Sunday, 20 April 2008

The Pain of Infertility

You might think this is a rather strange topic for someone with six kids to write about. But as it happens I seem to be coming across this terrible pain a lot recently. I personally know the horror and grief of miscarriage and how that messes with your head-and your soul. I am also coming to terms with the difficult fact that I really should not have another baby. Then I am coming across more and more women, open to life, who either cannot conceive, loose their babies to miscarriage or are having to postpone pregnancy indefinitely because of very difficult circumstances.

Those of us with more than the acceptable 1.7 children (and a dog) are well aware of the negative comments and just plain bewilderment from those around us. WHY are we having SO MANY children? Blah, blah, blah... but I have come across something among big families that I think is just as unattractive. I have seen a 'I'm better than you because I have lots of kids' kind of attitude. "If you are a good Catholic you would have more children," and "You must be contracepting" attitude. Bizarrely I had a woman who is infertile herself and has adopted her children tell me from her high and mighty Catholic position that she knew everyone at my parish contracepted. As it happened I know a lot of mothers in my parish who have small families because they have NO CHOICE. I know their stories and I know the pain they have suffered. This woman's judgemental and uncharitable view shocked me.
Christ and His Church calls us to be open to life. That does NOT mean having lots of children; it means having the children God gives us and being the very best, loving and responsible parents we can be.
Some of the holiest, saintliest Catholics I can think of had NO children at all; Alice and Deitrich von Hildebrand (although Deitrich had a son from his first marriage) and Frances and Gilbert K Chesterton.
I am so so grateful to God for all my children, especially my youngest who I came so close to loosing right on the day she was born. I have only had one straightforward healthy pregnancy so I am very blessed indeed to have managed to have six live children. I pray for all those I know who long for a child to hold- God bless you abundantly.

And I beg my fellow big family mums (dads don't seem to do this as much) don't be so proud-be grateful and never assume that others are not open to life. You don't know that.

Coincidentally I have been working through the story of Hannah and Samuel with my son. Hannah was married to a husband who loved her very much, but she had been unable to conceive. Her husband had another wife who had lots of children and like some of the mums of big families was a bit too full of herself about the fact-uncaring of Hannah's pain.
Hannah went to God and prayed and begged Him to hear her. Old Eli the priest gave her his blessing (after being assured she was not drunk) and God answered her prayer. She was the mother of the great prophet Samuel. She gave her son to God as she had promised and God rewarded her; she had other children.
Eli seems to have been a gentle man, but not a good father. His sons were wicked men-not a credit to Eli at all; and in the end through Samuel the gift to a desperate woman, God told Eli there was a price to pay for bad parenting.
Like Hannah we need to remember that our Twinkles from God's Eye belong to Him. Just as she gave Samuel back so we are called to ensure we can give our children back-ready for heaven.
Let us support one another in this endeavour whether we have one child, no children or many.


gemoftheocean said...

well said!

Kit Brookside said...

Thank you! As one with three kids, 8 miscarriages (including my stretch of 7 in 7 years), and unexplained infertility issues, it is so nice to read this.

My husband's brother married a - let's say overly zealous - woman, they homeschool, they just had their 8th, and I am happy for them. But they are exactly the type you describe. Big family, very PROUD of it, condemn all who don't homeschool, and worse yet, they presumed that we planned to stop at 2 (all my fault because of law school and career, of course), and that we were using contraception after our second was born.

When I had my third miscarriage, word leaked out among the family, and my brother in law actually told me (I think trying to be comforting) that he was glad to know that we were "at least trying."

Now that we've had our little miracle boy (who turns ONE next week!), we've gotten negative reaction from both friends and family "WHY would you ruin your life having one so late! You're being unfair to him! You'll be almost 60 when he leaves for college!" It is incredible - and many of them know at least some of what we went through leading up to that pregnancy, and how terrifying the last few months were (preeclampsia as well as too much cord, not enough fluid). It comes from both directions. I wish people were as free with compassion as they are with criticism.

But the bottom line is this - I'd do it all again if I could have more. And, my friend, as you know...we're working on it, so please keep us in your prayers!


Anonymous said...

I had two nasty miscarriages & i would have loved a dozen children..but my severe health problems put an end to that..who knows when one's quiver is full..i agree with the points you raise..

Ma Beck said...

Bottom line:

It's no one's business.

Outsiders don't know what I do in my bedroom, nor should they concern themselves with it. They should concern themselves with their own pride, which is the Great Sin and has sent more people to hell than any other sin, I'll wager.

The size of family is the only thing which causes people on BOTH sides to be so utterly ill-mannered and suspicious.

Congratulations - you can conceive. Here's your medal.

Great post.

BTW, I love big families and I'm the 9th of 9, but I get so sick of that whole attitude.

leutgeb said...

Great post.

It seems however our lives turn out there are people to make insensitive comments.

MT said...

Thank you so much for the prayers you were so kind to offer me on Annie's blog. I really appreciate them.

I have been a daycare teacher for almost twenty years now. I adore children! I was asked for years by parents and former co-workers "You are so good with children. How come you don't have your own? What are you waiting for?" Well, I wanted to do things God's way and marry first. I prayed the rosary for years for a good Catholic husband. I found one on a Catholic website and we married last year on June 16th 2007, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

My husband and I both really would love to have a child, but I fear I am unable to concieve due to endometriosis. How sad that the lady who loves children so much and devoted many years to taking care of other people's children might never be able to have her own, huh? This is a great trial to me and I am trying to accept it, but it's so hard. I cry every month when my time of the month comes.

I had no idea I had endometriosis until I had surgery to take care of two ovarian cysts in February. On Feb 12th I was told I have severe endometriosis and I might be infertile.

All those years I was praying for a good husband I was also praying to be able to be a mom someday too. Right now I feel like giving up. We are doing the Creighton Fertility model, but I feel it's almost no use. I know when I am supposedly fertile and we try on those days, but still no success. I wonder if having children is not in God's plan for our marriage and I should just give up? Throw the Creighton charts away, all the homeschool materials I bought for my future children, all the baby books I bought, ect. away. Yeah, maybe I should.

Sorry, but it's my time of the month again and I'm crying again as I'm writing this. Still though, I continue to pray the rosary every day. I am wondering if losing some weight and giving up pepsi would help me finally concieve? Or should I just give up? I will be turning 42 on August 2nd. I think my dream of being a Mommy and raising a child up to God in the Catholic faith (and sharing my devotion to the Blessed Mother and the rosary) is fading away fast.

Thank you for your prayers. I really do appreciate them.

May God Bless you all for your kindness.

Maria Therese <---just feeling really sad

swissmiss said...

Finally broke down and gave away a bunch of baby clothes since I cannot have any more children without seriously jeopardizing my own health and adoption isn't on the horizon since the fees are so high or there are no fees but then the children have many medical problems that we cannot afford (maybe if hubby got a raise!). So, we "only" have two kids. My husband's family thinks we planned this all out and everything ran like clock work. *Sigh* Instead, it was all a surprise to me and God took things in the direction He wanted to go in. I attend a pretty traditional parish with very large families and before we had kids got the feeling that folks thought we were contracepting. Now that we have two and that's all there will be, I still get the same feeling! I'd LOVE to have a big family, but I can't hold a gun to God's head and demand more ;} Well said, great post.