We live in a contraceptive culture. As I write, there is a case under consideration by the Supreme Court (Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.) dealing with the question of whether an employer can be required to provide contraceptive and/or abortifacient devices and medications against his/her conscience. Proponents of the contraceptive mandate -- contained within the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare -- argue that contraception is a "women’s health issue"; that an employer’s refusal to provide a health insurance plan that includes free birth control is tantamount to said employer banning his employees from using birth control; that most women use contraception so everyone should just get over it.
Without going into why all of that is a load of steaming horse manure (for now), let me just say: I find it all to be somewhat of a personal insult.
I suffer from infertility. I have one child, miraculously conceived after almost five years of (never-contracepting) marriage, countless rounds of fertility medications and finally surgery to remediate endometriosis. Our daughter is delightful and we want her to have siblings. Despite the well-meaning assurances from everyone we know that after getting pregnant the first time we wouldn’t have trouble repeating the feat, my doctor has officially declared that the name of the game here is secondary infertility, and thus multiple rounds of Clomid are in my future.
I read a lot of blogs written by endlessly, effortlessly fertile Catholic women. They good-naturedly complain about the burden of a large number of children (and their laundry!), the open disbelief people display at the sight of their families, and the difficulty of enduring the abstinent periods of an NFP-charted menstrual cycle.
Meanwhile, I struggle to keep my heart and soul free of the crushing burden of bitter envy.
And let me tell you: the world does not understand a family that freely accepts children as a gift from God. I’m one of seven children myself; I heard the rude remarks that people made to my mother. But the world also does not understand the grief that comes with having a heart open to children who do not arrive.
Most of the time I’m fine, and happy, and delighted with my child and my husband and our life together. Sometimes I’m sad and fending off depression – mostly when a round of fertility medication has failed and I’m staring down the barrel of another month of hot flashes, irritability, nausea (just a delightful reminder that if I get pregnant, I'll be off food for nine months), and meticulous charting. Occasionally I’m relieved that I’m unlikely to ever find myself accidentally pregnant four months after having given birth to my sixth child.
And I often get SO MAD about the casualness with which so many contracept and abort in order to preserve their status quo. I get personally insulted when people see pregnancy as a disease to be prevented with the Pill or “cured” by abortion, and who see children as nothing more than a burden.
Some of us are filled with longing to be so burdened.