Sunday, February 8, 2009

Reproduction Thoughts

A recent post, which touched on a subject that Casey and I have discussed often since Haley was born, did not include much of what I had originally written. At the time, I was feeling very guilty and subsequently vulnerable, and decided to tone down my whiny and complainy post by deleting some of the information.

However, I think what I ended up communicating in that post may have been that we do not desire to have more children or that a pending decision on this subject is based solely on what we are experiencing right now. Let me clarify that neither is the case. In fact, we continue to do what we have since the beginning of our marriage. (Family planners, brace yourselves!) We have never tried or tried not to get pregnant. It works well for us, and I can honestly say that the supposedly typical fear of a woman doesn't even cross my mind: "What if I get pregnant?!" The only exception is once soon after Haley was born, and almost as soon as I thought it, I dismissed it.

It is not that we don't know "what causes this" or that we think, "Eh, it won't happen." We see in Scripture that God is the one who opens and closes the womb, and He has shown Himself faithful to us in this way. By purely scientific standards, I should be having babies about every 10 months, meaning we should be due with our seventh baby about now!

When Casey and I discuss reproduction nowadays, it is usually to share our current thoughts and feelings, not to plan or decide anything. Truth be told, if we had found out we were pregnant last month, it would have been a comfort (a reason for why I was feeling quite overwhelmed) as well as a sobering thought for the work that lies ahead (and I'm not talking labor. If it were just about giving birth, I'd gladly have another half-dozen babies.).

Anyway, we continue to do what we always have, and I actually find much comfort in it. Every month that I get my cycle back I see more as a gift from God than I would if we were somehow trying to prevent pregnancy. It would be more of an assumption: "Of course we aren't pregnant. We're not trying to be." And conversely, each time we've discovered we were pregnant, we have been overjoyed by the gift God gave us. We could have worried when we didn't get pregnant for over a year after we were married, fretted over our "infertility" struggles, and become saddened by the news of other's pregnancies and our desire for a child. (I use the term infertility facetiously. There are actually people who refer to something quantified in months as "infertility!" I can't imagine what a slap in the face it is to anyone who has truly struggled with it.) But we saw it as a true blessing that God gave us that time alone with one another. We never thought in terms of "not being able" to get pregnant, and it was healthier for mind, body and soul to not go down that path, in my opinion.

So here we are, on the other side of the spectrum, and I am reticent to take away, so to speak, that super personal, super obvious way that God has shown His care over the "smallest" things in our life together. Perhaps it is weird to hear it in these terms, but we really do feel extremely loved by God, and I'd hate to lose that (the feeling, I'm not saying we wouldn't be loved by Him, just that we would not see these clear examples in the same way). I guess I should say that I'm really talking to certain people here, and there are many people who would be baffled by the whole "driving without a seat belt" idea (which, if need be, I will gladly address this acutely ridiculous analogy) but I assume most people who read my blog can at least see my perspective, even if they wouldn't do it themselves.

As things are, we're taking it one baby at a time. We pray God will give us the faith to continue to trust Him. The fact is that He is always faithful and always good. If we decide to do something about it, the wavering will be on our side! Any decision we make on this subject would be based on a long list, which I won't include here, but may be good to write out at some point for our own review.

While on the subject, and while already expressing some seriously personal thoughts, I might as well get it all out there. I talk to an acquaintance every so often who, in the course of a five to ten minute conversation, asks me if I'm pregnant every time we talk. Among other things, I mention to her that we're not trying to get pregnant (hoping to infer that she doesn't need to keep asking). I consider the "are you pregnant?" question extremely personal and inappropriate, even (and perhaps more so) if someone is trying. My opinion is, when I am supposed to know, my close friend, acquaintance, or sister WILL TELL ME, and I will tell people when they are supposed to know as well! As opinionated as I am, one will not find me expressing a personal distaste for many things this forcefully. There are many things I don't care for that I will never blog about, but I feel so strongly about this, and don't mind saying so.

Early miscarriage is very common in general, and especially in my family. When I find I am pregnant, miscarriage is one of the items on the list of what to prepare myself for. In fact, in my pregnancies with both Ruby and Haley, things went on that caused me to wonder if I was miscarrying or would miscarry. I did not freak out about it or borrow trouble by worrying; it is just one of the things I see as a possibility, and am prepared to deal with it with each pregnancy. Because of this, Casey and I wait quite awhile to announce that we are pregnant. We usually try to wait the full 12 weeks that are recommended, but often are not able to, because it would require lying to people who ask, and I won't do that just to keep the secret.

I have qualms about announcing pregnancy right away for a couple reasons. Not that I have a problem with other people doing so, I am just not willing to do it. But I think I actually cringe when I hear people announce to the general public that they've just taken a pregnancy test and it was positive. I hear all the time, "We want people to pray, so we're telling them right away." The problem is, news of miscarriage doesn't seem to travel nearly as fast as news of pregnancy. I have witnessed more times than I care to remember the awkward exchange between the once-pregnant woman and the excited church member or out-of-the loop friend congratulating with much vigor. It is painful for the bystanders, let alone the congratulator and the woman. I don't want to put anyone in that position (which is why, when friends have told me they are "barely" pregnant, sometimes I'll ask general "How's it going?" questions and wait for them to bring it up again if we haven't talked in awhile, and if I've heard through the grapevine that someone is pregnant, I will wait to congratulate them until they tell me themselves).

The other reason has to do with boundaries. With a subject so personal as miscarriage, I would want to be choosy about who has such information right away. Call me weird, but there are people that I'd just as soon tell a few years down the road, as more an exchange of information, rather than an invitation to console me. A friend recently told me of her miscarriage, and mentioned during the conversation a few of the comments she had received from others (who meant well, I am certain). Do people seriously not know there are things you just *do not* say to a grieving person? Or could it be that it jumps out of their mouths before they give it a thought? Anyway, with such touchy subjects, I think it can be good to be purposeful about how much information is shared and with whom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can respond to your nosy friend who constantly asks you if you're pregnant, "Why do you want/need to know that?" Or just, "Please stop asking me -- I am tired of hearing it every time we talk. If I don't tell you that I'm pregnant, just assume I'm not!"

Maybe that will help?