The Gift of Infertility, Part 2

As we saw in part one of this series, couples who have learned to chart effectively have a 76 percent chance of conceiving during their first cycle of use and a 98 percent pregnancy rate by their sixth cycle. Still, even if natural family planning (NFP) does not work for everyone (us included), artificial reproductive technologies (ART), such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF), are contrary to the Church's teaching on human sexuality. Not only do IUI and IVF frustrate the unitive aspect of lovemaking, they violate the baby's right to be conceived through a person-to-person, body-to-body communion of husband and wife.

Person to (Doctor to) Person 

Just as the person is an integration of the physical and the spiritual, every act of lovemaking should be ordered to the physical and spiritual good of each spouse. The physical goods of intercourse — pleasure and reproduction — need little explanation. The spiritual goods — primarily joy and gratitude — are derived from knowing that your spouse accepts and embraces all that you are. In this acceptance, the person is treated as an end in himself rather than a means to an end.

Couples struggling with infertility often experience an intense bond that comes from enduring the crisis of infertility together. Such intimacy, however, is distinct from the personal communion that only occurs in the conjugal act. Perhaps more than others, infertile couples can appreciate the spiritual benefits of lovemaking. When you are infertile, every act of intercourse is pregnant with the hope that God will work a miracle.

By contrast, techniques such as IUI and IVF entail an intentional decision to bypass the unitive aspect of the marital act. The use of these procedures transforms what is supposed to be a spiritual union between two persons into a merely biological process. Unlike intercourse between animals, though, the marital act requires that husband and wife surrender their entire selves to each other and to God.

 This total gift of self, from which the spiritual goods of the conjugal act are derived, is inseparable from the act itself. For this reason, techniques such as IUI and IVF cannot bring about the spiritual goods unique to marital intercourse. Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life) explains: "The origin of the human being thus follows from a procreation that is 'linked to the union, not only biological but also spiritual, of the parents, made one by the bond of marriage.' Fertilization achieved outside of the bodies of the couple remains by this very fact deprived of the meanings and the values which are expressed in the language of the body and in the union of human persons" (II, 4).

The "meanings and values" inherent to the conjugal act are uniquely personal. That is to say, man and wife can only give themselves person to person, not person to catheter to person, or person to petri dish to person. By definition, this union is exclusive. Hence, nothing should come between the person-to-person, body-to-body communion of husband and wife. IUI and IVF are not conjugal acts because they are not extrinsically exclusive. The very possibility that these procedures can produce a baby between two people who have never even met one another indicates that IUI and IVF are not exclusive, and hence, not personal. To claim that they are is to redefine the conjugal act, much as homosexuals want to redefine marriage as a union between any two people who subjectively love one another. The wisdom of the Church's instruction is derived from the recognition that the marital act is designed by God to adhere to certain objective standards.

What About the Baby?

Most people believe that intercourse should be something more than a physical process aimed at making a baby — that the baby himself has a right to be created through the loving union of two persons. This intuition, at least, helps to explain why couples who use IUI and other reproductive technologies continue making love even after the procedure in the hope that their child might be the result of a natural conception — a conception achieved without the intervention of a third party. It also permits the couple to believe that their baby is the product of their conjugal love for one another in spite of their use of a procedure aimed at conceiving a child outside of a specific conjugal act. In effect, these couples presume IUI and IVF are personal acts because they occur within the context of ongoing marital relations. But not every sexual act that may occur within marriage — sodomy, for example — is a personal act.

As suggested above, a personal act harmonizes the spiritual and physical welfare of each spouse. This integration is what distinguishes mere reproduction from procreation — creation that seeks to imitate God in his own generosity and fecundity (cf. CCC 2335). In doing so, the couple extends God an invitation to enter into and bless their sexual union in whatever way He desires. This idea, that a child has the right to be created by God through a specific personal act, is especially stressed in Donum Vitae: "Conception in vitro is the result of the technical action which presides over fertilization. … In homologous IVF and ET [embryo transfer], therefore, even if it is considered in the context of 'de facto' existing sexual relations, the generation of the human person is objectively deprived of its proper perfection: namely, that of being the result and fruit of a conjugal act in which the spouses can become 'cooperators with God for giving life to a new person.' These reasons enable us to understand why the act of conjugal love is … the only setting worthy of human procreation" (II, 5).

