Julie McKay, FCP
This is my Body: A Reflection for Holy Week
As we enter in Holy Week, I want to share some reflections on suffering. Suffering is present in many stages of the fertility journey, but it is not without meaning if it is united to the suffering of Christ.
"One cannot love without suffering or suffer without loving." -St. Gianna Molla
This suffering love can take many forms. When I lost my first baby to a miscarriage, I found comfort in relating to the suffering love of Mary as she gave her son back to God. It is a deep sorrow to have to give our babies back to God. Our time with them may have been very short, but it does not lessen the pain of surrendering our little ones back to God along with our hopes and plans for the future.
While I have not experienced infertility personally, it is a great privilege to walk alongside couples experiencing this cross. One of my infertility client couples asked me to pray with them at the end of one of our follow ups. It was such a gift. Their suffering love reflects the love of Jesus as he suffered and died for us. It is beautiful to see how couples can draw closer together through their shared experience of suffering.
Recently I’ve been in a season of working with many postpartum clients. It is a gift and joy, especially as a new mom myself, to walk alongside them. It is a season of great joy as well as suffering. Motherhood has shown me in a new way the depth of God’s love. Pregnancy, birth, and postpartum are all experiences where we give of our own bodies for our babies. We likely have to surrender some of our own plans and hopes for what it would be like in the process. A C section was not in my plans. As I sat quietly rocking my new baby and recovering from surgery, I could see our family Crucifix as well as some quotes I had put up on our walls in preparation for the birth of our baby. The Saint Gianna Molla quote gave me comfort as did this one from St. Faustina, “Suffering is a great grace; through suffering the soul becomes like the Savior; in suffering love becomes crystallized; the greater the suffering, the purer the love.” New motherhood can bring us to our knees. Whether it be pregnancy complications, prenatal or postpartum depression, or unexpected birth interventions, it shows how little control we have over our lives. Our bodies are broken open to bring our babies into this world. Our bodies continue to be a place of love, safety, and refuge from a new, bright, and scary world after birth. The words from the hymn ring true in a new way gazing down on my feeding infant. “Take and eat take and eat. This is my body given up for you.”
While listening to the podcast “Make Joy Normal,” I was struck by the story Bonnie Landry, one of the hosts, shared. While struggling with a squirmy, active toddler at Mass, she perceived Jesus speak to her. She saw a bright light hover over the Eucharist. “This is my body.” It then hovered over her toddler. “This is my body.” When I feel at the end of my strength cleaning up yet another mess of food under the high chair or changing what feels like the millionth diaper of the day, I remember this story. We care for the body of Christ every day as we carry out the ordinary tasks of motherhood.
We are here to walk with you wherever you find yourself in your journey of navigating and learning about your fertility.