The Gift of Infertility, Part 4

Part one of this series discussed natural family planning (NFP) as a means of treating infertility and introduced readers to the basics of artificial reproductive technologies (ART). Parts two and three explained the Church's teaching on human sexuality, with special attention paid to the link between infertility treatments and the contraceptive mentality. A Response to Readers clarified the Church's teaching on the use of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). Here, we enter into the heart of the mystery of infertility. If, as the Church teaches, children are the "supreme gift" of marriage, how are couples (like us) to understand their infertility as a gift?

Infertility: A Gift?

Tears were streaming down my face and they were not tears of joy. Clutching the freezer door with my left hand, I stood holding a tiny test tube in my right. With each attempt to spit, I struggled to see if my tears or my saliva were filling the vial. At any minute, I was sure I was going to fall beneath the weight of the pain. Only the cold of the door handle between my fingers kept me focused on the task. "They want a stress test as part of my infertility workup," I thought to myself. "Well, they're sure going to get it!" It was the week of my 30th birthday, and I'd never been more miserable.

The first year of our marriage seemed like an extension of our honeymoon. Jameson had a good job, and I was working part-time from home in expectation of soon becoming a mom. When we hadn't conceived after six months, we suspected something was wrong. Yet, we continued to hope that "things just hadn't come together yet" and "it wasn't the right time." Still not pregnant and nearing a year of marriage, I called one of the NFP organizations. "Give it a little more time," they said, "and if, after a year you're still not pregnant, go and see an NFP specialist."

Traditionally, primary infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months of noncontraceptive, targeted intercourse. We've come to learn, however, that for couples who are charting (or women over 35) the time frame is 6 months. If you have concerns about your ability to conceive, it's never too early to make an appointment with an NFP doctor.

Several months later, we finally met with one of the best NFP doctors in the country. Just like that, we were caught up in a whirlwind of testing — the spit test I mentioned above, as well as semen analyses and blood tests — and a strict schedule of targeted conjugal relations.

By now, we'd been married almost two years, and Jameson had been laid off. Then, I lost my part-time job; a publisher pulled out of a book contract we were counting on; and my parents lost the family farm. In the meantime, we switched doctors and started learning about the Creighton Model System. While we remain among the small percentage of couples who haven't conceived through Creighton's "NaProTechnology," thanks to our Creighton doctor we discovered that I have hyperprolactemia (elevated levels of prolactin). This condition, however, is also associated with brain tumors. Thus in addition to my already scheduled tests and surgeries — hysterosalpingogram, laparoscopy, transvaginal songrams, to name a few — I also had to have an MRI.

"It's no wonder you don't have kids," people would tell us. "Look at the stress you're under." As if having a good job or a book deal would result in having a baby. Sure, stress is a key factor related to infertility, but other people under stress seem to get pregnant easily. Besides, we'd enjoyed a time in our marriage when our stress levels were low. We'd also given up caffeine and alcohol; lost weight; taken Clomid; taken progesterone shots; targeted our intercourse — the list goes on and on. And still no baby.

Do we feel as if we've been handed a gift, or that any of this makes sense? Often, no. Our infertility makes no sense outside of God's plan for our lives — for us as an infertile couple. For all of us as infertile couples.

Part of the pain of being infertile lies in the struggle to understand how God can give us the desire to have children, and then prevent us from realizing this desire. Or, for those of you suffering from secondary infertility, how God can give you a baby only to take it away again. It's no wonder that, as we wrote in part one of our series, "infertile couples report equivalent levels of anxiety and depression as women with cancer, HIV status or heart disease" and that "the majority of infertile women report that infertility is the most upsetting experience of their lives."

 The Gift of Faith

As if to add insult to injury, some time later we discovered that my prolactin levels had receded back to a "healthy level." Still, we were not conceiving. Just in case, our doctor ordered another semen analysis. While previous tests had come back as "essentially normal," the new specimens showed a defect with Jameson's sperm. At least three sperm tests are necessary to get an accurate picture of the health of a man's sperm. Even then, men produce new sperm every three months, so trouble can arise at any time. For us, this time came just as my own problems had apparently disappeared.

