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On January 12 I turned 49 and simultaneously celebrated the 31st anniversary of my reception into the Church. I became Catholic for a lot of reasons, most of which you have all read before in a number of places from a number of other converts. Like most converts, I love to read conversion stories, but I recognize that others may find them boring.
One thing that I did NOT expect was that after all this time I am still undergoing conversion on a regular basis. It is downright uncomfortable sometimes.
Like some cradle Catholics, I went through a spell of cafeteria Catholicism. Even though I catechized myself pretty well, there were doctrines and dogmas that I chose, at times, to ignore. Now that I am much older, and have lived through that ancient Chinese curse (interesting times), I have regrets. And one of them is that I was not more generous with the gift that God gave us of (pro)creation.

This is not something that I am comfortable talking about with many people, even with fellow Catholics. Looked at from the outside, it doesn't seem to make much sense. I mean, we have given birth to 6 children and have had 3 miscarriages. We had 2 children in the first 2 years of our marriage. We suffered hardships because of the size of our family - being evicted from a home we had rented for several years because the owners rented to a family of 4, and we went and had 3 more children after that. Our children did not have a lot of the material stuff that their friends had. Most of them shared a bedroom and there was never enough bathroom space. Every child that God sent us was (eventually) welcomed, though I will confess that I came really close once to succumbing to peer pressure. What do I mean, I wasn't generous?
So why do I have this regret, bordering on guilt?
I think that it is because I know now that we could have cared for more children if we had allowed them to be concieved. I realize now that our reasons for stopping at six had as much to do with selfish reasons (I wanted to go back to school and finish my midwifery, and then I wanted to work without having to worry about an infant) as it did with the selfless reasons (my husband was working way too hard supporting all of us, and my mental health was beginning to suffer). We talked about a seventh, but kept putting it off - and now (barring a Sarah or Elizabeth type miracle) it is probably too late.
I mean, I have 'ovulatory events' still, but as far as I can tell my cycles are mostly infertile. The majority of women my age are menopausal - I'm not (yet) but I can see it looming on the horizon. It also doesn't help me to realize that at 49, my mom had 6 grandchildren (and I have none).
There are only a few short years of fertility in a woman's life. Why did I think that there was anything more important than that? Why did I let myself get trapped by my culture?
It breaks my heart to have to tell other women that they waited too long to try to conceive. I give them all the NFP type help I can - but once God shuts down the ovaries, there ain't much to be done (at least not within the moral and ethical constraints that I and the Church have!). And now, one of those women I need to tell is me.
This isn't empty nest syndrome, I think. Our 15 y/o daughter keeps us plenty busy, and I'm not sure I would have the energy to chase a baby at this age anyhow (although I would sure try hard!). It is just that I realize now, too late, that God had gifts for me that I declined, and that He gave me instead what I asked for. It is a hard lesson.


I hear you.

Awwe! ::hugs:: On the positive side, you've generously helped countless women bring children into the world.

Jeanetta is right, there are always other ways to give.

I lost a baby at 17 weeks and I was never brave enough to try again. The midwife who was looking after me was going to and fro another ward checking on patients she was helping have medical terminations. She unintentionally contributed a lot to my trauma. Perhaps if I had had someone like you I would have coped better and tried again. I think in having six of your own and then going on to help others is definitely "the better part" of giving.

Congratulations on the anniversary! I was received into the Church (indeed baptized) at 19. That was 34 years ago come next feast of St. Ignatius Loyola. While I know some women with more children than you, by the standards of the contemporary world you have been very fruitful. You have certainly done your part in furthering the program of evangelizing the world by out-reproducing the pagans.

We only had two because we started so late. Now, I wish I had about five.

Oh, Alicia, we are WAY too similar.

Except that I wasn't received into the Church until I was 40.

I didn't have Zteen until I was 30, and there were no more after him--even with no contraception.

But what I regret? Those years that CAS and I were "having fun" and putting off babies--the years between 23 and 29. Wasted. Because I would trade any of those things we "had to do before we settled down" for the smell of a baby's sweet head.

Sorry culture for putting Disneyworld ahead of babies. And sorry me for buying it.

Ditto on all counts, but from a dad's point of view.

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This page contains a single entry by alicia published on January 24, 2004 9:15 PM.

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