My Husband Cheated: Healing and Thriving after Infidelity

I begin my story by giving all the glory to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Without Him, this story would have a completely different ending. It would have ended in divorce as most marriages with infidelity do.

My husband and I were happily married in 1991. We both wanted children but initially struggled to get pregnant. After a few years, God gave us the beautiful gift of a son.

On the surface everything appeared to be going well. We both worked full time jobs and were raising our child. However, we were so busy working and taking care of our son that we forgot to pay attention to each other. Although we didn’t have intimate relations anymore, we never fought. There was no physical abuse or name calling. We went to church every Sunday and sent our son to Catholic schools. We were a family. We were looking good!

shy-863056_1920Then one day in the fall of 2006, my life fell apart. I learned through my two brothers (they all worked in the same office for my uncle’s company) that my husband was cheating. He was having an affair with a woman in their office. I was completely devastated and filled with anger.

I cried. I screamed. I yelled! I tried to gather myself to think of what to do next. Not only had my husband betrayed me, but my own family had also betrayed me by not coming to me or my husband when they first suspected the affair (many months prior).

During our crisis, my family and even some close friends distanced themselves from us. They completely abandoned us and did not speak to us. One family member handed me information to see a divorce attorney. It blew my mind.

My family may have abandoned us but God showed up in a big way! He sent His angels to support us through our tough trial. My husband’s family was also very supportive. They wrapped their arms around us tightly. They walked with us and encouraged us to fight for our marriage. I also had a dear friend who stepped in and worked every day with both my husband and me. God truly anointed her to nurture us back to see His love and grace. She spent many long hours listening and reminding us of God’s love for us and our marriage.

I needed to separate from my husband in order to begin healing. My husband moved in with a relative so my son and I could stay in our home and keep our routine of school and work. Through this separation we stay connected and maintained a relationship through our shared commitment to our son. He was our first priority.

We placed our faith in God and asked for His help and guidance. My husband had reached out immediately to our pastor at our church. Knowing God was with us and having immediate access to confession and the Eucharist was such a comfort. The sacraments began our healing process from the inside.

We both started going to a Christian counseling center seeing different therapists. We did this for many months and slowly started to talk and see where we had neglected one another for so many years. As our eyes opened, we began to realize and address how each of us had failed to care for each other and our marriage. Then we began seeing my husband’s therapist together.

I struggled with forgiveness in a big way. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It took a good year to truly forgive my husband and I had to check myself on that at times. My faith is what enabled me to forgive. I would contemplate what Jesus endured through his passion and crucifixion and it helped me through my struggles.

It was very difficult for me to forgive my family. I found it harder than forgiving my husband. I have made a great deal of progress but still struggle on occasion. I pray about it every day as most of them still do not speak to me, my husband, or son after nearly 10 years.

The healing process took time but we eventually grew in our relationship. I must say I never felt like giving up only because I saw the work my husband was doing and the change that took place in his heart. God, in His mercy, allowed me to see that first hand. Our faith in God did not allow us to end what God put together.

Today, we are not a surviving married couple, we are a thriving married couple! We make the time to pay attention and really talk to each other every day. God gave me back a new husband and I became a new wife for him. We are better connected today than when we dated!

There is always hope. Hope in Jesus Christ. He died for all of our sins, even the ones not yet committed. He saved our marriage when there were many people who kept telling me it would fail. The naysayers now stand back years later only to see we have defeated what this secular society believes should end in divorce. Every day I thank God for where He has brought us and where I know He is taking us.Praise the Lord for He is merciful! To Him be all the Glory!

The Ache of Empty Arms

pregnant-971984I lay in the ultrasound room looking at the image of my perfectly formed baby on the screen. I could see the profile of his face and his little hand. I had a hard time believing my doctor’s gentle words: “I’m so sorry. His heart isn’t beating.” The next day I held my son in my arms after delivery, and we named him John. Eight months later I lay in another ultrasound room and again heard the words I most dreaded: “The baby is measuring smaller than she should be, and there is no heartbeat. I’m sorry.” My daughter was beautiful, and we named her Agnes. Another six months, and a phone call with lab results confirmed what I already knew: we had lost our third baby to an early miscarriage. We named him Michael.

