I have the pleasure of hosting two wonderful women on my blog today, women who have helped to answer the prayers of MANY couples out there, in co-authoring a book specifically geared towards Catholic Infertility. Their book is entitled: The Infertility Companion for Catholics.
One in every six United States couples experiences infertility but Catholic couples face additional confusion, worry, and frustration as they explore the medical options available to them. Filling a major void in Catholic resources, The Infertility Companion for Catholics is the first book to address not only the medical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of infertility, but also the particular needs of Catholic couples who desire to understand and follow Church teaching on the use of assisted reproductive technology.
Authors Angelique Ruhi-López and Carmen Santamaría offer the support and wisdom gained in their own struggles with infertility. They describe the options that Catholic couples can pursue in seeking to conceive, many of which are not ordinarily presented by the medical community. In an encouraging and non-judgmental tone, they address both husbands and wives and help them recognize the emotional impact of infertility on their relationship.
The Infertility Companion for Catholics presents a variety of spiritual resources including prayers, devotions, and the wisdom of the saints and provides suggestions for further reading of reference materials, Catholic documents, and Catholic blogs about infertility.
Please give a very warm welcome to Angelique and Carmen!
(And by that, I mean, enjoy the following Question & Answer with the authors, leave a comment, and be entered in a BOOK GIVEAWAY right here on my blog - 1st time ever!!)
Q. #1: What made you decide to write the book, and to write it at the time you did? (Any Godincidences with timing??)
Angelique – When my husband and I were experiencing infertility around 6 years ago, I was dismayed at the lack of authentically Catholic resources. I hadn’t really discovered the blogs at that point and I researched Church teachings but felt that a book would be a great tool to offer a combination of spiritual and practical support. I started to do research for a book, but then we started the adoption process and the book got put on the backburner. When Carmen started to experience infertility, I started searching for Catholic books on the subject since I figured that surely, someone had written about this by that point. As it turned out, this book didn’t exist so we felt a strong calling to pool our resources and experiences to write this book.
Carmen – At some point on the journey I started venting into my computer - journaling electronically and saving my thoughts and frustrations. I knew of Angelique’s book idea and I also knew that my experiences were different from hers. I don’t really recall when, but at some point she mentioned that there was still not a resource and we decided we could go at this project together and so we did. God was definitely guiding us the entire way as it came together rather quickly and smoothly. We hope it was the Holy Spirit speaking through us.
Q. #2: What, for each of you, was the most painful part of infertility?
Angelique – Above all, it was the overriding feeling of loneliness. Also, for many years, I thought I did not want children because I feared I would not be a good mother. And when they didn’t come when I, in my selfishness, finally wanted them to, I felt that maybe God agreed with me that I wouldn’t be a good mom. The infertility journey taught me that receiving children from God has nothing to do with merit and everything to do with God’s mysterious plans.
Carmen – I probably try too hard in general in life to understand things - why things happen, what the purpose is - and I did not understand or find any purpose initially for my infertility. This was frustrating and painful because it strained my relationship with God. I’ve generally been a faithful person but infertility made me struggle with my faith. Through the years I have learned that I will never understand God’s ways. I have found a great deal of comfort in these words from Scripture: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55: 8-9). Though not easy, knowing God is in control and that His ways are better gives me peace.
Q. #3: Did you ever envision your lives childless? Why, or why not?
Carmen – Before I ever experienced infertility I had a fear that I would be infertile. My mother only had me and so that was always in the back of my mind. However my husband and I always discussed adoption and we thought it would be a part of our family plan if God willed it.
Angelique – When I was going through my “I-don’t-want-any-children-because-I’m-just-going-to-screw-them-up phase,” I had a harder time picturing our lives with children than without them. When we experienced infertility, at some point I really thought God intended for us to remain childless. Infertility is a humbling experience because once the God-given desire to have children was born in my heart, I had to trust in God’s providence in terms of timing.
Q. #4: Was there a moment when you realized the blessing of your infertility? Describe that moment or what lead up to that moment.
Carmen – I always say that I am not like St. Paul with this dramatic conversion. I know God moves in my life and I can see the prodding and my growth through my meditations, but for me the realization of infertility was definitely a process and not a moment. Actually, I am probably still in the middle of that realization now that the book is published and we are able to see the lives that are being touched by it. I tried to make lemonade out of lemons though as someone still struggling with infertility, the sourness of that fruit is still what I taste at times.
Through infertility and all its heartache I have become more compassionate and empathetic of others’ pain. Another blessing is an increased regard for the value of life. As a pro-life Catholic I have prayed to end abortion and seen the pictures of aborted fetuses, etc. but having adopted two babies through an agency whose sole purpose is to save children from abortion and knowing that these two children could have been killed changes things in a profound way. It concretizes the fragility of life. Infertility and the Catholic perspective on this values and upholds that gift of life from the moment of conception. Traveling the road of infertility has made me more appreciative of this gift of faith.
Angelique – I echo Carmen’s sentiments on acquiring a greater appreciation for life thanks to the gift of adoption. Adoption is not anything we really seriously considered prior to experiencing infertility so it was from the cross of infertility that a new, unexpected blessing came into our lives in the adoption of our oldest son.
Another blessing was that of learning to rely on God when everything else seemed so uncertain. Infertility certainly challenged my faith to the core but I’m so thankful for that because it forced me to grow and stretch beyond my comfort zone and learn to trust God more.
Q. #5: If you could sum up the "take-home" message of your book in one sentence, what would it be? What would be the most important thing you would like readers to understand about walking the road of Catholic Infertility?
Carmen – The will of God will not lead you to where the grace of God cannot keep you.
Most important thing – that “God is God and we are not, we can only see a part of the picture He’s painting” – as a Steven Curtis Chapman song says and sums it up best.
Angelique: I think one of the lines from the book best summarizes this: “Although it is not in our control to ensure the journey will bear fruit in our wombs, it is up to us to ensure that this path will bear spiritual fruit.”
Carmen and Angelique, thank you so much for the opportunity to share your thoughts about the book and your own crosses of infertility - I know the readers of this blog are grateful for all you've done in making this book a reality!
Thanks also to Ave Maria Press!!
To follow the authors on their Blog Book Tour, visit the following site:
(Don't forget, leave a comment here and be entered for a BOOK GIVEAWAY!! Winner will be announced on April 23rd.)