Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Out of Ashes Beauty Will Rise: Our Infertility Story (Part 1)

*Note*  It is with both fear and trepidation that I write this post.  I may lose "friends" or "blog followers" by sharing such a painful (and shameful) part of my past, but I also feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to share our story so that others may know the truth, learn from our stumbling, and perhaps choose a different path.

I only ask, that if you are not Catholic, or even a "faithful" Catholic that you reserve judgment, and if you choose to comment, do so kindly.  Whether or not you agree with the Teaching Authority (The Magisterium) of the Catholic Church is not what this post is about.  While not originally a "Catholic blog", "her Little Ways" has evolved from miscellaneous "mommy blogger" to "Catholic blogger"...written by a sinner...growing in faith and love for the Catholic Church...and striving daily toward living a life of holiness.  I thank you in advance for displaying grace as I tackle this sensitive topic.

All of us are broken.

All of us are sinners.

But for some of us, our sins walk around on the outside of our bodies

But the beautiful thing about Christianity, and specifically Catholicism, is that we can be forgiven. That absolution can be granted.  That healing can take place.

To place on those who mourn in Zion
a diadem instead of ashes,
To give them oil of gladness in  place of 
a glorious mantle instead of a listless 
They will be called oaks of justice,
planted by the Lord to show his

Isaiah 61:3

Out of ashes beauty will rise.

Out of infertility, IVF, and separation from God (our ashes) a good and holy child, additional blessings, and a  return to/deepening of the Faith (beauty) will arise.

Life is a journey.  One that is filled with amazing highs and incredible lows.  But a journey that is always best walked with God.

The First Big Low

Not one ever "expects" to get an infertility diagnosis.  Especially if there has been no previous problematic history with either spouse.

After four years of recurrent miscarriage, our OB/GYN referred us to an infertility specialist.  At 33, I wasn't getting any younger and I was already in a "race against the clock".  (Already, this gives you a peek into my mindset...I'm in control...I make the rules...I will do everything according to my will...etc., etc.)

Never works out that way...does it?

So, after undergoing lots of tests, we come to the conclusion that I am not the problem.

What?  My spouse is the problem?

Wait, I didn't sign up for this.  I mean, I know I stood at the altar and entered into the marriage covenant, "For better and for worse...for richer and for sickness and in health" but I meant for all those struggles that come with child-rearing or with dealing with a spouse that leaves the toilet seat upright and toothpaste in the sink or when we lose our parents or God-forbid a child.

Not that I would be childless...

I'll never forget the specialists words coming over my cell phone as I sat in my red Saturn SUV in a grocery store parking lot. "We are so sorry, Valerie, but Chris and you have a less than 1% chance of ever conceiving children on your own.  Dr. B suggests either going straight to IVF or using donor sperm."

Donor sperm?  I wanted to vomit.  My world came crashing down around me.

An Incredible High

As my husband and I came to terms with our diagnosis (because infertility truly is a couple's diagnosis...not a him or her issue), we vowed we would exhaust all medical avenues to conceive our child.  Regardless of the cost.  How little did I know how much this choice would actually cost.

We knew that God wanted us to have children. After all, our Heavenly Father would not allow man to create and design such a science without his consent.  Isn't God the creator of all things???!!!  Infertility specialists were the hands and feet of Jesus...bringing joy and happiness and babies to infertile couples...right?

Needless to say, both my husband and I were poorly catechised in this area of our faith.

Abortion...absolutely wrong.

But, IVF...

We never even thought that this might be wrong.  We truly believed in our hearts that this was God's way of allowing infertile couples to experience and bring about new life.  We never even considered all the steps of the process that are sinful in and of themselves...and how much life is actually destroyed in the process.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Way ahead.

I'll skip the sordid details, but suffice to say that in November of 2003 we underwent a successful IVF procedure.

On August 4, 2004 the sweetest, most precious, most-wanted/prayed for baby (ever!) entered into the world.  All glorious 6 lbs. 12 oz. of her.  With blonde hair, blue eyes, and the most delicate fingers I had ever seen.  She made our "family" complete and we were ever grateful to God.  He had answered our prayers!

Mary Catherine, 3-days Old, Coming Home from the Hospital

Prayers answered, our family complete, we paraded our "medical miracle" around like an IVF badge of courage sharing with anyone and everyone our story of how God had answered our prayers through science.

Little did we know what "lows" were still in store for us...

