I am 36 years old. I have two beautiful
children, one a baby, still nursing. My husband had a vasectomy six months ago
because we did not want any more children. I was weary of childbearing after four
difficult pregnancies in four years and looked forward desperately to ending the
isolation of motherhood and the poverty of single income. I have spent several
months setting the groundwork for a small business, planning to start it this
summer. I have worked hard to lose weight. I have been looking forward to having
the time to socialize, meet people, make friends again.
Last month, after
five months of positive post-vasectomy tests, we finally got what appeared to
be a negative one (there was only the odd sperm left, all of them dead), so we
stopped using condoms. However, the doctor advised that we take one more test,
which we did this month. It wasn't clear. It still showed the odd sperm, but a
few of them were alive. Had this been the test result last month, we would never
have stopped using condoms. We are not foolish about these things, and I have
been terrified of another pregnancy.
When my period was a day late, I bought
a pregnancy test, just to get rid of my paranoid fears. It was positive. I don't
remember when I started to breathe again.
My doctor was helpful. She said
that I must be really angry. But I don't know who to be angry at. Freak things
happen. She helped me to arrange an abortion appointment. But since I am only
five weeks right now, I have to wait another two before they will perform the
procedure. Two weeks of tremendous stress.
Today I finally started crying.
I think this is good -- the numbness is gone. I have one good friend who has gone
through this herself that I can talk to. But I can't let anyone else know. My
husband doesn't want the baby at all. His biggest concern is the fact that with
the vasectomy we were tampering with nature. After six months a sperm might be
able to swim. But will it still have all its DNA? He is deeply concerned that
the genetics would be damaged. He is also concerned about my mental and physical
health, since I am already exhausted from dealing with two babies. And I think,
long-term, he's concerned about our marriage. An exhausted, resentful mother does
not make a very loving, happy wife.
My husband says we do it for the health
of our family. We do it for the same reasons that I trim my fruit trees and vegetables
to make them stronger, bearing better fruit.
I have spent a long time weighing
both sides, both options. While I can make an endless list of reasons to end this
pregnancy, I can only find one reason not to: to be noble. And what does it mean
to do something to be noble, when so much else will suffer as a result? How noble
is it? Yes, I will go through emotional ups and downs before and after this procedure.
But what kind of emotional, physical, marital, financial, parental and mental
hell will I go through if I decided to continue the pregnancy? Far worse. I know
women who had babies they didn't want. They're all on Prozac. The ones that claim
to be happy have a toothpaste-commercial, happy-happy smile on their face. I know
they are struggling. And I know women who have had abortions. Although they still
carry an emotional burden, their lives have gone on.
Some might think this
is selfish thinking. After all, our fore-mothers -- and mothers -- had five or
six children. But were they happy mothers? They had no career, no life outside
the home, they looked haggard, their marriages were basically dead, they never
lost any of that weight, they became progressively more unhealthy, their lives
now consist of nothing but TV and eating. There is a profound difference between
being alive and just living.
My husband and I find parenting our two little
ones exhausting. We haven't had a night of sleep in years. My son is an especially
difficult boy who takes careful handling. I could not cope with what I have if
I were any more exhausted, any more extended. I wouldn't be doing anyone a favor.
even though we are sure that this is the right course, it is still achingly difficult.
I am thankful that in Canada there are laws banning protesters from clinics and
hospitals. I don't need anyone with a sign to tell me that life is precious. But
I will be going to that hospital knowing that what I am doing is for the good
of my family, my little ones, myself, my husband -- whatever the emotional cost
And that's noble too.Nancy
7 April 1999
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don't need anyone with a sign to tell me that life is precious."