"Ask me for strength and I will lend not only my hand, but also my heart."
~ Unknown

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

When to Say When: Choosing to Complete Childbearing.

I have pondered often about writing this post for many reasons.  I wondered if it was appropriate to discuss completing one's family when many of our readers are just beginning.  I also recognize that many of our readers are also our colleagues, some we work with and some we do not.  Word travels fast, and as this is an intensely personal post, I have worried about the potential fallout.  Ultimately, however, my reason for writing today is to share my thoughts, emotions, joys and fears about saying, "We're done having babies."  You, our friends and clients, deserve to know that your feelings surrounding this topic are valid and you deserve support in whatever stage of childbearing you are in.  Someday many of you may also come to this cross road.

This past year, I turned thirty-one., and my youngest child began kindergarten.  I often thought that the day I took my son to his first day of school I would immediately start crying and my baby buzzer would start wailing.  I never thought I would ever be able to say, "I'm done."  I was shocked when, rather than a longing for another child, I felt a sense of relief and even joy (GASP!) that now a new part of our lives would begin.

It may surprise you that only a couple of years ago, I was thinking of trying for another baby.  I even chatted with my doctor about it.  When we were trying to have our two kids, I remember envisioning these little beings.  I fantasized about their births, feeding them, cuddling them and wondering what they would look like.  Funny thing is, when I thought about adding a third child to our family, I couldn't see a thing.  I couldn't imagine another pregnancy, another birth of my own... none of it, and not for lack of trying.  I had wanted a water birth at home with a midwife and all of the trimmings... but I just couldn't see myself with another baby. Perhaps that was my answer.  I am meant to be a mother of two.

Usually, I am fraught with mommy guilt - I mean major, clutch your heart and rack your brain mommy guilt.  In this case, however, I began to feel that our family was complete and I could see how that would benefit my children.  I could enjoy really watching my kids as they move through each stage and learn new things.  We wouldn't have to cinch the purse strings even tighter to afford another mouth to feed. We could afford to support our children's talents and take them to games, lessons, etc.  Certainly, parents of more than two children can do these things as well, it just turns out that two is our magic number.

I have chosen to undergo a tubal ligation.  Again, I never thought I would make such a permanent decision regarding childbearing; however, once again there are many reasons.  I have been told by several doctors that I may have something called polycystic ovary syndrome.  While it has not been effectively confirmed, I do display many of the symptoms including irregular cycles.  For me, this has meant basically keeping the pregnancy test companies in business over the last ten years.  The constant state of "not knowing" has been stressful.  Hormonal birth control methods have had adverse effects on my wellbeing, therefore, after much research, I have opted for the tubal ligation.

My decision to complete the childbearing phase of my life has not come easy.  In addtion to the  many personal factors, I have also wondered how it would affect my professional life, aside from achieving my goals.  As a birth doula, I was initially concerned about how it would "look."  I am a childbirth professional who no longer will be experiencing childbirth in a personal sense.  I am having a medical procedure rather than using natural methods of birth control.  Am I being a hypocrite?  After much soul searching, I realized that no, I am not.  In fact, I am doing exactly what I promote and encourage - I am taking control of my health and my body.

Looking ahead... Personally and professionally, I have a desire to see what else is out there for me.  I have goals to pursue and tasks to complete.  I'm looking ahead at my future as well has the future of my family.  It's exciting and a little daunting, but it's my future to form!

~ Michelle