I recall that over 6 years ago, at age 41 when I was expecting my sixth child, my long-time spiritual director and confessor told me about a group of women who dubbed themselves the “49-ers.” These mothers were bearing their ninth children in their forties. I smiled at the clever name and expressed some strange relief that I was “only” having my sixth. I felt fairly convinced that she would be my “last” at this advanced maternal age.
Let’s fast forward a few years. I am now 47 and preparing to deliver my seventh child next week via induction with Dr. Fisk. When I first learned the news that God wasn’t quite through with me yet, I sobbed and felt overcome with fear. I cried one and off for a couple of days, insisting to God that “I could not do this,” until a quiet calm overcame me through a voice that whispered, “No, you cannot, but WE can.” From that moment on, I experienced an abandonment to God’s will that I had never known previously.
Remaining open to life when one’s fertility window is closing means continuing to say “yes” to the unknown. It means willingly, or perhaps, not so willingly, discarding our own plans. It is accepting God’s will, despite how perplexing it may appear. It means tremendous sacrifice. It comes down to total abandonment and trust. It is turning over everything to Him, and trusting that He will take care of it all, because it is just too much to carry alone.
In the Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, “The Joy of Love,” Pope Francis quotes St. Thomas Aquinas who referred to joy as “an expansion of the heart.” Through the overwhelming kindness I have received at Tepeyac through the cheerful nurses and heroically dedicated physicians, as well as through an incredible support network of amazing mothers in the church and school communities to which I belong, I have experienced true joy during this pregnancy. My heart and my soul have expanded beyond what I previously thought possible. I know that this growth will continue with the arrival of my son next week, and continue throughout the miracle that is his life.
*Name changed to protect patient privacy.