This is an updated repost from the past...
Being Open to Life:
I guess I should start with the way I was conceived…I was the product of a date rape, my birth mother choose to live at Ann’s Infant home in DC to conceal her pregnancy from her family and I was placed in my currant home at 12 days old. I grew up surrounded by so much love and very proud that I was adopted into such a wonderful family. So my life, my husband, and my children, all are affected because a young single mom said YES to life!
When my husband proposed to me…
First of all we started dating when I was 16 and he was 19. Yes, my parents were desperate to marry me off. I mean come on, I was the baby, the ninth child, and the fifth daughter. We dated for almost two years. I was ready to get married at age 18 but he decided that he needed a break…and I got the break…it was in my heart! A week after I decided I never wanted to see him again and I would move on, he came by my house to visit. I looked shocked and he said, “I am going to marry you some day.” I looked him and thought, I don’t even like you right now. Almost two years passed and we started to date again. After just a few months we went to Sugarloaf Mountain for a hike. Up on a very high peak, he proposed to me. I think he was as surprised as I was at his question. I looked at him in shock and he said, “Who else will give you 10 kids, a dog, and a white picket fence?” I thought for a moment and realized that was pretty accurate. In 1988 finding a guy who wanted to have kids at all was a bonus. So I said, “Forget the dog, make it 11,” and I then said yes!
When I was engaged to my husband, Rob, we did what most Catholic engaged couples do when they are engaged. We took NFP classes with the diocese; I was shocked to learn how intricate and fascinating women’s bodies were. The many different types of NFP that are available were so interesting and yes for some NFP can be very stressful and others a true gift. After the class I started charting and taking my temperature and being watchful of other ways my body would change during my cycle. I did this for about 3 months and learned my ovulating pattern.
One night I attended a pro life talk with a guest speaker named Joan Andrews (now known as Joan Andrews Bell). She spoke of the responsibility Catholic couples have to follow the will of God in their lives. This may be using the gift of the church, NFP, or letting God be in total control.
Since I had dreamed of being a mom since 2nd grade, was very healthy, and had a fiancé who also was willing to have a big family, I started to reconsider why we were even going to use NFP right away.
Rob too, after spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, felt as if God was asking us to be open to life and trust in Him completely. After sharing our experiences with each other we decided to put away the thermometer and prepare for our life together letting God take control.
It helped so much that we were surrounded by wonderful couples who mentored us in spiritual, as well as married life. Many of them used NFP and some just depended on God’s planning. One night at a prayer meeting, before our wedding, the women prayed over me. One of the women said, “I am having a vision of you being surrounded by children.” Ha, ha, she laughs even now seeing me with my 13 kids.
After about a year engagement, on May 11, 1989, I got my period. We were to be married on May 20th and I knew right away that I would be ovulating on our honeymoon! I laughed at the thought that God was really asking us to trust in Him from the start. I told Rob and he too found it humorous that it looked like we were going to be blessed “right away!”
Rob and I did get pregnant on our honeymoon. It was the best thing that ever happened to us. Then when my daughter Alex was about 4 ½ months old and nursing fulltime, I got pregnant with Joshua. He was about eight months old when I got pregnant with Francis Jude. I then miscarried at about 8 weeks. Then two months later I got pregnant again, thanks to Our Lady of Guadalupe’s intercession, with Caleb Michael. When he was about 10 months old I got pregnant with Elizabeth. When she was about 8 months old I got pregnant with Barbara Philomena. Then came Joseph, Robert, Dominic, Mary, Cecilia, Eric, and Kolbe. All about 18-22 months apart.
Being 41 and wanting another baby, I weaned Kolbe at one year so I could try to get pregnant again (I know I am crazy). Kolbe was almost 3 when I got pregnant with Hope Grace- I didn’t know I was pregnant. I was going to the doctor because I thought I was going through menopause as I kept spotting and thought I was having short periods. My doctor suggested that I go for a mammogram and sonogram to check if I was really going through menopause or not. The sonographer asked again why I was there and when I said to find out why I wasn’t able to get pregnant, she said I was 6 weeks pregnant! Shocked, excited and very scared because I had been spotting, I texted my husband a photo our new baby. A couple weeks later we found out Hope didn’t have a heartbeat and again my heart broke.
At this time, I begged God for a baby (again). Little did I know God was hearing my prayer and in another state my little Ray was being conceived by an unwed mother. Later she would find herself at the Gabriel Network unwed mother’s home. I was called by an employee at the Gabriel Network asking if my family would be willing to take in a 12 week old baby while his mom tried to get situated. On April 12, 2013 Raven Gabriel came into our lives. When he was six months old, we got legal custody of Ray. To this day we are still praying to finalize his adoption.
