Thursday, April 24, 2014

Infertility Awareness Week 2014

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week! Please read it's a little long but it is very insightful and has some great resources. Rebecca over at The Road Home put this document together. Infertility is so tough to go through, especially as a Catholic because a lot of infertility treatments are not in line with our faith. So on one side we have mainstream secular life pulling us toward the quick fix of our hearts desire and on the other hand we are largely ignored by fellow Catholics who downplay our cross, tell us to "offer it up" or make us feel guilty for not going to a baby shower or not jumping for joy at another pregnancy announcement. This is the Catholic Church we are Christ's body and we can all help each other as we carry our crosses. 

Infertility Awareness Week, 2014: A Catholic Perspective 

One in six couples will experience infertility at some point in their marriage. Infertility is medically defined as the inability to conceive after 12 cycles of “unprotected” intercourse or 6 cycles using “fertility-focused” intercourse. A couple who has never conceived has “primary infertility” and a couple who has conceived in the past but is unable to again has “secondary infertility”. Many couples who experience infertility have also experienced miscarriage or pregnancy loss.

This week, April 20 – 26, 2014 is National Infertility Awareness Week.

We, a group of Catholic women who have experienced infertility, would like to take a moment to share with you what the experience of infertility is like, share ways that you can be of support to a family member or friend, and share resources that are helpful.

If you are experiencing infertility, please know you are not alone. You are loved and prayed for and there are resources to help you with the spiritual, emotional, and medical aspects of this journey

The Experience of Infertility

In the beginning of trying to conceive a child, there is much hope and anticipation; for some, even a small fear of “what if we get pregnant right away?” There is planning of how to tell your husband and when you’d announce to the rest of the family. It is a joyful time that for most couples results in a positive pregnancy test within the first few months. However, for one in six couples, the months go by without a positive test and the fears and doubts begin to creep in. At the 6th month of trying using fertility-focused intercourse (using Natural Family Planning), the couple knows something is wrong and is considered “infertile” by doctors who understand the charting of a woman’s pattern of fertility.  At the 9th month of trying, the month that, had they conceived that first month, a baby would have been arriving, is often the most painful of the early milestones. At the 12th month mark the couple “earns” the label from the mainstream medical community as “infertile”.

As the months go by, the hopes and dreams are replaced with fears, doubts, and the most invasive doctors’ appointments possible. As a Catholic couple faithful to the teachings of the Church, we are presented by secular doctors with options that are not options for us and are told things like “you’ll never have children” and “you have unexplained infertility”; by our Catholic doctors we are told to keep praying and to have hope as they roll up their sleeves and work hard to figure out the cause of our infertility, with each visit asking, “How are you and your husband doing with all of this?”

We find it hard to fit in. We have faith and values that are different than our secular culture, but our childlessness (primary infertility) or small family (secondary infertility) makes us blend in with the norm. We have faith and values that are in line with the teachings of our Church, but our daily life looks so much different than the others who share those values and that makes us stand out in a way that we would rather not. We are Catholic husbands and wives living out our vocation fully. Our openness to life does not come in the form of children; it takes on the form of a quiet “no” or “not yet” or “maybe never” from God each month as we slowly trod along. Our openness to and respect for life courageously resists the temptations presented to us by the secular artificial reproductive technology industry.

Often times our friends and family do not know what to say to us, and so they choose to not say anything. Our infertility stands like a great big elephant in the room that separates us from others. Most of the time, we don’t want to talk about it, especially not in public or in group settings because it is painful and we will often shed tears. We realize it is difficult and ask that you realize this difficulty as well. We will do our best to be patient and to explain our situation to those who genuinely would like to know, but please respect our privacy and the boundaries we establish, as not only is infertility painful, it is also very personal.

One of the hardest experiences of infertility is that it is cyclical. Each month we get our hopes up as we try; we know what our due date would be as soon as we ovulate; we know how we would share the news with our husband and when and how we would tell our parents. We spend two weeks walking a fine line between hope and realism, between dreaming and despairing. When our next cycle begins – with cramps and bleeding and tears – we often only have a day or two before we must begin taking the medications that are meant to help us conceive. There is little to no time to mourn the dream that is once again not achievable; no time to truly allow ourselves to heal from one disappointment before we must begin hoping and trying again. We do not get to pick what days our hormones will plummet or how the medications we are often taking will affect us. We do not get to pick the day that would be “best” for us for our next cycle to start. We are at the mercy of hope, and while that hope keeps us going it is also what leaves us in tears when it is not realized.

