Monday, September 15, 2014


Sometimes it seems like choice is a bad word in Catholic circles. Part of it may the way the word has been co-opted, used to refer to one particular choice; another part of it may be a sense that "good Catholics do x." (Lest I be misunderstood, you can certainly identify plenty of values of x where that formulation applies, such as go to Mass, pray, learn more about their faith, go to confession, etc.) At first glance Catholicism can seem pre-occupied with rules and following them, though there is plenty of room for individual choices if you look deeper. Heck, we even have a word for how to make good choices when making major decisions: discernment. The simple truth is that what is right for one person or one couple may not be right for another. (You see similar attitudes with family and friends giving singles "suggestions" about how to meet people, e.g. "you have to try" online dating/speed dating/volunteering, etc. Um, no; just because it was right for you doesn't mean that it's right for him or her.) Each of us has our own individual circumstances that we must adapt to and live through. 

There was one lady in the FB group who conceived after many cycles of trying and having real doubts about continuing that after succeeding started telling everyone else "You can't give up! I persevered despite how long it took, and I'm now x weeks pregnant." Quite frankly, that attitude drives me bonkers. First of all, no one else can speak for how treatments are affecting you or your marriage. Though children are good, destroying your marriage trying to have them is not. One person may have no side effects; another may tolerate them comfortably; someone else may barely tolerate them, and yet another person may find them unbearable. No one else fully knows what your limits, resources, or priorities are. What is right for one person/couple is not necessarily right for someone else. What worked for someone else may not work for you, even if your diagnoses are similar. Please note, I am not remotely against sharing one's experience, saying "this worked for me, it may help you." What I am opposed to is the attitude that "there is only one right way to do this; you have to do it this way." There may well come a day when medicine (and nutrition) are tailored to each individual's unique genetic and physiological makeup, but that day isn't here yet. For now, our best options are learning from one another, even if the situations aren't completely comparable.

I know quite a few people who have made dietary changes and felt better, as well as had improved test results. A friend (who also has Hashimoto's) received the recommendation to go gluten-free, tried it for a month without seeing any effect, and said "The heck with that! Plenty of crack whores get pregnant." Though I didn't necessarily say it, I admired her gutsiness and willingness to draw a line, to say "enough." That is something I struggle with - knowing when to say "enough." Their situation is somewhat different from ours, as they also have some male factor issues. Since I am the only one with medical problems, I often feel like I have to keep trying these different suggestions and medical regimens. Do I really owe it to my husband? No. They're choices we need to make together, without me letting my feelings of guilt rule my decision-making. 

Some decisions we can make in advance; others we must face when we get there. Before I had surgery, we agreed that this would be the one and only surgery I had for fertility reasons. I know plenty of you have had multiple surgeries, and I admire your courage and sacrifice. Factors that affected our decision that it would be a one-time event were my age, diagnoses, and previous surgical experiences. I in no way, shape, or form judge anyone for choosing differently than I have chosen. Over time we have back and forth about whether we could make our decision about adoption before we stopped TTC. At one point we expected to be working on both simultaneously, but then the agency we planned to use closed. We have found another agency we may consider, but we have decided that adoption is a choice we will need to make later, after we are done with all the medicines, cycle reviews, and regular doctor appointments. Trying to do both would be too much for us at this time.

It can be hard to remember that someone else choosing differently in no way reflects on your choice. It doesn't mean that they are judging you or think your choice is wrong; it just means that the right choice for them is not the right choice for you. Even if people ask why, they are likely just trying to understand how you made that decision - what made it the right choice for you? How did you know it was the right choice? It is so hard to make good decisions as we go down this path with its ups and downs, emotional highs and lows. Even more than the details of treatments and diagnoses, we can learn from each other how to properly discern what He is calling us to do. 


  1. Well stated! I think sometimes there is so much compassion in others, but they express it in a way that isn't helpful or comforting. It's totally about what is right for *you* and not what worked for others.

    There are things I'm willing to do (surgery and meds). There are things I'm not willing to do (radical diet changes, mainstream fertility treatments). There is actually great peace in knowing that a line has been drawn, wherever the line is appropriate for you.

  2. Wonderful. It is hard to not compare our IF issues, treatments, decisions to others. Ive never done GF, and for now im ok with it, but sometimes i do wonder.... this is also tough with our decisions regarding adoption, domestic v. international, agency choice, openess to various things. It helps to remember that God may not be calling us to the same thing as others, but still tough.

  3. Thank you for this reminder - that each of our roads will be unique. We are not all called to the exact same choices, even in a shared experience.