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Prolife Forum: baby fears

by Catherine Frakas 22 May 2002

baby fears QUESTION from Pauline on December 12, 2002 Dear Mr. Martz, I am a Catholic married to a man who is converting to Catholicism through RCIA (praise Jesus!). When we were married, we believed that he was infertile due to an illness. Despite having sufficiently grave reason to do so, we did not practice NFP for the first year of our marriage because we did not think it was possible (barring a miracle) for us to have children.
Last year, a visit with a physician confirmed that it may not be the case that my husband is entirely infertile, as several other men with my husband's condition have fathered children (something never previously studied, because until recently people afflicted with the disease did not live into adulthood). To quote the doctor, he said that he would consider the possibility that we would become parents to be Less than an average couple, but definately more than 0%.
I know that I need to be open to the possibility of life. However, up until this news, I never concerned myself with it much, as I didn't think that there was much chance of a child. I have learned NFP, but I do not know if we have sufficiently grave reason to use it. We are not rich, but could feed and care for a child.
My concerns are the following: 1) My husband may live a normal lifespan, but the chance of the recurrance of his disease is about 20%. I know that people die for all sorts of reasons - he could go home to the Father at any time, but I imagine that my chances of being left a single mother are greater than average. I am very afraid of this possibility.
2) I have another fear that I am very ashamed of. I am afraid of babies. I do not like them. I do not like to hold them, and the few times I have, it cried and tried to squirm away. I actually fear their smell and the things associated with them, like car seats and blankets. I desperately do not want an infant. I do not think I would be able to love a baby. I worry that I might be tempted to leave it someplace or give it away. I pray every night that God will help me be truly open to the possibility of life and help me not to hate babies, but I still fear them. I would bear the physical discomfort of pregnancy and childbirth as a penance, but I do not want to hurt a baby by being a bad mother. I know I should have though about this more before I was married, but I thought that God had sent me the perfect mate by sending an infertile man.
My questions: First, would my concerns justify the use of NFP in my case? And if I were to become pregnant, would there be any sin in giving the child to a childless couple that wanted it?
I apologize for the length of this question, but this fear causes me a great deal of worry and anxiety. I appreciate the wonderful service you provide on this board. Thank you.
ANSWER by Mr. Troy Martz on December 22, 2002 Dear Pauline:
Thank you for the courage to ask such important questions and the willingness to seek for the truth.
The short answer to your question is that I believe -- based on what you have said here -- the using NFP would be appropriate in your case to postpone pregnancy.
Though your husband's condition could give you pause, I think that your fears need to be overcome before you intentionally become pregnant. Obviously, your fears are not without weight and would constitute a grave reason to delay pregnancy.
You should discuss your fears with a qualified counselor, preferrably a good priest or spiritual director. I prefer the priest or spiritual director (often this is a priest who specializes in counseling and guiding you in your spiritual life) because a secular counselor will probably dismiss the Church's teaching on marital life and ignore spiritual aspects of your problem.
A couple of notes of caution: If you don't get any interest from the first priest that you talk to, don't give up. Many priests are not properly trained to counsel people with psychological as well as spiritual problems. Also, beware of anyone who tells you that one or another of the Church's teachings aren't that important or don't matter much or other such nonsense. What you need is clear and faithful guidance from a qualified and faithful priest. If you have difficulty finding one contact your Diocese's office of Family Life and tell them you are looking for a priest who specializes in family counseling. If that doesn't lead to a good result, see if there is a Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi ( near you. I have found that the Legion priests are well trained to provide the spiritual guidance that you need and are generally not tied down with the same responsibilities that take up so much of a parish priest's time.
Know that you will be in my prayers and hopefully those of all who read this posting.
May you find the peace of Christ.
Pax Christi, Troy
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