My wife and I were married on July 23rd, 2005, at St. Daniel the Prophet Catholic Church on Chicago’s Southwest side. In front of God, our family and friends, we professed our love for and our eternal commitment to one another. After an amazing reception filled with music, dancing and laughing our wedding day was over and our marriage began. Prior to our wedding, we both were in the process of completing graduate studies and after graduation we were fortunate in obtaining gratifying careers in our fields of study. Joanne was employed as a Spanish high school teacher and I, a Family Therapist. One month prior to our wedding day, we purchased our first home. It was a fixer-upper, but it had character and we felt we could make it our own. We were off to a solid start with this marriage thing. We had completed advanced degrees, found gainful employment, and purchased our first home, all before our wedding day. Things were looking very good for us. As the years went on, Joanne and I both worked tirelessly in our careers, getting settled and receiving several promotions. We spent much time going out on date nights and at least once per year we planned very nice vacations. Together we saw the sunrises from the beaches of Santorini in the east and the sunsets from Cabo San Lucas in the west. For about six years we felt we had everything we could need or want. But after many conversations, going back and forth, we realized that our lives were missing a very important piece: children. I guess we figured that we had gotten lucky that we had not had children so far since we were both heavily involved in our careers, volunteering and church. In typical Zapata family fashion, we decided to plan this out as well. We decided that the best time to have kids would coincide with my wife’s school schedule so she could be at home all summer long and my work schedule would not be so hectic. It made perfect sense in our minds and on paper. But as the weeks went on, nothing happened. No baby. We started to get worried, seeking out medical advice about how to proceed. After navigating through the complicated HMO insurance process, we found ourselves sitting in the physicians’ waiting room of a fertility specialist. Honestly, the first appointment was a blur for the both of us. The nursing staff and doctor were talking about hormone injections, egg retrievals and AA quality embryos. We left the appointment feeling overwhelmed, scared and wondering if this was the right thing to do. We spent several days praying individually, together and seeking spiritual direction from our Priest. We were asking existential questions like, were we not supposed to have children? Or were we putting our will before God’s? After days of reading information packets, Google-ing everything we could find out about infertility, praying and engaging in a very affirming meeting with our Priest, we decided to move forward with the process. We were excited, but simultaneously nervous. We began the first round of IVF and were asked to come back in three weeks to see if the embryo survived the transfer. These were the longest three weeks of our lives. The day arrived and the nurses completed a pregnancy test. They returned with disappointing news; no pregnancy. The doctors did not give us an exact reason why it did not work, but they recited a litany of statistics as a way to offer solace. We started the second round of IVF and it was recommended that we increase the embryo transfer to three instead of one. The doctors again recited the statistics of multiple pregnancies and their accompanying risk. Despite this knowledge, we so longed for children of our own, we proceeded anyway. Again, we waited three weeks and upon return to the clinic, we heard the long-awaited, good news; congratulations you are pregnant… with twins! I don’t remember the drive home. We must have floated the entire way home. Having tried for so long and getting negative results and then finally hearing those magic words created such a feeling of joy and contentment that we thanked God for having His hand in the process and creating this opportunity for our family. We were asked to come back two weeks later to check on the “babies.” During this two week period we spent all of our time online and in baby stores looking for two of everything. The feeling was indescribable. Our hopes and dreams had just been multiplied by two. At the next doctor visit, the nurse came out with a solemn look on her face and said, “sorry, but they didn’t make it.” Again, I don’t remember the drive home. The news was so devastating that we barely spoke a word to one another in several days. We were not angry at each other; we just were in our own worlds dealing with the shock and disappointment. We felt we had hit bottom and had no motivation to do anything else. Tensions were high in our home and neither one of us wanted to say the wrong thing to upset the other. It felt like we were walking on eggshells. It was in this darkest moment where God shined the brightest light for us. It was in our moment of feeling out of control that we realized that we needed to fully surrender this process and truly leave it in the hands of God. We came to the self awareness that despite our prayers and saying we had faith; we really were the ones driving the process. My wife and I had many conversations about who we were, what we believed and ultimately who we wanted to be as individuals and as a family. We struggled a great deal in being able to fully “let go and let God.” Our entire lives had been defined by what we were able to accomplish by sheer will and determination. It was in our most broken state that we finally felt the most complete as a couple. During this entire process we were reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your understanding, in all ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
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