In my last column, “Why I didn’t want to wait,” (Denver Catholic, May 9-15, 2015), my story left off with my husband, Kenn, and I discerning that we would be open to accepting children loving from God right from the moment we said our vows.
Well, we didn’t get pregnant on our honeymoon. Or in the first few months. Or in the first year. Or in the first three years. And as far as I can tell, I’m not pregnant at the time I’m writing this.
Yes, we are one of the many couples who experiences infertility.
I had a hunch that my body wasn’t working quite as well as it should when my husband and I first met with our natural family planning coach as part of our marriage preparation requirement. She looked at my charts and cautioned me that I should keep track of the spotting that was showing up at the end of my cycle.
Over the next year, the spotting continued. I changed my diet and started taking different vitamins, but after another year of infertility, I decided to have my progesterone tested. When I got my results, they revealed that my progesterone levels were well below the “low” marker on the medical graph. My OB-GYN confirmed that there was no way pregnancy could have ever occurred.
Throughout my struggle with infertility, three important themes surfaced. The first was trust. This was a hard one. While I was never angry at God, I wasn’t sure why my body didn’t work the way it should. I knew that God heard my prayers, so I had to trust that he had a plan.
It was also sometimes hard to trust my husband in the sense of wondering, “Does he want to try to conceive as much as I do?” And I think it was hard for him when he started wondering, “Does she want to make love with me just to try to conceive?” We knew that distrust is one of the devil’s favorite ways of creating division, so after every hardship, my husband always assured me that we could trust each other and God.
Another theme that surfaced was healing. At first, I wasn’t interested in infertility treatments. I didn’t want to force God to give us a baby, and I certainly didn’t want to pump myself full of hormones to force my body to doing something it wasn’t able to.
But over time, I began to see that the goal of infertility treatments that are inspired by Catholic bioethics is simply healing. My body was broken, and God wanted me to seek his healing.
With this new mindset, I began treatment with my OB-GYN. First, we tried HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which stimulates the body into creating healthy levels of progesterone. When that didn’t help, we tried progesterone, which would help sustain a pregnancy if conception were to occur. Surprisingly, neither of those treatments healed my infertility, but I firmly believe that God desired that I seek His healing.
A third theme—creative love—emerged as I began to pray about a New Year’s resolution. To me, the phrase encouraged me to think about how my marriage with my husband could be creative, even if not procreative.
What kind of creative? The kind of creative that participates in Genesis. The kind of creative that brings to life the words “God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.” The kind of creative that is infinitely expansive and builds up the Kingdom of God.
It’s been exciting getting to this point, because we’ve discerned that for us “creative love” means becoming missionaries (see “Area couples leaves Denver to minister at reservation,” in Denver Catholic July 25-Aug. 7, 2015). I don’t know if God will heal my infertility in the future and make us a missionary family, but I do know that I will continue to trust him and ask for his healing.
Not every story about infertility ends with a miracle baby. There are many couples who are open to life but still haven’t been able to conceive. But I know that if we all let God write our stories, he’ll make our marriages just as fruitful as any other.