Great Expectations

pregnancy-2The Huffington Post must have known the publication of “My Wife Is Expecting Twins and I Am Not Happy About It” would cause waves. Tsunami-level waves, where people were aghast to read paragraphs like this one:

Two blessings, two bundles of joy. How could you not be happy, you ask? Of course I’m sympathetic to people who can’t get pregnant, or who spend a couple of years trying IVF after IVF. But having kids is a selfish endeavor, and in these cases it’s all very relative and highly personal. In our case, my wife and I know better than to think that life with three children is going to be perfect.

The article, published under a pseudonym, is a self-centered diatribe by a man who is mourning his wife’s and his decision to conceive more children after their first. At first, they wanted their son to have a sibling. But now, his wife is pregnant with twins and a Worst Case Scenario mindset, complete with a wide range of negative emotions.

In a planned life, everyone is happy. Why? Because no one wants to plan for sorrow. No one wants to pick up their cross and walk towards Calvary. No one wants to wrestle all night with God, demanding He bless them. No one wants to face 40 days and 40 nights of floods, only to wait for a dove to tell them whether or not dry, stable land is near.

In this life, there are things we can control, and things we can’t. The reason we Catholics believe in Free Will is because it adds a seriousness and responsibility for ourselves, our thoughts, and our actions. God gives us choice – He does not force fate upon us. He draws lines, lest we wander too far, to show us how there is always a way to Him. Life does not happen to us in such a way that we can ever claim our actions are not our fault. We are responsible for how we respond, not necessarily for what happens to us.

In this case, the couple chose to conceive using in vitro fertilization (IVF) because they are going on 40, and conception is harder at that age. The realization of on-coming misery and the admission that neither parent “like the new children” is a positive tragedy. The Huffington Post published a fantastic response by David Vienna, father of twin boys, which paints a more realistic view of raising twins than the resignation to a life with “extra” boys.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2376) states,

Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses’ “right to become a father and a mother only through each other.”

This teaching is essential for the couple’s marriage and the love of their child. This is because, as CCC #2378 says,

A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The “supreme gift of marriage” is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged “right to a child” would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.”

It may seem harsh to couples who desperately want to conceive, but reproductive science is not limited to physically inserting embryos. The ethics of creating a child is just as important as the child itself. Dr. Anthony Caruso, a Catholic reproductive specialist in Chicago who had dismissed the Church’s teaching for many years, had a reversion while in practice. He now works within Natural Family Planning to help women conceive, rather than treating “the underlying condition of which infertility is a symptom.” Creighton is currently the best Natural Family Method for helping women struggling. The success rate may be lower than artificial methods, but it is still extremely effective for many women.

One benefit of Natural Family Planning, especially one that would have benefited the above couple, is the level of communication needed. When one is charting fertility, there can be no “unplanned” pregnancy. There can be no “unwanted” child. Sex is not meant to be “forced, dispassionate, purely functional” – it a gift for the couple, a bonding experience, an expression of marital love, and a renewal of their marital covenant.

The Lord has great expectations for all his children. None of us are the product of nothing or destined for nothingness; “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 RSV). It is important to remember, especially in decisions that result in the creation of a human being, that selfishness only comes from intentions. Even then, another person – for us Catholics, Jesus – can call us out of our inward looking and towards a higher dignity. To have a child is not selfish, or relative, or highly personal (as if you’re deciding on what color you want your walls to be, or what kind of dog you’d like) – each child is given out of love and blesses the Earth by mere presence.

More Resources:

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation

United States Council of Catholic Bishops – Begotten Not Made: A Catholic View of Reproductive Technology

This article is courtesy of Ignitum Today.

J.R. Baldwin is the relationships editor at Ignitum Today. She is one of the three Bright Maidens, and is a regular contributor for The Imaginative Conservative and Progarchy. She blogs at The Corner With A View. She lives in the Midwest with her husband.