Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Object

I've got so many ideas swimming in my head, I'm not sure I can write a post that's properly organized but heck, I have to try for my own sanity.  There are several themes going on out there in the infertile blogging community.  I don't presume to know why certain women feel certain things but my brain fires up when I read interpretations of events or feelings that are not theologically sound or rational.  We can't know God, know what He wants, but that doesn't stop many of us, including me, from labeling certain events like pregnancies or adoptions as miracles or explaining some one's infertility as their fault because they weren't a virgin when they got married.  Yes, someone did say this to me.

In fact, a very honest blogger who's now gone private questioned why she wasn't getting pregnant after many years even though she was a virgin at marriage.  She "did everything right" so why no child?  For those who are more virtuous than most, I think the temptation to believe that your gentleness, your kindness, your purity, your faithfulness means God will grant you your every desire.  And I think that's flat out wrong and not in accordance with what's in the Bible.  Anybody remember Job?  And what about David?  That guy screwed up big time and God never gave up on him.

Is it our culture?  I fell victim to this before infertility, which is why I consider infertility as a great lesson in humility, but are we so privileged, so used to getting what we want, we can't accept the fact that life doesn't meet our expectations?  It's easy to sit back as a happily married, young woman and bemoan the lack of a child.  But what about our friends who are single and want to meet the right person to marry?  I guess going on and on about how great your husband is makes a single person happening upon your blog pretty mad.

I think (and people can correct me if this is wrong) I've been a pretty staunch supporter of the newly pregnant.  I feel bad when they have to write the sympathy post.  It goes pretty much like this:
Wow, I've wanted to be pregnant for so long, like two years but that's really not very long because some of you have waited longer and that makes me feel really bad because I feel good and you don't because pregnancy is a game changer and my heart breaks for you because this is so joyous but know that I'm praying for you that your miracle i.e., getting pregnant comes real soon, like next month.
If you are pregnant, I am so happy for you, honestly!  It doesn't take anything away from me in the slightest.  If you are now infertile and get pregnant, you have my permission to not write about sympathising with infertiles.  I want you to celebrate and write about how good you feel.  You deserve it.  I say that because I'm personally comfortable where I left off my treatment and I'm realistic about certain biological facts.  I'm not willing right now to do a follicular ultrasound series and take HCG shots.  It's not worth my time, not worth my trouble.  For those of you doing what I'm doing, and I don't think anyone else is, I'm amazed when you start investigating the advantages of not having children, you'll find some good things.

However, I realize that for lots of women, accepting a child-free life is not an option.  It was never what you envisioned for your life and if you want it and are willing to undergo medical treatments to get it.  God speed!  But, I guess what got my goat recently was a post by a pregnant blogger (I won't link since I'm trying to not pick a fight, seriously) who wrote the obligatory "I'm so sorry you're not pregnant, too" by specifically calling her pregnancy a miracle that she was unworthy of, implying (likely unintentionally) that infertiles must be so incredibly unworthy, like purgatory unworthy because that's why we're not pregnant.

What I really want is those folks that are taking hormones and have had laparoscopic surgery to thank the manufacturer of HCG, your ultrasound tech, and your surgeon for getting your reproductive system to a place where it was possible to get pregnant.  I'm not at all saying that God didn't have His Hand in your conceiving.  I just can't prove that He did or didn't.  But I can say with relative confidence that medical intervention could be a cause.  That's why we have surgery and take drugs instead of spending that time in concentrated prayer for a miracle.

The big thing I objected to in that person's post was talking about how much joy she felt because of the pregnancy and said that the pregnancy had already changed everything (except finances.)  She made several comparisons to how no other joy could compare and pregnancy joy is so transforming that it would be horrible to miss out on.  I like strong statements.  But, I have a problem when a Christian starts classifying levels of joy or saying one joy is better than another or even failing to mention the joy we feel knowing God gave His only son for the salvation of the world.