As this may be a lot for many of you to digest...both those of you who do not understand or accept the error of my ways or why the Catholic Church even has a say, or those of you who are shocked and reeling from my "confession", I only ask for your grace and prayers and that you return tomorrow for, "the rest of the story."



  1. You are brave to share. There will never be any judgement coming from me.I don't know all there is to know about Catholic's beliefs, but do know that we both Believe in Christ and his saving graces.

    Will be back to read more. I feel we are kindred spirits, I will not stop following your blog.

  2. Valerie,

    We all have incidents in our lives we would describe as 'shameful'. Not all of us have the courage to share them though. I have so many things in my past that I'd like to change but I have to tell myself I was ignorant at the time. I am just thankful I came to know God and now know what is wrong and what is right. God forgives.

    Mary Catherine is so beautiful and obviously a huge blessing to your family, regardless of how she was conceived.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Maybe it will help others in a similar situation.

    God bless!

  3. I found your line about "our sin running around" to be oh so true for me as well. Our oldest was conceived before a wedding. I used to be so angry with God. It didn't seam fair that my sin was so visible to the world and needed a name when others that do the same thing didn't have the shame. WRONG way to look at it. My POOKER Baby is the gift that He granted in-spite of our sinful actions, she was not the sin. God takes bad and makes GREAT every time, especially when we see our errors and come to home humbly. Thank you for sharing your humility with us this Lent, it helps us all be honest with ourselves.
    I can't wait for "the rest of the story."

  4. What a precious bundle she was and
    she is growing up to be a lovely
    young lady.
    I know that both you and Chris are
    very proud of her!

    M :)

  5. Val- I cannot tell you how much I admire your willingness to share this story and your struggles along the way-- if only because you and Chris are not the only ones who were poorly catechized. Your story might make a huge difference for others who are going through the same pain of infertility you went through. So often, those in our generation are catechized through the example and sharing of others.

    I myself have never suffered from any infertility, but if I had- I am POSITIVE I would have embraced any option offered to me to have a baby of my own. I, like you, was very poorly catechized and when I was first married, I would have also looked at IVF as a blessing if it was the only option presented to me.

    God will surely bless you through your openness and willingness to share-- for now, know that your story can do much good and can truly bless others.

    God Bless!

  6. Valerie
    Just stumbled on your blog, and wanted to say {{}} for sharing your story, so hard to be vulnerable sometimes, such humility and bravery{{}}

  7. Val, my friend...
    Sending a virtual hug to you...and praying that your sweet heart not be troubled. Anyone who has not carried the cross of infertility herself has no way means of empathy and therefore no valid means of judgement.

    Thanks for keepin it real, my friend! Hope your heart is light today and that smile just as bright!

  8. I am loving your honesty and can't wait to read more of this story!! SO many people are misled in areas of morality because they are not catechized properly. I pray for our Priests to get more courage to preach from the pulpit and for their listeners to have an open heart to hear it :)

  9. Ditto to what Colleen wrote :) That about sums it up perfectly!

  10. I love that you are so brave to share your heart Val! Mary Catherine is beautiful and I know she is such a blessing to you. I am anxious to read the rest of the story! Thank you for bringing such a sensitive but needed topic to the table. I know it must be hard to share and I admire your honesty so much!


  11. Hi Val,
    As someone who struggled with infertility for almost nine years before my daughter was born I can understand the pain of being childless and wanting a baby oh so very much. I admire your honesty and willingness to share your story and I think it will help others who don't understand the church teaching about IVF.

    May the Lord bless you and your beautiful daughter. God brings good out of everything, doesn't He? Not a one of us is perfect, we are all sinners so I certainly won't be judging you - as a matter of fact, before I came back to the Church I did all kinds of things that make me cringe now :)

    I'm looking forward to reading your next post. Thanks for your courage in sharing your story.

  12. Oh, and by the way, you didn't lose a follower, you gained one.

    God bless!

  13. I am thankful you are sharing your story. I think, as faithful Catholics, we are challenged in having correct language to teach others about the beauty of all Church teachings, including those on reproduction/infertility. I have, in my life, campaigned for figuring out a way to discuss some of the moral wrongs of current popular fertility treatments, while still upholding and respecting the dignity of children born this way (who are, of course, becoming more and more). Can't wait to hear the rest of your story, as I am sure it will help me understand better ways to spread truth, but equally as important, love.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Your kind words are appreciated! As Mother Teresa said, "Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love."