Sunday, 10 January 2010

Because my comments are still going astray...

My comments on Wordpress are still going astray, and there are two things I really wanted to say on other people's blogs today.

The first is HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Myndi and Short Stuff.

The second is a response to this post by Egghunt - or more accurately, to the post she links to. The comment below is the response I tried to post to the linked post - but because that blog is also a Wordpress blog, my comment disappeared into the ether again (fortunately for me, and unfortunately for the rest of you, I had copied it before I pressed 'submit', so I didn't lose it altogether). Anyway, this is what I said, expanded a bit from the original.

It's simply not true that "every IVF procedure will 'eliminate' almost two dozen embryos" - no clinic can guarantee that every person treated will get anything like that number. Clinics in the UK aim to collect between 5 and 10 eggs, and I have never known anybody over here who had as many as two dozen embryos.

From 6 eggs on our first IVF, we got two embryos, both of which were transferred. From 4 eggs on our second, we had one embryo - none were 'eliminated', but all died inside me and were duly mourned. There was also one other embryo on our first IVF that died within 24 hours of fertilisation - nobody 'eliminated' it or 'got rid of it', it just died.

In the normal run of things in natural conception between healthy couples, it is estimated that only about 25% of embryos that fertilise actually implant. So it's not surprising that a large number of those created through IVF also fail to survive, especially when you consider that many cases of infertility are caused by abnormalities in the eggs and/or sperm, so that the proportion of embryos which are healthy is also likely to be lower.

There is an awful lot of misinformation about and prejudice against IVF, and until I found myself in that situation, I always thought I would obey the Church's teaching without question. My decision to go ahead with IVF involved a lot of research about exactly why the Church is opposed to it, a lot of prayer, and more mental anguish than many people can imagine, because I knew that for the first time ever, I was deliberately thinking of doing something which was at odds with what the Church taught.

The author of the post Egghunt linked to obviously came to a different decision, and that's fine - had I lived in the US, where my research indicates that adoption would be much less difficult for us than it would be over here, I may well have come to the same decision.

But although the Church is opposed to it, for reasons some of which I believe it may reconsider in years to come, Jesus Himself never said anything about IVF - obviously, since it didn't exist in those days. But he did say a lot about love and compassion for your fellow human beings, and about how only God can judge us, and we shouldn't judge other people.

It worries me to hear and read comments from people (and I'm not just referring here to the original poster Egghunt linked to) who seem to believe that they are 'better' Catholics than me either because they have never faced this decision or because they have made a different decision from the one I made. I'm ashamed to say that I used to have that attitude towards Catholics who used contraception or had sex before marriage.

I like to think this experience has given me more humility. I'm a sinner, as all of us are sinners, and I'm no better than anybody else. But I only have one Judge, and I too would react with extreme anger if some other member of my church's congregation took it upon themselves to write me a personal letter and tell me that what I had done was sinful.


  1. Thank you for summing up everything I felt when reading the link on egghunt's blog. You're exactly right -- the most bothersome thing is the whole "I'm a better Catholic than you" mentality. It comes out in the tone of voice/writing even when I think the author is too deluded to see it. I wish I'd never been put in this situation, and maybe I am weak for choosing IVF. I don't know. But the judgmental attitude is the big problem when there ought to be compassion.

    P.S. I can't comment on Myndi's blog but have tried to several times. It says I need to be logged in. Does she have it set so that only wordpress account holders can comment (because I can definitely comment on other wordpress accts)?

  2. I'm so glad you posted your opinion too. I agree with you and Sonja completely about the "I'm a better catholic than you" mentality that she portrays. Although I'm not religious myself, I find her judgement in that aspect really offensive too.
    Eeek! it makes your blood boil doesn't it?
    You should go check out her response to your comment Hope Springs (comments on her blog only show up after she has approved them). Have a great day, and remember its her opinion only and it is nothing more than that.

  3. Thanks for letting me know about the response, Egghunt. We've got quite a little dialogue going now - I don't know why I'm even getting into the discussion when I know neither of us will change our mind, but it's an interesting exercise in seeing how other people think.

    A few years ago I got into reading a lot of Catholic blogs and even had one myself. I found that for me personally (and this is no reflection on any other individual blogger) the longer I was involved in that community, the more judgemental and intolerant I became. I think it is possible to become so caught up in legalistic discussion of what may or may not be 'correct' in a given situation that one forgets the principal message of Christianity, which is one of love, hope and compassion, and I feel that I'm much better off now that I've laid my former blog to rest - and might be even more better off had I never got into that community in the first place.

  4. Sonja, I had the same problem - I actually signed up for a wordpress ID so that I could comment on Myndi's blog. I don't know what's changed recently so that my comments aren't showing up - I suspect they're being sent to some spam folder somewhere in the same way that my comments to Egghunt are, but I don't know how to rectify that.