Dealing with criticism in my parish community when discussing infertility treatment

My husband and I spent 5 years trying to conceive on our own the “natural” way before we even began to consider infertility treatment. During that time I have spent time praying over our decisions and what level of treatment I am comfortable in pursuing. Both my husband and I have spent hours praying together and alone as to “how far” we are doing.

I firmly believe that my decisions as to the method that I become pregnant are between my husband, myself, and God- and not between my husband, myself, and the Church.

That being said, we are currently going through artificial insemination, and not using the Catholic Condom. This is our last shot before IVF or pursuing a donated embryo.

I’m not here to be judged, or to be told how immoral/wrong/hell-inducing our decision is. I’m simply here because I’m very open about our infertility struggle in the community, and most people know at least the general info on what treatments we are doing.

What I need advice on are the instances in which I have to defend my decision within my parish community. There have been several times when people have called me to task on the fact that we’re going against the wishes of the Church when it comes to our family building, and I’m looking for responses that are tactful, yet firmly express our stance that this is a decision between ourselves and our God.

To admonish sinners, counsel the doubtful, and instruct the ignorant are spiritual works of mercy. It is what Christians are* supposed* to do for each other. If you did not want to be told that you are wrong and ought to reconsider your intention is to go against Church teaching, you should not have advertised your intention at your parish. You put your fellow parishioners on the spot to correct you.

IOW, it is not objectively true that your moral choices are between you and God. We are supposed to consult with each other and submit to what we are taught by those with teaching authority. We do not have some right to evade correction of our exhibited faults. Don’t try to advocate for that position unless you want to invite more correction, because those who feel it their duty to speak up against incorrect teaching being voiced among fellow parishioners are in the right on that point. That is their duty. To be blunt, when we are wrong, we’re supposed to want correction, so don’t try to defend a right to stubbornness.

The only thing you can do at this point is to let it be known that you appreciate the position of the Church and do not need further instruction. If you are asked what you are going to do, you can say, “That is a private matter, and you ought not ask. You have confirmed that I have been given correct teaching; I am not arguing the point with you. Your duty is done. If I decide to confide anything else, I’ll make the decision concerning who to confide in and when. Do not pry into any more than that. Thank you.” The only one who could keep prying after that is your pastor (or assistant pastor–let’s not split hairs), as he actually does have responsibility to inquire about your spiritual well-being, and does have the office to ask blunt questions about what you’ve been doing or intend to do.

If anyone else argues they have some right to nose into your business, you may offer them gentle correction and admonishment to repent. It will be a bit ironic if you admonish others to do what is right instead of what they think is right while you are reserving the right to do what you believe is best yourself, but it will be the right thing for them to hear. They don’t need to know if you are right with God or the teaching of the Church in order to attend to their own faults.

Now I have to do my duty, in spite of your request. I do hope you reconsider what you plan to do. It is very tempting and entirely understandable, but it is not OK.

Religion aside, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be discussing your fertility treatments with such a wide audience. Medical things like that are complicated enough without going through the rumor mill. Furthermore, if they work you’ll be worried about judgement over IVF/multiple births/the money you spent/all the issues that go along with IVF. If they don’t work, you’ll be front and center while everyone is either feeling sorry for you or feeling grateful that IVF failed.

Some things should remain private. How babies are made is one of them, regardless of whether or not medical intervention is involved.

I have to agree with this, too. The truth is, most people wanting to become parents will get far more advice than they need without solicitation. Giving anything like an invitation to chime in is like blood in the water. The advice will come from every side.

Personally, I cannot imagine why one would choose to be open about the matter (with parishioners), when there would seem to be no good flowing from that openness, and a heap of predictable hassle. However, what’s done is done.

I will leave it to others more tactful than I to provide the appropriate retorts. But can you share with us how God assisted in your decision-making, and did you gain insight to see error in the Church’s teaching?

Seriously…you know it’s against Church teaching, yet you tell your church community what you are doing, and wonder why they aren’t overjoyed with your choices?

If you deliberately choose to against the teachings of the Church…keep it between you, your husband and God.

As I mentioned, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in prayer. At each step of the way I prayed for guidance in the decision-making. I can’t describe it any better than to say that after spending time in scripture and in prayer, at each juncture I was filled with an overwhelming sense of peace. Each time before my appointment when I prayed over “what comes next” there was no hesitation in my brain or in my soul when I discussed our decision with our doctor. After going to the Lord in prayer, it was as if a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I do not believe that God lift the weight of a sinful act yet to be made from my soul.

As for why I am open with those in my parish- it’s not necessarily that I’ve stood on the rooftops and shouted “I’M DOING ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION” but rather it’s been organic in nature- I’ve shared with my women’s prayer group. I’ve shared with friends who attend church with me. I’ve shared with coworkers, with neighbors, and with the cashier at the grocery. I lead a peer-led infertility support group in the community. I have nothing to be ashamed of in the fact that it’s taking my husband and I extra help to grow our family, and I believe that God has used my infertility struggle to call me to be an advocate for women faced with subpar fertility.

Infertility is an incredibly lonely journey, and IF and pregnancy loss are such taboo topics in society. There is no shame in losing a baby (it happens in 1 in 4 pregnancies) and there is no shame in needing help to conceive, since 1 in 8 couples face infertility. A diabetic would not hide their need for insulin, right? Someone with heart surgery wouldn’t hide the need for their procedure, correct?

