Wednesday, 22 June 2011

God's Plan vs My Plan

This time I thought I might be pregnant, but I was wrong again. How annoying is that? When you're Single and celibate, an absent period is merely weird, but when you're happily married, childless and forty, it could be evidence that another dream is coming true. But, of course, having been wrong before, I was determined not to get my hopes up. Having a crying fit every month gets tiresome.

The days ticked by. I told myself not to get my hopes up until Friday. On Friday I would be over a week late, and then I could buy a test. I buy the cheapest tests, because I refuse to spend £10 on a possible negative. Uh-uh. Then not only would I be sad, I'd be out £10.

So on Friday I bought a test and fought companionably over baby names with B.A. and took the test, which was negative. The instructions said to try again in 3 days, but you-know-what arrived a few hours later, so I haven't bothered. I went to bed early and pulled the duvet over my head.

Nobody mention naprotechnology in the combox or I will go insane. When you're a Catholic Canadian, going to British doctors, doctors forced by PC to have all the sensitivity of an Orange Day parade, is a nightmare. The first nurse I talked to stopped herself before the word "baby" could slip out and talked about "the fetus". I am supposed to have a blood test, not to see if there is too much of this or that in my system, but to prove I don't have a dread STD. Thanks so much. And despite the fact that I am the patient who presented myself to the system--and despite 40 years of my-body-my-choice sloganeering--we have to be "treated" for possible infertility "as a couple", which would entail my husband doing something that Catholic men must not do. This prohibition seemed not to occur to the doctor I spoke to, despite the fact that ROMAN CATHOLIC is firmly written on our registration cards.

Really, all I want to know at this stage is if it is too late for me, me the owner of my own particular, concrete and therefore unique reproductive system, to hope. Since the lady doctor only gave me five minutes of her precious, precious time, there was not enough time to get into that. Say what you want about the Canadian medical system, but my lady GP back home (whom I can no longer see as I am no longer a resident of Ontario) actually asked how I felt about things and talked to me about my health for up to an hour.

Anyway, I didn't mean to get into what is probably typical migrant terror of an alien new medical system. Back home, I'd be swanning into doctors' offices and the Marguerite Bourgeoys Family Centre with all the confidence in the world. But that still might not result in having a baby, which is what I want to write about.

You can't always get what you want. This is a very difficult lesson, especially for girls because we are told that we can. Our mothers, female teachers and female guidance counselors are full of stories about this jerk and that in their high schools who told them women can't be astrophysicists, and this inspires them to tell us we can do or be whatever we want as long as we work hard enough, and as long as we are smart enough. But as true as this may be for astrophysics, it means squat when it comes to marriage and babies. You can't work to make a specific guy fall in love with you, and you can't always just get pregnant when you want, especially when you are over 35.

Sure, you can do some things. If you're a timid little mouse who longs for marriage, but you never leave your room, you can work up the courage to leave your room. If you're a married lady in your twenties wondering why babies haven't come, you can have a chat with an Natural Family Planning nurse. That's just sensible. But sometimes after you have done all that you can morally do to become a likely marriage prospect or an expectant mum, you're left with the scary truth that it's not all up to you.

And then you pray. You pray not just for what you want, but that if you don't get what you want, you'll be happy anyway. You pray for an increase of faith and trust in God's plan. You pray that you will truly believe that He knows better than we do what is best for us, and you pray that His will be done.


aussie girl in australia said...

Aunty S,

My heart goes out to you.
My boyfriend broke up with me a couple of weeks ago and I really thought he was the One. I am 30 and going back to square one when I thought I could see my life ahead of me. Trusting in God's plan is so, so hard. I will pray for you and B.A.

Seraphic said...

I'm sorry to read that, Aussie Girl. You bet trusting in God's plan is hard. But you just wash that man right out of your hair and continue on with the life God gave you.

Domestic Diva said...

I'll join you in your prayers, Seraphic.
God will honor your faithfulness. I don't know how or when, but He certainly will.
God bless you!

Kate P said...

I'm praying, and I'll remember you and Aussie Girl in my prayers.

Elizabeth said...

I'm so sorry to hear this, Seraphic, and also about Aussie Girl, and I will pray for you both.

Kim said...

Seraphic, I'll keep you in my prayers. I feel somewhat kindred with you. After a battery of tests and many moons trying, my husband and I seem unable to conceive. I'm 32 and officially done with traveling down the biological route, trying to force God's hand. So now we look to adoption - perhaps something God wanted for us all along. The one thing I'm sure of is that I MUST trust in God's will over my own, and praying for his help in that has finally caused me to be at ease with the uncertainty of it all.

I do, however, still come a little unglued each year at Mother's Day Mass with the obligatory "stand up if your ovaries work" ritual... bleh:(

Been there said...

Seraphic and Kim, I will pray for you both. This is really a heartbreaking time of life. I watched my own twin sister have four kids while I had none. But all this increased my faith in ways that I never would have seen.

My (civil) marriage fell apart and I realized that God did not want babies for me here, or even this marriage. Now, a few years later, the pain and regrets are there but God has given me the grace to manage them. Sometimes He gives me something to do and I think, "hmm, You needed me to do that instead".

I agree about the mother's/father's day mass season. Can we get some sermons on living in holiness, sanctifing our lives or our path to sainthood. Every sermon does not have to relate to mom/dad/kids/family, like there is no other ways we are living our Catholic lives.

Seraphic said...

I can't stand the "Mothers, All Stand" ritual, which is totally made up and nowhere to be found in the official Mass.

Happily, it never happens in the EF.

Cate said...

You all will be in my prayers also. Seraphic, I would like to thank you for all you write here (and in your book). It has really helped me as well as several of my friends (we are all new college graduates, with no marriage material in sight).

