As a young adult, Lisa Duffy experienced one heartbreak after another: miscarriage, infertility, divorce.
Married at 26, Duffy and her first husband lost three children to miscarriage, one at almost 20-weeks gestation. Later, she went through a surgery that was supposed to help her carry babies to term – but ended up reducing her chances of getting pregnant instead. Then, her husband divorced her.
The Catholic writer recently shared these early life struggles in a column for Aleteia. Duffy said she wants to encourage other women who have experienced loss that there is hope.
The doctors were never able to figure out what was causing these miscarriages until that final pregnancy. My uterus had widened enough for them to detect the problem, which was a malformation that made it impossible to carry a child to term.
My OB/GYN was hopeful. He said if I had come to him with this problem a few years before, he wouldn’t have been able to help me, but now there was a groundbreaking surgery that could correct my problem. So I signed up and went under the knife. The outcome was successful. Sort of.
The surgeons had been able to fix the problem as they’d hoped, but the procedure was so invasive, it left me sterile. In fact, the odds of my ever conceiving a child were now fewer than 1 percent. I was heartbroken and angry, to say the least. Then my husband left, never to return.
The next several years were dark with the weight of her grief. Duffy said she let her anger and pain become excuses to “behave badly at times” and gave up hope of ever having children.
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Eventually, Duffy said she met her husband Jim, who helped pull her up out of her misery. She said she began to find hope and happiness again as she worked to repair her relationship with God.
A month after she was married, Duffy said she joined a group of women on a week-long silent retreat in Bethesda, Maryland. On the second day, she began to feel a terrible but familiar experience – morning sickness.
I wanted to jump up and run out to tell the other women — one of whom was my new mother-in-law — but I couldn’t. It was a silent retreat. I didn’t have a cell phone back then, so I couldn’t call Jim. And then it dawned on me, the brilliance of what God was doing. It almost felt deliberate that he was the only one I could share my joy with for the next four days. He wanted me to recognize the miracle he had brought about and how great his love for me was. Despite all the doctors had predicted, I was going to have a baby!
Weeks later, as I sat in my doctor’s office, she said to me, “I hope you realize what a miracle this is. Someone with your history should not be able to get pregnant.” She didn’t have to tell me, I knew better than anyone. And today, I have three healthy, happy miracles who are the joy of my life.
Duffy ended her story with words of hope and encouragement for women who are struggling. Though Duffy experienced losses through infertility and divorce, her words also could apply to women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy or grieving after an abortion.
“Stay close to [God] in your struggles, and trust him with your future,” Duffy said. “Your plans might look different from his, but he ultimately knows how to make you happy.”