How does one cope with the loss of a child? I have shed more tears in the past year and a half than I have probably in the rest of my life combined. I grieve for each of my babies. I struggle to accept God’s will. But there is joy too, and my heart has grown with love for the children I can no longer hold.

I imagine my children in heaven—probably romping around causing mischief together. Surely kids can cause mischief in heaven, right? I’m no theologian, so I guess we’ll find out when we get there. My husband and I have joked that our kids probably have their elbows on the table at the heavenly banquet, and the Blessed Mother is up there gently scolding them. Heaven seems more like a real place now, not an abstract idea but the home where my children live. I look forward to having a big family reunion there someday.

As I have processed my own grief, I’ve also connected with other women who have lost babies and have seen their pain. People at our parish have shared about their own losses when they heard about our babies, and friends I’ve known for years have told me about babies I never knew existed. So many couples are suffering silently as they grieve their children.

I also have friends who struggle with infertility. I understand and share in their desire to raise a family, although I don’t know the monthly disappointment of being unable to conceive. They also suffer silently and feel the ache of empty arms.

Bishop Loverde of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington will lead a novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe for those suffering
from infertility, miscarriage, and infant death beginning on December 4. Please join in praying for those of us who carry this cross. We appreciate each and every prayer.

Novena for those suffering from infertility, miscarriage, and infant loss

Mexican_oil_paint_on_tin_retablo_of_'Our_Lady_of_Guadalupe',_19th_century,_El_Paso_Museum_of_Art

Waiting for Marriage during the Sexual Revolution: Mistakes I Made

Reading through some of these heartfelt stories from the lives of very real Catholic women is kind of sad; so many of us have been through unnecessary pain. While we all have a different tale to tell, I blame most of the trials on the sexual revolution of the 60’s. This time of “empowerment for women” caused and continues to cause a lot of pain and suffering. I seriously believe that most women would be much happier living in an era when life was much less complicated.

Since I was 15 years old, I have wished I was married in the 1950’s because it seemed to me that men and women respected one another then. They respected the Laws of God and were dedicated to maintaining harmony in the family. But I was born in the late 50’s and lived through the Cultural Revolution. Many of my girlfriends embraced it. They loved the freedom and opportunities that feminism presented, so they went on the pill and were determined to carve a new path for themselves. Not me. My plan was to let God be in charge.

I went to Mass throughout my college career, I pursued the talents that God gave me and I waited. I waited and occasionally I dated hoping to find “the one.” I thought I did everything right, but boys stopped calling me when I told them how I felt about premarital sex. I believed waiting for marriage was honorable, initially. Then it started to become embarrassing and eventually it haunted me.

When I was 21 I had sex just to get it over with. No longer having the stigma hanging over me, I could refuse sex because I didn’t want to do it, not because I was saving myself, which was apparently the kiss of death.

Still single at 24, I moved to a big city because I didn’t know what else to do with myself Lovestamp smallerother than pray constantly for a husband. I tried to date, but city boys were not interested in committed relationships. I became friends with a guy I worked with who was very sympathetic and encouraging. But after lots of conversations, he thought I needed to move out of the “Dark Ages” and embrace the feminist movement. His argument started to get to me. I mean, I wasn’t very happy and it seemed to me that everyone else around me was. They were living it up and I was pretty much waiting for my life to begin. Maybe he was right.

