After having our first son, I was traumatized. Minutes after my son was born, I remember telling the nurses that I was “one and done”. I kept saying that I could never endure pregnancy and childbirth again. At my postpartum checkup, I even asked my OBGYN if I could have a hysterectomy. Thankfully, she clued in that my request was fueled entirely by raging postpartum hormones mixed in with some post-traumatic stress from the trying pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and the demands of an infant. Instead, she reassured me that I wouldn’t always feel this way.
But I did.
I felt that way for a long time. My husband did too. When our son was nine months old, I discussed our decision not to have more children with our priest. He advised me to reconsider natural family planning and assured me that he would pray for me and my husband. I even prayed to God that he would never allow me to have more children. That, I deeply regret.
“For I will restore your health;
I will heal your injuries—oracle of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 30:17)
I was so overcome by postpartum anxiety that I felt this way for over a year and a half after our son was born.
Eventually, I started to go to therapy and began exercising daily again. That, combined with my already established habit of daily prayer- particularly praying the Holy Rosary- brought me out of the trauma.
NFP To Our Rescue
After having our son and feeling like we would not be able to have more children, we were faced with two options. One of which was to ignore Catholic teaching on birth control and to use contraception. The other was to be open to life, trust in God and use Natural Family Planning.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
At first, we passed through the wide gate and used contraception. Then we went through a long period of abstinence. But eventually, God opened our eyes to the truth and called us to Him. We accepted the truth that sex has two purposes: 1. To create life and 2. To expresses and deepen the love between a husband and wife.* It felt really good to run out of the open gate and squeeze our way into His narrow gate.
While we both healed emotionally, we relied on NFP. We began to realize that it was okay to mourn the trauma that we faced during pregnancy, childbirth and early infancy. However, it was not okay to allow the trauma and fears to rule our lives forever.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:17)
Then something else started to happen. We began to feel that we did, in fact, want more children; that having more children would be a blessing and not necessarily perpetuate the trauma we faced the first time.
“He gives power to the faint, abundant strength to the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29)
God transformed the traumas that we faced into fortitude. But for that to happen, we had to trust Him and allow Him to heal us.
Taking Fertility for Granted
My husband and I got pregnant with our son the very first time we tried. Now that we are trying to get pregnant with baby number two, it is taking longer than expected.
Of course, it is rarer to get pregnant on the first try than it is to have to try a few cycles. While we aren’t yet at the point of needing to speak to our doctor about fertility, it isn’t as easy as we thought it would be. There are so many factors when it comes to fertility and luckily, NFP aids in trying to achieve pregnancy.
While I wish that I had trusted in God alone sooner and didn’t take my fertility for granted, we are instead constantly reassuring ourselves in the words of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla: “Whatever God wants.”
If God wants us to have several more precious children, then wonderful.
If God wants us to just have our one precious boy, then that is wonderful too.
In the meantime, we have placed our fertility in the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary through Our Lady of Perpetual Help and said prayers of thanksgiving to God for healing us.
Only God knows what the future has in store for our family and as difficult as it is to wait it out, we trust in Him.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to ask God for what you want, so we pray:
The Fertility Blessing Prayer
“You know my deep desire for a child
A little one to love and to hold, to care for,
to cherish. Grant that my body may conceive
and give birth to a beautiful baby in
Your holy image.
Guide me in all my choices so that this
conception, my pregnancy and my baby's birth
are in line with Your will.
Heavenly Father and Holy Mother,
hear this prayer of my heart, mind and spirit.
As always, thank you for reading. God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always!
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Natural Family Planning Resources:
The Fertility Blessing, Catholic Online, https://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=2985
Marital Sexuality, For Your Marriage, www.foryourmarriage.org/marital-sexuality