I guess you could call me a late bloomer because it seems as though things just take me a little longer to achieve. It has been that way my whole life. I had a great career and a wonderful life but was missing someone to share it with. I met that person when I was 28 and by 30 we were married. After a year of marriage, we wanted to start our family. We tried unsuccessfully for a year before getting the doctors involved.
Thirty-six months began with hopes and dreams of a baby and ended in utter disappointment. With all the disappointment and shattered dreams, I found myself depressed and my relationship with my husband was damaged. I was so focused and determined to do ANYTHING it took to get pregnant but my husband was growing tired. He kept telling me if it was meant to happen then it would happen. That wasn’t good enough for me. I blamed him because I thought he didn’t want a baby as bad as I did. What my husband was suggesting was giving up to me. I never give up! In addition to the growing tension in my marriage, there was pressure all around us. Our fertility struggle was no secret and those who knew us well were aware of our struggle. But there were still those that would ask questions and it seemed as though I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a pregnant woman. All this was happening and time was not sitting still. I was now 33 and each year was bringing me further and further away from my dream of becoming a mother. I became angry, moody and cried often. My husband tiptoed around my feelings in attempts to keep me from lashing out at him. Some weekends I didn’t get off of the couch.
On Thanksgiving Day my aunt told me about a special nun in Baton Rouge. I remember my sister saying that I’d have to believe and have faith for it to work. I thought to myself – I HAVE FAITH. Well, the faith I thought I had on that Thanksgiving Day is nothing compared to the faith I have today and the person responsible is Sister Dulce.
The first time I met Sister Dulce I could literally feel Papa’s love radiating from her. She was so kind and understanding. I felt as though I could talk to her about anything. Over the course of my visits, I revealed everything to her. It’s ironic because I was visiting Sister Dulce for my physical issue of infertility but, as she was treating me for infertility, she was also healing me spiritually. After our talks, Sister Dulce would place her hands on my stomach and pray to Papa. About one to two months after I began seeing Sister Dulce she told me I would have one child and it was going to be an Easter baby. This news made me extremely happy and gave me hope for the future. I continued my appointments with Sister Dulce and eventually stopped going to the fertility specialists.
With Sister’s help, I finally got to the point where I was just tired of being depressed. I remember walking into her office and telling her that I was done focusing on the things that were missing from my life. I told Sister that I knew I was blessed and I was going to appreciate and celebrate those blessings. After that breakthrough, my husband and I started living again. We traveled, enjoyed each other’s company, and eventually purchased a new home. Life was good again!
Then, around June 2009, I was contacted by a friend collecting prayer petitions to bring to Medjugorje. I thought – what could it hurt? In fact, Sister Dulce told me to pray to Mary for motherhood. She even gave me a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary during one of my visits. So, I sent a prayer to be presented to Mary in Medjugorje. My prayer request was for Papa to bless me with a child if it was His will. Or, to remove the desire from my heart if it was not His will for me to be a mother. I was pregnant by July 2009 at 36 years old! Abigail Marie Hoek was born on March 22, 2010 – 14 days before Easter. Three years earlier Sister Dulce told me I would have an Easter baby. My Easter baby finally arrived! My husband and I are so blessed by this child. She is the love of our lives!
I look back over the five years I struggled to conceive a child and I feel blessed for having had the experience – the whole experience good and bad. I wouldn’t trade it for the world because it brought me closer to Papa and I found Sister Dulce along the way. One Sunday my Priest talked about how shepherds in Biblical times would break the legs of their disobedient sheep. With broken legs, the sheep had to rely on and obey their shepherd. As they were healing the sheep learned to rely on their shepherd for everything. After they were healed the sheep continued to turn to their shepherd for all their needs. I feel as though my experience was Papa’s way of breaking my legs so that I had no other place to turn but to Him. You see I had tried to do it my way for years. But my prayers weren’t answered until I had learned to rely on Him and trust that His will was enough for me – baby or no baby. Thank you, Papa, for the gift of my beautiful baby girl and for the gift of your beautiful, faithful servant Sister Dulce Maria!