Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fertility Q&A

I've had alot of friends and family (oh and strangers too!) ask me about my fertility (or infertility I should say!) and different issues surrounding trying to have another baby, so I thought it might be beneficial to put this all into a Question and Answer format, and fill you all in!

How long have you been trying to have your "second" (live) child?

Since November 2007.  So as of today, this is our 29th month of trying to get pregnant with a child we will be able to raise on earth.  That's 2 years and 5 months.

Was it easy to get pregnant with your first daughter?

Yes!  Very easy, and my pregnancy with Isabel was textbook perfect.

How many pregnancies have you had during these 29 months?

Four.  An ectopic pregnancy we lost in January 2008.  A miscarriage at 9 1/2 weeks in June 2008.  Mary Grace was lost in February 2009, and a very early miscarriage in November 2009.

Have you had any "help" trying to conceive during the last 29 months?

Yes!  There were 2 months in 2009 when we used Clomid (a fertility enhancing oral drug) to help me have a stronger ovulation, but both of those cycles were unsuccessful and I had terrible mood swings on Clomid.

After my early miscarriage in November 2009, my OBGYN prescribed an oral progesterone supplement (to take after I ovulate, to help support a potential pregnancy), and a daily baby aspirin.  We are also currently on our 4th cycle of Femara (a different fertility enhancing oral drug) that does not give me the awful mood swings like Clomid.

Wait.  Does the Catholic church agree with the use of fertility enhancing drugs like clomid and femara?

Yes!  The church "approves of artificial measures that assist the spouses in achieving pregnancy as a direct result of an act of marital intercourse" (Life Issues, Medical Choices, Smith & Kaczor, p.60).  Drugs like clomid and femara help to restore a woman's fertility.

But you and Rob can't do In-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intra-uterine insemination (IUI) because the Catholic church disagrees with those procedures?  

Correct.  Both IVF and IUI are procedures where pregnancy may occur, but not as a direct result of an act of marital intercourse.  Rob and I will never do IVF or IUI because we agree with the Catholic church's teaching that those procedures violate the dignity of the human child and violate the purpose or meaning of marriage.

As painful as it is, (not being able to have a baby to hold in our arms right now), Rob and I know that having a child is not a right.  Having a baby is a gift...a gift from God, at that!  And we have to choose moral ways to have a baby.  So some procedures are simply "off-limits" to us.

How can you consider IVF or IUI immoral and how does it violate the dignity of the child?

These techniques "dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act.  The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that 'entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person.  Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children.' " (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2377

I think the following quote really says it best:

"Although a child who is conceived through artificial technologies has dignity equal to every other human being, that child has been treated like a product in his or her conception and thus not shown proper respect" (Life Issues, Medical Choices, Smith & Kaczor, p. 63).

Will you ever "give up" trying to get pregnant?  How long will you keep trying?

Great question! ;)  Our pastor today had a homily about the prodigal son, and why parents are so eager to welcome their wayward children and hope.  We have great love for our family and God and we have hope that God will again bless us with new life.  Since we agree when the Church teaches, "that each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life" (CCC 2366), I believe we will just keep on trying and hoping.

Would you ever consider adopting a child?

Quite honestly, when I was growing up I always admired parents who adopted a child, but I never thought I would have "what it takes" to do it.  Now I'm not sure if I really thought about "what it would take" too much, but my heart has been opening slowly to the idea that that might be the way the Lord directs us to go one day.

Kind of like with homeschooling...I never thought I would want to (or be able to) homeschool my child, but we are certainly headed in that direction with Isabel (and God has changed my heart so that I am joyfully anticipating it)!  Doesn't He work wonders in us?

So to answer that question, Rob and I are open to considering adoption one day if it is God's will for us.  But we are not headed down that path right now.

Why do you think God has permitted the suffering of losing 4 babies, and the suffering of your infertility?

The short answer?  To draw me closer to Him.  I believe that my suffering, united to the Cross of Jesus has great benefit to others, and has brought me much closer in my walk with Him.  We are just passing through here on earth on our journey to heaven, and no one ever said it would be without pain.  So I unite every day to Jesus and offer it to God, whether it be joyful, sorrowful or mundane.  He can do great things with all of my actions.

"I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church." Colossians 1:24


Anne said...

Your story breaks my heart! What grace God gives you to bear so many trials! I love the pictures of Isabel leaving rose petals on the grave site. That is beautifully touching!

Dear God, please look with favor upon this lovely family who give their all to serve and please you. Amen.

(Thanks for visiting my blog!)

Anonymous said...

