Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Year's Resolutions and Catholic Guilt

I've finally started taking the Christmas tree down, probably six weeks sooner than the last time.  At least this time it won't have a hand in inducing labor, as I suspect it did last year.

I want this year to be better than last year.  Lots of good things happened last year, particularly for Dave's career, but it was an emotional train wreck.  It was much like 2010, actually, but more so.  It started on a hopeful note, then crashed and burned, and the nine months following March 8 were engulfed in a kind of Trauma Recovery Mode.  I don't believe I'm functioning at the level Dave deserves of a wife and homemaker while constantly in Trauma Recovery Mode.  (He hates that I think that, because he's awesome and thinks I'm perfect, often though I've tried to disabuse him of this notion.)

Now it's a new year all over again, and everyone is going on about resolutions.  I really want to get my life back on track, but what does that even mean?  Where is my track?  What am I supposed to be doing with myself?  I love being a wife, but it seems to me that there should be something else I should be doing besides sitting at home being a wife, doing laundry, dishes, writing fanfiction and playing online computer games.  My first choice was motherhood, but obviously the traditional approach isn't working.  Whenever I haven't been in Trauma Recovery Mode, I've been in Pregnancy Mode, which in my case is every bit as miserable.  Pregnancy Mode excludes every other type of activity, and of course leads to Trauma Recovery Mode, and the cycle begins again.  Remember the kid from Despicable Me who had his balloon animal popped?  That was me last year.

So now what do I do with myself?  My new year's resolution was to start functioning at 100% again.  As a result of the 2010-11 cycle of pregnancy and recovery I've gained all my college weight back and my running shoes and I aren't on the best of terms.  I always promised myself I would never be that overweight military wife with a host of emotional problems.  I want to stop being a black hole sucking down inordinate levels of Dave's attention, sympathy, and time.  All this would involve avoiding pregnancy, and that's where the Catholic guilt comes in.

Are we allowed to stop trying?  It's not like we're going to start using contraception or anything, but I can't decide whether the risks to my health and well-being are grave enough to justify the indefinite use of NFP.  Does this mean I have trust issues?  If I could just live a normal life during pregnancy, or if it were only about losing the children over and over again, it would be another story.  I would beat my head against that wall for the rest of my childbearing years if that were the case.  But, since I have to play the hand God dealt me, any pregnancy would automatically be high risk and require immediate and complete bed rest.  The original prognosis was a 25% chance of miscarriage just due to my condition.  Now that my already faulty system has been scarred by biopsies and a cesarean, the odds are rather worse.  Not being able to take care of myself is certainly not an ideal circumstance, particularly now that Dave is likely to be gone more often for the next three years.  I know I have several friends in the general area who would be more than happy to help, but they don't exactly live in the neighborhood and almost all of them are pregnant themselves.

I got the usual vague recommendations from the doctors and specialists.  The classic, "It could be nothing, or it could be life-threatening."  Not exactly helpful, but I suppose it was the best they could do.  There was a phase during which I was willing to take the risk, but we tried for four months and got nothing.

Now Dave is gone and I'm here alone trying to sort out my life.  The more I sit and think about it, the more I'm inclined to believe we're just one of those families who were meant to adopt.  But it seems like such a simple answer that I start second guessing myself, and wondering whether I'm interpreting the facts to suit my needs.

What are my needs?  I want to lose twenty pounds and fit into all the old clothes hanging in my closet.  I want to be free to go running, healthy enough to look after myself and stay out of the emergency room.  I don't want to be constantly stressed about the possibility of disappointing Dave and all the family again, about every little cramp being the beginning of the end.  I want to get out of this apartment now and then.  I want to be free to do my own grocery shopping, to vacuum, to walk a dog,  to dig my cars out of the snow, to function like a normal person.  Is that something to feel guilty about?  I do.

It's not that I want to simply "have a life" for myself, I'd like to have enough of a life to share it with someone else.  I'm useless to everyone while I'm pregnant, and it always comes to nothing.  "Always" is perhaps a strong word for only two failures, but each time feels like tempting fate.  Instead of spending "the best years" of my life as an invalid, alone and feeling sorry for myself, can't we just adopt and make some other poor kid's life better?  Is that so wrong?

That's what I want to do, regardless; but I can't help feeling that I'm just wimping out.  I've always needed someone to tell me what to do, because if I make up my own mind, I always suspect my conclusion is biased.  I feel like I need some kind of dispensation.  I used to tell myself I'd rack up four or five miscarriages before I'd call quits, but at this point I'm more worried about surviving to fight another day.  I want to have our own kids in the worst way, so much so that I still get physically nauseated around my pregnant friends.  But I'd rather give that up if it means being able to function as a healthy parent for two or three kids who would have otherwise have been stuck in foster care.

Anyway, I have a few more weeks of being alone to think about it.

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I think you'd be perfectly justified in not trying any more for now. God doesn't require us to be constantly sick and risking our health. And I do think your feelings on this matter -- both yours and Dave's -- matter too. Sometimes our feelings can help us see what God is calling us to.

    The nice thing about NFP is it isn't permanent. If you found some new information that made you more hopeful, or if you really felt called to try again, you could, five or ten years down the road.

    But aiming for a bit of normalcy, to say nothing of recovery time, isn't a bad thing.

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