I guess we should start off when I got married at age 19, to my high school sweetheart. We did not save ourselves for marriage, and were already living together. But I was happy to be his wife. I truly believe that he is someone I'd be friends with, even if I was not married to him. I genuinely LIKE my husband. We had practiced birth control the entire four years we'd been dating (yes, since age 15...go there if you must. I never said I was a saint.) and when I married, I no longer had access to my parent's health insurance. Mr. R was lucky enough at age 21 to have a job with insurance, and I was added on within the month we married. However, I'd had some issues with taking the pill in the past. I gained a lot of weight, and also had some blood clots (also known at DVT) as a teenager.
|My senior prom...1993!|
My gyn agreed it was no longer safe for me to take them. While we were deciding which method to use, we got pregnant. This is literally within the first month of marriage. I was surprised (I'm not sure why, we were newlyweds after all!) and very happy. And then devastated when I miscarried on October 15, 1994, at about 5 weeks. That weekend, we were moving into our first real apartment and I had been carrying boxes, but nothing very heavy. I cried a lot, and miscarried at home by myself. The gyn then told me to take a few months off to heal, then try again if I wanted...but told me that I'd probably have a difficult time conceiving, and possibly even have fertility issues. Very stressing news for a newly married 19 year old!
|Our wedding day...which was not July 15 2010. This is a scanned copy my sis in law has on her fb.|
Well, we didn't use any protection, and went about our lives...I felt like crap at Thanksgiving but thought I was getting the flu. Of course, by Christmas, I knew...I was pregnant again. This time, baby was a keeper and I gave birth to Missy in July 1995, 8 days before our 1st anniversary. I was 20 years old. As a teenager, I was never one of those who babysat to make extra cash, so this baby business was all new to me. I like to say I made all my mistakes with Missy. I didn't breastfeed, created monster sleep issues, and worked through most of her infancy. During her first year of life, I tried going back on the pill again, and gained a lot more weight. I threw those pills away, for good! On Missy's 1st birthday, after we put her to bed, I whispered to Mr. R that I wanted another baby. Tiger was conceived that very night...their birthdays are exactly 9 months apart. I LOVED being Tiger's mom...I nursed him, co-slept, and was home with him and Missy during the day. I think I hit my parenting groove. I had the perfect family...a boy and a girl! I was DONE. Now, please don't think I didn't love being Missy's mom. But I was so new to the whole "baby thing" that I spent more time researching and being worried, that I missed out on having more fun with her.
|Family portrait, Christmas 1999.|
My family did not congratulate me when I told them I was pregnant again. In fact, I can clearly remember the looks of disgust we received. We became one of "those people." Those white trash people who have more kids than they can afford. I became obsessed with how we appeared in public; driving our $500 hoopty with mismatched car seats and me with cheap flip flops because I couldn't afford nicer shoes. We did only activities which were cheap or free; church functions, the park, the library, the beach. Bucket was born in July 1998, when I was 23 years old. I worked two nights before he was born, and he was 9 days late. I went back when he was a week old. I needed the tip money.
Our anniversary in August of 1998 was quiet. We had been married four years and already had three children. My mother lived in New York at the time. I remember her calling me to wish me a happy anniversary, and then she dropped the bomb: "For your anniversary, I'd like to pay for (Mr. R) to get a vasectomy." I wish now I had stood up to her. I wish I had opened my Bible and saw what the Lord says about children and blessings. Instead, I listened to my mother tell me how poor we were (she was right) and how three children are enough (according to who? My mom happens to be the third child in a family of seven!) and that I was damaging my body (I think the pills did that more than the babies, but whatever. Hard to prove.) So we called our insurance, and discovered that a vasectomy was a $100 copay. We made the appointment for the week before Labor Day. And my mom mailed us a check for $100. I'd just like to point out there that a vasectomy cost less than a year of birth control pills! I was 23, Mr. R was 25, and we ended our fertility. Just like that. I really don't even remember discussing it much. We were poor and this was a cheap solution to our "problem."
I think for the first five years after the vasectomy, I was grateful. Grateful because Bucket was diagnosed with autism, and I have no idea how I could have managed a baby when Bucket was doing so poorly. I got the job at the hospital, and Mr. R became a truck driver. We bought a house. We did all those grown up things. When Bucket was around 6, I suddenly wanted a baby SO BADLY. I cried over our lack of fertility. I even looked into adoption, but it was very expensive. With a child with autism, fostering seemed out of the question. So I babysat whenever I could, and volunteered in my kid's classes. But it just didn't seem like enough. I brought up the subject of reversal, and Mr. R was understandably opposed. I moped. I tried not to nag. I prayed that God would change my husband's heart to be open to more children, no matter how they came. Eventually, Mr. R decided that he also wanted more children. But it still took a few years to make appointments and come up with the money. But now, we are here...and with three "older" children, it does seems like we're starting over, but if the Lord decides to bless us in spite of our earlier mistakes, I will be so grateful.
To anyone who is considering permanent sterilization, I beg you to pray over it, and really, really talk it over. I won't be so bold as to say sterilization is a mistake, because everyone has their story. But consider not using a permanent solution to what may be a temporary situation; while I can't say we're rich, we certainly do not have the financial problems we had back in the 90s.