Sunday, June 27, 2010

There I was...one day out of confession.

There I was...one day out of confession, walking into Mass this morning with my daughter on one hand and my husband on the other, a smile on my face and then I see them...the couple that has to be about our age that sit all the way across our stadium style sanctuary (ie., I've never gotten to meet them because they jet after Mass)... so I have no idea who these people are, but they have a little boy around Isabel's age, and then another little boy who must be under a year.  I've watched them Sunday after Sunday from across the sanctuary as their family has grown...I was always a little envious when she got pregnant with her second.  And as we are walking across the parking lot, this husband is letting the wife out at the front of the church so she can take in her two boys and she turns to the side as she gets out, and lo and behold if she is not 8 months pregnant with her third baby! 

Oh I just wanted to crumple into the pavement!  I even said something out loud like, "you have got to be kidding me, Lord!"....and then of course I immediately regretted even having thoughts like this!!  Why should I be overcome in this wave of envy??  Because that is the situation I think I should be in?? 

I knelt down to pray before Mass began and asked for forgiveness for feeling this way.  And then this thought just came to me that I am right where God wants me. 

I am right where God wants me.  For some reason He has chosen this path for me.  And whatever that path is, as long as I am striving to know and do His will, that is where God wants me.

I felt a few minutes of peace and tried to keep my eyes from wandering past the altar to where they sit.  It's not that I felt resentment towards these people!  Not at all!  In fact, they look like a great, faithful young couple with a beautiful family that I'd like to get to know!  It's just that the "picture" of their family is where I thought I would be...where I thought God would want me.

Fast-forward to homily time and we have a new priest this Sunday who is filling in while one of our regular priests is away for the summer; I was eager to hear how he preached and what he would have to say.

Here are the main point notes that I took (yes, I am one of those people who pulls out a pad of paper and tries to take discreet notes during the homily sometimes!):

*Close companionship with Jesus may require we walk the lonely walk to Golgotha.

Woah Lord, ummm...yeah, it does feel pretty lonely being the only couple in my group of friends who is going through difficulty conceiving.

*Yes Lord, I understand.  I know there's a cost involved and come what may I still want to follow You.

You're right, Lord.  There is a cost involved.  Not just the suffering and isolation of this secondary infertility and losing our babies, but the cost that comes from finding moral ways to regain my fertility; moral ways to have a baby while still following You.  (By this I mean the cost of friends or family who become distanced because they just don't understand why it is not an option for me to go out and use certain fertility treatments to have a baby...to them it seems so simple:  just go do IVF and quit complaining about not having a baby; get on with your life.  This is a "cost" to me...that the beautiful truth of following the teachings of the Catholic church is not recognized as such). 

*The cost then dearly and radically changed their lives forever to a wholehearted commitment to Jesus Christ.

For me, the cost of secondary infertility/losing babies has definitely changed my life forever.  The thought of following church teaching on fertility treatments is radical to some people.  The fact that losing babies has made my desire for more children increase to what the Lord will allow me to have, may also be radical to some people.    Do I have a wholehearted commitment to Jesus Christ?  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Why would I continue to follow on this difficult path if not for love of Jesus?

Sure I stumble, often!  The path is difficult, stony, sometimes uphill!  But I am headed somewhere.  I am traveling through this earth to heaven...that is my destination!  And no journey is without it's snares and pitfalls. 

But I continue on in the midst of the "cost":  sometimes ridicule, insult, insensitivity, hurt feelings, misunderstanding...I continue on for love of Jesus.  I gather my strength from the sacraments and prayers and the Bible, from friends and family who give their support.

It takes courage.  It takes reflection.  It takes humility to know when you've taken the wrong step.  But for the love of Jesus I can continue on through it all.

Bring it!

27 comments:

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

"Bring it!" I love it!

What a beautiful reflection Angela, as always. I struggle with the same thing-even though I'm currently pregnant! I still sometimes find myself angry that this is only my first when I wish it was my second. Will we ever be satisfied with where God has placed us?? I think the ONLY way to be satisfied is to walk the difficult journey of IF and give him our hearts. Thanks for helping me learn how to do that.

