Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The silent suffering of empty arms.

Jennifer Fulweiler brought up a subject which is close to my heart in her National Catholic Register blog post, "The Silent Suffering of Women Denied Children". Jane's husband had a vasectomy after their second child, without consulting her. The hardest part is the isolation.

But she remained surprisingly troubled by the fact that most people didn't seem to think that her story was one worth telling. Eager to know that she wasn't alone, she searched online for blogs or books in which other women in her position shared their experiences, but found few results. Women's websites told the tales of women undergoing all different types of challenges, but none showed much interest in discussing situations like Jane's, in which women were denied children by their husbands. It seemed clear to her that her pain was not deemed valid, and therefore was not considered to be worth discussing.

 Many good Catholic women who have been blessed with fertility have had this gift taken away, either by their poor health, or their husbands. I suffered both. My body and my husband said "no more children".
It is an acute suffering which is seldom spoken of, but I am feeling it keenly as I am about to send my daughter off to college. She will leave a huge vacancy in our home. My oldest is leaving home this week for Franciscan University of Steubenville, proud as I am of her, that leaves a very quite home, where I wanted a bustling houseful of children. I try to offer up my suffering for the women who abort babies with Down syndrome.

The hardest part is the world thinks three children is more than enough and wonders why I am sad when I should be rejoicing in my freedom.  Faithful Catholics who have large families, often make inaccurate assumptions about my situation. The other day I was at a devout family's home and two women were discussing the persecution they face out in public when they take their many children somewhere.  I had difficulty sympathizing, though I really do admire their openness to life. I too have been open to life, but my family size doesn't reflect that. It merely made me more lonely.

But there is hope and healing. Bella, my 15 year old had a beautiful dream last month which gave me great consolation. She dreamed of our family as it will be in Heaven, with our three missing children. She dreamed that two were teenage boys just the right ages, and that she had another 12 year old sister, who was, as she said, "spoiled". How my heart soared when she shared this dream, which she recalled vividly. I bring it to mind whenever I mourn my loss, and remember that God sees our tears, and is preparing my home in Heaven, full of children!

Kimberly Hahn in Rome Sweet Home said we can commune with our lost children at Mass when the company of saints and angels accompanies us at the altar, so I often send up an order to my children, "give Grandma a hug for me" or "pray for your father".

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Kim said...

I'm sorry for your pain. I have met several women and men in fact in which one partner wants children and the other doesn't. Maybe it's not spoken about but I do think it's very common just from the shear number of ppl experiencing this that I know personally. A few of the guys I do know who wanted children and their wives didn't ended up in divorce.

It really is sad. I am sure your large family awaits you in heaven as your dd dreamed. It sounds like a lovely dream.

Kate J said...

Thank you for writing about this issue. After our littlest one was born with severe disabilities, there was much pain, mourning, and uncertainty about her future, even whether she would live... but I have to say that I remember with great sorrow the pain of my husband angrily packing up my maternity clothes and taking them to a charity drop-off. "No more" indeed.
As the years have gone by, he has come back to that openness to life. Altho we are quite old at this point (50ish), it would be highly unlikely, but not impossible. It was our daughter who has helped him to trust God.