US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Hard to conceive: Sometimes getting pregnant isn't easy--or possible

By Patrick T. Reardon | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Alternatives such as those offered by Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha don’t work for every couple.

And in vitro fertilization (IVF) is not an easy step to take for those struggling with infertility, both because of moral and monetary concerns. Still, the desire for children, which many attribute to God, outweighs everything for couples such as the Mahons.

A former grade school teacher, Sue Mahon is a Cub Scout leader at the local Catholic parish. Her husband Scott, an auditor for the federal government, is a member of the Knights of Columbus. Five years ago, the couple adopted Patrick, now 10. But, as much as they love their son, Sue says she still has “a burning desire” to give birth.

“Yeah, it’s baby-lust,” she says. “I honestly believe I wouldn’t have been sent the desire for a baby if I wasn’t meant to do that.”

So far, the couple has tried a variety of fertility treatments, including drugs (“They make you feel all kinds of crazy”) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) in which sperm is injected directly into the uterus. In three cases Mahon became pregnant, and she suffered miscarriages each time.

The next step is IVF, but the high cost of even a single cycle (generally about $10,000) has daunted the couple so far. “If we could afford to go to in vitro, we would,” Mahon says.

Initially, knowing the church’s opposition to the procedure, the couple had decided to try everything except in vitro. “But, now that we’re standing here,” Sue says, “we’re saying it could be a good thing.”

They made the decision after Sue consulted with a friend who kept asking her, “What’s in your heart?”

She replied, “I don’t think I can stop until I’ve tried everything.”

“There’s your answer,” he told her.

The Vatican may call in vitro morally wrong, Mahon says, “but this is God working in my life.”

This is a web-only article that accompanies Where do babies come from? which appeared in the October 2011 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 76, No. 10, pages 32-36).

Image: Erin Drewitz