"I know what you're thinking, 'cause right now I'm thinking the same thing. Actually, I've been thinking it ever since I got here: Why oh why didn't I take the BLUE pill? "

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My Journey to Motherhood

Note from Matt: This is my sister Mary posting again. She posted last week and she got great feedback from you folks so here she is again. Enjoy. I think it's awesome.

When you first get married you talk to the priest who asks if you are open to the children God gives you. The answer you give is “I do.”

So many couples say they are and then don't want to have kids too soon after getting married or they want to wait until they are in a better financial or living situation. I can understand that in this day in age couples are worried about providing a certain life for their children. Making sure they can go to college, having the right clothes, providing any lesson or tutor they need.

But they never ask if you are you prepared for when the children don't come. It can be a frustrating and devastating process full of anxiety, doubt, and heartbreak. It is also not something you fail at once like your 7th grade Social Studies test, it's something that 12 times a year you know you failed. After a year or maybe two, you start to really wonder if something is wrong with you. You see your friends having babies and they tell you you’re next. Or you see a show on television where the character is having a baby and you have to switch channels. Or because you look at the second bedroom in your place that you named the nursery when you moved in and now call the office.

I went through five years of this. So many tears and advice. Of course, IVF was not an option. Where do you turn? On my birthday last year, I got the monthly reminder that we failed. Again. As I laid on my bed crying, my husband decided to make a call. He called Gianna, The Catholic Healthcare Center for Women. My brother Matthew had told us about them.

We set up an initial consultation with Dr. Anne Mielnik. I was so nervous about going. I am not a sharer. I keep my cards pretty close to the vest. And I certainly don't want to sit and be told all the things I was told before, like when the target dates usually are, keeping busy with other things, or my favorite – have a glass of wine and let nature take its course. I dislike that one the most because I drink beer.

When we sat down in the waiting room of the office in Midtown NYC, I wanted to run. I looked at the bulletin board behind the reception desk full of pictures of babies. I guess these little faces were the miracles this place helped to create. That's what I thought I would need - a miracle. So I figured, let's see what she has to say.

We went in, let me clarify, we went in because unlike every other gynecologist I have spoken to about this, Gianna encouraged the husband to come. We sat across from Dr. Mielnik. Her office was so hot and she explained that the air conditioning didn’t really reach her office. She started to talk to us and glanced at the questionnaire I filled out. After asking a few basic questions she said, “There is a lot we can do for you.” This was a shock. There was a lot we could do? I had never been told that one before.

She started to outline their unique outlook of working with the woman's body to discover where in the process we were having trouble. Some have problems in conception, others in where the fertilized egg attaches, and myriad other options. She then said once they find where the problem is they try to fix it via medicine to boost hormones or possibly surgery, if necessary.

They started this process of discovery by asking me to chart. Chart what??? You do not want to know!!! Especially guys, you do not want to know. But for all you women out there you will never go the bathroom or look at toilet paper the same again. It is called the Creighton Model of Family Planning and it is approved by the Catholic Church.

Dr. Mielnik told us we would chart for two months so we can start to see a pattern forming and in the third month there would also be a series of ultrasounds to pinpoint more of the exact nature of what's happening. She then joked, “Some couples get pregnant the first month. They just needed help figuring out when ovulation is.” So after this meeting, my husband and I left. As we walked down the block we were hopeful for the first time in years. We might get answers.

I started to learn to chart from Gianna's wonderful RN, Jamie. She was so positive and explained things so clearly. I am a college educated gal and I have to say I learned a lot that was never covered in Biology. I then started going to see Jamie every other week to talk about how my charting was going. Because, trust me, once you start there are a million questions. I found it a relief that she was there to help. I also felt something else, empowered. Empowered that with Gianna's help my miracles picture could be on that bulletin board.

Every night my husband and I would talk about the day's charting and pray. I was quite diligent with my charting because of my hope that this would work and the fact that I was spending money to do this. It takes a lot to get me to spend money. Trust me, all my socks have to have holes in them before I buy new ones.

But as my first month of charting came to an end something happened. Something unusual. I hadn't gotten my failure notice. 26 days. 27. 28. Now 29. Each day I became more and more obsessed. I must have gone to the bathroom 40 times in those three days. Finally, partially to shut me up, my husband ran to the drugstore for a test. He told me to not get too hopeful. We waited the three minutes in silence, each of us praying for different things. My prayer was that for once it didn't include the word NOT and my husband praying that I can take it saying NOT.

We went into the bathroom together and looked at it at the same time. We had done this ritual before and it always ended in tears and today would be no different. Tears. And then a hug from my husband. And as I looked up at him from his chest there was something different, tears in his eyes. Because today for the first time it didn't say NOT.

