Trust is constantly on my mind these days. My husband and I found out that I am pregnant. Anyone who has read my previous work for Catholic Exchange knows that I have had three miscarriages and spent 3.5 years afflicted with post-partum depression and anxiety. The doctors know why I had miscarriages and my Catholic NaPro doctor told me three years ago that she could possibly help us have another successful pregnancy. In the meantime, she was able to begin treating my severe hormone deficiencies.
At that time, I had just suffered my third and most traumatic loss which resulted in emergency surgery. The post-partum that had developed 10 weeks after I gave birth to my daughter, deepened after each loss. That was not the time for another child. My husband and I knew that God wanted us to heal and walk the Cross of post-partum depression. My body also needed major healing after all it had been through. We didn’t know when the post-partum would lift and we knew the risk of me getting it after another pregnancy was high. Thankfully, NaPro offers a post-partum depression progesterone treatment that has helped a lot of women.
After that difficult time, we didn’t know or think we would have any more children, but God’s ways are not our own. It would have been imprudent to try and I wrote about the need for prudence in such decisions. God calls each one of our families to a different path to holiness and we cannot compare our situation to the person sitting next to us in the pew because we have no idea what they are going through, can handle, or what God is asking of them. Being judgmental is a sin for a reason and it stems from the destructive sin of pride. But, God is also not done with any of us. Crosses lift, evolve, or take a new shape. Old Crosses disappear and new ones take their place. In all of these we are called to trust.
Trust is a battle for me. Right now I am in the weeks where I usually miscarriage. My husband has had to learn how to give me inter-muscular natural progesterone shots and more HCG shots in the hope that they will help my body sustain another pregnancy to term. Four times a week he gives me a shot and we wait. There is so much waiting.
A few months ago a friend introduced me to 33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC. I had just completed the 33 Days to Morning Glory and done my Marian consecration. I picked up Merciful Love and began reading it a couple of times, but never seemed to make it through the first couple of weeks. Right when I found out I was pregnant I found the book in one of my bags and set out to read it in its entirety in order to complete the consecration to Divine Mercy. As I began to read it again, I discovered that the greatest struggle in my spiritual life is trust.
Trust is difficult for me right now because I have grieved so much and struggled in dark times for prolonged periods. The joy of a new baby is tempered by the pain that I still feel from losing three babies. My husband and I are in a period of cautious joy as we wait for an ultrasound to detect a heartbeat next week. It is those ultrasounds that have revealed our three losses and I haven’t seen a heartbeat since our daughter. In all of this I have to confront the fact that I doubt God’s goodness. Fr. Gaitley writes about this struggle in Merciful Love:
To one degree or another, as sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, we all have a trust problem. We tend to distrust God. In other words, just like Adam and Eve hid from God when they heard him walking in the garden after their sin, so we, too, tend to hide from God, especially when our sins weigh heavily upon us. This is one of the effects of original sin, one of its “tragic consequences”.
The Fall has placed us in a distrustful position with God. Our sin pulls us away from God and this can be exacerbated by periods of suffering in which we do not trust God, but become angry and afraid of Him. This is because we do not see God as goodness itself.
And what has become distorted about our image of God? His goodness. We tend to doubt God’s goodness. And when we don’t fully believe that God is good, then we don’t fully trust in him—and that’s a problem.
This is my biggest problem. Loss has made me distrust God’s goodness. I cannot understand those losses beyond a physiological explanation. I will never know exactly why God called those babies home. He had His reasons and I struggle at times to accept that reality. This is because I am not trusting in His goodness.
So what do I do now as I wait to find out if our baby is developing properly? I turn to Mary. Since I am struggling with trust in God, I need her to show me the way to her Son by her great example of faith. Remember Mary stood at the foot of the Cross in loving trust of her Son. She suffered unspeakable pain and sorrow, but there she stood firm in faith.
It was there on Calvary, there at the foot of the Cross, that we find in Mary the glorious perfection of faith. It was there, in the midst of the most terrible darkness, that we paradoxically see the luminous blessing of Elizabeth shine for with ever-greater glory: “Blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled!” Yes, blessed is she who believed in the impossible. Blessed is she who believed “that God was able to raise men even from death” (Heb 11:19).
It is our Heavenly Mother who stands beside us in the great sufferings of our lives. She wraps us in her mantle and comforts us knowingly. She guides us on towards her Son when we doubt, fear, and struggle. She is also a mother. She knows the pain mothers feel at the loss of a child, no matter the age of the child. She also keeps us going forward in moments like these when I have to wait to see if this child will live. She is my constant companion who fixes my gaze on her Son, as she will do for all of us if we ask it of her.
We all struggle with trusting in God. It is an unfortunate result of Original Sin. As we battle sin throughout our lives, we can become distrustful of God’s goodness. In our already Fallen state, periods of profound suffering can also cause us to lack trust in God’s glorious and good plan for our lives. We must confront this reality within ourselves. We must be willing to go to Christ in our weakness and ask Him to teach us to trust and we must turn to His mother who can show us the way to faith and trust in Christ. Mary is the par excellence of trust in God’s goodness. So let us go to her, so that we may see the face of her Son. Mary, Our Mother, ora pro nobis.
Update from the editor: The author would like to thank everyone for their comments and prayers. Constance had an ultrasound and they found a heartbeat and announced the due-date next Spring. Glory to God for all things.