I know this isn't the weekend yet, but I have so many tabs open that my computer is leaning backwards. So, in an effort to clear the clutter, let me share the week's wanderings with you.
First up, don't miss Ann Voskamp's post on ways to short circuit every married fight from now until forever. Well, I guess I can't speak to every every married fight, but I will tell you that I told my older sons to read carefully. I can't speak for all women, but I do know from my limited personal experience that Ann articulates beautifully what I wish I could say and what I dearly wish men would know: Pull her close. Read it. Print it. Pray it together. Five ways to fight through to a loving marriage: Five things that truly could change your lives.
It's been an interesting couple of weeks. I unexpectedly found myself talking about homeschooling more than I have in a long time and more than I ever have with people who really don't know much about it. It's been good for me, a chance to thoughtfully reflect on what this lifestyle has meant for our family and how grateful I am for the freedom to live and breathe and educate the way we do. Just as the homeschool legislation has sparked interest and conversation, so has the misguided HHS mandate.
I find myself being the woman who is obviously in that 2% minority of Catholics who don't contracept. Oh, so that's what it looks like. Note to self: Stand up straight. Remember lipgloss.
There are so many layers to this issue. First, there is the layer of who thought of it and how it oppresses religious liberty and how clearly the bishops have articulated their objections. Then, there is the opportunity to express the personal side of the Church's teaching.
Just as the Tebow Bill has shed a light on homeschooling and given us the opportunity to broaden and deepen understanding, so has the HHS mandate given us the chance to affirm that yes, yes, indeed; the Church speaks loudly and clearly against contraception. The Church does not oppress women. The Church respects women and protects women. Sometimes, it's helpful to pass along a witness from an unlikely source, a writer who is used to expressing himself in clear, quantifiable terms. This piece touches on the nuts and bolts of why the Church has been right on this issue all along. I like the piece; I really do. But it doesn't begin to touch on the nuances of what this lifestyle--and all its joys and all its sacrifices-- do to the heart of a marriage and the soul of a mother. I pray that the current crisis in our country will give us opportunity to bear witness to God's love and providence when we live true openness to life.
Finally, these two newsworthy items--the Tebow bill and the HHS mandate--have me reflecting in a very personal way this afternoon. I think back to the fall of 1991. I had miscarried in November. I was terrified. I'd been warned that chemotherapy would leave me unable to bear children. Despite the fact that our second child had been conceived just seven months after finishing chemotherapy and radiation and was delivered healthy and whole nine months later, I was sure that this third baby, lost so soon, was a harbinger of things to come.
My doctor strongly encouraged contraception, at least for a few months. We had stepped out in faith. We were committed to the teachings of the Church. God had brought us so far, taught us so much throughout our cancer experience. We were not turning back now. A baby was conceived the very next month.
I was sick, super sick, can't-pick-my-head-up sick. My doctor--a new one who is 110% pro life--suggested an early sonogram to rule out twins. I was 16 weeks pregnant. The radiologist saw one baby. He knew it was a boy. And he saw cysts on his brain. They were troubling, the radiologist related, because they could be indicators of Trisomy 18, a rare chromosomal anomoly. He warned us that we might never take our baby home from the hospital. And he shared that some couples choose to abort.
In those days, we didn't have a PC; there was no surfing to research Trisomy 18. Instead, on nights when I taught childbirth classes in an OB's office, I pulled medical textbooks and journals from the shelf and read everything I could. I was so scared we'd lose this baby.
He was born on the Feast of the Guardian Angels, a Sunday that year. His head was undeniably large and my pediatrician had me back to her office every week that fall and winter to measure him. He struggled hard through January and February and a nasty bout of RSV is still with him when he pushes himself to run faster and farther. But run he does. He has no extra chromosomes. Not only did he leave the hospital, he left just 8 hours after he was born.
He grew into a fine young man who has more courage than I can ever hope to have. As the spotlight shines on Patrick these days, and people keep mentioning him in the same breath as Tim Tebow, I am a bit struck by God's protection over my own fragile baby. Life is so precious. And I am ever grateful that God granted us the grace to allow Him to be in charge.
What if it had been Trisomy 18? I can only hope that we would have responded with same grace Rick Santorum has.