This week is Infertility Awareness week, so here are 7 quick takes on the subject of infertility.
1. When my husband and I were engaged, people would constantly ask us about kids. Our standard response was, “We’d love a two-deep football team, but we’re open to however many children God gives us.” It never occurred to me that this saying could mean that God would choose to give us FEWER children than we desired. We started Natural Family Planning during our engagement, and after a few months and a referral to a NaPro doctor, we learned that my hormone levels meant that conceiving naturally could be nearly impossible. We were told, however, that typically this type of fertility issue could be treated with hormone injections.
2.The grief that followed that visit was intense – I put on a happy face, but there was something fundamental that shifted in me that day. I think I learned a little bit more about who was in control, and about how following the teachings of the Catholic Church could challenge us in ways we wouldn’t dream. Accepting the dignity inherent in sex between a husband and wife, and recognizing that children are people – not things – meant that we were not going to be able to pursue most “secular” routes of fertility treatments. If we couldn’t heal my body and conceive in a way adherent to our belief system, we may not have biological children.
3. The cost to learn this, and the cost to fix it did not come without expense. Natural Family Planning isn’t covered by our insurance, so our learning fees came out of pocket. This was at least $500. Our NaPro physician is also not covered by our insurance (to be fair, he doesn’t take insurance since he uses the money from NFP visits to help pay for his clinic to assist the uninsured.) These visits have cost us at least another $500. Additionally, the medication that balances my hormone levels, ridding me of PMS symptoms, assisting me with my depression, and increasing my energy levels, is ALSO not covered by insurance. This runs $100/month. It is SO frustrating to watch people fight so hard to get women access to birth control (which break something that’s working perfectly well) and then to have an insurance company deny a medication which is actually FIXING an issue. We are lucky enough that our finances or location in relation to a NaPro doctor haven’t been a hindrance to getting the medical care that I need, however others aren’t so lucky.
3. So now, every month that I’m not pregnant, I receive 4 delightful shots. Pro tip: if you’d like to get closer to your spouse and your sister, have your sister teach your spouse how to give you a shot in the butt. Other pro tip: If you’re teaching someone how to give an intramuscular shot and you say “stick it with about as much force as you would use to throw a dart” make sure that you witness how hard your learner throws a dart. As it turns out, my husband throws his darts with the intensity of a major league pitcher.
5. We were blessed to conceive Kateri about 6 months into our marriage and 2 months into the delightful hormone injections. With blood draws every two weeks and progesterone supplementation, we were able to carry Kateri to full term.
6. While we were blessed with a beautiful little girl, I feel as if I know .01% of the pain that infertile couples suffer. We don’t know if we’ll be able to conceive again, and we do know that if we do it will likely be as a result of many shots and blood tests. In bearing this cross, however, we have become much more sensitive to others who may continue to bear the cross of infertility. We have watched friends lose children to miscarriage, and who struggle for years before finally being able to bear a child. Our experience allows us to know just a tiny sliver of the pain that they go through.
7. We have also learned the most important lesson: each child is a human being, endowed with infinite worth and value. A child is not a commodity I can demand. Anytime I catch myself frustrated with my subfertility, dreaming of many little feet running around our home, I am reminded that we have already been given a gift of infinite worth. We can pray fervently for more gifts (if it be His will), but we cannot force them to be given. So during this week of Infertility Awareness, please know that if you are struggling or have struggled with infertility, I am praying for you. Praying for peace, acceptance, and that God’s will be done.
One of the beautiful gifts of the Catholic blogosphere is the frank discussion about and support of those suffering from infertility. For more fantastic insight on fertility and infertility, check out out Molly’s blog and her guest article over at Jenny’s. Kendra’s article was something I wish someone had told me when I was younger, and Annie has a great reflection on what comes after infertility. Melody has rounded up a variety of folks experiences, and Michele’s experience & reflection very much echoes my own.