Carey Wickersham, author of The Wonder Within You, encourages the expectant mom to celebrate every week of her pregnancy by marveling at the amazing changes happening with her growing baby.
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Woman #1: My husband and I were not planning on having children at all, so that was a shock at first. And then I was nervous that he might be upset.
Woman #2: One of the biggest surprises for me was how long it actually took me to have a bump.
Woman #3: I felt like I was crying all the time and being sleep-deprived didn't help.
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John Fuller: Well, certainly my wife has been there with those emotions and the surprises that accompanied pregnancy. There are challenges and discomforts and crazy hormones and food cravings and more. Through all of that though, the process of growing a new life is incredible. And we'll be talking about that on today's "Focus on the Family" with your host, Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, I'm stuck there when you talk about wild food cravings. (Laughing) That was Jean definitely.
John: What was her craziest one?
Jim: You know, I'm tryin' to remember, but it was odd. I don't know if it was pickles and ice cream, but it leaned in that direction. She'll tell me once she hears this.
John: Dena called me one time and said--we didn't know she was pregnant--she said, "I'm drinking pickle juice (Laughter) just straight from a glass." I said, "I'll stop and get a pregnancy test."
Jim: Yeah, that is … that was the sign, huh?
John: That was the sign.
Jim: Well, today we're gonna talk about that beautiful moment and really that time that the pregnancy develops. And for women particularly, but for us men, too, it's a very special time. And for both my boys, it was something unique. They both came along kinda late in life, so we had 3-D imaging with Troy, our second son. And it was wonderful, the way you can look into the womb and see your child developing, those fingers, those images. It shows that life is right from the beginning and we want to talk about that today with our guest.
John: Uh-hm, yeah. Her name is Carey Wickersham and she's been married for 16 years. She's the mom of two and with Focus on the Family, she's written a book called The Wonder Within You: Celebrating Your Baby's Journey from Conception to Birth. And it's a beautiful book.
Jim: It is, John and it's much more than that. Carey, first, welcome to "Focus on the Family."
Carey Wickersham: Thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.
Jim: We were up in my office a little while ago. Of course, I have the book and I have read it and looked through it and it is phenomenal, just in the pages. But you also did something really unique with Focus on the Family and Tyndale. What did you do that makes this book stand out?
Carey: Well, we call it the most technically advanced pregnancy book in the history of the world.
Jim: (Laughing) Okay, I like that.
Carey: It's a pretty big claim, but it's absolutely true.
Jim: Now why?
Carey: Well, because there are 40 weeks of your pregnancy and there are 40 videos embedded in this beautiful hard-cover book. And I have never seen that on any topic.
Jim: What does it mean to be embedded there? What do you do? You take your SmartPhone, your iPhone and what happens?
Carey: Do you know what a QR code is? They're those little boxes with the black squiggly lines in.
Jim: Yeah, not the one that looks like Mount Rushmore. It actually means nothing when you look at it. (Laughter)
Carey: Oh, no, not that one. It's actually the little boxes and if you don't know what they are, you just breeze right by them. But there are 40 images of the baby, which are 3-D ultrasounds, using GE's latest HD live technology, which is brand new.
And when you scan the QR code next to them, a video will pop up. And all you have to do, if you don't know what a QR code is, but most women in that age group really do, but if you don't know what a QR code is, then you just go to your app store on your tablet or on your telephone and you can download a free QR code reader.
Jim: Oh, yeah.
Carey: And that will take you to the link of every gestational video.
Jim: Well, and what I want to do, John, there's one, the 31st week that we looked at and it's a baby who breaks into a smile inside the womb. It is an amazing image and I want to post that one and you can go see that at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
And it just really shows the beauty of life in the womb and that's what excites you. It's what excites me. But let me ask you, where did your passion come from to do this book and to communicate this message?
Carey: I think it came from seeing the babies themselves. And what's so indicative about that 31-week smile of the fact that pregnancy's so much different now than it was just 10 years ago, is really that my mom told me that a baby didn't smile until maybe six weeks along and it was usually gas. Well, we all know (Laughing) there's no air in the womb. So, that baby is smiling for another reason. We don't know if they're dreaming. We don't know if it's a reactive smile or if it's just muscles in their face developing, but it's beautiful to see in that.
Jim: Well, it is and who knows? I mean, who knows the conception of life and what God has done there, to put a spirit into that body and what that little infant spirit is thinking and doing at the time? Nobody can explain that, because we don't fully know what is going on there. And that is why I'm really intrigued by the content, by what you're about and looking into the womb.
