I’m not sure if my husband and I ever could have imagined the lengths to which we would go in order to have a baby. But I am sure that it was shortly after our initial appointment with the fertility doctor that we knew our journey was going to be more complicated than we had originally planned. As I mentioned before (see “Our Journey” post), both my husband and I grew up devout Catholics. We had to rethink all we ever were told about morality and conception from our schooling, where things like IVF and embryo biopsies were not an option. My mother-in-law, who epitomizes the word “Catholic,” wasted no time thinking after she heard about our issues and their possible solutions. After listening to our sordid tale, she came out with one of the most beautiful quotes, from one of the most unlikely sources–the popular hit television show of the late 80’s, early 90’s, Doogie Howser M.D. This quote, from Doogie’s computer journal that he faithfully typed at the end of every episode, read, “when the tools of science meets the mysteries of faith, the most powerful of all human miracles is born. It’s called hope.”
I have never felt like what my husband and I were doing to try to conceive was ever wrong. How could anything that brings about a life, a little soul, be wrong? I begin to wonder if the people in the various religious institutions who made the rules about what is the “right” way to conceive ever had trouble conceiving? Have they ever felt the despair, the loss or the sense of hopelessness a couple with infertility faces? Have they ever seen the joy of a family who has conceived a child through IVF after trying for many years? For a person like myself with a severe translocation coupled with endometriosis, “conceiving naturally” is not an option and would just lead to one miscarriage after another.
My daughter, was conceived because “the tools of science” met with “the mysteries of faith.” My fertility doctor actually looked at my daughter the other day as we went over my discouraging medical history and said, “She is a miracle.” I didn’t want to hear that from him as we were talking about trying to conceive again, but I appreciated the statement regardless. My daughter, at the tender age of two, enters a room and fills it with love. She emanates joy. Her friendliness is contagious, even to random strangers in the grocery store to whom she introduces herself unsolicited. My daughter is compassionate and thoughtful, a truly special soul. If my husband and I followed the rules mandated by certain religious institutions, my daughter wouldn’t be here. But we didn’t, and she is. She is a child of God, and she is full of Grace (which also happens to be her middle name).
My faith in God gives me grace and strength to get through this difficult journey. My fertility doctor and all of the medical procedures that exist out there to help me achieve a pregnancy give me hope. My husband, my daughter, our parents and other supportive family and friends give me love. Because of this combination of support, I am well armed to fight infertility. Without faith, hope and love, I would be lost.
There is a great anecdote that sums up how I feel about taking advantage of all there exists medically to help me conceive. I heard it during a homily at mass one day, and it went something like this:
A great flood came to a town, and the waters were rising steadily. A man was determined to stay in his house, convinced that God would save him. A neighbor came by with a row boat and asked the man if he wanted a ride to safety. The man said, “No thanks. God will save me.” The waters continued to rise, and the man went up to the second floor of his house to escape the river. Then, a police boat came by and ordered the man on the boat. The man replied, “I will not go, God will save me.” Finally the man had to go on top of his roof to avoid the rushing waters. A helicopter came by with a rescue basket warning the man this was his last chance to evacuate. The man again refused saying, “It’s okay. God will save me.” Later, the man got swept away with the rising current. At the pearly gates the man asked his Creator, “Why didn’t you save me?” God replied, “I sent two boats and a helicopter. What more could I do?”
Because I am only human, I have no idea what will be said to me regarding the use of fertility treatments when I arrive at the pearly gates to meet my Maker. I just might hear the words, “Bad call.” My heart and soul are telling me otherwise, though– especially when I look at my daughter and see God so clearly in her. What I would not want to hear is, “I sent a reproductive endocrinologist, a genetic lab and an embryologist your way. What more could I do?”