Our faith is tested. We ask God “why?, we yell at Him; we draw closer to God and we push Him away. Mass brings us to tears more often than not and the season of Advent brings us to our knees. The chorus of “Happy Mother’s Day” that surrounds us at Mass on the second Sunday in May will be almost more devastating than the blessing of mothers itself. We know that the Lord is trustworthy and that we can trust in Him; sometimes it is just a bigger task than we can achieve on our own.


Pray for us. Truly, it is the best thing that anyone can do.

Do not make assumptions about anything - not the size of a family or whether or not a couple knows what is morally acceptable to the Church. Most couples who experience infertility do so in silence and these assumptions only add to the pain. If you are genuinely interested, and not merely curious, begin a genuine friendship and discover the truth over time.
Do not offer advice such as “just relax," “you should adopt," “try this medical option or that medical option” – or really give any advice. Infertility is a symptom of an underlying medical problem; a medical problem that often involves complicated and invasive treatment to cure.
Do not assume that we will adopt. Adoption is a call and should be discerned by every married couple. Infertility does not automatically mean that a couple is meant to adopt.
Ask how we are doing and be willing to hear and be present for the “real” answer. Often times we answer, “OK” because that’s the easy, “safe” answer. Let us know that you are willing to walk through this the tough time with us.Frequently we just need someone who is willing to listenand give us a hug and let us know we are loved.
Offer a Mass for us or give us a prayer card or medal to let us know you are praying for us. Just please refrain from telling us how we must pray this novena or ask for that saint’s intercession. Most likely we’ve prayed it and ask for the intercession daily. Please feel free to pray novenas and ask for intercession on our behalf.
Be tolerant and patient. The medications we take can leave us at less than our best; we may not have the energy or ability to do much. Please also respect us when we say "no, thank you" to food or drinks. We may have restricted diets due to our medical conditions and/or medications.
Share the good news of your pregnancy privately(preferably in an email or card or letter and not via text, IM chat, phone call or in person) and as soon as possible. Please understand that we are truly filled with joy for you; any sadness we feel is because we have been reminded of our own pain and we often feel horrible guilt over it as well. Please be patient and kind if we don’t respond immediately, attend your baby shower or don’t “Like all of your Facebook updates about your children. Again, it is really about us, not you.
Help steer group conversations away from pregnancy and parenting topics when we are around. We like to be able to interact in a conversation to which we can contribute meaningfully.
Do not ask when we are going to “start a family” (we started one the day we got married).
Do not ask which one of us is the “problem” – we are either fertile or infertile as a couple.
Do not say things like "I know you'll be parents some day," or "It will happen, I know it will!" Along the same lines, please do not tell us stories of a couple you know who struggled for years and went on to conceive or to "just adopt and then you'll get pregnant" (this one actually only happens a small percentage of the time). Only God knows what our future holds, please pray with us that we are able to graciously accept His will for our lives.
Do not pity us. Yes, we have much sorrow. Yes, we struggle. But, we place our faith in God, lean on the grace of our marriage, and trust that someday, whether here on earth or in heaven, we will see and understand God’s plan.

Bloggers who contributed to this article (those with an * have children after primary infertility or are experiencing secondary infertility. They are marked as such so that if you aren’t up for possibly seeing baby/child pictures today, you can meet them on a day when you are, but please do take the time to go and visit them.):

There is also a “Secret” Facebook group with over 150 members who contributed to this article as well. For more information or to join the group, email Rebecca at

Breakthroughs and Happy Easter!!!

Sorry for the excessive use of exclamation points but I just had to. I haven't been really blogging or reading too many blogs lately becasue I have had so much on my plate. For awhile now JJ and I have been discerning whether or not we are called to keep pursuing parenthood or just live as a family of two. We have already decided to stop medical treatment to try and become parents. This has not been the easiest discernment at all! Trying to detach myself from the desire to be a parent so that I can explore that desire to make sure it is not just superficial but that it is from God. Taking on this task of discernemnt has been such a time of growth for me. It has also been an internal struggle to have detachment from desire and hope in God's plan.

As a melancholic I internalize and over analyze all of the options as well as see all the possible disasters. This can easily make me overwhelmed which makes me freeze up and not take action. This is why someone like me needs spiritual direction, so I started back in December. I would've started sooner but every priest I have asked for spiritual direction has said no in the past until this last one must have seen the desperation in my plea and said yes. I really was at a point where I had no idea what to go toward because at that point I needed someone to help me take action.

