Facing life’s challenges with fortitude

This article was posted on: June 26, 2019

Paul and Jessica are guided by God’s plan

As they recited vows on their wedding day, Jessica and Paul Sosso of
St. Patrick Parish in Sparta did not know what life held in store for them. They weren’t worried about the future because Christ was part of their marriage and a shared Faith gave them fortitude to meet any obstacle.

“Both of us were raised in Faith-filled homes where Christ was the guiding compass through both calm and rough waters,” Paul says. “We have the example of our parents demonstrating sacrificial love for family and marriage, placing the needs of the other before the needs of self. We really wanted our marriage to be a testament of a covenant relationship and a sacramental marriage. It’s not what I bring, it’s what I give. We strive to do that.”

Ready and willing to become parents, Jessica and Paul first had to overcome infertility. The diagnosis was devastating, but they used their Catholic Faith to navigate to parenthood.

Prayers and devotions were as much a part of the process for them as medical assistance. “I was in denial for quite a while because you just assume that everything is going to be fine,” says Jessica, a family practitioner. “We prayed a lot about it. We went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse and prayed there. I trusted in God’s plan, but at the same time we wanted children.”

“Jess was really frustrated. I said to her ‘Not in our time, in God’s time.’” Paul says.

As much as they wanted children, Paul and Jessica were committed to working within their Catholic Faith. “We weren’t going to do something that was disordered toward the natural process,” says Paul. “We want to restore the natural process and not play God.”

Through a long and complicated road, they used NaPro Technology but still had difficulty achieving a pregnancy. “One of the most challenging things for us, especially when we started our infertility struggle, was to trust in God’s plan, whatever it was, and know that His plan is perfect,” says Jessica.

They needed a small miracle and prayed to St. Gerard for intervention. Looking back, Jessica and Paul firmly believe their miracle was provided by a family intercession when Paul’s father, whose middle name is Gerard, died at that time. Elijah, now 6, came into the world in 2013.

“We constantly turn to God in prayer for healing. There is grace in suffering. There is some good that will come out of it.”

Having a second child proved even more difficult. “Where my desires may be different, I need to trust that He has our best intentions. It was hard when we started. You’re looking at a long road. You do something, and then three months later you do something else. Through that struggle, I was better about giving up my desires and trusting in God’s plan.” Jessica says. “We did lots of rounds of medications to try to get pregnant, and it was the last cycle. We got an ultrasound during the cycle to see if I had ovulated, but it didn’t look like I had. We did a novena to ‘Our Lady the Undoer of Knots.’”

Thinking they’d failed, Paul and Jessica began the adoption process, only to discover they were pregnant. Jessica gave birth to daughter Gianna in 2016.

The Sossos decided to restart the adoption process 18 months later, only to find out they were again pregnant. “I was shocked!” says Jessica.

Jonah was born in 2018 and arrived without any medical intervention for his conception. The Sossos are now a happy family of five.

Still, life continues to present challenges. One of the surprises for Paul was a career change.

“I always believed someone has to stay home with the kids. I just didn’t think it was me,” he says.

At first, his career of producing radio and TV ads and being the voice behind the commercials worked as a stay-at-home dad. Now with three young children, Paul has put his career on hold.

The joy Paul has at providing the primary care for Elijah, Gianna and Jonah came easily. Unfortunately, Meniere’s disease, for which he was diagnosed 20 years ago, flared up in the fall of 2018 and continues to present Paul with some serious challenges.

“It just wipes you out,” says Paul of the vertigo and nausea symptoms of Meniere’s. “My concern is being able to focus on the kids. I can’t be fully present for them and that’s tough for me. I’ve got a lot of work to do and I can’t let this get me down.”

Because of the severity of this recent Meniere’s episode, Paul is now dealing with 3PD: Persistent Postural-Perceptual Dizziness. “My brain has to relearn how to process visually,” Paul says. “We certainly realize it is not a life-threatening illness, but it is something that can be debilitating.”

“It is a source of stress and anxiety. Paul is the primary care-giver for the children while I am at work. If he is having an episode or not having a good day, it worries me. One thing we have been very thankful for is that we have had a lot of support from church family,” Jessica says. “We constantly turn to God in prayer for healing. There is grace in suffering. There is some good that will come out of it.”

Jessica and Paul are happy to share a Faith that has given them fortitude with their children and parish. “Now we do our best to emulate the Faith to our children and root it deep within each, as our parents did for us,” Jessica says. “We know that Christ is present in our daily life—He has revealed Himself to us in the many blessings our family has received.”

“Now that our oldest has started school, we strongly believe in our obligation to help both school and parish for all families,” says Paul. “Having a school as part of our parish helps reinforce the values while building a vibrant community. Parish is where we find community.”

Faith is the source of Paul and Jessica’s strength in every moment of their life together. “You have to look at it through the lens for perspective,” says Paul. “We have problems and challenges, but we are blessed. The glass isn’t half empty, it’s 98 percent full. Faith helps you see that.”

Story by Mary Kay McPartlin
Photography by Mike Lieurance

Published in the July/August 2019 issue

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