Sunday, July 25, 2010

Preparing to conceive again

Last weekend, I went to a training to learn the more clinical aspects of midwifery and I came away from it with some upheaval. Not about birth but about my future children.

First there were lots of Moms with Many or Quiverful Moms there with 6-10 kids each. This is a big deal for me because I've never gotten to know personally mothers of large families so I've never been able to envision me being the mother of more than 5-6. That is further complicated by my husband not wanting more than 6. Then I learned that my fears of pelvic floor dsyfunction was real and my concerns about my hip pain are getting stronger. And I realized that if I want 5-6 (or more) kids that I'm not going to have enough time before I get to 40. And then the physical issues might make it hard to have that many more kids.

So one at a time:
On our first date, I told my husband I am aiming for 6 or more children and he didn't feel confident that he could be a father to that many so he said he'd be comfortable 4 (which is one more than his parents had). For the sake of an easy compromise, I said 5 and that's what still remains the agreement now because I haven't felt like pushing for more. As of now, he doesn't know that I'm now thinking of more than 6.

Then is the fear of not being able to physically withstand more than 6 pregnancies. After two pregnancies so far, I have chronic hip pain that I fear might be arthritis. Through yoga, working on correcting my posture, chiropractic adjustments and regular massages, I can keep the pain from being all the time but it often nags most of the time. There was a point just after Belle was born that I couldn't walk it was so bad and I had to find a chiropractor in a state I didn't live in so I could get the joint put back in place. It was really uncomfortable at the end of Belle's pregnancy and I'm scared if I don't get it healed before I get pregnant again my next pregnancy will be really difficult and it could be worse after. And the older I get, the worse it will be.

The other effect of two pregnancies I'm worried about is the prolapse (cytocele and rectocele to more precise). Basically, it means that my vaginal walls have been weakened so when my bladder or colon is full, both can be felt weighing on the vaginal walls. Its really common in women who have had children and it really only negatively affects me when I'm on my menstrual cycle. It makes wearing regular or super sized tampons difficult because they get pushed out by the collapsing tissue. Its also the reason why the Diva Cup doesn't work for me. I am concerned however that if I don't work to rectify it now that it will get worse in more pregnancies and become a problem.

Between those two things, I'm scared that I will be so effected that having a third baby will make life after that baby so difficult that I wouldn't be able to care for the children I have, let alone have more children.

On the other side of that, is if those things can be resolved so I'm no longer in pain and don't need to worry about more severe prolapse, then how long will it take? 3 years? That was my original plan, I knew that having both children so close together meant I needed to have more time before the next one. Now I'm concerned if I wait that long, I won't have enough time before I decide I'm too old to have another baby. If I turn 40 in 2024 and I have my next baby in 2013, that's 11 years of time to have more babies. Every two years, I could have 5 more. So I feel my upper limit is 7 then which means that only 7 of the 9 names we have chosen would be used for our children. And I'm scared that having babies every two years will be too much for my body because having two babies in two years already has been too much for my body and I'll just be older which will means pregnancies are automatically going to be harder than if I was younger.

Meeting the Quiverful moms was really an inspiring experience for me. Many of them had their first babies younger than I did. So I'm already feeling "behind" like I was getting a late start. Though I know that even having a baby at 21 is still plenty young aside from the fact that it was perfectly right for me. I also am realizing that my body, because of breastfeeding, is going to space children a little more than 2 years apart, which I feel is great and good because its a sign of how Heavenly Father created us to bare and care for our babies.

I don't want to be in competition with other mothers to have as many babies as they do, but I do like seeing the fruits of their families. The older children learn how to be parents by caring for their younger brothers and sisters. Mothers get help in managing and caring for so many people, and from what I've seen the older siblings caring for the younger allow mothers to be involved in activities that take them outside the home (in this case, to become midwives). I also like the idea of not worrying about fertility and accepting pregnancies as they come, having faith and reliance on God.

I know that's the answer. To trust in God, pray to know what to do about my hip because, really, that is what concerns me most.

I think what I wish is that my hip pain could be gone and not a worry because if it were, I would be excited to conceive again as soon as possible. I'm already feeling stirrings for another baby but I'm so scared of how painful that pregnancy would be if I were to get pregnant now with my hip the way it is.