Soon after, the day came — a little more than a year ago — when our doctor told us he couldn't do anymore for us. "I have no other means of helping you. I've consulted all the experts. I don't know what to tell you," he whispered. The finality of it all was numbing. After a moment, our doctor continued, "I'm praying through this book. It's changed my life. It's called The Gift of Faith, by Father Tadeusz Dajczer. This is not a book you read. It's a book you pray — one you have to go over little by little because it's so tough."

We didn't read the book right away (as if a book could console our pain). For his part, Jameson felt as if God had tricked him. "God's a jokester," he protested. "Before we got married, I saw my children in my prayers. God's message to me was very clear: He told me I was called to the vocation of marriage and that I'd have kids. He duped me!"

What's God Doing to Us?

Once we finally did read The Gift of Faith, we were inspired by what we found. According to Fr. Dajczer, God often "does just the opposite of what we would expect." In our case, we expected God to give us children because we were being faithful. The fact that God wasn't living up to His part of the bargain proved He couldn't be trusted. Our experience of infertility had thus distorted our image of God, which, as Fr. Dajczer explained, had been preventing our abandonment to Him. How could we abandon ourselves to a God who seemed so unfair? Fr. Dajczer helped us see that what we were most afraid of — was not what God was doing to us — but what he was trying to do with us. What we feared, in other words, was that our infertility might actually be part of God's plan for our lives, a gift from God necessary to the working out of our salvation.

Book in hand, Jameson rounded the corner into our office and declared, "Infertility is a gift." "I thought God was a jokester," I responded. "I do feel that way sometimes," he said, "but let's be serious for a moment. We know we're infertile. That's a fact. So, let's talk about what we're going to do about it now that we've been told there's nothing we can do about it."

Our choice was to give up hope or abandon ourselves to God, trusting Him completely. Sadly, many couples reject God's gift of infertility and turn instead to the world of artificial reproductive technologies. Others abandon themselves to their own suffering, becoming enmeshed in their pain. We wanted neither, so we decided to write, with the hope of understanding what God wanted from us. "You need to give God everything," counsels Fr. Dajczer. "You need to know how to give Him, that which is His; that is the program of our conversion." So it was. We had to give God ourselves — and our infertility.

Not long after, we had coffee with Fr. Mitch Pacwa of EWTN. While discussing our infertility, he told us that it seems as if God is asking infertile couples to do penance for the sins against life committed by others. "It's a sort of divine fasting," he said. "Would I fast if God asked me to?" I wondered. "God isn't a God of imposition — He created us with free will — so why didn't He ask me?" Without realizing it, I answered out loud, "He's trusting you." The choice comes in how we respond to God's offer. 

The Gift of Infertility

As the mystery of the gift of our infertility has begun to unfold before us, we have come to see that children are not the only gift of marriage. Infertility, too, is a great and mysterious blessing. Just as much as fertility, infertility is a gift husband and wife can give one another. It is an affirmation that: "I still love you. I love all of you. And I refuse to allow anything to come between this love, whether it be fertility or infertility." Infertility is also a gift couples can give to God and to the world. Like Christ's crucifixion, infertility is a sign of contradiction in a culture in which human life has lost its value.

Instead of giving children to God, infertile families can give their suffering to Him, their unfulfilled longing to conceive a baby. God will use this suffering to glorify His name and bring about the salvation of souls (cf. Jn. 9:1-3). Likewise, infertility is the gift God gives couples for the salvation of their own souls, as well as the souls of any children they might eventually adopt. To reject this gift is to reject the specific means by which God wills to lead us to Heaven.

Of course, this is not to say that infertile couples shouldn't use every licit means they can to conceive a child or bring a baby to term. We also do not mean to imply that every infertile couple is called to adopt. Adoption is not a "cure" for infertility because even after you adopt you remain infertile. Each of us, however, is called to "give everything to God," and to serve Him, even in the weakness of infertility.

Given that children are the "supreme gift of marriage," it might seem strange to think of infertility as a blessing. No doubt, infertility contradicts nature's intention. The gift of infertility, however, is one that transcends the natural order. It is a sign of divinity, of God's power to bring life out of a situation where nature is powerless. In this way, infertile spouses are like empty vessels, vessels that can be filled only by the intangible gift of grace. Even more so than those who can have biological children, the infertile couple is called by God to be a channel of spiritual fecundity (CCC 2379). As such, these couples are a sign to the world that the fullness of life is found in the gift of love, rather than mere physical existence.

