Wish

“At first, there is us. There is only us. But even then, even before we can know to know it, we wish you were here.”

This is the start of the book Wish, by Matthew Cordell.

This book was given to us a month ago as a gift from a dear friend of ours. And after reading the first page, I was nearly in tears. It is the story of a couple (they happen to be elephants) who grow together, but begin to long for something missing in their life.

Much like the couple in the story, Abby and I began to realize that what we wished for wasn’t coming. As much as we planned and hoped and tried, it just wasn’t happening. Even with our Hannah, she was gone before she came. And like it says in the book, “everything stopped. This was not what we planned.”

We began to live our lives and listen to where God wanted us to be. He gave us one more godchild (bringing our total now to 21), He provided us with the opportunity to continue to serve teens through Confirmation (Abby is now the coordinator of the program), and most of all… He allowed us to continue to grow as a married couple and live out the sacrament.

Even with all this, we still continued to wish.

And come December 2015… our wish will be here.

Timing

With .4 seconds left and a double team guarding Kobe Bryant, the Glove (Gary Payton) had no choice, but to pass it to their next best option… Derek Fisher.

With 53 seconds left and the ball on the 6 yard line, Joe Montana rolled right looking for an open receiver. Dwight Clark, who was battling it out in the end zone, hits the brakes and cuts to his left.

At the bottom of the 9th with Eckersley on the mound and two outs, Tommy Lasorda sends injured Kirk Gibson up to bat. After 6 minutes, 3 balls, and 2 strikes, Kirk swings as hard as he can.

The Lakers would go on to win that series against the San Antonio Spurs (though lose to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals). The 49ers would win the Super Bowl and mark the beginning of what is the legendary San Francisco 49er’s dynasty. The Dodgers would go on to win the World Series against the Oakland Athletics.

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Its all about timing. You study, you practice, you put yourself out there. All that is left is for you to trust that things will execute according to plan.

Thats what it feels like when you are an infertile couple practicing NFP (Natural Family Planning). You study the method and try to monitor cycles. You do your best during the “peak” periods and sometimes you are left wondering what you did wrong. Why didn’t it go “according to plan?” That is usually when the couple has to come to realize that even if they do everything “perfectly,” the plan is not theirs, but HIS.

One year ago today (9/11/2014), my wife and I lost our baby girl, Hannah, due to a miscarriage. We had made so many plans for her, but our Father made HIS own plan. A memorial candle for Hannah now sits in front of the Pieta statue at our Parish. It is our weekly ritual that we visit that spot to remember the joy and hope that she still brings us. While our hearts still ache for our child that was lost, it also smiles when we know that she is up in Heaven. In the Old Testament, Abraham and Sarah were struggling to have a child. God only revealed HIS plan for them when Sarah began mocking their infertility . Much like Abraham and Sarah, we too have thrown up our arms every now and then trying to figure out what we are supposed to do. But all we can do is wait for that visit from Gabriel*.

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Whether a couple is struggling with infertility, miscarriage, or just marriage in general… God asks us to study, to practice, to put ourselves out there, but most of all to be faithful and patient.

Happy Anniversary Hannah.

*Gabriel – Angel that told Mary she was to have a child: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel

Celebration of Memories

Last night we attended our parish’s 25th annual Celebration of Memories. It is a celebration of the lives and memories of those that had passed away this year. We actually didn’t just attend, but were participants in this celebration. Many parishioners, and even some of the Priests, approached us and were confused as to why we were in line holding a candle. I had anticipated this reaction.

2014-11-03 22.05.02On September 11, 2014, the heart of the baby still in the my wife’s womb, stopped beating. Abby was just about 9 weeks into her pregnancy when we miscarried our dear Hannah. We had already begun planning how we would tell everyone the news. Our immediate families were already celebrating the little miracle that was Hannah. We even started discussing who were going to be the Godparents. But God had other plans. Our dear Hannah decided that she wanted to be with her Heavenly Mother and Father instead.

During the homily of the mass, Fr. Pius revealed that he changed the Gospel of the Mass and instead read the story of The Empty Tomb. He wanted to reveal that when Mary Magdala went to the tomb of Jesus, it was not only the tomb that was empty, but also a piece of her heart. This is because someone that was very important to her was now gone, someone she loved. This is exactly how Abby and I have been feeling ever since Hannah left us. She is someone we had been fighting to meet for the past 5 years. She is someone that has held a place in our heart ever since we were married.  But then Fr. Pius told us that we should not be focusing on the Empty Tomb, but the garden in heaven where we are reunited with our loved ones. I couldn’t help but to imagine little Hannah running around in heaven playing in the grass and maybe chasing butterflies (yeah they have butterflies in heaven).  This made me smile.