And even if my hip was fine and I could conceive again so early (I'm thinking that my luteal phases are still too short), I'm almost positive my husband would be opposed because according to his plan, we are not going to have another baby until he graduates and we move. I have to throw this in too: he frustrates because to me it appears that he does not consider God's plan for our family at all when it comes to trying to conceive. I think he might think that he's going to decide whatever he wants and just trust thats what God wants for him. I'm not feeling like I can agree with that.

To further complicate things is the circumcision issue. As far as I know, he still is obstinately supportive of circumcising our next son and he refuses to even talk about it until we know we are having a boy. I want to be surprised with the gender our next babies so that is the recipe for an all out fight after the baby is born. I don't want to put off finding consensus until after or even while pregnant. I'm pretty sure a large portion of the reason why he doesn't want to discuss circumcision is because he would rather not face the idea his parents did something to him when he could not stop them and it may now have negative affects on him.

Oh my goodness, this thought just occurred to me: what if my hip problems and his not wanting to discuss circumcision is linked? Karma could make it possible...

So there you go, those are all my issues. I'd love advice on any of the above.


VNess said...

I also have more or less chronic hip pain related to the birth of my daughter, and it's due to an out-of-whack pelvic floor and things pulling in every which way (just not the right way). I've been working with an osteopath which has helped some, but yes, I'm also worried about what this means for the future, even though I'm just planning for one more.

Have you seen this?

I got it for my birthday and have worked with it a little, and it has made a suggested a way of sitting in the car, and just making that tiny change has actually made things better. I should probably do more with it, but time is, as always, limited.

Anyway, thought I'd mention it.

All the best on your journey.

Rixa said...

I know that you wanted to have a large family, but I also feel that you're feeling peer pressure from all your time with the Quiverfull moms and it's getting to you. Relax. It's not a race and larger families don't "win." I know you know that--but I feel you're still feeling a sense of anxiety and inadequacy about the future and your future family size.

I don't think putting family size "in God's hands" (ie, allowing as many babies to come as can come) is more righteous or spiritual than carefully considering and planning for each baby. This includes your own health, both the husband's and wife's mental/emotional/physical state, etc.

I had my first at 28 and I'm pretty relaxed about the ultimate number of children. Since I had several years of infertility, I'm not trying to prevent anything right now, and I have a nice natural spacing from breastfeeding. But I haven't struggled with chronic hip issues or prolapse and those are things to seriously consider.

Re: circumcision--I would be absolutely firm on this one. Circumcision ended with the Atonement of Christ. End of story.

Lisa said...

What great questions you are carrying.

In my experience:

Cranio-sacral bodywork is very gentle and very healing.

This book is a treasure for women and pelvic tissue/prolapse issues:
The author has a website with discussion boards loaded with great ideas from women's experience. I love that it names and provides support for issues of peliv prolapse of all sorts. From where I sit, it seems to be an area that has little attention yet is of vital importance to each woman who lives with any kind and any degree of prolapse and which is much more common than we think.

Warm wishes on your journey and with your questions, Lisa

TopHat said...

I totally know what you mean about spacing. Margaret is 27 months older than Isaac because we were curious how breastfeeding would space our kids if we did nothing about it. But being in the postpartum healing stage with new postpartum problems (hemorrhoids! what fun!) I really don't want to do this again. Maybe it's because I'm still healing, I don't know. All of my random baby blues-related crying at day 3 postpartum was related to "What if I never feel normal again? What if I hurt forever?"

So I don't know how we'll space the next one. I definitely want to wait some time.

LadyLeslie said...

I have never wanted to have as many children as my body can possibly allow, though I respect QF families and their choices--but I do believe in the sanctity of the natural body. We have been able to use NFP to prevent and plan pregnancy now . . .

But as someone whose mother is a healer, I never got used to any chronic pains. My mother practices CranioSacral and Visceral Manipulation along with Chinese medicine (herbs, acupuncture, and viewing the body as a whole connected natural system).

All of the therapies I just mentioned can help or completely alleviate your concerns about prolapse AND your musculo-skeletal issues. Look at for more information about CranioSacral therapy and to find a therapist who can help with gentle, hands-on techniques.

I wish you much healing and resolution as to your questions about conception and family size. Good luck with the circumcision issue--there's no reason for it, but old hurts tend to manifest themselves again as negative cycles.

Much love,

Jennifer said...

