For the last six years, it has been dangerous for me to be pregnant, but my husband and I had no idea. Recently I was diagnosed with an isthmocele, also known as a cesarean scar defect. An isthmocele occurs when a section of the uterine cesarean scar does not heal correctly, creating a small niche, and the lining of the uterus in the niche is very thin. An isthmocele can cause secondary infertility and, if a pregnancy does occur, there is a risk of a cesarean scar ectopic pregnancy and/or uterine rupture. The hopeful news is that it can be repaired with a laparoscopic surgery.
I have seen several doctors and pursued various avenues in seeking a resolution to our secondary infertility. It has been a long road marked by several losses along the way. But now, to receive this diagnosis, everything is flipped on its head. What seemed like and was and is a heavy cross has been revealed to also be a mercy.
God’s answers to our prayers
My husband and I have prayed for more children throughout our marriage, and during the many years in which we have been open to life and entrusted our fertility to the Lord, he provided for and protected us in ways we did not know we needed. He preserved my life and protected me from complications that would have resulted in a hysterectomy, while also blessing our gift of openness to life with four little ones who we did not get to meet, but who exist because we said yes and cooperated with God’s plan for our marriage.
And our journey continues. In mid-November, I underwent laparoscopic surgery. As the surgery approached, I realized that I, like the disciples, needed to ask the Lord, “teach us to pray” (Lk 11:1).
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One day, as we were saying our family prayers, I realized I was tempted to pray from two opposing extremes: either to feel like I needed to think of every possible scenario and cover them with prayer, or to feel like I was asking too much of God and purposefully leave a petition out. Both displayed a lack of trust. Nothing is too great for Our Lord!
The remedy was to pray boldly and humbly, recognizing, accepting and loving my profound littleness and need, not withholding even the smallest petition hidden in my heart; and at the same time, to recognize that I will never know everything to ask for or even if what I am asking for is really good for me. As Matthew writes in the Gospel, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (6:8). Our Lord says this and then teaches his disciples to pray the Our Father, to pray “your will be done” (Mt 6:10).
I have a deep desire to be healed, and I must cover this and the rest of my petitions with the mantle of “your will be done.” It is not one or the other, my petitions or God’s will. Instead I must submit my desires to what God knows to be good, remembering that God’s greatest gift to me is not complete healing or even another child. His greatest gift to me is himself.
Praying ‘thy will be done’
It is fitting to contemplate this truth during the Christmas season. Of those who were awaiting the Messiah, did anyone expect Our Lord to become one of us, to become man? They could not have fathomed and would not have dared to ask God to become man, let alone an infant, but God knows what we need before we ask him. He created us to be in relationship with him, and he knows how to heal what was and is broken.
As we celebrate the Incarnation and enter into a new year, I intend to lean into praying “your will be done.” I invite you to do the same. What desire weighs on your heart? What are you yearning for? What seems impossible? I encourage you to lay your desires, your petitions in the hands of our Blessed Mother. She will bring them to Our Lord covering them with the mantle of her fiat, “May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).