Six Babies After Reversal
Joe and I were very young, and were sure we knew what we wanted, so at the age of 17, the two of us got married. Six months after the wedding, I found myself expecting, even though I had been taking the pill for months. We were both shocked, but I got over it and settled into the idea of being a mom pretty fast.
Joe had a harder time and we both struggled through that. Nine months later I gave birth to our son, Patrick. I had a horrible time having him because I asked for an epidural and it caused me to go into respiratory distress. It was the scariest thing I had ever experienced. I had to have support breathing for over an hour. I was convinced that I was going to die. I also had the worst spinal headache afterwards that kept me bedridden for two days. Not a good start for mothering at all.
By the time Patrick was six months old I was determined to never go through that again. I went to Planned Parenthood to see about getting my tubes tied. They turned me away explaining that they could not "help" me until I was 21. I was very disappointed, but decided I would be back as soon as I reached that birthday.
One month after my 21st birthday, I became pregnant again. I had missed using my diaphragm one time, thinking I was "safe" since I was still bleeding some. I was scared but I knew that "not" having him was not an option. At my first prenatal appointment I begged the doctor to let me get my tubes tied after the birth.
He told me I was way too young. I asked each doctor I saw throughout the pregnancy to please let me get my tubes tied. All but one said I was way too young. They wouldn't let me fill out the forms ahead of time so I resigned myself to waiting until the birth to get the paper work done, but relieved that at least one doctor would allow it. Joe was in complete agreement on this being the last one.
Meanwhile, scared of a repeat of the first birth, I found a wonderful book to help me try to have a drug free delivery. It was Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley, MD. His book spoke to my heart about how God had designed the birth process to be safe and even joyful! I was skeptical, but hopeful at the same time.
Coming so close to dying the first time, my only hope was to make it through alive. I didn't know if I could do it naturally, but I didn't want to die either. This birth was a gift from God! I had only six hours of active labor and it was completely painless! I was surprised but so elated I couldn't believe it! I had another son, Bobby. I was on cloud nine for days after.
But the bitter decision I had made earlier still loomed large in my thinking. I was partly convinced that my good fortune in this birth was a fluke, not something I could count on. Plus, I believed that I was not a good mother because of the difficulty I had bonding with Patrick. I thought that I lacked maternal feelings.
I filled out the forms for the tubal ligation. Joe was never asked to participate except to verbally give his agreement. This surprised me, but since I was a bit of a feminist at the time, I thought it was fitting. I had Bobby on Friday night and was scheduled for the surgery the following morning. I was bumped that day and the next due to emergencies on the ward.
On Monday, I was the fourth of four women scheduled for tubals. If I hadn't been waiting for surgery, I could have gone home on Sunday. I was a very determined young woman, so sure this was what I wanted. There was only room for three surgeries on the schedule, so I was going to have to leave after all. Then one of the women ahead of me had some bad lab values and she was bumped. I got her slot. Looking back, I see that the Lord was offering me a way out.
Within three weeks I had doubts about the surgery. I settled into mothering my new baby much more easily than I expected. I had maternal feelings I had waited months to get with Patrick. I was so in love with both of my children. It was beyond anything I had previously felt capable of.
However, I didn't quite trust it and told everyone how great it was to not have to worry about being pregnant again. Deep inside, I was not so sure. By the time Bobby was three months old, the voice inside got louder. I had a hard time convincing myself that I had made the right choice even though I was still very vocal about how great it was to those who asked. When Bobby was six months old, I could not keep up the charade any more.
I was devastated by my decision and mourned my loss of fertility. I threw myself into training to become a Bradley childbirth teacher, thinking this would somehow make up for not being able to have more babies of my own. But being around all those pregnant ladies was so hard! It just made my longing more intense.
During this time I made friends with a dear woman who was my mentor in childbirth education. She shared her love for God with me and I recommitted my life to Him. She was the first to mention the possibility of having my tubal ligation repaired. I was excited at the prospect, but Joe was still sure that we had made the right choice.
He absolutely did not want more children. but God changed mind. Within a month, he told me I could at least talk to the people at the Navy hospital about it. I am sure he believed they would not do it since it was completely elective. I had an appointment when Bobby was 18 months old.
Suddenly there were open doors everywhere. Everything fell into place. I was told I was an exceptional candidate for their program as they were still new to the procedure and wanted practice. I was scheduled for my surgery on January 30, 1984.
The night before the surgery I was alone and very afraid. I didn't want to go through what I knew would be a painful ordeal if there would be no baby. I cried out to God to be with me and to spare me this if there was no hope. I felt His presence and a gentle assurance. When I awoke from the anesthesia after the surgery the next morning, the first thing that popped into my head was "I am going to have a baby!"
My plan was to have the surgery in January and be pregnant by March for a December birth. I was so sure God was going to give me a baby right away. During the 12 months it took before we had a positive pregnancy test, I learned some interesting lessons about God's timing. I kept asking Him "Where is my baby? You promised!"
During the time that I was awaiting my surgery, I had been working as a childbirth educator and attending births and was fortunate to attend my first homebirth. The mother was having a homebirth following a c-section. It was the most profound experience. I decided then that I would have my baby at home.
Our daughter was born on August 9th. My midwife arrived at 7:30 am I was 5 cm dilated. I called my friend, Jan, and she picked up Helen Wessel (author of The Joy of Natural Childbirth) and they arrived by 8:30 am. I didn't really notice the contractions. I had the baby at 9:05 a.m. We were thrilled with the peaceful birth and that we had a girl.
I had told God in my prayers during the months of waiting that I would never complain if I had all boys, but that my heart's desire was for a daughter. And here she was! What more could a person ask for? I was so incredibly grateful but the thought of another baby was never real to me. I really believed that God had blessed me so much, how could I even think of another.
When Kelli was almost two, God moved again and we conceived. James joined us with another homebirth. It was a more difficult labor, but I learned that I could do hard things too, if God was with me. The years have passed and the babies have continued to come. Two years after James, John joined us. Another homebirth.
Two and a half years later, we had Stephen at home. Two years later, Kelli got her little sister, Mary Rose. Also a homebirth. Two years after that Mark joined our family as well. Of course, another homebirth. Each of these experiences has shaped me as a mother and as a child of God. He has shown me things I never would have understood if I had continued in my headstrong ways.
During all the intervening years since 1984, our family has moved many times. I hate to leave my friends, but each move has proved to be a place to share with hurting women what God has done for me. I feel a sense of duty to share what God has done so that other women may be spared what I have had to struggle through.
I am convinced now that fertility is a gift from God that we meddle with to our own sorrow. I know many women who are full of grief for the children they will not have. I know many families who are sorry for the decision to cut off this most intimate part of their lives. I know many families who still believe that they can do what they like in this area because God has given them freedom.
I believed that, too, once. Only God knows what plans He has for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us. He changed my heart in ways that those who knew me then are still surprised to see. He has been gracious and merciful beyond my wildest dreams and has brought me to my knees in gratitude for the gifts He has bestowed on me. He has given me children, but He has given me so much more through them. He has blessed our household even when we didn't understand what a blessing it was.