I allowed my life to take a very dark turn. I started having sex with my guy friend, who also happened to be married. It was a terrible sin and I hated myself for it. I broke it off a thousand times, but each time I fell into deep despair. I was painfully lonely and hopelessly in love with him. Then I got pregnant. He handed me $2000 in cash. I wept and I wept and I wept. I was a sinner, and I believed this was my punishment. I was trapped, scared, and desperately alone because I had given up believing in God, as my acts were so shameful. There were no angels to rescue me. I loved this married man and felt in my heart that if I kept the child it would destroy his family, and I believed that would make the sin of the affair even worse. He was my world and I didn’t want to lose it, so I took off from work the Friday of my 8th week of pregnancy and had an abortion.

Nearly two years later, after about 6 months of therapy, I was able to end the relationship for good. It had lasted 4 years and I was so wounded by it, it honestly took me another two years to emotionally move on. During that time, I started to talk to my younger, married sister more frequently. She was critical of the women’s movement and wanted me to leave the city. When we would say our good byes, she would often add, “I’ll pray for you.”

One time she ended the call with an admonishment, “I’ll pray for you,” she said, “but you have to pray too. God wants to hear from you!” All those years I had prayed seemed so fruitless, but with her words I realized how much I missed my relationship with the Lord. Inspired by her admonishment, I gradually journeyed my way back to the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. It didn’t happen overnight, yet each step in His direction filled me with great hope and peace. I received the sacrament of Reconciliation, went back to church and began to study my faith for the first time since my 8th grade Confirmation. I also experienced vivid “directional” signs from the Good Shepherd, and I knew He was leading me out of the darkness. God’s generous mercy healed the wounds of my mistakes and I vowed to live my life differently.

After ten years in the city, I finally moved. I wanted to be closer to my family and I thought I needed to discern whether I was called to the consecrated life. One month into my discernment, I met my future husband. He was a kind and gentle man who was also profoundly hurt from the effects of the sexual revolution.

The Cultural Revolution of the 60’s brought about great change that I was clearly not prepared to deal with. My parents raised their daughters to be wives and mothers. My mother didn’t have any idea what the single life was like and thought I was being too picky with men. My home parish was equally clueless and Youth Ministry didn’t exist beyond CYO basketball. There wasn’t any support; I was very confused and it was obvious that the people who could or should have helped were just as confused.

I think the church has come a very long way in addressing the delicate moral issues that youth are confronted with daily, and as parents, my husband and I know we have to be ever-vigilant. Wife/mother and husband/father are admirable goals, but single men and women can also have meaningful and fulfilling vocations. There is no reason to wait for adult life to begin.

 

***EDITOR’S NOTE: If you or someone you know has been involved with abortion, or is having an unexpected pregnancy, please contact Project Rachel post-abortion healing or Gabriel Project pregnancy help for confidential support and assistance.

Porn Almost Destroyed my Marriage

So. Pornography.  I have been watching this website for a while and I hoped that someone else would write about this. Hasn’t happened.  I wish I didn’t have a story to tell, but maybe if I tell my story it will help someone else avoid or end a pornography story in her life.  I hope that when you read this you are shocked and outraged at how naïve or stupid I was, because that would mean that you are much better equipped to defend yourself against pornography than I was.  Here goes.

When my husband and I were dating, I knew that he possessed a couple of old Playboy magazines.  I never saw them.  I never found him viewing them.  They were old.  I think the story was that he had found them under his older brother’s bed one day and kept them.  I really didn’t give it much thought.  I wasn’t very familiar with men.  I didn’t have brothers.  I didn’t have close male friends.  I’m not sure, maybe I thought it was just a “male” thing that I hadn’t been exposed to.  What I had read in novels led me to believe that a Playboy magazine under the bed was possibly a rite of passage.  This was before the internet, before internet porn.

Shortly after getting married we moved into a new house in a neighborhood that was new to us.  One weekend we went to the local video store to rent a movie.   When we went inside, my husband disappeared into a back room labeled “Adult.”  I didn’t even realize what was in there.  He came out after a few minutes and wanted me to join him.  I went in with him and it took me about 2 seconds to realize that I was not interested in the videos on those shelves.  I was repulsed.  I left.

