My husband and I will be married for 6 years this year. Like most couples our age, we have been trying to get pregnant but have not had any success.
Oh wait – I had gotten positive results twice and miscarried both times in the very early weeks. The last one was very traumatic as I had never before been poked and probed with a very large speculum and three male nurses curiously looking on. It turns out that the doctor who was working on me had no idea what she was doing.
But I digress.
My husband and I have had countless visits to specialists (and we have gone to quite a few), exploring all avenues towards having our own bundle of joy (or 6 – husband wants a basketball team). Not only has it become very expensive, but we have been prescribed to do all sorts of things in the bedroom that take the romance out of it all.
At the risk of sounding selfish, I took comfort in the fact that I have some friends my age who go through this struggle as well. At the same time, I (secretly, and through no fault of their own) curse those who have babies effortlessly. Most of them aren’t even married nor have plans of having children!
My dear Mother who is turning 80 this year and had been living with us these past few years had once told us, “marriage is nothing if you don’t have children”. My Mother is a victim of dementia and probably would have exercised a little more tact if she was aware of what she was saying, but I am guessing that that’s what most traditional people thought and don’t say out loud. She would always go on and on about how we should see a doctor because she wants to see our kids before she dies. Talk about pressure!
Yet these are not even the reasons why I don’t want to get pregnant after this year anymore.
For the past 4-5 years I had been experiencing pains in my shoulders that were none like I had ever had before. It came to the point that turning on the shower knob felt like a blade was slicing through the joints in my shoulder. My then-boyfriend (now husband) had to coax me into wearing a sling that he fashioned out of a scarf because any slight movement would make me cry in pain. A trip to the orthopedic institute confirmed that the end of my shoulders curve slightly at an angle and thus bury into tissue when I raise my arm. The doctor said I can either have very costly surgery to correct it, or do a lot of arm exercises to strengthen my rotator cuffs so that the muscles act like cushions. He insisted that it wasn’t an abnormality, just that it was not how it would usually be shaped – which I found to be a bit patronizing. I was distraught because surgery was out of the question (and partially because I hated exercising).
I started noticing other things about my body too. I grew up constantly chewing my fingernails and only stopped when I met my husband (seriously!). All that nail-biting led me to believe that it’s the reason why my nails are so thin and easily chip and break. But then my toenails are the same and I never bite them (except maybe in my sleep if I were some sort of a contortionist). My Mom’s and my sisters’ are too except mine are just more brittle.
I can never kneel directly on any type of floor. My knees creak when I bend them, as if they are old and rusty. I can’t stand kneeling because the pain shoots up my leg in just a few seconds.
I have since been doing yoga and lifting some weights to strengthen my upper body, and go jogging everyday too. The pain in my shoulder comes and goes but I’ve learned to manage it.
What I have come to realize though is that while I will probably have these ailments because my Mom and my Grandmother both had osteoarthritis, I shouldn’t be having them this early. I am convinced that I am going through these because my parents had me when my Mom was already 47 years old. Pregnancies past 35 years old are high-risk ones, and even as my parentals consider me a blessing or a miracle (bless them), I don’t think I came into this world as fully developed and healthy as most babies born of young and healthy mothers should be.
This is why I’m not keen on getting pregnant after 35, which is my age this year. I do not want to bring an undernourished child into this world and have him experience physical challenges at the prime of his life. Life is difficult enough as it is without adding more complications.
The husband and I have discussed our other options (and I’m happy that we have those). While I am not going to make a conscious effort to avoid getting pregnant, I have made a mental note to myself to let it go.