Little did I know I was about five weeks pregnant with Steven Thomas when we got Ray. After lots of doctor appointments and tests we found out all was great and I was healthy enough to deliver this baby. It was a dream come true! At 17 weeks I was feeling fantastic and on top of my game. Unfortunately, my water broke out of nowhere and my world crashed down around me. I was given no hope of my baby's survival and was told I should terminate the pregnancy since it was impossible for Steven to survive. I was given better advice by my second opinion, which was to go home, be with my family, and wish for the best. After 2 weeks of bed rest, and asking people all over the world to pray for a miracle. Steven went back to his Father in heaven at about 20 weeks, to intercede for our family. I got to deliver him myself in the hospital and he was perfect in every way. His tiny nose, ears, and fingernails were so intricate, I had never been more pro life in my entire life than I was that day holding this perfectly created human in my hands. My husband and I got to spend time with our son holding and crying with him.
The nurses were fantastic taking photos and footprints of Stephen just as if he was alive. Their care and attention to detail will never be forgotten. With a little persuasion and a wonderful funeral home worker coming to the hospital to get Stephen, they let us take him home to bury him in our parish cemetery. This time more than my heart broke, it felt as if it was crushed and my thoughts of ever having a baby again were pretty unbearable. If it wasn’t for a very close friend and mentor, I might have had a nervous breakdown do to the grief I was experiencing. I was told by my niece who is a counselor that I was not only mourning the loss of Steven but really the loss of my fertility. Which was very accurate. I guess I figured that when I got older I would just naturally stop wanted to have children. It didn’t happen that easily for me. For some crazy strange reason God has given me this desire to have and be around children. I guess it’s a good thing and I am very blessed that my husband shared in my desire to have a big family.
I haven’t met many people who feel the same way as me about wanting babies ALL. THE. TIME. That is fine, everyone has different gifts, talents, and desires. I can honestly say that in the 28 years of marriage every time my husband and I have made love I have been open to life. I am a sinful human and make daily mistakes constantly, I can’t imagine being in charge of when the best time to conceive would be? It is such a blessing to let God decide on that factor and to leave it in His mighty hands. THY WILL BE DONE, is my constant mantra! Even after my son Caleb was born in 1993, when I had to get a MMR booster shot. I was told by the doctors and my midwife that getting pregnant would be dangerous to the baby. That my baby could be blind and get other birth defects. I was concerned of putting my baby at risk but knowing that the chance of getting pregnant while nursing a 2 month old and not having my period yet was pretty slim. I also knew that I promised to trust God and let HIS WILL BE DONE in my life. So far at age 49 it has worked out perfectly.
All of this may sound super strange to most people reading this but I have seen innumerable fruits from being open to life and letting God be in charge of my life and my fertility. Marriage is tough enough and having my husband and me not have to worry about if I am ovulating or not, and just let God direct our love and passion is so freeing. I can hear my kids saying, “Ew mom, you are so gross!” That’s when I say, “Isn’t it nice knowing not one of you were a mistake? All planned by the GOD of the universe?” Since my husband and I always pray before we make love, “Lord, bless this act of love and any baby you may give us.” It’s pretty awesome watching God give us so many blessings…I could write a book about all the miracles we have had by being open to life…the many people, gifts, and situations that God has directly took over for us is unbelievable. Ten months ago on August 1, 2016, exactly four years after I delivered Stephen. God blessed us again with a foster baby boy. We will keep him until his mom or grandmother can take care of him.
Well, it’s about five years later and I am still mourning my fertility, but loving God, and being grateful for my 13 living children, our foster son, and my pretty remarkable granddaughter and grandson, and one more grandchild on the way.
I have been told by many people how they desire for another baby, but I have NEVER, been told by any living soul that they wish they DIDN’T have this or that child. I also know very wonderful and holy couples who for various reasons have used NFP and it has been such a gift to them. I am so thankful that we were always open to life and chose to never use NFP to prevent children. I know it is a gift of the church for many families for very good reasons, so believe me no judgment here; but I am thankful that we didn’t need that gift and are enjoying the 16 precious gifts He did give us.
My prayer for couples is that they too will come in agreement with each other as to what is best for their families. Marriage is hard enough as it is without the stress of not agreeing on what they will decide about children. They are a definite gift from the Lord. I look at my life and I am grateful that even being an unplanned pregnancy that God can create miracles through us.
Thy Will Be Done!!! +JMJ+