09 November 2010

Pain

Pain is isolating. It cannot be divided and shared, it cannot in its present moment be truly understood by even the most sympathetic friend. To bear it without complaint is a costly virtue, because what the sufferer craves most after relief is tenderness and compassion. To assume an appearance which belies suffering is to deny the depth of tender compassion longed for.

While we may denounce the selfishness which drives human flesh to avoid the gifts God would give, we children of dust are feeble as frail. The woman who feels she cannot have another child is likely not thinking first of her figure, her career, her cobwebby ski equipment. Those excuses are funny and easy because they are less intimate than the truth. She is likely thinking, I don't want to be sick any more. I don't want to be crazy any more. I don't want to get more broken. I CANNOT HURT any more.

Lord, have mercy on us daughters of Eve.

16 comments:

Ewe said...

This summer I had a conversation where they had 2 children and they decided they are probably done. She was tired after breastfeeding 2. She had a lot of morning sickness. She was almost 37 and she felt too old to have another baby. She couldn't take care of #1 while she had morning sickness with #2. She made the comment that I wouldn't understand since I had easy pregnancies and easy births. She was shocked that I was hospitalized with morning sickness for #1 and unable to care for #1 and #2 while I was pregnant with #3. She hadn't heard of women that had IVs at home while they were pregnant. She was even more surprised that after all that we want more children. I hope I gave her something to think about.

Leah said...

In all my months of morning sickness with six children, I have often wondered while sitting on the bathroom floor after throwing up for the umpth time - could this be part of the curse?
"I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children..." (Gen 3:16)
Could that be where all these bodily "sorrowful" ailments stem from?

Untamed Shrew said...

I know a woman who claims she "can't" because of illness, and like Ewe's friend, was never hospitalized for dehydration, ecclampsia, diabetes, etc. This friend has admitted to me that it's really got nothing to do with physical or mental struggles; it's because her husband is such a schmuck during pregnancy, birth, and post-partum. (no arguments here.)

I'm sure for every superficial argument out there, there are a dozen legitimate ones, but I'm only hearing things like, "We can't afford it," "I finally lost all that weight and don't want to gain it back," "I'm 35," and "We're happy with what we've got."

Erm.... yeah. Me too. (Except for that weight-loss bit.) Maybe, like you say, they're just giving easy explanations to avoid the pain of reality.

greatgaunts said...

A smart person told me once that the curse extends FAR beyond the moment of delivery. I think of the chaffing awfulness that nursing can be and the wretched hurt that comes when my children sin and the heartbreak of wanting your children to grow up while wishing they could stay little and constantly fighting what society would have for your family and... Like this smart person said, when the Lord curses you, he means it. :)

Lord Jesus, quickly come!

Anonymous said...

Well, I suppose I am no better than the woman Ewe spoke to this summer. Pregnant with my 5th, I don't want to do this anymore. I'm tired of being irritable and irrationally mean to my kids. I'm tired of my back aching when I stand and my hips aching when I sit. I'm afraid of having too many children to pay an adequate amount of attention to each of them. I suppose I haven't suffered enough yet, considering that I'm a woman like Eve and therefore guilty by virtue of existing, but I'm throwing in the towel.

Leah said...

This is where I struggle, too. I've been told I probably won't be able to give birth naturally, so I'm scared about the C-sections I would have to have, and the complications associated with repeated surgeries. Plus, I was a complete wreak afterward. I can't imagine that will get any better. My sinner self wants to cry out "I didn't sign up for this!!"

Rebekah said...

Anon, although your words are affecting, I've gotten burned too many times by anonymous types to hazard a personal response. God be with you.

Leah, I have been a wreck 4 out of 5 postpartums, but nothing compared with the first. It can get better. Or, of course, worse. :P

Anonymous said...

Anon,

I understand where you are at. I was there 2 babies ago. After 10 pregnancies we are throwing in the towel too. As hard as it is for me to admit, I simply can't do it anymore. It is so hard for me to admit that I can't, but it's just the truth. My husband's job is demanding, we don't have a supportive family and I'm totally spent. For years and years I told myself that I could do anything with the Lord's help but I'm simply outnumbered. I cannot give my kids what they need when I'm pregnant and post-partum. When I am pregnant I cannot give them the care they NEED. I don't want my kids to have such negative feelings about the way they grew up so that they don't want to duplicate our life.
So... we are throwing in the towel too. But trust me, we still bear our crosses. My husband is not O.K. with BC so we abstain and because of hormone issues it means we only have relations about twice a month. Believe it or not, we are totally O.K. with this because for one we are always exhausted and second the thought of having another baby is too unbearable for both of us. In an ideal world we could go on for 12, 13 kids. But...we live in a fallen world. My husband and I have faults, but laziness is not one of them. We work SO hard at taking care of our kids ans we still can't do it all. We realize we need to stop because we love our children so much and we truly believe it would be unfair to any future baby to have another.

