This article was originally published on my first blog, Defined By Faith. I have edited it to update some personal information and glaring grammar errors that I found.
I live in a different world than many of my peers. Many are planning their exact 2.1 children, schools they will attend, and sports they will play. I am left wondering when or if my husband and I will ever have children.
Before you think I'm off my rocker, bear with me a bit. Medically, primary infertility is defined as a healthy couple trying to conceive for 1 year without achieving their first successful pregnancy. This is where my husband and I lie. We've been married and trying for 27 months. Every month has been a struggle to wait and see what will come, then dealing with the heartbreak with each single pink line.
For some women one pink line is reason for rejoicing. Whether it was a failure of birth control, not ready for a child for any reason, a single pink line is a comforting thought. For me, one line often results in a minor emotional breakdown.
There are many times I get stuck with thoughts that tell me I'm not going to be a mother, or that I'm being punished for something I did. There are other times when I feel rotten for fighting back tears when I should be happy for friends and family who are expecting. Most often, though, I feel alone. So, I went searching for answers.
While doing research on the Papal Document Humanae Vitae, I stumbled upon another document entitled Donum Vitae. This document, published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in 1987, has a small section titled, “The Suffering Caused by Infertility in Marriage.” Here is an excerpt from that section. The emphasis is retained from the original text.
Nevertheless, marriage does not confer upon the spouses the right to have a child, but only the right to perform those natural acts which are per se ordered to procreation. A true and proper right to a child would be contrary to the child's dignity and nature. The child is not an object to which one has a right, nor can he be considered as an object of ownership: rather, a child is a gift, "the supreme gift" and the most gratuitous gift of marriage, and is a living testimony of the mutual giving of his parents. For this reason, the child has the right, as already mentioned, to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents; and he also has the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.
I read that, and I can't help but recall a conversation I had with my mom.
When I was little, like any kid, I would grab random toys off the shelves in a store and ask for them. Occasionally, it would be the same item on separate trips. Since we didn't go shopping together more than once a month, Mom would often get the hint that this was something I was truly interested in. After I had heard “no” enough, I would stop asking. Then one day I would find a surprise, and it would be the item I had been asking for. Naturally, I would be even more excited because I received it as a gift. Just like Mom, God will give good gifts, and is also the giver of that “supreme gift” of a child.
A child “is a living testimony of the mutual giving of his parents.” When my husband and I were dating, we would often hear from our married friends that “someday our love will grow so large that in 9 months, we will have to give that love a name.” Whether our friends knew it or not, they were speaking a great truth of their sacrament. Sure, it can be argued that a child might be brought into a family situation that is less than ideal. But God understands the positive impact that can be brought into a family if they choose to view a pregnancy as a gift, rather than a burden.
How does all this relate to the lack of fertility? Alone or not, infertility is something that many people encounter. As I've been writing this post, I think it comes down to perspective. I can look at the situation my husband and I are in and either find it as a way to grow or a way which will lead to despair. I often need to remind myself that infertility is not the end of the world. Ultimately, God is in control of my life. The gifts he will give me are great. I can choose to be persistent in prayer, but, ultimately, I am called to be patient.
Since the original publishing of this article I've learned so much more about the grace and love which God can give. We still have not conceived but have been able to look at the work that we are able to do without having children of our own. Although we still desire children of our own, my husband and I are able to devote more time to those we serve through my job as a youth minister. My husband and I are also working to improve our state in life by paying down debt and improving ourselves to be better parents should that day ever come. Until then we both wait patiently and try to echo the Fiat that Mary gave, that everything be done according to the will of God.