Peace After an Ectopic Pregnancy - A Letter from Mary Thissen
(Click on the letters to enlarge)
“There’s nothing wrong with you. You are God’s beloved daughter.”
The words hit me like a brick in my chest. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
You see, I was in the Sacrament of Reconciliation when these words were spoken to me. By a priest who only knew a minimal amount of my life story. He could not have possibly known that, my entire life, I have struggled with feeling less than other people, other women. I have felt like God didn’t quite get me “right”. He couldn’t have known as he was a brand new priest, therefore brand new to our parish. He had come to see me in the Emergency Room briefly, but we only talked for about ten minutes and then said a prayer over me, and then left. I certainly didn’t confess anything that would make him think that I had a lifelong battle with seeing myself this way.
That day was yet another time when I doubted that God had made me good, that He had made me in His Image. I didn’t believe it. There HAD to be something wrong with me. I had just lost my third child in an ectopic pregnancy, with two being lost to miscarriage previously. I believed this was God’s way of trying to prevent the damage I would do to a child, because a woman that broken shouldn’t be a mother. The subtle messages I had received (Page 2) in childhood and young adulthood said I could never hope to be at peace as I was. Maybe if I just did this or that, God would finally love me for the person he supposedly created me to be.
"That day was yet another time when I doubted that God had made me good, that He had made me in His Image. I didn’t believe it. There HAD to be something wrong with me. I had just lost my third child in an ectopic pregnancy, with two being lost to miscarriage previously."
And yet I found myself in the Sacrament, hoping for comfort, the cleansing of my soul, the longing to know that I was a precious child of God. I begged the Lord for a sign that He knew EXACTLY what He was doing when he created me.
Sister, Our Lord spoke directly to my heart that day. He brought me into his arms and comforted me as only a Daddy can. He used his Holy Spirit to speak through one of his priests acting in the person of Christ.
Do you feel “less than”? Do you feel as though God made a mistake when He made you? Have you been told that you just aren’t as good as others? Do you believe that God just doesn’t care about you the way he cares about others?
It is a lie straight from the pit of Hell.
You- yes, you!-were made exactly as intended.
Bring your sorrows, insecurities, and cares to the One who made you good and beautiful, who bled and died on a Cross for you- and would do it again if you were the only one on earth.
"Bring your sorrows, insecurities, and cares to the One who made you good and beautiful, who bled and died on a Cross for you- and would do it again if you were the only one on earth."
Sister, I am not saying this is easy! I suspect I will continue to struggle with this truth until my (Page 3) earthly life ends.
May we always have the courage to embrace this truth- the Truth, the Way and the Life. And may we always remember our identities as beloved daughters of God.
Get to know Mary
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Mary and I am 31 years old. I’m married to Jaime and we have been married for six years. I work as a Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement Analyst for the home health division of a central Illinois health system. I am an ISFJ on the Myers-Briggs scale and I have recently begun to write, after being told that I should be a writer for over twenty years! I blog at ineverwalkalone.com. My husband and I have three little saints in Heaven with Jesus; we named them Joseph, Therese and Gianna.
How does your Catholic faith affect the way you live your day-to-day life?
In living out the Catholic faith, I truly aim to emulate Christ and the saints. I often ask myself “What would Jesus do?” and try to follow this as close as possible. I also put myself in the position of my friends who are not Catholic and consider how my words and actions may be perceived by someone who doesn’t know much about the Church- or maybe they don’t like the Church. I want to speak and act so that I pique their interest to learn more or change their mind about Catholicism.
From one Catholic woman to another, how have you discovered your sense of belonging in the Church?
My sense of belonging in the Church was solidified in 2015 when I had a resurgence of faith. I had become frustrated with persons in the Church that I perceived not to think and act like myself- and I didn’t want to be like them. When my faith was renewed, I realized it was okay for them to be who they were - AND it was okay for me to be who I was. In this moment, I felt the most secure I ever had in my own skin. The Church is universal but very diverse. I love how our Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, yet weaves together beautiful diversity. I’ve learned a lot about humility since then!
"The Church is universal but very diverse. I love how our Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, yet weaves together beautiful diversity."
What’s the most empowering piece of advice you’ve been given as a Catholic woman?
“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!”- St. Catherine of Siena
Tell us about a woman who inspires you. What lessons have you learned from her? How has she influenced your life?
Having miscarried two children and an ectopic pregnancy with my third, St. Gianna Molla is a woman I deeply admire. Her quote “Whatever God wants” has stuck with me in my journey of loss. I desperately want to hold a child on this side of Heaven, but I don’t know if I ever will. Reminding myself to be open to and accept what God wants for my life has carried me through the times of sorrow. St. Gianna’s words invite me to have faith that what God wants for my life is infinitely better than my own plans for myself.
What’s your favorite way to pray?
My favorite way to pray is through the Mass. It is mind-boggling to me that this beautiful liturgy brings Heaven to earth and unites the whole world as one to Heaven. As if that weren’t enough, the whole world is bound together as one with the Mass being offered on literally every continent, in every time zone, across a multitude of cultures. The Mass shows us that the Church is for everyone!
What’s a dream you’d love to achieve in the next 10 years?
A dream I’d love to achieve is to expand my blogging platform and write regarding the Catholic spiritual life, with a focus on pregnancy and infant loss. I’d also love to collaborate with other Catholic writers and speak to groups and retreats about living the Catholic life through loss. I would also like to start a ministry which equips our priests with tools on pastoring the couple who lost their baby to miscarriage or early infant death. Sometimes- through no fault of their own- our husbands have a difficult time connecting with the emotions we as women experience when losing a child. If it is like that for our husbands, I can only imagine how much more difficult it is for our priests who have never experienced - and will never experience - the loss of a child. Several priests have mentioned to me that they would find such a ministry useful. And of course, I want to raise children this side of Heaven. But God knows what is best and will lead me down the right path.
What’s the best smell in the world to you?
The best smell in the world to me is fresh brewed coffee, new books, and the top of a newborn baby’s head (not necessarily in that order!)
Fill in the blank
A typical day in my life looks like…
A typical day in my life is working 8-5, then going to the evening Mass offered at my parish on most weekdays. I will then come home and workout and/or read and write. I love learning things about random subjects, but I usually end up studying something about health and the human body. I love working in healthcare and feel that my alternate calling may have been to be a nurse or doctor! I will also read about different aspects of Catholic theology.
My favorite quote is...
"If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!”- St. Catherine of Siena and “The world is thy ship and not thy home.”- St. Therese of Lisieux
I feel most inspired when…
At random times of the day! It’s honestly funny how the Holy Spirit works. I’ll be in the middle of a task at work or be at Mass or even be trying to fall asleep and a thought will pop into my head, seemingly unrelated to anything I’m concentrating on or thinking about.
The Catholic Church is…
Is the lighthouse guiding to a safe harbor away from the raging storms of life. It orients one’s life to navigate the journey home to Heaven.