This is not to demean in any way the generosity of large families. Although their sacrifices generally go unappreciated, these families are nonetheless a tangible manifestation of love. Part of the pain of infertility, however, is that it is an invisible sign. In our culture, most people assume that if you don't have kids you're contracepting. If you're infertile, they suppose you can easily correct the problem through artificial means. The physical and spiritual suffering caused by infertility is usually hidden. To use an analogy, the generosity of the couple who chooses to have a large family is like a brightly burning sun whose beams produce beautiful flowers that everyone can see and admire. While their love might shine just as brightly, the infertile family has no flowers of its own. Yet, as Fulton Sheen perceives: "There is no sign unless something happens contrary to nature. The brightness of the sun is no sign, but an eclipse is."

Like an eclipse, the sign of infertility is incomprehensible without the gift of faith. It is a sign that is usually missed because it is veiled by disappointment and failure. God, however, is the master of bringing success out of failure and life out of death. If we allow God to reveal Himself in the poverty of our infertility, He will give us a harvest of flowers more beautiful than we could sow on our own. Oftentimes these flowers are not meant for us to keep, but to give to others. For the unwed mother, infertile couples impart the gift of hope. For the couple delaying childbirth, infertile families provide motivation. For the orphan, infertile couples present the chance of new life. Recommends the Church: "Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord's Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others" (CCC 2379).

Just as with physical fertility, spiritual fecundity requires the elimination of any barriers of bitterness, resentment and discouragement that might be obstructing your relationship with God. Although it's okay to be angry with God, at some point it's necessary to "forgive" Him. Ultimately this "forgiveness" rests in realizing that God has not committed an offense against us in allowing us to be infertile. The fruit of such forgiveness is trust.

God will forgive you, too, for not trusting Him — whether by using contraception, or in vitro fertilization, or, as is easy to do, letting the desire to have a child become a god in itself.

Forgiveness is the fruit of prayer, which is also a gift of infertility. Without prayer, the heart will never be able to discover, as one anonymous infertile woman puts it, that God is enough to love. Because we can't understand why God doesn't give us what we want, we often go in search of it on our own. By doing so, we risk overlooking the shocking truth that the gift of infertility is God Himself.

Infertility Terms You Need to Know

(Primary) Infertility: The standard medical definition of infertility is the inability to conceive after 12 months of noncontraceptive, targeted intercourse, but for couples who are charting (or women over 35) the time frame is 6 months. The definition should also include mothers unable to carry any pregnancy to term.

Secondary Infertility: The inability to conceive and/or carry a baby to term after doing so at least once before.

Sterility: A permanent condition inhibiting conception.

Zygote: A fertilized egg in the single-cell phase — i.e., an undivided fertilized egg.

Embryo: A fertilized egg that has begun the division process that will result in a fully formed person; used by scientists to refer to a baby until it reaches the fetal stage.

Fetus: Term used by the scientific community to refer to a preborn child 8 weeks or older.

ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies): Any procedure in which both eggs and semen are extracted from a woman and a man and manipulated with the intention of producing a baby.

IVF (In Vitro Fertilization): From the Latin, "in glass," the fertilization of an egg with a sperm in an artificial environment, namely a petri dish, and the subsequent implantation of the embryo in the uterus.

AIH (Homologous Artificial Insemination): Injection of a husband's processed semen into his wife's genital tract.

AID (Heterologous Artificial Insemination): Injection of a donor's (not the husband) processed semen into a married woman's genital tract.

IUI (Intrauterine Insemination): Technique by which processed sperm are injected into the uterus with a catheter.

Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction: A euphemism used to describe the abortion of one or more children (at 8 to 12 weeks) sharing the same womb. Unlike most abortions, the dead baby's body is resorbed by the mother's body.

Embryo Cryopreservation: The freezing of leftover embryos produced via IVF.

Assisted Hatching: An IVF technique of micromanipulation that uses an acidic solution to dissolve the shell around a 2- to 3-day-old embryo to improve chances of implantation.

ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection): A technique by which a single sperm is injected in vitro into an extracted egg; used in cases of acute male infertility.

GIFT (Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer): An ART procedure in which multiple eggs and processed semen are placed into a catheter and then injected into the fallopian tubes so that fertilization may occur.

