How Teresa Benedicta Came to Be

Teresa, age 9, 1st Holy Communion Day
Teresa, age 9, 1st Holy Communion Day

Several months after discarding my contraceptive mentality, I visited a doctor in October 1998 to find out the cause of my infertility, but he could not pinpoint the cause. In January 2000, I had a graphic nightmare in which I miscarried a baby. The dream spurred me to seek advice from Father Robert Schreiner, who was visiting our parish from Minnesota. I told him I might be conceiving and miscarrying, although I was not sure. He said I was morally obligated to try to correct my infertility, if it could be corrected by medication or a procedure that was not too expensive.

In January 2000, I went to another doctor, Dr. O, who looked at my fertility charts and said I probably was ovulating. She diagnosed me with a pre-diabetic condition called PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), which is related to high insulin levels. High insulin levels often cause infertility in women. She recommended additional tests and told me to adopt a high-protein, low-sugar diet. I eliminated sugar sodas and tried to eat more meat, but the rest of my diet remained essentially unchanged.

One night in May, I was praying in church in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I thought about the Bible story of Hannah, who promised to consecrate her child to God if He granted her request for a son. God gave Hannah a son, Samuel, whom she later sent to the temple to be raised as a priest. Like Hannah, I asked for a child and promised to consecrate my child to God (as a priest or nun or whatever He wished) if He granted my request.

About two weeks later, Dr. O took a sample of my uterine lining to run some tests, never suspecting that I might be pregnant. She also started me on metformin, a diabetic medication also used to treat PCOS. Two days later, I discovered God had granted my request for a child. I had conceived the same week I made the consecration prayer. In His mercy, God let the child survive the disturbance to my uterus.

As soon as Dr. O discovered I was pregnant, she urged me to discontinue the diabetic medication, which was standard medical advice. But I had a feeling metformin was regulating my insulin levels and allowing me to maintain the pregnancy, so I did not discontinue the medication. While surfing the Internet, I discovered a web site maintained by a Cincinnati endocrinologist, Dr. Charles Glueck, who was sponsoring a study of women taking metformin during pregnancy. He told me that metformin did not cause birth defects and reduced the first trimester miscarriage rate from 50% to 8% among his patients with PCOS. Upon his advice, I increased my metformin dosage and entered the study.

God’s very special gift to our family, Teresa Benedicta, was born eighteen days early in 2001. Her name means “Blessed Teresa.” She is named after two Catholic saints: Teresa of Avila, Spain, a 16th-century Spanish nun whose birthplace I visited on pilgrimage in March 2000, and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a Jewish philosopher who converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun. Teresa Benedicta, whose birth name was Edith Stein, was killed by the Nazis during World War II in a concentration camp because of her Jewish heritage. I hope being named after these two holy women will inspire Teresa to stand firm in defense of the Catholic faith throughout her life.

~ Written  Dec. 2001, Revised Aug. 2012

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