Tag Archives: faith

On my knees

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Do you ever feel like God is testing your faith? I know God doesn’t test us, but there are times when I feel so strong in my faith that there is NOTHING that could shake it. These are the times when I am the weakest, I believe. And, typically, these are the times when I mess up royally.

Recently, we had family members and friends receive horrible medical diagnoses. I was able to remain positive. I was able to turn to God and focus on Him. I felt like these were tests of my faith, and I passed. Praying that the Lord would be with them and help them. (Is there “passing” in faith – and is that my place to decide? The answer is truly NO.)

Well, in the middle of patting myself on the back for my “strong” faith, my daddy had a stress test. Just a “baseline”-because-it-had-been-a-while-since-his-last-test test. He didn’t “pass.” He was scheduled for a cath procedure where they checked for blocks and placed stents. My world shook a little. This is my daddy, the one we all turn to for just about anything. My husband tried to point out that we needed to pray, but I wasn’t ready. I started to fall apart and went through that first evening feeling just a little “off,” needing to turn to the Lord, but not doing so just yet.

Thinking and talking about it later, I realized that when I try to stand strong, I am the weakest.  I really need to get down on my knees. The times when I feel so strong are when I am most vulnerable. These are the times when I need to turn to God first, get down on my knees and give Him my heart one more time. God is my strength and my courage. He is my rock. In Him I place my trust.

Out of time?

Pray first.

So many things going “wrong?”

Pray first.  

Are things going well?

Pray first. 🙂

“But He said to me,‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell within me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Dear Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.

Amen.

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I Make People Uncomfortable

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How’s that for the title of a post? The thing is, it’s true. I make people feel very uncomfortable because they don’t know quite “what” to do with me. I am an Infertile Catholic woman.

Six years ago when my husband and I got married we declared proudly that we were going to be married for one year before we started our family. We told people that we knew that if we didn’t have a strong marriage we could never be good parents. We waited for a year – always looking towards that day when we’d start our family. We learned Natural Family Planning, knowing that it was the one way to control our family size that would help us both with conception and waiting. I was taking some fairly heavy duty prescription drugs due to an auto-immune disorder and I took the year to wean myself off of the drugs carefully. I was practically counting the days.

Whenever someone attempted to warn me “it might take you guys a while to get pregnant,” I refused to listen. “We’re doing Natural Family Planning,” I explained, “I know exactly when I’m fertile. We’ll be just fine.”

I had known since I was a small girl that God was calling me to be a mother – so, of course, there wouldn’t be a problem, how could I have not understood God’s call? Of course He’d give me what I wanted, what He’d called me to! (You know that old saying, “If you want to make God laugh just tell Him your plans?”)

That first cycle that we were TTC (internet lingo for “Trying to Conceive”) I woke up four days past ovulation with nausea and I was thrilled. The word was that my mother & grandmother had struggled with morning sickness since “practically the moment of conception” so I was sure that it had worked. I was pregnant! I was going to be a mother! What on earth were all of those naysayers talking about? It doesn’t take “awhile” to get pregnant! You just have to know what you’re doing!

not pregnantAnd then I started spotting at 7 days past ovulation. I was stunned! What was this? It’s too early for my period! My cycle has always been consistent! Eleven days past ovulation is when my period comes! Not seven! What? What? No… it’s impossible. I started researching implantation bleeding, still convinced that I was pregnant. Two days later I was bleeding in full force.

The next month was the same thing. The third month of TTC our timing was a bit off and I had a perfectly normal cycle. No nausea, no spotting at 7 days past ovulation – it was a perfectly normal 11 day luteal phase. The fourth month was the same thing… another perfectly normal cycle. The fifth month was another short luteal phase. I went to my Natural Family Planning practitioner and said, “What’s happening to me? What’s wrong with my chart?”

She immediately told me that I had a progesterone problem. Even though I have a BA in Biology, I knew very little about the female fertility hormones estrogen & progesterone. Like the scientist that I am, I went home to research it. I joined an online community of women who taught me all that they knew about fertility and I quickly got up to speed. I learned that I’d most likely had early losses, around the time of implantation.

I went to see an OB/GYN, who looked at me puzzled, “but you haven’t actually had a positive pregnancy test?” she asked. “Well, no,” I said, “but look at my charts! Look at these short luteal phases! And my NFP teacher says that I need progesterone! Can I get some?” She looked at me with a blank look on her face, as if she was waiting for me to laugh and tell her that I was really kidding. I continued to wait for her to do something. Finally she told me that she couldn’t prescribe me progesterone until I’d had a “documented loss” and continued to tell me that she thought that I was talking myself in to morning sickness because I so badly wanted to be pregnant. (She couldn’t answer why I had it some months and not others – didn’t I want to be pregnant just as much in those other months?)

