The Lesson Frances Taught

It may have been cold outside on that early January morning, but I didn’t feel it inside my tiny home, pouring sweat produced from my agonizing pain. It was a stabbing pain in my stomach, a deep sear. I sat in my full-size bed next to my husband rocking back and forth trying not to scream out so I didn’t wake our son. For an hour or so, I sat hoping the pain would subside, but it didn’t. So, I lay down hoping I could at least sleep and not feel the pain anymore. We had no medical insurance, no money, and it felt like going anywhere would send us into crisis. So, I lay down and hoped for the best.

The next day, after walking around in pain for hours, I finally went to the ER. My mom met me there because Jonathan, my husband, was working and couldn’t leave. After some tests, a nurse walked in and – in a blithe manner – announced I was pregnant, barely looking up at me. A tight ball grew in my stomach and made its way toward my throat.  We weren’t trying to become pregnant, and I didn’t know I wanted to be. I knew in my gut something was wrong, and I thought I would never meet this gift I wasn’t aware I wanted.

Over the next week, I went through more tests to verify hormone levels and repeated ultrasounds to try to locate the baby’s position. Failing many times to find it, they decided to perform exploratory surgery. He discovered the baby had formed in my fallopian tube and had burst out of the back of it.

I walked around for a week, bleeding internally with the false hope the baby might be okay. I woke up one day, and a nurse told me it was lost.


We named the baby Frances Micah.

I can remember the day, sitting in RCIA with my husband with a birth control device inside my body, when the deacon explained to the class that birth control was a mortal sin. I was mortified I was sitting there in a state of mortal sin, but also horrified at the thought of giving up what I perceived as my right to control my reproductive system.

Over the next few months, I grappled with letting go of birth control, but I did, only out of obedience, not because I really understood the teaching. It still caused me a lot of distress to think about it, but being in a state of mortal sin was not something I was willing to gamble with.

My turmoil came stopped cold the day a nurse walked into my ER room and announced I was pregnant. Frances was mine.

God had given me a baby.

I would have done anything to save Frances. Hoping a baby might be miraculously found in the right place, I had asked for surgery instead of the drugs the doctors wanted to give me that would have caused a miscarriage of any misplaced embryo.

Later, in my bedroom floor, feet away from where I felt the baby rip through me, I sat and wept.

I felt foolish and ashamed for having ever tried to block the gift of life. I wondered if my actions or the devices I had in my body before could have caused the pregnancy to implant in the wrong place. I mourned the life of my child I no longer wondered why I should be open to life. If Frances had to be taken from me, I decided it had to be for a reason. I needed to see the true value and beauty in conceiving a child. I finally let go of the emotional control I thought I needed.

Four months later, I became pregnant again.

Kelly Burgess


Kelly Burgess is a South Carolina native and a Marine Corps combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan. She holds a bachelor of science in psychology from DeSales University. She currently resides in upstate South Carolina with her husband and four children. Kelly is a stay-at-home mom, and – amid lulls in chasing children – she is also a freelance business consultant.

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