Not ever having been pregnant, I'll rely on the mothers out there to confirm this but I've felt the joy of faith in Christ. I've experienced euphoria, yes, euphoria grasping the concept in every fiber of my being, that God loves me that much that He would allow His own son to be murdered, tortured for me and you and every other sinner.  To know that Christ on the cross cried out in agony, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" is utterly profound that joy is the only appropriate emotion for that kind of grace.  And the beautiful, really joyous thing about faith in Christ, is that it's open to everybody!  Pregnancy doesn't approach that level of accessibility.

It might read like I'm condemning this blogger's post or position, I sincerely am not.  I don't think she meant to offend or exclude anybody.  But I wanted to offer another side to the argument.  Please don't feel sorry for me that I'm not feeling the particular kind of joy you are.  My life is filled with joyous events and manifestations of faith.  It's not an opinion that's offered up very much especially by women who want children but it is possible to live a full, maybe even fuller life without kids.  You might think that to be heresy but I think it's opening your soul to the fullness of Christ.  Christ changes everything.  Christ is transforming.  Believe it.



  1. The best line I have read all day (I should stamp it onto my forehead - really):
    "Christ changes everything. Christ is transforming. Believe it."

    Overall, interesting post and while I am pretty sure I know who the blogger is you are referring to, it really doesn't matter. We are all entitled to our opinions and I think some people react to events such as pregancy, getting married before their friends, etc., etc. differently and that is fine. We put ourselves our there on our blogs and if people don't agree with our assessment of things - well, it is what it is. (However, as I am people pleasing person, it has taken me a long time to make any progress in this area and I still have a LONG way to go). But in regards to unworthiness, it might just be the context in which the words are used - I mean, we say in the Mass every Sunday (now under the new translation): "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." So yes, we are all unworthy, but as I wrote in a recent post about feeling unworthy in general (which I think is different than what you are referring to, but hey, maybe you are referring to me and I am just dense!) :) My point was too much focus on our own unworthiness does take away from focusing on the greatness and mercy of the Lord. As in too much navel gazing and downcast eyes prevents me from looking up and praising the Lord for what he has done. And believe me, I don't have a problem shouting about my pregnancy from the rooftops, I know I probably annoy people way to much about it. But seriously, while I am humbled and have no idea why my husband and I were blessed when we were, when yes, other people are still waiting and have been waiting longer - believe me - I don't regret for a minute conceiving Baby B and carrying him or her. They are a miracle, as all babies are a miracle. I always think of my parents - I was conceived out of wedlock - my mom was 18, my dad was 19. I don't know for sure (I haven't asked), but I don't think there initial reactions were similar to what my husband and I felt upon seeing that 2nd line. They were probably more afraid of telling their parents. My point is - no matter the circumstances of how a baby was conceived - the circumstances may be horrible or full of elation, but the baby is always to be celebrated as a miracle, one that we are all unworthy of, just as we are unworthy of any gift from God - but hey thank goodness that didn't stop Him from sending us His son (another baby) and having him ultimately die for our sins - thank goodness we have not been left to wallow in our unworthiness! I don't know if any of this makes sense, but it is kind of what came out. In other news, Merry Christmas!

  2. Okay, sorry for the rambling comment above, but after rereading it again, I just wanted to make clear - I don't think having a baby is the ONLY miracle God give us (sorry if may have given that impression) and therefore people who don't receive this miracle are any less of a Christian. There are SO MANY miracles out there and they should all be celebrated. Yes, conceiving through the help of some of the medical interventions you described above HCG, clomid, etc. were definitely instrumental, I almost wonder if the bigger miracle in my life was surviving cancer 11 years ago so that I am here and am able to bear children. But again, that is a slippery slope, because not everyone survives cancer either. Okay, I am just going to shut up now....I am not even making sense to myself... :(

  3. Wow, Mrs. B, you write fast!!! I wish I had that talent. No, I wasn't referring to you and I guess I'll get myself into trouble by not identifying who I was referring to. I thought about the "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed" line when writing the post. My intent was to express dismay at the conclusion she came to saying she was so unworthy that's she's amazed she got pregnant. It logically follows, is it logic?, that there are levels of unworthiness if one person gets pregnant over another. My point is that we're all unworthy and getting pregnant does not signify God's approval.

