|Dave and Tima Borges with their sons Donovan and Evan.|
November 12, 2010. Milton, ON. Contraception had been the hidden
culprit behind many of Tima and Dave Borges’ difficulties, and
it would take time—and a whole process of conversion—to recognize
it and root it out of their marriage.
They did not
start out as practicing Catholics. As Dave Borges puts it,
“Once we were married, we left Christ at the altar.”
were contracepting even before marriage—and it was because of the
birth control pills that Tima lost her first baby. After
discovering she was pregnant, she immediately stopped taking the pills,
but it was too late. The miscarriage came three days
It was then that they decided to set the
pills aside and open their lives to children. Before too
long, they were blessed with their first boy, although the
pregnancy was complicated. Donovan was born with what is called
a “face presentation,” which means that his face, not his
crown, emerged first. Face presentations are traumatic for babies, since
the muscles and bones in the face cannot stretch the
way the crown does. Donovan’s entire face was swollen and
he had to remain in the hospital for a week
While he was there, the doctors also found
a ductal anueurism in his heart. Newborn babies normally have
small holes in their hearts that eventually shrink up and
close but Donovan’s weren’t shrinking, so it was thought that
he might need heart surgery soon after birth. In the
end, he did not need the surgery, but he will
always need to see a cardiologist to make sure there
are no further complications.
Watching her little boy undergo so much
suffering was a painful experience that drove Tima to her
“During that week, I went to the chapel and
knelt before the cross to pray for our son,” she
“I felt a desire to be a better father,
to show him the faith, to be a good role
model,” said Dave. The baptism preparation classes offered at their
parish had moved him to return to Sunday Mass and
start living his Catholic faith more fully.
But soon after the
birth, they were contracepting again, not knowing what the Church
taught about it and simply intending to space out the
births a little.
About three and a half years later, their
second son, Evan, was born. This time, Tima decided, things
would be different. She would not watch her baby suffer
again. Not like Donovan.
“Lord,” she prayed, “if there are any
complications, let me take them on myself. Give the suffering
to me, not to my baby.”
That was exactly what happened.
As she went into labor, the anesthesiologist came to give
her the epidural, which is a shot into the spinal
region that numbs the lower body. Normally, an epidural should
take about fifteen minutes to administer. That night, it took
an hour. The anesthesiologist kept missing the correct spot and
had to pierce her over and over again to get
it right. When he finally did insert the needle, he
accidentally hit her spinal fluid, which resulted in intense shooting
pains and a migraine headache that lasted for about ten
days. Tima was incapacitated for a week and a half.
the baby was healthy and had not suffered anything unusual
during the birth. Her prayer had been heard.
Evan’s birth, Dave decided to get a vasectomy.
had various reasons: the complicated pregnancies, the question of finances,
the discovery that one of the side-effects of the birth
control pill is cancer… After ten years on the pill,
Tima was at risk, so he decided to go forward
with the operation.
But instead of finding more peace and security
in their marriage, they found themselves spiraling downward into mutual
“That was when things in our marriage started to surface,”
said Tima. “We became like two adults living in the
same space. We were going in circles around the same
issues, all around our intimacy. How often, whose initiative, putting
pressure on each other, counting how many days it had
been since the last time… It was a sore spot
and we started to build up some resentment.”
After going through
the same cycle over and over, they decided to turn
to the Church for help. On a weekend couples’ retreat,
the communications lines were opened up again, and they realized
that their intimacy issues really were important.
“It was the first
time we had heard anyone say that that aspect of
marriage was important, that it was a mirror of God’s
love for us,” said Tima.
After the awakening of that
retreat, they felt called to help other couples in the
marriage preparation program. During a course with other leader couples,
they heard for the first time that a vasectomy was
against Church teaching.
The ride home that evening was a quiet
one, and they both went to confession soon after. Afterwards,
things between them did improve, but they were left with
two big questions.
Why is it wrong? And… now what do
One Sunday, their son Donovan picked up a flyer
and was playing with it during Mass. A nearby couple
noticed the flyer in the boy’s hands and approached the
couple after Mass to say, “That’s a very good program
for parents and families. We really recommend it.” The name
of the program was Familia.
