I'm going to warn you about three things here:
1) This isn't going to be pretty
2) This isn't going to end the way you think
3) You're going to get 2 litanies for the price of one!
3) You're going to get 2 litanies for the price of one!
So here's where I take a turn. You're not going to like me very much for it either, infertile Catholics. Sorry about that. Download the following document (hover over it, then click on the top right corner to "pop out" and you can download or print) and then get GOOD at praying it. Don't just give it a cursory glance. Don't just look at it once and say "yeah, I see your point". Don't get angry with me and think I'm a turncoat. Really think about what we're all doing here - fine tuning suffering. We're finding a way to put the pain to use. We're dying to ourselves. And I'm pretty sure Christ is going to reward that with more Divine Mercy than anything else we could give Him.
Do the uncommon and take the less traveled path here. Put your pain to work. Let it sanctify you, like St. Josemaria Escriva used to say. Don't let yourself be persecuted by the insanity of these platitudes. Make yourself HOLY through them. Meditate on God's suffering. Unite your pain with Christ and ask Him to do something better with it than you can. Remember when you still liked me? ;)
OK, now I'm going to talk to the REST OF Y'ALL.
You need to STAHHHPPPPP with the ridiculous questions, judgments, ideas, advice, suggestions, and story telling of your neighbor's cousin's best friend's former college roommate's mom's aunt's sister about how she got pregnant drinking nothing but lime juice while dancing barefoot in a field of chickens for 6 days straight.
CUT. IT. OUT.
Compassion means to suffer with. And no part of suffering WITH involves a constant drone of misinformed, hurtful, and downright dangerous things coming out of your mouth. When you don't know what to say - tell us you'll pray for us. When you don't know how to react - ask us what you can do for us. When you don't understand, tell us that. The single best thing you can alwayseverforevermore do for us is PRAY. That's going to be our default. As Catholics, we solidly believe in the power of prayers. And we believe in your prayers whether you are Catholic or not! If you don't have a relationship with God, this is the perfect opportunity to reach out to Him and say "Hi, I need to talk to you about my friend and the pains of her infertility." It's not unrealistic. It's not presumptuous. It's the least and most anyone can do.
And if after all of that, you still have something to suggest, ask if the infertile couple are open to advice. They'll tell you what they can handle. Treat them with the respect their condition deserves. You wouldn't tell a cancer patient to get over their chemo pains. You wouldn't tell them their HAIR LOOKED BAD. You wouldn't ask them if they needed your sperm to survive their disease.
So don't do it to us.
Few people (outside those who are actively in the thick of it) understand that the psychology of disease related to cancer is STRIKINGLY similar to that of infertility. In fact, I'll tell you squarely right now: I took more pills a day than a cancer patient last year. There. I said it. 27, y'all. A day. All intricately timed to waking, sleeping, eating, not interacting with each other, being far enough apart by dose, timed to a detailed medical chart. And that doesn't even take into consideration all the shots, blood draws, and surgery I underwent. There was never a month with fewer than 10 shots or blood draws. And sometimes the that number climbed to as much as 31 a month. And the month that looked like that was really 26 in one week, and a paltry 5 the next week. Look at the handywork of just one phlebotomist from one draw. We're not talking about metaphorical suffering at all when it comes to the journey of infertility!
Really though, it's all just exhausting. Your house fills up with charts, thermometers, books, graphs, medicines, and medicine-taking-paraphernalia. Every end table, counter, and bathroom nook becomes a place for morning, noon, night, and bedtime pills. But here's my real point: I'm nowhere NEAR unique. I'm on the rather lucky end of things right now, in comparison to what some have to do (uterine antibiotic lavages in preparation for marital intercourse anyone?)
Simply put, we're doing the best we can with the pace that our medical treatment demands. And most of us aren't just doing it for a baby. We're trying to improve our health first and foremost. We didn't choose this path. We didn't choose to be sick. We didn't choose our infertility. We're not basking in the attention from all the medical interventions. It's not a stunt. We just want to grow our family like you do/have. You get that right, parents? You get that those children you swear you'd die for are worth this, don't you?
So please, please, please, please, PLEASE give us a break from the Litany of Platitudes. All of them. For the love of all that is good and kind, leave the adoption cliches alone at the very least. Learn how to love us better! And remind us that no matter how ugly the journey is that we're on, you'll be there with us. You support God's will and timing and plan for our life and we will forever appreciate you for it. If you can't do that, you aren't really living the Catholic faith you profess. And neither are we Catholic infertile if we let the Litany of Platitudes get the best of us (all the time).
God's peace and goodness to everyone who found themselves reading along today. Thank you for taking this with the charity and love it was written with and thank you for following along with this humble blog as I seek to make sense of my own infertility.
This post is the fourth in a series on infertility. If you'd like to read from the beginning, click on the picture below to read the original post in the series where all of the posts will be linked.