Monday, November 12, 2007

Woman - to - Woman: Infertility

This will be the last Woman to Woman writing challenge for a while. Life's chaos is robbing the blogger coordinators of this every-other-Tuesday tradition of time and energy to keep it going. I WELL understand. I've run hot and cold myself with maintaining regular postings. So I wish many blessings to Lei as she moves forward with her house building project and resolving issues with her family> I say "wish you well" to Morning Glory as she fills her days with other pursuits. I may actually go back and write some posts on W2W topics that I missed when they passed through the first time. It has been a healthy thing for me to stretch my reflecting to articulate my thoughts, feelings and experiences on subjects I might not have otherwise taken on.

But as far as the "official" W2W goes, this wraps it up.

I'm hesitant to even begin writing on this subject, because my own infertility was a matter of deliberate choice, and therefore seems to have no legitimacy. We may feel compassion for those who seem to have been robbed by fate or the universe from having the sacred ability to bring forth life, but my experience has been there is not much understanding to be had for those who feel sad about it after they threw it away.

I had a tubal ligation when I was 21. My entire adult life has been one of seeing the moon season come and go with no chance possible for pollination. I have been alternately grateful and regretful about that. MOSTLY grateful. But there have been moments when I've wondered how the shape of our family might be if I had left things in God's hands rather than submitting to the surgeon's tools.

I well remember the day I met with the doctor to request sterilization.

It wasn't because I adamantly wanted no more babies. It was because I very much did, in a most irrational way.

Some women get cramps, headaches or mood swings during their cycle of menses. Not me. My body was built for birth and joyously went through the motions of preparing for a fertilized egg each month without a hiccough. My MIND however became a creature possessed. I ACHED for the smell of talcum powder and vomit. I craved the soft fullness of a gestating belly. I WANTED to be pregnant with a ferocious longing each and every month for about four days before every single period.

Keep in mind, I had two babies by the time I was just 19. I was in a disastrous marriage that was collapsing around me. I had no marketable skills and no clue how I was going to support the babies I already had. Getting pregnant again at that point in my life would have been sheer madness.

But I WOULD have. Oh, I had tried every form of birth control known to God. I'd hoped IUD would be a temporary solution - but both kinds I tried caused me to seriously hemorrhage. I tried pills and diaphragms and condoms and counting of days.

But the reality was that instead of getting PMS I became an absolute MANIAC on a mission to make a baby for those few days with all rational thought flying away with the wind. That scared the crap out of me. No matter how much I would convince myself the rest of the month that this was not the right time, I felt as out of control when I came into my season as a were-wolf at a full moon.

I could well imagine myself having child after child after child without the mental, physical, or financial resources to care for them.

Or, worse yet, I could not stand the idea of finding myself pregnant and regretting or resenting it - which I surely would have once the hormonal shift danced forward a day or two.

So I put an end to the madness. I allowed the doctor to cut my fallopian tubes and cauterize them - making darn sure there was no way any future egg of mine would find it's way to a soft uterine home.

I recognize this seems callous to those women who wish with all their might that they could conceive and/or carry a baby to term, that I had that ability and tossed it away so willingly. My heart goes out to the men I know and care about whose hearts have been broken by babies lost.

But being compelled to conceive can be every bit as heart wrenching as not being able to, I think. I opted for a saner, safer path for me. Have I regretted it? Sure. For four days every single month. All through my twenties, thirties and forties, I'd weep and wail and gnash my teeth that I couldn't have my heart's desire - a new little heartbeat keeping time beneath my own. I actually started dreaming of being a surrogate, carrying some other woman's fertilized egg, since my body adapted to pregnancy so well. I didn't really want to raise any more children, I just DESPERATELY hungered to be pregnant. Those were some weird dreams. But most days I KNEW, that for me sterilization was the right choice.

Babies deserve to come into a family where they are truly wanted and welcomed. I would have been like the old woman who lived in a shoe had I not taken matters into my own hands. I would have been bewildered, exhausted and out of all personal and practical resources long before I hit 30. So I made a choice.

Next week I will regret it again. Today, I am so glad I did what I did.

My heart goes out to the men and women I know who mourn for children never born, and I grieve with them for the babies in small boxes that could not stay alive.

I've known more than a few close friends who have walked this lonely road. I've seen emotions from heartache to resentment in their faces when they would see me with my own kids, so blissfully able to do what they could not. It's hard to know how to best be of support to them. But at least infertility is recognized as a painful, difficult trial in life. Hormonal addiction to conception is just too bizarre for words and most people find it laughable. It was never funny for me. I might have liked to have three or four kids spaced several years apart. But I could never take the risk of what my own mind/body response might bring.

As with all other W2W topics - links to what others have said on this same subject can be found at My Many Colored Days and Seeds From My Garden.


Lei said...

I appreciate your candor Bella. Thank you for the sentiments, I hope to return to regular blogging soon. And I hope you will think on past topics and that they bring you more opportunities to stretch, reflect and articulate your thoughts and feelings. That is the whole purpose of Woman to Woman!

Jen said...

Wow, I know it must have taken an incredible amount of courage to write this and to acknowledge these feelings.

I can in some ways relate to where you are coming from. Taking responsibility for our choices is often harder, but yet healthier than deciding not to decide and resenting where we end up as a result. I admire your strength & your honesty in your post today.

Denise said...

Be blessed dear one.

Tigersue said...

We all have to deal with choice and loss. How can anyone in their right minds judge you for what you had to do. As women, married or single, we have to decide what is the best course in our lives to help us attain our fullest potential. I applaude you for taking the best course for you, it does not mitigate at all the pain or sorrow you can feel and will feel.
You are courageous to be the best you can be with how you know you!

Morning Glory said...

What an amazing post! You have every right to make those choices for yourself and I applaud your courage in writing about it. Thank you for participating!

We'll be back with W to W in the future. I hope you'll join us again.

I'd like to add your link for this over on my site.

Angela said...

In your post today you have shared with us very valuable points concerning choices that we are faced to make as women that will affect the rest of our lives. Some of those choices we can control and others have to be made due to specific situations in our life.

I appreciate your honesty and your courage in this post today.

May your days be filled with lots of love and laughter!

the dame said...

I thought I posted a comment, but it semms to have disappeared...

I just wanted to tell you that I thought this was av ery brave post and that I admire your willingness to be so open.

Cmommy said...

I also want to thank you for sharing this perspective. Hugs {}

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