My mother in law had several miscarriages before having her first child. She went on to have five children. But she often talked of how difficult those preceding childless years were especially as she was an older bride.
Get Religion has an interesting post on how happy Facebook pregnancy posts are, to put it mildly, upsetting to friends who are infertile.
“Long ago, during my Denver days, I heard Cardinal J. Francis Stafford — at that time the city’s archbishop — make an amazing statement. He said that priests face many tough issues while trying to comfort those who are making their confessions while dealing with the wreckage caused by events in life that are occurring, literally, through no fault of their own.
In that context, he noted that of all the issues that he had faced through the years when hearing confessions, one of the the issues that consistently had the most devastating effects on the spiritual lives of penitents was infertility.
How serious? Often, he said, the spiritual effects of infertility were even worse than those suffered by those who lost a child to disease or to a tragic accident. There was a unique and silent pain suffered by those who wanted to have children, but could not. Whole communities will rally around those who lose a child. Those who feel denied the unique joys and pains of parenthood often suffer in silence, except for the interior screams of pain that others rarely hear. Clergy must understand this reality and help those who suffer from it, he stressed.
So what does that have to do with the following story from the Post, which is both creative and emotionally gripping? Read on:
Diane Colling, an occupational therapist and fertility patient, was scrolling through her Facebook page last week when, once again, she was bombarded by a friend’s exuberant broadcast about her pregnancy. “Your daughter will hold your hand for a little while, but will hold your heart for a lifetime,” her brother’s pregnant girlfriend posted.
“I know it’s not meant to hurt, but you feel like you’re getting kicked every time you see these,” said Colling, 28, who lives in Baltimore County and has been trying to get pregnant since 2006. “I have to unfriend people for a while. If I was smart, I wouldn’t go on Facebook anymore, but I’d completely lose connections with family and friends.”
Before Facebook, infertile couples could try to avoid pregnant people at work or social gatherings, limiting their exposure to triggers of bitterness or jealousy. But that was when friendships were forged mainly in person, not via today’s social media Web sites, where people can feel ambushed by photos of friends’ – or mere acquaintances’ – baby bumps.
Now, when more than a half-billion people use Facebook, couples yearning for children say they are trapped: They are unwilling to detach from the social network, but unable to avoid its frequent reminders — fetal sonograms are seemingly ubiquitous — of what might elude them forever.”
Infertility is a difficult cross to bear. It is perhaps even harder for faithful Catholics given the prohibition against IVF.
There is just so much pain in the pews. And on Facebook.
Do read the entire Get Religion post.