I was told you were at major risk of dying inside my womb. This was a shock to me because you were my third pregnancy. Everything had been fine up until now, my third trimester. There would be many tests and procedures to try and save you. This meant we needed to stay at the hospital. I knew I had to stay calm, so I drew for you.

You see, making art has always helped me alleviate stress. For those times I can’t find the words for my emotions, God gave me this gift, the gift of being able to express myself through art. I couldn’t paint at the hospital for obvious reasons, but when the nursing staff asked, “Is there anything we can get you?”

I asked for paper, pens, markers, or anything else I might draw on and with.

I was so overwhelmed by fear and worry I couldn’t even think of my own words to pray. This is how I get when I am about to break. Words run out of my brain–fleeing from the pain. I recited verses from the Bible so my prayers would have words. And when the gracious staff brought me what I asked for, I drew for you.

Woman standing with arm wrapped around pregnant stomach, black-and-white drawing I drew mothers pregnant like mestrong and courageous like I needed to be.

I drew mothers holding their children like I hoped to hold youcradling and smiling at their little ones.

Infant held by loving hands, black-and-white drawing

I drew healthy babies, which I was praying for you to befree from pain and complete with chubby cheeks.

Finally, I drew us together—happy, healthy, and united post-pregnancy.

Mother holding baby near face, black-and-white drawing

These drawings were my prayers. They were my visual words to God.

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Lord, give me strength. Help me not fear and fill me with courage. Heal my baby and take away his suffering. I know this baby is yours, but please let me hold him for a lifetime. Let me make him smile every day. I want to go first, and for him to live much longer than me. Then reunite us together in Heaven, forever, someday far from now. If this is not your will, Lord, then help me trust in a plan I won’t ever understand. I know you are good, but help me see your goodness. Amen.

My drawings cried out to God, begging to be your mother on earth for as long as possible. I drew for you because every part of my heart longed to have you in my arms.

Looking back, I can see that my faith and perspective have matured. But at the time, God met me right where I was. And he was faithful. 

You were born alive, but there was still so much risk and unknown. You stayed at the NICU for a bit. Then followed over a year of tests and blood draws. You were not chubby or healthy for quite some time, but you are much healthier now.

I still don’t see myself as being strong or courageous, but you’re showing me how to be. God is still working on me; it’s a process. 

Top view of infant held by mother's hands, black-and-white drawing

I do get to hold you regularly, but it has always been more like wrestling a Velociraptor than peaceful snuggles like in the drawings. That makes me laugh as I look at what I drew for you. I will say, now that you’re older, you do give the best kisses, and fly by hugs. 

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I get to make you smile, but you make me smile even more. You are an absolute blast. You make me laugh from the deepest part of my soul, every day. However, happiness is not the word I would describe post-pregnancy with you. Part of the time your health has been scary. You also have some speech difficulties that doctors are concerned will be lifelong. But you rise to every challenge, and so do I, with God by my side.

You and I find joy, not just happiness, despite our circumstances. 

These drawings are beautiful, but our journey has been more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I praise Godyou are so much more than I prayed for. I am so glad God heard me before the ink on my drawings was even dry. It has not been easy, but it has been a grand plan for us bothbigger than what I was able to comprehend when I drew for you. 

Lindsay Criswell

Lindsay Criswell is a daughter, a big sister, a wife, a friend, and a mother of three young boys. Her middle child is autistic. As a visual artist, instructor, writer, autism advocate, business owner and now a cancer survivor, Lindsay’s mission is to share knowledge, encouragement, and love. Fueled by much faith in God, a hubby she can count on, and ample amounts of coffee, Lindsay balances the time challenges of family and running Branch and Stone Studio, a creative haven and blog for all ages and abilities where everyone is celebrated. She is thankful for the opportunity to serve her family, friends, community, and readers while doing what she loves.