It was easier to discern stopping medical treatment because JJ and I both felt it was time to let go knowing we had undergone all we were comfortable doing as far as medical treatment. I got a huge consolation and confirmation from God that it was the right thing for us at this time. On Turesday before Ash Wednesday or Fat Tuesday I got my blood results back from my NaPro Dr. She said all of my post peak hormone levels are within normal range which means I could stop the post peak progesterone and stop charting! I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for where I am now. I even thought "well if my hormones are normal does that mean I could be pregnant too?" That wasn't the case as the next day on Ash Wedsnesday aunt flow arrived. I wasn't too bummed about it I just really hate my period. I started Lent infertile and I am starting Easter just the same. It has been such a huge relief not to chart and take progesterone post peak, even if I have to start again because my hormones go haywire again I am just going to enjoy this time I have now not worrying about it. I actually don't have time to worry about it because....

We are staring the process of adoption!!! Here is how we came to the decision...

We have always known we were open to adoption even before we knew we couldn't have biological children. We talked about it before we got married as a way to expand our family whether we had biological children or not. I feel like I have always had a heart for adoption even when I didn't know all that it entailed and even now knowing all it will entail. So during spiritual direction I brought my concerns and thoughts about adoption, foster care and being a family of two. Now my spiritual director is not melenacholic like myself he is choleric and cholerics are not the most sensitive people, which I was concerned about in the beginning, because I had to share my innermost thoughts about infertility and childlessness. It turns out he is exactly who I needed to help me with this discernment! He takes action and pushes others to take action, he is a perfectionist which we have in common. 

I knew adoption was the way to go after our last appt. right when Lent had begun. Padre said something that provoked a strong reaction in myself. He was trying to help me lay out all my options and gave me some suggestions. There was one suggestion that I was not to keen on, well most of them really but the one in particular that I wasn't liking at all was the one about helping out the moms with large families who homeschool by coming over a couple times a week to do a lesson for their children or help in whatever way they needed. Now Padre knows of my child development background so I understand where he was coming from. That suggestion prompted a strong reaction in me and I probably had a look of disgust on my face. Padre could see it on my face so we talked about that suggestion. 

I am glad he said what he did even though at first the suggestion hurt and I did not take well to it. It really got me to say what I had been needing to say for awhile. I eventually said out loud in front of someone else "I want to be a mom! I want to do homeschool lessons for my children. I don't want to take care of other peoples' kids I want to take care of my children." I hadn't let myself say that or feel that for awhile, ever since losing Cecilia I tried to turn off my desire to be a mother. I tried to escape the fact that I want to deal with a fussy baby and toddler tantrums, I want to baptize our children and homeschool them, I want to teach them how to love as they teach me and push me every day to love beyond the borders of my heart, I want to be a mother. 

After that statement which was so powerful for me to say out loud, we looked at the options in which JJ and I could become parents. We discussed more medical treatment and I probably had a sheer look of terror on my face, so we decided that it was right to close that chapter. We talked about foster care in length and decided that wasn't it either. We looked at the option of me going back to work with children and fulfilling my motherly role in that way but that didn't seem quite right either. So finally Padre said "It sounds like the only thing that would fit your life and this desire that you have would be adoption. It seems like when you talk about it that's what you want to do. What is stopping you from adoption?" Then I educated him on the cost of adoption as well as all that it entails. Once he picked his jaw up off the floor from learning about the cost his response was something to the effect of "So if cost weren't an obstacle you would adopt. Well let's make it happen! We will figure out fundraising and all that but if this is what you and JJ both want let's get moving." So my assignment after that appointment was to talk with JJ and if we were both on the same page to make an appt. with Padre to talk about it more. So that is kind of where we are, we will be moving forward with adoption! It has been busy lately with Lent and Easter so we haven't had an appt. with Padre but hopefully soon. 

We did narrow down our agency options to one agency or possibly working with a private adoption attorney. We have been pre-approved by the one agency and I still need to get a hold of the private adoption attorney to see if they are taking any clients and what their process looks like. It has been so much work just researching, calling and going to info meetings but it has also been exciting and invigorating. I don't know exactly how long our wait will be but I know that God will give us endurance during the wait. It has felt so freeing just to pursue something that we desire even if it's hard or it may be a dead end, we are moving toward adoption. When I think about adoption it gives me hope even though I know a birth mother may never choose us there is still the hope that she might. In contrast when I think about medical treatment and biological children I don't get that same hope. I know adoption is not easy and parenting adopted children is no cake walk but it is what we desire.

