I sat in the pew, clenching my husband’s hand and biting my lip to numb the pain and fight back the tears. All the mothers stood to receive a special blessing. Another Mother’s Day fought through. Another year gone by. And there I sat.
All I had to show were the scars from numerous surgeries and the bills from appointments. No one knew about the five babies I grieved and so longed to hold that were taken from me. No one knew the hurt and pain I felt as I longed to be a mother.
A Triggering Day
It seemed I was a spring of emotions with almost anything triggering the tears. Pregnancy announcements, baby showers, Mother’s Day, even reading through Scripture seemed to send me into a whirlwind. I would find my heart filling up with an anger at God that scared me. Seven years, novena after novena, prayer after prayer…why the silence?
I felt alone, suffering in silence. The cross heavy and the pain raw, often putting on a face to mask the hurt. Even my husband didn’t seem to understand. Why wasn’t he grieving in the same way? My church friends told me to pray more and trust and the medical community wrote off each of my babies as a product of conception. It was hard to find answers and support.
When we said “I do” we had no idea what the next seven years would bring. The roller coaster of emotions: excitement, hope, anxiety, worry, fear, sadness, anger, acceptance, trust. I will never forget the phone call from my doctor telling me there was nothing more medically he could do after my fourth miscarriage.
It was in that heart wrenching phone call that I surrendered. After so many years of clinging and grasping after my wants, I finally let God write His story. God placed adoption on our hearts and we met our sons two and a half years later. A year later our daughter was born and 20 months after that, our son.
Not all stories are written like ours. But even in the wait, in the silence, God is forever still present and at work. At a time when nothing more than pain and the desire to be a mother consumes us, God has a plan. And in the silence and grief, God is molding our hearts, which often times feels like a chisel as we are being made new.
To the women who are grieving, longing, and waiting for motherhood…
It may seem as if God has abandoned you. Being a mother is such a noble and good intention, why would He deny my husband and I this gift? He is with you in the silence. He is carrying you through the valley. He is at work in the wait, creating you anew.
Somedays I found it incredibly difficult to formulate any words, even the rote prayers that I had been reciting my entire life. In what may seem simple there is great power in repeating the name Jesus. Jesus, I trust in you!
Keep praying the novenas and let your fingers run over the beads on the Rosary. Ask others to pray for you: your husband, your family, your friends, and your parish community. Sit in Adoration and say nothing. Go on a silent retreat and let God do the talking.
I was young, fit and healthy. Yet my body was failing me.
What was wrong with me? Why am I inadequate? What if my spouse blames me? Will this cause him to love me less?
It is normal to let our mind give way to unreasonable thoughts. Writing down the thoughts and feelings that are hard to express to anyone else is very therapeutic. When I didn’t know who to talk to, I journaled. I sat in the quiet, let my guard down and let the pen move expressing every thought and feeling of my heart.
Infertility is an incredibly isolating cross, especially so among Catholic circles as you try to find your place as the couple with no kids when all of your friends are expecting baby number four.
Know that you are not alone. There are so many other women who are suffering in silence. One in eight couples are affected by infertility in the United States and 15-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
Find a group on social media. Have coffee dates with other women who are going through similar experiences. Start a group in your Church. It’s amazing how many women will come forward. When pain strikes it is easy for us to want to isolate ourselves even more, because who is going to understand? Resist the isolation and find community.
Grow in your marriage.
Cling to your husband. The stats of marriage ending in divorce because of infertility and miscarriage are frightening. Studies showing that couples who experience infertility are three times more likely to divorce and those who suffer a miscarriage are 22% more likely.
Infertility is an extremely trying time that usually happens within the first years of marriage, as newlyweds are still trying to navigate life after the honeymoon phase. Men and women grieve differently, often leaving the wife feeling alone.
Use this time of waiting as a time to grow in a closer relationship with your spouse. Make a concerted effort to talk through the emotions. Enjoy having more movie nights, dinners out, weekends away or the things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do if you had children in tow.
A Holy Desire for Motherhood
Navigating infertility can often be challenging there are many resources available from books, to support groups, to authentically Catholic medical care. The burden is heavy, the pain often raw, but the desire is holy. You are not in this alone. As many times as I heard the words and gritted my teeth, God truly does have a plan and in our hearts we need to hold firm to that promise.
- NaPro Technology
- Fertility Care
- Elizabeth Ministry
- The Infertility Companion for Catholics
- Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition
- After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman’s Companion to Healing and Hope
- Naming the Child
We’re praying for you, sisters. Feel free to share your heart and struggles in the comments below. We’re here for you!
Cassie Everts is a wife and mother to four children on earth and five souls in heaven. She is daily trying to figure out motherhood after having gone from zero kids to four in 2 1/2 years time. She writes about faith, infertility, adoption and motherhood at her blog Everyday Ann, striving to see the extraordinary hand of God in the very ordinary. You can find out more about her here.
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