I got married when I was 21, and both times I've tried to get pregnant I got pregnant immediately the very first month of trying. This time I didn't even think it would work because I thought I had already ovulated to far before, but I conceived anyway. With Owen, I got my period back when he was two months old despite the fact that he was breastfed only and never supplemented with formula, and breastfed day and night on demand. I guess what I'm saying is, I think I am a highly fertile person, and had I not used birth control I would very likely have conceived and bore a child every single year of my marriage. I could have 10 to 13 children right now, and quite a few years of fertility left. I don't know how that could be anyone's plan for me, because there is really no way that we could afford that many children. We are still wondering if we could reasonably afford a third. It would also have been very taxing on my body to have a child every year or so for the last 13 years. It also would have been very taxing on our marriage and on my emotional health and well being. Some people are infertile and never have children of their own. Some people are very fertile and have children despite breastfeeding or using NFP (which I was conceived under). I think it is rather harsh to imply that some people get children withheld from them forever, and others get far more than their fare share, because this is all God's plan for these individuals. If I believed in God, I would be grateful that he gave us the capacity to bear children, and the tools and free will to decide to do it when and if it is right for us personally and for all the members of our families.

Susana said...


Have you thought about the possibility that all of your children needn't be birthed by you?

It sounds like you may have some issues that might make it very difficult for you to have as many children as you feel(right now) are to come to you.

I know that I have trusted God for my family size. All of our children are almost exactly 2 years apart, except for a gap of 4 and 3 years with the last three, that we purposely created with NFP.

We felt there were more children to come, but we knew we had to space them out. We did so for financial reasons and other "temporal" reasons.

Now after having our seventh, I feel a strong sense of peace that we are done. We cannot afford more, and I, too have concerns about my body birthing more babies. Already I have some physical issues to deal with and I know that having more would cause me problems.

Definitely don't compare yourself. You can trust your Father in Heaven. He will let you know what you should do.

Ugh.... about the circ. issue. It is so difficult when a husband and wife have strongly opposing positions. I told my husband with our second son that the baby was his as much as mine and if he felt strongly about circ. then HE would have to take him and get it done.

I refused to that time. The baby never got circed and neither have our two younger sons.

Jenne said...

I appreciate the responses and the ideas.

Susana, your words were most comforting. Not comparing myself is the most important thing to remember.

Just having a chance to get that out also really helps. I hate it how verbal I have to be to find peace on the issues that bother me. When I talk to a whole bunch of people about it, its like I can be free from the concern of it. If only I could achieve that without pouring my heart out to everyone.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing new under the sun to quote Solomon. 30 years ago I was with a group of people who believed any sort of birth control was a sin. Large families were the norm, women didn't work outside the home and I was hoping to have a minimum of 6 children and hopefully more. God in his grace knew that down the road my life was going to take a dramatic turn. At 3 children my husband made the decision that was it. I prayed every day for 7 years I begged really, I wept before the Lord, I pleaded. My adult children remember this time and it wounded them that they were "not enough".

Hindsight.... my husband left me, I think it always was in the back of his mind... I had a brain tumor and some catestrophic health problems which in the end made me thank God with all my heart I was not dealing with more than 3 children.

In the end I was able to go back to college when my children were there we had a wonderful time in school together. I got a masters in public administration and am currently in a position that allows me to impact hundreds of women and children for good and for Christ.

God knew. Sometimes I meet quiverful people now and I'm shocked at how out of touch they are with the needs of the Kingdom of God in this world, because their entire lives seem to be about me and mine. My children, my land, my house, my husband mine...homeschool, homebirth, home mine.... And while the world marches to hell its all about the whole movement of being exclusive from the pagan's, keep our children separated, reading the puritans we are no more impactful to the dying world around us than a Muslim woman in a birka is to a lost teenager in our brokendown school systems.

Rather than focus on 15 children or how to pop out as many as possible before one's body falls apart-- why not focus on the neighborhood children whose single moms' have to work in order to feed them. Look at nurturing others than just our own. I'm sad to see this movement because it appears to the watching world as narcissism gone to extremes. Some daddy with 19 kids and a woman in a denim skirt smiling sweetly all the time does exactly what and for whom?

As far as being a public health policy expert... I do have my masters in this and some lived experiences working at a state level. It isn't what the public thinks. Lived experience, and even a PhD with some work experience does not get one in the door of creating policy. But that is another story. To your question about children, child spacing, how many to have... I agree with Susana ask God because unless God builds your house whether you have 1 child or 20 it will be in vain