Where Were You When I Needed You?

I am still very bitter and very sad about my relationship with God. Honestly, when I think of God, he makes me cry. I don’t know whether I’m crying because I feel he’s a bad father, or whether I’m crying because I know I’m a petulant little child who’s upset that I haven’t gotten my way.

I am a devout Catholic. I go to church every week, I pray every day. My faith stems from a very religious family. My dad was in the seminary to become a priest before he met my mom, and my sister almost became a nun.

Life was prayerful and happy until I lost my baby, at which point I stopped going to church, I stopped praying, and became very angry with God. I’ve spent my whole life believing in him, believing that he provides. If God cannot answer the call of someone like me who has believed in him, loved him, and whose faith has never wavered, than what is the point! Why does God have to take away my child? What is the incentive in prayer if I’m the one who is getting FUCKED!

I see all these people who never go to church, who never pray, yet they are blessed with beautiful bouncy babies and it makes me so angry. I might as well not believe in God, then maybe I’ll finally have a healthy child of my own.

This has not been a good time in my life. I am angry and when I’m not angry, I’m simmering. Poor Dean has taken the brunt of it. Still he’ll ask, “Can we try to go to church this week?”

Yet my response is the same. “Nope, can’t say that I want to go.”

I finally did go, however, when my uncle passed away. I went to the rosary and the funeral mass, and I felt at peace. I listened to the scripture readings and cried. I have resigned myself to knowing that God’s plan and death are beyond human understanding.

Before my miscarriage, my faith was strong because it made sense. God always answered my prayers. 100%. He never failed me. For that reason, faith was actually quite logical and scientific for me. Here is a theory: God is real. Test the theory by asking questions and getting the right answers. Theory proven.

But now my theory is being put to the ringer. There are no answers. My comprehension is failing me. I absolutely don’t know why and I do not understand. And so for the first time in my life, this is a matter of unconditional love for God, despite feeling abandoned, and having blind faith.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Are You There God? It’s Me Catherine

Up until recently, my faith in God was unshakable. If you had asked me then why I was religious and why I believe, I always said the same thing: When I ask, God listens.

So when the doctor told us the baby wasn’t growing and the pregnancy would not continue, I begged God to listen.  I prayed more than I ever have in my 37 years of living a religious life.

Imagine the person you love the most in this world was teetering on the brink of death. I assume you would call on God or whoever deity you believe in, and if not a deity, then cross all your fingers, legs, and toes. That’s how I felt. Crazed at the idea of that love being taken away.

I prayed so much, I prayed in my dreams. I asked others to pray too. Baby be safe. Baby be strong. I wanted the baby to come into this world and be held. Not by the saints or by God in heaven. I wanted the baby to be cradled by me, it’s mother, here on earth, in the flesh. Are you there God? I’m asking please. Please listen.

No heartbeat.

That’s when I turned away from God. I wouldn’t be human if I said my faith wasn’t shaken. Because I am hurt and angry and sorrowful.

Have I turned atheist? No.

Do I still believe in God? Yes.

Am I mad at God? YES!

Am I talking to God? I am taking a break as I tend to my grief. I feel let down. And don’t feel like talking to him right now. Except that I do, because I believe. So every once in a while I sneak in a plea. God, please take care of my baby up there.

Mothers Day: A First, the Worst, and My Miracle Baby

I’ll never forget this year’s Mothers Day. I can’t imagine a year will go by, from now on, without me remembering it was the day I lost my miracle baby.

My Miracle Baby

After years of trying and struggling, Dean and I conceived our baby completely naturally. No thanks to science and all the specialists, fertility clinics, drugs, and medical procedures. We’d taken a break from it all, including acupuncture and all the dos/donts advised by the nutritionist. We were way too stressed with selling the house and busy with work that I figured we’d start the baby-making later. Ironically, it was during this stressful period that I got pregnant.

We were at the doctor’s office to discuss our options when he recommended taking a look via ultrasound to see where I was in my cycle. The intern gasped as she discovered a lima bean of a baby, swimming inside. Feeling left out of the action, the doctor asked the intern to step aside as he pointed to the baby’s flickering heart beat and shared in this unbelievable moment. Dean and I clasped ours hands ecstatically. It was love at first sight. When the doctor and the intern left the room, Dean and I jumped for joy. “We have a baby! This is our baby!” Our hearts swelled.

My life changed instantly as I became laser-focused on the baby: pre-natal vitamins, a whole new nutrition plan. I stopped looking at my ever-present To Do List and made a point of resting and sleeping as soon as I came home from work. Every minute of every day, I kept thinking, “This baby is my whole life. It’s all about the baby.” I avoided certain San Francisco hilly streets because of the potential to fall. I stopped jay walking and used cross walks. I paid attention to traffic signals and was even more mindful of speedy renegade cars. I crossed the street to avoid smokers.