I'll just have to agree to disagree with you on that.... God is directing me on my path to motherhood. IUI is path we are on right now and I am offended by the comment that I am treating my future child as a "product." You can believe how you want, but do not put down the thousands of mothers out there that have wonderful, God given children, through IUI or IVF. Don't call me immoral.

I am so sorry for your loss. I pray that you will be blessed with another child someday. Sending lots of prayers your way!

StumblingServant said...

Hi Angela!

First, I'd like to respond to "anonymous": I too am Catholic and fully believe the teachings of the Church. What Angela wrote was an accurate representation of the Catholic Church beliefs. It's important to remember that it is our responsibility to judge what actions are right and wrong, but never to judge those acting. Angela gave the reasons why these beliefs are in place, and why we believe them. Angela was not attacking or putting anyone down, she was simply stating her (and the Church's) beliefs.

Second, I want to thank you for such a wonderful post! I took Christian Marriage when I was earning my Theology degree, and we talked all about these things. It's great to see it in such a simple and easy format. Thank you!

And thank you for living such a beautiful Catholic life. Your blog is exactly the kind of reading I was looking for, and I appreciate your truth and honesty. I'm sure if we were in the same area, we'd be good friends. But I'll settle for blogging friends. :) I'm so excited I found you! :D Have a blessed week!

Angela said...

Anonymous, we can agree to disagree. :)

I was not calling you or other mothers who use these procedures immoral- it's not my position to judge another person, but I am calling the procedures themselves immoral... I embrace my Church's teachings- it is why I am Catholic, because I believe fully in the Catholic Church's teachings regarding the sanctity and dignity of human life.
As you and I both know, infertility is a very great cross to bear, and I do have friends who have chosen to use these procedures to have a child- we are still friends, we just disagree on this area. It is a hard teaching. Trust me, I'm not gaining friends when I hold to this truth. But I believe so firmly that it is God's truth, that as I said, my husband and I will not use these procedures...they are simply not an option for us.
Thanks for your openness and for your prayers.

Michelle said...

Angela, Thank you for continuing to be so open with your story. I won't go into a long personal story, except to say, I can relate to some of your fertility issues. We however, are on the other side of our issues. We have been blessed with 3 beautiful kids, that I'm sure you've read about in my blog. Our children don't have the number of years between them by our choice, it was God's plan. Continue to enjoy the gift you were give in Isabel, God will take care of the rest. God Bless!

Michelle said...

Angela, thanks for posting the Q and A. I have often wondered about the Church's stand on those issues and have never looked it up. I have so many friends and family that have used all of those methods, and some considering them. I am glad to have some perspective to give them.

Jen said...

Angela, you have a beautiful blog! You gave an awesome and concise description on the Church's teaching with regards to IVF etc. We too chose not to go that route. We now have 6 beautiful children through the blessing of adoption. I realize that God is not calling everyone who suffers with infertility to adoption, but it was definitely God's plan for our family. Many blessings on your journey.

Tanya said...

Angela, thank you for posting this. My husband and I are also Catholic. We have not been blessed with children yet, although we do hold out hope. :) I agree with everything you said 100%. Children are very much a blessing, and not a right. We are trying to live a life to follow God's plan for us. That can be greatly rewarding. My husband and I agreed before we were married that IVF and IUI were definitely out of the question. He was Catholic, and I was not yet. I actually just entered the church in 2007. But, he was armament, and I agreed completely with him. Too many people misunderstand what we say, as we see with "Anonymous", who didn't even want to leave their name. We will hold fast to our faith, but people find that very threatening. It's the same way in our opposition of abortion. People think we are against the womans right to chose. In fact we are not. However, we believe that the right to chose lies in a different place. For me, I think the women and men chose to have sex, and therefore should have known the potential consequences. But, I digress.
Thank you so much for sharing this, and making these things known for others.

kbaker said...

Angela-I'm glad you shared this. I had no idea where the Catholic church stood on this. I do not have these same beliefs, but I wanted to let you know that I was in no way offended by what you said. We all have our own way of serving our God. Good for you for standing by what you believe in. I have no doubt that the Lord will bless you and your husband.

Ann G. said...

Thank you so much for explaining the Catholic Church's teachings on IVF and IUI. There are alternatives that are Church approved. I encourage anyone who is bearing the cross of infertility to look into FertilityCare Centers of America. This is a nonprofit organization that has been established to promote the Creighton Model of NFP and the new reproductive science of NaPro Technology. March 21-27 is Worldwide Fertilitycare Week and it was built around the feast of the Annunciation because it raises our awareness to the theological beauty of a woman's fertility. For more information go to
I sound like a commercial but by using Creighton and having a doctor who is trained in NaPro Technology, after losing two babies to miscarriages and struggling to get pregnant again, I now have my youngest child, Finn, who will "coincidentally" turn 2 during Fertilitycare Week next week.

