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Openness to life and "common sense"
Question from Anonymous on 11/23/2013:

Dear Mrs. Brown: Thank you for all your tireless work in defense of the pre-born. I am currently going through a miscarriage. Even with so much to be grateful for, with a wonderful husband and five perfectly healthy children, this loss is still devastating and additional doubts are only making it worse. I have had my first child in 2002, my second in 2004, my third in 2005 (all conceptions, pregnancies, and deliveries were absolutely uncomplicated.) Using NFP, my husband and I were able to postpone conception, due to pressing financial (not medical) concerns, until 2008. At the end of that year, a fourth pregnancy, sadly, ended in a miscarriage at 8 weeks (the ultrasound revealed that the baby had passed away at 5 and a half weeks.) Shortly thereafter, I easily conceived again and had a healthy pregnancy and baby in 2009, followed by another healthy pregnancy and child in 2012. I conceived my seventh baby in September, but, about five weeks into the pregnancy, I just knew I was no longer pregnant (the main reason being the sudden loss of all pregnancy symptoms.) Last Wednesday, at 9 weeks and 1 day, the actual miscarriage started. Over 12 years of marriage, my husband and I have come to accept Our Lord’s planning in all areas of our lives, and we no longer try to postpone our pregnancies. All medical sources I consult, however, seem unanimous in implying, or stating directly, that accepting the possibility of another pregnancy at my age (I am now 45) is unwise, if not downright irresponsible. The statistics I have seen point out that my chances of losing another baby are between 50% and 80%. If the child were to survive, the possibility of severe abnormalities is, supposedly, extremely high. So, here is our dilemma: is it morally responsible and medically wise to keep ourselves open to another pregnancy? Is it possible that the Lord would prefer for us to use our intelligence to act in accordance with medical research? I find the issue very confusing, especially because I do not detect much support among physicians for any mother beyond the age of 35. I sometimes wonder if they are not overstating some of the dangers as a consequence of their anti-life agenda. For our part, my husband and I would be delighted to have more children and we are left wondering why, if an old woman like me should not have children, she can still conceive so easily and be blessed with perfect health. I apologize for this long message. Perhaps because of my current emotional state, I cannot find a more concise way to state my question. Thank you for your patience. May God bless your wonderful work. Anonymous

Answer by Judie Brown on 12/7/2013:

Dear Anonymous

I referred your question to Dr. Anthony Dardan and this is his response:

Dear Anonymous, I do hope I can offer you some peace of mind in that your situation is a rather complex one involving many issues such as responsible parenthood, medical safety and even scrupulosity. Medically speaking pregnancy past 40-45 does present a higher risk of miscarriage in that the natural hormonal support is not what it used to be. That is certainly not to say that it is impossible but it is more difficult. Furthermore the complications of hypertension, toxemia and gestational diabetes are also increased. Again, not contraindication because with good medical treatment they can be managed. I have successfully cared for many "elderly gravidas" over the years.

Responsible parenting is another issue and please take this in the positive spirit in which it is intended. You are 45 with five children and a loving husband. They are your prime responsibility at this point. They need you and another pregnancy and or unforeseen complication could tip the tables in a negative way.

Finally avoid any guilt feelings or scrupulous preoccupations. Continue to live life as you have. Use NFP if so inclined and do so with a clear conscience. Accept and be thankful for what God has already given you and accept graciously whatever He has planned for you going forward.

May God bless you and your family this Christmas Season.

Anthony N Dardano, MD, FACS, FACOG

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