Thursday, November 11, 2010

no ideas

I had a lovely chat with a friend of mine from high school. She's a fascinating person, but she and I walked very different roads even then. I had missed a lot of things in her life and needed to catch up. She is coming out of a divorce (her second). She is now seeing a different man, who was, at the time she started seeing him, "married" to a man. (Under what legal auspices I did not inquire.) That relationship - i.e., new guy and his erstwhile spouse/boyfriend/partner/lover - is now over. However, my friend and this fellow have an open relationship; he has had two other lovers in the last year (I did not inquire as to gender) and at this time, their (my friend's and the guy's) relationship is triangular, in that she is also involved romantically/sexually with another man, with whom the first man is working on developing a romantic/sexual relationship also.

She sounds very warm and enthusiastic about how positive and fulfilling these arrangements are - i.e., she does not feel that she's settling because this is as good a deal as she can get. I am certain she is sincere in this; she is always enthusiastic when starting out on new adventures and relationships, and "settling" is not really in her vocabulary. That's definitely something I admire about her, though it leads her to some very odd conclusions.

Read that through again if you need to get the details straight. I'm not sure they're necessary to your understanding of the next part. She told me that she and this fellow (who, she says, is additionally autistic) have talked about having kids together. He has always wanted kids (but assumed he would have to resort to surrogacy, since he is a homosexual...bisexual???). She wants exactly two. I noted that this is not always easy, especially give her significant health issues, and I remembered that she had gotten pregnant and then miscarried when we were in high school. (She graduated high school in 1997, and I believe that was her junior year.)

She told me that she had actually been pregnant several times. At least 2-3 that she is sure of. She's never carried a child to term and has never procured an abortion. I told her that she definitely needs to seek the intervention of a medical professional before trying to get pregnant, as that many miscarriages with no lives births means that something is wrong. She agreed and said that she would definitely be talking to a doctor. Then, quite a few minutes later in the conversation, as part of a different topic, she mentioned that she had had an IUD in for almost ten years.

I don't really have preferences among forms of birth control; first, I don't believe in it, and second, for me, it's entirely beside the point. Society's obsession with contraception strikes me as even more grotesque now than it did formerly. But if I had to choose - in some strange alternate reality, for whatever reason - I would categorically outlaw IUDs. Those things are evil. For one thing, what sane woman would want a metal device hanging out inside her uterus for years and years? Does that sound like it would be good for your body? It does not.

For another thing, as far as I know, the IUDs that do not release chemicals (i.e., the ten-year kind) operate by one means only: they prevent implantation of an already fertilized egg. In other words, they cause an automatic early abortion. (Even ordinary oral contraceptives, if ineffective enough that they do not prevent ovulation, will act as an after-the-fact abortifacient; however, that is not their intended purpose. But I'm shocked how many people take them for birth control and don't know that they do that.) Whatever side of the abortion debate you fall on, I can't imagine anyone not agreeing that a form of birth control that does not in any way reduce the incidence of pregnancy, but deals with the problem by causing a spontaneous abortion of each pregnancy, is a cosmically bad idea.

Apparently several of her children hung on for one or two months before they were aborted. I didn't even know what to say. I was appalled. I thought I would take a neutral position to get to my point, and pointed out that the "miscarriages" she referred to were caused by the IUD, and that it would cause a miscarriage pretty much without fail. And she said that she knew. I get the impression that, had she realized early enough that she was pregnant, she would have had the IUD removed, so that the children would have had a chance at life. She's compassionate that way (I mean that sincerely), but it then confuses me quite a bit about why she wants an IUD in the first place. Isn't this a good case for the pill? Or a diaphragm? I know, a question none of you can answer.

I may have mentioned before that my approach to infertility includes the precept that children are Something That Happens to Other People. Crying every time someone gets pregnant with "my" baby because it was "my turn" would take more time and energy than I have. Besides, when the babies are born, I almost invariably conclude that mine would have been more attractive, more intelligent, or, at any rate, mine. This one is Somebody Else's (like all babies).

So intellectually, I can of course appreciate the irony - you are torturing your body and killing your tiny babies with a horrendous device; I am wishing like crazy I could heal my broken body and I will never be blessed with even a month of pregnancy and would gouge out both of my own eyes before I killed my child in utero. But I can't come up with any emotionally honest statement that it devastates me that she's killing her babies while I can't have any. I won't argue that it isn't devastating objectively; that simply isn't how I feel.

I will certainly acknowledge that I am nauseated by the whole situation. I would be nauseated if I had a house full of children, too, or if I were young and unmarried, or if I otherwise had no children for some non-infertility-related reason. It's just really nauseating, and it's shocking to me that - value of human life questions notwithstanding - it has not occurred to her to see a doctor, get the thing out, and use some form of birth control that will not function in this way. If nothing else (and perhaps there really is nothing else, for her), losing the babies takes an emotional toll on her. Why not avoid that if you can?