Please pray for us on this new adventure! We are very excited and I have wanted to write about it for sometime but I wanted to wait until we were ready to share the news. May God reward you! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A face break from

So this Lent I have been staying away from It was difficult in the beginning and I took advantage of the two solemnities we have had plus checking it on Sundays. It had become a main mode of communication for me so I wanted to make sure I was checking it especially because I wanted to promote the retreat there. One month into it so far has been such an eye opening time for me. I haven't been having mystical experiences in my prayer time or anything like that, I haven't really been praying more but I have been reflecting more. 

JJ asked me last week how it has been going so far and we had a very long conversation about I came away from the conversation wanting to delete our account so that I can concentrate and be a more effective communicator to the people in my life. I am a really bad communicator. I am actually ok with not communicating with people every day, JJ is the exception he is my inner circle. I have always been a quiet person especially when I was a kid and when I am out of my element. I have grown in being able to engage in small talk, which I loathe, but I will do it. I would rather have deep and meaningful conversations with a small amount of people. 

I don't usually pursue people to hang out, I tried to when I came back from being a missionary but a lot of my friends at the time pulled back. Since then I became much more careful in who I put my effort into with friendships, I had become even more cautious when we started having fertility issues. gave me an easy way to keep in "contact" with people without having to actually engage with them too much. I started to realize a lot of my conversations were happening on that social media site and I was checking it frequently to make sure I responded soon to keep the conversation going or to read other conversations that were going on. For most people this sounds like a great way to interact with lots of people quickly but when I really thought about it I found it kind of creepy. I was able to look at peoples "lives" that I hadn't talked to in real life for years without having to actually engage them. Doesn't that sound a little stalkerish?! 

Upon greater reflection I wondered why I wanted to know about their lives or why they would want to know about my life. For some people it is a genuine want of connection with people who are currently in your life as well as those who you don't see all the time or are far away. That I can totally get on board with! The other part of having "friends" on that you have no intention of actually making the effort to see in real life is where I have the problem. For me I want to be a more effective  communicator with the people in my life. I don't want to spend my energy on looking at people's lives, I want to be in people's lives. I don't want them to just look at my life either I want them to be a part of my life. Last I counted we had 357 "friends" on, I wonder how many of them actually read this blog or know what is currently going on in our lives besides awesome pictures and quotes we put up on our profile.

Now there are about 4 groups that I am an active part of and they are all either secret or private. I love those groups because one is with Catholic IF gals, another is for practitioners, another one is for my sister practitioners in CA and the other one is the book club I am in. I have missed those groups while not being on but I have realized that I can live without that social media outlet.

This break has given me time to reflect on some misteps I have made on in sharing too much, even in these private groups. I had posted something that Padre had said in a spiritual direction appointment in the Catholic IF group. Well that didn't go so well and it ended up in hurt feelings on my end and I ended up hurting a dear friend in the process. I talked it out with my friend and we hashed it out so everything is fine now but I knew I should not have posted what I did and I knew deep down I just wanted people to acknowledge my hurt and pat me on the back for how well I handled the situation. That is just one mistep!

 Which brings me to my next pondering, why do we feel the need to get attention on social media? I think it is part of our natural inclination toward narcissism. It's not that I don't get enough attention from people in real life, I want more from people I hardly ever see if I see them at all! Which brings me back to wanting to have better communication with those people I actually see on a regular basis or who are far but I am invested in our friendship. I want to be a better friend and let people know that I am invested in them and not just on This means I have to get off of my lazy communicator couch and actually do something like send a text or email or actually call them. 

Now some of you may see blogging as the same thing as, so why do I not have a problem with blogging? Blogging is so different because when you read someone's blog you become invested in who they are. You don't get invited to see their blog, it is more often the case that you are searching for something they have to say. The blogs I read, I pray for these women and their families. I have also come to care about them and have made some wonderful friendships that I would not have otherwise made. When you comment you are engaging in the person's life and people tend to be more honest on their blog about good and bad stuff that is going on with them. does not have the same vibe as blogging does, it just doesn't. 

So, will we delete our account after Easter? I don't know I am still discerning it.  I asked JJ what he thought and he doesn't know either, he hardly ever goes on the computer let alone I thought maybe a good compromise would be to have two days a week so that I don't allow myself to spiral back into checking it so much. I have felt like a more productive and present person being off of and I like that feeling. I guess we'll see what happens after Easter...