To conceive a child through a technological process that replaces the conjugal act is to subject him to the "standards of control and dominion" inherent to the scientific method (II, 4). As such, the baby becomes an object of micromanipulation, rather than the fruit of a personal union sanctified by God.

Christians who approve of IUI and IVF maintain that these "artificial means merely assist the natural process." The Church, however, teaches that these procedures replace the conjugal act. Clarifies Donum Vitae: "A medical intervention respects the dignity of persons when it seeks to assist the conjugal act either in order to facilitate its performance or in order to enable it to achieve its objective once it has been normally performed" (II, 7). In the case of IUI, IVF, and other techniques, "The medical act is not, as it should be, at the service of conjugal union but rather appropriates to itself the procreative function and thus contradicts the dignity and the inalienable rights of the spouses and of the child to be born" (II, 7).

Divine Grace and Human Nature

What is primarily at issue here are the differing views of human nature held by Catholics and Protestants. Catholic doctrine maintains that grace builds on nature. God — and man's — action in the world must thus respect the natural order, which itself is part of the eternal order. Protestant theology believes nature is something low, something to be overcome by grace. For the Catholic, IUI and IVF are immoral because they replace the natural means by which a child should be conceived and, in so doing, subvert the natural ends of marital sexuality. For the Protestant, these natural means (and ends) are much less important than the good intentions and faithful heart that accompany the use of these techniques. As the authors of Empty Arms put it, "One can use 'unnatural' treatments and still demonstrate trust in God." What is important for the Protestant is the belief that God is working through these procedures, apart from whether or not the procedures are performed according to nature.

United in prayer and hope in God's generosity, couples who use IUI and IVF naturally feel as if their struggle with infertility has brought them closer to each other and to God. Yet these couples, albeit inadvertently, are impeding their union as man and wife by enabling a third party to intervene. The Catechism counsels: "These techniques … betray the spouses' 'right to become a father and mother only through each other'" (CCC 2376). Some couples intuit this fact by acknowledging that masturbation is embarrassing or that choosing IVF was an extremely difficult decision. Nevertheless, these same people will maintain that they don't feel alienated from each other or God. The case is similar to those who justify their use of contraception by saying: "If God wants us to have a baby, we'll still have one." Yet, as the author of life, God "fearfully and wonderfully" begets each one of us "in secret" (Ps. 139:13-16). According to Scripture, this is His right alone (cf. Eccl. 11:5). Sure, God is acting when a man and a woman conceive a child outside of the natural order, but His hand is being forced. In such cases, God is present only permissively, rather than actively. Every baby, however, has the right to be given as a gift, a blessing bestowed according to the natural means established by God in accord with His perfect timing.

This is not to deny that babies produced through IUI and IVF are just as cute, wonderful and loved as any other children. The joy they bring to their parents is also just as real, if not more intense. This happiness, though, comes at the expense of the babies who have been denied the right to be conceived through a personal act. Needless to say, children created through artificial techniques are persons; they have immortal souls. Once conceived they also have a right to be loved and protected by their parents and society. Still, no one would admit that every act that results in the conception of a child is morally licit. Rape, for instance, may also result in the conception of a child.

Likewise, as we will see in part three of this series, not every act that creates life is "pro-life" — or even promotes the dignity of life.

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  • Guest

    I once again have to disagree with your claim that the Church has made an official determination regarding IUI.  I don't know if you ever saw my response to your first article, so I have copied it to repost here.  This is a quote from an article by Tim Drake in the National Catholic Register:

    Catholic theologians and ethicists would agree that NaPro Technology is morally acceptable. Cataldo said. Cataldo pointed out that "certain drug therapies and egg-stimulating medications at doses that don't have disproportionate risks for the children engendered or for the mother" also are acceptable. But other technologies, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) fall into a gray area. "Some moral theologians and ethicists see these techniques as assisting the conjugal act. Others see it as replacing it," he said. "Until such time as the Vatican speaks, Catholics contemplating the use of IUI or GIFT should inform themselves of both sides of the moral and theological argument and then make a decision in good conscience."

