Lent is always an appropriate time to reflect on suffering, and over the past 12 months, This Catholic Family has had some rough times.
I’ve shared a few times about the loss of my aunt to suicide in February 2018. The grief from that, and the slow path toward healing, has been a part of the fog that made it hard to write at times on this website. I poured a lot of my energy over the past year into writing a fiction manuscript about a young girl who experiences a loss, and finds her way to healing. Using words in that way for that time helped a lot.
The other fog we experienced has been for a much happier purpose.
We found out in December that we are expecting Baby Savaryn Number 4! New life is the happiest of news, but for our family, we also knew it would be difficult for a while. I, to varying extents during my pregnancies, suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum. This is extreme nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. A condition that used to be fatal for some mothers, and is slowly gaining more publicity in our current times for its devastating impact on an expectant mother’s health while she suffers.
This time, despite proactively taking nausea medication and planning for my care, I ended up incredibly sick. As it amped up, I wasn’t able to be in the kitchen, or prepare food, or eat much. It felt like I was on a boat with severe seasickness 95% of the time I was awake. Movement and smell made it worse. Relief only came when I slept. Then, I hit a point where I couldn’t keep anything down and hadn’t had something to eat or drink in over 18 hours. I had to go to the hospital, where I ended up being admitted for three days until they could rehydrate my body and until I could eat and drink on my own without getting sick with the help of some additional medication.
I was this sick with my son, who will turn five soon, and I had much better medical care this time than I did with him, but it was still one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through inside my own body. And when it was at its worst, it was very hard for me to see the light beyond all the darkness in the struggle to survive moment by slow moment.
Friends came through and brought us food, and there were so many praying, and my husband was good about reminding me that this would all be worth it.
It was still so difficult to lose myself, even for a little while.
The Hope and the Grace
But in suffering, there is grace.
I was fed by the Eucharist during my suffering, and I weakly attempted to unite my own suffering with that of Christ. In many ways, I do not feel like I suffered ‘well.’ But I also knew Jesus would carry me through, and that if I was willing to walk this path for Him, that he would not forsake me.
On the first Sunday I was home from the hospital, I was still confined to my bed, and the family had to go to mass without me. I hear the door open as they returned home, and in moments, my two oldest children entered my room with their hands folded in front of them in quite reverence.
JP soon followed, and produced that which had fed my soul so many times during this sickness.
A priest at our parish had helped JP bring Jesus in the Eucharist to me right where I was, and I was able to receive communion, right there, in my bed. When I couldn’t get to mass, Jesus came to me.
And there is such hope in new life too. Sometimes it’s hard to wrap our heads around the idea of redemptive suffering. That something good can come out of something hard.
It has helped more than a little to know there is such a clear and redemptive reason I went through all I did. I am bringing a new life into our family and into the world. At 18 weeks now, and finally feeling much better, I can feel our little one kick. I can speak to this baby, as it now can hear my voice. I can reflect on the phrase ‘this is my body, given for you,’ in a new and profound way. I can understand just a little bit better, in some small, small way, how Jesus gave his body for us, and the love that must have been there for him to go through his passion.
Let the Sun Shine In
The fog is clearing away from the difficult year we have had, and the very, very, dark and cold and grey winter. The days are getting longer. The sun is shining a bit more. And our family is soon to embark on a vacation to the beach, a much needed bit of togetherness and warmth and light.
3 thoughts on “Emerging From the Fog”
Congratulations on baby number 4!!! I have been reading your blog for quite a while, devouring everything I can regarding all things Catholic. I have also been on the Journey Home website which is how I found your story and watched your interview, which lead me to your blog.
I was raised Protestant (Baptist) and struggled with Catholic teachings. By God’s grace I am now on my journey to the Catholic faith along with my husband of 13 years and our 4 children (10, 7, 3, 1.5). We found a lovely parish to call home and look forward to what God has instore for us there. You’ve inspired me to one day start a small group there. Baby steps….
Your blog has been extremely helpful and encouraging! Your writing style is easy to understand and relate to. God has certainly blessed you with an incredible gift of writing.
I also want to say how sorry I am about the death of your beloved aunt. I admire your openness in sharing your pain during this extremely difficult time. It’s awesome to see how God has and is sustaining you and your family during a very difficult journey.
Thank you again for writing and sharing the love of your faith with us.
God bless you and your precious family!!
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Thank you so much for reading Jenn! And for your kind feedback. It’s sometimes strange putting your heart and words out into the world, and it’s so encouraging to know that those words have been helpful to someone on their journey. I am thrilled to know you are on your way to the Catholic faith along with your family! I’m almost three years past confirmation, and converting has been one of the most amazing sources of grace. We will keep your family in our prayers!
I just finished watching your original appearance on the Journey Home Program. I found out about your website from that episode. I found it to be a very inspiring episode. Your story brought tears to my eyes. I am a lifelong Catholic that had fallen away for awhile but now through the grace of God and EWTN, I have a new found love for the faith. The Journey Home program in particular has helped me understand my faith better. I’ve ordered so many books from the different guests that have been on the program and am devouring them. Thanks for sharing your story. By the way, you have a beautiful family and congratulations on Baby #4! What a beautiful gift you have in your family and faith.
God bless you all!
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