In this year’s ‘Hope and Healing evening’ for all affected by pregnancy loss and difficulty becoming pregnant, in his Good Shepherd Sunday Homily, Archbishop Jason Gordon invited us to “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 Jn 3:1). He repeatedly reminded us “You are loved!”.
In good times, it is easy to believe God loves us, but not in the other times. He invited us to “Stop and surrender to the will of God”. He invited us to pick up the cross of sub-fertility and infertility and follow Jesus Christ.
Prior to the Holy Mass, our online seminar (both of which can be accessed on our YouTube channel) also provided hope and healing. Our feature speaker, Dr Margaret Nakhid-Chatoor, dealt with grief: “Grieving has no time limit. You must take as much time as you need to grieve,” she said.
In her discussion about healing pregnancy loss, Dr Nakhid-Chatoor firstly recognised that one in four women are without children and then looked at the varying types of grief.
Nobody knows the depths people go with the loss of a child. Dr Nakhid-Chatoor described it as a “dark night of the soul”. Many people mask/hide their true feelings in this scenario, whilst feeling empty, doubtful, broken.
Some persons say unhelpful things like “you are young, try again”; “you can always adopt”; “there was never a real birth”, but she said, “you wanted that pregnancy, you wanted that baby…There is an untouchable pain that many do not understand. How could God allow this?”
With some persons not knowing what to say or do, as there typically is no bereavement leave when there is a loss like this, pregnancy loss is generally unrecognised.
Dr Nakhid-Chatoor emphasised that “pregnancy loss is usually an unspoken loss” as many hide their true feelings. She advised families to rally around couples who have lost their babies, offer space when necessary, be just a listening ear when needed. It is important, as well, to explain to children that it is nobody’s fault.
Dr Nakhid-Chatoor said both men and women grieve differently, and grief takes time. “You need people to talk it out with. Grieving is a gift because it shows you have loved. Normal grieving can transform a loss into acceptance. Grief has the power to heal.”
Practising self-care to protect mental health was another piece of advice given, “eat and sleep properly… Keep a journal or some memorial of the babies lost. Society expects women to have babies. Women feel inadequate when they don’t have a successful pregnancy”.
One participant asked about dealing with fear. Dr Nakhid-Chatoor replied that to deal with fear, what the person has gone through needs to be understood. “You need to feel a sense of control to have confidence in moving forward. Support groups for survivors to share their stories with others”.
Another participant did not acknowledge the loss of her pregnancy and tried to quickly get rid of the feelings of loss because she had other “real” losses. It took her about a year to start acknowledging her feelings. She wanted her husband to grieve as she did. Dr Nakhid-Chatoor invited her to hold on to her faith. “Grieving takes time, healing takes time, hope is eternal”.
During the seminar, there was a call for support groups for persons dealing with these challenges. Support for men was desired.
Three testimonials were offered in the seminar starting with Pauline and Brian Phelps’ journey of losses leading to seeking adoption. Pauline is Coordinator of the Billings Ovulation Method.
Joseph and Joan Ryan, after 45 years of marriage described the pain of their losses. Job 1:21 “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord” assisted them with acceptance of this cross.
Nicole John-Thomas began her testimonial in prayer with gratitude for the seminar. Nicole suffered with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) for years and was treated with anti-diabetic medication then ovarian drilling.
She managed to get pregnant for the first time five years after marriage but was disappointed with the ectopic pregnancy she lost.
She was able to have multiple pregnancies but not successful ones. The couple then went to investigate NaProTechnology which uses medical interventions to treat sub-fertility and follows our Catholic Church’s teachings on procreative technology.
An Irish doctor identified that she was having menstrual cycles without ovulation. His treatment among other things was progesterone treatment to prevent miscarriages and it worked! Now, six years later Nicole and her husband Sheldon are incredibly grateful for their children Jeremiah, Joshua, and Julia.
We invite all couples struggling with fertility issues to come and learn the Billings Ovulation Method with a teacher online free of charge. We will journey with you and offer referrals for medical intervention when needed.
Contact BOMA-TT: 384-1659, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.billingstt.com