You talk about celebrating every week. When I read that, I thought of like a birthday. It's kinda like don't wait for every year, but when you're pregnant, you have 40 birthdays in a sense, one every week. And you should celebrate that. Talk to the mom about that concept and celebrating that, when you're not feelin' that good at the same time.
Carey: You heard the moms at the beginning of this show. Pregnancy can be hard and it's a different experience for every woman out there. For some women, they don't throw up at all and it's all just a big easy ride. And for others, it's a complete roller coaster of emotion and hormones and everything.
But the one thing that we can all embrace together is the joy in pregnancy, because even amidst the … the hardship, which it is there and we would be lying to say that it wasn't.
Jim: Pickle juice, anybody drinkin' pickle juice (Laughter), there's a problem right there.
John: It's hard for everybody.
Carey: There's all kinds of cravings and it's hard for the fathers, too, you know, to see their wives go through these very tumultuous nine months. And by the way, 50 percent of pregnancies out there are surprise pregnancies. They're unplanned.
And so, that in and of itself, makes this first trimester really difficult sometimes, whether you're prepared for that unplanned pregnancy or completely unprepared.
Jim: Yeah, it's so true. I'm gonna make a shameless plea to everybody. You know, one of the things that we do here is Option Ultrasound. And we save babies, working with pregnancy resource centers. And to date, the estimate, the conservative estimate is 300,000 babies that have been saved. There is such power in seeing and you're the woman at the table here, Carey, I mean, there is such power in seeing that child inside of you at the different weeks of gestation, that when a woman sees that baby, even an abortion-minded woman, sees that baby and receives good counseling to say, "Okay, let's think it through." They are most likely willing to let that baby come to full term and be born. Is that right?
Carey: A picture is worth 1,000 words. Video and seeing the ultrasound, the baby moving, the heart beating, blinking, it's worth so much more—
Carey: --than that, just exponentially more. And once you meet that person, it's powerful. I remember my ultrasound with my youngest son being 3-D and it was the best day of my pregnancy.
Jim: Uh-hm, yeah. I mean, it makes an impact, as it should. But your first pregnancy and we really need to speak to the women who have struggled with miscarriages, etc., your first pregnancy didn't go so well. What happened?
Carey: Well, statistics do show that nearly 20 percent of pregnancies in the United States do end in some sort of loss, whether it's miscarriage or stillbirth. It is so traumatic. It was life-altering for me. My first pregnancy, I found out at 16 weeks, that I was pregnant with twins. That's four months along. And we went in for the ultrasound to find out if they were boys and girls, kind of that diagnostic ultrasound that you have a lot of times at 20 weeks. And we found out that their hearts were not beating. It was absolutely devastating. But as God often does, He takes your very darkest moments and He uses them if you allow Him to.
Jim: How did that happen for you?
Carey: Well, I got pregnant again very shortly after I delivered those babies. And they were twin girls and it was again, a horrible experience, but we named them and the book is dedicated to them—Hope and Anna. And I became pregnant again with my daughter, Abby just months after that. And it was a very fear-fraught pregnancy.
Jim: Always troubled and worried that it wouldn't come to full term.
Carey: Absolutely, even when I did see early ultrasounds of Abby, it was very hard. I wasn't at all sure that she was gonna make it. I found out how fragile life is.
Jim: Right. Let me ask you this, because I'm sure it will help many, many women. How did you deal with the anxiety of that? I can only imagine again, I'm the husband, the father and we want to be supportive, but we don't really walk in your shoes in that same way. But laying down every night and coming up to that 20th week where your previously pregnancy, you learned that your twins' hearts weren't beating. I can only imagine when you laid down that night with your next pregnancy, you're thinking, "What if I wake up in the morning?" How did you deal with that anxiety of not knowing what tomorrow will be for your baby?
Carey: I think there were two ways that I dealt with it. The first is, that I'm a journalist by trade. I've been a journalist for decades. And so, what I do when I don't understand something is, I research it. And so, I really began to press in.
I got every book at the library at that time and then I also started borrowing my physicians', my doctors' medical books and having them sort of decipher it for me. So, I really started learning as much as I could about early life and I realized at that point, most of the pregnancy books that were out there at that time, were really much more about the mother. It had a sentence or two about the baby's development, maybe each month.
So, as I began to find out more about that, it helped make me feel more empowered about what I could do to make the pregnancy healthier. In addition to that obviously, I leaned into God and His peace.