My husband rented an adult movie and brought it home to watch.  I refused to watch it with him. He told me that I was a party pooper.   It was a tense weekend.  He continued to go back and rent adult movies a few times a month.  He would pressure me to watch them with him.  It was a big source of tension between us.  I would tell him that they were wrong and I wasn’t interested.  He would tell me that I was frigid and a prude and there was nothing wrong because we were married.  I didn’t know how to articulate it but in the depth of my being I knew these movies were wrong.  Just thinking about my husband watching them would cause a cloud of darkness and shame to wash over me.  I was Catholic, but I didn’t know my faith, didn’t even know what a catechism was, let alone that I could consult it.  I couldn’t ask my sisters; I was too ashamed.  I couldn’t consult the internet; it didn’t exist.  I was isolated and discouraged.  His persistence started to wear me down and I started to believe him.  Maybe there was something wrong with me.  Why didn’t I want to watch these movies with him?  Why did I feel like he had been with another woman when he was only watching a movie?  He wanted me to join him.  I was his wife.  Was I supposed to join him?

Marriage was not what I had thought it was going to be.  My husband’s new hobby cast a shadow over every aspect of our marriage.  I was miserable.  I gave in and began watching the movies with him.

He was happy, or at least superficially he was.  Most days, I felt dead inside for the length of each movie.  It was as though I turned myself off and retreated  into myself to avoid what I was subjecting myself to. There were other days though, days when I found myself curious and enjoyed a  moment of the movie.  Those moments of enjoyment were followed by confusion, shame, remorse, and a deep darkness.  What was happening to me? What was I becoming?  The darkness wasn’t over when the movie ended either; it lingered.   It became something that I endured once or twice a month in order to keep peace in my marriage.  What irony!  I watched pornography to try to improve my marriage.

And then we moved to another state.  Two beautiful, joyous, wonderful things came along with that move.  First, there was no adult movie store in our new neighborhood, so the movie viewing stopped! (Praise be to God, still no internet!)  Second, after a few years we started attending church.  By the time we started going to church the internet was a reality and so was internet porn.  Thankfully my husband did not return to his porn usage.  One Sunday our pastor preached about the evils of pornography.  I was so happy and relieved. I finally had someone on my side! I also finally had some understanding of the Church’s teachings about it.

CCC 2354   Pornography…offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other.  It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actor, vendors, the public),…it is a grave offense.

Basically, sex is something filled with beauty and dignity and watching others do it degrades it.

There were so many other joys that came with learning about and practicing my Catholic faith.  So many wonderful resources, and the sacraments as well.  The sacraments of the Church are transformative.  Confession gave me absolution and helped me to forgive myself, to let go of the shame.   It took time and counseling before I forgave my husband.  In the words of my counselor “your husband was young and stupid.  He knows better now, and his actions show it.  Forgive him; let go.”  Marriage is a journey to Christ, and our detour into pornography was both damaging and dangerous.   But the beauty of Catholicism is that all things can be redeemed through the sacraments and Christ!

Women today have it harder because internet porn is ubiquitous and so easily accessed.  One good thing that has come out of this scourge of porn is that it has raised society’s awareness of how destructive and addicting it is.  Pornography exploits, objectifies  and uses women.  It devastates marriages and families.  According to one study “Pornography users increasingly see the institution of marriage as sexually confining and have diminished belief in the importance of marital faithfulness.”1   Another study finds 56% of divorce cases involving “one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.”2

If pornography has become a part of your story, you do not have to look far to find help.  Go to your diocesan website to look for resources.  Most dioceses have resources on their websites under the Office of Marriage and Family. You could also search on pornography, but be sure that you are in the diocese’s search bar and not Google!