The Borges met another woman who
also spoke highly of Familia and invited them to an
upcoming informational session. Right away, Dave was hooked. Since he
worked with a lot of Protestants who asked questions about
Catholicism, he saw it as a good means to learn
his faith and be able to defend it. Tima, on
the other hand, was simply attracted by the joy, charity,
and kindness of the women she met.
“I saw how
happy these ladies were as moms and wives,” she said.
“I realized, ‘I’m missing something and I want whatever they
During their first year covering Familiaris Consortio, her Familia team
listened to Janet Smith’s contraception talk, "Contraception: Why Not?" Finally,
the pieces came together. The “why” question was finally answered
and she understood—in depth—why contraception is a marriage wrecker and
a “big deal.”
At the same time, this newfound understanding brought
an overwhelming weight of responsibility. She realized she had to
act on what she now knew, and that “sitting on
the fence” was no longer an option.
“I felt called to
do more for the Church and really live my faith,
but it was a struggle, especially looking back at the
choices we had made,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dave was having a
great time. He had found exactly what he was looking
for and was making new friends. He hadn’t mentioned any
loss of peace over the vasectomy; it seemed that he
was at peace after having brought it up in the
During a retreat, Tima felt a strong pull to restore
openness to life, but the decision was not up to
her, so she prayed for God to put it on
her husband’s heart. Without her knowledge, Dave was feeling a
pull. He had been bringing it up in spiritual direction
and had been told, “You can fix this.”
Reversal and restoration
message of “You can fix this” resounded even more clearly
in his heart when they went to a Youth and
Family Encounter in Atlanta and saw themselves surrounded by big
Catholic families. In one way or another, that same message
kept coming through, and he finally made the decision. It
was time to restore openness to life.
On the day of
his reversal, Fatima picked him up at the hospital. Dave
was definitely in pain, but he was also smiling ear
“He was just so happy to be able
to offer that up, to restore things and put them
back where they should have been from the beginning. It’s
a picture I’ll never forget,” said Tima.
Two years later, they
are completely open to life. Although they have not yet
conceived, there have been special moments when they have sensed
God’s action and his blessing. On the one-year anniversary of
the surgery, which happened to fall on Good Friday, they
went out for a walk with another couple. The wife
was expecting. To their surprise, the other couple asked the
Borges if they would be godparents for their baby.
Tima and Dave, it was a sign from God, a
word of reassurance that he is with them, accompanying them,
and that the financial and personal sacrifices they made to
restore openness to life are not without a fruitfulness of
“They had no idea how significant it was
that they asked us on that day,” said Tima.
then, other things have changed in their lives as well.
Tima used to work full-time as an assessment officer for
Legal Aid, but over time she had felt a clear
calling to return home and be a full-time mother instead.
Again, the thought of the financial sacrifice was an obstacle,
so she hesitated. There were also some altruistic reasons to
stay at work; for example, she was able to help
one suicidal client recover hope, and she was sure her
prayers for him were an important contribution. So she wondered
if perhaps God wanted her there so that she could
pray for the people who came through her office.
answer came through loud and clear. “I’ll use you wherever
you are, but the work I need you to do
is at home.” It was the first time she had
ever heard God’s voice speaking so clearly in her heart.
decision took time, but the more she and David delayed,
the more circumstances made it impossible to avoid.
there was the intense physical pain that had surged up
in her neck and arms, caused by a herniated disc
and a pinched nerve. Whether she wanted to or not,
she had to take time off from work and stay
home; she could no longer sit at her computer. After
two months home on short-term disability, she started to feel
some relief. And that was when she decided to make
the break and quit her job, opening a day care
in her home as alternative revenue stream.
“Opening up my home
to children really appealed to me,” she said. “It was
another way to restore that openness to life.”
Looking back, the
Borges find themselves on a road marked with definite moments
of conversion. There were initial mistakes born from ignorance, patches
of suffering and struggle, moments of light and clarity about
what is true and good, and a sincere effort to
respond to what the conscience saw in prayer. And though
it has not always been an easy journey, it has
been a blessing: openness to life has enriched and opened
their lives as well.
This article is part of a series about God’s action in the lives of Regnum Christi
members who turned to him in prayer. If you have
a story to share, please contact us at this link.