I remember the day I first learned my friend, Roxanne (yes, same name but with two n’s), was pregnant. It was last spring. We were sitting at the school playground keeping a collective eye on our little ones, enjoying the sun. She seemed in a contemplative mood, and soon enough the reason emerged. “By the way, we just found out we’re pregnant with our fifth,” she said, smiling. She was obviously happy, but admitted she was struggling with morning sickness. “Oh, that’s great news!” I said. “You are joining the ‘Club of Five.’ Welcome!” What are the chances of two women with the same name, near the same age, living in the same city, having the same number of children? Well, maybe not that odd…unless your name is Roxane, or Roxanne, as the case may be, and the number of children is five.
During the summer I thought often about Roxanne and her pregnancy, and then one day in the fall during our faith mothers’ group meeting, I casually asked her how things were going. “Oh, you haven’t heard yet, have you?” she asked, trying to read my face. I’d missed the previous group meeting, as well as her bittersweet announcement that they’d discovered two heartbeats, but also a condition in one of the babies called anencephaly that likely would cause premature death, either before or shortly after birth. “So, basically, we’re preparing for a birth and a funeral,” she said, her eyes revealing a mix of both happiness and sorrow.
About a month ago, I was privileged to experience my first “prayer shower,” thrown by Roxanne’s sister for family and friends to gather and pray for the two little babies preparing to come into the world in February, if not sooner. It was a meaningful event that included a Powerpoint presentation reflecting on many thoughts of motherhood, life and loss, and ended with a prayer and a gathering with refreshments (and lots of lively kids pumped full of sugar). It was such a privilege for me to be part of this event to honor the Madson babies, who have been named Julia Hope and Maria Faith.
I’ve also been on an email list of people being notified of updates to the Caringbridge website set aside to inform family and friends of Roxanne’s pregnancy progress. It includes pictures and notes on ultrasounds and other updates. Roxanne graciously has agreed to let me post that website address here (below) so that you, too, might stay informed if you wish.
Reading about the twins’ activity in the womb, especially how the ultrasound camera has captured them playing and cuddling, has brought me to tears. I’ve always believed the life of a child does not start at birth, that we begin living our lives within the interior of our mothers, but reading about these babies and their “in utero” bonding solidified my convictions. It proved to me all the more that love and life really do transcend the boundaries we are inclined to place on them. And I can’t even begin to put into adequate words what I feel about Roxanne and Brian and family and the love they have for these little girls already. It is yet another testament to how blessing and suffering so often merge, and how our responses to that makes all the difference.
If you’re inclined toward prayer, I’m sure the Madsons would love any additional petitions that might be offered up. More than anything, they need an abundance of the grace that is possible through prayer as they move into the final phase of pregnancy, with all of their accompanying excitement and anxiety.
[Note: I had the link wrong earlier. This should work now…]