    Point being:  The Vatican (and the US Bishops) have not yet made an official determination specific to IUI (when employed using the perforated condom method) and GIFT.  They have spoken to artificial insemination, but not specifically to IUI.  My husband and I researched this extensively, because we were unwilling to engage in any treatment that had been ruled as illicit by the Church

  • Guest

    I do not see how IUI can possibly by licit considering that the technique always involves bypassing intercourse (albeit semen can be collected during intercourse using a perforated condom).  In fact the procedure is often recommended for couples for whom normal intercourse hasn't worked.  I don't know what is normal about inserting a catheter into a uterus and injecting "washed" sperm….after you have literally rushed it to the clinic.

    The link below gives more info on the procedure. 

    http://www.fertilityplus.org/faq/iui.html

    Thanks for continuing to inform people of good will about infertility treatments.  It seems your next column will connect the death dealing aspects of these processes with the infertility industry.  Talk about a high abortion rate!

  • Guest

    Elkabrikir:  Thank you for the link, but I am already fully knowledgeable about what this procedure entails, given my history of infertility and the extensive research I have invested in its treatments and Church teaching in this area.  The point I was making is that the Church has not yet determined whether IUI is licit or illicit.  Until a declaration regarding licit or illicit is made, Catholics are free to utilize this technology based on their own conscience.  Both IUI and GIFT do not bypass intercourse if the semen is collected during intercourse using a perforated condom.  Some theologians feel that this is acceptable because the martial act is involved, and conception occurs in the uterus rather than in a lab.  Other theologians feel that the act is too artificial.  

     

    I did one IUI, and would not do it again.  It's success rate is no higher than regular intercourse, and my husband and I felt that it took away from the dignity of our relationship.  However, I am a good, faithful Catholic, and I would never utilize a procedure that the Church has declared illicit, and we made our decision based on research of Church teaching.  I resent the fact that IUI is being lumped into the same category as IVF, to which the Church has made a definitive stand, and whose immorality far exceeds any potential immorality of IUI in that embryos get treated as commodities and are either destroyed or frozen in limbo indefinitely. 

  • Guest

    Claire, I pray that you would not receive this suggestion in a bad light, here goes; 

     if at this time, these articles are disturbing to you, do not read them. I say this because when I was pregnant and even during breastfeeding stage I found certain topics very difficult or disturbing to listen to or watch, so I learnt to avoid same in the interim.

     

    Let us "…encourage each other while it is still today." 

  • Guest

    Spice, It's not that I find the article disturbing.  I am thrilled that infertility is being addressed, and I'm glad that these authors are educating people about Church teaching regarding infertility.  The lack of catechesis and support for infertile Catholics has resulted in a high rate of Catholics who use ART, as evidenced by one of the commenters to part 1 of this article who was vigorously encouraging other Catholics to disregard Church teaching and do whatever they have to do to get pregnant.  My only issue is that I disagree with presenting IUI in the same light as IVF, and it bothers me that my husband and I were so careful to avoid any treatment that went against Church teaching, yet now we are being told that IUI is against Church teaching, when my research (see the quote in my first comment) has shown that there is not yet an official teaching on IUI. Believe me, if we had seen a document that made it clear that IUI had been declared illicit, we never would have done it.

        I see what you're saying about some topics being more disturbing during pregnancy, due to the hormones.  I have found this myself, but in this case my feelings have nothing to do with hormones, it's really just about my disagreement on this one issue. 

  • Guest

    On another topic… The article states "Couples struggling with infertility often experience an intense bond that comes from enduring the crisis of infertility together. …When you are infertile, every act of intercourse is pregnant with the hope that God will work a miracle."

       Maybe we were in the minority, but infertility was incredibly hard on our marriage.  We stayed within Church teachings, and after a few months of trying to conceive the "natural" way, every act of intercourse wound up being forced and cold – a procedure we needed to do to conceive.  It was a very difficult way to start a marriage.  Do you make love even if you're really tired?  What if you're supposed to be fertile?  Don't do it too soon, or the sperm won't be right for optimum fertilization, etc.  

