As I sat counting the days, I knew it had been too long. I knew I was pregnant. I didn't even want to take a test; I didn't want it to be true. A few days later as two bars appeared, it was confirmed, my life flipped upside down. I promptly got sick. Not being an emotional person, I shocked myself when I cried for 3 whole days. You could say I was not handling this well.
I know all about the beauty of life, and how hard it is for people to conceive. Scientifically, it is actually a pretty big miracle. It’s rare all things considered, when a sperm can swim all the way to an egg and then for the babe to be able to implant well enough for a viable pregnancy to make it to birth. That is a whole other matter which I don't want to get into today.
Being honest, the small fry wiggling away in my womb was not what I was upset about. The timing was what was killing me, and it still rubs me a bit today. Ever since I was a little girl I have always wanted to do things in the proper order, I'm very traditional in that sense and I genuinely find complete joy in following the Lord’s plan for us as humans. I pictured my love life as such: meet Prince Charming, have a fun Catholic wedding sharing the joy of the Church in our witness of love, then sex, and maybe a year later start planning a family etc. Many times, the Lord has radically shown the depth of his love for me and what a joy it has been responding to his love. This is why I think my heart broke to know that I had failed myself but more importantly I fell short in the eyes of my Father. To deny his love, even for a moment, left a bitter taste and was selfish of me.
This was pretty embarrassing and ironic since I've been working at a Pregnancy Center for the past few years. Tyler, my boyfriend, and I went too far, literally one time, which I've heard about but dang! Yet now I get to share my personal temptations with a unique opportunity to have the effect of my sin growing in my womb obvious to all; as beautiful and precious as new life is. I wanted to share my story to help in understanding.
First off, I am in no way saying this situation is ok or sex before marriage is acceptable. Each person deserves the authentic love God has planned for them. Having an unplanned pregnancy has made things extremely difficult. I knew I had a choice, we had a choice as a couple, to let our failures in purity guide our relationship or to seek after the Lord’s heart. We knew that once we committed a sin it could become easier to do it again, repeatedly, until guilt was no longer felt and unfortunately sin became natural. It would become a slippery slope if a person did not implore their conscience and really strive for virtue moving forward. Since then, we have chosen to follow the Lord and His plan for our lives knowing He desires the best for us, even the crazy timing of our family growing.
Here is how our lives have played out since that decision: I went to Confession right after and we have set up stronger boundaries in our pursuit of virtue and purity. Tyler is not Catholic, yet, so the Sacrament of Confession was not a necessity for him, however we had been practicing chastity and still are practicing chastity till a marriage in the future. I know it might seem silly or pointless to wait until marriage now but it is very important to the both of us. Doesn’t make things any easier, but avoiding the temptation is what we strive for and we pray for the grace to continue to wait as we move forward.
The next step was forgiving myself which was never as much a priority. Let me explain. From the start of post conversion, I think we all deeply encounter how much of a sinner we are. As we grow in holiness we learn how big God is and thus how small and far we are from him. Meaning, we have a long way to go. As our faith matures we can see this ‘distance,’ not as a bad thing but to know holiness never has a limit. We can always get MORE holy as we grow and time passes in our life. It is a choice to seek the Lord each moment or to give into our inclinations of sin.
In that sense, I knew after sex that I was an idiot and what we did was dumb (timing was wrong and an inauthentic act of love as a selfish thing). The shame has been difficult to let go because it is easy to dwell on the fact that one selfish mistake has changed my whole life. The remedy for me has been continually going to Confession, daily Mass, prayer time, and seeing others’ joy when I have not felt so happy about the entire situation. By immersing myself in God’s mercy, forgiving myself has come about gradually. I have been forced to acknowledge God’s love, and if God can still love me such, there is nothing I can do but to remember my own self-worth. It is almost a cause/effect thing in my life. God’s love of me = my own love of me. I cannot deny that, which is why the Sacraments are so important because I need that constant reminder of God’s loving mercy to not forget myself. I need to know that God loves me in order to love myself.
In the midst of sharing this news with those in our lives I have learned some things. I was very nervous to tell family, friends and colleagues about our small fry. I was afraid everyone would be judgy but it has been quite the opposite. Everyone has responded with JOY and mercy towards us. Slowly, I have begun to relax and embrace motherhood. It is insane to me that at the end of this Year of Mercy, the Lord has shown me his mercy so tangibly in others including my little baby. I am in awe. Not everyone is blessed with such a great support system, for that I am in everyone’s debt and unbelievably lucky to have much to be thankful for. On top of this, few weeks ago I felt the baby kick for the first time which has been nothing short of magical!
A fruit of this overwhelming mercy is generosity. People just give and through them I see the faithfulness of God. Things are very tight right now, but it is ok. We are both working two jobs to make ends meet the best we can. This is only temporary till we get settled. I know without a doubt the Lord has his hand upon us and will provide all that we need. Everything in our lives has been given to us as a gift. We would not be thriving without the generosity of God in others, and that has been a very humbling to experience. The only response I can come up with is to give it all back to the Lord, to rejoice in thanks of His love.
If I could say anything to other women or couples experiencing a situation similar, it would be: God still loves you. He will never stop loving you; delighting in your life and finding abundant joy in who you are as a person. Sinning always separates me from God’s grace, but even in my shortcomings God can bring great blessings and joy amidst suffering. Sometimes, it can be appealing to let failure defeat me, but our God is a God of hope and mercy, He desires us to get back up. So I did, and even in my weakness of sin I chose to get back up. God’s wants each of us to keep fighting to avoid sin and strive for heaven.
Run after the Lord’s merciful heart. If you are Catholic get your ass in Confession. Seriously, I know it is scary but rip the Band-Aid off and get it done. Then allow the confessional to become a beckon of hope, not fear, as a monthly necessity for the goodness of your soul. You will feel better and your faith in yourself can be renewed. I believe in my ability to follow the Lord anew because I am strengthened by Him, seeking Him constantly as my refuge. You can be renewed in His loving mercy to guide you each day too.
Know that you are not alone. Ever. God is there, and so are other people. I do not know who your support system will be but people love you. Do not be afraid to share with others about what is going on in your life. This in itself can be an intimidating and humbling experience but allowing others to participate in the joy of new life is a great gift. Not every day of pregnancy or raising a child is going to be sunshine but as these people journey with you, they can listen and help any way you need. Trust me; I have been amazed by other people. I see God so tangibly in their support.
Please pray for Tyler and I and our small one. We are into the 7th month, due around Feb 24th. I'm offering up all the funny, weird prego experiences up for your intentions.