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Our daughter’s name displayed in our church for all to see and acknowledge how loved she is.

Which leads me to the point of this post… striving for heaven. In the past I always knew that my job was to lead Abby to heaven and visa versa. But this Healing of Memories brings in new purpose… I want to make sure my wife gets to heaven so she can meet her daughter Hannah for the first time. I can only imagine how happy they both will be when they get to meet. When she finally gets to embrace our little angel. Oh and of course I would love to be there too reunited as a family.

But until that day, we know that we have a little angel in heaven praying for us.

My prayer is that all those couples that have suffered from a miscarriage strive to lead each other to heaven so that they too will be reunited in Heaven’s garden with their little angels.

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Sonograms taken during our 4 week and 8 week visit.
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Our Lady of Sorrows Medal that Abby got engraved so that we could remember Hannah. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!

5 tips to ease the stress on your bride

Dealing with infertility as a couple is not easy, especially if you are the woman. For us men however, there are things we can do to help out the situation and ease the stress on your beautiful bride.

Here are my 5 secret (or not so secret) tips on how to help ease the stress on your bride!

1. Chart

She hates charting. It reminds her of the infertility you are fighting as a couple. By removing that visual reminder of her current and past cycles, you remove that big daily Red/Green/Yellow reminder. Doing this will also help you understand what is going on with your wife’s body, therefore understanding your wife more.
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2. Prepare her cocktails of medicines.icecream_pills

This means reading that page long description of the 10 different pills she has to take throughout the day. You will want to understand what each pill does; that Clomid helps to jump start ovaries in order to induce ovulation and that dim+ helps to promote the “good” estrogen. You will need to administer the HCG shots (and trying your best so that they don’t hurt). Packing her pills to so that she can take them during the day. Often doing these little things make it easier for her when she has to swallow her 11 pills on cycle day 20. Bonus: When I give Abby her medicine, I say to her “time for ice cream!”

3. Change subjects

When you are at a party or dinner with other friends and the subject veers towards how they love/hate their children. Just talk about the Lakers or make some weird noise…


If everyone else is talking about something else, they can’t make your bride feel uncomfortable.

4. Date night

Date night is very important. It makes her feel special and loved. It allows you both to be alone in somewhere that is not your house. Take her to the local miniature golf course or Disneyland (if you have passes). It doesn’t have to be fancy… my wife and I will sometimes go to Mass, then walk all the aisles in Costco (a very dangerous sport).datenight

5. Consistency

I can’t stress this enough. If you are consistent, she will never feel alone while carrying this cross. If you only do these things once every blue moon, it is meaningless. Her body is unpredictable enough, you have the opportunity to provide some consistency. She may still sometimes get annoyed at you, but she will know you are bugging her because you love her.

Hope you find these tips helpful. Do you have some tips of your own? Leave me a comment.

This is not an easy cross to bear, but together (with Christ) it is a much easier yoke to bear. I never realized how much work it takes to be a husband, but through this journey the love I have for my wife has grown much deeper. And maybe the husbands out there might be asking themselves why they should even care to do any of these 5 things. There is an easy answer for that – because you love her. Infertility is a very touchy subject. You may get a feeling of disappointment and hurt when you start thinking about the fact that you might not be able to play with your own kids, but how much more does your wife feel hurt? Often times women will blame themselves because after all it is their body. So it is important that we, as husbands, do all we can to remove that burden.

It is our job as the Pastor, Provider, and Protector.

yoke

http://www.creightonmodel.com/

Out of my league

Happy Birthday to the most wonderful wife in the world. Every time I look or think about her, I wonder how I tricked her into marrying me. I have learned so much from her since we first started dating.

I had a hard time coming up with what I was going to get my wife for her birthday, but I found the perfect gift – a novena in honor of St. Anne, Jesus’s Grandmother.  Join us and www.praymorenovenas.com as we honor St. Anne.  It starts today on July 17th – Abby’s birthday and ends on July 26th – Abby’s parents anniversary.

On another note, I am working on a new post that will highlight the lessons I have learned as a husband to support this bride of mine… so stay tuned!

abby

 

Father’s Day

My wife and I may not have any kids of our own, but we are blessed enough to have quite a few Godchildren… 20 to be exact.  While I may not always give them the time they deserve, I try to make the best of of the time I do spend with them.  So on this Father’s Day… I say thank you to my Godchildren… 

You allow me to pretend I’m getting chased by aliens.
You allow me to play hide-and-go-seek.
You allow me to dance like a Robot.
You allow me to belay you on a rock wall.
You allow me to see listen to your problems.
You allow me to act just plain silly.
But most of all You allow me to be a part of your life.

