Lauren is honored to work with women along their fertility journey
“The most important person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral—the dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body. The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring new saints to heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature; God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation … What on God’s good earth is more glorious than this: To be a mother?” —Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty
“From a very young age I was really certain that I was called to be a wife and mother,” shares Lauren Rubenzer of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Wisconsin Rapids. After meeting her husband Scott, that calling became a reality. Now a mom of five and grandmother of three, 28 years after entering her marriage vocation, Lauren has come full circle, playing a vital role in helping other married couples live out their own vocation by working with them to monitor their fertility and track cycles.
Growing up in western Pennsylvania, Lauren calls hers a “good childhood, not without some growing pains and challenges,” but thankful for it all as it formed who she is today. “My father was a dentist and aspiring theologian and my mother, a nurse. I was the middle child with a mischievous brother on either side and a generous gap in age between us.” Family dinners, time outdoors with her brothers and a special Sunday meal were a constant as was her family’s Faith life. “We went to Catholic schools, attended Mass regularly, did a lot of pro-life things and I was involved in youth ministry activities.”
“Surprising us all, at the age of 52, my parents adopted three young children!” Lauren was 24 and married at this point with two sons of her own, navigating the challenges of married life and parenthood. “Those were fun, exciting, interesting years as I witnessed my parents sacrificing once again as older adoptive parents.”
From Stuebenville to Plover
Lauren attended Franciscan University of Steubenville to become a teacher. Discerning her vocation in her early college years, she visited several orders as she began to wonder if dating and “meeting the one” was ever going to happen. But during her junior year, she met and began dating Scott, who would become her husband just over a year later. “As I’ve come to know (in my old age) God’s timing is perfect,” Lauren laughs. “Our Lord was setting the stage for a fast and furious start to my vocation and the most incredible journey.”
“The first several years of married life seemed like a whirlwind,” Lauren shares. She and Scott were living in Pennsylvania near Lauren’s family. They had their first three children (Matthew, John Paul and Elizabeth) in quick succession. Next, they moved their young family to northern Maine after Scott got a new job. “Aside from the black flies,” Lauren shares, “the Maine experience was wonderful and beautiful in many ways. For one, after a time of secondary infertility, we had our daughter, Emily.” They stayed in Maine for five years until another job opportunity in Scott’s home state brought the family to Plover in 2006. “I do miss my family a lot, but central Wisconsin has most definitely served us well, and it has been a wonderful area to raise our family. Here we had our third daughter, Grace.”
Having had five successive C-sections, other surgeries and health complexities, Lauren shares that, “Natural Family Planning (NFP) after Grace brought some serious discernment and stress.” It was then, at nearly 40, that Lauren and Scott sat through the Creighton Model Fertility Care introductory session. “I remember being in awe of the design of the fertility cycle and dumbfounded at what I didn’t know. This session was enlightening, and I gained a renewed awareness of God’s intricate design and that, with proper discernment, we can honor His design.”
Several years after learning the Creighton model, Lauren became aware of the need for a Creighton practitioner in her area. She was asked to consider being trained and took up the challenge. Many of Lauren’s clients come to her through referrals from doctors who are Creighton medical providers who offer NaProtechnology in their practices. These doctors include Kimberly Couri and Louise Smyth at Health for Life Medical Center in Weston and Jessica Sosso and Theresa Mallet in the La Crosse Mayo Health System. Creighton is a medical model of Natural Family Planning and cycle awareness that can be used as a diagnostic tool for physicians. Along with patients referred by physicians, Lauren meets with marriage prep couples and other women and teens.
The “Wonder of Eve”
“Fertility awareness and cycle charting outside of marriage has benefits as well,” Lauren explains. “It’s really good for women of all ages to have an understanding and confidence in their bodies. To be able to anticipate what’s to come is empowering and can bring peace.” There are challenges that may come up as well. Cycle charts can reveal underlying health problems for which medical intervention can be used to treat issues.
Through her NFP work, Lauren has recognized the need to get teens involved in understanding their bodies and cycles. “It’s really important for girls to understand their dignity and that there is an intention to the design of their bodies. What they do now to understand and take care of their bodies can ensure and protect their future fertility.” To that end, Lauren is excited for a new program in our diocese that she gets to share called “Wonder of Eve.” “I think it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity to reach girls in high schools and youth groups.”
Lauren notes that the Creighton model is just one method of charting. There are many—some are manual while others make use of apps or monitors. Couples and women can find one that best fits their needs. For more information, detailing a number of different methods, visit diolc.org/nfp.
Lauren has witnessed the joys and benefits of NFP in her own life and in working with her clients. “To name a few, [NFP] fosters communication, it requires a shared responsibility, it encourages respect for and acceptance of the total person, there’s less divorce, etc.” But she admits that she would be remiss not to mention the challenges, for she has witnessed these as well. “For some, NFP can be a cross. Admittedly, it can be hard. There can be infertility, miscarriage, longer periods of abstinence, sickness, irregular cycles, postpartum charting and other situations.” But even through the difficulties, “We have to remember that the cross is beautiful, as we conform ourselves to Christ. With the sacrifices and struggles while staying true to our Faith, the blessings will come.”
The Holy Spirit and family culture
Lauren has a unique opportunity to share in these women’s joys and sorrows of life and fertility. “I received a text this morning, a potential pregnancy. Who am I to be the first to hear these things? To be the one to say, ‘Praise Jesus!’ To offer, ‘Graces are flowing, draw close to Our Lady in the annunciation, allow your soul to proclaim His greatness.’ Or to sit with her in her bewildered moment and witness her instant resolve and abandonment. Where does it all come from? It has only to be the eloquence of the Holy Spirit!”
Some days Lauren’s heart aches for a client who longs for a child as she navigates another unsuccessful cycle, praying that her cross and the next cycle become new life. Other days, Lauren sits in awe of our Lord and His timing and of these women, these couples, living out their vocation. “The beauty. New precious life, the workings of Our Lord, the profound openness to life and I am witness. Who am I?”
Still embracing her vocation as a wife and mother—and now grandmother—Lauren wouldn’t have it any other way. She has curated a warm and welcoming home where the entire family comes together on Sundays and holidays to test new recipes, play games and enjoy the family culture they have built during their two decades of homeschooling. Lauren and Scott’s two youngest girls are still at home. Scott, Emily and Grace are involved in curling, as well as their parish choir, while Lauren is on the sidelines cheering them on and holding the grandkids when they’ve joined in the fun.
Never having expected to take up the work she now does, it all seems like a logical extension of the vocation Lauren always imagined for herself. “I can’t put into words the depth of honor and love it is for me to support women.”
Story by Amy Eichsteadt
Published in the July/August 2023 issue of Catholic Life Magazine