Kerry said...

Thanks for posting this. I feel this way frequently, seeing other families grow at a faster rate, and imagining their blessings as bigger than my own.
But, God's path for me is perfect for ME! (and MY 3 year old- Isabel!)
My husband sometimes has to talk me through this-- reminding me of the blessings we DO have and the hardship that can come with a larger family- less couple time, etc. I am given the graces to handle what I have- and at the same time desire more children--but only if it is to glorify God!
Your reflection has helped me, and you are not alone in your feelings!

Kris said...

You are right that there are probably a lot of people, including myself, that do not understand why you cannot seek medical treatments such as IVF to have the family you deserve. They will likely never really understand nor will I. I hate how you use the word moral though, as if saying IVF is immoral. I will tell you first hand that it is nothing short of a miracle of God to see the little embryos that made it to transfer. I had the support of my church and my God as I went through this process and I am a living, breathing example of the work he can do. I would not have been able to take this huge step of faith with Him! I can't help but think if my actions were so immoral then why did God stand by me though it all and give me this miracle growing inside of me.

I just wanted to share the non-catholic perspective. We can all believe the way we want to believe, but we need to be careful with our words and not judge those that believe differently. I pray for you daily that your story has a happy ending someday. This road is so lonely and desolate sometimes, but God is there to walk beside you though it all. I have no doubt that my struggle has brought me closer to Him and that has been worth all the heartache.

This_Cross_I_Embrace said...

There are many, whether they believe it to be morally acceptable or not, for whom IVF does not or would not even work, regardless of how many times it was tried. I am one, and my 42 year old, naturally pregnant after two failed IVFs is another of MANY for whom IVF isn't the magic "cure" to infertility.

I'll leave it at that. My vacation mentality is really calming :)

Back to Angela - beautiful post, and I glanced down to see something about your 1st NaPro appt, too! Can't wait to catch up on your journey (especially since I have plans for my someday-daughter to marry your someday-son and have THE COOLEST hyphenated last name ever!)

My Chocolate Heart said...

Kris,
(Angela, I hope you don't mind my responding)

New life is indeed a miracle. Our modern medical technologies can do amazing things and in many, many ways they bring great blessings into our lives.
They also lead us down dangerous roads.

The Catholic Church's teaching on IVF is what it is precisely because human life is so precious and sacred. It is a gift from God, and God alone creates life. Human life can never be manufactured at will -- that is morally wrong. An IVF procedure creates "extra" embryos and the doctor encourages the transfer of only a few so as not to have multiples... we're not talking about cells here, but human beings. The zygote is a human being. The embryo is a human being.

We have forgotten that those embryos that don't "make it to transfer" are human beings who have died.

The Church also firmly teaches that the procreative and unitive acts of sexual relations cannot be separated. This is also why the Church teaches that artificial birth control is also immoral.

The difficult truth is, that the desire to be a mother or father doesn't justify any "right" to children. Children are gifts and God is the giver and creator. In our time we seem to believe that we "deserve" to have whatever we want, and any means necessary are okay.

We regard children as a commodity to be manufactured at will, and equally disposed of at will or "choice."

The Church is not cold-hearted or unsympathetic or unfeeling toward those who experience infertility. But we must not treat human life as something WE can control, create in a laboratory, kept frozen indefinitely or until destroyed, and make lots of "extras" just to be sure we get one who makes it to term.

Each one is a human being... each one. How many people have we "made" and then destroyed without so much as a second thought? It is immoral.

However, our sin has no reflection on the beauty and belovedness of the children born. They are precious in His sight as we are, since He formed them. But that does not give us the right to play God.

I hope this helps clarify what the Church teaches and more importantly, why. 'Tis a very slippery slope once we start separating the act of marital sex from the miracle of procreation. We're sliding down awfully fast.

My Chocolate Heart said...

Angela,

If you don't mind, please email me with your email address. You can find mine on my blog. I'd love to ask you something!

Thanks,
Jennifer

Mom with a Heart for God said...

Angela,

Thank you for your courage and for sharing so openly about your journey. God will not abandon you. I am so thankful that I have found your blog. Love and prayers to you and your beautiful family.

