I was talking to a blog friend on facebook the other day about babies, fertility, issues around those things, and the Catholic Church. She's quite the Catechist reader as well (although she puts me to shame!) and says "You know, you have an excellent case for Church sanctioned sterility". Now, mind you, she wasn't trying to be harsh or mean; she was giving her honest opinion.
For those who are wondering what on earth "Church sanctioned sterility" might mean, the simple answer is that there are certain medical practices that are not considered okay for Catholics. A vasectomy, for example, is one of those; IVF is another. (There are a number of practices and the reasons why they are prohibited, if you are interested, that you can find on the USCCB page or by contacting your local diocese.) However, even practices that are normally no-no's, if you have a pressing medical reason that a specific condition might be necessary, you can petition the Bishop/Cardinal of your diocese/archdiocese for a dispensation to the rule so that you can, in good faith and conscience, have the procedure done. (Obviously, it's a more detailed examination that I'm giving in a paragraph, but you get the gist.)
My friend's position is that, due to my body's inability to nourish or sustain a pregnancy and the ramifications of that (both health wise, emotionally, and the toll on our families), I would have a case, should I want a voluntary hysterectomy. I'm not sure that I've ever heard of anyone citing recurrent pregnancy loss or recurrent preterm labor as an argument for sterility, but it has made me think and question the idea.
I brought it up to Peter the other night, not as a "I want a hysterectomy" discussion (because, for the record, that's not a thought passing through my mind) but just to share the suggestion. His response actually surprised me.
We've discussed pregnancy before and how there would be so many risks that it doesnt seem practical to attempt. Of course, if we got pregnant, we'd be grateful and do our best, but to actually try to conceive again doesn't seem up our alley. He wasn't suggesting that we get on the TTC train, but his comments were interesting the say the least.
He wonders if pregnancy could, possibly, be more normal, post a cerclage, since I'm in better health and weigh quite a bit less. If, of course, I'd be less active, but if I could manage at home without strict bedrest, and make it fairly close to full term.
I'm not as optimistic. I think a great deal of my issues stem from the fact that, hormonally, something isn't right but also that my cervix has some sort of defect. It isn't tired from too much work or tried-and-true-but-old... It's actually broken in some sort of hidden way. The structure is weak. And, although a TVC can help that, it can't fix the fact that the structure itself is weak. 15% of TVCs fail; I'm one of those. I know it and accept it; I wouldnt be willing to voluntarily risk it.
Which brings the discussion back to a preventative TAC. A higher success rate with a much higher chance of a full term delivery... But always a surgical delivery, with a higher risk of complications and a longer recovery time... with kids at home already who need 100% of me, regardless of how I'm feeling.
I loved it. For all of the worry and health issues, I loved being pregnant. I'd love to do it again. And I love the idea of babies in our house. But... There is so much to consider... Infertility aside, the prospect terrifies me. And, with Michael on the way, it would definitely be something to consider for 2 years or so down the road.
But would be consider it? Would we consider a surgery to make it "safer" and actually actively try again?
I dont know, but it is strange thinking that Peter thinks it would be possible... and quasi-normal.
Thanks for sharing the 'church sanctioned sterility' Michele. I must admit that I've never heard of that, but although we are not anywhere near that, it gives me a bit of hope that another avenue might possibly be open to us should we need it. Interesting!
If you did decide to go ahead w/ church sanctioned sterility- I dont think a hysterectomy would be the appropriate measure-too severe. There are ways of closing off the falopian tubes permanently to prevent pregnancy and one of them is non surgical. A friend of mine had it done. I wouldnt go through a hysterectomy w/o a more pressing medical reason.
A friend of mine went into end stage renal failure at 18 weeks pregnant, and she and her daughter were able to survive to 31 weeks with 5 days a week dialysis, when she started to go into heart failure as well and her daughter had to be taken to save both their lives. She is catholic and delivered at a Catholic hospital, and had to go through an ethics committee process, but she did get her tubes tied during that c-section. Another pregnancy is not something she or her child would likely survive.
The Essure procedure is probably what Terri is describing. It's two coils placed in your tubes to scar them- and you would have an HSG to ensure the scarring took place.
Would you not be allowed a vasectomy for church sanctioned sterility? That's such a lighter procedure.
And forgive me if I'm overstepping, but I'm always curious about Catholic rules and such... Isn't birth control itself forbidden? So you have to do the whole watching your cycle thing right? (which is often tricky with IFers like us). So could you apply to just use birth control? Sorry. Lots of questions.
Hi Barb! No worries (and never too many questions). I'm a lay person with no official religious training, so take what I say from that stance (because I could be misunderstanding what I've read/been told).
Birth control in any sense is forbidden; Peter and I dont (and have never) used it. If it had been prescribed as part of an IF treatment, we actually would not have used that treatment path. For many reasons, I dont agree with it, so I wouldnt ask for permission to use it. We also dont practice NFP or cycle regulation because we've always felt like babies are a gift from God (which they are). It's not the babies I'm worried about- it's the pregnancies, LOL! :) As to the vasectomy... since the health issue rests with me (and not Peter) I couldnt request a vasectomy for him. Our goal in treatment wouldnt be for birth control, it would be for IC, so that is where it would get tricky.
I cant imagine where I would ever petition for such a thing. I have faith that what happens, happens, even when it is hard for us or painful. I dont like it, but I also dont know that whys and why nots. Would I have ever wanted to go through this pre-going through it? No... But now? I'd do it again... in a heartbeat... So, for me, trying to circumvent my body (even when it circumvents me sooooo damn much!) would be pointless (and honestly, for me, faithless).
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