I know nobody can really help with this situation and I am hardly asking for advice. I can't necessarily ask for prayers for her situation (other than comprehensive prayers that the situation changes entirely); I can't say that a happy healthy family born to these people would be a sound intention either (I expect their relationship to last 2-5 years and I think that she would not disagree); and I'm not sure she's in good enough health to carry a pregnancy. And prayers for her previous marriages to be reconciled would be equally pointless; the most recent husband didn't want to be married to someone who was sick (she is) and his predecessor was apparently crazy and harmful. Not sure whether either marriage had any canonical validity, but that's getting rather ahead of things.

In other words, I have no ideas. No ideas at all. I am bewildered and sad, but then, I am often bewildered and sad. I do have one thing to say...someone who is categorically infertile would be harmed less than anybody else by an IUD. Obviously such a woman's children would not be harmed, because she will never conceive any. I'm not saying that my friend should be infertile so that I can be fertile and have a family. I'm not going to get lucky enough to trade, obviously. But if there were any method in doling this accursed condition out - any method - it would work a lot differently. That's all I can say.


  1. I've no ideas either. But I agree, if there were a method in deciding who gets what condition, why not eradicate contraception all together and let those who want to be "child free" just be infertile? It all adds up to me.

  2. yeah, wow just about sums it up. how did you even continue that conversation?
    and i agree about IUDs. although i did have a second cousin who apparently came out of the womb practically holding the one his mom had in, so i doubt their effectiveness too.
    that does slightly remind me of my sister's friend who, now on her second husband and after two bouts with cancer and chemo decided that a baby would help "fix" their relationship and is of course pregnant after only having sex on ONE day (don't ask me how I know all these details) all of this after i distinctly remember talking to her at my sister's baby shower and she didn't want children for a loooong time. she's due in about a month.
    ok, maybe it was the two husband similarity, or maybe i just wanted to vent on that last one.

    i am still confused about the relationship with the homosexual. please tell me that was a typo?

  3. That whole situation from start to finish is utterly horrifying. I had a hard enough time with a friend who had gotten an abortion in her youth, yet has been blessed with 3 children today (and promptly tied her tubes afterward). I can't imagine someone who would willingly allow her children to die over and over again so nonchalantly.

  4. And don't even get me started on her "relationships". What the what?!

  5. I am absolutely flabbergasted.

    And yes, pregnancy is something that happens to other people. [sigh]

  6. Wow. I don't even know what to say. I'm glad though that you have this blog to get things off your chest. I don't want to ignore praying for this girl, so I will just ask God to start working HIS will in her life. And as for you, you are doing Christian works just by being there for her and listening to her...good friend:)

  7. Unbelievable. But interesting, like a train wreck is interesting...

  8. I second that "wow". Hmmmm...interesting how conception works out for some who don't want children and the ones that do...struggle. Ugh!

    I also don't understand why your friend uses that method knowing she's getting prego and she's miscaryying. She might want to get some medical help....there may be something more going on.

    I don't get it...there is no answer. We just have to keep looking forward and looking at all that we do have in our lives.

    God Bless.

    This friend likes complex relationships huh? Geez...she doesn't sound "choosy" at all.

  9. My goodness, your poor friend needs some serious advice, like maybe professional? To be involved with a man who was "married" to a man, and two divorces, bless her heart. She has been led down some paths on a slippery slope. I certainly wish her happiness and for heavens sake that she takes out the IUD!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Wow, I agree with Allie that your friend might need to see a professional. I do like Complicated's thoughts on having those who want to be "child free" be the only ones who have infertility.

  11. Somehow I messed up the commenting (again!). The header photo is AMAZING.

    And you are pretty incredible to have survived that phone call - even if the content remained horrible on a purely abstract level.

    Not sure there is going to be much one can say to her about the relationship. If two guys treated her rather shabbily in closed relationships, how is anyone (no matter how nuts it might look from the outside) who behaves halfway decently not going to look like a dreamboat?

    The IUD thing ... who would do that to themselves? and for (edited) sake, they aren't supposed to be in that long!!! Taking care of herself would involve getting it out and taking a very long look at the medical risks of her current relationship geometry - but at least she's talking to you. Modelling stability is not the worst thing you could do.

    kudos to you for being there for her - i struggled with a familiy member's vasectomy (my husband is sterile) - so i don't know if I could handle this kind of thing up close and personal.

  12. wow, 'nauseating' is an understatement. :(

  13., I am wordless and idealess with you. Not much makes me speechless but this sure did.