This was an article I wrote 20 years ago when the Lord blessed us with our sons, Caleb and Justin.
Two beautiful baby boys were added to our family in 1996. Let me share our story with you.
My husband Mike and I were quickly blessed after we were married with four wonderful children. We had a girl and then three boys. These pregnancies were normal with no complications, and all were homebirths with a midwife attending. We had become familiar with Natural Family Planning when we were engaged and have used it throughout our marriage.
When our fourth child, Peter, was two and a half, I got pregnant with our fifth child. In my third month of pregnancy, I found out the baby had died. We were stunned, and I was left feeling sad and empty.
For my sixth pregnancy two years later, I went to a doctor instead of a midwife thinking I needed more medical help. But again at three months, I went in for my regular check-up only for them to find no heartbeat. The baby had died. I had surgery and was very sick afterward.
Two years later, when I had renewed my courage, I conceived baby #7. This time the pregnancy went all the way to 19 weeks. All seemed to be going well since I had made it to the second trimester, but when I went in for my fifth month check-up, no heartbeat could be found. A sonogram confirmed that our baby had died.
Since I was so far along they put me in the hospital and induced labor. After a grueling 42 hours, I delivered our little girl, Mary Elizabeth.
For all three babies we had a funeral service and burial.
After our third miscarriage I experienced a lot of grief and fell into a deep depression. Several tests were done to see if they could find out why our babies were not coming to term but nothing showed up. Although I was very grateful for the four children we had, my arms felt extremely empty. I longed for a baby and grieved for the three we had lost. I doubted I’d ever have anymore children. I had trouble with my cycles and experienced a lot of spotting. My hope for healing, as well as for new life in our family, was vanishing.
My husband and I continued to pray however. On the feast of the Holy Family, he and I knelt before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and said, “Lord, we are open to new life in our family in any way you want to give it to us.” We began to look into adoption.
A few times our hopes were raised when we heard about a baby possibly available to adopt, but each time it fell through and we had to deal with the discouragement.
In the summer of 1993, my husband went to Omaha, Nebraska, for a Humanae Vitae conference. While he was there, he went to visit the Pope Paul VI Institute. The institute helps women with fertility problems, miscarriage, etc. Shortly thereafter I began to correspond by mail and by phone with a doctor there about my miscarriages and bleeding. He was very kind and caring. It soon became clear that I needed to go to Omaha to the institute so he could really check out what the problem was.
During this whole time I continued to deal with grief and depression. Then one day I called out to God with all my heart to help me. Soon after that a priest friend of ours began to pray with me. Another close friend of mine also joined us in prayer. They prayed with me on several occasions for the depression to be lifted and it was. They also prayed for healing for my womb and for the bleeding.
The Lord began to heal me in body, mind and spirit. My joy returned and even though the spotting continued, I knew the Lord was healing me. I became reconciled with God and His will for my life, whatever that was, although my friends believed God had more children for us. They often prayed blessings over me, such as the one in Genesis 24:60b, “They blessed her and said,`Sister of ours, from you may there spring thousands and tens of thousands! May your descendants gain possession of the gates of their enemies.’”
We did decide to still go to the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha. The doctor did tests and a minor surgery, but he couldn’t see any major problems. He admitted very honestly that I was a mystery, and he wasn’t sure what caused the bleeding or the miscarriages. He also said he didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t try to have another child, but he said if I got pregnant I should call right away and he would start me on two shots a week of progesterone and one shot a week of something else. I would have to continue this treatment for the entire nine months.
When we returned home, we continued to pray for God’s healing. I also had been doing things like eating well, taking vitamins, etc. We tried to conceive but for the first time conception didn’t come quickly. Mike began to read Scriptures with me such as Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply,” and Psalm 128:3, “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home.”
I was 39 years old by this time. Finally, after nine months of trying, we conceived. We rejoiced over the pregnancy and the new life God had created within me. But right away we started wondering if I should begin the shots. After praying Mike told me, “God has got us this far. I believe He wants us to trust Him with this pregnancy.” So I never took one shot nor any medication.
When I was four and a half months pregnant, God had another special surprise for us. A single mother, who was thinking about an abortion, changed her mind when a sidewalk counselor talked to her. This young mom decided to give her baby the gift of a family. We were that family. There was so much rejoicing when Caleb Michael joined our clan and that joy continues everyday. He has been such a treasure and is now a year old and toddling all around. God’s surprises never cease. God was answering our prayer for new life in our family.
My pregnancy continued beautifully. I felt good and thanked God when I felt our little fellow move around. We had decided to have a homebirth, and on July 11, 1996, Justin Thomas Benedict was born at home — a healthy boy weighing 8 lbs. 13 oz. Our older children, who had been tremendous prayer warriors throughout the pregnancy and labor, were present for the birth and were crying and laughing at the same time.
Justin is now seven and a half months old. We thank God for the two new arrows added to our quiver. A double blessing! In many ways it is like having twins. When people see me with the babies they often comment, “Boy, do you have your hands full!” My response is, “Yes, I do! Thank You, Jesus!”
I share all this to glorify God for what He has done for me and to encourage those women who have miscarried and are discouraged. There is hope! There were so many times when I was discouraged and would tell myself, “That’s it.” But that wasn’t it. God had more children for me.
The Scripture that has come alive to me is Psalm 30:12, “He’s turned my mourning into dancing again.” That has truly happened.
I want to end by sharing that I recently turned 40. They say that life begins at 40. It certainly has begun again for me.
After writing this article, the Lord blessed us yet again when we adopted a beautiful baby girl we named Rebekah Ruth Marian. And then He allowed me to conceive and give birth at the age of 42 to my last baby, Isaac Joseph. Blessed be God!