ZIFT (Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer): An ART procedure in which multiple eggs are actually fertilized in the laboratory with processed semen; the resulting zygotes are then injected into the fallopian tubes. Also known as PROST, pronuclear stage transfer.

TOTS (Tubal Ovum Transfer with Sperm): An ART procedure in which semen is collected from a perforated condom (rather than masturbation) and placed with one or more eggs into a tube where they are kept separate from one another by an air bubble. The semen and eggs are then injected into the fallopian tubes. This technique is rarely performed anymore.

Where to Turn for Help

Natural Family Planning Techniques

The Creighton Model System (NaProTechnology)

Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction

Phone: (402) 390-6600

Email: popepaul@popepaulvi.com

Web:    http://www.naprotechnology.com/; http://www.popepaulvi.com/ 

The Couple to Couple League International, Inc. (Sympto-Thermal Method)

Phone: (513) 471-2000 or (800) 745-8252

Web: http://www.ccli.org/

Billings Ovulation Method Association (BOMA-USA)

Phone: (651) 699-8139

Email: info@boma-usa.org

Web: http://www.boma-usa.org/

Locate an NFP Center or Teacher Near You

One More Soul

Phone: (800) 307-7685

Email: omsoul@omsoul.com

Web: http://www.omsoul.com/

Further Reading

The Bible and Birth Control, Charles D. Provan

Donum Vitae, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Empty Womb, Aching Heart, Marlo Schalesky (While some couples profiled in this book have used artificial technologies, reading their personal struggles with infertility might prove helpful.)

Fertility Cycles and Nutrition, Marilyn M. Shannon

Full of Grace: Women and the Abundant Life, Johnnette S. Benkovic

Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI

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  • Guest

    This is an excellent article, one that I really needed today.  I am 13 weeks pregnant with twins after a lengthy journey of miscarriage and infertility, and I have been having light spotting on and off for a week.  I have an ultrasound scheduled for Wednesday, and I am terrified that I might get bad news.  I have been trying to remind myself of the message contained in the above quote:

    "many couples reject God's gift of infertility and turn instead to the world of artificial reproductive technologies. Others abandon themselves to their own suffering, becoming enmeshed in their pain. We wanted neither"

    If, God forbid, I lose these babies, I don't want either of the above scenarios, either.  I know the pain will be there, but I don't want to let it ruin my marriage or my relationship with God or the Church.  I have a tendency to be prone to the second scenario, and this is something I will have to guard against very strongly.

  • Guest

    I've awaited this final installment before sharing my story of the Gift of Infertility.  Not my infertility but my dear friend's gift that she gave to me.

    Years ago I met a young newlywed who had conceived unintentionally during the first few months of marriage while using Billings Method to avoid pregnancy.  I had just stopped contracepting in the hopes of conceiving my first child–and soon!  I thought she was very foolish and mocked her (behind her back), NFP, and the "white haired men in Rome"(the magisterium).  Although my cycles were very long after the pill, I did conceive and my baby was due 2 weeks after hers.

    She and I became good friends and laughed through the gas, kicks, and swollen ankles of our first pregnancies!  We gave birth 17 days apart and began strolling our babies together.  I distinctly remember one stroll when the babies were about 6 months old.  Kate, who was one of 12 children, and her husband, one of 7, wanted as many children as God would give them.  Since breastfeeding had been unsuccessful, she was open to new life at any time.  I replied that I always wanted a large family but that I was too selfish.  I liked beautiful things and traveling too much.  So, I'd probably have 2 kids, wait a few years and have 2 more.  My perfect family.  Kate never chastised me for my attitude.  She lived her life among the "cloud of witnesses".  And so evangelized my hardened heart.

    By the time Kate's baby was a year old, she had not conceived yet.  I was pregnant with #2.  She discovered she had elevated prolactin levels and her husband had low sperm count (perhaps due to a prostate infection.)  After antibiotic treatment:  still no baby.

    When my oldest was 3 1/2 I gave birth to baby #3.  Kate still struggled with her secondary infertility.  I was well aware of her deep faith life and commitment to faithfully following the Church's teachings on treating infertility.  Despite the pain of her circumstance and the death of her dreams, she never succumbed to bitterness.  Meanwhile God had softened my heart though the gift of her struggle and faithfulness.  The foil of her infertility to my fertility showed me the awesome duty of responsibly using  fertility.   