        We are much stronger now in our faith than 16 years ago and I know the whole infertility ordeal was huge in helping us grow, but I find the article idealizing the bond of going through it together very irritating.

       BTW, 10 years into our marriage we were finally blessed with our adopted daughter (after waiting almost 2 years), and we've had three foiled adoption attempts since then.  It's been a blessed cross to bear as we've struggled, cried, and carried on.

  • Guest

    Michie,

       I agree with you, the whole "timed intercourse" thing can be very stressful.  After the previous article, there was a commenter who implied that infertile couples are lucky because they can have relations whenever they want without fear of pregnancy.  If only he knew how infertility can steal the joy of spontaneous relations!  In the end, though, even with these stresses, I do feel that infertility ultimately strengthened the bond I share with my husband.  However, I'm sure that childbearing also strengthens the bond between husband and wife.  Congratulations on the adoption of your daughter, and I'm very sorry for the adoption losses that you have suffered. 

  • Guest

    Claire,

    when I posted the link for more info, it was because I wanted more info and had gone there for MYSELF.  I figured that if I needed more info maybe so did others.  I was not targeting you!  Whatever you and your husband did in good conscience is between you two and God.  Nobody on this website is trying to judge anybody.

    The fact is that official Church teaching moves slowly with regard to technical issues.  Therefore, in the interim the faithful need to do research, pray about the spirit of a subject, in this case the dignity of the conjugal union in procreation, get excellent spiritual direction, and make decisions without the explicit direction of the CCC.

    We faithful are allowed to conduct fruitful discussion on this matter until an official teaching is made.  That is what I was doing.

    Nobody needs to justify their decisions to other people.  Obviously, you thought IUI circumvented your marriage because you said so and said you wouldn't do it again.  I think that is evidence that the procedure is probably on the wrong path despite the fact that the church has issued no official teaching.  Does that mean you sinned?  That's not for me to judge and I don't intend to do so.

    I know you're expecting idential twins now, so congratulations. 

    There is no battle here.

  • Guest

    Elkabrikir,

        Thank you for the congratulations.  Yes, I would not be surprised if eventually IUI is declared illicit, based on my own experience with it.  And you're right, that in the interim all we can do is research and pray, which is what we did.  Thank you for not judging me.  As I said, we never would have done it in a million years if it had been declared illicit. 

  • Guest

    My husband and I are CCL NFP teachers and I can tell you from experience that charting (and correctly interpreting the info) can help people achieve pregnancy during times of erratic fertility (such as the return to fertility during or after breastfeeding).  I'm pregnant with our 11th child and NFP was responsible for helping to pinpoint the fertile times and thus helped us avoid frustration.  Plus, I always knew my due dates despite having long cycles!

    NFP can also help couples coming off the pill achieve pregnancy since very often cycles are longer during that time.

    I do think it is funny to call NFP "technology" as in NaPro Technology since NFP is simply observing a woman's natural cycles, interpreting the data, and making decisions based on the data.

    As with many things in life, "timing is everything"!

  • Guest

    Absolutely, that's why I'm pregnant today!  I never conceived using fertility drugs or treatments;  both times it was just due to the timing finally falling into place.

  • Guest

    Actually, I think that one reason for the choice of the term "Naprotechnology" is to try to help NFP become more accepted in mainstream medical circles.  So many mainstream doctors equate NFP with the rhythm method, and think it is unscientific and uneffective.

  • Guest

    A further comment: NaProTechnology means Natural Procreative Technology.  Timing intercourse based on fertile and infertile times is the NFP portion of the Creighton Model FertilityCare System.  NaProTechnology is an extension of NFP and was coined specifically as the term regarding the study, research, and implementation of medical applications (reproductive science) that came out of the research and work done through the Pope Paul VI Institute.  

    reference: http://aafcp.org/naprotechnology_and_infertility.html  

    So it is not to be equivocated with the term NFP, instead it is used as a medical application most times requiring a physician's direction. The term technology in this circumstance is used to more or less to mean "applying scientific theory".   I.e., in the technical world, scientists study and discover or develop theories; engineers develop technology (applications from that scientific theory).  

