Friday, October 26, 2007

Hope Springs Eternal--The history of my Uterine Sadness

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast
Man never Is, but always To be Blest."
Alexander Pope

I've tried to write about this many, many times in the past. It's so agonizing that I just haven't been able to sit down and finish out my thoughts in one sitting and when I do try to go back to the topic, the words that I've already written just don't seem quite right anymore. Maybe this will be the time I get it all out.

There are many reasons why, and I could spend hours writing about them all and trying to make really compelling arguments to convince people that it's more of a need than a desire, but, in the end, it all boils down to the fact that I just desperately want another child.

Often, this life seems like some sort of timeshare deal. You only have a little while to make the most of what is basically a shitty deal. Unless you're one of very few people, by the time you get enough money to do all of the really interesting stuff, you're either in jail or in federal prison. Couple it with a potentially life-shortening health condition or two and you end up with some very limited options.

I had never planned for VanGoghGirl to grow up as an only child. Still, nobody ever let me forget how irresponsible it was for me to have given birth at eighteen years old so I knew that having another baby soon after her birth was out of the question. My mother had always promised to throw me out of the house if I got pregnant out of wedlock, so the fact that I was still there after having VanGoghGirl meant that my situation was pretty precarious.

I was diagnosed with the Systemic Lupus when VanGoghGirl was about less than a year old and it made me pretty sick but I didn't understand that to mean that I couldn't have any more kids. I had a miscarriage shortly before I got pregnant with my daughter but I didn't see it as necessarily a result of my lupus until my rheumatologist warned me that it might be.

A few years later, while I was at one of my routine doctor's appointments, my rheumie pointed out that he noticed from my charts that I was about to turn twenty-one years old. I smiled because I thought he was about to congratulate me. Instead, he suggested that I ought to consider having my tubes tied as a birthday present for myself. I was stunned. He could have been a bit more tactful about it but I understood the reasons behind his advice. The lupus meant that birth control containing estrogen, IUDs, and Norplant were contraindicated.

I didn't listen to him. I knew that some women with lupus go on to have children. The statistics are: a third of those lupies who are pregnant will experience an exacerbation of their disease, a third will experience an improvement in their condition, and the final third will experience no disease change whatsoever. Those odds aren't great but the records showed that my lupus symptoms slacked off while I was pregnant with VanGoghGirl, so that gave me reason to be hopeful. Well, that is until the rheumie explained to me that the odds applied to each pregnancy and how one fared in a former pregnancy didn't really prove that their body would react the same way with other pregnancies. Even still, I decided to hold on to my reproductive abilities for a while longer.


Anonymous said...

I favor the second child if it's at all possible.

cripchick said...

it's interesting to observe how doctors view disability... the focus is always (well you can never say *always*) on just the medical aspect of disability and not the LIFE of the disabled person. i wish i had recognized this sooner. glad to hear you're holding out.

Lisa Harney said...

I'd like to think I'd say no in that situation as well, but I don't know. The doctor's suggestion for tubal ligation sounds like expediency to me, more than what might have been best, ultimately.

I have been pressured into one permanent procedure that I believe now was unnecessary and has not had positive effects since. I would've held out for better if I'd known.

Ktrion said...

Wow, mujer. I have to say that given the history of the government and the medical establishment in the sterilization of women of color I am both not surprised and STUNNED.

'Cause yeah, I'm sure that fact that you're an African American woman in Louisiana had absolutely no bearing at all on this doctor's belief that you should be sterilized as soon as possible. Right.

It reminds me of a piece in COMPANERAS: LATINA LESBIANS, in which this butch dyke relates how her doctor told her she was pregnant and in the same breath talked about scheduling her for an abortion.

There's no question that sterilizing you is expedient for THEM. (Even if you have a really great doctor).

God forbid you should make your own decisions based on your desires, your family, and your life.