Happy Father’s Day to all biological, adoptive, foster, and spiritual dads!  Shout out to my super cool Dad and Father-in-law… thank you for always being there for me and Abby.

GodChildren

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papa 

National Infertility Awareness Week

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This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and bloggers across the nation are joining together to help bring awareness on this topic. This often is a conversation that most people avoid having with us, perhaps because they think we will be offended or burst into tears. My wife and I have been very open about this topic and enjoy sharing what knowledge we have gained. For us this journey has been and continues to be a blessing in our marriage. Below is something I pulled from my wife’s infertility facebook support group… it says all the things we have always wanted to say.

Yes… it’s quite long, but I promise it’s worth the read.

Infertility Awareness Week, 2014: A Catholic Perspective

One in six couples will experience infertility at some point in their marriage. Infertility is medically defined as the inability to conceive after 12 cycles of “unprotected” intercourse or 6 cycles using “fertility-focused” intercourse. A couple who has never conceived has “primary infertility” and a couple who has conceived in the past but is unable to again has “secondary infertility”. Many couples who experience infertility have also experienced miscarriage or pregnancy loss.

This week, April 20 – 26, 2014 is National Infertility Awareness Week.

We, a group of Catholic women who have experienced infertility, would like to take a moment to share with you what the experience of infertility is like, share ways that you can be of support to a family member or friend, and share resources that are helpful.

If you are experiencing infertility, please know you are not alone. You are loved and prayed for and there are resources to help you with the spiritual, emotional, and medical aspects of this journey

The Experience of Infertility

 In the beginning of trying to conceive a child, there is much hope and anticipation; for some, even a small fear of “what if we get pregnant right away?” There is planning of how to tell your husband and when you’d announce to the rest of the family. It is a joyful time that for most couples results in a positive pregnancy test within the first few months. However, for one in six couples, the months go by without a positive test and the fears and doubts begin to creep in. At the 6th month of trying using fertility-focused intercourse (using Natural Family Planning), the couple knows something is wrong and is considered “infertile” by doctors who understand the charting of a woman’s pattern of fertility.  At the 9th month of trying, the month that, had they conceived that first month, a baby would have been arriving, is often the most painful of the early milestones. At the 12th month mark the couple “earns” the label from the mainstream medical community as “infertile”.

As the months go by, the hopes and dreams are replaced with fears, doubts, and the most invasive doctors’ appointments possible. As a Catholic couple faithful to the teachings of the Church, we are presented by secular doctors with options that are not options for us and are told things like “you’ll never have children” and “you have unexplained infertility”; by our Catholic doctors we are told to keep praying and to have hope as they roll up their sleeves and work hard to figure out the cause of our infertility, with each visit asking, “How are you and your husband doing with all of this?”

We find it hard to fit in. We have faith and values that are different than our secular culture, but our childlessness (primary infertility) or small family (secondary infertility) makes us blend in with the norm. We have faith and values that are in line with the teachings of our Church, but our daily life looks so much different than the others who share those values and that makes us stand out in a way that we would rather not. We are Catholic husbands and wives living out our vocation fully. Our openness to life does not come in the form of children; it takes on the form of a quiet “no” or “not yet” or “maybe never” from God each month as we slowly trod along. Our openness to and respect for life courageously resists the temptations presented to us by the secular artificial reproductive technology industry.

Often times our friends and family do not know what to say to us, and so they choose to not say anything. Our infertility stands like a great big elephant in the room that separates us from others. Most of the time, we don’t want to talk about it, especially not in public or in group settings because it is painful and we will often shed tears. We realize it is difficult and ask that you realize this difficulty as well. We will do our best to be patient and to explain our situation to those who genuinely would like to know, but please respect our privacy and the boundaries we establish, as not only is infertility painful, it is also very personal.

One of the hardest experiences of infertility is that it is cyclical. Each month we get our hopes up as we try; we know what our due date would be as soon as we ovulate; we know how we would share the news with our husband and when and how we would tell our parents. We spend two weeks walking a fine line between hope and realism, between dreaming and despairing. When our next cycle begins – with cramps and bleeding and tears – we often only have a day or two before we must begin taking the medications that are meant to help us conceive. There is little to no time to mourn the dream that is once again not achievable; no time to truly allow ourselves to heal from one disappointment before we must begin hoping and trying again. We do not get to pick what days our hormones will plummet or how the medications we are often taking will affect us. We do not get to pick the day that would be “best” for us for our next cycle to start. We are at the mercy of hope, and while that hope keeps us going it is also what leaves us in tears when it is not realized.

