Monday, 5 August 2013

Auntie Seraphic & Young NFP Fan

Ah, the things boys say. Here is a very good and useful letter from someone under 25, somewhat edited by me:

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

I am one of those readers who is at the age where my brain is not yet fully developed apparently, and so I think I would like to vent to you. I'm not really upset by this event, but I have dwelt on it somewhat so I ... just want you to confirm what I already thought. 

There's this NCB  I have known for a very long time...  He is a person I have a lot of respect for and [recently] we  talked about many different pro-life issues; [this] led into also mentioning NFP and NaPro technology. 

I have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and the only reason I know and am being treated is due to NFP so I'm very grateful. I don't fit the classic profile, so people wouldn't expect it and it would probably take the average doctor much longer to have figured this out. Obviously it's somewhat disconcerting to me but because of my station in life and the fact that I'm pretty young it's not something I worry about a lot. It's also not something I throw around to everyone, mostly because not many people like to hear about people's health issues, but I'm not embarrassed about it and I'm grateful for the knowledge.

So because it fit into the conversation we were having I mentioned my diagnosis and that I was able to know pretty quickly because of Creighton charting and was lucky to have done it. He didn't know what it was, and so I gave a brief explanation and mentioned that infertility is a possible factor. 

His response was jokingly "Maybe this is one more sign you're supposed to be a sister" (There is a running joke among my friends that I am meant to be a religious sister.) It didn't even register at the time but every once in awhile it still pops in my head a month later. 

I'm sure he has no idea it bothered me, but I'm not crazy that it did a little, right? God doesn't work like that even if I somehow do end up a sister. It might be a ways off, but I don't like to think I can't have babies or that this will deter men. Like I said, I'm sure he simply spoke without thinking but maybe you could just tell the eavesdroppers that women--at least a NCG-- doesn't ever like to hear that they would be bad mothers or may not be able to have kids which means God is telling them they should just enter [religious] life. 

I'm sorry because this must hit a bit of a nerve with you. You are in my prayers and you are an amazingly wonderful spiritual mother to us all. 

Young NFP Fan 

Dear NFP Fan,

As this happened a month ago, the NCB probably doesn't remember what he said. In fact, I bet he couldn't have remembered if you asked him about it half an hour later. My guess is that he said whatever just came into his head because he was embarrassed. (You will never know, though, as guaranteed he can't remember.) 

Teenage boys--and maybe boys in their very early 20s--think about sex all day long--they can't help it--sexual thoughts just flow through like a river through a river bed--so it really isn't a good idea to talk to them about your reproductive system. You're a girl. They're guys. You aren't interested in them, and maybe they're not interested in you, but sexy thoughts about you will pop into their heads anyway because they can't help it. And that will embarrass them.   

Meanwhile, the easiest and best way to keep boys from blurting out foolish remarks about what infertility might mean for you is NOT to tell them that you could be infertile. This is not information you should share with anyone except someone who is courting you for marriage [i.e. a boyfriend who loves you]. It is serious TMI.  

Will some boys be deterred if they think you are infertile? Yes, definitely. And as you are not, as far as you know, infertile, you really must not talk to boys or to gossipy girlfriends about your Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

Does the fact that you have PCOS mean God wants you to be a nun? No, definitely not. Religious life is not where women go because they can't [i.e. might not be able to] have babies. Religious life is what women embrace when they are so excited about serving God, and making a whole gift to themselves to God, while living with a community of women who love God as much as they do. Fertility or infertility has nothing to do with it. God is not a eugenicist. 

I hope this is helpful.    

Grace and peace,

By the way, it's not that adolescent brains are undeveloped, it's that they are rewiring themselves for adulthood. When you're a kid you have a really astute kid brain, and hopefully by the time you're an adult, you have an astute adult brain. But getting from kid brain to adult brain is a difficult journey over which teens have little control and can, incidentally, completely screw up with drugs and alcohol.

