Little over a month after my husband and I converted to Catholicism I became pregnant with our second child. There was no real surprise in the news. We were trying to conceive and actually found the information we’d learned in our class on Natural Family Planning to be immensely helpful in the process. The real surprise came a few months after the birth of our second child. I was pregnant once again.
By all accounts this third pregnancy was completely unplanned. I remember feeling a little silly and aggravated that I had gotten into this state. I’d wanted to prove how effective Natural Family Planning was in determining when pregnancies occurred. And here I was a living confirmation of all the doubts and criticisms people had voiced against NFP.
We were also utterly unprepared for another child. Our finances were tight, as was the living space in our tiny craftsman bungalow. We didn’t even have enough space in our car for another child! And on top of all this, I feared I couldn’t handle a third child, especially with all three children being so very close in age. Needless to say, I was scared out of my mind and cried…a lot.
If I’d hoped to receive some sort of consolation, some comfort, from my obstetrician, it was in vain. When I explained to her that I was pregnant once again she checked my charts and then looked at me with a cocked brow. “What kind of birth control were you using?” she asked. “Well, we practice natural family planning.” I mumbled. She then laughed, rather self-satisfactorily I thought, “That’s why NFP doesn’t work.” Regrettably, I was so taken off guard that I said nothing, but my heart sank in shame. I went home and cried even more than before and began begging God to tell me what we were to do. How could we afford another child? How was I going to care for another child? How were we possibly going to make it? Not long after this I had a dream—a dream that changed everything.
In this dream I was sitting in my living room when there was a knock upon the door. I opened the door and a woman walked into the room. Despite her very casual appearance, I knew her at once to be an angel. She sat on the edge of our oversized arm chair and said quite matter-of-factly, “The child in your womb is not a mistake. This child is a gift from God and everything will be just fine.” I awoke to what seemed like a new world. Fear had been replaced with peace, disappointment with excitement, and shame with a distinct comfort, knowing that everything was going to be okay.
I won’t say that the following months were a breeze. They were not. We had to sell our house in a crashing real estate market and find a new, affordable place to live. We also struggled to find the money to buy a new car that was large enough to fit three car seats. And if that wasn’t enough, this pregnancy proved to be plagued with one medical complication after another. To the world around us, those looking from the outside, it seemed as though everything in our life was falling apart and, admittedly, at times things felt as though they would. But in the midst of the chaos, my husband and I watched in amazement as one prayer after another was miraculously answered.
Almost 2 years after the birth of my daughter, I was standing outside my oldest son’s school waiting for the dismissal bell to ring and complaining to a friend about how stressful things had been with my two young girls. My friend, who knew my daughter’s birth had been unplanned, teased, “That’s what you get for having three kids. I guess that’s why Natural Family Planning doesn’t work”.
At that moment I looked at my daughter, who was now playing and laughing with her older sister, and all I could think about was the immeasurable joy she had already brought into our lives, how she has a special gift for bringing out the best in everyone around her, how very different our family would have been had we not been open to will of God and how, because of her, we could now confidently proclaim, “God will provide”. I then turned back to my friend and said, “No, that’s why Natural Family Planning does work.”
Rebekah Durham Hart is a relatively recent convert to Catholicism. After graduating from Columbia Theological Seminary (a Presbyterian Seminary in Decatur, GA) in 2002 and working within various ministries of the United Methodist Church, she entered into full communion with the Catholic Church in 2006. She has shared her conversion story with Gus Lloyd on Sirius XM’s Catholic Channel.
Rebekah is currently a stay-at-home mom and, when she is not stepping on her son’s Legos or having tea parties with her two little girls, she blogs at: http://instinctivephilosophies.com/.
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- NFP and The Surprise Pregnancy | Instinctive Philosophies | February 1, 2013