    Kate prayed for a miracle.  Her 41 year old sister was dying, childless from infertility, of ovarian cancer.  A miracle occurred.  During Martha's crucible of cancer, during Kate's adoption process, Kate conceived a baby girl!  Her sister's namesake!

    Kate now had 3 children and two of them were only 9 months apart!

    Meanwhile, I continued calling Kate every 21 months announcing a new baby on the way.  She joyfully crocheted afghans for each precious arrival.  And I knew something powerful was occurring through our relationship.  God was using her to convict me of my sin.  In his mercy, he allowed me to make reparation for my sins by responsibly having and raising up childen to his glory.  "We should make up for the time we may have lost.  According to St Augustine, 'to redeem time is to sacrifice present interests for the sake of eternal interests.'"  (In Conversation With God Vol 4 P 399).  Yes, I have physical "flowers" for the world to enjoy, the spiritual roses of my maternity are perhaps greater.  During my physical suffering of numerous pregnancies and the decades of child rearing, I am offering reparation for my sins and the sins of Culture of Death. 

    I know that infertility and fertility are two sides of the Culture of Life coin.  (As celibacy and conjugal love elevate and explain the other mystery.)

    Kate adopted another child from Korea; but, never conceived again.  As I write this response, pregnant with my 11th child, I feel a deep gratitude for her acceptance of her lifegiving cross of secondary infertility.  However, deep inside me I feel my own unfaithful heart beating:  would I have unwrapped her gift with such grace?

  • Guest

    Claire, I am praying this prayer of St. Gerard for you and I invite other CE people to pray it also: 

    O almighty and everlasting God, through the Holy Spirit, you prepared the body and soul of the glorious virgin Mary to be a worthy dwelling place of your divine Son. Through the same Holy Spirit, you sanctified St. John the Baptist, while still in his mother's womb. Hear the prayers of your humble servant who implores you, through the intercession of St. Gerard, to protect Claire amid the dangers of childbearing and to watch over the child with which you blessed her. May this child be cleansed by the saving water of baptism and, after a Christian life on earth, may both mother and child, attain everlasting bliss in heaven.

    Amen.

    Please go to http://www.saintgerard.com/ and put yourself on their prayer list.

    Blessings,

    Mary

  • Guest

    Thank you for this series of articles. They were informative.  Your final installment was beautiful and uplifting. Obviously your marriage is fruitful.

  • Guest

    Claire, you, your husband, and your babies are in my prayers today in a special way! (NOt to mention every day.)

     Can't they see you earlier at the ob/gyn office?

  • Guest

    Mary and Elkabrikir, thank you for your prayers. 

    Elkabrikir, I'm sure they would take me sooner, but I decided to wait because the truth is that if God forbid something terrible is happening, there is nothing anyone can do to prevent it at this point.  So I am trying to be patient and to trust God.  Hopefully it will be nothing, but obviously it's hard not to worry.  

    Elkabrikir,   your story is beautiful and it gave me chills. 

  • Guest

    Claire,

    I've had unexplained bleeding during several pregnancies. 

    During my 6th pregnancy at 11 weeks (my husband said, "I've gotten attached to the little guy…who it turned out was a little guy!)

    During my 9th pregnancy I had a cervical polyp at 17 weeks that bled but was of no consequence.

    Let us know….you are among the "cloud of witnesses" who hold you and your babies safe in the palm of Jesus' hand.

  • Guest

    Thank you, Elkabrikir.  I'm hoping that this is the case with me.  My gut tells me that the spotting is cervical, not uterine.  Hopefully I'm right about that.  The other possibility that has occurred to me is placenta previa, which is more common in twin pregnancies and in older mothers.  We'll see.  

  • Guest

    Thanks for this article, and thanks for mentioning secondary infertility. Not only have we suffered the intense grief of becoming infertile, but we have also had to suffer from feeling like NO ONE sympathizes and that we don't have a right to our sorrow. Right now we are in the adoption process. Sometimes when other people at our meetings find out we have two children, their reaction is instant. They get really prickly, start to ignore us, or, in the case of this last meeting, become outright hostile. (Actually, it is only the women who act this way. The husbands are just more or less bewildered…) I thought there would be support and even fellowship among those who were all in the adoption process. This has not been the case.