Our faith is tested. We ask God “why?”, we yell at Him; we draw closer to God and we push Him away. Mass brings us to tears more often than not and the season of Advent brings us to our knees. The chorus of “Happy Mother’s Day” that surrounds us at Mass on the second Sunday in May will be almost more devastating than the blessing of mothers itself. We know that the Lord is trustworthy and that we can trust in Him; sometimes it is just a bigger task than we can achieve on our own.

Please…

·      Pray for us. Truly, it is the best thing that anyone can do.

·      Do not make assumptions about anything – not the size of a family or whether or not a couple knows what is morally acceptable to the Church. Most couples who experience infertility do so in silence and these assumptions only add to the pain. If you are genuinely interested, and not merely curious, begin a genuine friendship and discover the truth over time.

·      Do not offer advice such as “just relax,” “you should adopt,” “try this medical option or that medical option” – or really give any advice. Infertility is a symptom of an underlying medical problem; a medical problem that often involves complicated and invasive treatment to cure.

·      Do not assume that we will adopt. Adoption is a call and should be discerned by every married couple. Infertility does not automatically mean that a couple is meant to adopt.

·      Ask how we are doing and be willing to hear and be present for the “real” answer. Often times we answer, “OK” because that’s the easy, “safe” answer. Let us know that you are willing to walk through this the tough time with us. Frequently we just need someone who is willing to listen and give us a hug and let us know we are loved.

·      Offer a Mass for us or give us a prayer card or medal to let us know you are praying for us. Just please refrain from telling us how we must pray this novena or ask for that saint’s intercession. Most likely we’ve prayed it and ask for the intercession daily. Please feel free to pray novenas and ask for intercession on our behalf.

·      Be tolerant and patient. The medications we take can leave us at less than our best; we may not have the energy or ability to do much. Please also respect us when we say “no, thank you” to food or drinks. We may have restricted diets due to our medical conditions and/or medications.

·      Share the good news of your pregnancy privately (preferably in an email or card or letter and not via text, IM chat, phone call or in person) and as soon as possible. Please understand that we are truly filled with joy for you; any sadness we feel is because we have been reminded of our own pain and we often feel horrible guilt over it as well. Please be patient and kind if we don’t respond immediately, attend your baby shower or don’t “Like” all of your Facebook updates about your children. Again, it is really about us, not you.

·      Help steer group conversations away from pregnancy and parenting topics when we are around. We like to be able to interact in a conversation to which we can contribute meaningfully.

·      Do not ask when we are going to “start a family” (we started one the day we got married).

·      Do not ask which one of us is the “problem” – we are either fertile or infertile as a couple.

·      Do not say things like “I know you’ll be parents some day,” or “It will happen, I know it will!” Along the same lines, please do not tell us stories of a couple you know who struggled for years and went on to conceive or to “just adopt and then you’ll get pregnant” (this one actually only happens a small percentage of the time). Only God knows what our future holds, please pray with us that we are able to graciously accept His will for our lives.

·      Do not pity us. Yes, we have much sorrow. Yes, we struggle. But, we place our faith in God, lean on the grace of our marriage, and trust that someday, whether here on earth or in heaven, we will see and understand God’s plan.

Resources:
Infertility Companion for Catholics
Facing Infertility: A Catholic Approach
Reproductive Technology: Guidelines for Catholic Couples (From the USCCB)

Bloggers who contributed to this article (those with an * have children after primary infertility or are experiencing secondary infertility. They are marked as such so that if you aren’t up for possibly seeing baby/child pictures today, you can meet them on a day when you are, but please do take the time to go and visit them.):

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace
DM & AM @ Snapshots
K @ Lucky as Sunshine
L @ Infertile in Minnesota
Lora @ Abounding Love
Mary Beth @ Grace of Adoption
Mrs. Fitz @ Romans 12:12
Polkadot @ Making God Laugh
Rebecca @ The Road Home
Stephanie @ Blessed to Be
Stephanie @ Chateau d’IF
*A. @ All in His Perfect Timing
*Alison @ Matching Moonheads 
E. @ God’s Plan is My Joy
*Jenny @ All Things
*Katie @ Just Think of Lovely Things
*M. @ Joy Beyond the Cross
*Morgan @ Life as We Know It

*Sarah @ Fumbling Toward Grace 

There is also a “Secret” Facebook group with over 150 members who contributed to this article as well. For more information or to join the group, email Rebecca at RebeccaWVU02@gmail.com.