As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Heaven Has a New Saint

If you were to see us on the street, we would appear to be a family of eight.  In fact up until a few weeks ago, we were a family of ten, with two little saints waiting for us in Heaven.  John Paul Gerald, who was miscarried in March of 2005 at about 12 weeks, and Gabriel, our Advent baby, miscarried in December of 2011, also in the first trimester though we're not entirely sure on dates.  We recently discovered that I had been blessed with a ninth pregnancy (Nine! Wow!), a baby who was also destined to live their whole life in Heaven.  As a parent, there can be no greater joy than knowing a child has made it in Heaven. For the children living with us we do our best to point them in that direction, and pray that we would not do anything to hinder it (as I sure all too often we do).  But for these three little souls, the battle is already won.  Thanks be to God for His goodness!I wanted to share the story of this little life, because though it was short it is nonetheless a soul created for all eternity, one who I believe I will meet face-to-face when my life on earth is over.  And each life changes us, whether we meet them in body or only in spirit.  Such is the case with this little one.

My regular cycles returned when my current baby was one-year-old, and since then we'd gotten pretty good at charting.  For the first time in my life NFP was working the way everyone said it would.  I could follow my progress during each cycle, and accurately predict when I was ovulating.  We had decided, through prayer and the reality of the facts of our current life, that it would probably be best to delay another baby until we had a few more of our ducks in a row.  The biggest obstacle for us at this stage was a vehicle - currently the one we have seats a maximum of seven, fine for me and the kids to get around during the day, but requiring the use of a second vehicle to travel anywhere as a family.  It's no more than a minor incovenience right now as we are blessed to own a second vehicle, but another baby would mean I would not be able to get out during the day with the kids by myself - something that would be a huge hardship on our life as a homeschooling family so far out of the city.  In addition to the regular commitments of our children that have us out at least two days a week there would also be many doctors appointments for the new baby (not to mention the regular dentist/optometrist/doctor's and other appointments for any of the rest of us on a given week), and I just would not be comfortable being without a vehicle in an emergency.  As none of our children are old enough to leave alone, without a vehicle that could fit us all (and since there's no public transportation near us) we would be stuck. And so, it seemed the best solution for the time being was to sit tight, pay a few things down so we could afford a new vehicle, and not throw caution to the wind.

So we were dilligent.  We prayed every month again about whether now was a good time to start trying, and time and again found the Lord urging our hearts to wait.  When you get good at NFP however, the question then becomes, "am I avoiding pregnancy because that's what God wants, or just because I can?"  You kind of start to feel good about that chart, that untarnished record of avoiding pregnancy (especially when, like me, you're someone people have pointed at for years and said, "you can't even do NFP, you have six kids!")  So we decided that we would not abstain on special occasions, regardless of where we were in our cycle.  Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, special feast days - they would all give the Lord the opportunity to override us if we had improperly discerned, and helped us to relinquish a bit of our control.  And so we found ourselves last month, on an unexpected trip away without any of the kids (the first we'd been on in two years, and the longest we've ever been away together!) And I was right in the middle of ovulation.

It happened to be Mother's Day weekend, and I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate motherhood than to be open to conceiving a new child. After we returned home I began to notice right away that bloated feeling of your body just not being the same way it was before.  I had also put on a few pounds, but I wasn't sure at that point if it was just from being away and indulging a little too much (which I did). I of course knew there was the possibility of pregnancy, so I continued to watch for signs from my body, and when the day of my period came and went with no signs of it, I knew right away we had conceived.  I started dreaming and making plans, wondering how I would tell people.  I even thought I found a solution to the vehicle troubles - the baby would have been due in February, so I thought we could save as much as we could between now and then, and use our income tax return as a down payment.  My first trimester would be in the summer, meaning I would get the sickest part of my pregnancy out of the way when the kids were not in school.  Everything seemed like it was worked out.

And then after about a week, I started to bleed.  I looked over my charts to see whether I had miscalculated my period, but I didn't.  When you study NFP you know that the only part of your cycle that is unchanging is the part that follows ovulation - if a woman's cycle is off, it's because the delay happened before she ovulated.  I wondered whether it could be implantation bleeding but again, the timing was way off.  Implantation bleeding occurs 9-12 days following conception, and by that time I was well over 20. My plan, having been through miscarriage two times before, was to wait it out and let nature take its course.

I went to bed that evening, six days ago, and dreamed I was at a get-together with a group of girls.  An old friend from high school was there with a brand new baby girl, and she asked me to keep an eye on the baby while she mingled.  She pushed the stroller over to me, and I picked the baby up and cuddled that little baby for as long as I could.  Long after the guests had left my friend was still visiting with another person across the room, and I was standing and holding her baby as my own children played at my feet.  I was fully conscious of the fact that this was not my baby, and was just soaking up every possible moment I could with her before I had to give her back.  It was beautiful.

I woke that morning and took a pregnancy test, which came out positive.  My bleeding had gotten much heavier through the night, and I texted Jeff at work to tell him he was a father of nine, but that the bleeding was worse now and that he should pray about a name.  My plan was to just let everything run its course, but he wanted me to go to the hospital in case I wasn't loosing the baby and there was something that could be done.  After several unsuccessful attempts at finding someone to look after the rest of my kids, Jeff took some time off work and met me in town to hang out with the kids.  Due to an overcrowding problem in the hospital that required the use of ER beds by patients who were supposed to be admitted, I ended up spending five hours in the hospital that day.  I had my blood drawn and an ultrasound (which could not detect the pregnancy), and was sent home with a requisition for more bloodwork in three days, to measure the level of pregnancy hormone against what had been drawn that day.  If it increased, we would know the pregnancy was still progressing.  If it didn't we would know that it wouldn't.

That evening we had friends over as usual for our school of community.  My husband led us all in a family rosary with our friends present, and I ended up taking a disobedient child to be early for being disruptive. I walked up the stairs as the rosary was concluding and each of the children were announcing their name Saint, and heard my husband announce, following the list of all the other children, "St. Anne."  I asked him later why he had chosen Anne (since our previous two were given male names, partly because so early on we would have no idea of gender) and he said it's just what he felt the Lord saying her name was.  

I returned to the hospital that Monday for my second blood draw, which confirmed that the hormones had indeed gone down.  Another little baby in Heaven.  It is always sad to know you've lost a little one, but I can't help feeling grateful for the fact that we were able to know at all. If I had not been charting, I could have easily mistaken the bleeding for my period.  The only reason I was certain of the pregnancy was because we had been watching our charts, because we had been praying all along, and because we knew with certainty when this baby was conceived.  There is grief, sure, but there is also joy.  Joy that another little baby waits for us in Heaven.  Joy that God cares so tenderly for me that He comforts and consoles through life's most challenging times, in the still quiet of a dream that I will not soon forget - that I got to hold a baby for such a short time, one I was certain was not my own, but that I have been blessed to spend a few precious moments with. 

St. Anne, pray for us!


  1. I am so happy that you were the link above mine to read. I often think about my baby in heaven and wonder. What would she have been like? I wasn't Catholic then and didn't get to name her when I lost her. Her. I don't even know that for sure. But like you, and your husband, after a lot of prayer and grieving, I have named her Nina a quiet sweet saint. I will pray for you and your family. St. Anne and St. Nina, pray for us! xo

  2. I'm so very sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing the story of baby Anne.