Here is the link for the Archdiocese of Denver.  It contains links to many helpful resources.

http://www.archden.org/index.cfm/ID/6147/

Editors note:  This author and her husband are blessed. I don’t mean to diminish her suffering in any way but they are truly blessed that her husband did not become addicted as is so often the case with internet pornography. Praise be to God! 

If you or your spouse have an attachment to internet pornography, don’t be discouraged if your journey to recovery involves more of a struggle or effort than has been detailed in this story. In addition to the sacraments, recovery from pornography addiction often requires counseling and/or a twelve step group.  There are many Catholic and Christian counselors who are experienced in dealing with this devastating addiction.

1 Patrick F. Fagan, PhD, The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriages, & Community (December 2009).

2 Jill Manning, Senate Testimony, November 10, 2005, referencing: J. Dedmon, “Is the Internet bad for your marriage? Online affairs, pornographic sites playing greater role in divorces,” 2002, press release from American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 14.

Saved from Victimhood

I used to be pro-choice.  I want to tell you the story of how I became pro-life.  It is a journey that lasted many years.

I think I need to start by telling you that as an infant, child, teen, and young adult, I was a victim of abuse.  I was physically and emotionally abused by both of my parents.  I was sexually abused by my father, my maternal grandfather, and my maternal uncle.  The family abuse didn’t happen just occasionally, it was constant.  I lived as a victim in an environment of constant and pervasive abuse.  This type of family life can be pretty confusing and I think it was part of the reason that I didn’t notice some warning signs, and became a victim of date rape my freshman year of college.  It is remarkable that despite all of this, I never became pregnant.

Are you still with me? I’m not looking for pity.  I’m just trying to make it clear that when I was young and vulnerable, I was a victim.  And as I grew older, it became a life goal for me to never be a victim again.

The first time that I remember being aware of abortion was as a junior in college.  It was the mid 80’s and I heard a woman say, “A woman should have the right to control her own body.”  This was the first pro-choice rationalization that I had ever heard.  I was 20.  It sounded logical and so I thought I must be pro-choice.  I didn’t want anyone else controlling my body, certainly not the government!  And so it was, I was pro-choice.

On some level I knew that I had not completely thought it through, but I didn’t see a need to think it through. Through the lens of my victim experience, I knew that I never wanted to be a victim again. I knew that if I had become pregnant from any of my prior abuse, it would have lengthened and increased my trauma.  Also, I was too busy going to college and hanging out with my friends.  I was busy enjoying the freedom of having left the house of horrors that I grew up in.  I don’t remember meeting or knowing anyone that was pro-life.  I don’t remember any pro-life slogans.  It had never been a subject of discussion in my family.  It was never mentioned at church.

I met my husband in college.  Although we were both Catholic, neither of us was well-formed in our faith. We married in the church shortly after graduation.  Before long I became pregnant.  After 13 weeks of nausea and vomiting I started to feel better, but unfortunately I found that I had miscarried.  Through God’s grace I was given the understanding that my pregnancy, my child, was a real baby, not some blob of tissue.  I remember thinking that if my pregnancy was a baby, then it followed that all pregnancies were babies, including those pregnancies conceived in rape.  I had heard politicians saying that abortion was wrong except in the case of rape.  I finally understood this as a false logic.  I wish that in recognizing this false logic, I had become pro-life.  Instead I dismissed the pro-life movement for that false logic and of course I had been influenced by the media coverage of violent pro-lifers; I didn’t want to be a part of what I saw as a hypocritical movement that wanted to save babies but bombed abortion clinics.

Following my miscarriage, my husband and I were blessed with three healthy beautiful babies. Amidst the chaos of child-rearing I was blessed with a conversion to a much deeper faith.  I was no longer comfortable believing just parts of Catholicism, I wanted to embrace all of it. I did on the surface, but deep down I still had my doubts about abortion.  What if one of my daughters was raped, wouldn’t I want to be able to obtain a safe abortion for her?  Wouldn’t I want to be able to end the trauma for her?  I knew I would want to be able to end her victimization.  Thinking about this caused a deep conflict within me – so I didn’t think about it.