    NaProTechnology includes the medical applications that help couples with their biological issues while they continue to achieve a pregnancy through natural acts of intercourse, or in other circumstances maintain a pregnancy, while respecting the dignity of the marital act, of the spouses, and the potential life. Achieving a pregnancy from fertility focused intercourse alone would not be an application of NaProTechnology.

  • Guest

    One more comment to further clarify, NaProTechnology can also be applicable for any woman, regardless of whether or not she is specifically trying to concieve, single or married, as a disease based approach to women's reproductive health. I.e. it helps us understand and address infertility, PCOS, endometriosis, amenorrhea, cervicitis, PMS, and the list goes on…

    Contrast this to the one size fits all aproach to prescribing women the birth control pill for any number of gynecological health problems. 

  • Guest

    Right on, jlmyle!

  • Guest

    I missed Part one on this subject, so I am coming in half baked.  But, I can't resist putting in my 2 cents. 

    I will have to agree with Michie on the point that infertility for some is a gift of a cross to bear. 

    As for me and my wife of 19 years, our only moral option is adoption. We have a 10 year old boy and are 10 months into the process on a 16 month old girl. Hopefully, only 2-4 months to go until it is final.   Please pray for us and a successful adoption for Missy. 

    The adoption process is heart wrenching and at some times close to being unbearable. When it is the only moral option you have, you have to do it or resign to a life without children.On the other hand. My children are worth the risk and precious gifts from god. 

    Those that do not have this, so called, "Gift" of infertility need to count their blessings.  

    Michie, I pray for you that god will give you the strength to carry on.  We will struggle, cry, and carry on with you.

     

  • Guest

    Robert, prayers for a successful adoption. 

  • Guest

    "The worst cross, is to have no cross at all."~Bishop Fulton Sheen

  • Guest

    Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t have at least one cross to carry?

  • Guest

    For those of you who aren’t aware of the posts that have been added to Part One of our series, we include the following here for you.

    Dear readers: Several of you have wondered how we can possibly refer to our infertility – and the experience of it – as a gift. Part Four of our series addresses this issue more directly, so we invite you to stay with us over the next few weeks as we tell the rest of the story. Let us say, however, that we agree with you. Being infertile is not easy; it is most certainly a cross – and a heavy one at that! We are by no means trying to trivialize or idealize this issue.

    Every couple has a unique experience with infertility, but some of our struggles are the same, and that’s why we’ve chosen to write this series. We wanted to provide other hurting couples with information about the Church’s teaching on infertility, as well as guidance on where to turn for help. Infertility treatments are not the answer to the pain of infertility. In most cases, infertility treatments, such as IUI and IVF, do not even address the underlying causes of infertility. Instead, these treatments often bypass the problem, leaving the couple in the dark about the biological causes of their condition.

    Experiencing infertility has been extremely difficult for us, just as it has been for many of you. After six years of trying, exhausting nearly all legitimate means, we still have not conceived. We, too, have lived (and continue to live) the hardships associated with infertility – the annoying and insensitive comments; the invasive medical procedures and tests (laparoscopy, hysterosalpingogram, semen analysis, etc.); attending baby shower after baby shower, wondering if you’ll ever hold a biological child of your own; watching other friends – who didn’t even know one another when we got married – get married, get pregnant and have two, three, or four kids while we still have none. The list is endless. We’ve definitely felt the burden of the cross on our marriage, too – especially how infertility can rob a marriage of spontaneity and intimacy. We’ve cried, we’ve denied, and we’ve cried some more.

    We agree that adoption and other similar acts cannot (and do not) take away the pain of infertility. Being infertile is a cross we’ll have to carry to Heaven, if God wills it. Carrying our cross – any cross – is a burden, but it’s a duty we’ve been given. (We’re referring here to couples – like us – who’ve done all they can legitimately do and still remain childless.)

