I had an IUD placed last week. This moment in time is probably nothing more than a blip on the radar of most women, something they use to prevent pregnancy. But, it took me a really long time to feel comfortable with doing it, and even after I did it, I had some doubts as to whether it was the right decision or not. In fact, it’s probably a good thing that the procedure hurt so much because then the idea of saying okay, nope, take it out just didn’t seem feasible.
Why did this routine procedure take so much of my energy and a series of last-minute canceled appointments before just doing it?
For as many times as I could hear that it was temporary and could be taken out at any time, it felt very much like a finality to ever having another child. Yes, we made the decision we were done with having kids last summer, and that decision did not come easily to us, but even at the time we made it, there was this little tiny part of me that still longed to be pregnant and deliver a healthy child we would take home.
As the year went along, I kept having these yearnings and desires, but they were not consistent enough to be sure I knew one way or the other about my decision. Near the end of the year, I approached my husband and explained that I really wasn’t totally 100% sure that I was done. I said that I knew I had health issues to work on, one of which was that my high blood pressure was not regulated and that a change in medicine carried with it risks if I were to become pregnant while taking it. But, I explained that I wanted to take some time to work on that, and then if I felt the same way at the end of 2023, I wanted to discuss us putting kids back on the table and trying again.
Of course, the new medicine’s risks to a future pregnancy meant that gambling and rolling the dice that while we’ve never conceived naturally, we will not do so. And after our luck in parenthood and all of the things that we went through where x was a super low chance of happening and yet happened to us, I knew that we needed to do something. Hence, the IUD. But, even after having that discussion, even after my husband agreed that we would talk at the end of the year again and think about all the options and possibilities and how we felt at that time, it took me several tries, several times where I had an appointment scheduled and then canceled it.
The thing is, during Memorial Day weekend of 2016, just a few months before we got married, we made the decision that I would go off birth control pills.
With the exception of needing to use it during IVF procedures and for a few months after Colette died, I have not been actively preventing pregnancy. In fact, I have desperately hoped that I would have a surprise pregnancy because then that would feel like it was divine, blessed in such a way that it would have had to be the best pregnancy, and everything would go well. But, of course, no such luck.
And so I continued on the same path that we had been on for years, every month when there was no positive test, I grieved a little more. Add to that the advice that so many were sharing after our gestational carrier was pregnant, how once I had a baby at home, things would just naturally happen—I’d get pregnant without trying and have a totally normal pregnancy—and it meant that getting my period was traumatic every month. I wanted another baby, I wanted to somehow prove to myself that I was capable of carrying a pregnancy to term or pretty close, that I could say my body isn’t broken to the world and even more importantly, I could say that to myself.
Making the decision to prevent pregnancy meant that on some level, I was giving up, that the last remnants of my faith in any sort of ordered, sensical world had dried up. I knew logically that didn’t make sense, and that pregnancy prevention could always be stopped or reversed, but emotionally it felt as if that IUD was taking that door we closed to future children and nailing it shut. I could feel the internal scream saying yeah, but what if you’re not done? What if this time or next time is the right time where everything magically clicks and works?
I now write this as someone who has been so broken down in her path to parenthood that while she still thinks about bringing a child home, also knows that likely, the decision we made last summer will be a permanent one. That makes me sad, it makes me angry, and it frustrates me.
It also is yet another ride on a rollercoaster I did not sign up to ride and one which I have longed to get off of.
When we made the decision to stop, while I grieved the vision I had in my head of two living children and felt guilty that Elliott wouldn’t have a living sibling, I also felt some comfort in making a decision. In a lot of ways, it felt like we got off the rollercoaster or at least transitioned to one without so many ups and downs. But, as I have felt that yearning again, it makes me feel like all it was all a dream and I am still on the rollercoaster. Of course, it is also a little different of a ride now because while that little image of being pregnant is temporarily shaded to a point where I cannot see it (thanks IUD), the knowledge that it is not entirely gone and likely will not be gone until at least I hit menopause keeps me in that fear mode, that uncertainty of when the next drop will be. And that is just the way life is as a loss mom.