Karen said...

I love this! I have been feeling so much of these same feelings towards other families and really needed to hear this today. Thank you so much for helping to put things into perspective.

Hebrews 11:1 said...

Great post! I have felt the same way many times. Some days it's tough to remember that I have to walk my path and not someone else's. But you're right, we are right where God wants us to be, and that's gotta be a great thing!

Kris said...

My Chocolate Heart...

We'll have to agree to disagree there.... some people may choose to destroy "extras" as you say and I completely agree with that not being right. I transfered both of my embryos that developed into life to give them a chance to continue growing and no life was destroyed. I have a personal relationship with my God and He is the one that created this life inside of me, using this technology. If you are diagnosed with cancer should you just accept it as God telling you it is your time to die and not seek medical treatment? When you are healed do you give credit to the dr or God? That healing comes from God with assistance from technology available to fight it. My infertile state does not mean that God does not intend me to be a mother and that statement is very hurtful. For me, God sent me down this path, he may have a different path you, but this is definitely where he wants me today. Call me immoral if you wish...

Sorry Angela.. I was just wanting to share my perspective, didn't know I would be attacked by one of your readers like that. I know you didn't mean to offend and you would not have put it out there so harshly.

Leila said...

Angela, thank you!! Beautiful.

My Chocolate Heart, thank you for your eloquent response. You may be interested in the IVF discussion we had on my blog recently. It's good that we are talking about this.

http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/06/ivf-and-what-to-do-with-excess-embryos.html

Blessings to you.

Patiently Waiting said...

I love that you said you are right where God wants you. I'm experiencing something totally bizarre...2 pregnancies in a 4 month span. God is giving me some measure of healing for my infertility that I have experienced for the past 3 1/2 years. Looking back, this is the best time for my dh and I to be expecting. Had I been blessed with a baby right away we would not be where we are in our relationship, spiritually, emotionally, financially, etc. God had me where he wanted me all those years...and He has me where he wants me right now. Looking forward to reading through your blog.

Kathleen's Catholic said...

Thanks for this reflection, Angela. You're so right that following Christ can be lonely.

My husband has been sick for a few years and the doctors are puzzled by his illness. It can be very lonely to see other couples our age (40s) live happy and active lives, while my husband and I struggle just do get through basic chores and pay the bills. Then again, we also grasp the "good days," days we used to take for granted, with lots of joy. I actually see my husband smile more, much more than when he was well, because he really sees and feels the value of these good times. There is our blessing, this fresh perspective.

Thanks again. God bless.

Second Chances said...

Great post Angela. I totally hear you on the secondary IF front. It's such an emotional journey, full of guilt for not being able to provide siblings for our beautiful first borns, and sometimes pain in hearing about "good Catholic families" as though small families can't also be good! I love your reflections from mass and am keeping you in prayer for restored fertility :)

To Kris I would just say that your wording of "the family you deserve" is, I think, where many of us would differ. None of us "deserves" a family, rather we view it as a pure gift from God so any assistance should be within the confines of receiving that gift, namely the unitive end of marital relations. For us, as Catholics, that's where IVF is an issue. It creates life outside of the unitive act of marriage.

Feel free to visit my blog or email me to chat further. God bless!

Sew said...

I'm so shocked at the statement the "family you deserve". My jaw hangs on the ground. It's bold, it is selfish, it is god like.

None of us DESERVE anything and children are definitely the ultimate gift of marriage. Never once is it stated that we deserve to get married and have children.

I'm so shocked, I can't believe it. Never once in my infertility did I think I DESERVED children. I realize now after 4 1/2 years and one on the way, I do not deserve this gift of life, I never deserved it, but am humbled and greatful for the gift.

No one deserves gifts.

This_Cross_I_Embrace said...

I'm saddened that Kris felt attacked, when it seemed to me My Chocolate Heart's response was very sympathetic to those with infertility (and I read it from that perspective, being someone who has still not received the gift of life after 4 years). I also felt that her very comprehensive response was not digested fully, and that somehow (as it often happens with those who do not understand the Catholic stance on this issue) the only part that was "heard" was the destruction of human embryos. This is a big problem in IVF, but it is only 1 of the problems. M.C.H. and Second Chances both discussed the other big problem being that it creates life outside of the womb.

