Perhaps those who have struggled with infertility are those who are most aware of what a miraculous gift it is to be able to bear new life. And so miraculous it is to be able to bring out of seemingly nothing a new human life. It’s stunning every time. However, open-to-life Catholic couples can also experience fertility as a source of stress, namely, when it’s not a prudent time for a pregnancy or new baby. This means trying to figure out and practice NFP, and sometimes, to become pregnant anyway. That’s hard.
As someone in my mid-forties, my friends and I are well past the age of geriatric pregnancy (which some silly doctor determined to be thirty-five). Fertility is slowing down, and most of us look at our youngest as our last. Yet being open-to-life doesn’t close doors (pun intended), and I know at least three “oldish” women who have birthed a baby in the past few years. Each of these babies was at least eight years younger than the next of their many siblings. These little ones, with all their demands and diapers, came unexpectedly to moms with aging bodies, busy homes, and the stress of older children—homes where baby days seemed done.
Yet, in each of these families these unexpected little ones came in and also brought unexpected joy to their homes of older children. Grumpy teens and moms, weary of fighting, found solace in cuteness, newness, and innocence. The last of these babies was born to a dear friend whose whole family has been suffering an incredibly difficult situation with one of the older kids. During the pregnancy, my friend was so focused on these other issues that she rarely even talked about her pregnancy or the baby. Her baby registry was filled out by someone else because she was too busy! Yet, this came to me the night she gave birth: “Sorry to text so late, but had to text to tell you how in love I am with this baby . . .” In the days that followed, his older siblings negotiated endlessly about holding him, changing him, dressing him, and on and on. My friend is so grateful for this pure gift of love, of peace, and of hope. Although it seemed that a baby was the last thing that this family needed due to difficult times, he seems to be exactly what this family needed, thanks to God’s perfect time.
Being open to life is hard, but even then, it is blessed.