Hi everyone. I would like to hear any wisdom you may wish to share on a difficult decision I need to make. I will try to give you as much pertinent information as possible, although it is impossible to say everything.
Basically, I would like people’s opinions on birth control. My wife feels a strong need for it right now; I basically disagree that it is necessary, but understand where she is coming from. Some background on the situation before you pass judgement (share your opinion)…
My wife (I will use the name Jean for her here, although that is not her name; mine isn’t really javelin, either ) and I have been married 7+ years and have two healthy children, ages 4 and 2. Both were unplanned pregnancies while practicing NFP (sympto-thermal method) as strictly as she felt we could (which ended up being a mixture of the 7-day and 21-day rules and external symptoms).
Jean recently had a nervous breakdown of sorts that required hospitalization for a couple weeks. Prior to the episode, she had been struggling with trying to deepen her faith and feel right with God, but in the process was questioning much of Church teaching (we are both cradle Catholics). After about a week of not sleeping (really at all), her thinking and behavior became hyper-religious and erratic, requiring hospitalization. About a month prior to the event, she had also suffered a miscarriage due to an ectopic pregnancy that we didn’t even know about until it needed to be sugically removed. Even before that, she had been struggling with depression that partly stemmed from guilt (religious and sexual, I think) and the difficulties of being a stay-at-home Mom with two very energetic and demanding children.
She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is now in recovery from her hospitalization. Needless to say, we still have a long ways to go, and our relationship has been rocky and stressful lately.
Much of the stress she has spoken of relates to issues of sexuality and fertility. She is genuinely afraid of having more children right now; she feels it will push her over the edge. This is only reinforced by the fact that Depakote is a class D drug, meaning there is strong clinical proof that it causes birth defects (cystic fibrosis, I believe). She is terrified of “accidentally” becoming pregnant, not knowing it, and harming the child through the medication before she can go off it. There is then the strong clinical evidence that states 70% of women with bipolar who go off of their medication during pregnancy have serious relapses that put both their life and the life of the child at high risk.
This is getting long, so I’ll leave it at that for now. The doctor insists she go on birth control. Even a local priest she confided in said it would be OK if decided after serious prayer, etc. She has also brought up sterilization and adoption if we felt called to later on (I’m very open to adoption, too). Basically, she wants this stresser removed.
We both want to follow God’s will, but it seems we have no choice but to contracept. Jean’s health and ability to be a good mother are of prime importance.
So you see that it is very complicated.
Please don’t respond with arguments trying to prove the Church’s position that artificial contraception is intrinsically evil. I know it is wrong, which is why there is a dilemma in the first place. What I really need is advice on how to weigh its wrongness with the other perils in the situation, and how to be a good husband to my dearest wife.
Your thoughts? Prayers would be appreciated, too.