My pregnancy and my unborn child

I actually had five pregnancies, two of which sadly ended in miscarriages, but I am now blessed with three fine adult children and six grandchildren.

I have been thinking about my pregnancies quite a lot recently, and especially about my first, back in late 1966.  We didn’t have scans in those days, so we could not have a preview of the tiny person inside me. Until I felt the ‘quickening’, I had little evidence that an unborn child was growing inside me, other than the ‘clues’ most women get in early pregnancy, which included what is popularly described as ‘morning sickness’, except that I got ‘evening sickness’ instead! Yet without having much evidence of ‘the baby’, we still talked non-stop about ‘the baby’ and looked forward eagerly to the arrival of this newcomer into our family.

In those days, the most important news when a new baby was born was ‘It’s a girl!’, or ‘It’s a boy!’ Details of the baby’s weight, exact time of birth, and name followed later. During my pregnancy, many people speculated about whether I was expecting a girl or a boy and some had all sorts of theories about how to spot the difference. One person insisted that I was expecting a boy because I was ‘carrying towards the back’. In fact, our first child was a little girl.

My first thought when I saw her was that she seemed to be in technicolour – a rosy face, blue eyes, black hair– and that she was more beautiful than I had ever imagined during the months when she was nestling in the hidden mysteries of my womb. She was born at home and both my husband and my mother were present and they saw her a few seconds before I did. The birth of a baby is traditionally described as ‘a happy event’ and we were certainly very happy indeed.

When I first held our little one in my arms, I thought, ‘I will  love you til death us do part.’ I know that some parents tragically outlive their children, but most children outlive their parents, and I became keenly aware of my own mortality. I became more conscious of a need to take good care of myself, not just for my own sake, but because I wanted to be in good health so that I could be a fit mother for our little daughter, for as long as she needed me. I was especially conscious of mortality at that time because my maternal grandfather died just eight weeks before our daughter was born – sadly, he did not live to see his first great-grandchild.

We were extra thankful for our bonny little girl, because I had a threatened miscarriage when I was three months pregnant. My doctor advised me to have plenty of bed-rest and eventually all was well again. Sadly, my second pregnancy and also my third ended in miscarriages and after that I was advised that it was unlikely that I would have another full-term pregnancy. But I had a prayerful Christian grandmother who wrote to me telling me that she knew how much we longed for another child and she prayed every day that God would grant us our wish. As I mentioned earlier, we were blessed with two more children – a son, and another daughter.

During the years when I had two miscarriages, many of my friends were giving birth to their second and third children. I had a keen mixture of feelings – delight in their healthy babies, and sorrow about my own loss. I had another keen mixture of feelings when I was in hospital after having my second miscarriage. The teenage girl in the bed next to me was in hospital for a cauterization after a botched abortion. I appreciated her predicament and the desperation that prompted her to abort her unborn child. Yet I was very conscious of the fact that she had destroyed a tiny human being. I saw the baby I had lost – clear facial features, folded arms, bent knees. I was not a Christian then, but I had a definite awareness that this tiny human being had been created by a power far greater than I was, far greater than any of us are. I grieved that this little one would never grow into a vibrant child such as our young daughter, and I felt so thankful for our daughter when she came to visit me in hospital.

I know there are times when abortion is, sadly, the most realistic option for a mother or her unborn child, or for both. But on the whole, abortion is anathema to me, especially when it seems to be performed as a convenience for women who insist that they can do what they want with their own bodies, and who apparently have no respect for the little ones who were created inside them, little ones who have no say in what becomes of them.

I think of these words from the much loved Psalm 139 :

‘For it was you who formed my inward parts;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

that I know very well.’





















Not knowing…

I am thinking specifically of a scan I had yesterday and the anguish of ‘not knowing’ while  awaiting the result (but my ‘not knowing’ applies to other things, too).

Not knowing really cuts me down to size and reminds me, rather painfully, of my limitations! But that does me good because I pray more and  ask others to pray for me and this draws me closer to God.

I had my scan late yesterday morning and fasted after midnight on Saturday, so after the nine o’clock service yesterday, when a friend offered to get me a coffee, I said that I would just have warm water…and told him about my scan. I said I would feel better when I knew the result, one way or the other. He said. ‘It’s not knowing that’s difficult, isn’t it?’. It is.

I have prayed that God would give me the patience to live through this  time of not-knowing – I can be a very impatient patient at times and there is a part of me that wants to know now.

I was referred by my GP because an abnormality showed up in a repeat blood test. I had no symptoms and my GP said he was ‘not unduly worried’… and yet…

Interestingly I have found that my main prayer is a prayer for patience during the time of not-knowing. Much though I want a good result and not a bad one I have not actually prayed for a good result. I am a bit puzzled by this but I wonder if it because beneath the level of ‘not knowing’ why I had an abnormal blood test result, there is a much deeper ‘knowing’ – the ‘knowing’ that we are in God’s hands in all circumstances and that Jesus said, ‘I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’

I wonder what’s gone wrong?

When the train came in and my friend was not on it, I naturally wondered what had gone wrong. I thought she might have missed the train and, as she does not use a mobile phone much, she would probably have done her best to ring me on my landline. I hoped that all was well with my friend This little local train only runs once an hour, so I had time to go home  and check for messages on my landline.

There were no messages on my landline and I started to wonder if my friend was all right. I was about to ring her when it occurred to me that I might have got the date wrong. I had. We had originally planned to meet today, but then she rang me last week and asked if we could change it to Monday 1st August. I felt relieved and thought that nothing had gone wrong after all. Yet something had gone wrong. I had got the date wrong, and I was so convinced that I had got it right that I didn’t even check my diary before going to the station. The good thing is that the only person who was put out by my mistake was me!

