Thursday, November 4, 2010

The very first page

The first page of the brand new book.  Which at times, I never thought would ever need to be made.

Thomas had a similar page in his book -- when we found out. St. Gerard has had a special place in our family over the last year.  He is the patron saint of expectant mothers -- those who are waiting for a baby, and those who are praying for a safe delivery.  (A great background on him is here).  I had been asking for his intercession at daily Mass for months, and his holy cards are on Thomas's Mass ring and in our kitchen.

The last year has been an exercise in trusting in God's timing.

When we began trying for another child (just after I left Merrill Lynch), I had an appointment with my internal medicine doc.  However, he had just had back surgery, and wanting to use up my benefits from ML before they ran out at the end of the month, I chose to meet with his 'substitute' who was seeing his clients until he was back at work.

That appointment was filled with emotion.

She was a former OB/GYN, who was working part time.  She walked in as I was nursing Thomas (who was just 8 months old at the time).  Our conversation turned to the reason I was there -- to make sure that everything was 'good to go' to begin trying for a second child. 

I remember her words in just sound bites now -- she was very opinionated about birth control ("you are being terribly irresponsible by not using it"), natural family planning ("that's fine for trying to have a child, but not for trying to avoid it"), and having another child so soon after Thomas's birth ("don't you appreciate the child you have now?".  She expressed concern about the c-section needing time to heal (which was just about the only valid point she made).

We went back and forth -- I told her that children weren't a "disease" to be caught or avoided, and that I've been called a number of things in my life, but irresponsible and risky were not among them.  [Never mind that some of the more colorful names were definitely earned :) ].

We didn't agree on much and by the time I left the office, I was in tears.

It turns out, after a follow up appointment to my doctor after he returned from his surgery, that her responses were not characteristic of her.  She had recently lost a child and was in the wake of that tragedy.  Knowing that, I completely understood her perspective on  "appreciating the child I have now" and my heart broke for what she had gone through.

But little did I know that it would be 359 days from then until we would learn that we were pregnant.

There were several "late arrivals from my aunt" that gave us hope we were pregnant.  I distinctly remember one time when I was three days late and she arrived, only to have Jonathan find me sobbing in the bathroom.

Much of my normal cycle had changed significantly since Thomas was born -- predictable 29 day schedules gave way to 5 day swings in shorter or longer monthly visits.   Though we knew each month when the timing was right for the optimal time to conceive, it seemed that God had other plans.

And finally, as we neared the one year mark, I was less weepy and more irritated.

I mentioned to a priest friend of mine that I was going to be in Tacoma on an upcoming morning, and I wanted to attend Mass where he was saying it.

He reminded me that he heard confessions each day for 20 minutes before Mass begins -- just in case I needed to get anything off my chest.

So I did.

I went in, with Thomas banging on the walls of the confessional (from the inside -- I can only imagine what that looked like from the outside).  I confessed how angry I was with God that we had been unable to get pregnant.  My disappointment.  My frustration.  Being able to say those words out loud and express my sadness and receive absolution took a significant weight off my shoulders...because then I realized how much I wanted God to play by my rules -- instead of me playing by His rules. 

Father reminded me that God was big enough to handle all of my emotion, and that God's hand was in all of this -- even if I couldn't see it at the time.

And I let things go.

Henri Nouwen once said, "We always have a choice to live the moment as a cause of resentment or as a cause for joy."
I simply focused on Mass and my squirmy Wee Ski who loved the wooden floors in the church because you could stomp stomp stomp your feet and make a lot of noise.  And I may have squeezed him a bit tighter because that's who I had been blessed with.  Finding joy right then and right there and letting go of my resentment.

When we left the church after daily Mass ended, I felt freer than I had in months.

Little did I know that I was carrying Thomas's baby sibling...

...just a few days old in the womb.


Unknown said...

beautiful post...thanks for being so open about your experience. being open to life can mean so many different things. God has great plans for sure! love you guys!

Unknown said...

Thank you for being so honest about the ups and downs Shelley. it helps remind me that we too need to be patient and trust that our adoption will happen at the right time with the right birth mother and the rigth baby for us. No matter how ready we think we are God knows when the "perfect" time for us truly is.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Shelley!!! This coming week is going to be very hard. I needed to read this more than ever!!!

Unknown said...

What a beautiful and inspiring post Shelley.

There really is NOTHING on this earth that will bring us true contentment and peace than time in prayer with our Lord and in His home.

I am over the moon excited for you and your sweet baby. My prayers go out for you each and every day for a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Marie B said...

Thank you for your well timed (thank you, God) inspiring post. Focusing on joy during hard times of struggles is what we are called to do even when it is so hard to do. Thank you for the reminder and affirmation.

kellyk said...


Noreen said...

You never cease to amaze me, Shelley.

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