I wonder why it is you didn't respond to my comment? (I don't mean that to sound argumentative... just wondering if it made you think at all about those of us for whom IVF does not work or would not work. I do hope that having struggled with IF yourself, you would still have empathy for those who carry the cross? And what if IVF doesn't work? How would you suggest the couple then go about seeking the family they, as you put it, deserve? Do you feel that egg donation, sperm donation, surrogacy, etc. are also viable options? I can tell you from my Reproductive Immunology board, there are tons of women who have failed even THOSE extremes MULTIPLE times. Where should one stop at getting what they feel they deserve? Where does it cross a moral line? Taking a baby from a hospital? Why not?)

Again, I am so sad that you felt like you were being attacked when this is actually a very honest, open, and loving debate we are engaging in. I would love to hear your thoughts on my above questions.

Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble said...

Attacked? Did I miss something? Every response here seems very kind and measured. Color me confused.

Ann - Building a Nest said...

I want to address something Kris said, but I want to do it as gently as I possibly can. (I didn’t see where Chocholate Heart was “attacking” and hate that anyone felt that way).

Kris remarked: “I can't help but think if my actions were so immoral then why did God stand by me though it all and give me this miracle growing inside of me.”

To this, I have to ask: Can you think of a situation where children are often conceived through immoral actions? Adultery, unwed, rape, incest, etc. come to mind. Now, please do not think that I am comparing IVF to those actions, but I have to go this route to demonstrate a point. (Please re-read the previous sentence again.) However, I chose those things because they are all situations where most of us – across religious and denominational divides (whether Christian or Jew, Catholic or protestant) – can agree involve immoral actions by one or both of the parent(s). We maybe can’t agree on IVF, but we can agree on this, right? So, even in these circumstances that I have mentioned, children are still conceived all the time. I don’t think many of us would look at those situations and walk away with the conclusion that God must have approved of the adultery, unwed pregnancy, rape, incest, etc. or else He wouldn’t have allowed a child to be conceived. That is why I do not understand when people take this rationalization when looking at IVF. If we say God is giving children as a sign or indication of his approval in IVF, then how to we look a these other situations?

Just because one is blessed with a child does not mean that God approves of the human actions which led to that child’s conception. It does prove He can make something beautiful out of our ugly mess. It also proves that all children, no matter the actions or circumstances which resulted in their conception, are to be treated like the gifts from God that they are. ALL children – from conception on.

My Chocolate Heart said...

Ann,
Very, very well said. Thank you for making that excellent point. Same to This Cross I Embrace.

I will just add the thought that the current obsession many in our godless, selfish culture have with embryonic stem cell research has been born from the "advances" that began with IVF. We figured out how to manipulate and achieve conception in a petri dish, and it opened the floodgates to experiment with embryos for endless reasons, with no regard for the humanity of the embryo.

This is why the Church teaches that it is immoral to separate the procreative and unitive acts of sex!

Now we see the embryo as simply a means to an end. It's okay to destroy life in order to -- maybe-- find a cure for a disease. (Except that those who advocate ESCR don't see the embryo as a human life.) We are playing God and patting ourselves on the back for our cleverness and brilliance. We can make "useful" human blank slates! We can make them and kill them to accomplish our purpose.

This is what Pope Paul VI saw coming. Humanae Vitae was prophetic. It is the slippery slope.

And Kris, I did not call you immoral. I explained why the Church teaches that IVF and other means of conceiving outside of marital relations is immoral. I did not question your relationship with God. I am sorry you felt attacked.

Danya said...

Angela, my husband and I struggled with secondary infertility as well. We had a beautiful girl and then...? As you said, it is a particular struggle when everyone (including yourself) is wondering "where are the other children?" I had to choke out many a "congrats" as my peers conceived and birthed babies left and right. I confessed "jealousy" all the time. You are exactly right about where you should be. Beautiful post! I stand behind you firmly in your stand against reproductive technology. It is the wrong path. I honestly don't believe God calls anyone down it. Argue as they may. God could not condone the forced conception of a child outside the marital union.
We were called to adoption (when our daughter was about your daughter's age). If you ever want to talk about that option, I'm here!

