Real love is demanding. I would fail in my mission if I did not tell you so. Love demands a personal commitment to the will of God.
-John Paul II
We were asked to tell our own personal story at the annual Mass of Hope & Healing held at the University of South Alabama Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Student Center. Fr. Frank Sofie celebrated the Mass on April 28, 2010, the Feast of St. Gianna Molla. Our journey continues as we share with you the blessings that God has bestowed upon us:
Kurt: My name is Kurt and this is my beloved Wife, Felricia. We have been married for three years this June. Our story begins with us practicing Natural Family Planning or NFP. Because we were charting Felricia's cycles, we became aware that there were infertility issues. We tried to achieve a pregnancy for two years using NFP, but were not successful.
Doing some research, we discovered this doctor named Thomas Hilgers who had achieved amazing results at treating infertility while conforming to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Dr. Hilgers founded the Pope Paul VI institute in response to Humanae Vitae. Unfortunately, the PPVI Institute was located 1,100 miles from Mobile in Omaha, NE. Fortunately, God blessed us with the capability to schedule a surgery at this renowned institute. In November of 2009, with much hope, Felricia and I traveled to Omaha, NE for her surgery.
Felricia: After nearly two months of healing following the surgery, we were excited to be blessed with the gift of new life! In January of 2010, we became pregnant for the first time! We were ecstatic and quickly announced our wonderful news to all our friends and family! Because we practice NFP, we were able to calculate that our baby would be born in early October of 2010. We still were adapting to the idea that we were finally going to be parents. We had even planned a yard sale to free up space for a baby room.
Less than one week after finding out that we were pregnant, I started to experience unusual bleeding. I frantically called my local Ob/Gyn as well as the PPVI Institute to find out what was going on. The next day I was scheduled to have my first appointment. We had an ultrasound performed. During the ultrasound, the technician said: "I do not see anything." We were completely devastated by that statement. Afterwards, we spoke with our physician, and she expressed concern that the pregnancy might be ectopic. The physician scheduled a repeat ultrasound in 2 days. Early on Saturday morning, we went to the hospital and had another ultrasound performed. Yet again, nothing was visible with the ultrasound screening. The doctor told us that we needed to have a surgery, in order to determine if the pregnancy was ectopic. We were in shock, because we were not expecting to have another surgery. After discussing with our priest how the moral teachings of the Church would guide us to undergo the appropriate medical treatment concerning my condition, we agreed to have the surgery the following morning. With surgery and follow up ultrasounds, the final diagnosis was that I had an ectopic pregnancy and that the baby was no longer alive.
Kurt: We were devastated by the course of events. One week we were preparing for a new baby; the next, we were mourning the loss of the baby. Fortunately, we had a very good priest: Father Alex Valladares. Fr. Alex encouraged us to discern the name and sex of the baby. Through prayer, Felricia and I discerned that our baby was a boy and that his name was Blaize Michael. We had a baptism ceremony and we told Blaize to go to Jesus. During the ceremony, I wondered how it could be that our precious baby boy, who never lived a day outside of his mother's body, would be with Jesus long before his father or mother. Felricia and I prayed for that glorious day when we would be reunited with our son in Heaven.
Felricia: During Lent, we went through the trials and sufferings of understanding that I needed to have another surgery for a possible ectopic pregnancy. We were challenged to place our complete trust in Jesus knowing that he would care for our son, until we could meet him in heaven and hold our child for the first time. The following month of frequent doctor appts for monitoring on a biweekly basis to monitor my hormone blood levels and ultrasounds to monitor the size of the remaining mass in my fallopian tube proved to be quite exhaustive emotionally and spiritually. On Holy Thursday, we were finally able to see the light again in the midst of the storm, the mass in my tube had dissolved, and we felt as if we could finally move forward! As Christ suffered, we too are called to unite our sufferings to his cross! And as Jesus was resurrected, we too will receive the glory of new life in Him!
Kurt: Despite our loss, there was a lot that we were thankful for. We were thankful to God for providing us with each other, and enabling us to support one another during this difficult time in our lives. We were thankful for the many friends and family that provided cards and encouraging words. We were thankful for Father Alex, who aided us spiritually with the loss. We were thankful for the PPVI Institute, who sent us a card personally signed by the nurses and Dr. Hilgers. We were thankful for Natural Family Planning. If not for Natural Family Planning, it is quite possible that we would have never known that Felricia was pregnant.
In fact, Felricia and I are so thankful for NFP that we now teach couples the CREIGHTON MODEL FertilityCare System, which is what we practice, here in Mobile. Although nothing can completely eliminate the possibility of complications during pregnancy, the CREIGHTON MODEL, combined with NaProTECHNOLOGY, can dramatically increase a couple's chances of achieving a pregnancy.
Today, we live in a society that often treats children as burdens. As a result we see medical professionals who snuff out life in order to remove supposed burdens. And yet, we are anomalies. We desire the gift of life so much that infertility becomes a cross. The good news is that our God is so good. He can take St. Gianna's sacrifice of her life in order to defend life and create a beacon of hope for future generations. He can take his Son's death and achieve salvation for us sinners. He can take our crosses and make them beacons of hope for others. God gives us the capacity to support others with similar crosses. He gives us the capacity to proclaim that children are gifts. He gives us the capacity to affirm that life begins in the womb at fertilization. He gives us the capacity to tell our physicians: "Yes, we desire a child, but we don't want to sin in the process." And He has a plan for each one of our crosses.
Once you have a child your life changes, regardless of whether that child is here or in Heaven. And with that parenthood comes a responsibility to stand up for righteousness. Blaize Michael and all the precious children that are with our Lord in Heaven are a testament to the truths that life is precious and that the path to happiness is holiness.
Felricia: We would like to end with a prayer to celebrate St. Gianna on her Feast Day:
Teach us how to accept without resentment the crosses that life brings our way. We ask you to obtain for us the wisdom to know which trials are not for our greater good, and which are in accord with God's design. Show us how to transform these sufferings and use them to grow in holiness, reminding us that Jesus is with us always, even in the unpleasant circumstances of life. Amen.