  4. Well, I may type fast, but you are more succinct and my whole rambling post could have been summed up in your last sentence! I totally agree with one caveat - we are all unworthy and getting pregnant does not (necessarily) signify God's approval. It could - I mean, God definitely approved of our Blessed Mother and told her so "Hail Mary, Full of Grace" (but as she was without sin - didn't let it go to her head, like I would - so yeah, I think it is better to not PRESUME it signify's God's approval). Does that make sense? Because of course, back to my own situation (sorry, I don't mean to sound like I have this big ego - but I am just trying to draw a corroloary), I don't think my grandparents, nor the Lord (maybe he did, maybe he didn't) approved of my parents conceiving me prior to marriage (which they did get married - but that is besides the point). So, yeah, in a nutshell I get your main point.

  5. I've now been sucked in. Sorry to be a first-time commenter and posing a debate (mild, I promise - especially for me, heaven knows). This may not be the one you're referring to, but I very recently read a blogger's post on her pregnancy in which she said something along the lines of not being worthy. I read that line differently from how you did. I read it as her saying that she didn't EARN this blessing (as opposed to "I'm pregnant because God loves me [implied: more than you]," which pisses me off). And I read it as her acknowledging that she didn't do anything to be first in line in comparison to others who were still waiting - not that she, an infertile, couldn't earn a pregnancy, while fertile women "deserve" to be pregnant. Reading that comment from her meant a lot to me, because it's my perception that a lot of infertiles who get pregnant totally forget their prior experience and are (wilfully?) blind to the fact that their (unearned) blessing may make more painful the suffering of someone else. If I got pregnant - which will never happen - I would very much apologize to those I was hurting, because I've felt that pain myself so keenly, and I would not want to increase the pain of those I care about, who have been such good friends to me in my own difficulties.

    Now, all that is obviously very different from your situation. You've embraced a life without children with peace and joy. I think your unbridled happiness for pregnant women is VERY different from that of most - maybe any - infertile women who are still in treatment, or maybe who have recently left treatment. So while I see your point of view, I think the apologetic pregnant bloggers are responding to a very real pain in most of their readers, and I think that's compassionate and commendable.

    On a third hand (at what point do I run out?), I think all that pain might be lessened a lot if there were more people like you. I've ranted about this recently - how many examples do we have of holy women living without children? There's NOBODY out there (other than the "childfree," who have a very different world view in general) proclaiming the message that you are - that life could be just as good without children. Though I jealously collect bloggers on my blogroll who have ended treatment and are living full lives without children, they don't hail from my end of the religious spectrum. Those I've collected who do are frankly single-minded in their pursuit of children. They are tireless in treatment (and I've often, sometimes unkindly, been lectured about my decisions to limit what treatments I'm interested in), and when that works, they are at least as tireless in pursuing adoption. Including in situations in which their financial situation would make me question the prudence of that decision, if it were me in their shoes - but it's not, so of course it's not my call. I don't see motherhood as that kind of an absolute necessity. Doesn't mean I've achieved peace with it - I hope someday to be where you are - but it does mean that I am frequently bewildered by the determination to motherhood of others. Where are we Catholics (and Christians of other stripes) getting this? Who is telling us that it's mortherhood or DEATH? The Bible is no help, I realize, but have we nothing we can look to that infuses our life with meaning if we do not have a child?

    Anyway - thank you for your post. And apologies for my ponderous blather :).

  6. Thank you for your smart, thoughtful comments Mrs. B and Misfit.

  7. I guess I'm a new commenter on this blog and I just happened upon it myself...I'm living a childfree life....yes, we are waiting to adopt..sort of. This lifestyle wasn't my choice but when I accepted God's will for my (our) life...I started seeing what God had in store for my life. I'm happy and content living child free. I never thought I would say that! I'm now working full time as a teacher (which was totally God centered) and my dh and I are starting to enjoy this little bit of financial freedom we never thought we'd have at this point in our lives. We can do things in our lives that we wouldn't have time to do at this point if we did adopt or have our own child. This past year was rough for me but for once it had nothing to do with infertility. Now that I've moved on...I seem to have started carrying other types of crosses. So, I'm santifying other types of suffering. My point is that life moves on. I'm thankful IF hasn't killed my soul. I'm enjoying God's plan for my life. I have noticed other "holes" in my life that need repairing....I can now concentrate on that and leave IF to God.

