The Big V

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When you have a large family, one of the questions that you get repeatedly, from your family, friends, the person bagging your groceries and strangers on the street is, “Are you done?”

I’m never sure why anyone feels it is their right to know if my husband will impregnate me again, but they do. I have always tried to answer honestly. After Elliott was born, I told everyone I was done. I wasn’t. My sweet husband was.

When I got pregnant with Zachary, I heard many “I told you so’s” from well meaning friends. Or, “I knew you weren’t done”. Just two weeks after my 10 pound bundle of joy was born, I was being asked if we were through. When I told people we were done, they looked at me dubiously. They didn’t believe me, and I didn’t blame them. I’d told that lie before.

But this time I meant it. This time I knew that things were different and that there was no way I could do this again.

A few months later, I walked in the door and was met by five children. They were all so very loud. Some were screaming, some were talking, some were crying…they all wanted my attention. I had been gone for a very short hour, but to them, it felt like a life time.

I picked the baby up and snuggled him to my neck. As Jeremy and I bustled around the kitchen, doing the dance that is making dinner, I caught his eye. He asked me how my session with my therapist had gone.

This was my third session with her. I was coming to grips with the fact that I had postpartum depression. Having this last baby had pushed me as close to the edge as I had ever been and we knew I couldn’t do this alone anymore. Try as he might, Jeremy just didn’t know what to say or do to fix things, and I didn’t either.

I looked at him square in the eye and said, “I am mad at you and didn’t know it”. He was shocked. “What do you mean? What did I do???” He has every right to ask this question. Jeremy does SO much for our family. He does the dishes, helps make dinner, folds laundry with me, rocks the baby, changes diapers, plays with the kids…There is nothing he doesn’t do.

I looked into his eyes and said, “I am mad because you won’t do anything to prevent having any more babies. For the last 11 1/2 years, I have been pregnant, nursing or both. I have been cut open, torn to high heaven, had hemorrhoids, watched my body swell up and deflate like an old balloon 6 times. I have nursed babies through the night, been vomited on countless times, had other people be in control of my body and had my hormones rage out of control. FOR ELEVEN AND A HALF YEARS.”

I think he was starting to understand where I was going, but I wasn’t backing down now. I was on a roll and was finally getting all of this out.

“I have done ALL THIS and now that we are talking about being done having children, it is MY responsibility to handle that too? I have to go on the pill or get an IUD or find some other method to prevent pregnancy! We know condoms are not 100% effective and really, I don’t like them. So, I have already put my body through the ringer and now I have to do more just because I am fertile for ONE WEEK of the month??? I AM PISSED. I understand you have reservations about getting a vasectomy, but I fear if I get pregnant again, you will be raising these children alone. I can not do this again. I just can’t”.

Whew. I said it. We had been discussing the big V for months, but he was never comfortable with it. I had never fully put my opinion out there, but now that I had, there was no taking it back.

He looked at me, a little shell shocked and replied, “I’ll make the appointment tomorrow”.

I was relieved, I felt strong. I told him what I needed and he not only respected my feelings, but was humble enough to listen and act. In the weeks that followed I asked him several times if he was really okay with this. I didn’t want him to resent me for this. I wanted him to want to do it. Not just for me, but for us. He assured me over and over that it was fine, this was what we needed to do and he was willing to “take one for the team”.

I felt so very content with this decision. I knew this was what was best for all of us.

Buuuttt…

That doesn’t mean a part of me doesn’t mourn this event. I’ve been doing this pregnancy thing for a long time. This is so much a part of who I am. Part of me mourned when I was pregnant because I knew it was the last time. It was also one of the last ways I truly felt connected with my sweet Emma. When she died, we said we would take as many children as God would give us. Our arms were so empty, and we couldn’t envision the day when they would be full to bursting.

But here we were. Our cups runneth over and our plates are so full. And now we were going to do something permanent. I would never experience pregnancy again. I would never experience the glow, the great hair, the amazing feelings of life growing inside me again. Being pregnant has become as much a part of me as my hair color.

I don’t know who I will be in 2 years when I am not pregnant again. It is scary and exciting. I am standing on the cusp of something new. Something I have no clue about. Jeremy and I will have a new phase in our marriage, the phase of no children in our bed, the phase of not sharing my body. The phase of being able to take a weekend get away, the phase of…freedom.

And I am ready.

*This was my piece I read for Listen to Your Mother. I wrote this in December and since then, Jeremy has had his surgery.  I am now at 12 years of being pregnant, nursing or both. Except now, I am not pregnant and never will be again! HOORAY!!

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Comments

  1. Nichole says:

    My husband and I had a very similar conversation, except it was much, much less than 11 years (!) for me. We reached the same conclusion. And even though I was definitely definitely done having babies, surgery day was tough. Even tougher for my husband. :)

  2. tawnya says:

    I love you! And you totally got this. (And Isaac’s recovery time was SUPER quick!)

