Tuesday, October 7, 2014

On Choosing to be Open to Life: Worth the Risk?

Nancy's blog, Do Small Things With Love, was having a "Choose to be Open to Life" series and I was blessed enough to take part and share our story on how God has walked with us in our journey in being open to life.  My post is below, but you can also view my story over on her blog along with many other momma's who shared their story!!  Be sure to head on over there to take a peek at all the beautiful ways God blesses and gives life to those who are open to His plan.


Making a Cursillo weekend 7 months before we were set to be married was the “kick in the butt” my fiancĂ© and I needed to understand the beauty and responsibility we had in living out our Catholic faith.  Beginning a life of piety, study, and action, the biggest change we needed to make was related to our intimate life.  You see, we had been intimate for many years and were not even married.  Not only that, but I had been on the birth control pill for quite some time as well.  Both of these were big “no-no’s” in our newly appreciated faith.  So, we signed up right away for an NFP class to learn this method to plan our family – either to postpone pregnancy or to achieve a pregnancy, whatever God was calling us to at different periods of our life.  Also, since we were not yet married, we were called to hold off and save ourselves intimately until we were married.

We began and established our family of 3, of course – me, Neil and Christ at the center, on May 20th 2000!  Not seeing any grave reason to postpone pregnancy, we let God take over from the start of our marriage.  We became pregnant after a couple months, but we lost the baby in the first trimester.  Our hearts were broken when we realized this could have been part of the side effects from having been on the pill for such a long time.  

After our first loss and really wanting to have children, LOTS of them, we were getting anxious to start having babies!!  We would be happy with 1 or 4 or 7 or even a dozen or more, whatever God had planned for us!!  And, our prayers came true once again and I become pregnant pretty much right away.  Our first son, Fone, was born via an emergency c-section because he went into fetal distress and my blood pressure shot up.  We were absolutely thrilled to have our son in our arms, despite the need for an unexpected c-section and harder recovery.     (first c-section)

Our second young one, Mario, was born 18 months later, and despite the fact that we were really wanting to try a VBAC, it was called off just weeks before delivery and a c-section was scheduled instead.  I was having a lot of pain near my incision towards the end and doctors never want to mess with incision pain because of the unknown source of it.   Again, we were okay with that and accepted God’s plan in it all.  After his birth, we were given all the risks about continuing to have c-sections (not a choice after 2) but continued with using NFP and being open to life rather than turn to artificial birth control or sterilization, like the doctors were suggesting.  (second c-section)

We continued to be open to life with the next 3 births – Melody, Ariel, and Max - as my uterus seemed to be doing okay after the previous births.  There was a warning with having windows where they could see the baby peeking through, but we still felt God calling us to be open to life using NFP.  For Max’s delivery though, there were many more windows and the doctors strongly encouraged us to “do something”.  We knew we would not turn to anything unnatural and would continue to use NFP to prevent pregnancies and would do our best charting and understanding my cycles from here on out.  It was during all of these pregnancies that many strangers, family, friends, and even some in our church family spoke out against our openness to life and their concerns with the fact that “my children need a mom and we should do something so another pregnancy doesn’t happen”.  Again, Neil and I held tight to our faith and our plan to continue with NFP in our marriage.  NFP is allowed and can be practiced “with grave reasons” and we were given the okay to go ahead with using it to prevent pregnancies from here on out.  The beauty of NFP is that it does not do anything unnatural to your body, so God clearly has the final say of the outcome.  So, we knew another pregnancy could happen, but we would do our best to prevent them.     (third, fourth, and fifth c-sections)

Well turns out, God did step in and we found ourselves pregnant once again.  Not only was I pregnant, but my doctor who delivered the last bunch of kids had moved farther away and we would need to find a new doctor – a doctor who was confident in taking on a high risk pregnancy and would be willing to do a 6th c-section.  I was turned down by the first seven doctors that I called, who said I was “too high risk” for them, including our local pro-life doctor.  One doctor even called me back and wanted to personally share with me that me getting pregnant this time was the same as lying on a train track with a train on its way to hit and kill me.  Oh boy - can you imagine the emotional mess I was in??  Thankfully, God did provide- and I found a doctor!!!!  Our sweet Pookey was born and safely in my arms, but the c-section was definitely a scary one….  I had so many windows and open spots in my uterus that it was the bag of waters holding him in and my doctor barely had any uterine muscle tissue to cut.  Talk about a miracle that my water didn’t break!!!!    (sixth c-section)

We were okayed by our spiritual director once again that we had grave reasons to continue using NFP, so again, we would give it our all and do our best to postpone another pregnancy.  We learned to use Billings/Creighton (which is very similar to NFP and just another natural method used to plan your family) because the signs it uses are clearer and stronger for me.  Just as we had experienced earlier, many people judged us for living out our faith in being open to life and not “doing anything” to prevent another pregnancy.  We were even told by a local priest that we had the “okay” to use contraception or be sterilized – ouch!  We knew he was misinforming us but were grateful for being grounded in our faith to see through his advice.  Again, God’s hand can easily take over since it is natural and surprisingly we found ourselves pregnant again after clearly following my signs and abstaining when I thought I was fertile.  C-section number 7 was going to be happening – God had planned and okayed once again for this to happen.  My doctor, having seen my uterus from the 6th c-section, turned to a larger, more experienced hospital with high risk pregnancies and got permission to take my baby one month early.  Sweet baby Rose was born a month early, breathing all on her own (thanks to the planned steroid shots for her lungs) and perfectly beautiful and healthy!!!  And, amazingly, there were less uterine windows and she actually had to cut the muscle to get baby out!!   (seventh c-section)

So, here I am today and guess what??  I am pregnant again - surprise, surprise!!!  ;-)    We again were trying to postpone pregnancy and used Creighton, but were caught off guard when I had only had 2 days of infertile days when we thought my signs showed 5 days that were infertile.    I went to confession midway through this pregnancy and shared my anxieties and fears and the priest, whom I had not been to confession with before, actually told me that “God will forgive me for becoming pregnant and we should have used common sense so this didn’t happen in the first place”.  WHAT!!!???!!!  I went to confession the next month with a true and devout priest, and shared my experience with the last priest and things went much better – he suggested I pray for the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the priest who misguided me as he is probably misguiding others as well.  So, here we are waiting and praying for Venerable Fulton J. Sheen’s intercession for a safe and healthy remainder of the pregnancy and 8th c-section delivery, which will be early next week!!!  Can you join us in prayer for our little guy?? 

As a side note on using NFP/Creighton, as I said before, my husband and I were really hoping for a large family – we would love a dozen or more young ones to love and chase and take care of.  We clearly have reasons to use it, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to do – many months we find ourselves saying to each other “we HATE NFP”.  This is a heavy cross to carry, not to mention that the times you need to abstain to avoid a pregnancy is when you most want to be intimate with your husband.  I have many years of fertility left and know that this will continue to be a struggle for us - not wanting to use Creighton but definitely having a need to try our best at it.  We will continue to pray and listen to God and take this month by month, as He is the best planner for our families.   

What do you think?  Is being open to life and using NFP worth the risk??

If we would have listened to the advice of my doctors and many others, this picture would be missing half the children in it.  Instead, we took the risk, put our faith and trust in Our Lord and would absolutely say without a doubt….

“YES, being open to life is worth the risk!!!”

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