Don’t you know about birth control?
For those of you who didn’t catch my first hint or my second, I am about eleven weeks pregnant. This fact was one topic of conversation at our friend Doug’s welcome home party yesterday. I got the birth control question. Someone else asked my husband if he didn’t happen to know what caused that sort of thing. Bill politely laughed and said he knew it was the water, and henceforth he would only be drinking beer.
I wonder what sort of response these people expected?
Do they really want to hear about how much we love our children? Would they possibly understand how awestruck I am whenever I hold a newborn? How fascinated I am by their sweet smells and ultra soft skin?
Or would they rather hear of my love of the Church and my trust in her wisdom? How being open to new life with every procreative act has deepened my intimacy with my husband? How my respect for myself and my sexuality (and also my respect for the dignity of all people) has matured through the use of NFP? How I have discovered that in all the world the only institution that has stood solidly and consistently for centuries against behavior that hurts both the individual and society is the Catholic Church and that to ignore her teachings on human relations is foolish and destructive?
Or do they want to learn about how I love my vocation of motherhood? How with every child I become less selfish and self-centered? How I have learned to surrender all my thoughts, words, desires and actions to do what is best for the family (and by extension, all of society) not just me?
Would the woman who asked me if I knew about birth control really want to hear that this child was intentionally conceived? Although I’ve had plenty of not-quite-planned pregnancies, this one particular one was quite deliberate. And even if it had not been planned, would she understand the difference between unplanned and unwanted? Never, never have I had an unwanted pregnancy.
The negative comments I get don’t really get me angry. I’m not surprised or shocked or upset or bothered. At least not in the sense that my blood pressure rises, and I get red in the face. It’s a bit silly to react that way when I’ve been hearing similar things since my third pregnancy in three years.
But at the same time, I am upset in a cool, logical sort of way. I think it’s outrageous that someone would say something like that. Really. The woman who asked about birth control is open about having her tubes tied. I’m sure she would consider it offensive if I told her she was foolish for doing that. I would never say such a thing. She’s obviously quite happy and comfortable with her decision…what purpose does it serve to make her feel badly? It’s not as though she could wave a magic wand and reverse her tubal ligation.
Just like I can’t wave a magic wand and change my pregnancy. Would these nosy commenters prefer to see me break down into tears, saying that I was overwhelmed with my five kids and couldn’t handle another? Would they counsel me to have an abortion? Or are they just trying to “help” me for next time? Point me in the direction of the pill or an IUD?
Is it that I look unhappy with my life or simply that they cannot imagine anyone truly being happy with a large family? I am not thrilled to have wrinkle lines beginning to form on my face, but I am pleased with this: the wrinkles are forming around my eyes and mouth from where I smile. And the “worry” lines on my forehead are mainly from squinting against the sun (curse these sensitive blue eyes), not from truly being anxious or even scowling. Perhaps when my kids hit their teen years, less pleasant wrinkles will begin to develop, but for now my life is more joyous than anything. And I know this feeling of contentment is projected to others because I get those “good mother” compliments all the time (not that I think I’m so good, but that I have that calm that comes after years of successfully outwitting and outmaneuvering the younger crowd).
And so today, since it’s a Sunday and the popular thing seems to be to relax our Lenten resolutions a bit on that day of the week, I’m opening comments. Tell me how thrilled you are that I’m having a baby. I need to hear from happy people.
Addendum: I know that lots of people don’t blog on Sundays – spending time with their family, blahblahblah – so I’ll leave the comments open through mid-week.