(I doubt my reader above is using drugs and alcohol, but I'm just throwing that in there because a recent Catholic school graduate back home, a habitual pot smoker, recently flipped out, pulled out his genitals and a knife on some girls on a streetcar, yelled obscenities at an armed policeman who raced to the scene, made a very ill-advised step forward and died in the proverbial hail of bullets.) 

One great life lesson is that young men are usually not as smart as young women about young women's feelings, unless they are gay or unusually manipulative. And, therefore, it is really not a good idea to tell young men super-sensitive stuff about anything--as young men themselves know. When I was in my late twenties, I told a male friend, an ex-boyfriend in fact, that I felt sad that I had never met Mr Right, he joked that I should give up and try women.

It wasn't that he was mean or stupid. In the five seconds before I got enough breath back to start crying, he began to apologize profusely. No, it was because he was a guy, and embarrassed, and to cover his embarrassment he told a joke. Ah ha ha.

Talking to men about super-personal stuff as if they were women opens you up to a world of hurt.  And, meanwhile, since men in the pro-life movement are the men who care most about babies, it is really, really, REALLY a bad idea to involve them in the drama of your own reproductive issues. Men gossip so much, and telling one guy that you have ovarian cysts could mean him telling any guy who asks him about you that you are actually infertile. Would you date a guy who was known for being sterile? Maybe you'd be okay with it at 40. Maybe not so much at 20.  


The Sojourner said...

Married eavesdropper remarks:

I would be sorely tempted to smack that young man across the nose with the nearest rolled-up newspaper and shout NO. As one would with a puppy. BLESS HIS HEART.

Seraphic's advice is probably better, though.

Signed, 23-year-old with PCOS currently expecting a baby after minimal medical intervention. So, yeah, don't write off the married vocation just yet. :)

The Sojourner said...

(I should add that my comment is not meant to imply that permanent infertility IS a barrier to marriage, because it's not.)

Seraphic said...

I wouldn't have bopped the NCB with a newspaper, and a doctor actually told me over the phone no babies for me unless my husband and I follow the unnatural demands of the (tax-funded) Frankenstein Clinic.

It was a dumb thing to say, but he didn't ask the girl to tell him about her fertility fears. I haven't mentioned my own actual, real, irreversible, infertility problems to the men of my set. Although no doubt some of them have read about them here, they would rather dig out their own innards with a spoon rather than admit it.

Bottom line: don't discuss your insides with boys. They aren't girls. They don't know what to say. They probably didn't bring up the topic, and even if they did, it's none of their business.

Anonymous for this post said...

It is not only about infertility or possible infertility (PCOS doesn't necessarily mean you won't be able to have babies and there is believed to be a large population of women with the syndrome who weren't diagnosed because they already are mothers and all that) as it comes to revealing this stuff to boys/men, but also other health issues you deal with. Some men will ask you out of curiosity but even then you don't need to answer or even shouldn't as long as they are not in a close relationship with you. I remember just casually telling my colleague at university I was going to a doctor without explaining anything (don't actually remember why, perhaps as an excuse) and he responded! "Wow! A gynecologist! Should I come with you?" But, eh, he wasn't a NCB, obviously. Men can be thick, really.

Calendula said...

Sometimes however, it seems not answering a personal question--(e.g. How many kids do you think you want to have?) especially if the asker is the slightly awkward type--can actually make the situation more awkward. I feel that answering the question and moving onto another topic will create less unease than answering shortly, or saying that you prefer not to answer.

Seraphic said...

"How many kids do you want to have?" can be a courtship question or an orthodoxy test. The correct reply to either is "As many as God sees fit to send me."

Your awkward admirer will probably say, "Oh, cool" and your wannabe Inquisitor will think, "Zounds! Foiled again!"

Somebody asked me recently if I want children. I can't remember who or the context. It was soon after The Phone Call. I just said "Yes."

I think if a friend of the opposite sex told me he was going to see a doctor, I would say, "Nothing serious, I hope." This would not be to get information but just to express kindly concern and good wishes.

Domestic Diva said...

