Advent is a time of joyful waiting and expectation. Unfortunately, our culture teaches us to complain, rather than to be cheerful while we wait for things. In a world where everything is instant, waiting 11 minutes for something, let alone 11 months, can seem like an eternity. Recently, I have come to know of the great joy that comes when a long wait ends. I praise God for a small miracle in my family’s life, my wife Caitlyn is pregnant!
To call it a small miracle requires a bit of background. While we were engaged, my wife was diagnosed with PCOS, a condition which makes it difficult for her to conceive, because her hormones are out of balance. When I first heard that Caitlyn had PCOS, I don’t think I realized the severity of the situation. Couldn’t she just take some medicine and be cured of this and move on? The answer was no.
Around the time Caitlyn and I were married in October of 2012, many of our friends were either conceiving children or celebrating the birth of new life. Naturally, we were happy for our friends. However, as the months went on and Caitlyn was unable to conceive, things became a little uneasy.
We began to question God. Caitlyn and I had abstained from sexual intercourse before marriage and were open to new life as a married couple. Why did He bless other couples with children and not us? We felt as if we were the only couple that was having this problem. We wondered if Caitlyn’s condition would prevent her from ever conceiving. Would we have to consider adoption down the road? I was frustrated that this situation was out of our control. We seemed to be open to new life while God sat on the sidelines and watched us suffer. As I look back on this time, I am beginning to see that God was calling us to develop a deeper trust in Him, and we were kicking and screaming along the way while He was doing it.
Then this past April, we had a small breakthrough. My wife went to see a nutritionist for PCOS. He ran some tests and found out that she had sensitivity to gluten. To achieve pregnancy, he recommended a significant change in nutrition, basically the paleo diet, where my wife would avoid grains and stick to mostly natural foods. That was tough. To mourn my wife’s loss of the traditional unhealthy American diet, we took one last trip to Spaghetti Warehouse before starting out on a new nutritional chapter of our lives.
Over the next few months, my wife experimented with some new gluten-free dishes. Some really hit the spot and some, like the quinoa dish, are now banished from the Waruszewski family menu. The new diet gave my wife more energy, but still we were unable to conceive. My wife stopped taking pregnancy tests because the negative readings made her feel depressed. We were hesitant to attend a local young adult group because all the other married couples there had either just had given birth to a child or were expecting one shortly.
While we were petitioning St. Joseph, St. Philomena and Our Lady of Guadalupe for a child, we slowly began to understand the true gift that a new life is. Before marriage, we took for granted the birth of a baby. We naïvely assumed that once young faithful Catholics were married that babies would start coming in bunches. Now that we were in a period of waiting and some fear that Caitlyn would not be able to conceive, we began to see that life is very precious. God is the Father and Creator of all life. We are not in control of starting a family, He is.
Nonetheless, besides the practical measures of nutrition and petitioning saints, we invoked the help of a living saint. This past August we travelled to Loretto, Pennsylvania, to say goodbye to my younger brother Tom, as he joined the Franciscan Friars TOR. My mom suggested that we go over and visit the recently retired Fr. Mike Scanlan, a major leader in the revitalization of Franciscan University of Steubenville.
So we went over and paid him a visit. After some time for conversation, my family asked if Fr. Mike would pray over my wife to conceive a child. Fr. Mike placed his hand on Caitlyn’s head and prayed to God for her. As he was praying, my wife felt an immense peace come upon her. He finished the prayer and told us that out of all the petitions that he has made to God, the one that seems to most often get answer is for the birth of a child. It was an emotional moment. Part of me believed him and part of me did not, like the man who said to Jesus “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”
About a month later on a cool fall morning, unbeknownst to me, my wife took a pregnancy test and got a positive result. She woke me up around 5:30 AM and told me that she was pregnant. As I was slowly waking up to this great news, I can remember feeling cautiously optimistic, hedging my bet. Since the pregnancy test she had used had expired, I did not want to get my hopes too high just in case it was an error. She went out and bought a new pregnancy test and obtained the same result, she was indeed pregnant! We were overjoyed and overwhelmed. God had answered our prayer. Baby W’s due date is in May 2014.
As we are anxiously awaiting the birth of our own child and arranging the apartment for the baby, I can’t help but think how all of us Catholics should be preparing for something greater, the Lord’s coming in our hearts this Christmas. It is a time for joyful penance, not the ashes and sackcloth of Lent, but maybe through Confession, serving the poor, or spending more time in prayer with God we can make ready our hearts for the feast of Christmas.
The world wants to push out Advent from our hearts and focus constantly on the countdown to Christmas. However, we must not miss out on this great chance of preparation and longing for Christ. As these weeks of Advent go by, I pray that you may take the opportunity to slow down from the busyness of the world so you may enter the beauty of the season.
(Please keep my wife and I in prayer as we prepare for our child’s birth, since sometimes there can be complications in pregnancy for women with PCOS)