She told me to come back after I’d given it another three months. So I agreed.

I had another loss during that time, but it was “OK,” I told myself, because I was going to get help! I was going to get progesterone!

But I didn’t. I got testing. I got Clomid (the most common “first line” fertility drug on the market). People started asking my husband and I when we were going to start a family – hadn’t it been a year?

This cycle continued. I won’t torture you by going through month by month, but the summary is that I’ve had seven early losses at the time of implantation. I researched ways to raise my progesterone on my own. I tried every trick that I could find on the internet. I switched clinics and finally found a doctor who was willing to prescribe Prometrium (progesterone supplements) because he looked at my chart and pointed right to my early losses. I thought that this was an answer to my prayers. It wasn’t.

People are very uncomfortable with Infertility. People who’ve never had a tough time conceiving tell you “just stop trying so hard and you’ll get pregnant” or “get a bottle of wine and go to a hotel and seduce your husband” or “why don’t you adopt? You’ll get pregnant right away!” Infertility is thought of as more of a mental disorder by the general public than a specific medical condition. You’d never hear someone tell a cancer patient “just get your mind off of things and you’ll get better” so why do they feel like they can say that to someone who’s infertile?

We’ve had people ask us why we don’t bring our children to church (I suppose since I’m 38 and my husband is 47 they just assume that we have children and let them sleep in on Sunday mornings). I’ve had people ask me “what’s wrong with you? Don’t you know that Catholics are supposed to want children?” I’ve had people say that they could give my husband some “pointers” if he’d like them.

There’s more to my story than what I’ve shared here. I plan to write a lot about Infertility (and other aspects of my Faith) in future posts, but this is just a start. Stay tuned for more specifics about the journey of my husband & I. (That just sounded like the comment at the end of a daytime soap opera, doesn’t it? “What will happen next? Tune in next time!”)

We don’t get to choose the crosses that God asks us to carry. We don’t get to choose who gets cancer or whose child dies in a swimming accident. We don’t get to choose our path in life. God simply asks us to trust Him. He doesn’t ask us to trust when it’s easy, He asks us to trust all the time.

Had we gotten pregnant that first cycle I’d now have a four & a half year old, who I’d be explaining to why he or she needed to wait one more year before starting Kindergarten. I’d have fulfilled what I believe that God was calling me to since I was a small girl. If I had that four-and-a-half year old, however, I never would have met some wonderful friends (met through that on-line community that I spoke briefly about). I wouldn’t have the dog that I have now (I’ll write more about our Sheltie in a future post). I wouldn’t have the job that I have now if we’d gotten pregnant that first time. I probably wouldn’t have the Faith that I have now.

Infertility is a cross that I have to bear, but it’s also the greatest gift that God chose me for. I still don’t know why me. I still don’t know which direction our life is going (more on that later, too), but I know that God will be with me for every step of the journey.

And what could be better than that?

To Pray With Confidence

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There is this part in Mass where the priest says: “And now, let us pray with confidence in the words our Savior gave us.” This is followed by the Our Father. I hear these words each week but, recently, they took on special meaning. While my father was in surgery, I stayed with my mother and we waited by her ipad (modern day pacing of hospital halls) for words from my brother who was at the hospital. My 2 1/2 year old daughter, perhaps sensing the tension and worry while playing in the room we were sitting in, heard us talking about “Poppy.” She said “Poppy’s going to be alright and he’s gonna come home.” Just like that.

From that moment, I decided, that rather than sit in worry, I should just pray with confidence that my father would recover. He came out of surgery in exactly the amount of time that the surgeon estimated and that was a great sign. However, I nearly fainted when I was able to see my father in ICU. He had so many tubes. I could see how uncomfortable he was and it broke my confidence. The next day, I held vigil with my siblings waiting for my father to come out of sedation. I could see that my brother, who is a physician, was concerned that there was a problem. I decided not to go to the hospital on the 3rd day because I was getting discouraged and my worry was clouding my ability to pray with confidence. Then, my sense of humor kicked in. I told my siblings that watching Dad recover was like watching paint dry and I was not going to sit by his bed for another day and watch him drool. They knew I was joking, but it was my way of saying to them this: He is going to be alright and he is going to come home! So, I stayed with my mother and I de-cluttered his side of the bed and his favorite areas of the house, getting ready for his return. The next morning, I got a text from my brother that said: Dad is back 100%!!!

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ~Hebrews 4:16