PhilomenaRoseBrittanyAndDannyGregus

NFP Uncensored is a series of candid accounts of the way NFP informs every aspect of life. You can follow the posts by searching for “NFP Uncensored” here in the Living the Love blog (use the search bar on the right-hand side of this page), or by searching #NFPUncensored on social media.

Note from the editor: Today, August 11th, is the feast of St. Philomena. 

I married Danny just three weeks after our college graduation. We were fresh college graduates who naturally didn’t know anything. We “practiced NFP” by learning what we could off the Internet and winging the rest. Between the two of us, we started with one full-time job and a one-bedroom apartment, so we were avoiding pregnancy for the time being.

It wasn’t until a year into our marriage that things started to change. I began to have issues with my cycles, which ended in a trip to the ER in the middle of the night from pain and vomiting. That was when we were directed to find help.

We found a doctor — a NaPro specialist — who helped us understand that NFP could help regulate my cycles and improve the healthiness and livelihood of both myself and our future babies.  This sounded like just the ticket, so Danny and I jumped in head first. We were directed to an NFP coach whom we met with monthly as we learned what it meant and looked like to chart and practice an actual method of NFP. It was such a gift to attend those meetings together as a couple.

I was inspired by Danny’s eagerness to learn all the ins and outs of charting. We grew in love and understanding of each other while we learned of the beauty God intended when He created us to be one.

As we mastered the art of charting, we continued to see our doctor who ultimately diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and low progesterone. She informed us that this could mean that achieving pregnancy and carrying a baby to full term could be challenging for us. We kept that in mind but didn’t let it discourage us because we knew we were taking the steps we needed to help the issue.

Over the next couple of months, as we did everything we could to create the best circumstances for our future babies, we dreamed of our sweet babes and, naturally, we began to name them.

Then one night, Danny’s parents were visiting and told us a story of some friends who were arguing over the name of their sixth child. Just before giving birth, the mother of the baby was praying to the Lord over Mass, confession and adoration, saying, “Whatever you want this baby to be named is what I will do.” Afterwards, they went to the St. Maximilian Kolbe museum, in which one of the exhibits featured the first visitor to the museum in the 1950s. Her first name was Philomena, and she shared this mother’s exact last name. With help from friends, she knew this was the Lord asking her to name their baby girl Philomena.

It was such a neat story but, even more remarkably, when I checked my phone just after Danny’s mom finished telling it, I had a text from my own mom saying, “I think you and Danny need to prayerfully consider naming your first baby girl Philomena.” Ever since that day, St. Philomena has had such a special place in our hearts: We feel she chose us.

It wasn’t long after that night that Danny and I were ready to accept whatever babies God intended for us, and we started trying.

We entered this phase of life a little naïve but ultimately excited as we continued to dream of our future babies and when they would arrive. I had all sorts of expectations, hopes and ideas.

Our second month of trying fell in August, the month of St. Philomena’s feast day. We happily prayed a novena to St. Philomena, asking for the gift of our first babe. Two weeks later, I had a positive pregnancy test. There are no words for the excitement in our hearts.

We shared the news with family and close friends, and we welcomed prayers from the very beginning because my progesterone was low. This was something that we were so grateful to know and begin to treat right away. Although our doctor immediately doubled up my progesterone, it still wasn’t increasing like it needed to so she added progesterone injections.

Unfortunately, we lost our sweet babe just 9 weeks into pregnancy. I had started bleeding and knew something was wrong. The doctor had an ultrasound done, and our sweet baby only measured about 6 weeks along and had no heartbeat.

To say we were heartbroken is an understatement.

There just aren’t words for the sadness we felt. It was the day that we lost our babe completely that we knew we needed to name her. It took all of 5 minutes for us to decide she was our Philomena Rose. It was so evident that St. Philomena had prayed on our behalf, and we could think of no better way to honor her than by naming our sweetest love after her.  She was and will forever be our Philomena Rose.

Having a name for her gave a name to our struggle, but the days following were still tough.  We could barely function. Danny and I continued to lean on each other, but it was like the blind leading the blind. We were both struggling, but we took it one day at a time and one step at a time, all the while holding on to the fact that our baby girl had already made it to heaven.

NFP can mean a lot of different things to many different people, but for us it has been our lifeline and our hope. Following our loss, we not only had to let go of all our dreams for our Philomena Rose here on earth, but we also had to let go of all our future baby expectations. NFP helped us to keep moving forward. It helped us take it one day at a time, as it gave us something to work towards and to do each and every day. It gave us a way to truly learn my cycle in all its ups and downs, which led us to clearer communication with our doctor.

With all the information that NFP has provided, our doctor has been able to care for our whole being, body and soul. It was our hope when all hope seemed lost, and it continues to be our lifeline as we learn to put all of our trust in the Lord.

— Brittany Gregus teaches 5th grade in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she lives with her husband Danny and their dog Hamilton.