• Amber Albee Swenson

How to be joyful in a pregnancy when you aren't happy to be pregnant

I know what it is to have an unexpected pregnancy. I was thirty-two years old and had three other children when I found out I was expecting another.

I was already tired, overwhelmed and burdened by motherhood. I loved my children for sure. It’s just that they had so much energy, and an insatiable thirst for exploring and running and being read to and that meant I had to explore, run and read.

And then there was the embarrassment of the question that always followed when people found out we were expecting: Was this planned?

We had been married long enough to know how things worked, and yet, somehow here we

were, red-faced without a good answer.

And then there was the pregnancy. I thought maybe if this pregnancy was God’s decision and not mine it would be easy.

It wasn’t.

An eighteen inch rainfall left our basement flooded and after working all night to mop water

down the drain and out of the house I started to feel weak, then feverish, then I developed a


It would take four months to be properly diagnosed as having walking pneumonia, and in that time I went from being an active mom to being a mom who couldn’t move off the couch and who was awake more of the night than asleep as coughing fits left me unable to lie flat in bed.

When it finally came time to give birth my baby nearly died. She was being strangled and the

cord had to be cut even before she was delivered, and then her little face was bruised and puffy, and all that bruising led to jaundice and extra days in the hospital. She failed to thrive and didn’t eat. My milk didn’t come in. And if that wasn’t enough she couldn’t see. For six weeks we waved our hands in front of her little eyes and there was no reaction, only a blank stare.

This pregnancy from God seemed more like a cruel joke than a gift. Except…

God was there every step of the way and God’s people restored my faith every time I started to lose hope.

People I didn’t even know that well showed up at my door with meals, others sent notes letting me know they were praying, still others used every opportunity to encourage me and remind me something special was happening (when I didn’t see anything special happening.)

When I lamented to a friend that I had no endurance and was weeks from delivering a baby, she sent me a necklace with a cross on one side and the word “Believe” on the other.

And when we finally admitted to our family and friends that we thought our baby couldn’t see there was weeping and praying, adamant praying, followed by eyes that were opened and a child who suddenly blinked as something came near her.

I came to understand firsthand why the body of Christ is ever hopeful about the unborn:

God doesn’t make mistakes.

There has never been, nor will there ever be a “blob of cells” that mistakingly attaches to a

womb. There is only life breathed into being by God Himself. Scripture tells us as much.

We’re told in the second chapter of Exodus that God allowed the midwives to conceive. In

Genesis 20 Abraham’s wife Sarah ended up in a harem and God closed the wombs of all the

king’s household until Sarah was safely back where she belonged. The accounts of Sarah,

Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth and Mary the mother of Jesus all show a divine plan when it came to conception.

David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, penned, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me

together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).

That little speck in your womb that wreaks havoc on your body is nothing less than the

handiwork of God.

And it is the job of the body of Christ, EVERY MEMBER OF THE BODY OF CHRIST, to

remind every woman carrying a child that she is blessed …

even if it’s unplanned,

even if circumstances aren’t ideal,

even if the mother is not in good health, and

even if the child has a defect.

My fourth child is a constant reminder of God’s goodness. We prayed for her to see and God

gave her spiritual insight. She’s got a tender heart and a fierce temper. She runs harder and

longer than any of my other children. She’s a mess maker who with a profession of love still

brings tears to my eyes.

In short, she is a gift from God, a gift I didn’t know I needed. She shows me often that God

blesses us with riches that have nothing to do with money, but that are far more valuable.

So dear reader, whoever you are: If you have a child inside of you know you have been touched by God. He is the creator and sustainer of life. He does not make mistakes.

And from my experience if there’s one thing that can make less than ideal circumstances better, it is to surround yourself with Christian friends who will remind you of the goodness of God in the moments when you can’t see it, and who will help you find your hope in God in your most hopeless days.

And if you are reading this and you are beyond having children, know that you are not beyond blessing someone else.


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