Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Piece of My Womanhood

At 33, I’m really coming into my own. I am at peace spiritually. I have purpose, fulfillment, and passion in my life. I have so many interests that I cannot find the time to enjoy them all. I have a loving, beautiful partner and two amazing, thoughtful kids.

But recently my partner and I decided that we will not have anymore children. Part of the reason for this decision is that I’m getting older. If we are going to have another child, we should do it now and well, now isn’t really a great time to be getting pregnant and having another baby.

Another reason is that birth control of any kind doesn’t agree with me. The IUD made me hemorrhage every month and caused panic attacks. I’m allergic to spermicide, so that eliminates the sponge and the diaphragm. Using condoms over a prolonged period of time caused me to develop a latex allergy – the alternative non-latex condoms also irritate my precious parts. And the birth control pill turns me into a psycho, depressed, emotionally out-of-control maniac.

I found a birth control pill that seems to make me crazy for only one and a half weeks of my cycle, so if I lock myself away, ignore emails and phone calls, and self-medicate with marijuana and alcohol during that time, it decreases the impact of my moodiness on friends and colleagues dramatically. My family, however, continues to bear the brunt of my insanity.

In light of my desire to get off the pill but avoid painful private parts too, we concluded that we will not have any more children. And yesterday I made an appointment with my doctor to arrange a tubal ligation.

I chose to get my tubes tied rather than ask my partner to get a vasectomy. He is five years younger than I am and although I sincerely believe we will spend our lives together, I also know that people grow apart. If this happens and he finds himself one day with a woman who wants to have a baby, I want him to be able to give her that. I have my two babies and I’m honestly relieved that I won’t be having anymore.

I’m relieved because pregnancy was hard on me. I’m also looking forward to the day when I won’t have to brush anyone’s teeth but my own anymore. There will be more time for my own interests as my children get older. I envision romantic holidays alone with my mate in the near future and weekend sleepovers for the kids at Grandma’s since my youngest will soon be old enough.

It is a wonder and a blessing to watch my children grow and become more and more independent. It is also a wonder and a blessing to gain my own independence. Each new day brings me closer to a time when I can immerse myself in my writing, see my youngest off to his first day of school, and work fulltime again so we can buy a house.

Maybe my stomach will be flat again one day. Sex will be spontaneous and carefree. No more major hormone fluctuations till menopause. I can finally give away those baby items I’ve been saving just in case…

So why am I sad?

There are so many good reasons to get my tubes tied and I’m looking very forward to it. But I’m also floored at the immensity of this decision. I’m in a sudden state of mourning for the lost part of my woman-ness that I’m about to sacrifice – the ability to have children.

Last night I cried. It never occurred to me that I might feel this way. It didn’t cross my mind that this decision would upset me at all. I didn’t see it coming. Just all of a sudden I was in tears for my reproductive system.

I realized I’m giving up a piece of my womanhood.

Is this how it feels when a woman is told she must get a mastectomy or hysterectomy? I imagine it’s worse because she has no choice, while I do have options even if they aren’t very good.

I’m glad I have this option even though I’m sad about it. I think of the days when women didn’t have any birth control options and babies were coming out the yin-yang. There were high rates of stillbirths, miscarriages, and women dying in childbirth. Many women stopped having sex in their efforts to avoid pregnancy or stopped enjoying sex because they feared pregnancy. This is a different day and age, and I’m glad of it.

But I’ll allow myself a moment to mourn. Goodbye full breasts, tummy flutters, and the miracle of birth. Goodbye tiny arms around my neck, soft mouth on my nipple, and lullabies in the rocker. Never again will I know the amazingness of a newborn baby with eyes only for me. No more first words, first steps, first owies, first tooths.

I will never share my body with another human being again. Oh well, I’ll still have my stretch marks and mommy-tummy to remind me of the experience.

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