It comes in response to the common line of questioning, "Oh! When are you due? Is this your first?" I've started replying, "No, it's my third, and final."
I hadn't planned to say it that way, but ever since I said it the first time, it keeps coming out that way; and the more I say it, the truer it sounds!
I guess maybe it goes without saying that I'm not a very good Catholic. Yes, I'm still technically a Catholic even though it's been several years since I took the blessed sacrament, and I did not get married in the Catholic church. Nevertheless, I still have a deep respect for Catholicism. It's a big part of what I like to think is a pretty strong spiritual foundation within me, and you won't find me bashing very many Catholic practices. I still meditate on the "Hail Mary" during many of my (albeit, infrequent,) runs. And the first thing I wanted to do when I heard some heartbreaking news about a very close friend of ours' baby being in the NICU, was go to the next Catholic daily mass I could find. Because, being on my knees in front of a tabernacle is still some of the most intimate and reverent prayer I know.
So, what I'm saying is that much of Catholicism still resonates deep within me. Along that same line, I truly believe a number of Catholic teachings. For example, I'm a supporter of Natural Family Planning. And although I'm not sure I totally agree with it, I definitely understand the Church's thinking "against" birth control and sterilization. Because, in general, I agree with the ideology of not interfering with God's will. There are many instances in our modern lives where I definitely think that we have too many opportunities to get between ourselves and God. There are countless roadblocks between His will for our lives and our actual walks, which supposedly are walks with Him. If we truly want to follow Christ, we have to let Him in, you know. We have to discern His way, and attempt to follow it, however uncomfortable. Although there are many instances where I support the use of birth control (and have used it myself), I also think there is the chance to blindly use this modern convenience and ignore God's calling. I tend to agree with the Catholic church, in so far as it encourages us to be wary of this potential pitfall.
However, after discernment, I have chosen to use birth control a few times throughout my family journey because I felt it was our best choice to protect ourselves emotionally and physically.
As is true with most things in life, I don't see this issue in black and white.
My most recent reason for needing birth control was after my diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis, where I needed to be put on a medication (methotrexate) to get my disease in remission. This medicine is very dangerous if you get pregnant. So, I was on birth control while I was on the drug and had to go off it months before trying to conceive the precious baby who's currently in my womb.
During this pregnancy, my rheumatoid has not been flaring, but I can't say it's been in remission either. I miss the medication very much; I felt so much better on it and, I cannot wait to get back on it. I plan to do that as soon as possible after giving birth and will also choose to not nurse this baby so that I can take it (it also crosses the breast milk and can be dangerous for baby outside the womb).
Furthermore, while I'm trying hard to not complain (for fear of sounding ungrateful), this pregnancy has been hard.
The last time I was seven months pregnant (well over five years ago now), I had no idea how easy I had it. I'm guessing most who've experienced these factors would agree:
Pregnancy, when you're in your late 30's is definitely more challenging than when you're in your early 30's.
Pregnancy, when you have two kids is completely different than when you have none.
Pregnancy, when you have rheumatoid arthritis, is achy and stiff.
Pregnancy, when you've had five miscarriages is scary.
At 36 years old, in my seventh pregnancy, with a 5 year old and a 15 month old - I'm blessed more than I could have ever imagined. I'm thankful every single day - and I praise God and pray that this pregnancy continues to term and brings a healthy boy into my family and home.I keep thinking that after I hit the next pregnancy milestone, I'll finally let go and feel "home free," but then as I turn each corner I find that I still do not feel carefree, like I did this time five+ years ago... I simply cannot un-know what I know now.
I wouldn't change a thing.
I have the utmost respect and adoration for the great privilege I have right now to have a baby inside me...
But, I'm also exhausted.
My partner and I, we're open to God's plan for our family. And if He calls us to have more children in our family, we'll welcome the opportunity to foster or adopt more children.
I am just not sure my body, or my mind, ever want to do this again.
Maybe that makes me a bad Catholic, but it's true.
(Please remember that although I'm a religious and highly spiritual person, this is not a religious or theological blog... it's a therapeutic journal and an honest sharing of our family journey, ours alone.)