On another note, my parish priest, who is such a blessing to us all, does do the "mother blessing" on mother's day, but he asks for all women to stand, acknowledging that all women are called to be mothers as part of their feminine calling, even if they are never a biological mother. So thank you for the spiritual motherhood you provide through your auntie wisdom :o)

Sheila said...


I never thought twice about the "mothers, all stand" thing until this year. This year, my friend had recently suffered her second loss. Two in one year. This one lived two days.

She couldn't face standing up, even though she is a mother. So she left.

Now I would like to see that tradition end forever. Seriously, why cause so much pain to so many people, while the people who are standing don't really care one way or the other?

I seem to remember one church asking ALL the women to stand up on mothers' day and get a blessing. Spiritual motherhood, I guess. I think that's better, at least.

theobromophile said...

Seraphic: my heart goes out to you. If you would like the pep talk, I'm more than happy to point out that my stepmum took two years of trying to get my little brother. Two years. At almost exactly your age. My confirmation sponsor took ten years and was about your age when she had her son. Now, they are not you, nor you them, but they are a reminder that what you are hoping for and praying for is not delusional nor impossible.

None of us know what the plan is for you - whether it involves a lovely baby very soon, or later on, or not at all - but we're all pulling for you, nonetheless, and none of us think that someone as maternal as you are will end up without children - biological, adopted, or otherwise.

Aussie girl: my boyfriend of almost a year broke up with me a few weeks after my 30th. Hug?

Mrs Doyle said...

Prayers for you Seraphic (and BA, of course!).

I won't offend your intelligence by telling you to just 'hope and hope' and it'll happen one day - because you're right, it might not.

My own parents waited 8 years for me and then two other children - and instead of telling you this to give you hope that one day you might be blessed in this way too - I mention it because it was at the moment that they were prepared to give up everything (the idea of a family to be more available to others in their nursing profession) that God gave them us.

You're a spiritual auntie and mother to many of us Seraphic, physical mothers are wonderful, but you know what, it's really special to see a couple devote themselves in other ways without a hint of bitterness.

An aunt of mine and her husband weren't able to have children and they are the most awesomely generous people on the planet.

‘My Lord and my God, into your hands I abandon everything, past, present and future: big and little, great and small, temporal and eternal.’” St Josemaria Escriva

Seraphic said...

Thanks, everybody! My post must have come up grumpier than I meant. I was not in a grumpy mood; I try not to write when I AM grumpy!

As you can see, married ladies do not always "get it all" and therefore are often in solidarity with Single women who long for children of their own. We know how it feels.

I absolutely agree that the average Canadian or American parish priest speaks too much about married/parent life and not enough about Single life, whether that Single life is consecrated, hopeful of marriage, widowhood or the result of divorce. It is a cruel irony that most priests ARE Singles and yet they so rarely reach out to Singles in particular in their homilies.

Mary said...

Dear Seraphic, I just wanted to say thank you so much for your post - it wasn't grumpy at all, it truly radiated your profound faith and love for God and it was so humbling and edifying! Heartfelt prayers for you, and for Aussiegirl and Kim too. I am so sorry. :( Something which is helping me with my cross at the moment is praying to St Thomas More and meditating on these beautiful words of his: "Nothing can come but that which God wills and I make myself very sure that whatever that be, seem it ever so bad in sight, it shall indeed be best."

aussie girl in australia said...

Dear Aunty

Thank you for your sympathy and the prayers (and virtual hugs) of those who offered them. Let me just say that without your blog, book and good advice I would not be dealing with this break up anywhere near as well as I am. It is because of your influence that I found myself a couple of lovely catholic girls to share a house with. Since my family now live far away, they have been so wonderful at this difficult time. It is because of your influence that I did not ever allow myself to assume we would be married (though I hoped) and now have a much easier time of healing my heart. It is because of your influence that I am not despairing that I will never marry. You have been a spiritual mother to me and so many others. My own mother married at 18 and therefore has very little advice to offer her 30 year old single daughter (or her other 20 something single daughters) about how to deal with this. You have helped me so much.

BTW, one of the most amazing women I know is married, nearly 50 and childless. However she and her husband are so amazingly quirky, Catholic and generous that every 20 something who knows them, loves them. They take so many youngsters under their wings and help them along the way. I actually picture you and BA as being kind of similar to them - though maybe you will still get a baby yet!

Seraphic said...

Thanks, Aussie Girl!

This means a lot to me just now because, believe it or not, I just got an anonymous lecture accusing me of being bitter.

even2ually said...

Hey there...

As a 35+ Catholic woman who is struggling with infertility, I completely feel your pain. Children are a gift from God... and many many times I have wondered why He is choosing to not give me that gift. It's such a hard road to walk: to be open to God's will & to actively participate in making that happen.

In reading your post, there is one thing I wanted to clarify though. There IS a morally acceptable means of testing your spouse's fertility that is in full alignment with the Catholic Church teaching. I suggest that you consider writing to the doctors at - perhaps they can help you from afar.

Now - that doesn't mean that it will solve's just another piece in the puzzle.

Speaking from experience, sometimes there's no medical explanation for why a child hasn't arrived yet. That definitely tests one's faith in a world where people assume that the problem can be fixed if we just try hard enough. (as you stated)

So - I will pray for you... I will pray for peace in whatever may come.

Anonymous said...

Dear Aunty,
I want to second what others have said - you are a spiritual mother to all of your readers, and you have been a great help to me. You have given a lot of comfort and advice, particularly for those like me who are new Catholics and whose mothers aren't/dont approve of Catholicism! I appreciate your blog a lot, I read it all the time, and I hope you don't give it up.