Jim: I wanted to ask about that, because spiritually, that's a huge dimension. For Christian women particularly, but even others that maybe don't know the Lord, they're still trying to ask why, to try to find an answer in that.
So often people ask the big question, which is, if God is good, why would He take my little baby? Did you ever deal with any of that kind of deep soul searching?
Carey: Absolutely and the truth of the matter is, when that big question "why" comes, the answer is, we just don't know yet.
Carey: So many times, as a journalist, I've seen people deal with tragedy again and again. I've seen people's children kidnapped. I've seen people killed in fires. I have seen cancer run rampant. And really what you do with that question, "Why?, is you turn it around to, "What can I do now to help other people who are going through this?" You don't always have to have the answer to the question "Why?, for God to use you to do something positive, to help the next person who's gonna go through that. And this book is the legacy from my two daughters, who are in heaven now.
Jim: Carey, let me ask you about that, because it's intriguing to put that journalistic perspective on these things. So many in your profession tend to get jaded, you know, 'cause you see that kind of horror over and over and over again. It's kinda like what they call "doctor humor," when you're around death, you find different coping mechanisms.
And as a journalist, I would think that, that can really harden your heart. As a Christian in that profession, how have you remained supple? How have you remained tender in your spirit toward these people that are suffering?
Carey: You have to look past the atrocity into the human condition. You have to look past the burnt out fire into the people who are standing beside the fire. And it's true; journalists do get really jaded and you have to battle that. You do.
Jim: For the woman who has maybe tried to get pregnant for many times and it hasn't worked. She has continually come up to that point in the pregnancy where the baby's heart is no longer beating or whatever clinically has happened. How would you speak hope into her heart, that God still loves her, that He knows the place that she's at? She's worried she may never have a child now. What would you say to her?
Carey: That is such a difficult question, because if I was God, I'd give everybody babies (Laughing). But thank goodness, I'm not God, because look what God used my loss for. I guess I would just say, what you're going through now, God is walking beside you. He feels your pain. When Jesus walked the earth and people died, like John the Baptist or Lazarus, Jesus wept. He didn't take it tritely and in His all-knowingness say, "Well, I know they're gonna be in heaven, so everything's gonna be okay." And He could've, because He saw the big picture.
Carey: But He still wept with them. And I think Jesus feels your loss. Jesus is weeping with you and Jesus is there to give you hope, either with another child or with something else.
John: Well, that's certainly some good words of insight and encouragement from our guest today on "Focus on the Family," Carey Wickersham. If you'd like to see the video clip that Jim mentioned of that baby smiling in the womb or find resources, perhaps connect with a counselor if this is a real struggle for you; it's a pain point for you and also to support the Option Ultrasound program Jim referenced, stop by www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or give us a call. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY.
Jim: Let me ask you, Carey, I know we just talked about some very difficult aspects of pregnancy, but let's turn the page and let's talk about those pregnancies that a woman or the husband can pick up this book and use their phone to look at the video clips. Talk about some of the progression of development for the baby. What's happening there?
Carey: It is absolutely stunning how fast you see the baby develop, absolutely stunning. You can see that heart start to beat at only five weeks, but even the cell division to me in the weeks earlier than that is amazing, because when you watch the cell division--which we do have under a microscope; we got video of some of that cell division—already in the moments after conception, you're seeing those cells divide and decide what's gonna be the heart. What's gonna be the brain? All of the DNA exists in those cells to determine if you're blonde or brunette.
Jim: It's amazing and I think that's what I love about it. It is a unique book, a technology driven book. Let's move to an experience you had with a neighbor though. So much of the debate in the culture and being a journalist, I'm sure you can appreciate this; probably you've had to cover various stories related to the abortion debate. It's at fever pitch today, because of our position in the Christian community of a pro-life perspective. I think we're gaining more and more support in that regard. This is a front that we seem to winning the hearts of the culture on. People are not comfortable with it.
There are laws stricter laws being passed state by state and I think in part, because people broadly, not just Christians, but the general population is coming to the conclusion that abortion, it doesn't feel morally correct. And that's a good thing, because that's what we've been talking about since Roe v. Wade. But in that debate, you had a neighbor. Talk about that story, because I thought that was great intimacy between two women.
Carey: Uh-hm, you know, as a journalist, I feel that my role has always been to educate the public about truth. And I'm not there to make their decision. I'm not here to start a political revolution. I'm much more here to start a maternal revolution.
