The Waiting Womb

What are the infertility solutions prescribed by the Church? Jan. 29 issue feature.

(photo: Shutterstock illustration by Melissa Hartog)

Welcome to the infertility waiting room. My husband and I know every inch of this room; in fact, we spent nine years searching every corner for a way out.

If you find yourself in the waiting room suffering from a waiting womb, here are a few key clues to help navigate your stay:

Paperwork: As with any waiting room, you must fill out your infertility paperwork, but remember that your identity is Catholic. As an infertility coach I have observed that many couples simply do not know moral medical and surgical-treatment options. Following God’s plan out of love for him is the most excellent way to prepare your hearts to be a future mother and father.

Reading Material: Read Catholic material on marriage and family. The Church defends marriage as a sacred relationship and children as its fruit. God’s plan for marriage and family insists that marital love have two distinctive functions: union and procreation.

A general rule of thumb for infertility-treatment decision-making is:

No procedure or technology for infertility can add to the marital union, such as egg or sperm donation.

No procedure can disrupt marital union, such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The Church teaches couples with infertility that “union” is never compromised for procreation. In other words, the end does not justify the means. Techniques which assist procreation, as beautifully stated in the instruction Donum Vitae, “are not to be rejected on the grounds that they are artificial. … But they must be given a moral evaluation in reference to the dignity of the human person, who is called to realize his vocation from God to the gift of love and the gift of life.”

Ticking Clock: As you watch the seconds tick by, you may be reminded of your biological clock; however, all things are in God’s perfect timing. One of the hardest virtues to practice is patience. We live in a maximum-speed-and-ultra-effective world. When my son was 9 years old, he made a profound statement, “Mom, have you ever noticed that God speaks very slowly? It’s like he has a long sentence for you, but he only tells you one word at a time.” Amazing way to look at God’s timing. God tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that he makes everything beautiful in his time.

The Wait Is Over: We distinctly remember, during our eighth year of infertility, when a fertility doctor proclaimed, “I am God. Of course I can get you pregnant.” After such an offense, it took a full year for a friend to convince us to call Dr. Thomas Hilgers, director of the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Neb. We agreed to talk with Hilgers, who developed NaPro Technology (Natural Procreative Technology), which is a culmination of 30 years of research and is Church-approved.

I will never forget our first conversation with Hilgers. He entered the room like a knight in a shining white lab coat, and simply asked, “How can we help?”

“We would like to have a baby,” we told him.

To our shock and utter disbelief, he said, “Well, what if we find what’s wrong with you and correct it? Then you may be able to have a baby. How does that sound?”

“Uh … Did you say you want to heal me?”

In the mainstream infertility world, couples are taught to bypass their reproductive systems to achieve pregnancy — not fix it! People are consistently told that IVF is the only way to have a baby. Many lose focus on the truth. In a recent interview with the only doctor who helped us achieve pregnancy in nine years, Hilgers said, “I don’t know how many times I’ve had couples tell me that they have been told by their doctor that they could not get pregnant except by IVF; that there is no other alternative. It is not true. NaPro Technology is the IVF alternative.”

NaPro Technology is a medical and surgical breakthrough that cooperates with the reproductive cycle to identify the fertility problem and correct it. Hilgers developed the system as a direct response to Pope Paul VI’s encouragement of medical and research professionals to put their talents to work in discovering moral fertility-based solutions for married couples. When you yield to God’s design and purpose for sexuality, he blesses it. In fact, NaPro is two to three times more effective than artificial reproductive technologies.

Despite clear Church guidelines, an unfortunate number of Catholic couples choose immoral means of achieving pregnancy. The most widely used procedure is IVF. Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D., director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, commented, “When asked why IVF might be immoral, people will usually mention the extra embryos that are frozen or discarded. Even if IVF were done without making any extra embryos at all, this way of making babies would still be morally objectionable because the procedure strikes at the very core and meaning of marital sexuality. It substitutes an act of laboratory manipulation for an act of bodily union between spouses. It turns procreation into production.”

As a couple, we can honestly say that following Church teaching through the use of NaPro was the best decision we ever made for our relationship with God, our relationship with each other and now our relationship with our beautiful children. Thanks to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and Dr. Hilgers’ faithful response, we now have a family.

Melissa L. Foley is a Christian infertility coach, fertility-care practitioner intern

and motivational speaker with a passion to serve couples on their infertility journey.