As many of you are aware, due to the complications during this most recent pregnancy, Denae’s uterus was removed shortly after our son Joseph Anthony was delivered. The reality of this loss of fertility has not fully set in just yet. For many years we have been blessed with abundant fertility. After our first child was born, we had a brief period of infertility, thus there is a gap of 2.5 years between our first two children, but each successive child has been within 2 years of each other and the two most recent ones are the closest with just under 20 months separating their births.
We have known many friends who have had trouble achieving pregnancy as well as those who have not been able to have any biological children. My own mother and grandmother were only able to have one child each (my brother came to our family through the beautiful gift of adoption). Up until now we have known only second hand how difficult it is for them to know that they will not be able to bring forth life from their union.
I know some of you might be thinking, “You have nine beautiful children, surely you have had enough fertility.” This thought has gone through my mind as well, and I must agree that we have been blessed with more fertility than most these days. As Catholics, my wife and I believe in the teachings of the Church that those called to the vocation of marriage should be open to receiving children from God (and to educating them in the faith), not just for a portion of their marriage, but for as long as God sees fit to bless them with fertility or until they have a grave reason for not being open to new life for a period of time. So now that medical necessity has dictated that our fertility be given up, we see it as the loss of a great gift given to us by our creator.
This great gift of fertility allows us to participate in the awesome miracle of creating life. For me it is very humbling that the creator of all things has permitted us to share in the creation of an immortal soul. It is in the very act of pro-creation that we share very intimately in the life of God. God himself is a community of persons. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It has been said that the love between the Father and the Son is manifested in the Holy Spirit. In a sense the love between man and woman within the sacrament of marriage manifests itself very powerfully and visibly in the birth of children. In light of this view of marriage, hopefully you can understand that whenever a couple of deprived of sharing in this divine gift, there is a loss experienced, whether they have no children or many children.
I am sure that we will enter more deeply into the reality of the loss of fertility about a year from now when Joseph is being weaned and we would normally start talking about whether we are able to be open to new life once again. However, that conversion will not take place, but I am sure we will ponder and lament the loss of one of God’s greatest gifts in our marriage. Please keep Denae and I and indeed our whole family in your prayers, this loss is one that affects all of us.