     

    Thanks Claire and Elkabrikir for sharing. I too had bleeding with all four pregnancies. Two I lost, two I kept. It is VERY VERY scary. I will pray for you!

  • Guest

    Thank you, Ourfamily.  I'm sorry to hear that people have been unsupportive toward you.  Secondary infertility is a very real issue, especially for faithful Catholics who are open to life and hoping for large families.  This is a foreign concept to the secular world.  I hope that Catholics have been more understanding of your situation.  Good luck with your upcoming adoption.

  • Guest

    Claire,  God bless you, your husband and your children.  I have also spotted during three pregnancies and it turned out to be nothing.  It is very scary.  I will pray for you.

    Ourfamily, our prayers are with you, too. 

  • Guest

    Thank you, Krmilan.

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    Only ‘some old guy’, here, but . . .

    My ‘cloud of winesses’ that for one thing help me to appreciate the gifts of God however troubling they are to me has increased by very Claire, elkabrikir, mkochan (as my grandkids would offer, “like, ‘duh! no kidding'”), ourfamily, krmilan as well as Jameson and Jennifer Taylor.

    I pray for you, and in so praying, beg of you to pray for me. That even as your wombs have been disturbingly empty, and/or who you bore in them gave you great pause and fears, a man has no womb, and in that he is of a vast and often sad difference.

    Yes, I am ‘father’ and ‘Grandpa’ – but there is a ring to ‘Mother’ (and Grandma) that, once one is clever enough with age, is a golden tone never to be shared for any man.

    ‘Blessed is the fruit of your womb’, Mom.

    God be praised in His cloud of witnesses, His angels and His saints – and His Moms. Hail to You, O Father of mothers.

    Remember, I love you, too

    Reminding that we are all on the same side – His,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

    PS: (turning to his Guardian Angel): “You getting that down? When I get Home, one more thing to ask about: ‘Why couldn’t Dads and Moms interchange for – uh – well – maternity?’ Probably ask me if I really wanted to first look up at my Dad’s kisser rather than my Mom’s . . . What’s that about breast-feeding?”

  • Guest

    What an incredible article.  I was keeping it together, until I read,  "the fullness of life is found in the gift of love, rather than mere physical existence" then the tears streamed down my face.  Hubby came running in to see what all the emotion was about, and was moved, too.   Thank you so very much for this series and esp this last one.

    Claire, you and your babies are in my prayers.

    Elkabrikir- your story was beautiful.

    Ourfamily- those people must not yet appreciate the sanctity and preciousness of life, and the joys of a larger family.  sad for them.    

     

     

  • Guest

    Claire, you are certainly in my prayers (as indeed, you and the wee ones have been since you first announced your pregnancy).  I also had some spotting with #1, and was sure I was going to lose her.  Today, she is a gorgeous strawberry-blonde of 44.  I did not spot with #2, #3, or #4.  I lost #2 and 3 quite early; #4 is a beautiful brunette with a milk-white complexion and the mother of my grandchildren (she's 38).  Being an "only", I wanted 5–a BIG family in the decade of the 60s.  God is good.

    Elkabriker, your story was amazing, and I'm delighted to see/hear how much you've learned and how much you've grown closer to God because of it.  Give up the guilt, honey, and be grateful for all that God has given you (including Kate).

    P.S., no, you will never experience maternity.  However, you have the opportunity to do something we ladies cannot: model God-as-Father to those you come in contact with.  How badly is THAT needed!

    Mary, thank you for the prayer for Claire and her babies, and for Elkabriker and her baby.  Let's include Ourfamily, too.

    Finally, to the Taylors, thank you for allowing God to teach you the lesson of abandonment through your suffering.  That witness is exactly what we need to hear more of.  I learned it the hard way (is there any other?), and believe that God wants that submission from us more than anything else.  Thank you.  God bless.

  • Guest

    Patty and Cooky,

         Thank you for your prayers.  I'm convinced that the prayers of CE viewers were instrumental in this conception in the first place. 

  • Guest

    Hallo Claire, I'm sharing this prayer for you, Elkabrikir, Heidi & all others. It was taken from the book 'Nazareth' written by a priest in Europe in the latter half of the 19th century & was translated in English in the early 20th century. It was written for mothers.

