This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. While it may seem that there is a dedicated week or a day for every occasion – nurses, bosses, talking like a pirate, doughnuts – we shouldn’t dismiss this week as just another one on the list. Weeks, days, or months dedicated to a cause, person, or condition are meant to bring an issue to light for those who are unaware of its depth or prevalence, and to help make seen those who feel unseen. 

These campaigns matter, as do you. As an example, a mammography technologist recently told me there is a big upswing in testing in October because of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That said, I know how easy it can be to feel like a statistic. The CDC estimates that one in five women are unable to become pregnant within a year of trying and the Mayo Clinic estimates that 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. These are staggering numbers.

But you are not a number. You are not infertility. You are not endometriosis. You are not PCOS. You are not cancer. You are not defined by your diagnoses. You are a beloved daughter of God who is experiencing a cross that is close to His heart. You see, dear sisters, Jesus’ grandparents experienced infertility. Let that sink in. I’m going to say it again. Jesus’ grandparents experienced infertility. Although many of us have heard of the tradition that Saints Ann and Joachim conceived Mary in their old age, have we really thought about the fact that infertility was part of God’s plan of salvation? That God chose to become Man through a woman who was conceived after years of infertility? This thought hit me like a ton of bricks one morning as I was driving to work and praying the joyful mysteries of the Rosary.

Jesus was born at the time He was for a specific reason. He was born during the Roman Peace, a time of stability and prosperity in the Roman Empire, during which there was a network of roads that would allow the Gospel to travel easily and spread throughout Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa. Greek philosophy, which was popular at the time, helped people to more easily understand difficult Catholic beliefs. Had Mary been conceived earlier in the marriage of Saints Ann and Joachim, Jesus would not have been born at that perfect time in history – the exact time that allowed Him to be made known to the world.

Dear sisters, let this give you hope. Let it give you hope that God sees the big picture.  He has a plan for you and your potential biological, adoptive, and/or spiritual children – when you will meet or conceive them, all the way down to when your surgery is scheduled or when you ovulate. God’s ways are not our own and God’s timing is perfect –  it is true. 

Just like with the timing of Mary’s conception and Jesus’ birth in the world, I see the providential timing of my own and others’ lives around me. I see God’s Providence in the December cutoff for entering kindergarten where I lived, when everywhere else it was September. As an October baby, I would have been a grade lower in school and missed meeting friends who I hold dear to my heart. I see God’s Providence in my brother who is alive because my mom stood up to the doctor who threatened to force her to have a D&C because she thought it wasn’t possible my mom could be pregnant again right after miscarrying. I see God’s Providence in the patient who conceived the cycle I saw her and recommended she avoid pregnancy (to prevent further complications) until she had a certain procedure performed. 

In one of her recent singles called “The Architect” Kacey Musgraves reflects on the design of apples and canyons, and on the ups and downs and timing of her own life. She asks, “Is it thought out at all, or just paint on a wall?…Does it happen by chance? Is it all happenstance?…Can I speak to the architect? Is there an architect?” To answer her musings simply – yes, there is an Architect. He sees the whole canvas, and if we allow ourselves to be paintbrushes in His creative hands, one day we will see the beauty of the full painting.

Please know that I am praying for you and rooting for you on this crazy journey to Heaven.

Caroline Gindhart is a nurse practitioner at Divine Mercy Women’s Health in Camp Hill/Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She received her nursing degrees from Penn State University. In her professional work, she diagnoses the root causes of infertility and treats in a way that cooperates with the woman’s cycle using her training in the Creighton Model and NaPro Technology.