Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Other Side of Life

I'm happy to share my thoughts on what my miscarriages have taught me about being open to life today at Messy Wife, Blessed Wife.

" I do not know what the future holds for my family.  There’s a chance that three is our perfect number, and there’s a chance that the third time will be a charm.  I’m nervous and I’m uncertain, but I know so much more of this call to Life.  Because it is not just a call to Life; it is a call to Life, Loss and everything in between."

*** Edit*** Mandi has stopped blogging, so I'm reclaiming my guest post here.  =)

This year has been rough.  Since April of 2013 I have been pregnant twice.  I have gone through almost two complete first trimesters even though neither of my children ever developed far enough to have a body.  I have gone through a prolonged miscarriage that ended in an urgent D&E that shook me to the core and a natural miscarriage that is my new rock to stand on.

I’m not writing today to tell you about those experiences, the events or emotions that have led me through this year.  Right now, as I impatiently wait for my HcG to finally disappear from my natural MC only a few weeks ago, I want to tell you about the flip-side.

I’m a Catholic convert, and yes part of that process has been developing and making peace with what is often called married couples “openness to life”.  I’ve learned charting and more about my bodies signs, symptoms and patterns than I ever knew existed.  My husband and I try our best to approach our family life in a way that makes sense in combination with our religious teachings.

When you talk about a Catholic being “open to life” the first image folks normally see is a large family; a never-ending stream of close in age children.  When people first start approaching Catholic teaching on the subject of their fertility and family planning that is all we see.  We come to grips, or not, with the idea that being “open to life” means that we’re going to be the clown car family of constant pregnancy and birth.  After all, all good Catholic families are large. 

Right?

In many cases, yes; I definitely have my share of friends with five or more children and in some cases the oldest isn’t even ready for first grade.  But, there’s a side that’s not as well considered in the “open to life” discussion.  We work hard to teach our new couples to budget, work hard, and live thrifty lives to support those broods that might be just around the corner and all the time we forget that for every light there is a dark.

The birth of my son almost three years ago opened my eyes to what it means to be open to life.  It radically changed my outlook on how I considered my children and the things that might get in their way of a normal life and development.  It wasn’t long after he was born that I told my husband point blank that every child I conceive will be given the best chance we can make at being held and told “I love you”, no matter how long that time lasts.  I felt like I understood what it meant to be “Open to Life”.

The deaths of my two children this year showed me otherwise.  As I sat in my bedroom recovering from my natural loss a few weeks I realized this.  Being “Open to Life” isn’t just about learning to chart, discerning good times and learning to anticipate and sacrifice for a baby boom. 

It’s a willingness to be disappointed.
It’s a willingness to wait to get excited.
It’s a willingness to say goodbye.
It’s a willingness to be scared and frustrated and mad and every emotion other than joy and happiness.
It’s a willingness to accept what you’ve been given even if it’s not what you want.

I do not know what the future holds for my family.  There’s a chance that three is our perfect number, and there’s a chance that the third time will be a charm.  I’m nervous and I’m uncertain, but I know so much more of this call to Life.  Because it is not just a call to Life; it is a call to Life, Loss and everything in between. 

The past year was the “Year of Faith” in our church and I’ve reflected, often bitterly, about the irony of it being a “Year of Faith” during the year that has really tested mine.  But, I’ve learned and I’ve grown.  My faith has been tested and my faith is stronger.  Being open to life encompasses it all – life, love, loss, joy and tears – but the other side of Life is not death. 

In the words of St. Teresa of Avila –
“To have courage for whatever comes in life – everything lies in that.”

The other side of Life is Faith, and everything lies in that.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes I feel so alone in my grief. No one else seems to understand how a life (two lives) so short could break my heart for so long. I'm so sorry that you've had to go through this, but I'm also grateful that there is someone else that understands how I feel. I pray for your peace, and mine too. Thanks for reminding me that this pain is part of being open to life- that's a beautiful thought.

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