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 | Brittany DeHaan

Embracing Faith in Infertility

As discussions of alternative means of conceiving, such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), circulate in the public eye, Catholics desiring to follow the Church’s teachings can face an often-difficult decision.

Erin Todd and her husband Robert longed to start a family but they soon discovered this would be a difficult journey. They worried about how to proceed and wondered if pregnancy was possible.

Many months later, during a daily meditation, the Lord led Erin to explore the Church’s teachings regarding infertility.

“Sometime during Lent of 2023, one of the calls to action at the end of the daily meditation was to open the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I had a copy that had never been opened but I felt led to open it that day. There, I stumbled upon the Church’s teachings on conception and fertility issues,” explained Erin.

However, the Catechism still left her and her husband with questions. After they sought the help of a fertility coach to learn about treatments for infertility, they were still unclear about what would be the morally acceptable path to pregnancy.

The couple began attending Mass together at St. Raphael Parish in St. Petersburg once they married, and she entered into full communion with the Church in 2019, joining her husband who was already Catholic.

She reached out to her pastor, Father Curtis Carro, and made an appointment to discuss it with him.

“When we met, we prayed and I was personally moved by their own faith journey and entered into the struggle. I meet with many couples who carry this struggle.  Medicine changes so quickly and the methods they were considering did not exist when I was in studies in seminary a decade ago. I referred them to faithful practitioners in the field,” said Father Carro.

He referred them to a pregnancy center who also couldn’t determine if the treatment would be morally acceptable. After weeks of searching for answers, a friend sent her an article from the USCCB that explained criteria for a medical intervention to be in line with Church teaching.

Donum Vitae teaches that if medical intervention helps or assists the marriage act, it is moral, but if intervention replaces the marriage act, it is not.

This told her that the treatment was moral. However, she still lacked peace about this being the Lord’s will so she continued to simply surrender herself to God as she contemplated the treatment.

In August of 2023, after she and her husband dealt with many stressors and suffering, they were blessed with the great joy of pregnancy, without needing the assistance of any fertility treatment.

“The Lord knew what we would suffer in August of 2023, and He carried us through before the timing was right. On the very next cycle, we conceived naturally,” said Erin. “Choosing to follow Church teaching on fertility issues was just a natural extension of this desire to walk in obedience and live in alignment with God.”

“This will be an exciting baptism in the new year ahead,” added Father Carro.

Many couples struggle with fertility, but Erin encourages them to stay rooted in prayer.

“My advice to others would be to set aside time for prayer. Whenever I would feel the emotional and mental heaviness of the struggle with infertility, it was a reminder and touchstone for me to come back to that spiritual work of daily surrender. It's not easy. But do whatever you need to do to get to the point of being able to honestly say ‘thy will be done, not my will be done,’” said Erin.