You know, very grassroots, let's educate the moms out there. There's a quote that I love by Miles Davis that says, "Knowledge is freedom and ignorance is slavery." We empower women when we give them knowledge. I don't care what end of the political spectrum you're on—Republican, Democrat. Aren't we all for knowledge? Aren't we all for truth? It empowers us. It releases us from slavery and bondage.
And I love that quote and the neighbor that you were talking about, I have a dear friend; she lives just down the street from me. And she and her husband have three boys. And they were thinking about having one more child. And so, they went ahead. He's a firefighter. They kinda took that leap of faith financially and said, "We're gonna go ahead and try for one more." Well, she found out very early in her pregnancy that she was pregnant with not one baby, but two babies. And it was going to, in her view, be more than they could handle financially.
Jim: Right, very rational.
Carey: Very rational. You know, there's a lot of women that, a pregnancy, it's more than they think they can handle right then. It really is. It's demanding financially. It may take away from some of your career. It may take away from your education. But I think as moms with good maternal instinct, we need to be courageous enough to protect those children, you know.
And anyway, what she did, I met her in the supermarket once and she told me she was pregnant with twins. And I said, "Oh, I'm working on this book and I really need some early images of twins. Will you go into prenatal imaging in Kansas City, get an ultrasound done there for me so I could possibly use it in the book?"
And she said, "Okay." And she wasn't actually thrilled with the pregnancy at that point. When I ran into her later, she told me that, that moment with the ultrasound was life-altering for her, that she went from being very discouraged and questioning and questioning God and you know, even secretly saying, she considered abortion, to being the most ecstatic mother of twins ever. And it turned her whole view around.
I think a lot of times women, when they're in their early trimester, they look down and they don't see a baby, they just see their belly getting larger. They may even interpret it as fat, as being unattractive. And instead of looking inside to see what's behind your skin, behind that bulge, to see what's really developing there. And when you see what's really developing there, it's awe-inspiring and it causes our maternal instincts to rise up and protect.
Jim: Carey, pregnancy is also a spiritual journey. I mean, again, the guys, we're not gonna think of it in that way, but a lot of moms will. They'll think, now's the time to start praying for my baby. I would think there'd be two kind of thoughts on this. The woman that, this is maybe another successful pregnancy, she's comfortable with that. She's startin' to think of a name maybe even. And she begins to pray for that child. Speak to that woman. And then I'd like you to speak to the woman who's a little more uneasy, who maybe did go through the miscarriage. What does the spiritual journey for both of those women look like?
Carey: You know, as a woman, I think one of the biggest honors we are given is, we get to co-create life with God. You know, He could've done it all by Himself easily. He did with Adam and Eve. What an honor to be able to nurture and incubate life before it's born.
And pregnancy looks different for everyone. There are no two women where the experience is identical, but that's what makes sharing it and sharing the journey so precious. And I also think that even if you are not a spiritual person, even if you would want to give this book to someone who has no relationship with God whatsoever, you become a little bit spiritual when you're pregnant. You become even more spiritual when you are in labor (Laughter).
Carey: I have a midwife friend who has delivered babies around the world. And at the very beginning when I was starting to write this book and I didn't know who the publisher would be, I spoke with her about the God content. You know, how much can I put God content in here and still reach everyone?
And she said, "Oh, Carey, around the world, every woman in labor cries out to God. I've delivered hundreds of women on multiple continents and they are all in their own language, in the moment of delivery, crying out to God."
Jim: That's fascinating.
Carey: It makes you spiritual. Pregnancy makes you spiritual.
Jim: And why?
Carey: Maybe because life hangs in the balance. You're in at an incredible point of pain in your life. And I think when most of us reach an incredible point of pain in any instance, we're willing to look at options that we didn't consider before, including God.
Jim: Huh. I mean, it just creates a big awareness. That's what it sounds like, just that awareness that maybe there's more out there, 'cause this is unbelievable.
Carey: I think also, Jim, you need help. You need help in some area and all the resources that you have standing around you there to give you help are not enough.
John: Carey, throughout the book you've got journaling opportunities. How do you encourage them through that journaling process in the book?
Carey: Well, pregnancy is sort of a turning point in their life. It's kind of when you go from girl to woman. I think you have to, because all of a sudden, you are responsible for keeping someone else alive (Laughing) and that starts very, very early and it is a hard transition.
In each of the chapters where there's a journaling opportunity, we sort of give you a question that prompts you. So, you don't have to come up with your own thought or we kind of give you a question and I think that helps. And you know what's great is this book is going to be an heirloom for your children. When your daughters and sons start having a family, they're gonna want to look back and see how their lives began and what you thought about it.
Jim: Carey, let me ask you this and that is a beautiful sentiment and I am just leaping inside. I mean, I love this, because I think it shows the bigger picture of what God is up to. And we're so narcissistic in our culture. We're so self-focused, even in the Christian community, that we're really missing, I think so often, the grand picture of what God's truly doing with life, with every day.
Just this morning I was driving in with Troy, my youngest, taking him to school. And I said, "Can you fathom that today is a gift from God? Think if you only had one day to live." I mean, he's 12. He's beginning to capture these concepts. So, I said, "What if you had an illness and the doctor said you only have one day to live, would you be really grateful for tomorrow if you got an extra day? Would that be like a gift to you?" He said, "Oh, it would." I said, "Isn't it amazing, God I think, looks at every day and looks at us and says, 'Here's the gift of another day. Do what you can with it.'"
And it starts at conception. It doesn't start when you come through the birth canal. And every gift is a gift from God and I just love the way you've painted that picture. As a man and a husband, I've gotta work that question in. What can we do to be good supports, probably not perfect? I don't think perfect is in the zone with a pregnant wife. You're always gonna do some things that she's frustrated about probably. But what are some things a good husband can do to support his wife during pregnancy?
Carey: And you might do some things that are frustrating one day that are (Laughter) perfect the next day. (Laughing)
Jim: That's the problem.
Carey: That's why you're so frustrated. (Laughter)
Carey: You know what I love about this book? I think a lot of times, you know, for centuries, for thousands of years, men have gone through the whole pregnancy process with their wives and maybe felt disconnected. But with this book, I think it draws the fathers in, because they can see the baby.
Women have an easier way to connect. We can feel the baby kicking. We can feel the baby awake or asleep. Men have no clue. They don't know what's going on in there. And it's so nice to give them a little bit of a window to the womb—
Carey: --and to sit there and read each chapter every week. Just keep it on your bedside table. Read it together if you want to, so that you can open the communication and together.
Jim: Foot massages are also a good thing to do. (Laughter)
Carey: Usually, but you know, some days maybe not. (Laughter)
John: Yeah, keep your hands off of any of me. Yeah. (Laughter)
Jim: Oh, man. Well, Carey, you have done such a beautiful job with this book, The Wonder Within You: Celebrating Your Baby's Journey from Conception to Birth. I'm telling you, if you appreciate the idea of pregnancy, which I'm sure every one of you do, go to the website and look at that 31-week-old baby in the womb. That picture will forever change your perspective and even deepen your commitment to life and it's something you can share with a neighbor or a girlfriend who might be struggling in the future. And Carey, let me say, thank you for being with us.
Carey: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure.
John: Well, it's been really enriching to hear your story and the amazing developments that happen in the womb. And let me encourage you to get online and see that video and be amazed. We've got that at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. While you 're there, look for Carey's book, The Wonder Within You which is a beautiful hard cover book. It'd make a great gift for any expectant couple that you know or maybe for your church library.
And as you've heard today, here at Focus on the Family, we care about life and the sanctity of all life. As Jim mentioned at the top of the program, we began that Option Ultrasound program about a decade ago and since then, 300,000 babies have been saved through that effort. And we're just humbled that God would use that program to save so many lives.
And to put a name to those numbers, one mom named Nicole shared with us this: "I was offered an ultrasound and I agreed. I wanted to see what was in me and during the ultrasound, I realized how real this baby already was. I saw the little arms and legs. I saw the heartbeat. It was a little person. At that point, I knew I couldn't have an abortion."
Now that's the power of an ultrasound and you make the work of Option Ultrasound when you contribute to Focus on the Family. You're helping moms like Nicole recognize the life within her and make the choice for life. Let me encourage you to partner with us today so we can reach even more moms with that program and really, speak into the culture through radio broadcasts like this. Your partnership makes a difference and we'd encourage a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today.
When you contribute, we'll send a copy of The Wonder Within You. It's our way of saying thank you for your help. Donate at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, I'm John Fuller, inviting you back next time. We'll talk with a woman about how negative self-talk dramatically impacted her life and the steps she took to find hope and healing in relationships. That's tomorrow, when we'll once again have trusted advice to help you thrive.
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Carey WickershamView Bio
Carey Wickersham is a journalist currently working for the FOX news television affiliate in Kansas City, MO. She is also a certified water fitness instructor and author of the book The Wonder Within You. Carey and her husband have two children.