I am so thankful for my doctors up here in Massachusetts. Since I almost died from an ectopic pregnancy about a week before we left Texas I was a bit scared of finding a doctor I could trust. Per the advice of many solid people I found a strong Catholic doctor who is well versed in the Creighton Method of Natural Family Planning, completely pro-life and anti-contraception with a sizable Catholic brood of his own. He is amazing. I was so scared of not being able to have kids after I lost one of my tubes and he helped me find specialists who could determine the underlying causes to my ectopic pregnancy and if I could achieve more pregnancies without risking losing my other tube or if I would need surgery.
After many sessions with him, lots of blood draws, and much more confidence than I had before I had met him I became pregnant with Madeleine. He was too far away to deliver my baby but I saw him through the first trimester. He did weekly blood draws to make sure my HCG levels were doubling properly before they could make certain that the baby was in my uterus by ultrasound. He got me on progesterone because of my extremely low levels and my family history of miscarriages due to low progesterone levels. Even after I migrated to my new (and also fabulous) doctor for my second and third trimesters he kept up with me to make sure I was doing well.
I had an appointment with him today as has become customary after I start to get my cycle back (over share, I know) after I give birth. They monitor my hormone levels to make sure that they don't detect any signs that there could be any problems with my remaining tube. Praise God, so far everything has been perfect.
We talked for a while about the gift that Natural Family Planning is. He gave an amazing analogy that I just wanted to share. When you achieve a pregnancy while doing Natural Family Planning you are aware of your fertility and therefore able to make a decision to receive a new life inside of you. It is like when you go to receive the Eucharist, you walk to the priest or Extraordinary Minister with the intent to receive Jesus inside of you and you are able to prepare yourself. When you use Natural Family Planning you are aware of the holiness of the act of creating a child with your spouse and you are able to prepare yourself for that new life. He said when you don't use Natural Family Planning and you aren't aware of your fertility it's like receiving the Eucharist in your sandwich. All of the holiness and grace are still there but you aren't aware and so you cannot prepare yourself as fully to receive it. It is such a gift to be aware that you may have just made a child and to reflect on that and it is a blessing to make the decision, "Yes, I want to bear new life." A child is always unequivocally a GIFT and a BLESSING but why would you not want to understand your fertility, embrace it, and know and receive the blessings of that gift right from the moment of conception?
We also talked about having large families. He says that he gets frustrated when the mother of many kids complains about hardships and people say to her, "Well maybe you shouldn't have had so many kids." Someone could be stuck in traffic and complaining about that but you wouldn't tell them, "Well maybe you shouldn't have a car." Sometimes mothers get "stuck in traffic" so to speak and struggle but that does not mean that they shouldn't have had their kids. The overall blessings from their child outweigh any hardships greatly. In fact, I would say that the hardships and challenges are what purify us and make marriage and motherhood a vocation that increases holiness.
Back in the day at Franciscan people would talk about "paths". Obviously your vocation is your path to God. Most of the time when I think about paths in a spiritual context I think back to the road Christ had to travel to the cross. That journey was His purpose and he bore His cross along it because of His intense love for the people we would die for.
I relate that to vocations. Until I found Kyle most of the time I found my "path" to be a rather easy one. I felt like I could carry my cross with no issues and was dancing along to God. It wasn't until I loved Kyle that I began to feel the weight of the cross I was carrying, my sinfulness. I could feel how my sins weighed down on me because now that we were one they were also placed on his shoulders. I could clearly see the effects of my sinfulness on him. If I was selfish, it hurt Kyle. If I was vein, it hurt Kyle. That clarity allowed me to see how I also hurt so many other people around me. Suddenly my cross felt more weighty. At the same time however I found new strength to carry it because I had found something I would die for. I'm not really talking about actual martyrdom because that seems like a no-brainer, dying for my faith, but someone I was willing to die to myself for.
Each day in marriage is a day to carry the cross of sin, of illness, and then to die to yourself for the ones you love. I imagine it is the same for a priest, wanting to carry your cross out of love for the Church, the bride of the priest, and being willing to die to yourself for Her. When I became a mother this conviction was taken to an even more intense level. My sins are weighted down on my daughters as well. I don't think that Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light because the struggles you face as a Christian are negligible. I believe He says it because He gives you the ability to truly LOVE and that love gives you the strength to carry your cross. Ultimately in order to love someone you have to be willing to die to yourself.
I don't want to ever look at motherhood or being a wife and say, "I have no time for myself. I can't afford XYZ." There are times when I struggle with those things but if I ever complain I'll tell you now, I'm glad I have the car even though I am stuck in traffic.
Tonight it is two in the morning but I am not asleep. Juliette is having one of those nights where she thinks bed time is nap time and wakes up at 11 refreshed and ready to go. Which, of course, is always fun.
Tonight after she had been put down on the floor to burn off energy she took off for the clean laundry basket, put my underwear around her neck, and walked off screaming for "Na" which is what she calls Madeleine. Sometimes it's "Nani" but usually it's "Na".
So she eventually realized that "Na" was not in the living room or the play room or the kitchen so she beat down the door to the nursery and made her way to Madeleine's crib in the dark as she called out for her. I scooped her up and removed her before she could wake her sister, she cried, and I told her she would just have to settle for playtime with momma.
She fell asleep again just a little while ago and while I am exhausted I wouldn't a trade single smile. Motherhood can be hard, and I'll stumble and fall far more than the three times Christ did, but it itself cannot ever be a cross. It's what I carry my cross for.