    It’s not easy to understand how and why God would ask us to carry such a cross (we speak more to this in Part Four), but God’s ways are not our ways. Good Friday makes no sense outside of Easter Sunday and the Resurrection. Our Lord brings about new life only through the embrace of His cross. Jesus surely did not feel as if the cross was a gift when He was struggling to carry it, but He knew the victory that would be His – and ours – by embracing it. Indeed, as Christ saw it, the cross was the path set before him to gain the gift of eternal life for us. In that way, the cross itself is a gift.

    We have to live with our crosses, and there’s often no experience of joy in this. Such a lack of the experience of joy, however, does not mean the cross itself is not a gift. Christ may not have experienced the cross as a gift, as He was living through it, but it was (and is) a gift. Without accepting the gift of the cross, we cannot get to Heaven. Thus, Our Lord instructs us: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mk. 8:34).

    Again, we invite you to stay with us through Part Four of this series, which elaborates upon the theme of the gift of infertility. In the meantime, let us pray together for the grace to “rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rom. 5:2-5). Let us also “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame” (Heb. 12:2, emphasis added).

    Thank you for your interest in our series and for taking the time to comment on our article. May the Lord bless each of you as you struggle with the gift of the cross of infertility.

    Jameson & Jennifer Taylor

  • Guest

    Thank you for giving us a preview of your intentions and thoughts.  All I have to say to that is . . .  Amen and I look forward to parts 3 and 4. 

    Can you post a link to part 1?  I have searched and cannot find it.    

    Claire . . .Thank you for your prayers! 

  • Guest

    Oops?  You already posted a link to part 1 thanks!

  • Guest

    I got pregnant early in our marriage and miscarried 4 children before I carried my son to term. I understand that I am blessed to have him.  After his birth, I was pregnant 3 more times, all ending in miscarriage.  After these miscarriages, I charted for 2 years straight and only ovulated 3 times.  I had only 7 cycles in those 2 years. 

    After exhaustive testing we found I am the one with the problem. That’s when I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure, in laymen terms, early onset menopause.  Timing would not have helped me. My husband is fine.  At 40, I have 2 cycles a year.  I have less than a 5% chance of ever becoming pregnant again. Infertility has caused a huge rift within my marriage.  We never pulled together, it drove us apart. Losing child after child has put an emotional strain that hasn’t gone away. We haven’t recovered.

    I know that I am in the minority within the infertility group. I have had both primary and secondary infertility.  I used to be able to get pregnant.  Many don’t get that far.  I have a diagnosis.  Most couples don’t have one.  I don’t have an answer or a reason for the miscarriages.  I know I most likely will never have that answer this side of the grave.

    I am happy and sad about the infertility discussions within the Catholic Church.  I am happy that it is being discussed and not ignored. But I am unhappy with were the discussion leads.

    I guess I am not a good enough Catholic to see the loss of 7 children as a gift.  As such, I will bow out of this discussion and the few that I know will follow and leave it to those who can bear this cross in joy and hope instead of the despair that I feel.

    Blessings,

    Sam's mom

  • Guest

    Samsmom,

        Well, where would you like to see the discussion lead?  Would you like the message to be one of doom and gloom, that anyone carrying the cross of infertility might as well give up and accept the fact that the rest of their life is going to be filled with nothing but despair?  No one here is trying to minimize your pain.  Each and everyone of us who has carried the cross of infertility, including these authors, knows all too well the pain and despair caused by infertility.  If you read the most recent post from the authors, they plan to address this in upcoming articles.  The authors of this articles will very likely never bear a child biologically (although only God knows for sure), and I'm sure that they feel the pain of this every day of their life.  I'm sure that they have many days where their infertility does not feel like a gift at all.  But they have two choices:  they can either give into that and let it ruin their lives and their marriage, or they can offer it to God and allow him to bring grace from it.  That doesn't mean that they or any of us who carry the cross of infertility aren't entitled to our feelings and aren't entitled to empathy  from others, particularly within the Church.  But for our own sanity, we have to look at the good that can come out of even the very heaviest cross, as evidenced by our Lord's crucifixion.  

          Even if my two babies carry to term and are healthy, there is a part of me that will never get over the cross of infertility.  It will always hurt to remember how little support there was within the Church, the insensitivity of others, etc.  I am entitled to those feelings, but I refuse to let them ruin my life.  

