Strangers, friends, and just about anyone who sees my entire family ask me if my husband and I are done having kids. I’m thirty-five years old and I have eight kids, but people asked me this question after my first child was born.
My answer is, “I no longer have an answer.” This has been followed by me saying, “If I say no, then I will be pregnant immediately.” The last time a friend asked me this I was seven months pregnant. “You’ll have a few months,” she said. It was awkward, but I wasn’t really in the mood to say that my husband and I don’t plan to give up having sex for the next several years because I don’t plan on using birth control.
It’s not just ladies who are asking. My husband Tim came home from work one day and told me an acquaintance asked him if we were done and he said, “My wife and I have actually been talking about that lately.”
“With or without your clothes on?” he asked.
“I don’t have an answer for that,” Tim said.
The truth was we’d just had sex two nights in a row before that conversation, but my husband didn’t know why I felt sexually free that week. I’d been tracking my first period after baby number eight by writing notes on my phone calendar. Bleed May 1-5. Sex May 6. Possible ovulation May 10 due to slippery mucus. Yes, I was trying to control my pregnancy destiny. The method was not flawless because I’d been pregnant and breastfeeding for almost thirteen years and my medical chart says that my last regular period was in the fall of 2004.
Having lots of kids was something that I wanted, but how many were a lot? I thought six was a fun number but I didn’t really know my body’s capabilities when I came up with that amount. I think about birth control the way people think about natural childbirth. I am educated and know all my options from the pill, the ring, the patch, the shot, cervical cap, diaphragm, IUDs, and sterilization. I am also capable of finding the aisle filled with boxes of condoms. I know all these things could help me stay sane, but I don’t want them.
My choices around family planning stem from a mixture of thoughts. I’m missing a breast and I haven’t had it since I was eighteen years old. I’m adopted. I’m a Christian. Should I risk saying goodbye to my other boob if I mess with my hormones using a cocktail of chemicals? Aren’t condoms harmless? Yes, but I want real marriage sex, not the kind of sex I could have had before (only I didn’t do that). Doesn’t the Bible say something about being fruitful and multiplying? What about birth control has anything to do with that? God, I don’t really want the fruit you want to give me.
I struggle with the fact that my birth mom didn’t want me. If I don’t want to get pregnant does that count as the same kind of rejection as her not wanting me? I am left wanting the impossible, the family size of my dreams and sex whenever I want without birth control. It’s not realistic at all.
No, my husband is not a trust fund baby and neither am I. Yes, we have had financial help from both families. Yes, I often try to figure out if being pregnant almost every year is insane. I dream about what it might be like to style my hair after a shower that lasts more than three minutes. I have traded peaceful mornings with the sound of a baby screaming to wake me up. Sleeping in is getting up around seven AM. What I am saying is that I am a normal woman just like every other woman on the planet. Having kids is not easy. I don’t know how many kids I’ll have, but I do know there’s something called menopause.
I received my MFA in creative writing from UCR Palm Desert in December of 2016. My essays have been published in The Manifest-Station http://www.themanifeststation.net/tag/marion-ruybalid/, PANK https://pankmagazine.com/tag/marion-ruybalid/, and 30 Portraits of Adoption in 30 days http://www.chicagonow.com/portrait-of-an-adoption/2017/11/my-birthplace-became-a-reality/ .