I posted the following on my personal blog and thought that you all might enjoy the story.
Back in October I asked my friend Celina to tell me her story because I find her so different from most people I know. I find her quite remarkable and thought you would enjoy her story as much as I.
Background: Celina is a military wife and a Catholic revert. She and her husband sterilized themselves before their reversion. After they realized Church teaching and read John Paul II for themselves, they realized what they had done and worked to reverse it. She and her husband Jason are the parents of 14 children, 5 living and 9 in Heaven. They are in their 30s. Here is their story.
How many miscarriages have you experienced?
We have lost 9 babies to miscarriage. 7 were quite early, only a few days after a positive pregnancy test and 2 were in the second trimester. All of them are mostly unexplained.
What is your Catholic background?
I am a revert to Catholicism, having been brought up cafeteria style 🙂 I knew virtually nothing about the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of life. Well I knew the “what” but not the “why”. Jason was raised commercial, as we like to call it; Christmas = presents, Easter = chocolate candy, etc. Both of us from very abusive homes.
When did you revert and how did you decide that NFP would work for your marriage?
When David was born, our older girls were starting to be school aged and we knew there was something missing in how they were being raised, though we are pretty sure that we weren’t doing too bad considering both of our upbringings. We had decided on sterilization shortly after David was born in 1998 (no miscarriages that I am aware of up to that point). We felt a bit railroaded into it since we had 3 children very close together and because Jason volunteered to be the one who underwent surgery, he was praised all around for being responsible and kind to his wife (so weird to think now how kindness and responsibility in involved with messing around with, well, THAT, you know?)
We looked into having David baptized as well as our older two (the focus was on him because not only was he our baby but he was our “last” baby). We met an awesome family through our church who taught the baptism class. We learned so much about the Church through them. They presented the teachings of the Magisterium to us in a way that was very matter of fact. They were very understanding with our difficulties and our questions. They were very faith filled people who were just awesome. I didn’t know that the husband was a doctor until one day when I saw him in uniform and you know how some people can wear their rank inappropriately.
So within 2 years, Jason and I were taking RCIA classes. Unfortunately I don’t think that NFP is presented nearly enough and one of its pitfalls is that some of the best NFP stories are from larger families. People see this and automatically think that NFP is only appropriate if you want to raise a baseball team or something which is totally not the case. The concept of being open to life seem so simple now and we are largely Providentialists but are open to limiting our family size if it becomes necessary for financial or other reasons. But the whole contraceptive mentality is pretty strong. Funny how things have changed in such a relatively short period of time when contraception was largely frowned upon by Protestant and Catholics alike.
After having mentioned a few times that David was our last child, Cindy, the wife of the couple who helped us understand our faith better, very lovingly and bluntly told me about what the Church teaches on the subject. It made total sense. I won’t say it was like a light bulb that went off over my head and I was sold but after thinking on it a few days, it makes perfect sense that God made our bodies to be fertile. It wasn’t an accident. He knew what he was doing. AND bonus, there was a way to work within his plan to limit our family size if after prayerful consideration, we decided it was necessary. We didn’t need to shut the doors to our bedroom completely to God. On the contrary because the act of marriage is how we participate with God in creating new life, it makes perfect sense that there are “rules” surrounding it. We shouldn’t have treated it so lightly. We knew that it was probably the biggest mistake of our marriage.
Although it was perfectly clear that we didn’t HAVE to have the vasectomy reversed to be right with God, we felt it was necessary. We never considered that in 5 or 10 or in our case 2 years later, we would change our minds. Not to be too morose about it but it is similar to the old adage about suicide: it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It didn’t feel right that we were essentially enjoying the gift of sex in our marriage but not assuming the responsibility of it. What could we then tell our children as they came of age?
We took it to confession and had a reversal in 2000. Thankfully the military paid for the whole thing. I would have never thought it.