After a fairly pleasant Christmas with only one or two minor meltdowns, A and I decided to drive from his parents' house back to our own late yesterday evening. The original plan had been to drive back this morning (the 26th), but I was finding it difficult to keep my happy face on, and since my in-laws will be at our house this evening A made the executive decision that we needed a break. Our trek back home includes a pass over the Appalachian Mountains, so the in-laws weren't convinced that our returning home early was a good idea considering the snow that had fallen. But off we went.
The first little bit of the trip was fine, but then the snow picked up and night set in. The mountains were dicey...neither of us were sure we were going to make it back, fearing a night in a dingy roadside motel. We continued on the road though, slowly, and eventually made it back. Sleeping in my own bed last night seemed well worth the somewhat dicey journey.
This morning we woke up and the news announced that many local churches were cancelled due to weather. Our road seemed fine, though, so we decided to head to mass. I converted to Catholicism in 2007 (I was formerly Baptist, Presbyterian, and non-denominational), and until our foray into infertility I found such solace in the Church. Sure, I disagreed with many of the conservative views, but we attend a more liberal parish and I had made peace with negotiating my own path through Catholicism. Once recurrent loss entered our life, I began feeling more and more uncomfortable in a church where I feel unable to share my whole story.
So, in an unlikely turn of events that included coming home early through a snow storm and braving potentially icy roads in our Southern town, A and I attended mass at our home church. And on this Feast of the Holy Family, I heard assisted reproductive technology mentioned from the pulpit for the first time, and surprisingly, it was in a beautiful way. Our priest's homily was about the beauty of family, and how we should choose to be familial to those outside our family as well. Towards the end of the sermon, he began discussing how there are different meanings of family and he parted with this: "Two of my nephews are gifts. My sister conceived them using an anonymous donor's genetic material, as she likes to call it. They are now 9 and 11 and have started meeting annually with other children conceived from this same donor. It's a beautiful, new way in which they have found familial connections."
Involuntary tears began to flow from both myself and A. This priest, who we are honestly not terribly fond of, gave us our sweetest gift this Christmas. He gave us hope that many in our Church, even many in authority, recognize the miraculous gift reproductive technology affords families. While I am not sure where my journey with the Catholic Church will end, I know that it was no mistake I was sitting at that specific mass this morning, and I am thankful that our priest chose to share his story on this beautiful feast day.