• Parenting is More Than Just Getting Pregnant

    by Theresa Reichman

    Boys and girls, we’re going to have “the talk.” Not the Bird and Bees one – we’ve covered that. (And if you missed it, check out my archives to get the skinny.)

    I’m talking about “the talk” that follows “The Talk.” The thing that makes “The Talk” a-okay.

    Birth control.

    At some point in the history of intercourse, a light bulb went off that sex does indeed make babies. And as a mother of two darling little rascals, I am quite certain that fear was forever struck into sex at that exact same moment. But because sex is oh so fabulous, horn-dogs everywhere put their noggins together to formulate a plan that would dupe the system. The reproductive system, that is.

    Obviously, we had some big duds along the way. Lysol disinfectant solution was one of them. Seriously. At the tail end of the flapper era and even into the ‘60s, women everywhere were giving their hoo-has a good spray down until some sympathetic and logically thinking soul called bluff.

    Today there are myriads of pregnancy-preventing wonders. (Added bonus: Some are STD-preventing wonders, too!) Thank God. The patch, the pill, the ring, the condom, the female condom, the diaphragm, the IUD, etc… All to ensure that we can copulate as much as we like without worrying about at least 18 years of responsibility. Financially. Emotionally. Physically.

    But in some sectors, this is not the case. Our myriad of options is reduced to one: Faith.

    I used to be immersed in one such sector.

    When I was about 16 years old, my (not-yet) in-laws handed me a book to explain their decision to have their eight (presently nine) children. While this decision was in no way pushed upon me, I absorbed this book with all of the impressionability that a 16-year-old possesses. The book was entitled, “A Full Quiver,” by Rick and Dana Hess.

    In this book, this very married, very evangelical couple explains the ins and outs of modern day birth control. A big focus is – of course – the pill.

    The pill works in one of three ways. The first line of defense is the thickening of cervical mucus. (Super sexy, huh?) Basically, the thickness and acidity of the mucus can affect sperm success. Sperm are not all that viable when they are swimming in a pool of acidic sludge. Go figure.

    Secondly, the woman is less likely to actually produce an egg for fertilization. According to the book, about 30 percent of the time, a itty bitty egg escapes the system and reaches the fallopian tubes, literally ripe for the pickin’.

    If some motile little seed manages to finagle itself around road blocks One and Two, then the little guy faces road block Three: Irregularity in the lining of the uterus. And oh boy, is that a no-no in the evangelical bubble.

    If one lone spermie surpasses the mucus test and one little egg surpasses the ovulation test, then sperm and egg unite and make sweet, sweet love in their romantic rendezvous location: the fallopian tube. And behold, a fertilized egg is born.

    And this is where things go awry… Said fertilized egg drifts along the lazy river that is the fallopian tube until six to ten days later when it reaches the uterus. But uh oh! The lining is irregular, and so the egg has nothing to hold onto, no nutrients to feed its growth. And this – by the standard of some fundamentalists – is considered an early abortion.

    But in “A Full Quiver,” they take it a step farther. They remind their readers that children are a blessing. Then they question, “If children are a gift from God, let’s for the sake of argument ask ourselves what other gift or blessing from God we would reject. Money? Would we reject great wealth if God gave it? Not likely!”

    They go on to remind us that God will provide for our needs and that to practice any form of birth control – even natural family planning – is a display of distrust in God.

    While my husband and I didn’t wind up buying into the decision to forego family planning entirely – we did avoid hormonal contraception like the plague. But after our second daughter was born, we realized that if children are a blessing from God, then what happened to being a good steward?

    Didn’t we want the very best for the gifts we’d already been given? To be able to give each of our children the one-on-one time that every child so desperately craves? To be able to travel with our children, and show them the wonders of the world? To be able to send them to college so that they might meet their full potential? Of course! This is how we choose to treat our gifts. And I’m pretty sure that God, Goddess, The Universe, The Force, Mother Nature, or whatever the hell “IT” is, will be quite proud.

    I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a good steward and take care of the little sprites life has already given to me. But I think I might just be a little more thankful that I didn’t need to have an intimate encounter with Lysol to do it.

    • So agree. I think the easiest is to make permanent a decision when it becomes the thing you want most to do. My ex husband and one of my sons had vasectomies as did my own dad way before it was routine. They all believed like you do that the gifts that they can afford to raise are enough and since it is much easier for the guy than the gal this is what they did. It was informed and even the wives had to sign saying they realized this was permanent but with a codicil (in rare cases not). That usually only happens when one doesn’t wait long enough for all the live sperm to get out of the so called system.
      I think the choice remains for the parties involved to make and in some cases only the women’s decision as the ultimate body doing the carrying is still a woman and only she knows if she could end up raising a child by herself regardless of starting circumstances. We could afford two and that is what we decided. Know religion entered into it and god was not around either of us when we decided.

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