Welcome to our first Blessed Chats series! Each month, we will dedicate an entire week of blog posts to a topic that affects many of us. These conversations often come up in our Facebook groups and in our real life friendships. We want to share a variety of perspectives on the topic at hand, so we’ve asked women to share their stories and how the teachings of the Church have guided and comforted them. In this first series, we’re talking all about fertility. We’d love for you to join the conversation!
Secondary infertility is a deep wound. It’s a wound that pierces who I am as a person. It has affected every aspect of my life and has led me to moments of overwhelming sorrow. And it can totally consume me if I allow it to. It’s brought heartache and heartbreak. It’s left me empty and lonely. Secondary infertility is a cross.
Yet precisely because of this—the penetrating pain, the sorrow, the cross—it’s led to joy. It took me four years to enter into the mystery of the joy of suffering. By a miraculous gift from God, I was able to understand the truth that everything God allows to happen in my life He will use for my salvation. Everything He permits is for His greater glory. Knowing this truth has allowed me to trust in Him and His plan for my life. It has brought joy.Everything that God allows to happen in my life He will use for my salvation. #BISblog #blessedchats // Click To Tweet
Big Family Dreams
Ever since I was young I always dreamt of having a big family. I have five siblings and they are counted among my greatest joys. I became pregnant with my son just two months after marrying my husband, Mike. The thought of possibly being infertile was the last thing on my mind.
Secondary infertility is defined as being unable to become pregnant, or to carry a full-term pregnancy, following the birth of one or more children. I don’t remember learning about secondary infertility in nursing school; and if I had, like most, I passed by it without a thought. Yet after months of physical tests and exams, it became my diagnosis.
For a few weeks, it was a diagnosis that totally and painfully consumed my heart, mind, and soul.
When I found out from my doctor that I was experiencing secondary infertility, my entire being filled with sorrow and anger. I felt foolish for all the pregnancy tests I had purchased over the past two years. I felt like I had wasted time each day wondering when I would be pregnant, keeping a room open for a nursery, and daydreaming about Peter as an older brother. The diagnosis sounded cold and harsh.
I told God that I knew it is completely in His power to allow me to become pregnant, and it is a good and beautiful thing that I want to become pregnant. So why, why God, wasn’t it happening?
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Getting to the Root
There is always an underlying issue for infertility, and with my secondary infertility diagnosis came another diagnosis: polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS. Through practicing NFP and tracking my cycles, my doctor was able to confirm that PCOS was one of the causes for my secondary infertility.
It was during that time I was introduced to Natural Procreative Technology, NaPro Technology, a natural and pro-creative approach to fertility. NaPro helps discover the “why” behind fertility issues, offering hope not only in a diagnosis but also with treatment.
After my diagnosis, conception was my goal and I worked closely with my doctor who practiced NaPro techniques.
Shifting My Focus
After another two years of trying to conceive and taking medications to help ovulate and hcG shots to raise my low progesterone and estrogen levels, I decided to focus on my health instead of conception.
This shift in my mind and heart changed everything for me. Though I had been exercising consistently and eating well since my diagnosis, I felt free for the first time in years. Free from taking such time-sensitive medications, free from the pressure I was putting on myself and my husband to conceive. With this new goal of health, I felt renewed and full of hope.
It was during this time that I decided to have an ovarian wedge resection, an OWR. Though there is no cure for PCOS, an OWR is the closest thing to it. An OWR removes a section of the ovaries so that there are essentially less cysts to cause issues and side effects.
During my OWR, my NaPro surgeon, Dr. Kyle Beiter, also found Stage I Endometriosis that he removed. My recovery aligned with Lent, and it was one of the most powerful of my life.
Suffering and Mercy
A few hours before Lent began, I decided to fast from Instagram. Instead of scrolling, I filled my time with reading the Diary of Saint Faustina Kowalska. In those pages I discovered Faustina’s journey with suffering and the deep joy she found in it. She wrote of not only comforting Christ but saving her own soul and other souls through her suffering. She wrote that God revealed to her that if angels could be jealous of men it would be for two things: the Eucharist and their ability to suffer.
As I was finishing her Diary and reading these powerful words, I realized how terrified I had been to suffer. Physical suffering scared me and I had been trying to avoid it at all costs. I had been afraid of the pain of surgery before my OWR and as I lay recovering I was scared for my heart to continue to suffer with the cross of infertility. I was full of fear.
Yet I had opened the door just enough for Christ to enter into my heart, and grace began to pour into my life. Jesus healed me not only physically but also spiritually and emotionally.
A few days before Lent ended, I sat on my bed and looked at the San Damiano crucifix that hangs in my bedroom. I saw the suffering Christ, hanging, dying, for me. I looked at Him and repeated, “I surrender.” I told Him I surrender to all He has in store for my life. I said yes to the infertility, if that is what He willed for my life. I said yes to the suffering, if that is what His plan was for me.
The most profound peace and joy I have ever experienced immediately flooded into my entire being. That joy has continued to grow as I surrender each day to Him and His will for my life. There is freedom in the surrender. There is joy in knowing that our suffering has merit.Jesus healed me not only physically but also spiritually and emotionally. #BISblog #blessedchats // Click To Tweet
You are Bearing Fruit
If you are experiencing infertility, know that your life is bearing fruit, and you are called to be a Christ-bearer. We may not all be called to carry our own children physically within us, yet we are all called by Christ, by name, to live out His mission of discipleship. We are called, as women, to bear Christ just as Our Lady did—in all we think, do, and say.
When we do this, when we surrender to His plan for us, we will flourish, we will be free. Say yes to all He has in store for your life, say yes to His will for you. Do not be afraid of His answer.
Do you experience infertility or secondary infertility? Please share your story with us in the comments below!
If you want more help with finding your own story, our popular Write + Pray course offers 9 topics, nearly an hour of guided video, and almost 50 Scripture verses and questions for you featuring Managing Editor Nell O’Leary. Find your story today.