(I started writing this post months ago, but have not had time to refine it and finish it. I have felt the need to hit "publish" lately though. Maybe it is because Hope is too quickly approaching 12 months old and my desire to share it's sentiments would be lost soon. Or maybe it is because this week is the March for Life and the sacredness of life is before me in a precious little girl and I want to remember that, in words, here. But whatever the reason, here is our story of seeking God's will and and being open to life.)
Shortly after we announced that we were expecting baby Hope, I felt that I needed to share our NFP story. Partially, it was because we had so many people say things like, "What a miracle!" or share stories of how people they knew were infertile, adopted and then had a baby of their own, that I felt that many people probably got the wrong idea about why we had three boys, waited a while and adopted and then found out we were expecting a baby while adopting. We got a lot of "That always happens! People always seem to get pregnant while adopting." I would typically just smile and nod my head, yet inside I was thinking, "They really have no idea!" So, I felt compelled to share our story. I told my husband and his immediate response was, "Are you sure you want to do that? You could open yourself up to a lot of criticism." He, wisely, suggested that I table the topic. And I did. But, after Thomas came home and baby Hope arrived, the perfect-ness of God's plan before my eyes, I knew I wanted to share our story. So, let me begin at the beginning . . .
About 17 years ago, Pete and I got engaged. And, as all good Catholic engaged couples do, we attended an NFP class. We fully embraced the Church's teachings on being open to life and embraced learning the ins and outs of Natural Family Planning as well. And it was easy to learn as I was the pattern of the typical text book woman.
We were married 6 months later. Pete was living in Michigan and I had just left my job and apartment in Steubenville to move up to Michigan and start our married life. I am not exactly good with change and most change causes lots of anxiety and sleepless nights, so after much prayer, we knew introducing a baby to the mix right away probably wasn't the best way to help me transition, so we used our knowledge of NFP to ensure we would wait to have a baby.
A year later, we knew it was time and the planner in me had figured out the perfect month to try to conceive. That first month of hoping brought forth a positive pregnancy test, and 9 months later, our son Joshua.
|Joshua - Born before we aquired a digital camera|
Over the next several years, we used NFP to both achieve pregnancy and to avoid pregnancy. During part of that time, Pete was a full time PhD student for a while and we had the WORST insurance ever and such little income, that we knew that adding to our family during that time would not be a good decision. Two years later, Pete was in a full time job again, we were no longer living is a tiny apartment in a college dorm, and so we excitedly looked forward to having another baby. Four months, a positive pregnancy test, and a few ultrasounds later showed we would have another son, Caleb. Joshua and Caleb are three years apart.
Right around the time Caleb turned a year old, we felt that we had no grave reason to not have another child. It was the first time we weren’t using NFP to avoid pregnancy or to actively achieve a pregnancy. We decided that we were open to having another baby whenever God wanted to bless us. Caleb was just 15 months old when we found out we were expecting baby #3; Andrew.
All three of the boys were born via c-section. Two of out three of them were horrible experiences, and the third left me in a lot of pain. My recovery took forever and Andrew was 6 months old and I would still sit up in bed in the morning, and it was hard to breathe. It felt like I had to work to take a deep breath. I would have pain in my lower abdomen and although my OB said that I was fine, after talking with a family member that is a doctor, I was sure that damage had been done to my pelvic floor and I was having problems with scar tissue. I headed to a PT who specialized in the breakdown of scar tissue. I also began exercising. A lot. Running became my therapy to the craziness of three boys and my PT encouraged it, mentioning that the motion of running would help to keep scar tissue from building up again. But, the pain from the c-section lasted until Andrew was around 18 months old. Several times a day, I would be reminded that something was still not quite right.
And so, when we began to talk and pray about having another baby, I was a bit apprehensive. My OB was concerned and said that she recommended me sitting down with many of the OBs in the practice and have a "panel discussion" about my situation before we tried to have another baby. I took that as a clear directive to not have any more babies. After all, I did have a heart for adoption, but I was still conflicted. The Catholic in me was really trying to figure out "is this a grave reason?"
Pete and I talked and prayed about it a lot. I was unsure what God was calling us to do.
One day I was at a friend's house for a party. As I was leaving, I began talking to a friend who had had a c-section that left her unable to have more children. As we stood in front of our cars, she said something to me that struck my heart.
"You have no peace, Katie. Ask God to give you peace about whatever direction you are to go."
I drove away and immediately went to adoration.
And the answer came. It was one of the few times in my life that I felt God speak audibly to me.
No. Do not try to have any more children.
And with that no, an amazing peace came. I knew that we had our answer and God supplied an abundant amount of peace with it.
I went home and told Pete. We prayed together and knew, for that moment, what God was saying about our family size.
At that moment, our three precious sons were enough.
To be continued . . .