I'm praying for you sister, please pray for us too.

ζωὴν περισσὸν said...

Taking this to heart, Rebekah, as we are struggling too. It is one thing to speak with confidence, and even arrogance as some have had, of the principle behind willing PP. It is yet another to live that out, struggling as we do to be faithful, praying for faithfulness as we suffer in our frailty and human weakness. Throw in the disbelief of those "watching" as we "allow" another, and another child into our midst... and the criticism that ensues. It isn't about being faithful when one has "easy" pregnancy and delivery... really, what is that? Is there such a thing?

It is about being faithful when it seems foolish, and I don't have the answers either. What do we do when we are no longer in agreement, when outside influences have had their way with one or both, when the conscience will not allow us to succumb despite this?

Whichever way we turn, we suffer the lack of the comfort and joy the marriage relationship is meant to provide, and even this, this very MUCH, is not what the Lord had in mind.

Whatever our struggle, I echo the refrain...

Lord have mercy on us sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried ginger root? It eliminated my morning sickness. I bought fresh ginger in the produce section and chopped it fine and boiled it, strained it and drank the tea. It worked for me.

Megan173 said...

Have I ever said how much I love this blog. Thanks for remembering and reminding us all to put the best construction on everything. As women we always seem so good at tearing each other down, instead of of helping each other. The whole reason we reject any gift from God be it children or faith itself is sin. Thanks be to God that He bears that sin and suffers with us all the brokenness that sin brings. Sometimes we must speak the law but we must always follow it with the Gospel. May Christ grant us all His peace.

Gauntlets said...

Megan, you're a good egg. :)

The last thing a woman needs is other women having opinions about her womb. A woman's womb is, ultimately, her husband's business, and a sanctified place. It is not a war theater. All of Christendom benefits from it's fruit, but it is not given to any other than a husband to govern its use.

And that's what I think. ;)

Anonymous said...

I only have two kids but I like stopping by here because it is nice to be around normal people and hear what they have to say.

Elizabeth said...

I have to second Megan's comment. I am SO thankful that I ran across this blog. What an encouragement it has been to me! What a comfort to hear other women with similar vision, struggles, hardships, and love from and for Christ. Thank you!

notfinishedyet said...

I'm a newer reader, so forgive me if I've missed something. However, I am a lifelong conservative Lutheran, so I have some idea (I think) of where you're coming from.

I do believe that we should see children as a blessing, and I do agree that the world too quickly sees children as problems and irritations and inconveniences. However, if a woman is having pregnancies that to her are emotionally and physically draining, there must be some point at which she can be at peace with saying, "I'm done having babies. I'm going to focus on the child(ren) I have, and take steps to prevent having more babies."

I believe that the decision to use birth control is not one to be made lightly, but at the same time, it seems to me that one cannot come down and say that in every situation it's biblically wrong to use birth control. The prayerful decision to use birth control does not mean that one no longer views babies as gifts of God.

Christian women aren't called to be martyrs on behalf of their kids. If a mom is really thinking, "I don't want to be sick anymore. I don't want to be crazy anymore. I don't want to get more broken. I CANNOT HURT anymore." -- then maybe she should listen to her feelings and stop trying to have babies.

~ Emily @ Not Finished Yet

Rebekah said...

Emily, I very much understand what you're saying. Oh, so very much do I understand it.

The trouble is that if I listened to my feelings . . . well, you can probably guess. And what's to be made of the fact that I feel differently right now than I did at this time last year, when I was seven months pregnant, or this time nine months ago, when I was one month postpartum?

For the record, the church did actually say for most of its history that in every situation it's biblically wrong to use birth control. Then in 1920, the Anglicans (the same people who brought us chick priests and gay bishops) changed their minds. The Pope famously did not change his mind. The LCMS has simply stopped talking about it, neither repenting of nor confessing the catholic interpretation of Scripture on this matter (as I've said here before, this is a question not of chapter and verse but of interpretation).

Believe me, I'm not exactly thrilled about any of this. I don't know anyone who is.