Anonymous said...

I want to first start with saying I wish you nothing but the best. I have followed your journey closely, and more than once shed tears at this computer. However I must say that I am deeply offended at your comments in this post. Had you simply said you believed that IVF and IUI was inconsistent with the church's teaching, I wouldn't have had a problem. But for you to say that it is immoral is so deeply offensive to me that I can no longer read your blog. By all means you are entitled to your opinion. But this is a statement I cannot overlook.
Good luck to you in your journey. I wish only God's will for your life.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for posting that... I felt like I was just being ganged up. (I was the first Anonymous that posted) I too was deeply offended by the immoral comment. And there is no difference in calling a person or the persons actions immoral. When you called my actions immoral, you called me immoral. I am a strong Christian that lives my life to lift his name up and I will continue to testify to how God is working in my life. He is still the creator of the life inside me! Yes, I found out yesterday that my iui was successful. God is good!

Angela- I want to thank-you for your blog, up till that last post. You did help me in my time of grief of losing our baby at 14 weeks. I'm not sure if it will be helpful to me now.... I can't overlook such a hurtful comment. God bless you on your journey.

Tanya... I didn't leave my name because I don't have an account, not because I am ashamed! My name is Jenny.

Kathleen's Catholic said...

Angela, your comments are good and right. And you make no judgment; you clearly state the Church's teachings. Many times, the teachings are truly contrary to what the world tells us is good or to what we want, even what we want with all our hearts. This reminds me of a comment our bishop once made: he said priests are called to tell what people need to hear, not want they want to hear. And we, as confirmed Catholics, are called to do the same.

I commend you for turning to the Church, even in the face of this hardship. You have truly earned stars in Heaven, both you and your husband. And good for you for mentioning that you might be hearing another calling, such as adoption. Keeping your heart open to Christ is all you can do.

Angela, I can see how writing this post took great courage; I'm not sure I could have done it. And I'm so glad you did. You are educating so many!!

If you do find that you might be called to adopting, I can put you in touch with my brother and sister, who can give you some perspective and some information on the process. I have 5 adopted nieces and nephews (overseas adoptions). Please feel free to contact me at anytime. God bless.

Thankful said...

Angela - Thank you for being so open about your story. So many bloggers (like myself) create a pseudonym. Your truth and grace are inspiring.

Just one note on the IUI, here is the information from the USCCB which I am sure you have read, but wanted to share with others: Intrauterine insemination (IUI) of "licitly obtained" (normal intercourse) but technologically prepared semen sample (washed, etc.) is neither approved or nor disapproved at this time. More information is available at:

Granted, I am slightly defending myself as my husband have attempted an IUI and plan to again next month, but do understand that it is a very thin line that I am walking.

PS - Found you from your comments on some of the other girls' blogs. Welcome!

StumblingServant said...

Jenny and other anonymous,

I just want to put out that the reason the Catholic Church and those of us that are Catholic believe these technologies are "not in line with the Church's teachings" is not just because they simply don't match up with some arbitrary list of rules. The "rules" are carefully considered and set into place because of morality.

I understand that this may seem like a blow, but it is, indeed, our belief. We cannot judge your heart when making these decisions, only God knows where you were and what you knew, and I'd argue that based on your reaction, you thought you were doing the right thing, and therefore, your heart may have been in the right place. Only you and God can discuss your heart. But because of the detailed description that Angela wrote, we believe these decisions to be immoral, that is, not licit based on our beliefs about sexual morality.

Anytime the ends of the sexual act (procreative and unitive) are separated, we believe this to be immoral. This goes for either using birth control in order to have the unitive aspect and leave the procreative aspect, or vice versa, using the procreative aspect and leaving the unitive aspect.

So, just as "Thankful" posted, IUI with "licitly obtained" semen, is neither approved or disapproved as of now. But anytime semen is obtained outside of the marital act, it is not approved, that is, it is considered immoral because the means of obtaining it is immoral.

Please know that none of these beliefs are voiced with hatred any ill-will, but out of love and our strong conviction to find truth and live a life for God, no matter how difficult it may be. We are all striving for holiness! :)

May Christ help us all to search out diligently for truth, His Truth, and always move closer to holiness and eternal life with Him. Amen!

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

Hi Angela! I saw that you are a "follower" of my blog so I thought I'd check yours out! I'm going through the archives and this is just a wonderful post. Very well stated. Thank you for your witness to the Faith.

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