At the next ultrasound, the doctor said the baby wasn’t growing and that he’d expect to terminate in the next two weeks. We were excruciatingly devastated and I was beyond comfort. After processing the shock, I refused to give in. I had a baby still with a heartbeat inside of me and I had to be its advocate. For God’s sake, I am its mommy and my baby is relying on me! I have to be strong enough for the two of us. This was my miracle baby conceived against all odds. I was certain this baby was meant to be, meant to be born into this world, and held in my arms.

I prayed more than I ever have. I slept even more. I ate fresh fruit and vegetables every day. I sang lullabies and Broadway show tunes to the baby. I went for walks, sat outside, and soaked in the sun. I’ll distinctly remember getting chocolate chip cookies and whole milk, or vanilla malted milkshakes and enjoying the surprisingly good San Francisco weather with my baby. And I’ll forever be grateful that we got to take the baby on vacation to wine country.

As my weight increased and morning sickness set in, I felt the baby growing stronger. I hoped it would pull through. Then when blood appeared the Friday before Mothers Day, I was beside myself, sobbing uncontrollably in the bathroom. I knew it wasn’t a good sign.

On Mothers Day, we visited my family after attending mass. My mom greeted me by looking at my tummy and asked, “Getting bigger?” I broke down. My parents wrapped their arms around me, heartbroken at the news that I’d been progressively spotting more and more all weekend, and pained for their barren daughter. The following day, the doctor confirmed the baby had no heartbeat.

You may wonder how I can become so emotionally attached to a baby that was not even born. I’ll ask in response, when do mothers start loving their children? Is it only after they’re born? After its first cry? I’ll venture, as with me, it’s when you first realize you’re carrying a child or when the adoption papers are signed. It’s instant, unconditional love.

Losing this baby has been the most painful experience of my life. There is, and will forever be, a permanent hole in my heart. This is not some thing that can be replaced. I am not comforted by the potential of having another child. I am grieving over this unique baby, this human life form that was growing inside of me, that was half me, half the love of my life.

I know that so many of you prayed for me and the baby during this very difficult time. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for your support.

While we mourn our baby, we know our baby is in the good hands of God.

John 16:20-23

Jesus said, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.’

On Raising Children without God

In one of the highest viewed posts to CNN’s iReport site, a contributor recently posted her views on religion in an article titled ‘Why I Raise My Children without God.’ While I am a regular church-going, daily-praying Catholic, I staunchly respect her view. Everyone has a right to their own opinion. What kind of society would we live in if we could force our religion, our politics, our personal beliefs on others? What would that say about our religion, our values, our ability at acceptance if we refused to acknowledge counter-points?

The CNN blogger rightly brings up interesting rebuttals to the presence of God. I understand that it would be difficult to believe in a deity who cannot be seen or heard. She writes, “No imaginary person is going to give us the answers or tell us why. Only we have the ability to be logical and to problem solve, and we should not abdicate these responsibilities to “God” just because a topic is tough or uncomfortable to address.” I can fully appreciate that instead of believing, she’s going to take accountability and work to solve problems. There are too many religious people who say that everything is God’s will which drives me bat-shit-cray-cray. God helps those who help themselves. Get it together, people!

I believe in God mainly because I was raised in the faith. If I hadn’t been forced to go to church every week, or attend Catholic schools, or pray every night, I probably wouldn’t believe either. Instead, I was immersed in Catholicism. My best friends believe. I married a man who, along with his family, shares my religion.

Did I ever question the existence of God? Of course, because I am a free thinker! But at the end of the day, I don’t have scientific evidence. I can’t give a powerpoint presentation with specific bullet points on why God is all-knowing. This is why it’s called faith. Is it blind faith? Of course not. Everyone has their own road to believe or not. But I can personally say that God listens. That is my truth and that’s what’s important. It’s actually all that matters.

Because religion is important to me, I will raise my child in the faith. That includes church, prayers, and all the rituals that go along with Catholicism. It includes private Catholic school which for me is non-negotiable. I want my kid to be loved by our faith, to love the faith, but most importantly to have a foundation of love and acceptance.

Newtown Tragedy: God Does Not Kill

I was riveted by the news on Friday morning, praying for the Sandy Hook elementary school. With less than two weeks to go before Christmas, there is a dark cloud over our country coping with another mass shooting. This time, the majority of the victims are very young children. Such a pit in my stomach.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee commented that he’s not surprised this happened since God has been removed from the school system. “We really shouldn’t act all surprised…when all hell breaks loose.”

Sadly it was not Mr. Huckabee in the shooter’s line of fire!

God does not turn away from His people! God does not favor church-going members or Bible toters over others. This tragedy did not occur because of God.

Life happens because of people’s actions. Not God’s actions! God gave people free will to do whatever they damn well please. If they choose to pickup a gun and kill, then that is their choice. It is not God who kills.

When people use tragedies to question God’s presence, that’s where I need to step in and say my peace. They ask “If there’s a God, how can he let this happen?” God does not let these things happen. We do it ourselves. God did not create an idyllic society with a bunch of Stepford Wives. He created us, but we create our own world.

I am praying for Newtown and the families of the victims.

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