When a couple faces infertility, the intense suffering can be hard to bear–and to convey to others. In When Expecting Doesn’t Happen, Dr. Marie Meaney offers hope and encouragement to couples and advice for those who wish to support them.

With firsthand knowledge, Meaney helps couples navigate the experience of infertility and unpacks Catholic teaching on reproductive technologies. Outlining which licit approaches can be taken and the “dead ends” offered by reproductive technologies which undermine the dignity of the couple and their potential children, When Expecting Doesn’t Happen contains both practical and spiritual wisdom to guide couples toward deep peace and authentic fulfillment.


MARIE MEANEY is a specialist on the French philosopher and mystic Simone Weil, on whom she has written two books. She holds graduate degrees in modern languages and philosophy from Oxford University and the International Academy of Philosophy (IAP) in Liechtenstein. She taught at the University of Villanova in Philadelphia before the birth of her daughter. Since then, she has taught courses for the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria. Her previous work on infertility has been published in French, German, Croatian, Hungarian, and Spanish.


Archbishop Joseph Naumann

“From the heart of one who personally understands the pain of infertility, Dr. Meaney has provided a truly invaluable resource for all who experience this pain and for the friends and family members who want to console and accompany them. Through sharing the lessons learned from her own experience, Dr. Meaney helps couples experiencing infertility to better understand and respond to the suffering that accompanies it and to find real hope and inner peace from the infinite love of God and the loving guidance and practical help he provides through his Church.”

—Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas


Theresa Burke

“Dr. Marie Meaney has created a compelling masterpiece! She brilliantly combines her personal challenges with infertility and a robust bioethical assessment of reproductive technologies. This richly detailed book sheds light on sensitive moral issues while presenting the complex web of risks, consequences, morbidities, and promising hopes that surround the struggle to balance core values which recognize the embryo as a living being who deserves our sacred reverence. The result is a profound, understandable, well-researched, and practical guide that is a must-have for anyone suffering from infertility—and for their pastors, counselors, and loved ones. This book is convincing, compassionate, and comprehensibly Catholic!”

—Theresa Burke, Founder of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries and author of Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion


Fr. Shenan Boquet

“Salvation history is the story of God’s faithful accompaniment of his people through their pain and suffering and the transformation that is possible when we surrender to his divine providence and tender care. Dr. Marie Meaney beautifully expresses this understanding in When Expecting Doesn’t Happen, saying ‘The cross [of infertility] is tremendously heavy, if we carry it on our own.’ However, ‘Christ promises that it will become light if we carry it with him.’

I have seen the emotional devastation that infertility can cause to couples and the grave harm caused from an erroneous conscience regarding Catholic teaching on assisted reproductive technologies. This book will not only assist married couples, but it will also greatly benefit friends, families, pastors, catechists, physicians, and family counselors. I highly recommend this book.”

—Fr. Shenan J. Bouquet, President of Human Life International


Sally Read

“This is more than a book about the pain of infertility. It is a friend to those who are on this journey; it is a trove of wisdom and compassion. In short, it is a gift. Meaney explores the wounds of infertility and guides the reader, with gentleness and clarity, through the moral labyrinth of potential treatments. Meaney is more than a Catholic ethicist, however. She is someone who has been on the journey herself and whose faith is exemplary. Her writing on suffering stands out as luminous spiritual guidance, whatever the reader’s wound. The book also contains sections aimed at family and friends of the infertile couple detailing how best to help and understand the situation. This is a rare thing: a useful and beautiful book.”

—Sally Read, Poet and author of Night’s Bright Darkness: A Modern Conversion Story


Barbara McGuigan

“All women are mothers: either physically, spiritually, or both. All mothers create. What happens, though, when that act of creation only lives in a mother’s desires, best hopes, and open heart? Dr. Marie Meaney faithfully explains how to respond to the ‘royal road of the cross’ of infertility. For all who struggle with infertility: let Dr. Meaney’s wisdom inspire you to always see the grace and goodness of our gracious and good God.”

—Barbara McGuigan, Host of “Fight for Life” on Virgin Most Powerful Radio


Maria Fedoryka

“Engagingly presented in a narrative built upon Dr. Meaney’s own experience with infertility, this little book is a goldmine of spiritual, emotional, and bioethical information and practical counsel on the topic. The author’s generous use of quotes from the saints, important passages from Church documents, and real-life stories of struggle and victory makes the text fresh and appealing, and the personal witness testimonies that are included bring to life the studies cited in support of the Church’s teaching on reproductive technology. Throughout the work, Dr. Meaney demonstrates a deep understanding of the Catholic view of the human person and the call to genuine love, great insight into the formative power and redemptive value of suffering, and a wonderful compassion enabling her to speak to the heart.”

—Maria Fedoryka, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ave Maria University and author of The Special Gift of Woman


Peggy Hartshorn

When Expecting Doesn’t Happen is a unique and invaluable resource for any couple suffering from infertility, including secondary infertility (wanting more children but being unable to conceive), and for those around the couple who are unsure what to say or do. The book is filled with practical help: from how to handle a baby shower invitation to finding medical help that can bring healing (and potentially conception) rather than harm. The book is a must-read for every person in the pro-life movement because of its sensitivity to the infertility often suffered by women who have had abortions and also for its discussion of common infertility treatments. Most pro-lifers have little to no understanding of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), its connection to abortion, and its disregard for the dignity of the person. Meaney’s discussion is disturbing, moving, and powerfully persuasive.”

—Peggy Hartshorn, Board Chair of Heartbeat International

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When Expecting Doesn’t Happen: Turning Infertility into a Journey of Hope