So I had a revelation today, in the shower.
I was thinking about how last year was really tough, and how, in the back of my mind, I had kind of done the math and figured out that things had started to become really difficult around the time Clara was probably first in utero.
The first few months of 2009 were fine - I was upbeat, trying to have a new perspective on things, I read Immaculee's book and was trying to implement a more positive attitude. 2009 was going to be the year I conquered infertility and no longer let it get the best of me.
In February, I got the false-positive pregnancy test and, while it may seem odd to some, it gave me a much-needed boost. Maybe it wasn't a false positive, I wondered at times. Maybe I can conceive, after all.
I was feeling good about that through March and April, and then April ended with a trip to New York City. I remember we had a great time. Great hotel, great weather, Mets game in the new stadium, and it was all capped off with St. Gianna's feast day Mass at her shrine in Pennsylvania. I venerated her gloves and prayed for God to grow our family, however He saw fit (and we met TCIE, too, who, if I remember correctly, prayed her heart out that night that the other bloggers would conceive and be blessed with their hearts' desires).
But then my outlook seemed to take a turn for the worse.
So in the shower this morning, I tried to think about just when it was that I lost my positive attitude, and it occurred to me that the last time I had really been happy last year was on our little trip to New York. If you look at my old posts, you'll see a trend - I started having a hard time as soon as we got home at the end of April. In the first post after returning home, I couldn't even bring myself to write about what was an awesome trip because I was so down. In the days that followed, I started to tumble into despair. Only this despair seemed to last until the end of the year.
There were some bright spots in the midst of the darkness. For instance, in early May, I became very peaceful about the idea of adoption, even excited. But, overall, things just got tougher and tougher.
It had occurred to me that my bad mood probably coincided with the months that Clara was in utero, but I'd never actually looked at a calendar to figure it all out. She was born on Dec. 1, at what doctors estimate to have been 30 weeks, and I had been going on the assumption that she was conceived around the time I visited Bl. Kateri's shrine near my home town. In fact, I just told a friend that very thing at my shower. But that was late May.
I did the math while washing my hair, and I realized late May wasn't 30 weeks before her birthday. Instead, 30 weeks ended up coinciding with the very time my despair set in - late April/early May.
My initial count, in my head while still in the shower, had it falling on St. Gianna's actual feast day. But, once I looked at an actual calendar, I discovered that Mass was exactly 31 weeks before Clara's birth. But still! I couldn't believe it. (Actually, my first thought was that I was, again, disappointed that I didn't push harder for Gianna to be part of Clara's name!)
We don't even know if Clara was definitely 30 weeks, or 31, but the fact is this: she was conceived in the days around that Mass, around the time I held St. Gianna's gloves and begged for her intercession. And as I sank into despair in the days that followed, little did I know that our baby, a baby I believe God always intended for us, was growing and developing the entire time.
Please know I am not saying I think my more than five years of infertility came down to a decision to attend a certain Mass. The Lord knows I used to hate to hear others say that very thing. There is no magical way out of infertility and I have to believe God doesn't have a specific set of hoops He's like us to jump through before we're delivered from our suffering.
But, on the same token, I don't claim to understand God's ways. If we believe in the power of prayer and the intercession of the saints, who are we to assume to know how it happened?
All I know is that around the time that I, with full faith in my heart, asked a beloved saint for her help, God was knitting a sweet little baby in a womb, many miles away. A baby who would live for nearly seven months in that womb, while her birthmother considered adoption for the little life she carried. A baby who would defy the odds to be born completely healthy. A baby who would become our daughter and change our lives forever.
We can't deny that our Clara became a life around the time of St. Gianna's feast day. I believe she had a hand in Clara's safety those seven months, and her miraculous path to us, and for that I am forever grateful.
So we will never know what prayers, or pilgrimages, lead to our answered prayers, if any did at all. And that's the way it should be because it's not about what we did. We could never do enough to deserve God's love.
I'm still pondering the seven very dark and difficult months I experienced leading up to her birth. Was it God's way of allowing me to hit rock bottom so that I could start anew with Clara? Was it the devil making yet another try for me? Was it a spiritual pregnancy? I'm not even sure what that last one really means.
What I do know is it's truly amazing what can happen in 30 weeks.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
So I had a revelation today, in the shower.