Our Birdie is nearly three months old. We've been aware that we need to make a decision about where to go from here. Do we have more children or is she our one and only? What its coming down to, is this decision has to be based on what is best for the Birdie and any future children we may have. The phrase "I want" needs to play a much smaller role in the process.
We know that if we are to have more children, we are unwilling to have a baby before our daughter is at least potty trained. There are various reasons behind that but its something that we both feel very strongly about. Ms. Birdie has to be our first consideration when thinking about birth control options. I am breastfeeding and I am going to do everything I can to make sure that we're still nursing at her second birthday. At this point we are delaying vaccinations so extended nursing is a must if we want her to be as healthy as possible. This means that whatever I put in my body will go into hers. Even though "they" say that hormonal birth control is safe during breastfeeding, they just don't know for sure. I can't find any decent studies that have followed little girls who were breast fed while their mothers were on hormonal birth control throughout their lives and into their childbearing years. The studies just don't exist. Without good information I can't make an informed decision on whether or not I feel safe using hormonal birth control. That means taking the pill, patch, Nuva Ring, Mirena, and shot are all out of the question. That covers a big chunk of the birth control industry.
That leaves us with barrier methods, fertility awareness method (FAM) or non-hormonal IUDs. Right now we're using condoms, but DH and I are bad at barrier methods. Because we are so unwilling to have another baby right off the bat (even though we're fully breastfeeding and the Lactation Amenorrhea Method is very effective in the first six months, we don't want any surprises) our sex life has taken a hit. The condoms pretty much take the fight out of us and we end up not having sex. We've tried sponges before and diaphragms but its just not for us. So scratch off the barrier methods.
That leaves FAM and IUDs. I have philosophical issues with IUDs. I don't know when life begins but the fact that IUDs essentially cause a miscarriage doesn't make me happy. Its my own personal hang up. Scratch the IUD.
Our only real option is FAM. We're experienced with it, thats how we got pregnant in the first place. Its cheap. Its fairly effective when used consistently. There are no drugs involved. No preparation before sex. Its nearly perfect. It just requires time and will power.
With this pregnancy I fought tooth and nail to have a homebirth. Those who advocate against home birth accuse mothers of choosing them because they are only worried about their experience. I chose a homebirth because of all the things they do to baby in the hospital. Contrary to popular belief there are many risks involved in a hospital birth. One major risk, is the risk of having a c-section. When you add the chance that a c-section may alter a baby's DNA, the risks of an unnecessary c-section are pretty high. Combine all of this with the fact that maternity care in America means you may lose your child if you refuse medical treatment, and that labor and delivery nurses write guides on how to protect yourself from over zealous doctors even though you shouldn't have to. In a country where OBs have abused their patients, and brag about their focus on money, safer options are a joke. I cannot give birth to a baby in a hospital. Not with the dismal breastfeeding support, or the pretty big chance that they would do something to baby that doesn't need to be/shouldn't be done. I wouldn't feel safe there. There are no birthing centers here. None. That means my only choice is another home birth.
My home birth was the best it could be given my choices. Regardless of the little points I could nitpick about, it went smoothly and I ended up with a natural born baby. However, I would not use the same midwife again. She was too interventive and two hours after the birth we were left to our own devices as she made the two hour drive back to her house. She left me with two pills of cytotec in the event I started bleeding. That and a telephone were our only safeguards against disaster for me or baby. By the grace of God nothing went wrong, but I am not willing to tempt fate again. If I am unwilling to give birth in a hospital because of the health risks to me and baby why would I accept different yet equally disastrous risks from a home birth? The midwife I had was the ONLY midwife that does home births in my area. There is no other choice.
At this point, we're between a rock and a hard place. We don't want another baby right now. Our options for birth control are very limited. In the event we do have another child, the options for childbirth are equally limited. We have been discussing this since before Birdie was born. We have come to our decision. We cannot in good conscience bring a child into this world given the state of maternity care for mother and baby. Its not safe. I'm sure there are many out there that would say we're being rash, or that we're only looking at what the crazies have to say. All I can say to that is, you may be comfortable with the risks but for us, the rates of autism, diabetes, autoimmune disorders and other mental issues is too high and we don't know that they aren't caused by what goes on in the delivery room. As a result, DH has scheduled a vasectomy for early next month. If we could give birth in a birthing center, or at some place like The Farm, our decision would be different. The fact is we don't have those options and our lives have us tied here. We wont be going anywhere with those options any time soon.
Of course when we first started discussing vasectomy we went through the whole "What if we really want another baby?" or "What if she feels alone without a sibling?" to "Are we cheating our families out of more grandchildren?" After discussing those questions we realized that we both feel very strongly about adoption. If in the future we decide our family isn't quite complete we hope to open our home to a child that needs us.
For me, I didn't really enjoy pregnancy (I didn't realize that until it was over) and labor was alot of work. (I'm notoriously lazy). It was all very empowering but I've had my experience. I'm happy with where I am. For DH, he feels that he would be a better father to one child than he would be to more. Both of us have an unreasonable fear of having a boy. (Please don't jump on this one. Just because we don't want a boy doesn't mean we wouldn't love one if thats what we had, or that our wanting another girl is a criticism of your love for a boy you may have) I was surprised at the sense of relief we both felt when the vasectomy was finally scheduled. It is the right decision. I doubt that many will understand our decision or our reasoning but we've come to it honestly, analytically, and with open minds. I'm just thankful that we live in a society where we can make these decisions. For now, Birdie will be our one and only and if whens she gets older she really wants a sibling, or if DH and I decide that we do have room for another child in our hearts we will look into adoption. The decision hasn't been easy but we are all very relieved to have made it.