     

    Daily Prayer for the Coming Child

     

    Almighty God, the Author of life! guard, protect and bless the young life which Thou hast awakened in me. Protect me also from all dangers of body and soul and give me the joy of happily bringing forth a healthy child to the light of the world. Accept all the pains and troubles I may feel this day as a thanksgiving offering for the loving kindness, which Thou, O my God, hast shown me. Grant to my child the grace of Baptism. Give my child the faith and strength of soul to devote to Thy holy service all the sacrifices of a long life.

    Through Jesus Christ Thy Son. Amen.

     

    At some other appropriate time I'll share the counsel written on 'Sufferings' Reward' but I must go now.

  • Guest

    Thank you, Spice.  I appreciate the prayers.

  • Guest

    Thanks Spice. How did you survive the hurricane?

    Claire, how are you today (tues morning)?

  • Guest

    Hi Elkabrikir,

        Well, we got very sad news today.  I have lost both babies.  My bleeding increased this morning, and I couldn't wait any longer, so I called my doctor and asked to come in a day early.  There were no heartbeats, and they were only measuring 10 weeks (I'm currently 13 weeks).  My type of twin pregnancy was extremely high risk, so this shouldn't be a shock, but of course it is upsetting.  It just seemed like this pregnancy was part of God's plan;  the timing was perfect, etc.  But I know he has his reasons. I still have a lot to be thankful for.  I have a wonderful husband, who is much more than I deserve.  Even if we never have children, I still have so much than I could ask for.  We will not try to conceive again;  I just can't take any more of the infertility roller coaster, and if we decide to adopt, I don't want another adoption being disrupted by a pregnancy that won't last.   As this article points out, infertility and miscarriage don't always feel like a gift, and certainly I'm in a lot of pain right now, but that doesn't have to be the end of the story.  The only thing worse than infertility and my losses would be letting them ruin my life and my marriage, and I refuse to do this.  I never would have chosen this situation for myself, but this is the hand I've been dealt, and I intend to do my best to let God transform it into a gift.

        Thanks to everyone for all your prayers.  Even though I never want to go through anything like this again, I am still thankful for the opportunity to have been pregnant for a while. 

  • Guest

    Blessed be God forever.

    Claire, my heart sorrows with you & your husband. May, Our Lady of Sorrows obtain for you both all the graces you need to endure & heal at this time.

     

    Excerpt taken from the book "Nazareth" mentioned in previous post.

    'Sufferings' Reward'

    Indeed, no mother can escape the hardships, the pains and sacrifices her pregnancy involves. They are a fulfilment of the threat of punishment uttered by God: "I will multiply thy sorrows and thy conceptions. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children" (Gen. iii. 16). The Christian mother knows that in her pain she shares in bringing about the reconciliation of the world with God, just as our Blessed Lady did when she stood at the foot of the Cross uniting herself with the sacrifice of her divine Son. She knows, too, that her pains and sufferings help her to win her heavenly crown; for in this way of suffering she fulfils the special task which God has laid upon woman.

     "She shall be saved through childbearing; if she continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety" (1 Tim. ii. 15).

     

    Claire, remember your very groans are a prayer unto Him.  May St. Joseph comfort your husband at this time.

    Here's a line of a song that just came to mind:

     "I don't care about tomorrow,

      except the Love of God will rise before the sun,

      the Love of God will rise before the sun."

  • Guest

    Thank you, Spice. 

  • Guest

    Claire, spice said it all. 

    I'm just bawling my eyeballs out for you. 

     

    "My God!  My God!  Why have you forsaken me….?"

     

    You put me to shame because of your strength. 

    I'm so sorry for your loss.  I know the prayers of your three children will see you through; you and your husband will be truly heroic witnesses to Redemptive Suffering.

     

  • Guest

    Thank you, Elkabrikir.  Please don't upset yourself;  you have to think of yourself and your baby.  Everything will work out;  I just know it will.  You will remain in my prayers.

  • Guest

    Claire, my dear, I'm SO sorry.  My heart aches for your pain.

    Claire, my dear, I'm SO happy for you.  You have 3 little angels who touch the face of God and pray for their mommy every day of your life.

