Thursday, October 14, 2010

Because I Know How it Feels

The other day, a woman I know said some things that really just made me want to roll my eyes. She was basically doling out parenting advice, except....she has no kids. My first thought was to tell her she had no business giving advice until she had raised some kids of her own.

But something stopped me.

I didn't say it, and this is why: this particular woman has some physical/health issues, and has had them her entire life. Though she's never told me this, I'm fairly certain she can't have children. So I refrained from the "have some kids of your own" remark because....

Well, because I know how it feels.

I know how it feels when a mom says, "Well, if you had five (or eight, or ten) kids like I do, then you'd know how it feels."

Well, I'd love to have five (or eight, or ten) kids like you do, but it looks like I can't. And when you say things like that to me, I want to scream at the seeming injustice of it all. I want to yell, "Why do you get to have more kids and I don't?"

So, yes, I've learned to be very careful what I say to other women about having children (or having more children), and I try very hard not to say anything that could be hurtful.

Because I know how it feels.

Then there are the women who complain constantly or don't take care of themselves while they're pregnant, or the ones who comment on how they're "not going to do this again any time soon." And the ones who willingly have surgeries to prevent having any more babies.

Now, please understand this: I know many, many women who have had tubal ligations (or whose husbands have had vasectomies) and I am NOT trying to criticize or judge them. I just hear that they are doing these things and I want to cry out, "How can you give up such a precious gift? You have a fertile womb and you're cutting it off!" And.... "Why is it that they have a choice and I don't?"

You see, to be considered "infertile," a couple must have had regular sexual intercourse without using any contraceptive means and still failed to conceive after 12 months. Well, June 2010 was our 12 month mark. We're at 16 months now. We're officially infertile.

It is a secondary infertility. We already have three healthy, smart, creative, funny, cute kids. Years ago it seemed like all Tony and I had to do was look at each other and I was pregnant. But then we decided we were through. We were done. We had our three and that was it.

For a while this felt pretty good. Then I began to long for more. I missed being pregnant. I missed having a baby to hold and rock. I looked at all my friends having their fifth, sixth, seventh children and I thought, "What am I doing, trying to stop myself from having any more?" And so after some thought, some prayer, and some time, we came to the realization that we should be letting God control our fertility instead of trying to control it ourselves.

So we stopped using any kind of contraception. The first time my period was due, I was just sure I would get a positive test instead. Negative.

And the second month...negative.

The third month...negative.

The fourth month. The fifth. After 10 months, I stopped buying tests each month and just waited for the inevitable. This month I bought a couple of tests for the first time in 6 months, because it was about time to start and I wasn't sure if I should take some powerful painkillers or not, so just to be safe and sure I took a test.


It may be that we aren't meant to have any more kids. I have something like 2/3 of the signs for early menopause. Maybe that's the reason. Maybe this is just all the kids God ever meant for us to have. Maybe He meant for us to have more earlier, but in our disobedience we missed our chance. Maybe there are more to come, just not right now.

People may wonder why we don't go to the doctor, to some fertility specialist. something to try to up our chances at conceiving. Well, I feel about that much the same way I feel about birth control: just as I think it's wrong to try to control when and how often you conceive by using contraceptives, I also think it's wrong to try and force conception when it isn't happening naturally. I think if God wants us to have more, my body will make more, I don't think I need to take supplements or shots or anything else to help it along.

The one thing I am willing to do, and I am starting now to implement this, is to lose some weight. I have read numerous times in numerous places that being overweight can cause infertility. Until very recently, my mind would read this and think, "But I know lots of women far more overweight than me and they're pregnant." But I read recently that secondary fertility can be caused by being overweight when you weren't for previous pregnancies. Well, that's me. I'm currently about 50 pounds more than I ever was when I conceived before. Might this contribute to the infertility? Possibly. Either way, it's a smart, healthy move to lose the weight. Maybe I'll get pregnant, maybe I won't. That's up to God.

When we first began trying to conceive, I decided to keep a blog all about my fourth pregnancy. After that first month of negative tests, I typed a post about infertility. An anonymous poster chewed me out over that one, saying how dare I talk about how it felt to be infertile after only one month of not conceiving when women went through months and years of dashed hopes and dreams in the area of fertility.

And, though I was irritated with that woman, back when she first posted, now I understand a little of her anger, and her bitterness, because now...I know how it feels.

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