I realize the real topic at hand is what is/isn't appropriate to say in a co-ed conversation. But I do want to encourage the writer that PCOS does not guarantee infertility. Previous commenters and several of my friends can attest to that fact. (Maybe she spoke of it to this NCB seeking some comfort/reassurance from him? which young men aren't so good at, granted.)

I also want to repeat your statement that religious life is for those who want to give their whole lives to God & His service, not for those who see themselves as "not good enough" to get married.

Julia said...

Sojourner, congratulations to you and your husband on your baby!

Anonymous, I can't believe your uni mate actually asked if he should come with you to the doctor. Was he serious?? I mean, what would he have said if you'd said you wanted him to come along????? (By the way, you don't have to answer that question if you don't want to, I'm just wondering what on earth he could possibly have said in response.)

-Another 23-year-old

Anonymous said...

PCOS most definitely does not necessarily mean infertility. Almost 75% of women in some parts of the world have some form of PCOS (including myself). The commonest way that most gynecologists prescribe to deal with it is, usually, to get onto birth control for some point of time or have a baby (neither of which understandably you might be in a position to implement). But honestly, often the condition clears up on its own. I had PCOS for over ten years, and once I turned 30 it just sort of went away. Two things helped me a lot: One was to reduce (or in my case cut out of my diet entirely) for a time-being hormone rich foods: all dairy, red meat and red wine being the big ones. Second, was to get on to a long-term homeopathic treatment and specific yoga postures that support and strengthen the endocrine system. Try them and see if it helps you. Most importantly, don't worry. You are young right now and all processes in the body are heightened. The condition will quieten down as you grow older.


Seraphic said...

Thank you for these kindly responses, girls.

Anonymous for this post said...

Thanks Sarah for your remarks about alternative treatment for PCOS! You're very much my case - my problems have quietened down shortly before 30. I have been practising the Alexander Technique and wouldn't be surprised that this method somehow worked on me (loosening the muscles around pelvis & so on). BTW: Seraphic, do you know if yoga is officially banned by the Catholic Church? Somebody has recently told me so, assuming yoga is somehow related to spirituality.

Seraphic said...

I have never heard that yoga is officially banned from the Catholic Church, but it certainly can be practiced in a devoted-to-Indian-gods type way. However, I think you'd have to go out of your way to find that.

At my local gym, it's basically just breathing, stretching, moving and balancing. I'm sure the real Indian and California yogis would say we were all missing the Point, but for me the point is fixing my cranky old shoulder.

Meanwhile, when Indian Christians bow to each other--I was told at theology school--they are saying or thinking something like "I bow to Christ in you", so that's what I think whenever a fitness teacher bows to me and I bow back.

Seraphic said...

Ooh! I found this article.

In the case of yoga in the church hall, it's the priest's call to make. In this particular case the yoga teacher made a stupid decision in calling her class "spiritual." She probably thinks spiritual is maintaining a sense of openness to the cosmos or something vague like that. Really I bet she just breathes, stretches, moves and balances.

Anonymous said...

Here in America there is periodic paranoia about yoga amongst Protestant Evangelicals and several worthies holding forth on radio about demonic possession and such-like brought on by Yoga. Most Indians find this quite funny (including Indian Christians). It is true that Yoga is indeed part of some forms of Hindu spiritual practice. However for the more than 100 years since its been around as a popular practice all kinds of people do Yoga. Indian Christians, who share many cultural practices in common with their Hindu friends and neighbours, happily practice Yoga as a set of physical exercises without getting unduly overwrought. In India no Yogi will ever ask you to chant mantras you are not comfortable with, and its impossible to become Hindu anyway.

But as with everything where you are located makes a big difference, and perhaps here Yoga comes with all kinds of baggage that is simply not present elsewhere and its up to people to make their own decisions regarding what they are comfortable with.


Meredith said...

Goodness, I don't feel any wrath towards the NCB at all! I mean, if I were talking to a Catholic boy and he 1. brought up a daily health exam that involved checking his bodily fluids and 2. told me about a problem with his testicles that might render him infertile, I'm pretty sure I would blurt out something dumb in my embarrassment.