Friday, December 05, 2008

The end of the fertility journey

So, now it's conclusive: I will never be pregnant again.

Yesterday, I got all teary-eyed about knowing that I would never hear another newborn baby's first cries, and I had a moment where I thought about backing out. What if I might change my mind someday, when the trauma of my last pregnancy and birth has faded?

I'm currently.. not overwhelmed exactly, just whelmed, with the three children I've got, but I imagined changing my mind when Andrew goes to preschool in a few years. I love babies, and I'm having such a good time with him right now -- those wide gummy grins make me melt. And I've discovered that I love toddlers just as much, and that there will soon come a day when nobody in the house thinks that being chased around the living room with a plastic duck is the height of entertainment. So I feel some loss to know that those stages will pass away and never come again.

Since Andrew's birth, I've been wrestling with the question of whether I've had a mild form of PPD or even PTSD. I literally get the shakes at the idea of being pregnant again, and sometimes I feel so short-tempered and emotionally fragile. I've been through a lot, so I think I'm justified in feeling this way, but I've had to ask myself if I think I can manage, or if I need to get some therapy and/or meds. I've come down on the side of trying to manage, at least until we got through this diagnostic process and found or didn't find an explanation for the chronic pelvic pain. Given all that, I've wondered if I decided to have my tubes tied out of fear, rather than for good and rational reasons, and if I would regret it in five years.

Now that it's done, I might still have regrets in five years, but I know it was the right choice. Given what they found, I might have had a very hard time getting pregnant again, and my chances of an ectopic would have been non-trivial in that messed-up left tube. The tube and the adhesions and the endometriosis would have continued to give me pain until I'd had them fixed, and I would not have done well with an IUD. Plus, in five years from now, I'll be 37, and advanced maternal age + one lost tube + internal scarring and adhesions + a history of infertility adds up to make it a moot point. So I'm really at peace now that I know another pregnancy would have been a long shot. I made the decision not to have any more children, rather than holding out hope and going through the emotional rollercoaster of infertility, and being able to make the choice makes all the difference.

This may not be the end of my reproductive troubles. Adhesions come back, and so does endometriosis, and I might get another infection from this surgery (my temperature's slightly elevated right now, which I'm watching like a hawk). There may be another lap, or even a hysterectomy, in the future, because this is my crappy body we're talking about. But we took a big step toward being done with it today, and I feel good about it now.


Sassy said...

*hug* I'm thinking of you.

Antigonos said...

Dear Emma, I am 100% convinced you made the absolute best decision for YOU with having your tubes tied, and whatever immediate or delayed sadness/upset the tubal ligation may cost you [and it might; I mourned an extracted wisdom tooth once -- after all, it WAS a part of ME :-)], it will be a transient sadness, and as soon as you regain full health you'll be so immersed in your family you'll find yourself not even thinking about it.
This business of guarding our fertility for identity issues is vastly overrated, IMO. You most certainly won't be any less a wife to your husband [my husband was actually relieved when I had my tubes tied as it meant much less fuss over contraception] or mother to your gorgeous children. Three is quite an acceptable family!

I really hope your recovery from all this pregnancy/birth/postpartum period is quick and complete.

Eva said...

Thanks for the updates, I've been thinking about you. I hope you recover quickly. It sounds like your life is very full and you have a lot to be happy about. Hopefully in a few years that joy won't be diminished by any wanting. And I like the idea that ending fertility by choice is a better option than not knowing!

Nic said...

I'm really glad that this all got figured out and hopefully fixed, and that you're doing okay. I can imagine being sad at the prospect of not being able to have another child. I hope that sadness doesn't last too long.

Jody said...

We're looking at the big V here in the new year, and I've been grappling with What It Means for months, even though it's been pretty obvious for years that I wasn't going to have any more babies. It's a big transition -- reaching that moment when you set aside for good the possibility of pregnancy, and orient yourself entirely toward what comes next.