We sat in our last NFP class and listened as the instructors briefly mentioned the statistics for infertility. I don’t remember what they were; but I do remember thinking, “What if that’s us?” That was in December 2006, one month after we were married.
Over a year later, in February 2008, I wrote the following entry in my journal: “A few months ago, I sat in bed sobbing. I was a hysterical mess.” That got me thinking about the word “hysterical.” I thought about the word hysterectomy: the removal of a woman’s uterus.
The Online Etymology Dictionary defines hysterical as “‘characteristic of hysteria,’ the nervous disease originally defined as a neurotic condition peculiar to women and thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the uterus.” Hmmm. Maybe our emotions are tied more profoundly to our reproductive capabilities than anyone would care to admit. It was, after all, that very topic that had led to my own hysterics.
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I continued in my journal:
So, there I was, bawling my eyes out, certain my dear husband must be thinking, “What the heck happened?!” He was consoling and comforting. He held me and let me cry. When I asked him how he felt, he said, “Happy.” Happy? I didn’t understand how someone in such close proximity could be feeling such an opposite emotion, or how someone witnessing my purge could not take on the residual sorrow. I think I looked at his smiling face a bit cockeyed; but I was also grateful that though I was lodged deep in the pit, he was above on the surface, basking in sunlight I couldn’t even imagine existed.
The next morning, I still felt the periphery of the pain, though a good cry cleansed me of the overflowing sense of sorrow. The issue still remains and has continued to resurface each month with the ebb and flow of my hormones. At the time, I struggled with knowing what action to take. I knew there were things I could do that might provide answers to the “Why?” of my dilemma. But these actions would focus us intently on our fertility issues. All I really wanted to do then, and still want to do now, is forget about it and have it happen.
Between February and August of that year, 2008, my husband and I investigated the causes of our infertility with the help of a devoutly Catholic physician, a NaProTECHNOLOGY (Natural Procreative Technology) practitioner. We learned the Creighton method, and I took numerous blood tests—every other day, at one point—to track my hormone levels throughout my cycle. Testing was also done to determine if my husband’s fertility was the issue. Secular testing in this area is usually done via immoral methods. With NaPro, this can be done in a manner wholly in-line with Church teaching.
In the midst of all of these tests, appointments, and classes, I was tempted to give up. The quest was emotionally exhausting, and we had no idea if it would result in our biggest desire: a child. Thankfully, others who had similarly struggled encouraged me on, pointing out that if we persevered, we could find answers. Quitting now would only mean having to start all over again later.
During this time my husband’s friends in New York told us about a healing Mass they had attended. The priest would be in our area, in Southern California, the next week—on Monday, May 19.
We arrived at the church and couldn’t even get into the church itself. Even the outside courtyard was packed. After Mass, we all lined up to go to the altar for the priest to lay hands on and pray over us. It was around midnight—six hours and many Rosaries after we’d arrived—when we finally made it to the altar. No one spoke to Father. He would just go down the row and pray over each attendee. Until, that is, he got to my husband. He stopped in front of him and said, “What is your problem?”
My husband replied, “We can’t have a child.” Father placed one hand on my husband’s heart and the other on my abdomen and prayed silently over us.
The next thing I knew, I came to on the floor. Up to that point, I was quite skeptical about such dramatic manifestations. I had enough faith in the power of prayer and healing to be there that night, but I wasn’t too sure about people falling down and not faking it. This, though, was real.
In my journal for August 4, 2008, nearly three months after the healing Mass, I wrote:
Not much has changed. There are more answers; still the same unknowns. We have been through a number of tests, all in line with Catholic teaching, which is of the utmost importance to us. Next month we take the next step.
During my next cycle, I took the low dose of Clomid prescribed by my doctor and the hcG injection. Then it was on to more waiting. I would have a blood test in a few weeks to see if I was pregnant.
We got the call from our Creighton instructor while we were in the car. My test was positive. It had worked. It had all worked. On May 18, 2009, just shy of midnight, our son was born…one day shy of a year since we had attended the healing Mass.
Science and faith had worked together to provide us with a miracle.