I have never asked for advice here, but I am in a bad situation and my wife and I need some help badly. I guess I am at the point where I can’t be ashamed to admit that I don’t have a good answer.
11 years ago my wife had our first daughter. The pregnancy was straightforward and we had a healthy baby. Two years later, my wife became pregnant again. This time things were not so simple. About half way through her pregnancy she started to have severe pain in her pubic region. By month 7 she was unable to walk and had to use crutches and a wheelchair to get around. I had to take time off work to care for our two year old and the house, as well as my wife. Financially, this was very rough for us. My wife was in miserable pain. Fortunately, she delivered another healthy daughter and her pain subsided within a few weeks of delivery.
Three years after that, my wife became pregnant again. We were excited, but cautious because of the severe pain and disability she had experienced in her second pregnancy. At about 4 months in, she was in severe pain worse than before. She was on bedrest and confined to a wheelchair by month 5 and had to take narcotic painkillers just to sleep. She had to wear adult diapers at night because she could not get out of bed to use the restroom. It was awful, humiliating for her and obviously it is not healthy to take narcotics during a pregnancy. I had to take off work again, which I absolutely could not afford to do. I lost a promotion. My wife’s mother had to take time off of HER job to help me with the kids and the home. It was a terrible time in our marriage. Praise God, we had a healthy son. Unfortunately, her pain did not dissipate after the delivery and at 6 weeks postpartum, she could not walk or even move about the bed without excruciating pain. We went back to her OBGYN and she was diagnosed with something called Pubis Symphysis Dysfunction. He said her case was severe. Basically, the ligament that holds your pelvis together at the pubic bone was totally shot from her pregnancies. He told her that there was no cure, and that surgery had very poor outcomes that could ultimately leave her totally disabled.
He sent us to a top orthopedic surgeon at a large teaching hospital. They did an MRI and said that her separation was massive and that there was nothing that could be done about it, except for a very risky surgery with a low success rate. He said absolutely never to become pregnant again, because this condition only gets worse with every pregnancy. He sent her to an outstanding physical therapist.
For about a year, my wife busted her tail working to build her pelvic muscles to compensate for the shot ligament. She was able to get by just on OTC painkillers after about 6 months and regained a lot of her mobility. Life was almost normal. Then I got her pregnant again. We were using the MOST conservative model of NFP at the time (Marquette.) We were VERY careful, I promise. No “what the hell?” episodes, exacting charting and record keeping. We could not believe it. While happy about the baby, we were devastated for my wife’s health and the future. We knew this would be terrible on her body, and it was. She was on complete bedrest, adult diapers and a wheelchair from week 10 on. It almost destroyed our family. The kids did not get enough attention, ate terribly, I was run ragged trying to work, take care of the house, take care of the kids. It was miserable and my wife took narcotics the whole time. I cannot tell you how awful it was to hear her crying at night in pain. I felt terribly guilty and I still do. I did that to her.
She delivered a fourth healthy child via C-section at 36 weeks because she was out of her mind in pain and going nuts from being in bed for so long. She suffered terribly after the pregnancy, and this time the physical therapy was harder and took even longer to be effective. Two years later, things are not great at all. She still takes narcotics most days and cannot run or play with the kids. She can’t sit on the floor. She can’t lift more than 15 lbs. She has been depressed on and off because of her pain and limitations.
We are happy to have a large family, but our OBGYN told us “NO MORE CHILDREN.” He has always supported us in being open to life and using NFP. In fact, we chose him because he is pro-life. He has been wonderful to my wife during these years. Last appointment, he told her that he was very serious about no more pregnancies, and that she needed to make a decision. He gave her three options:
One of us get sterilized
Use a combination of hormonal birth control and condoms without error
Abstain from intercourse totally until menopause
He said that we cannot risk being “open to life” anymore, and that NFP is not going to cut it because my wife will be “permanently disabled, probably confined in a wheelchair for life and on narcotic painkillers until the day she dies. She will not be able to care for her children, or her home. She will be in agonizing pain. This is very, very serious.” Knowing our beliefs, he sent us to another OBGYN for a second opinion - one who is Catholic. He told us the same thing. He said, “It is wonderful to be open to life, I have 6 kids of my own, but your body cannot tolerate another baby and you need to use your God-given intellect to make a decision here that is in the best interest of your family and your health.” We went back to the orthopedist, and he was just as firm about it.
We are devastated. My wife is only 33 and I am 35. We are not ready to give up on ever having sex again. In fact, I think that would destroy our marriage. I don’t even know how that could work. We would need to sleep in separate beds and never touch to avoid a mistake. I can’t live that way.
She does not want to take birth control or get sterilized because she is terrified of going to Hell for it.