As a wife and mother I began having great difficulty dealing with my past.  I sought counseling but I also went to a one-day seminar in my diocese that was given by Dr.Theresa Burke.  The seminar was on helping women recover from abortion and from abuse.  My focus was on abuse and I continued to push abortion out of mind.

It was an excellent seminar.  To my surprise, with the exception of a few counselors and clergy, I was surrounded by post-abortive women.  I was seated at a table of 10 women.  During the course of the day, 8 of these women revealed that they were post-abortive.  Their stories were different in some ways but there was a recurring, resonating theme of victimization.  Some of them were victims of violence like I had been, some of them were victims of ignorance or poor decisions, but they were all victims. They found themselves pregnant and had nowhere to go.  They had no family support and no support from the father.  Or, the family and father offered the misguided support of paying for an abortion.

Our culture and judicial system led these women to believe that abortion was a legal, safe, viable solution to their problem. These women suffered greatly from their decision to abort.  Some said that they were fine for many years before the trauma of their actions hit them, but it did hit, and it hit hard.  They had struggled for years to forgive themselves and find healing. It was ultimately through the Catholic Church that most of them did find healing.

It was sometime during that seminar that I became 100% pro-life and I have never wavered since.  It is abundantly clear to me that women who choose abortion are not ending their trauma or victimization but instead are extending and repeating it.  My heart broke for these women.  As they shared their stories I could easily see how I could have been one of them.

I know that the ultimate victim of abortion is the innocent baby who has had no choice in the matter at all.  However, in a society that approves of abortion, the mothers and fathers are victims as well. In a society that considers abortion a right, can we even see the other choices that we have?

I pray for these victims daily. I am so grateful that in a period of life when I might have joined the ranks of these suffering and victimized women, seduced by the convenience of abortion, by God’s providence I did not.

Dreaming of my Daughter

I was 24 years old, performing at a dinner theater. I had a graduate degree and a whole life ahead of me with aspirations of becoming an actress. That summer I was free as a bird and full of high hopes and dreams. It was sometime in April that I slipped up and spent the night with an old ex-boyfriend, who was no longer in my life. I had always had irregular periods, so I didn’t give it a second thought that it had been a couple of months since my last period. But something inside me made me go to Planned Parenthood to have a pregnancy test. The result was positive. I drove home from work to look in the yellow pages for “abortion.” Since I was close to 12 weeks along, I had to make a quick decision. I made an appointment for the next week, called my ex-boyfriend, told him he needed to come with me and spend the night to take care of me after the surgery, and pay for half. That was that.

Fast forward. Throughout my twenties, I anxiously wondered if I would ever get married and had a few relationships, but none were Mr. Right. I had become irritable, and I came to see that around June 1st of each year I was especially ornery, and I had developed a pretty bad temper – easily agitated, impatient, and intolerant. Constantly keeping busy to numb a guilt I had suppressed, my life was full. But the busy-ness was a mechanism to survive – suppressing the truth of the damage I had done to myself, my baby, and my relationship with God. I was a strong feminist – it was the 80’s after all, and women had rights.

After meeting and dating for four years an exceptionally kind man who respected my intelligence and independence, I married happily, looking forward to a life filled with blessings. He was not ready to have children and I had another four years of waiting. We ended up blessed with 3 boys, but somewhere along the way I was overcome by a great depression. I had visions of a beautiful little girl coming to me in mind’s eye. I knew I was meant to have a baby girl. She was going to be talented, maybe an actress, a dancer, a singer, or a writer. I yearned for her with excruciating pain. My desire for her to arrive was filled with angst and frustration. Why is God punishing me with only sons? Was I destined to live without the life-giving bond that happens with a mother-daughter relationship? Who would truly understand my needs and care for me in my old age?

