Three Non-Faith Reasons Why We Never Considered Artificial Reproductive Technologies
By Mary Bruno
There are many reasons why Chris and I have never considered IVF or IUI, artificial reproductive technologies (ART). Some are a direct reflection of our deeply rooted Catholic faith and our respect for human life from conception to natural death. But the truth is that we don’t need our religion to tell us that IUI and IVF are not our healthiest options. There are just as many important factors unrelated to our faith that have influenced us to steer clear of artificial means of conceiving a child.
Even without that faith component, it remains a matter of physical, emotional and marital health.
Physical health – Infertility isn’t a diagnosis. It’s a symptom of an underlying problem(s), which ART exists solely to bypass. With my symptoms and the extent of dysfunction in my body, it is highly unlikely that pregnancy would occur and even less likely to reach full-term without actual healing. I needed my health to be restored whether a baby would be an option or not – a mindset which has been good for my mental health. That restoration hasn’t allowed for a pregnancy, but it has improved my symptoms, and that is no small feat.
Emotional health – I have had to ask myself some honest questions. How much attention should I give to getting pregnant? At what point will that goal surpass what is good for me personally? My relationships? Become an idol? Is a baby owed to me? Infertility is already emotionally draining. ART promises to add more financial and other stressors. And at what cost? Contrary to public perception, the success rates are not high. There are so many children already conceived or born and in need of a good home. We wanted to be parents. We’d be missing out on our amazing daughter had we not considered adoption.
Marital health – The very purpose of ART is to separate conception from the unity of spouses, which is not a great start. I never want a baby to become more important than my husband and marriage. I have heard from multiple women how draining it is, especially on a marriage, and even when successful. What if he or I wasn’t fully on board? Would I be putting my desires over the health of my marriage? What if the extent to which he wanted to pursue ART wouldn’t have matched mine? How much time would we waste? How would the financial and emotional stress with no guarantee of success affect us?
I know this can be a sensitive topic, and I want to be respectful of that. Infertility is so hard. I understand the desire to have a baby that drive many to artificial means of escaping infertility. Please know that I respect you and the child you might have conceived through that experience. Your child has equal value and worth to my own adopted child and to any other child conceived naturally. That doesn’t make these other factors any less true, and I believe it is important to share this other side of the story that is often left out.
The idea that I will ever get pregnant used to be terrifying. What has brought peace is daring to imagine that I can still be okay. And I am – even though it still hurts sometimes. I am no longer defining myself by my inability to get pregnant or my potential role as a biological mother. There is so much beautiful life outside of this specific goal and that’s where freedom is found. I never wanted to escape infertility. I wanted to be healed from the inside out.