  3. Stephanie says:

    Oh my gosh. I didn’t even know I was mad at my husbad until I read your words. I have been pregnant seven times and have experienced EVERY type of birth (minus mulitples) a woman can have. I have had a miscarriage, a home birth, water birth, emergency section for breech, stillbirth, VBAC, home birth transport to hospital that ended in a vaginal with Pit. Yeah, experienced it all. Which has left me tired, hormonal, dealing with postpartum depression, lactating for over 12 years, stretched out, stitched up, and overwhelmed on occasion. We don’t live near family, so I have done this all alone for 12 years. And my husband is amazing, loving, does half the work load and still turns me on after about 24 years together. Yet, still no V. And we are both in agreement that we are finished, but still haven’t pulled the trigger on a vasectomy. The one difference is that it was ME who was stalling and worried about the cost, the side effects, etc. We are finished and love our beautiful family, but there is a part of me that worries a bit about a V.

  4. Same, except my husband TOTALLY wanted the V, for exactly the reasons you listed. He got it and .. it was tough to come to grips with, but my battle with PPD this round has solidified that this HAD to happen. Love to you, sweetie <3

  5. Hmm – my comments probably won’t be welcome, but I do offer them only in a spirit of sharing. Because I am Catholic, I read other bloggers to just understand their perspective – especially the mamas. This is such an alien idea to me – this vasectomy thing. I get where you are coming from – I have had nine live births which ran the gambit from natural, C-Section, VBAC, lost a set of mono/mono twins in the second trimester, had a tubal pregnancy, and lost three other babies along the way. I have been pregnant or nursing or both for 24 years. With the exception of my last two pregnancies, I have had PPD – worse with each pregnancy (to the point where I was hearing voices, had horrible thoughts, etc). So I do get it – I am getting itchy now, with my newest baby, to be through nursing. I won’t make her stop, but I probably won’t be too sad when she weans. At 43 and 51, we would be okay if God didn’t send any more babies our way. I will mourn the end of that season of my life, but it’s probably time. I say probably, because as devout Catholic Christians, we truly do not believe it is up to us to determine when God decides to bring new life. He creates for His kingdom, and it is not ours to determine. I know your church probably doesn’t teach the same. I just cannot wrap my head around the idea where at one point a couple makes the decision to allow God to plan their family, and then no longer trust Him or His plans, and take the control into their own hands. Don’t get me wrong – this took a long time for my then Protestant husband to grasp – but I have always known I would not be the one who plans our family. We do practice NFP – my husband IS 51 – but – there are times when (we are best buds, after all) we just fall into one another’s arms and so it should be…
    .. and while we are often scorned and mocked for our family size – and people flat out ASK to our faces why we haven’t “gotten snipped” or something else entirely not their business, we are firm in our belief that God knows what is best for our family.
    Very interesting to read a somewhat different perspective – I was not sure of the LDS teachings on contraception, etc…And I do hope someday I get to a point where I am really ready to be done with babies…at 43, I haven’t gotten pregnant again at the same time i usually do – and that is intentional, but I am still sad about it – haha – my sister says I am the only person she knows who is avoiding pregnancy, and then is sad when she finds out she isn’t pregnant – but, hopefully there are grandbabies soon in my future – my oldest is 23 and getting married soon!

    • kborchert says:

      Your comments are absolutely welcome here. You are not bashing my decision, just as wouldn’t yours. I completely understand where you are coming from and have had the same thoughts.
      We prayed about this decision a lot, and it boiled down to the fact that, I do trust the Lord, and know that this is the best decision for our family and that He is okay with it.
      Birth control isn’t for everyone and I understand that – but it is what we needed to do.

    • Jeremy says:

      To be clear, LDS church policy discourages sterilization, including vasectomy. This is one thing that factored into our decision and was, frankly, one major reason for my hesitancy. However, above all else LDS doctrine honors agency and acknowledges personal revelation. We are always encouraged to counsel with God personally in all decisions. We believe in being active participants with God in making life decisions including, especially, family planning.
      Personally, over the last few years I have come to understand more fully the difference between Church policy and doctrine. I, personally, believe that Church policy is determined by men who, while often inspired, are imperfect like the rest of us. They are attempting to provide guidance on established doctrine to the best of their ability. But just like God will allow us as individuals to make mistakes to help us learn and grow, I believe he operates the same way with our leaders and with the Church as a whole. He provides a foundation of truth and a guiding hand but ultimately must allow us, individually and collectively (leaders included), to make mistakes so that we can learn from them and teach others. That’s not to say that I belive the policy discouraging sterilization is a mistake; just that blanket policies do not always fit every individual situation and it is up to each of us to counsel with God and determine His will for us as individuals.
      Also, to be fair, NFP is a form of birth control. In NFP one takes specific, conscious action to avoid pregnancy. I don’t say that to criticize or judge your belief, only to clarify mine. In my view, the only way to turn things completely over to God is to use absolutely no form of birth control (NFP included). But like I said before, I believe in being an active participant with God. We discuss issues as a couple and with Him to determine the path that is best for us that we feel He approves of. I don’t believe that demontrates a lack of faith in God and His plan, but it requires a level of participation with God in creating His plan for us as individuals that some people don’t believe in or feel is possible.

  6. Heather says:

    Sooo right there with you. SO RIGHT THERE.

  7. Elaine A. says:

    I loved it when you told me this story at breakfast and I loved hearing it on stage too! I am happy for you that you have moved into another stage of motherhood. :) xo

  8. Robbie says:

    I will never feel like I am done and I don’t want to be the one to close up shop. We’ve had the talk several times but he has yet to make an appointment.

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