I sought out other women in my church, to find solace and intimacy in a life filled with diapers and talk of babies. My faith began to grow and I attended a Cursillo, (a weekend retreat of faith talks, confession, and mass). It was there that the Holy Spirit revealed to me the true source of my pain, an unresolved death – I had killed my baby girl 17 years earlier, and she had been coming to me all these years to reveal her existence. She wanted me to know that I only needed to seek her out, come to know her, and I would be forgiven and peace would finally be granted to me. But first I was to undergo the deepest despair and depression I have ever experienced. I attended a Project Rachel retreat, where forgiveness and healing finally began. It took one full year of psychological and faith-filled counseling, several confessions, and much prayer, before I achieved any ability to reconcile what I had done with my faith.

I had been a victim of a society that had taught me that there are no hard values of right or wrong – our rights are a matter of personal choice, and we were to respect any choice. But what those lies don’t tell you is that when you commit a wrong, your conscience beckons until you ask for forgiveness, and then sometimes the hardest part is forgiving yourself.

It was the Catholic Church that provided me with the only true solace I could ever receive, the merciful and tender love of Christ, who took me right where I was and held me in His arms. Once I had embraced the cross with Him, and understood it would be my testimony to witness for His mercy and glory, I began to see a purpose in my suffering and have hope.

Today, with 3 grown sons and the joys and sufferings of their trials and tribulations, I rely on my faith to get me through each day. It is only by trusting that the Lord, in His infinite mercy, wisdom, and love, will work through my daily labors to provide the grace to see me through each day.

 

***EDITOR’S NOTE: If you or someone you know has been involved with abortion, or is having an unexpected pregnancy, please contact Project Rachel post-abortion healing or Gabriel Project pregnancy help for confidential support and assistance.

Bountiful Graces

My husband and I have been married for 26 awesome years. We have been blessed with ten children. From the beginning, we have been open to whatever God decided to send us. It wasn’t always easy to accept, at first babies came close together. For me, nursing wasn’t a natural spacer for children. I always tended to wish I had lost a few more pounds before the next pregnancy came! Before we knew it, we had six kids under the age of 8. I have to be honest. When I became pregnant with my seventh and my youngest was only 6 months old, I complained. “How can I do this!” I was overwhelmed. As always, my husband put everything in perspective. “It’s what God wants. Let’s just pray for a healthy baby.”

Our seventh baby changed our lives forever. During labor, my uterus ruptured wide open. My son was delivered fifteen minutes later by C-section. He had been without oxygen for fifteen long minutes and was severely brain injured. He would never swallow, sit up by himself, crawl, talk or walk. I don’t remember very much after I was rushed into surgery. My amazing OB took two long hours to repair my uterus. It had split from top to bottom, bypassing all major arteries. The residents and nurses in the operating room questioned him, “Why are you saving her uterus? She already has seven children!” Knowing my husband and I are devout Catholics he replied, “I know she would want me to.” Because of his heroism, we were blessed with three more miracles. The first few weeks of our son’s life the medical profession did everything possible to convince us to “let our son go. His life will never be worth anything. He’ll be miserable. You’ll be miserable.” Each day I came to the NICU, I was barraged. My husband and I stood firm and continued to defend his beautiful life.

Our son was only with us for four and a half short years. Every day brought immense challenges, yet he was such an incredible blessing for our family. He taught our children to give of themselves and to think of others first. They truly learned the meaning of joyful suffering by watching our son suffer every day with a smile. He taught our whole family the unfathomable depth of God’s divine mercy. We had no alternative but to trust in Our Lord. It became very obvious we were not in charge. Each time we were faced with an overwhelming obstacle, God truly did provide. He taught us how precious each and every life is and to be genuinely thankful for both our crosses and our blessings. Right now he’s in heaven arranging it so we’ll all be together someday. I feel his presence in our family, continually watching over each and every one of us. Bountiful graces have been bestowed upon our family because we were open to life. God really doesn’t ever give you more than you can handle.

Submitted from Virginia