    Love and prayers.

  • Guest

    Thank you, Cooky.  I am very grateful for my three babies, even if I couldn't have them as long as I would have liked. 

  • Guest

    Claire,

     

    You and your husband have my deepest sympathy. 

     

    Samsmom

  • Guest

    Thank you, Samsmom.  I know that you are all too familiar with what we're going through right now.

  • Guest

    Claire,

    With deepest sympathy. I will pray for your babies, you and your husband, and all those in this forum tonight in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

    …and now, eternity with God.

  • Guest

    Thank you, PTR.  I appreciate the prayers.  I was thinking about going to Adoration myself,  at my parish on Friday.

  • Guest

    Claire,

    I hope that you are physically doing okay.  I know that in addition to the sadness of your loss your body is suffering too.

    You're in my— and spice's prayers.

  • Guest

    Thank you, Elkabrikir.  Physically, I'm feeling fine.  Tomorrow morning I'm going for my D&C, but hopefully that won't be too bad.  Emotionally, I'm doing much better than I was yesterday.  Yesterday was the worst day of my entire life.  However, in the past whenever I've experience something really awful like a death, I've had to go through it on my own.  This time, I had my husband, and that made all the difference.  This morning when I first woke up I was extremely depressed and didn't even want to be alive (my husband felt the same way when he first woke up).  But, then I started thinking of reasons why God allowed (not caused) this to happen to me, and I came up with several possibilities.  That really helped a lot.  If I were a better Christian, I would just trust in his reasons and not have to know what they are, but unfortunately I'm not there yet.  The possibilities I came up with made it much easier for me to cope with this.  Of course, I wish I still had my babies, but God has been very good to me.  He sent me a wonderful husband when I didn't even think a marriage vocation was even in my future.  So I'm not going to give up on him yet.  Thank you again for your prayers.  It really helps to know that others care.  It has been a great comfort to me to be able to dialogue about infertility and miscarriage with other mothers.  In the past, I have felt that mothers (especially those with large families) were unable to relate to women in my situation, and I am pleasantly surprised to find out that I was wrong about that.  Through the dialogue on this site, I have also grown to have a deeper understanding and compassion for the challenges that mothers of large families face.  It brings me great joy to have a gap bridged between women at opposite ends of the spectrum.

  • Guest

    Claire,

    I just read this thread, and I'm very sorry about your (and your husband's) loss.  You know we will be praying for you – and I will be offering my masses and decades of rosary up for your intentions.  For your healing and that God's will be done, accepted, embraced, and loved to the best of your abilities.

    (Thanks, Elkabrikir, for the head's up on the other article today.  If you hadn't mentioned it, I may not have checked out this thread.)

  • Guest

    Thank you, Ipioch.  The prayers mean a lot.

     

    Elkabrikir,

        Everything went well this morning.  The first few times I stood up I had some pretty heavy bleeding, but it seems to be slowing down now.  Now I am having some cramping, but nothing that I can't handle.  It was sad to say my final goodbye to my babies (even though their souls long since left my body), but I am happy to have this over and done with.

         One wonderful pro-life thing that has come out of this is that my boss has given me three days of bereavement leave for this week.  I'm sure that our company's bereavement leave policy does not apply to miscarriages, but I think that my boss went out on a limb because she, like I, considers my "embryos" to be full fledged children.  That really made me feel good.

  • Guest

    Claire,

    you are close to my heart.

    About mothers of large families, I feel really guilty about having so many kids when others suffer.  I certainly don't want anything to happen to my baby, but I know I am unworthy.  It is a mystery to me.

    I only know that as you must pray about discerning and accepting God's will with joy, I must do the same.  As I said in my first post on this article, we are two sides of the same coin.

    May you continue to heal physically and spiritually. 

    May our Sorrowful Mother Mary wrap you in her wounded heart and bring you peace.

    May you always know that you are as beloved as the one who laid upon  our Savior's breast.

    Rejoicing in Hope!

  • Guest

    Thank you, Elkabrikir.  And please don't feel guilty about having a large family.  You have made sacrifices to be open to life, and at the same time you have reached out to those who struggle with infertility and miscarriage despite the fact that these are not issues you have firsthand experience with.  It's good for us to be able to appreciate the challenges that women from opposite situations face.

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