When people used to ask me how many kids I wanted I used to say, "Four." Now, I'm not sure what to say. I'm 25 and have two daughters but that isn't what gives me pause. It's because I have no idea what God's will is for us and I don't want to answer for Him.
Almost a year after Kyle and I got married we were living in his home town of Houston, Texas and I was getting homesick for my family and for the northeast. I wasn't having much luck in the job department either. With a double major in Theology and Catechetics I was obviously looking for something within my field and was coming up with nothing. I spent the first few months of our marriage teaching preschool until I contracted mono and consequently ended up being forced out of that position and took a job at one of my favorite retail chains where I spent more money on clothes than I made.
The whole time a applied for every job within my field that became available but it just wasn't happening. Houston is one of those places where you have to know the right people and we didn't. Fortunately for us, when we decide to look outside of Texas, my mom did. I was hired as a youth minister at a small parish in Massachusetts and we were scheduled to move shortly before our one year anniversary.
With the knowledge on impending employment we decided to be a little bit more relaxed with our practice of NFP and therefore became pregnant right away. Except I didn't know it. I went to a Life Teen training retreat where I thought I got my period but even through that the whole time I had this feeling that something was off. I got home, my period went away, but I continued to have light spotting. After about a week of that we decided to take a pregnancy test and it was positive. I was pregnant but something was wrong.
Blood tests confirmed that my HCG levels were rising but not as they should have and the doctors were unable to locate a baby in my uterus. They told me to wait, I waited a week, and one Saturday night in June I was rushed to the hospital in the most intense pain of my life.
With this ultrasound they found our baby but he was not where he should be. It was an ectopic pregnancy and I was schedule for surgery as soon as possible. We consulted a priest friend of ours who we trust for orthodoxy and prayer and realized the only way this could be done and still preserve the dignity of the life of our unborn child would mean the loss of one of my fallopian tubes. I received the anointing of the sick, made my confession, and stayed a sleepless night in the hospital with my husband and mother-in-law by my side. It was the worst night of my life.
After the surgery I was obviously happy to still be alive but I was broken in every way possible. I was in incredible physical pain and even worse emotional pain. I spent the next week in bed sobbing as Kyle held me and my in-laws packed up our apartment to move. We had lost that first child that we had created and half of my fertility. I had always wanted to have children, for as long as I can remember that is all I wanted to do with my life. I had stuffed pillows in my shirt at two, pretended to breastfeed my stuffed animals at three, played house, thought of names, imagined everything about it and it was like all those dreams were slipping through my fingers. In one night I had to come to terms with my own mortality, I could have died if we hadn't gone in and waited like my doctor had told me to do, and the idea that I could lose my future too.
I went though the stages of grief, one by one. Denial, what I had been in until I was rushed into surgery. Anger, at all of those people who complained about their pregnancies and about their children. Didn't they know how lucky they were? Bargaining, Just give me one baby God. Just one. Depression, that one lasted the longest.
And then finally, one September night, acceptance. It had been months that I couldn't drive past a Babies R Us without tearing up. That night, as I passed it on my way home I decided to pull in. I just needed to be there. As I walked around the isles by myself I prayed and talked to the little baby we had lost. I told him that I loved him and I couldn't wait to meet him someday in heaven and that I wanted him to intercede for us before God so that he could have a sibling.
I don't know if I already was, or if it happened that night, or maybe in the nights that followed, but it was about two weeks later that I took another pregnancy test and it was positive again. That day I knew that God's plan was unfolding in a beautiful way.
My pregnancy was extremely difficult but I made it a point not to complain. See, too many people don't get my happy ending. I have two beautiful babies and so many people never even get one. How can I complain about something so amazing? Motherhood is supposed to challenge us, that's how we become purified for Christ, and why shouldn't it start right at the beginning in our first trimester. I was so thankful for the sickness, I swear I would throw up and just praise God because I couldn't believe that I was having a baby. It was a constant reminder of God's abundant MERCY.
Madeleine was born one year to the day from when we lost our first sweet baby, who I named David. God makes all things new.
There are still times that I mourn for our loss but I know deep down that this is the way God intended it to be. Without that loss I wouldn't have that same appreciation for the difficult times of motherhood, just like without knowledge of our sinfulness we cannot appreciate God's MERCY and forgiveness. We have a child in heaven interceding for us and Madeleine in our arms to show us God's love here on earth.
The other blessing of that time was Kyle. I had obviously been in love with him before, I married him after all, but our love was taken to a whole new level through this trial of faith. Kyle laid down his life to take care of me day after day. He carried me to Christ when he himself was broken by grief. We held each other and learned to trust each other more than we ever had before. I could see Christ in him more clearly and it was so beautiful. That is what marriage is all about. That is why I married that man. So he could be Christ to me.
So when people ask me how many kids I want I have to tell them that it isn't in my hands. I know full well that something could happen and I could not be able to give birth again. I know that I have many fertile years ahead of me and don't exactly have the best grasp on NFP. And I know that God's plan is so much better than mine so I had better trust Him.
For now, I'll enjoy my husband and our two beautiful daughters. I'm not in any rush right now. But I also keep some baby names in the back of my mind... just in case.
Sweet baby David, pray for us.