Real-life vignettes of welcoming the unexpected
(You read the vignettes that appear in the July/August 2012 issue of Family Foundations here.)
When my husband lost his job and we were facing a second move in less than two years, I immediately concluded (without much prayer or reflection, I’m sorry to admit) that this was clearly not the right time to conceive another child. Even though my husband quickly secured another job, our financial future was uncertain and we were stressed to the max as we prepared to move to another town — something that is physically demanding on anyone, especially a pregnant lady!
But the abstinence was extremely difficult during such an unsettling time in our lives. We wanted and needed to feel the security of the sacrament of our marriage. We began to question why we were fighting what felt good and right during this time. After all, didn’t God create man and woman to desire to be together, especially during a time when He can unite with us to create new life? I was still a bit anxious about our situation when the thought struck me square between the eyes, “Why are you trusting God with everything else in your life right now except your fertility?”
I told my husband about this revelation, and that clinched it for us. We turned everything over to God.
That final level of trust was the missing puzzle piece. Our house sold, God provided us with a new place to live, and, yes, we welcomed our son, Henry, into the world nine months later. That is the beauty of NFP. God weaves it into our lives in ways we would least expect, challenging us to choose the path that will lead most directly to Him.
As I reflect upon this time in our lives, I realize that my husband’s job loss was not an excuse to not have another child, but actually God’s catalyst to bring another life into this world. That anxious and difficult time in our lives deepened our faith and strengthened
our marriage — two elements we certainly drew on later when we found ourselves in the NICU for one week after Henry’s premature birth. Perhaps God’s plan all along was to build us up into the parents Henry would need us to be. Denying God’s calling to welcome Henry into this world would be like denying God another opportunity to shape my husband and I into stronger, more faithful, more loving people.
Since turning our lives over more fully to God, our family has been blessed with grace that has grown exponentially. We still have to watch our budget, but there is always food on the table and everyone is clothed. More importantly, our spiritual lives reach new depths every day. Our children are happy and joyful (most of the time) and my husband and I continue on our journey to heaven together.
We’ve come to the conclusion that God never wants us to dismiss a window of fertility lightly. God the Father and God the Son never refuse us the fruits of their eternal exchange of love — the Holy Spirit. In the same way we are called to listen for God’s calling to create new life from our marital exchange of love and answer Him with a resounding “Yes!”
- Charisse Tierney, Newton, Kan.
* * *
Ginny and I have been married for 21 years and have three children, ages 13, 11, and 9. We have embraced and enjoyed NFP for our entire marriage. I was baptized and received into the Catholic Church three years ago, and NFP has become the center of our marriage.
Ginny experienced some serious neck problems a few years ago, at which time we decided that three children were probably enough.
During Easter Week in 2010, Ginny suggested that we forgo alcohol during Holy Week. I thought this was some extra push before Easter, but on Saturday she called me at work to tell me that she had confirmed her suspicions and was pregnant with our fourth child. I was quietly excited! I had wished for more children and welcomed the challenge to have another baby after seven years. Ginny, on the other hand, didn’t share my initial excitement. She was understandably mad (we, of course, thought we had followed all
of the rules) and worried about the effect this would have on her body and health. Our children were thrilled when we shared the news with them.
We had been planning a trip to Disney World in Florida the next year and decided, on short notice, to schedule the trip that May so the kids could enjoy the trip before all of the changes that would come with our family’s expansion. That trip was wonderful; we had so much fun anticipating the arrival of our newest family member.
Ginny and I had heard the baby’s heartbeat before the trip, so after the trip we decided to bring the whole family to the next check-up. Our doctor brought the ultrasound machine into the room, and what happened next will be forever etched in my memory. I saw that the doctor was having trouble finding the baby’s heartbeat, and after some hurried searching she sent the children out of the room. She was shaken and continued to search, but she could never locate it. Slowly, the reality of the situation started to envelop us. How could this be happening? Our first three pregnancies had been perfectly normal.
We entered the hospital the next day at 7:00 a.m., hoping to avoid a D&C and instead deliver our baby naturally. We were blessed to have Catholic doctors to help us through this process. We started the day with prayer and proceeded to labor and deliver our son Isaac later that day. He was about 18 weeks old, a beautifully-formed baby; only God knows what happened.
It had taken us some time to embrace the blessings this child would have brought to our family. To then have to totally change and realize that was not what God had in mind for us was very difficult, and sent each of us into a personal quest with God. We had a beautiful private service and our priest came to the cemetery to lay our son to rest. This experience has brought our family closer and has given us a new appreciation for the children we do have.
We love the freedom of true expression that NFP gives us, and hope that every couple realizes the blessings and power they possess when they let God lead.
- Chad Knutson, Brainerd, Minn.