|I'm getting married,
But I don't want children right away...
What should I do?
You are getting married and you want true love. You want to give yourselves completely to each other. In all the dimensions of your being. In the joy that is both offered and shared, with this great ability to give the life that is present in you.
Nature and freedom let you control the extraordinary gift of fertility, and you are going to manage it: that is what we call responsible paternity. You are going to learn about the periods of a woman's cycle, those when she can bear a child and those when she cannot (1).
If you are not ready to welcome a child right away, or you decide to wait for a time, you will choose to unite during the non-fertile periods. During the fertile periods, you will be able to show your love through other means instead of sexual union. You could talk more, discover new forms of tenderness and so forth. You will find your love will flourish and deepen. But be careful not to restrict your marriage to simple accounting, and, by indefinitely postponing your decision, to prevent your spouse - as well as yourself - from reaching your full dimension in the giving of life.
Listen to your desires and to the plan of love offered to you by God and you will be able to decide freely and generously to give life. During a fertile period and at the heart of your love, God, with your collaboration, will be able to create a new life: your child.
When we got married four years ago, we both wanted lots of children. After waiting a few months to get to know each other better, we started to think about having children. But it took four years, numerous medical exams and a couple of surgical interventions for me to learn on the very day of our fourth anniversary that I was pregnant.
To give an account of the complex and painful journey leading to that birth would take too long: I will merely mention some thoughts and reflections brought about by this ordeal.
To be sterile: what physical and moral torment! I had to learn to fight the guilt-ridden feeling which made me think: "It is my fault!". I had to remain courageous in the face of the doctors who were telling me: "Relax, think about something else...". And the family or friends who, overtly or not, tell you: "It is often psychological...". What a terrible thing to say even if it can be helpful: you are branded a psychological case and that is how people will look upon you from then on.
Making It Stick No Matter What
During these four years, I experienced first-hand the power of prayer. I often rested on other peoples's prayer: do not be afraid to say "I can't take it any more!...". And then together with my husband, we had the grace to constantly pray: we would put our suffering into God's hands, asking him ceaselessly to help us, to enable us to choose a good doctor (you are referred to so many of them), to give those doctors some insight when making their diagnosis. And finally, the personal offering of this death to myself (for that is what it was), for various possible intentions.
At last, we received the sacrament of the sick. Every time, it was a grace received in faith. I never "felt" anything, but I relied on the Church.
Through all this, we remained convinced God would not give up on us: I remember that during a retreat, I asked him to cure me and, indeed, I was cured... but of an eczema I had in my ears! Rather a disappointment when it happened, but I came to understand through this that he was taking care of me. A few months later, after a second operation, I became pregnant.
At the end of these four years, I realize to what extent these trials have enriched us: our love, which could have been threatened, has been fortified. We have discovered how much God was working with us in making our marriage stick no matter what, and in giving us a real fertility even if it did not start out as a human fertility.