Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Improving Our Lives by ONE -- Lainie's "Birth"day Story

As the water recedes from the shore during low tide, I find myself feeling the tide going out on my childbearing years. My baby is turning 7 today. She is a joy, a bundle of energy and unless truly provoked, maintains a smile on that silly, beautiful face of hers.

I was very sick at the time I became pregnant with Elaine Rose, our Lainie. I was undergoing treatment for persistent pancreatitis, and was preparing to have a nuclear medicine test done to determine if I had pancreatic cancer. I was in and out of the hospital, and admittedly, not much use to my family at the time. Grace, whose birth was immediately followed by the delivery of my gallbladder, was still quite young -- 18 months old -- she was the youngest of the five children. They all needed me to be well.

Something was amiss in my abdomen, but what? That's what we hoped to find out by means of the radioactive testing. But, that test would prove extremely harmful if not fatal to an embryo. And, I was pregnant.

I agonized with my husband over the decision to have the nuclear medicine test done. I prayed to St. Gianna Beretta Molla to help me make the right choice. Ultimately, at a Mass of Thanksgiving offered a friend's daughter whose life was extended by the gift of a heart transplant, I found myself distraught not thankful. I was certainly thankful for Betsy's life, but confused and sick over the decision that would impact our lives so dramatically. To make matters more complicated, I had never known such morning sickness, I was exhausted physically and mentally, and I had to make a decision right away about whether to risk losing my baby to preserve my own life.

A friend, who knew the gravity of my circumstance and witnessed my physical and emotional pain, took me by the hand and brought me to see the pastor of the Church, Fr. Fasano, directly after Mass.

I didn't have an appointment.

I wasn't his parishioner.

And, pastors are typically not available at the drop of a hat.

But, God was directing this encounter.

Fr. Fasano stopped what he was doing and came out to meet me. He sat me down and gently asked why I was so distressed. As concisely as I could, I explained my history and the decision that my husband and I were struggling with. He nodded; he agreed that we were faced with a very complicated situation. And, then he prayed with me, a prayer so intensely gentle and suddenly reassuring that my entire body felt the glow of it.

I don't remember the words, but the summary of what he said was this: the Blessed Mother was holding me lovingly, and that what was necessary for the baby was already determined by her being in my womb. If my life depended upon the test, then I should feel no worries about having it done, but if there was another way, I should explore it and pursue it. The Lord was by my side in all that we would do, and I should trust confidently in that. I was to stop worrying over the decision and act in God's will for the good of my marriage and my family.

There was no profound revelation in the words of his prayer. There was no magic bullet. There was only a quiet confidence in God's will and the security of the Blessed Mother's protection.

It was a moment of spiritual change. I had a clarity of heart and mind that wasn't present just seconds before. I left him with a hug and a grateful good-bye. I went home to tell my husband that I thought it was in the best interest of our marriage and our family for me to delay the testing and deliver the baby. We could have the tests done when she was born. He agreed.

During the pregnancy, other than the morning sickness, I had no signs of abdominal pain. As a matter of fact, I have not had pancreatitis in the past 7 years. I never had the test done, and apparently, I don't have pancreatic cancer -- because I am still here, Praise God!

We feel so blessed to have Lainie in our lives. It could have easily gone another way, and I wouldn't have been wrong to choose to do the testing. But, Fr. Fasano enabled me to see the matter through the loving prism of God's will, assuaging all the worry that was plaguing me -- eliminating the devil from the details. Every time I see him now, although he probably doesn't really know who I am, I remind Fr. Fasano of his generous and holy counsel, and how it improved our lives by ONE.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LAINIE! You are truly a miracle.


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