Saturday, 22 August 2009

First in a series

I always said that whatever happened, I wouldn't do IVF, because the Church didn't approve of it. I'd followed its teachings on sex before marriage, and DH and I were both virgins on our wedding night (and for about a week afterwards, until we finally figured out how to do it!). Because of this, our advanced age on marriage and the problems that we had conceiving, the teaching on contraception was never an issue for me, but I was quite happy to accept as many children as I was given, and hoped to have at least five or six children.

When it became clear about nine months after the wedding that we really weren't in line for a honeymoon baby (my mother reckons you're a bride for a full year), I had a chat with a priest while going to Confession. I said that we were trying for a baby and nothing was happening, and I asked him if it would be very wrong to pursue any sort of fertility treatment. At that time, we were thinking maybe we might need a helping hand from something like IUI.

He said that infertility was a medical problem like any other, and that seeking medical treatment for that medical problem was no worse than seeking treatment for any other sort of problem. He said the Church had a problem with IVF because of the embryos that can be destroyed in the process, but as long as we weren't destroying any embryos we should feel free to pursue whatever treatment we needed.

Really, that should have been that. A priest speaks with the authority of the Church, and I really shouldn't have questioned what he said. Unfortunately, I had already read some articles on the internet which contradicted what he had told me, and I was fairly convinced that IVF was an absolute no-no, and was comfortable that I would never pursue it.

Fast-forward a few more months, and we're in the consultant's room being given the devastating news that there is no realistic possibility of us ever conceiving without the help of IVF with ICSI. Before the appointment, I imagined this or a similar outcome many times - but I never really believed it would happen to me. And because I always retained that secret hope - secret even from myself at times, and hidden deep in my subconscious - I never imagined quite how crushing it would be when that little bit of hope was taken away from me.

Suddenly, I was faced with a stark choice - do I oppose what I know to be the Church's teaching on this issue? Do I pretend I haven't done all that reading and accept what the priest said to me a few months ago? Or do I accept the Church's teaching and therefore accept that we'll never have our own children?

Each of these options seemed equally painful to me, and for the first time I found that, rather than being a comfort and a source of hope and inspiration, my faith was actually causing me deep and real mental anguish. What made it worse in many ways was that my husband said he trusted me and would be guided by whatever I thought was right.

I can honestly say that the ten days that followed were, if not the worst period of my life so far, certainly up there in the top three. I certainly can't think of any other time in my life when I've cried so often and so easily, had so much trouble sleeping, and been so emotionally wrung-out and exhausted.

On the tenth day, which was a Sunday, I had the opportunity to spend most of the afternoon surfing the internet and thinking about what I'd read. By the end of the day, I had made my decision, and made my peace with it. I talked through it with my husband, and explained my reasoning. He said he had never had any doubts that the route we were now heading down was the right one, but would have been guided by me if I had thought otherwise.

Over the next few days, I'm going to go through some of my reasoning and explain how and why I came to the decision that I did - it's way too long for a single post.


  1. Looking forward to reading more XXXXXXXX

  2. I started reading from Kirsty's pick o' the day (from LCFW) and now I am hooked. We are in such a similar boat with IVF. Your wedding night also sounds quite familiar (DH and I were both virgins and took a while to figure that whole sex thing out, too!!) I am going to keep reading. =)