I said, “We did it. (Pause) What are you thinking?” He said, “College.” I laughed and looked back at the test to make sure it was real. It was.

I called Gianna the next day to cancel my next appointment with Jamie. When questioned why I answered, “Because you helped to create another miracle. My miracle.” The receptionist congratulated me immediately, then Jamie did, and Dr. Mielnik called herself to confirm it was true after my blood tests. The Gianna Center then saw me through the early days of pregnancy and recommended the OB who I used and who also saved my and baby boy's life when things went wrong during labor.

As I sit here writing tonight, Baby Boy is sleeping in his bassinet two feet from me and its 15 minutes after he looked at me making a silly face and smiled. Gianna did that. They were my miracle when I needed one. Please support this incredible place (help Dr. Mielnik get AC in her office) and the extraordinary women who help answer so many couples prayers. Like mine.

Note: Here's a link to the Gianna Center.

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16 comments:

Anne Marie said...

AWESOME POST. Just awesome. Awesome.

Sue said...

Great Article. I met Dr. Anne, at my brother's wedding. She is awesome. Why does facebook block your blog?

Suzanne said...

Congratulations, Mom! I have tears running down my face. I could relate to so much of what you posted.

Dr. Beiter of the Gianna Center is a friend of our family -- best man at our wedding. He was responsible for recommending an awesome OB/Gyn in Ohio while he himself was still in med school. We have two little miracles now. A beautiful, impish, and darling little girl, and a handsome, happy baby boy born on the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians. Our toddler girl was born on the feast of St. Elizabeth (mother of St. John the Baptist) -- patroness of the infertile. :)

Amy said...

Creighton Model for the WIN!

Foxfier said...

But for all you women out there you will never go the bathroom or look at toilet paper the same again.

Hehe, just from reading other trying-to-bring-children blogs, I have a vague idea. We never had real trouble, but it's always been a fear for me....

If only this sort of basic what-your-body-does thing had been taught in school, instead of six years of hormones and plastic!

ludovico said...

adopt.

Julie said...

Honestly, I am surprised you did not know about NFP before you were married. This is NFP Awareness Week. I would say encourage your pastors and priests to talk about NFP (any of the methods) during Pre-Canna as it's important to the couple's preparation for marriage whether there is a health issue in which you need to avoid pregnancy or help achieving such.

We learned NFP before we were married, but have not had reason to delay more than the natural spacing that occurred for us because of breastfeeding and God's will. Baby four is due any day.

I am so glad you found The Creighton Method and it worked for you. We did not have the same trouble, but I have friends who have. What a happy story. Congratulations!!!

Anthony S. Layne said...

@ Mary: Congratulations ... benedicamus Domino!

@ ludovico: Did you bother to read the whole post, or just skip down to the combox after the first couple of paragraphs?

KC said...

Wonderful post. Absolutely wonderful.

augusta said...

Such a great post! Thank you so much. I have heard that women are willing to travel great distances for the services the Gianna center provides. God bless you Mary and your whole family.

Ranting Catholic Mom said...

Don't forget the Pope Paul the VI institute in Omaha if it is closer for you than Gianna. They did an ultrasound on my first visit, told me I was ovulating, and 9 months later my baby boy was born. God bless all with real hope when we most need it!

Amy Giglio said...

Crying. Thank you for sharing this, you TTM!

Laura said...

Such a beautiful story!

Tony Rossi said...

Congratulations, Mary. That's a great story. I interviewed Dr. Mielnik last year so it's nice to read that her good work at Gianna continues and provided a new blessing to you and your husband.

Rachel said...

Empowering - that's what NFP (or Creighton) is and I couldn't agre more.

Back in the day my dh and I couldn't care less what the Church taught (we certainly weren't told during marriage prep in a Catholic Church). Asking friends and reading magazines, I was told using contraception would empower me as a woman. What I ended up w/ was three babies from three different methods (God is bigger than the boogie-man not to mention some silly chemicals or pieces of latex).

This wake-up call from Him (and some heavy confessions) got us back on the straight and narrow and at the door of a great NFP teaching couple. Finally, months of charting and seeing the power my body contained as my fertility ebbed and flowed was real power. Truly awesome to see.

We began teaching as well two years later - we weren't going to let other couples get away with the "we didn't know" defense (ignorance is not an excuse and certainly not bliss!).

Congrats on your little bundle of joy! God is great!

Anonymous said...

This Catholic fella' is in tears. Congratulations! St. Gianna Beretta Molla saved child #7 for us on May 2nd, 2011.

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