It means to remember.
Today I conclude a Novena. I dutifully prayed the Memorare for nine days. I know what my intention was when I started. It’s still my intention when I awaken in the morning and when I lie down to sleep at night. But somewhere around 2 a.m., awakened by my infant’s cries, groping in the dark, I start to wonder.
The loneliness, the utter stillness, the foggy, fearful, heart wrenching jolt from my sleep causes me to question. Perhaps it is all wrong. What if I’m asking for the wrong thing. It’s happened before, and I lived to thank God for denying the very things for which I begged him.
I first truly learned and embraced the Memorare four years ago when I was expecting our first child. Well, that’s not entirely true. This statement always comes with an amendment, one that used to cause a sharp pain but now is more a dull acceptance. I miscarried our first child. Twenty-three days later, I found out we were expecting our daughter. It was stunning and miraculous and terrifying and joyful all at once. Almost too much for me to take in. I spent the first months of my pregnancy just trying to comprehend it all.
At the time I was teaching and the job necessitated an hour-long commute across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, a 24 mile long bridge, and then a fight with rush hour traffic into the city. I left the house in darkness, scraped ice off the windshield of the car, and was exhausted before I even arrived to work. The day stretched before me as one endless trek I had to push my way through. My classroom was on the second floor, and I climbed those stairs too many times to count. Everything was downstairs except our classroom—the office, cafeteria, gym, music room, library, bathrooms, all essentials. Once I actually tried to keep track and when I had reached 10 times up and down the stairs before 8:00 am, I decided to keeping track.
The Memorare was almost foreign-sounding to me, exotic, almost medieval. Though a cradle Catholic, I had not been exposed to it before. But in the midst of this constant, laborious, exhausting climb towards the end of my pregnancy and the end of those long hours teaching and commuting, I turned to the Catholic radio station. Every day as my car’s wheels met solid ground and I emerged off the bridge, the station would broadcast the Memorare. And just about at the same time, the sun’s rays swept across the lake, glinting bright against the waves, and broke across the high rise I steered onto. The whole vista of the city lay before me, the breaking dawn enveloping us, and the ancient words to Mary spoke to my soul.
So every day when I heard the Memorare I would place my hand on my growing abdomen and beg—please, heart, keep beating. Please, my sweet baby, live. Stay alive. Grow and thrive and be born and be placed in my arms and live long, long after I am gone.
She was born. And she lived. And I did, too. But it wasn’t easy.
Severe preeclampsia, a placental abruption, and an emergency C-section. We survived. For a moment, it wasn’t guaranteed.
I am six months out from having my son. Our second baby. Polyhydramnios, preeclampsia, and my darling boy born not breathing and unresponsive. He is fine now. I am fine now. Well, almost. My blood pressure has not returned to normal.
I know this should mean no more babies. I know that two difficult, complicated, dangerous pregnancies should mean that I have no interest whatsoever in going through it again. Intellectually I understand. Too risky. I have two beautiful children. Count my blessings.
But oh how I long for a third. At least one more. Honestly, I long for more babies with all my heart. But I would take just one more. Every day I struggle to make peace, to accept that this must be God’s way of telling me that our family is complete. And every day my heart hurts.
My intention was for my blood pressure to normalize and for us to be able to have one more baby. For me to be healthy and the baby to be healthy. For us both to live.
Was this right of me? Is it a good intention when I already have two healthy, beautiful children lying in their beds just down the hall from me and other women, suffering from infertility, are desperate to have just one? Should my intention have instead been for God to help me make peace, for me to accept what must be His will?
I don’t know. But I’ll keep praying. To remember. To remember what I went through, what my children went through, what my husband suffered with worry. But also to remember God’s mercy and love.