Elizabeth Petrucelli

Author, Blogger, Educator

Tag: NFP

Grieving Your Last Child

I thought I was done having children. I really did. After Gus died in 2015, we had decided that he would be our last. He was supposed to be our last anyway. He was supposed to be the child that brought three children to our kitchen table. I grieved his death but I grieved so much more. I had been down this path of grief once before but this wasn’t grief due to the death of a baby. It was the loss of not having any more children.

After our first was born in 2003, we tried for years to become pregnant again. We wanted to add another child to our family and I struggled immensely with the inability to become pregnant. After five years of trying (tests, acupuncture, chiropractic care, Mayan abdominal massage, supplements, teas, fertility enhancing drugs, and thousands of dollars spent), I gave up hope and began to grieve that I would no longer have anymore children.

This was such a different kind of grief. I literally had to change my focus in life from wanting to become pregnant and have a baby to raising the child I had as a single child and working on my career. Just as I had, I became pregnant. Just as I was about to begin my police career, I found myself expecting a child. Switching gears again was so difficult and I wasn’t happy about the pregnancy at first. I share this in depth story in my book All That is Seen and Unseen; A Journey Through a First Trimester Miscarriage.

Somehow after we lost Ruby, my body became fertile and I now had a hole new journey on my hands. Practicing NFP according to the teachings of the Catholic Church in order to space my children and/or prevent further children. Let me take a moment here to explain that NFP is not another form of birth control. To properly use NFP, a couple must discern each and every cycle whether or not to give in to desires and potentially create life. Sex is designed by God to be both unitive and procreative (there are a few other reasons such as purity as well). A couple must give everything to each other and that includes their fertility. To remove either of those pieces, is to sin.

But this post isn’t about NFP or the Catholic teaching. It’s about grief specific to no longer being procreative. It’s about all I feel like I am losing out on and things I will miss. It’s about learning to let go of future children, even though right now, my family feels complete.

The pregnancy with my last baby was difficult. Wrought with nausea, exhaustion, anger and irritability (first trimester only), tests, more exhaustion, physical pain, and when the baby was born, I developed a fatal condition (postpartum pre-eclampsia) which I survived, obviously. In addition, postpartum depression was/is alive and well. My age is also a very big concern and was the driving factor in some of the conditions above. Another baby should not be considered. I am not sure I will survive.

So I find myself grieving once again. I don’t want to grieve this. I already had but let’s put it out there.

Here are some of the things I grieve:

Never having sex again during the God-designed, most desirable and pleasurable time of my cycle.
Never again experiencing the excitement and joy from a positive pregnancy test.
Knowing that we created a new life.
Sharing the news that we created a new life.
Feeling the “superpower” of creating new life.
Seeing the new life on an ultrasound (oh, that beating heart!).
Watching my belly expand and nourish a new life.
Reveling in the joy my husband and children have when we are growing new life.
Anticipating the new life’s arrival.
Looking down in the shower to see the massive belly, feeling it, rubbing it, etc.
Loving my body, feeling like a true woman, the essence of femininity.
Feeling the first flutters and then kicks.
Hiccups!
Birth, yes birth. I feel like I finally have this down and the last birth was just fantastic.
Making milk – being the only person providing the nourishment.
Raising the baby

There are things I won’t miss:

Progesterone supplementation (shots or pills)
Test, after test, after test
Anxiety that this baby will die too
The baby jumping on my cervix
The pelvic pain
Not being able to roll over in bed
Doctors appointments
Recovering from birth
Night sweats
Baby Blues
Postpartum Depression

But mostly, it’s really about the fact that I will no longer create life. I am old. I shouldn’t. We shouldn’t. It’s not mentally or physically healthy for us or the family. So I grieve. I grieve for my empty womb. A womb that is just beginning to fill with cobwebs and it will remain that way, for the next 40 years or so of my life. My womb will never hold new life again.

I am not sure if my husband grieves. He might, but I don’t imagine him grieving the fact that he will no longer produce more children. Well…at least we *think* we won’t. Neither of us have done anything like birth control or sterilization in an attempt to prevent creating new life. At this point, we rely on abstinence and THAT SUCKS!

I will process through this grief just like I always have, but the grief resurfaces. There are triggers. The biggest being my bathroom. Anytime I see myself naked in the mirror and long for the big, round belly or anytime I am in the shower and look down to see flab instead of round. That big, round belly means so much. As I said before, it’s the epitome of femininity. Maybe that’s what I will miss the most?

The Urge

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

WARNING: SEXUALLY PERSONAL (TMI)

There is this intense urge that I experience every few months. Most women experience this urge once a month but as stated in previous posts, I do not have regular cycles. No one told me I would experience this. It’s not something I have read about in books either and of course, having no biological direction on fertility as a child, I never heard of this phenomenon back then. Everything that I have read talks about a subconscious desire or discusses a drop in oestrogen that leads to testosterone becoming the prominent hormone but I can tell you that what I feel, is NOT subconscious. Hormonal, maybe; subconscious no.

So what gives women an overwhelming urge to get pregnant while ovulating?

This could be considered a survival mechanism. I read a few websites that talk about how this is purely biological in nature in order for the species to survive. Other websites discuss how the cervical changes and fluids make a woman’s libido go into hyperdrive, but what I am experiencing doesn’t really fit into some of these categories.

My “drive” isn’t really sexual in nature. I don’t desire to be with my husband. It’s not about being “horny.” This is deep. This is purely, “I need your seed.” Maybe that seed turns into something? Maybe it doesn’t? But my body is SCREAMING and it only gets louder as we approach the big O day! The O is ovulation by the way!

So what do we do? We just buried Gus. I wasn’t even sure my fertility would return and as awesome as it is to know it’s still there, I secretly hoped it would not return because I am again faced with the “should we or shouldn’t we” question. So here we are…with the NFP challenge before us. This is what separates the practicing Catholics from the non-practicing.

It would be super easy for hubby to slip on a condom or for me to pop a pill. It would even be easier for me to alter my fertility through the use of an IUD or a surgical procedure but there is no way we could do it. The one time we used a condom was just awful emotionally. We both felt horrible and as if we “used” each other purely for pleasure.

Sure, sex is awesome but that’s not all that sex is about. It’s not merely for enjoyment much to society’s belief. And I am a Catholic which I know isn’t popular so I truly believe that sex is way more than enjoyment.

I am learning to embrace my fertility. I am learning to embrace something I have never experienced before. I am working my way through these challenges through faith and prayer. 22 years of infertility and I know my body well. I know when my body ovulates and that is freakin’ awesome but this urge. The urge that is SURGING throughout my body, through my arms, through my legs, through my head and into my heart is telling me…PROCREATE!

But I know, that in two days, when ovulation has passed, I will feel happy. I will be thankful that pregnancy and another baby is not a possibility. At least, not right now. This is my test right now. This is my test to see if I truly want another child or if this is merely a physiological process and God’s divine plan for our bodies.

Can hubby and I keep our hands off each other?

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