Happy Feast of All the Saints!
This is my favorite “ordinary time” feast of the year. I love the month of November in our Church because it is the month of all saints and all souls. Friends, I love the month of all souls because I know so many dead people. We always make our prayer area into a place to remember our dearly departed during the month of November, with photos and holy cards from the funeral masses of those we have loved and lost.
I decided to dedicate this month that I am so grateful for, to gratitude. I am going to post one thing I am grateful for each day of the month of November.
This is day one. I hope you will join me for one month of gratitude to God for His abundant blessings.
Today he would be three years old. The baby we lost in March 2009, back when we were newlyweds, shocked to find ourselves pregnant just three months after getting married. Because you see, I have PCOS, a reproductive disorder which makes it very hard for most women who have it to get (and stay) pregnant.
I discovered I was pregnant on a day I was volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center in downtown Chicago. I was having a longer than usual cycle and thought, “oh maybe I’ll take a test since they have them here for free.”
I nearly fainted when it was positive, alone in the bathroom of the center. How could it be? I had this PCOS for 8 years, and all I had ever read was how hard it would be to ever get pregnant. In fact my husband and I had discussed it in depth before we were married, and he knew it might be tough. It was the very first cycle we were married, and here I was pregnant.
After the shock wore off, the elation. We had not been seeking a pregnancy, but we were open to it. There was life there inside me.
Two weeks later, an ultrasound was scheduled, to determine the gestational age, since it was such a long cycle. Our hopes turned to sorrow as we realized that the pregnancy had stopped progressing very early, and the baby had died.
Here we were, married for three months, now the parents of a dead baby. I call him “he” becuase right from the beginning I had a strong feeling the baby was a boy. We named him Michael John, after our favorite saint (Michael) and my husband’s grandfather (John).
A beloved priest administred the sacrament of the sick to Atticus and I a few weeks later, and it helped tremendously in our healing. Then we started trying again to conceive, believing it would be easy to get pregnant again, as it had been that first time. We were wrong.
14 months later, on another cycle when we were not “focusing our efforts” so to say, we conceived our beautiful daughter, Maggie. Now, Maggie is almost 2, and we have been trying for 7 months to conceive another little soul. I have to admit, I was cocky going into it. “It will be so easy this time around. I have lost weight, I exercise more regularly, I am healthier now than I ever have been. Four months, tops.”
You know what they say, something about pride going before a fall.
Did you hear the thud?
Just in case I forgot, God is gently reminding me that I am not like other people.
When we lost Michael John, and then struggled to conceive again, I did not understand why. I did not understand how a God that I believed was love in it’s Essence could allow something so awful to happen. What good could my pain possibly achieve?
Then after Maggie was born, I had several friends have miscarriages within the span of a few months. Many of my close friends in real life have experienced a loss of this kind, and several of these women are also carrying the cross of infertility.
He knows what he is about.
God allowed that experience of Michal John’s brief life and death to touch me deeply – so that when it would happen to people I did not even know at the time, but who would be my friends when it happened to them- I could be there for them, to suffer with them, because I know what it’s like.
Now I can say, I am grateful for that experience. Getting pregnant so soon after getting married and losing the baby made me realize just how much I wanted to be a mother. Just how deep in my soul that desire lives; Mother is in my core. Atticus and I allowed that soul to exist for as long as God willed, for His purposes, and ultimately for His glory as there is another little soul to be with Him, expriencing the love we were created for. Our “yes” to God allowed another soul to exist, even though we did not get to hold that baby or watch him grow.
How could I be anything other than grateful for being given the gift of life?
What are you grateful for this All Saints Day?