Skip to main content

Being Catholic and Infertile

This piece has been in the news this week: a Catholic school teacher believes she was fired because she underwent infertility treatments that go against Church teaching. (By the way, not ALL infertility treatments are morally objectionable; check this out.)

Now, I don't know if this is the real reason this woman was fired. However, from the news reports, it appears that she signed a contract that prohibits such behavior from an employee in that school system, and thus, she violated her contract.

Now, I can speak with some authority on this subject, as I am infertile. First, let me say that I really hate that word: I think everyone's life is fertile. We all grow and "give birth to" ideas, relationships, work, etc. I don't feel infertile. I do know that I could never conceive a child. And that is devastating, especially for a Catholic woman.

From the time we are children, little girls (and especially Catholic little girls) are presented with images of being a mom. We get baby dolls for our birthdays, that we sing and coo to. We play house, and assign our little brother the role of baby (we usually have to bribe him). We doodle the names of our future children when we're bored in social studies class. We want kids.

For some of us, the cruel reality of infertility is hard to take. We think, "Hey, I did everything I was supposed to, God. I waited for the right guy, I married that guy, now I want a baby. Hold up your end, Father!" We figure we are "owed" that baby, and some of us will do just about anything to get one.

There is a lot of flawed thinking here, and I won't try to tackle all of it here. I will share that, early on in our marriage, when it became clear I wasn't getting pregnant, we looked at what was morally acceptable and what wasn't, and decided to adopt. I have two sisters who are both adopted, and it was a really comfortable choice for us. I know many people have a hard time with it ("I want a child that's my 'own' - my own flesh and blood"), but it turned out to be the best decision for us.

So, here is what I would say to this Catholic school teacher, or any Catholic woman struggling with infertility: Pray. Pray hard. Pray for guidance, and don't be afraid to let God know you're angry. It's a sad and frustrating experience, and God knows it.

Be generous. It is hard to watch your friends and family members welcome babies into their lives, and it seems like every time you turn around, there's a baby shower. Don't let your own pain intrude on someone else's joy. Be generous in your presence and your presents.

Be open to life, and study why the Church teaches what it does. The Church has sound reasons for finding some infertility treatments objectionable: they often destroy more life than they create. If you're open to life, you'll see this.

Explore adoption and be open to it as a way to build a family. There are so many ways to adopt today, and many children who need homes. Not all forms of adoption are expensive, and adoption often gets a bad rap in the press, because all you see are the adoptions "gone bad". Trust me, most adoptions - while a different way to build a family - are not horror stories, but stories of love, trust, redemption and joy.

I hope that every woman who struggles with infertility can find peace. It's not easy, but it is possible...with God, because all things are possible in Him.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trying to "end run" God

If you're a football fan, you know what an end run is. From Merriam-Webster:
a football play in which the ballcarrier attempts to run wide around the end of the line We try to "end run" God a lot. I do. I figure I know better. I've got this - no need to worry the Big Guy about such a trivial thing.

Of course, it never works.

Like the puppy above, when we try and evade the tough obstacle (even though we KNOW we will eventually have to do it), we end up - well, off in the bushes.

But oh! How I wished my way worked. I'd love to take a flying leap and land smoothly and gracefully. People would be in awe, as if watching Simone Biles nail a balance beam routine that no one else would even attempt. I would shyly look down and blush - just lightly - and acknowledge (But humbly! Oh so humbly!) my achievement.

But no: I am the one pulling myself out of the bushes, scratches all over my legs and twigs in my hair. I'd hear that gentle but loving voice of God saying, &quo…

Crossing Guard

I saw you
today
as you guided
your little man across that busy street.

You were wearing some
big man boots
and
watching cars and lights.

Your little man had on
black sneakers and
a Mickey Mouse hat
that bounced
as he walked.

He wasn't watching nothing but
your big man boots
and
the white stripes of the crosswalk.

Just before
he got to the sidewalk again,
his step bounced a bit
- he hopped over
a spot where the asphalt broke.

You turned to look,
holding out a hand to
your little man.
Not rushed or angry,
just making sure
he got up
on that sidewalk.

Then you walked on,
in your big man boots,
face into a cold Michigan wind,
with the little man behind,
his hat bouncing.

Be Transfigured

From today's readings: 

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the and his clothes became white as light.

...we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Today we celebrate the Transfiguration. For whatever reason, Jesus brought three of His disciples to Mount Tabor to witness this miracle. They weren't sure what they were seeing, but they knew enough to throw themselves to the ground in the presence of Almighty God. St. Peter (who never did anything halfway) excitedly declares that he will erect tents on the mountain as a way of memorializing the event. But Jesus tells him and the others that they are not to tell people what they witnessed - at least not yet.

In the second reading, the requirement to be quiet has bee…