         I am really interested to know how you suggest that this discussion should be handled and which direction you think it should go in. 

  • Guest

    On the rare occasion that infertility is mention within Catholic discussion, what follows is the list of every treatment that is out there and why most of them are illicit within the Catholic Church.  After that what follows is a discussion on why adoption is the answer. 

     

    I am devastated by my infertility.  I know I am not the only one.  My marriage has been devastated by my infertility.  I know that we are not the only ones.  I am in the 2% that after seeking and using every licit option that medical science offers do not get pregnant or cannot carry a child to term.  I would like to see a list of support groups for those of us who have followed the teachings of the Church and cannot have children.  Or perhaps an article on the gift of smaller families if that is all that you can have.  Or an article on the devastating effects that CAN happen to a marriage when infertility is involved. 

     

    But I have never seen anything like I have described.  I am quite sure that I will not see anything like that.  My experiences in the last 16 years appear to be the total opposite of the experiences of those that write articles about infertility within the Catholic Church and of those that post responses here.  I do not have a hopeful outlook around my fertility, I have no reason to. And I have nowhere to express this opinion within the Catholic Church because it isn’t what others want to hear.

     

    Sam’s Mom

  • Guest

    Sam's Mom,

    It sounds like you may have gone here already, but — since you say you have never seen anything like a support group for those who have followed the Church's teachings and cannot have children — please try the links here.

    History shows that being "what others want to hear" has never been a requirement to express your opinion within the Catholic Church. Just browse through this CE forum, for example.

    And keep in mind the words of Saint Ignatius of Loyola,"Desolation and discouragement is of the devil. Ours is a Church of hope."

  • Guest

    Samsmom,

        I think you're hearing what you want to hear.  I didn't see any comments that claimed that adoption is the answer.  It is certainly a beautiful way to build a family, but no one has said that it's a quick fix for infertility or something that everyone is called to.  I wrote an article back in May that was featured on Catholic Exchange, and I wrote quite a bit about how devastating infertility can be (and the authors of this article have said that they are going to also address this in part 4).  In my article I did mention that I was planning to adopt, but I was in no way implying that this was the answer for everyone or that it would take away the pain of my infertility.  Of course infertility can have a devastating effect on a marriage, but with God's grace this can be overcome.   I think it would be pretty sad to see an article all about the devastation of infertility on marriage, without offering a message of hope along with it.  What is a Catholic supposed to do with that information?  Just accept a life of misery without any hope or effort to overcome it?  I do absolutely agree with you that it would be nice to see articles about the gift of small families.  We see lots of articles about the blessings of large families, and how mothers of large families are to be commended for being open to life.  This is true, but there is also an invisible population (us infertiles) who are also open to life and get very little credit or recognition for it.  The Holy Family was a family of three, so clearly small families can be just as holy as large ones.  Maybe some day I'll submit an article about this.  In the meantime, if you're interested, I belong to an online Yahoo Catholic fertility group which I'm sure you would be more than welcome to join.  It has members from a variety of circumstances:  some have successfully overcome infertility, some have been trying for 10 years with no success, some have successfully had one child but are struggling with secondary infertility, and some have had repeated miscarriages.  We all try to support and encourage each other without comparing each other or competing over whose situation is harder.  We also allow each other to vent about the frustrations we experience with infertility, the insensitivity of others, the lack of support within the Church, etc.  I hope you will consider joining.

  • Guest

    Hallo Samsmom

    It is 8 days since your last post, however, 'just in case' you may return sometime, I'll still share.

    My heart goes out. What you have faced and are facing is enough physically and emotionally to place someone in a depression tailspin.

    I pray that Our Lady will cover you with her maternal mantle of love and protection. I pray that you will allow our Blessed Mother and Jesus to hold you in their embrace and love you and dry your tears.

    Ask them what you are to do now.

     One of our local sayings is:

    "Marriage is like teeth and tongue and anyone of them can bite you."

     

    My prayers are with you, your husband and child. I pray for the healing of your marriage and family life.

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