Hi Everyone, it’s nice to be here. It’s only been a day since I’ve signed up and I’ve already learned so much, just reading the threads.
As you can see from my username, I’m currently in RCIA. I’m enjoying it immensely and am looking forward with expectation to my confirmation this Easter. I can see from the knowledge shared in this forum that there is still MUCH I will need to learn and internalize on this faith journey!
I am 37 years old, married to a non-practising, basically irreligious cradle Catholic who otherwise has a sterling character, and mother to two perfect children, a daughter who will soon be 3 and a 14 month old son. The question I have for you all, or basically the advice I need relates to the common issue of family planning. I have endometriosis, which is a condition where the uterine lining crops up in places outside the uterus, creating adhesions, scarring and cysts (plus a lot of pain, heavy bleeding and it’s the most common cause of infertility, IIRC). I’ve had surgery to remove cysts before, the largest being a 12 cm grapefruit attached to my right ovary and a golf ball on the left (thankfully I had a wonderfully skillful and compassionate surgeon who was able to excise the cysts while leaving enough of the ovaries to produce my wonderful children). Now the only way to treat endometriosis is to essentially stop menstruation, or at least make it as infrequent as possible, which means that I was on the pill for quite a while. I know now that the pill is a big no-no, and I agree with the Catholic views on the unitive and procreative purpose of married sexuality. But what I’m wondering is whether it’s still a mortal sin to treat a medical condition whose main side effect is the cessation of ovulation? I haven’t been on the pill since conceiving my daughter, but my husband doesn’t want any more children, so when my son is weaned I’ll be starting up my cycles again, starting NFP and will most likely end up with more cysts…another worry is, would the insurance company deny surgical cyst removal because of my refusal of treatment?
Adding to the dilemma is the issue of my back – I have a ruptured, degenerative disc between the L4-L5 vertebrae which is pushing on my sciatic nerve. It developed during the pregnancy of my son, from the strain of carrying him while tending to my daughter and the fact that I have scoliosis and therefor my spine is never in alignment. I’ve been through over a year of physical therapy to no avail, and now am receiving steroid shots into the spine, as well as having the nerves of my facet joints cauterized. These procedures require the use of a continuous x-ray flouroscope, which would be devastating to a fetus’ development. Anyway, the sciatic nerve issue could get a lot worse with continued compression of the disc, leading to loss of use of the leg (not total, but enough to really hobble me). Already there is some numbness in my thigh. The pain is bad enough, though. I spend the first half of the day hobbling around at an angle, usually can’t stand up straight till noonish, I wake up so stiff and sore. So, to make a long story longer I do indeed have selfish reasons myself to not want any more children. I am terrified of the pain getting worse and my ability to care for my two children being further compromised. Another pregnancy would really, really damage my mobility and mental/emotional wellbeing. As far as tending to my children goes, here is a list of things I am not supposed to do: sitting, bending over, lifting things. So you can see how practical this has been for my current situation (NOT!).
My marital situation has deteriorated quite a bit. Since the conception of my son, we’ve only had relations once…that’s within a two-year period! Although he doesn’t complain and doesn’t make demands, I know he’s resentful. But of course I worry about how he may be dealing with this drought. He’s a workaholic and works late/weekends allllll the time, that would certainly make a good cover for, er, other outlets…but the fact of the matter is I am drained physically, and terrified of getting pregnant again, and until I stop breastfeeding and resume my cycles to where I can monitor my fertility, I don’t want to take the chance. The one time we were together, I had to postpone my back injections almost a month to be sure I got an accurate result on the pregnancy test. I’m actually sleeping in a twin bed at the foot of our bed right now! Partly because our bed is bad for my back and partly because I feel the need to have this space between us. And of course he wants me to resume the pill.
Thank you to anyone who’s read through this. It’s partly a plea for help, and of course I’m just looking for excuses to use ABC as treatment for a legitimate condition but with side effects that are illegitimate. Do I have an out? Are we to remain a celibate couple or do we carry on with our marital debts, and I just bear the burden of these things? I would love more children, I was so sad at the birth of my first because I realized how much of my life I had wasted in sin and uselessness and how I’d missed out on that much love for so long. But I know I would be crushed under the physical strain and would not be any kind of mother or wife if I was in constant worse extreme pain and weakness. And at the age of 37 I know my chances of flubbing up the NFP at some point in my life is probably pretty good. It’s a long time between now and menopause. As a Catholic newbie I’m not well versed in these things and would appreciate any help you all have to offer!