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Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you,” the email said. “I’ve been delivering babies.” The email could have said, “I’ve been delivering miracles.”

Because Dr. Robert Raspa has helped nearly 100 infertile women give birth. Which begs the question, how does a Catholic physician, who honors the Catholic Church’s position against artificial procreation, have such a high success rate among childless couples? “I had a conversion,” says Dr. Raspa. “Before I joined the family practice at St. Vincent’s Hospital, I did what all doctors are taught to do for infertility. Start your patient on birth control pills to regulate her cycles, and go from there.” But physicians at St. Vincent’s sign a pledge stating they will not prescribe birth control pills. That left Dr. Raspa with a problem in need of a solution. Or, perhaps, a miracle.

Is Omaha the new Nazareth?
Infertility has plagued humans since the beginning of time. Yet, when Hannah, Sarah and Elizabeth prayed for a child, God answered. Conception was God’s miracle until man decided to create his own, in test tubes. The Vatican immediately condemned the artificial method as against the teachings of the church. There was little research in the underlying cause of infertility, and childless couples were left with no scientific alternatives. Until Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, famously challenged mainstream medicine to advance reproductive health care that respects life.

Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers responded. He dedicated 30 years of research to the Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System, the charting of natural biological markers that identify a woman’s fertility cycle; and Natural Procreative Technology (NaPro) the women’s health science that detects certain conditions and diseases that prevent conception - the procedures created a true lifetime monitor of female reproductive health.

Dr. Hilgers also founded the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Neb. There, Dr. Raspa found his solution and his miracle. Infertile women could conceive naturally, normally and within the teachings of the church. “When I returned from Omaha, I was blessed to meet Jacksonville people who could teach couples to read the body’s natural fertility indicators. Suddenly I had
more patients than I could handle.” That was 2003. Since then, all but five of his patients have conceived.

Patience, Patients
Philip and Rebecca Militante arrived in Dr. Raspa’s office with five years of medical and emotional baggage. The couple had conceived once, but Rebecca miscarried in her first trimester. That began a history of obstetricians, endocrinologists, holistic medicine and acupuncture - all to no avail. A laparoscopy procedure revealed polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) that causes infertility, but is reversible over time.

“All-in-all, it was eight years before we heard that heart beat,” Rebecca says. “I was only in my 12th week, but Philip wished he could take the baby right then. “Healing is a long process. You’re suffering and angry with God. The emotional pain, the fear of another loss,
doesn’t easily go away. But, two years ago, we named our first son Samuel - in honor of Hannah and her struggle with infertility. God heard her prayer just as he heard mine. And we are praying again, for a second child.”

Hannah’s Heart
The women gather to talk, and often cry through the same sorrow. “I’d probably been to ten different OB/GYNs because of cycle pain and infertility,” says Laura Flaherty, DVM, leader and founder of Hannah’s Heart in Jacksonville. “They gave me pain pills for cramps, birth control meds to regulate my cycle, and a recommendation for in vitro fertilization. In 2009, Laura sought out Dr. Hilgers in Omaha. “His diagnoses: endometrioses, thyroid problems, and a hormonal imbalance.”

The knowledge was a mixed blessing. “I started Hannah’s Heart for women like me, who are unable to conceive or they’ve miscarried. We share experiences and information that works. More than half our members now have children.” Laura adds, quietly, “I am honored that
God uses me to let other women know they are not alone - that God is allowing you to grow in ways you would not have.” Today, Laura continues to grow and to wait for her miracle.

“Kris and I tried to conceive for a year and a half,” says Stephanie Hundredmark. “I thought I was being punished for using birth control. But our priest and Dr. Raspa both assured me God is not vengeful. The problem was biological and that gave me peace. “I am a pediatric nurse, so I had a pretty good idea what tests would be needed.” They disclosed PCOS. “I decided to do NaPro for a few months, and then we planned to go to fertility drugs.”

Stephanie charted her cycles. Christmas Eve, she went to Mass knowing she had a 24-hour window. “That’s when I left it up to God. I said, OK, I get it, God. I only need to focus on your baby, your son.” That night, Stephanie conceived. August 20, 2010, one month early,
weighting only 3 lbs.-11 oz., Vincent Robert Hundredmark was delivered by emergency C-Section, in perfect health. “In retrospect, I believe God was training us to be more selfless and raise our child in the way of the Lord. He trimmed us down to the root so we could re-grow in his way. I still get goose bumps.”

Passing Miraculous
“All babies are miracles,” says Dr. Raspa. “Some are just more miraculous than others. He’s recalling a patient whose body never developed sufficiently to conceive. The couple sought the help of many physicians. One mentioned Kallmann Syndrome a rare, complex condition, and the odds of conception are N-I-L. The couple went to Dr. Raspa, who consulted with Dr. Hilgers and, together,decided to try a CADD Micro pump, a device about the size of a deck of cards that infuses natural hormones into the blood stream in precise amounts and intervals. The protocol is FDA approved but because so many couples go straight to in vitro, the treatment is virtually unused in the United States. Dr. Raspa had to order the pump from Canada and the particular hormone medication from Ireland. The pump was attached wherever it felt comfortable, her arm, her hip, her back. The doctor was cautiously optimistic. The couple bought a pregnancy test. The morning the plus sign turned blue, the husband had to cover his wife’s mouth to muffle her unstoppable screams of surprise and joy.
The Lesson
“The main thing is to know there are options,” urges Dr. Raspa. “Things can be done that are natural, normal and legitimate. Don’t lose hope because even though we have the greatest medical science and most advanced medical technology in the world, God is so much further ahead. Just have faith.
Birth of a Miracle
By Kay Johnson


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