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I Wasn't Ready to be a Grandma!

by Joan Giesbrecht

“Mom, embrace it!”

My initial response to Amber’s words were, “Yeah, right, that’s easy for you to say.” But within seconds I thought, “She’s right. I really don’t have any other choice.” But with that “embrace” has come anguish as we’ve grieved but also much joy as we’ve seen God’s blessing in both the journey and the arrival of this precious little boy. While this event may have surprised all of us, it didn’t surprise God. Before the foundation of the earth He knew all about this journey. I want to share some of it with you.

A multitude of feelings

For us, it began on January 12th with a phone call and a voicemail message. From these pieces we learned from Amber that she was pregnant. Amber had just turned 18 and was still living at home with us. As I left her room, tears engulfed me as I struggled with a multitude of feelings.

I can’t describe the overwhelming sadness that overcame me, followed quickly by guilt, feelings of failure, fear, shame, hurt and “if only's”. Hadn’t I prayed since she was a little girl that she would marry a godly man? Hadn’t I told her since she was a preschooler that “first comes love, then comes marriage, then the baby carriage”? What about my ministry? How could I keep teaching Sunday school and directing Mommy & Me? Wasn’t I supposed to be an example to all these young moms?

Our hopes and plans were dashed

When Amber was a little girl, I could kiss it and make it all better. Now, to my despair, I couldn’t make it all better. I couldn’t make it go away. I had all these thoughts---perhaps the test was wrong, maybe she’ll miscarry. Wishful thoughts filled my head. But when a blood test came back positive and the hours became days and the days became weeks it was evident that we were on a journey with a destination.

The previous September, Amber had turned her life around. The once delinquent student became serious about graduating. The girl who loved to party and sleep in late worked hard to land herself a job at McDonald’s, and keep it. She left her old friends behind. She started coming to church with the family again. Our hope had been renewed! But now this. . . what went wrong? Could we have done something differently? I had so many questions.

Grieving the losses

A few months into the pregnancy my husband and I attended Oasis, a ‘respite’ retreat designed for pastors and Christian workers. While there I began to understand that what I was going through was a grieving process; I was grieving not only for the losses that Amber was facing, but also my own.

*       I grieved the loss of seeing my daughter fall in love, get married and eagerly wait to have a baby. Those are the special dreams every mother has from the moment her daughter is born.

*       I grieved the loss of joy in responding to the words “Mom, I’m pregnant.” Instead my heart was filled with intense sadness, guilt, anger, disbelief, hurt and confusion.

*       I grieved the loss of the thrill of telling family and friends about becoming a grandparent. Instead I felt like the news always had to be presented with some kind of bracket around it.

*       I grieved the loss of excitement about planning for a baby’s arrival as Amber flip-flopped from wanting to keep the baby to giving it up for adoption. While I expected her emotions to go up and down, I hadn’t anticipated my own emotions to follow as I became quite attached to this new life.

*       I grieved the agony of watching Amber experience her own losses. I’ll never forget the day she broke down sobbing in Bryan's as we looked at all the beautiful grad dresses she knew she would never be able to wear. Meanwhile her twin sister, Natasha, was picking out ‘glass slippers’ to go with her ‘Cinderella’ dress.

Being able to put words to these losses and having them validated helped me immensely in dealing with my grief.

Seeing the silver lining

In the early days of Amber’s pregnancy we had to work hard to see the silver lining in the proverbial cloud but as the months have gone by we’ve been continually awed at God’s goodness to us. When Amber said that she wanted to go to her high school grad celebrations with her sister Natasha, I inwardly groaned. They don’t make grad dresses for pregnant teenagers. What would she wear? Wouldn’t she feel even more singled out without a fancy dress? 

But God took care of us in an amazing way. One of the Mommy & Me  “grandmothers” approached me and without knowing about our need said, “All week, I’ve been feeling that I should offer to sew you something. I’m a professional seamstress.” She sewed a gorgeous dress for Amber. When Amber put on her grad dress she said “I feel like a princess.”

As I was picking out baby pictures for Amber and Natasha’s grad celebration, tears came to my eyes. I realized that my dream of seeing them graduate together was coming true. When I first heard the news of Amber’s pregnancy, I didn’t see how it could ever happen.

What a blessing to be part of Amber’s journey from day one. We have been able to share in every doctor’s appointment, every ultrasound (what a thrill to watch her little baby kick and wiggle!) and finally to be there to support her as Hayden entered the world. My husband Lorne is thrilled to finally have another man in the house!

Amber has had an amazing support network from the community and church. Lois, a dear friend of mine, even volunteered to be her doula. She spent hours with Amber before and during labor, during the delivery, and after the baby arrived. Today, Amber is part of Stepping Stones, a Youth for Christ ministry to teen moms.

God's faithfulness to heal and redeem

Now those early feelings of overwhelming sadness, guilt and fear feel like a bad dream as we hold our precious little Hayden or watch his mother tenderly care for him. The journey that began in January is far from overIt’s not an easy road that Amber has chosen for herself and this little one but God’s faithfulness encourages us all as we look to the future.

What about you? Do you struggle with grief and find it impossible to see the silver lining in your journey? There are some things in life that we feel can never be mended again. But there is hope in Christ. Jesus can bring healing to anything; with Him all things are possible. The Bible tells the story of God reaching down to us, loving us before we even knew Him, redeeming us from our circumstances, from our own choices and from the things we didn't choose. God does love you very, very much and you can know the peace that comes from Him today. He gave His Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for our sins so that we could be made new again. This newness of life comes through His sacrifice for our sins, a relationship with Him as our Lord and Savior, and an indwelling of His Holy Spirit in us.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God has given you His Holy Spirit to help you live life according to His perfect plan. Living the Spirit-filled life is a choice we have to make habitually. Why not pray this simple prayer and by faith invite Him to fill you with His Spirit, empowering you to face the challenges and struggles of everyday life:

Dear Father, I need you. I acknowledge that I have sinned against you by directing my own life. I thank you that You have forgiven my sins through Christ's death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus. As an expression of my faith, I thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Joan Giesbrecht was born and raised on a farm in Southern Ontario. She graduated from the University of Manitoba, with a Bachelor of Home Economics in Dietetics. She lives with her husband, four daughters and grandson in British Columbia, Canada and has been on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ since 1977. She has directed a drop-in program for mothers and preschoolers called Time Out for Mommy & Me since 1988. Read her story: Up to the Challenge.


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