Thursday, January 12, 2012

How Do You Know When You’re Done?

This is a question I’m asking myself a lot lately in relation to having children, because I am pondering taking steps toward permanent birth control.

I love being an only child. I don’t feel I missed out by not having siblings. I have a very close, very loving relationship with my parents. Growing up, I got to take dance classes, piano lessons, and fun summer programs, and go to a great university. Our family was firmly lower middle class, so if I’d had additional siblings, these things probably wouldn’t have been possible.

Given my background, I really only ever wanted to have one child. And J was good with having just one as well. Other than moments of desperation during our infertility battle when we would’ve happily taken quintuplets if that’s what we were blessed with, and my one bout of serious babyfever when Sophie was 18 months old, we’ve both been completely grateful to have Sophie and, at the same time, completely in agreement that we were one and done.

Sophie is an amazing kid. She has traveled with us to several states and two other countries in her short life. I’ve already got her in ballet, tap, and soccer, and life is SO GOOD. We are so blessed.

I really, deep down in my heart, know with 100 percent certainty that I don’t want to have another child. I don’t.

Our life is busy, our house is always messy, and I had to go part-time just to feel like I had a handle on things after Sophie was born. And I’ve adjusted to it and I love it (other than the messiness of my house) because of all the wonderful moments in those crazy days with my little girl, when she’s talking to me about her day or playing princesses or dancing alongside me to Just Dance 3 on the Wii. I just can’t see adding another child and more craziness and more stress to my life.

And I’m certainly done with fertility drugs and infertility treatments. NEVER AGAIN. I’m pretty sure seven months of fertility drugs did a number on my body that continues to this day and I have no desire to put myself at further risk physically or emotionally.

So, considering that I AM infertile, why am I even considering permanent birth control? Do I really have to worry about that?

Yes, because it would be my luck to have a fluke cycle where I randomly got pregnant despite my infertility. It has happened to people I know. And while if it happened, I’d consider that God’s will and proceed forth in life as a mother of two, I don’t really want to leave things to chance.


The bigger reason I am considering permanent birth control is simple. I’m tired of having a period.

As a teenager, I had horrible periods (probably caused in part by an undiagnosed thyroid condition) where I bled for a month straight or every other week. All the time. It was traumatizing, until I was 17 and my mother took me to an OB/Gyn, Dr. F, who put me on the pill. Suddenly, I had simple, three-day periods, once a month like clockwork. I stayed on that pill for 16 years, until J and I decided to start trying for a baby when I was 33.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that pill-free, my period only lasted an extra day and was still pretty regular. Then, six months later, I was UNpleasantly surprised to find out I wasn’t even ovulating and couldn’t get pregnant, so what was I doing with a period every month anyway?!

Then, we finally had Sophie (who was delivered by Dr. F-I find someone I like, I stay with them!). When my periods returned post-pregnancy, they were much heavier, crampier, and longer. The pill no longer worked for me and I had lots of breakthrough bleeding, so I stopped taking it. This last year, my periods started coming closer and closer together, so I was basically bleeding every third week.

I really feel like my quality of life is suffering. I’m exhausted, probably a little anemic, and uncomfortable, more than I’m not at this point.

Researching my options, I discovered something called ablation, where they laser off the uterine lining and you no longer have a period. You usually have to do something else along with ablation, such as your husband having a vasectomy (not likely) or having your tubes tied (more likely for me), because if you did get pregnant after having ablation, the egg wouldn’t have anywhere to implant and it would be a bad, guilt-inducing situation.

So, I visited Dr. F, explained the situation, and waited to see what he recommended. I didn’t mention anything about ablation-I wanted to see if he brought it up as an option. I did tell him that my ever-closer periods, plus a laundry list of other symptoms meant I was going into early menopause. Ha!

He told me I was NOT going into early menopause (not sure I believe him), didn’t mention ablation as an option, but thought the reason my periods are coming closer together is because my eggs, which were so awesome and viable just three years ago (it’s the only fertility test I passed with flying colors-I had good eggs, they just didn’t GO anywhere to make me pregnant!), are now aging and unable to last a full cycle. Thus, closer-together periods.

He actually said, “Well, if you were trying to get pregnant now, you’d need a lot of help.” Um, hello, I needed a lot of help the first time when my eggs were GREAT!

He recommended I go back on a very low-dose version of the pill that would sort of smooth things out hormonally and help the eggs hang on longer, thus spacing my periods back out some. Great! A solution that’s not so drastic, I thought.

I started the new pill at the end of my period on a Sunday. Six days later, OUR FIRST DAY AT DISNEY WORLD, I began bleeding again. Heavily. And I bled for the rest of the trip, until I finally stopped taking the pill. Two periods in three weeks. ARGH. No more pill for me.

Then, last month, pill-free, I had a few days where my cycle ran long and I hadn’t started bleeding, and I was like, “What if I am pregnant?!” and I was in a complete panic. I really didn’t want to be pregnant and I was so relieved when my period finally came and I knew I wasn’t.

So, now I’m back to considering talking to Dr. F about more drastic measures like ablation and tube-tying, but I’m having a hard time with it. Because even though I know I truly don’t want to have another baby, it is so hard for me to take a step that will make it COMPLETELY impossible. To close that door forever.

As an infertile person, I spent a lot of time praying to God because I wanted a baby more than anything in the world. I’m so lucky to have a beautiful, healthy child and I’m completely happy, grateful, and fulfilled as a mother of one. Even though I really don’t want another baby, it still feels too hard to personally take an action to end my childbearing ability forever. Even if it is probably already gone on its own anyway (see: AGING EGGS).

So, I’m just waiting and thinking. And giving it more time. And hoping that I can be at peace with whatever decision I ultimately make. If anyone else has thought about this or done this, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. This is a really difficult decision. I cannot imagine struggling with quality of life on a day-to-day basis. But, I do understand why you'd grieve putting an end to something you fought so hard to have in the first place. I say sleep on it. And continue sleeping on it until you're ready. Trust yourself to know when the time is right. (I wish I could provide more insights...)