    I liked your was heartfelt. Having a child should be joyful. And I agree...those with children after IF shouldn't feel bad about it. Life is Life. I have learned that having a child doesn't mean you no longer have crosses to carry. Right? We all have to live the life God has planned for us. I'm glad to hear that you have found that joy and peace in your life. It was always was just clouded by IF.

    Oh and btw...there are many great women out there who didn't have children and lived a fulfilling life...Um...Mother Teresa? She was one holy woman! Sometimes I need to remind myself that I am not the only woman out there without children. :)

  8. My 19 years of infertility (that I know of, anyway!) ended when we adopted our first child. I was 38 years old at the time. I, like you, wasn't willing to take those final steps that could MAYBE have made pregnancy possible. MAYBE. And at a certain high financial cost and a very likely high cost to my health.

    I had surrendered to a childless like in my early 20s. I mean it. SO imagine my surprise when I met my dear hubby and suddenly wanted to be a mom. I was so OLD.

    I digress. 5 kids later, I am still infertile and as blessed as I was when I was childless. I have always been happy and seen my life as one blessing after another. I have a different kinds of happy now, but I am no more worthy of it then I ever was. I am a sinner, striving for perfection and quite certain I will always fall short of it.

    My prayers to conceive were never answered and eventually I decided maybe that meant the answer was "no" or at least "not now." For me the true blessing was getting THAT and decided to live a full and joy-ful life.

    Sounds like you have decided the same. And we are ALL worthy of that, right?

  9. I admit I've stayed away from your blog since someone warned me about this post. Its probably good I've had some time to reflect before I decided to respond to it. Just as you started off saying this was a rambling post but you had to get it out, don't you think that's why others write on their blogs as well? At least that's why I write in sort out these complicated feelings and express points of view that maybe others don't understand, since they aren't standing in my shoes. And yet those thoughts eat me up. I stress my unworthiness precisely because I know there is nothing I can do to earn God's grace/love/blessings. Maybe that's the protestant hiding in there somewhere. I have read too many infertility-turned-pregnant blogs that claim that oh! It was just this treatment that got me pregnant! How can they know that? Or, oh! It was just this novena that I prayed that got me pregnant, just pray more and you'll get pregnant too! Again, how is it possible to know that? One thing I am very clear on is that I do not know why I got pregnant and will never know with certainty. I thought sub-fertility was the most humbling thing (I wrote posts on it), but it turns out for me this pregnancy has topped it. There are circumstances surrounding this conception that I have not shared nor plan to share on my blog, however I admit I do not see how desiring to alleviate the suffering of others in the only way that I really can (prayer - only they can see a doctor, take medicine, etc.) and to ask God to bring them peace in the form He desires is un-christian?

    The only thing I can think is that somehow you mistook my 'unbridled joy' in this pregnancy as replacing my joy for the gift of Christ. The essence of what I was trying to relay is that it just struck in mass singing that song how much easier it was to sing when I really FELT it. The thing about sub/infertility is that you
    KNOW Christ loves you, salvation is yours, etc., but its much much harder to FEEL it on a daily basis. I'm at a different stage now where the feeling is tangible based on these selfish desires for a child being met, but I liken it to the starving having FOOD. Of COURSE they would be singing louder, wouldn't they? That's what it feels like for me and the sad part is I didn't really realize how much it had impacted so much of my life until I was pregnant and (most of the) bitterness melted away.

    You seem to be a direct person so I hope you take this direct response as a chance to have a meaningful dialogue. However, I get if you just wanted to vent about what I wrote too, you have a right to write about what you want, especially on your own blog.

  10. Matchingmoonheads, I really appreciate your comments and taking the time to write them. Your feelings are your own and you should be free to write about them. I hope I didn't upset you by commenting on what your wrote.