Frankly, it gets old answering “So when are you having children” year after year. It hurts when people blindside me with a pregnancy announcement and then become upset when I’m not immediately jumping for joy. It gets old listening to office gossip when I have to leave with short notice for monitoring or IUI appointments. I was sick and tired of the whispers of “is she ill?” or “why isn’t she ever in the office anymore” or even “Is she interviewing for another position?”

Therefore I have put aside MY pride and humbled myself so that others do not have to feel alone, nor fear sharing their stories or feelings.

Ooh, boy. Suffice it to say that feelings are not a good way to discern a moral path. There is many an abandoned spouse out there who has been left by someone who had a deep sense of peace about what they were doing. Sorry, the point had to be made; enough said there, though.

You’ve made a sacrifice for the sake of others. The impulse is good, but there is a price to pay. There is a reason that people do not talk about lost pregnancies or difficulty having children. Gossip does real harm, and there is a limit to how much we can keep it from hurting us. IMHO, staying off the radar is a strategy that does as much as can be done to keep others from the near occasion of this sin.

Oh, and diabetics? Many of them do not share that information, because they get very tired of hearing, “Should you be having that?” Blood in the water, dear, blood in the water.

That’s not to say you can’t be open about yourself. You just can’t have your cake and eat it, too. The more open you are about yourself, the more open people will be on the topic of you. I’m not totally against disclosing anything, but I’m a big advocate of counting the cost. The ripples from one little stone travel farther than most of us ever guess, for good and for bad.

You came to CAF to get answers on how to defend your actions, that are against Catholic teaching, when being called out on them by orthodox Catholic parishioners?

You are putting your fellow parishioners in a situation where they have no choice but to call you out on your actions, so that they do not become party to your sin by way of silence. If you don’t want to hear it, don’t talk about it.

Better yet, repent and sin no more.

this forum is for Catholic family life ,not,“hey i’m going to do it my way family life”:shrug:

and you do realize the choice you have made results in dead babies .

Yes- the reason most people don’t talk about loss or infertility is because of the insensitive comments of others. There is NO shame in grief. There is NO shame in mourning a child you have lost. There is NO shame in the reality that not everyone gets pregnant at the drop of a hat.

The ONLY way that there will ever be cultural change when it comes to how people speak with/to/about those struggling with pregnancy loss and infertility is if we stop hiding in the shadows. It’s not gossip when you are the one speaking about it. It’s not gossip when you make it know that you are OK with answering questions. It’s not gossip when you invite the conversation.

I can understand your situation, this will earn me much ire I am sure but I do sympathize and perhaps I can offer some advice, and try to draw from my own experience of crossing the “party line”.

A good few years ago myself and my wife began using contraception after the birth of our youngest child. This passed unnoticed for a while, but once parents around myself and my wife’s ages were herding around families of seven or more in contrast to our three it began to provoke some awkward questions especially since ours came in rapid succession, and eventually I said quite unashamedly the cause and reasons for it (Financial, our busy careers not to mention my wifes last pregnancy seriously endangered her health and she has been warned not to conceive again).

Don’t expect support on the matter from within your congregation because it likely won’t be forthcoming (openly at least, you may get one or two scurrying over quietly to talk), as long as you can look into your heart and know you couldn’t have done any better there is little more that can be said. If you have discern and something continues to drive you towards bearing a child, I’m not going to try and dissuade you. It’s between you, your spouse and ultimately God. Anyone elses opinion is irrelevant.

Wait a minute. Are you honestly telling me your
decision to announce to your prayer group that after
much prayer you and your husband have decided to
plan on committing serious sin and you did this
from humility? Really? Wow.
You do realize don’t you that at the root of most
intentional serious sins is pride. So out of pride you
plan and out of pride you announce?
I am not surprised people in your parish called you
on it and if you continue to “scandalize” your neighbors
the consequences could be dire indeed.

The last time I checked, artificial insemination has not created dead babies, as we have yet to even successfully have ONE fertilized embryo created in my uterus.

If and when we move on to IVF, we plan on adopting any leftover embryos to another infertile couple. We do not plan to leave any “frozen babies” behind- those that we are unable to safely transfer will be given the opportunity to be carried, birthed, and raised by another Christian family.

As to why I posted on CAF- I certainly know that I am not the only Catholic to pursue fertility treatment with ART. I simply wanted to hear how others have dealt with the community aspect of those decisions.

That isn’t what this is about at all. You are violating Catholic teaching, and then spreading word of your sin and expecting people here to somehow give you ways to defend your sinning against those who are doing the right thing as Catholics in trying to lead you to truth.

and there is the sin of affirming someone in sin,you want to post that your in a state of mortal sin and not be called out on it and also encourage another in mortal sin.

It’s either that or my wife suffers death by pregnancy.

Are you advocating she dies? I thought purposefully killing someone was a mortal sin too, and impregnating her would be doing just that.

Yes. The nine way we either cause or share guilt in anothers sin:

by counsel
by command
by consent
by praise or flattery
by concealment
by being a partner in the sin
by silence
by defending the ill done

rationalize this all you want,and it doesn’t matter how many Catholic do this ,it is a mortal sin and their and your souls are in danger of eternal damnation .

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