Danya said...

For Kris...it is true that we should use medicine to heal ourselves, ie your doctor/cancer analogy. IVF actually has nothing to do with "healing the body", it is NOT medical treatment, it only creates children through scientific methods. Napro heals the body. That is what these ladies are doing...

Angela said...

Ladies, I want to thank you for your comments. I never expected such a high response to this post, although I know it is an issue we are all very passionate about (whichever side on which your belief rests).

I do want to apologize to Kris that you felt attacked...that is certainly not my intention, but I don't think that anyone on these comments has the intentions of making you feel that way. I understand how difficult it is to take a dissenting position when everyone else feels a different way: this is how I feel about this issue IRL- I don't have a whole bunch of people in my group of friends who agree with me.

This is such an important discussion and I think every one of these comments deserves a second and third reading to really absorb some of the points made.

Thanks friends!

Kris said...

Yes, definitely understand how you are feeling in the real world. Got a good taste of it on your board.. I take it ALL your readers are catholic. I whole heartedly disagree with your churches teaching. I should have just kept my mouth shut because now I just feel horrible. I have received nothing but love and support from friends and family, even my catholic friends. No love found here. Here I announced that I was expecting after a long battle of infertility and all I get is how immoral the act was. No congratulations on your pregnancy and I am sure no one is sending prayers my way. I never meant I deserved children, I just have a strong desire to have a family and believed in God to give me the desires of my heart. There will not be a day that I look at my children and don't know what a gift they are. A lot of prayer went into my decision to take this step, it is not an easy or affordable process, but God made it possible and helped me through every step. Sending my prayers to you. I pray that God would grant you the desires of your heart. I promise not to post here anymore.....

Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble said...

Kris, everyone of us here would be loving on your baby like crazy if we saw him/her. Every baby is a blessing and a gift, to be cherished, no matter how he/she was conceived.

It seems to me that people here were discussing the "whys" of our beliefs about IVF, point by point. You didn't choose to address that part of the discussion at all (and a lot of good points were brought up, so I wish you would have). But it doesn't mean we don't pray for you and your babies and send a lot of love your way. Everyone wishes the best for you!

Most of these women have been to hell and back on their journeys to fill their arms and hearts. No one is more sensitive and compassionate on the issue of infertility than they are.

God bless!

Sew said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hi Angela - I found your link through Pelianito's blog...I am a frequent reader and commenter there, but when I saw your blog, I wanted to write.

I am so sorry for your losses and thank you for writing this blog. I recently lost a baby at 7.5 weeks. This was my first miscarriage and the entire pregnancy and miscarriage was/continues to be difficult to understand. One of the hardest parts of this is that I was pregnant at the same time as my sister-in-law who got pregnant through years of IVF. I have long struggled with her and my brother's choice to go forward on this path. She desperately wanted a second child and I understand that and have prayed that they become aware of their sin. I cringe at the fact that they have two frozen babies sitting somewhere that they don't plan to implant. What now? She just had the baby a few weeks ago and my due date is coming up in Aug. I can't imagine why God would take my baby when I was open to life and did it His way.

So many things to say here but I can relate to your negative feelings when you see pregnant women and then beg for forgiveness for having those feelings. I don't feel envy as much as anger. I also had tremendous fear and anxiety through it all which was an emotion I never expected to have because I have wanted another baby for so long. Again, a lot of begging for forgiveness and intervention of our Blessed Mother. Then came the loss and the anger/deep sorrow that still remains. Thank you for reminding me that God has put me where He wants me to be. It is almost verbatim what my husband and I keep telling each other. I needed to read your blog today.

God bless you and I will most definitely remember you in my prayers. I now know you from two different places in the cyberworld!

Marianne

lavatea said...

Thank you for this post. I just had my third miscarriage in 7 months. I've been trying so hard to live in peace knowing that whatever happens is God's plan - whether it's to not conceive or to conceive and lose.