This morning, at approximately 9:30 a.m., I was gently roused from a peaceful night of slumber atop my satin sheets with the delicious scent of freshly-brewed coffee wafting in through my door.
I woke up at 6 o’clock because the baby was screaming. I had had only four hours of (broken) sleep. And I slept covered by my daughter’s princess blanket because I still haven’t washed my own grown-up comforter that the toddler puked on two weeks ago.
But before I hopped out of bed to stumble to the baby’s crib, I did the same thing that I do almost every morning. I popped in my fertility monitor.
Red light. That means stop: you’re fertile.
And just like almost every morning I think to myself, what on earth am I doing?
Because it seems crazy to start each and every day with the thought of preventing pregnancy, doesn’t it? I mean, let’s face it, it’s not like I’m some hormone-crazed woman looking to sneak away with my husband every chance I can get, so to wake up every morning and kick off my day with a hefty dose of fertile or not fertile seems totally insane to me.
But the truth is, right now, it’s kind of necessary.
For reasons that I really don’t feel like getting into, hormonal birth control is not for me (see here for one great explanation from a fellow Babbler) and I am grateful for different options for managing our family size. And right now, crazy as it might seem to focus so strongly on something that doesn’t even happen all that often (that’s a reference to the marital act, folks) I’m all about the management.
Although I love my children more than life itself, having four children in six years has been a pretty stressful test on the ol’ marriage.
There was a time in my life when I thought that more babies = better and while I hesitate to say that I would ever, ever be saddened if I were to get unintentionally pregnant again (yes, I said “again”), as with all things in life, I am finally starting to see that there is a trade-off to be made, even with the blessing of a baby.
For me, having babies and small children has fulfilled me in a way that I always longed for. But I’m not the only one in this family. And I’ve realized that a united marriage needs to be a priority too.
I know, in my heart of hearts, that even if I may be ready for more and more babies, my husband is not necessarily there with me, and choosing him over me is what my marriage needs right now.
But as a result, I find myself at a tough crossroads of sorts, when I seem to now fear pregnancy so much that I pull back from a reach across the bed, when I panic over that darn red light, when weeks later, I wonder, do my boobs feel tender?!?
Sometimes, I wonder if women back in the day — working up the fields or churning butter — felt more or less freedom than us modern-day feminist women. Because in a way, even though we can “control” our fertility, it still very much feels like the constant attempt to control pregnancies is actually controlling a whole lot about my life, including my marriage.
It’s a hard place to be in, knowing that another pregnancy might hurt my marriage. But at the same time, realizing that my intense fear of another pregnancy …
… May just be the real threat to our union.