So on Monday my friend will come over on the train and we will go to a lovely café in the park that backs onto my garden. We will have a good chat about our children, our grandchildren, our friends, and what has been happening in the world. I am really looking forward to it, and this time I will get the date right 🙂

Schwäbische Schande: Dialect shaming in German — Loving Language

Shame plays a significant role in language. Everyone uses a language, and a society can distinguish insiders and outsiders according to arbitrary linguistic criteria. For example, one can declare that the person who says, “I’m not,” to be educated and sophisticated, but the one who says, “I ain’t,” to be provincial and backwards. What if […]

via Schwäbische Schande: Dialect shaming in German — Loving Language

‘Ignorance is bliss’… maybe!

I had never even heard of TSH until last week, but after I received a phone-call from the Health Centre last Wednesday, I thought about it all evening. I didn’t just think about TSH – I also thought about my thyroid gland. I had never given much thought at all to my thyroid gland, but on Wednesday evening I thought about it a lot.

I was asked to make a non-urgent appointment with my GP because the results of a recent fasting blood test showed abnormalities in my blood. The test was mainly for my cholesterol levels – so where did my thyroid fit in?

I saw my GP this morning. My cholesterol levels are lower than ever, so that is good news. And my thyroid? The TSL levels are slightly raised, and my doctor wants to monitor it and has asked me to book in for another blood test in July. That’s it. Yet I still wonder why the level is raised, even slightly. Maybe it’s just part of getting older!

What strikes me about this is that, had it not been for this blood test result, I would probably have carried on with my  life without giving a single thought to my thyroid. I have had no worrying symptoms. Yet I am thankful that my GP is monitoring it now. A number of serious disorders have no worrying symptoms at first, and it is good to know that relevant information can be picked up via blood tests.

I just remembered an aunt of mine saying several years ago,’ We didn’t have that in our day.’ She was not referring to TSH- she was referring to PMT. What she meant, of course, was not that they didn’t ‘have’ PMT in her day, but that they had never heard of it in her day. My aunt became very impatient with ‘youngsters’  who complained about how they felt before having a period, and said that she had ‘just got on with it’!

Overall I think that ignorance, in a medical and in other contexts, is not bliss. The more we know, the better (hopefully) we will be able to deal with things, albeit with professional help on occasions. On the other hand, I think that there can be such as thing as knowing too much – it gives us more potential for fretting more about things we may not be able to change!

So I am not averse to thinking about my thyroid now. I will be interested in the next test result, but I am not worried. And it has opened up conversations – for instance, my daughter studied biomedical science at Uni, and she filled me in on what she had learnt about TSH. I discovered that two of my daughter’s friends have underactive thyroids, and that they are able to manage this with medication.

…and now I shall finish tiling the bathroom floor 🙂




Has ‘political correctness’ gone too far?

It seems that, in the name of ‘political correctness’, it’s not socially acceptable for us to say all sorts of things because some people may feel upset about what we say. I’m all in favour of tact, diplomacy and sensitivity, but I am not in favour of being tactful, diplomatic and sensitive to the point of being dishonest.

I think it is possible to speak the truth in a spirt of gentleness, but even then some people take offence at it and embark on a ‘holier than thou’ telling-off of the truth-teller,  accusing the truth-teller of being ‘holier than thou’ and insensitive in such a ‘holier than thou’ and insensitive manner that it begins to sound like the pot calling the kettle black!

I think we are all familiar with young children who embarrass us by asking, for instance, ‘Why is that lady so fat?’ (And we say ‘Shh!’) It’s not really polite to say such things about strangers in public places, and it is probably not ‘politically correct.’ On the other hand, in a different context, a lady’s fatness may be her most distinguishing physical feature, and it could be helpful, for instance in a witness statement to the police, to say that  the alleged offender was fat (or overweight, or obese….or…?) In that situation I think that maybe stating an objective fact would be appropriate, and not ‘insensitive’.

Over the years I have tied myself up in knots trying to be ‘politically correct’. I was  given a friendly ticking-off once by a colleague when I described a pupil as ‘half-caste’ – my colleague told me that the correct term was ‘of mixed race’. I was thankful that he  corrected me and I now use the term ‘of mixed race’. In using the term ‘half-caste’, I think I was being ill-informed rather than politically incorrect, and I certainly had no intention of giving offence.

Another difficulty I had when I was teaching was with children with red hair. I love red hair and I could not imagine why anyone might not love it, but some children with red hair had been teased about it so much by other pupils that they objected to any reference to their hair-colour. I taught Modern Foreign Languages, and describing physical appearance was one of the topics on the syllabus. One of my German friends had reddish-blond hair and she described her hair in German as ‘rotgoldene Haare’. I thought that this was a lovely description, and so did most of my red-headed pupils 🙂

I just have a plea to champions of ‘political correctness’ : please forgive those of us who say things which you think of as ‘politically incorrect’ – sometimes we err because we are ill-informed, sometimes we are stating an objective fact as tactfully as we can, and sometimes we are expressing our own beliefs, which, though they may be different from yours, are not a personal rejection of you!


A puzzle

My first is in love, but isn’t in hate

My second’s in give, and also in wait

My third is in silent, but isn’t in loud

My fourth is in modest, but isn’t in proud

My fifth is in kindness and also in prayer

My sixth is in gentle but isn’t in pare

My seventh’s in hearing but isn’t in speech

My eighth is in yielding but isn’t in teach

My last is in gracious and also in song

My whole is…

I have tried to think of a clue for ‘my whole’ but I haven’t thought of one yet…

My whole is ??? What do you think?