A friend bumped a post I had put up in October of 2002 on the NFP board. I wanted to save it here.
Here is my letter to Deacon Dr. Bob, an abreviated version of our story:
Dear Deacon Dr. Bob,
I hope this autumn is finding you well. The weeks have slipped past quickly since we met you at the St. Joseph Conference in Long Beach. It was such a privilege to hear you speak and to introduce you to our miracle baby. Enclosed is the picture we took with you and Tessa, and we wanted to tell you a little bit of our story and how we came to hear you in the first place.
First a little background about us: We are Jay and Jenni G. We got married right after high school – and after our first child was born – in 1990. Three more children followed about every two years and in 1994 I (Jenni) became Catholic after growing up in a Baptist home. After our fourth child, Jay had a vasectomy. We knew the Church taught against it, so we didn’t even consult with a priest, but we thought that we were justified because I have VERY bad morning sickness, requiring IV fluids for 3 months each time and leaving me pretty much incapacitated for the entire first half of the pregnancy. We feared for my health, and baby number 4 had been an NFP “oops” because we hadn’t been disciplined enough to follow the rules. We went on with our lives, very contented cafeteria Catholics.
Then in the summer of 1999, we decided to move from Phoenix, Arizona to Louisville, Kentucky. We had always talked about doing it and decided that now was the time. Jay has some family there, and we really felt “called” to make this move. Everyone thought we were crazy. We had 9, 7, 4, and 2 year old children and here we were selling our house, Jay was quitting his job and we were moving across the country because we FELT like it.
On October 8, 1999, we set out with our family and all our belongings with no idea of the journey God had in mind for us.
Once in Louisville, Jay got two jobs, we moved into a tiny little house, and I resumed our home schooling. Fall set in and the days were dark and chilly. Jay was working all day at one job and then again for about 6 hours in the middle of the night. He was exhausted and I was feeling isolated and depressed.
I met another home schooling mother who was a former Catholic and she asked me to come with her to her (huge) church’s Wednesday night program. They had classes for the kids and a worship service for the s. For me, it was a way to get out of the house and a comfort to be surrounded by the kind of songs and preaching I had been brought up with. I was so lonely; I desired to know Jesus better, to learn about the bible, and to grow in my faith. This seemed like a good way to do it. Slowly I began to doubt my faith as a Catholic. While I was still going to mass on Sundays with our family, my heart was no longer there. I had questions about my Catholic faith, but I didn’t seek out any answers, I just assumed they weren’t there.
My best friend in Phoenix called me one day and told me she had recently read a book, it was a novel, but it convicted her to start saying the Rosary daily. She asked me if I would commit to do it too. I told her that I was no longer sure if I believed in things like the rosary, that I really just wanted to stick to the Bible only. Poor Kathi was blown away, she knew I had been depressed, but had no idea what kind of effect it had had on my faith. She told me she would pray for me and urged me to order the books and tapes she had gotten for free from the Mary foundation.
It took me a while and a few more gentle urgings from her (and probably lots of prayer) but I eventually did order Pierced By a Sword, Conceived Without Sin, House of Gold, and all of the Mary foundation’s tapes.
Oh boy, I bet that UPS guy had never held in his hand such a life-changing package.
I sat down and read Pierced in less than two days. I think my poor kids had cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner those two days! The next morning I woke up at 5:30 am and said the first rosary I ever said by myself. It was like a whole bucket of grace was dumped right on my head that morning and I have never been quite the same.
Through the next days and weeks, Jay and I listened to the tapes, some alone and some together. I was very moved my Scott Hahn’s conversion story and began seeking answers to the questions that had nagged my mind, now knowing that I could confidently search.
One afternoon, Jay was at home and had all of our tax stuff spread out across the living room floor. As he was sorting it he was listening to “The Secret to Happy Families” with the headphones. About half way through he took off the headphones and asked me if I had listened to that tape. I told him I had not. He said, “You have to listen to this one, it is not what you think it is about!”
He came to me after finishing the tape and said words I never would have believed would have come from his mouth. “I want to have more babies with you.”
Believe me I listened to that tape as fast as I could. No one had ever told me that it was a normal thing to continue to want children. I thought I was selfish and immature because even with four, I loved the thought of a new baby. We also recognized right away the effects the vasectomy had had on our marriage and our relationship. It was so much easier to simply use one another when fertility was removed from our union. It only took us about two days to decide that we needed to go to confession, and that we wanted to pursue a Vasectomy Reversal.
Due to financial stress and unemployment we moved back to Phoenix in March of 2000. The financial and emotional toll of our trip to Louisville had been steep, but the blessings we received were even bigger.
In a tremendously grace filled trip to New Braunfels, Texas in August of 2000, Jay had his vasectomy reversed.
We spent the next ten months desperately praying to be blessed again, dreading the thought that because of what we had done we may never have another child. But in June of 2001, we conceived. We were being blessed again.
Like with all my other pregnancies, I got very sick. I was in the emergency room with severe dehydration by 7 weeks along. By 11 weeks, they had to give me a PICC line, since I was blowing out my IV too fast. I remained on IV fluids until 21 weeks, when I was slowly weaned off of them. It was very hard on our whole family, but this time the sacrifice seemed so worth it and bearable for the sake of our little blessing.
On March 20, 2002, Therese Marie was born at 4:44 am weighing 8lbs, 8oz. We call her Tessa. Her brothers and sisters are delighted with her. They have repeatedly thanked us for giving them a little sister, and Benjamin (5 years old) wishes he could marry her. She has truly shown us what a gift life is.
We thank you so much for your part in “The Secret To Happy Families.” That tape has truly changed our lives.
God Bless You,
Jay and Jenni
Wife of Jay, mom to Paisley-12,
James-10, Posy-7, Ben-5,