The personal testimony of Kim, a wife and mother of five…
Ten years ago my husband had a vasectomy after the birth of our fifth child. I pleaded with him not to do it, and the kids and I went away for the weekend while his brother took him to the appointment. That day is etched in my mind forever. I relive it often and especially when the kids reach a milestone such as graduating from school or getting their drivers license, etc. The journey has taken me down many different roads as I tried to replace the loss of my fertility. I exercised incessantly to make sure that I was always attractive and in good shape, I bordered on anorexia as my vanity took over. I lost my zeal for the Church and my vocation as a mother. I lost trust in my husband’s decisions for the family, but all the while I never expressed my heartache because the vasectomy changed my husband in many ways as well. He became very focused on his work, his career advancement and the money that he could make under the guise of “providing” for the family. He continued to seek his own will and not that of God in his decisions, and I felt afraid of the control that he had over me. In hindsight, taking away someone’s fertility against their will is one of the most controlling things that anyone can do. I vacillated between hope and despair because I knew the Church’s teaching about married love and the sacrament of marriage, and I wished with my entire being that my husband could love me like “Christ loved the Church.”
To make a long story short, I ended up depressed and hopeless, but for the love of my children, I never outwardly showed it. I sought help, ended up on anti-depressants, and went through the motions of having a great life. After all, I have five wonderful kids, a huge house, lavish vacations and plenty of money. Why would I not love entertaining myself with manicures, shopping and playing tennis? Nothing satisfied the hole that was left by vasectomy. It meant so much to me to be open to God’s will for my life. I have always wanted to do everything that God asked of me and would give up every material item, every luxury to be able to do so. My husband, on the other hand, after the vasectomy was unable to open himself to God’s plan, and I now see this as due to his being cut off from the grace he needed because of the sin.
Five years ago I started saying the rosary every day again, and I always wanted to ask for his conversion but instead offered it “for those who needed it most.” I realized that he could never love me the way I needed and that only God could fill that hole. It took me a lot of prayer and a couple of panic attacks to ask him to confess his vasectomy so that our family could have the line of grace restored to us. He did and he felt forgiven, but I still felt that there was damage that needed repaired, but I never spoke of it. In our families, you don’t talk about your feelings, so I continued to keep it inside and continued to live in general anxiety and fear that I would feel this way forever. In March of this year, I sent a prayer request with a group of seminarians to Lourdes and all it said was, “For my husband’s continued conversion”. You see, I never asked for another child. I know that I don’t know what God wants for us, but I want to be open to anything he wants for us. Two weeks after the 150th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance to St. Bernadette at Lourdes, my husband came home and told me that he felt like “he’d been slapped in the face” and was not happy in the rat race. He looked at the house we were building and wondered “why?” On my birthday, March 19th, he gave me a card and told me that his gift to me was to have his vasectomy reversed. He told me that he realized that it was a terrible selfish sin, and he wanted to make reparation. He also wanted to go to individual confession because the first time he confessed was at a general absolution, and he knew that wasn’t enough. We went to confession together, and he told the priest that he was planning on a reversal, and it was then that he finally felt that he was doing the right thing.
I still have anxiety because I will always wonder why I had to suffer for ten years, but I know that something wonderful will come out of this. My husband is still not “open to children”, and we will practice NFP, but at least God can give us a miracle if he chooses. In his mercy he will reestablish the grace that I have longed for. Tomorrow, August 1st 2008, almost ten years to the day that the hole in my heart was made, it will be repaired. Pray for the success of this operation, I know that St. Bernadette and Our Lady and all the angels will be celebrating this long and hard fought battle.
Update from Kim: