bus. In America, people with graduate degrees are not supposed to live lives without a car. [MORE]

In another post she wrote about the economic downturn, and offered people who may be experiencing first-time financial hardship some words of encouragement:

I’ve been hanging out in the desert of financial uncertainty for a while. Let me show you around.

It’s harsh here, but beautiful. Here’s a place to test an inner strength you never knew you had. The friends who see you in your humility, the ones who lend you diapers when your babies run out, or who whip up baked lasagna when their own husbands are unemployed, or who join their hearts in prayer when you just can’t take the collection calls anymore, those are the dear, dear friends. You can’t make a single friend like that on a singles cruise in the Aegean Sea.

It is harsh here in the desert. Yet it is still. It is the perfect place to hear the soft, tender words of God. [MORE]

Even before I knew her personally, Abigail’s blog was a source of constant inspiration for me. I hope you enjoy it as well.


  1. Kristen Laurence

    Thank you for introducing me to Abigail’s blog. All I can say is…wow. Beautiful.

  2. Emily D.

    Jen, just WOW.
    I have CF. Well, I did. I had a double lung transplant 5+ years ago (I’min year six post op now). I have loved every. single. second of my life. I have never wished my parents hadn’t had me. I can’t believe that the CF abortion rates are that high. Sure, CF is not FUN, but LIFE is! I’m currently discerning w/ the Dominicans in Summit, NJ, and, as the novice mistress says, “God has something planned for you.” HE has something planned for ALL of us…CF or not, or whatever is “wrong” with us.
    Stats like that make me REALLY glad my parents had me. I was born in 1982–abortion was legal in the U.S. Shiver.

  3. Mary B.

    Thanks you for this link and sharing Abby’s story. I’m not a Catholic (Orthodox Anglican) but strongly pro-life, which was cemented for me when I had a similar experience when 5 months pregnant with my younger son. Tests indicated that he might have Down Syndrome. As soon as the neonatologist walked into the room, before even discussing what my ultrasound results were or what diagnostic options might be on the table, she stated baldly, “Well if you want an abortion, you’ll have to go to MD, because you are 21 weeks along and 20 weeks is the limit for abortion in Virginia.” I was so shocked that about all I could do was stammer out something barely coherent about abortion not being an option for me, period. She then refused to do an amnio since I wouldn’t have the abortion if it came back positive and it might have been risky to the pregnancy. Maybe the right thing in the end, but that should have been my decision, as I would have liked to be able to prepare myself before my son was born. Long story short, by God’s grace, my son turned out to be healthy aside from some structural defects in his urinary system, surgically corrected in infancy, and will be starting Kindergarten on Tuesday. But the casual way the doctor simply assumed that I would want an abortion if my child was “imperfect” still chills me to the bone and breaks my heart. I’m not sure why I feel called to share this story, I am by nature a lurker, maybe it’s just that I am comfort to know that I’m not alone in having been through a similar experience.

    I am about to enter a new career as a mid-level medical provider (PA) and I do wonder sometimes about if I am going to lose my job someday for refusing to refer a patient for an abortion, especially as the government seems to be moving in the direction of ruling on matters of conscience as a matter of law, in place respecting the faith of providers. Worse I fear that I’ll be tempted to compromise my principles to protect myself.

  4. sarah valente

    Amazing…and so beautifully written. It shames me a little bit for just sitting down in exhaustion at the end of the day and “throwing something down” on my blog.

    Maybe I’ll take some time to really write tonight….and to read.

  5. Iona C.

    Thanks for sharing this gem 🙂

  6. J. Smythe

    Daaaang! Abigail is one intense person living one intense life! Inspiring.

  7. Cathy

    Well done…excellent post! Thank you!

  8. Nancy Piccione

    I love Abigail’s blog, and don’t forget her (very occasional) movie reviews are terrific!

  9. Claire

    Thank you for the link to Abby’s blog. I now have another blog to read and enjoy. God Bless.

  10. Hallie Lord

    Thank you for reminding me about all these excellent Abby-posts! I’d forgotten some of my favorites! 🙂

  11. Nina

    I’ve had 12, maybe more, pregnancies. I have miscarried at least 3. I have given birth to 9 children. 2 of them have Cystic Fibrosis. I was moved, to say the least, to read this woman’s experiences and posts. Thank you for introducing me to her, and to her site. God bless. Nina

  12. Mae

    Really nice blog! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. This is very inspiring and really encouraging to face life more positively despite all the hardships and challenges that it may bring. There are times when I am thinking that I am having much more than what I can bear and just wanting to give up. Well, this one will definitely give me more reason to keep moving on. 🙂

  13. dedektif

    Woah this weblog is great i really like reading your posts. Keep up the great work! You understand, lots of individuals are searching round for this information, you could aid them greatly.


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