The Dusty Little Box

The following is a reprint, compliments of Beyond These Walls. It follows a series of guest posts entitled A Life Apart on Planted and Blooming which includes You Must Be Catholic.
Thanks, Jenna! So many young women will figure this out a little too late, unless people like you continue to bare their hearts and speak the truth that is engraved on our bodies and souls:
WEDNESDAY, MAY 26, 2010




                The Dusty Little Box

When I began using the Pill, my fertility was little more than a nuisance in my life. Like a gnat at a barbeque it always seemed to pop up and ruin the moment, and just wouldn’t be shooed away. The constant worry (particularly as that time of the month approached), month after month after month, was driving us both insane. Well, I just wasn’t going to stand for that kind of oppression at the hands of my own biology – I found a way to stick it to those pesky ovaries. I’d shut them up. The Pill freed me from the chains of fertility, and for me, that made the Pill just about the greatest thing since sliced bread. It allowed me to drop my fertility into a tiny box, seal it up and pack it away. I knew I’d use it again someday, but for now I didn’t care where it ended up. I just pitched it under the bed, left it to collect dust bunnies and went about my business.

Fast forward seven years. I find myself a married, twentysomething woman with a deep, agonizing ache in the pit of my soul. Some call it “the baby itch”, which makes me laugh. Some man must have coined that phrase, because “itch” just doesn’t even begin to cover it. An itch, I could scratch. An itch would go away. An itch is a minor irritation that might distract one for a brief moment. This ache of which I speak is utterly unmanageable, unremitting, and all-consuming. Day and night, regardless of other distractions, it is perched on my shoulder whispering sweet baby sighs and projecting images of tiny wrinkly toes and adoring toothless grins. Yes friends, I’ve got it bad.

But even despite all that, the light bulb still hadn’t flicked on in my mind. I still hadn’t reached the realization that my chemicalized body was completely incapable of giving me what I so desperately desired. Well, I knew it intuitively, but I failed to recognize what it truly meant to me. I had taken it all so lightly for so long. “When we’re ready, I’ll just go off the Pill and we’ll get pregnant” …I hope. “I’m young, so my cycles will bounce right back” …I hope. Those lingering fears, coupled to my concurrent discovery of the myriad health risks associated with oral contraceptive use, set off an entirely novel train of thought, and triggered an unexpected uprising of emotion that I’ll never forget.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I figuratively reached under the bed and fumbled around for that dusty little box. It was different than I remembered it – it was nearly bursting with its contents and the seal was barely holding it closed. What I had stuffed into that box so many years ago had been growing and multiplying, but had gone unnoticed for all this time – it was out of sight and out of mind. That tiny little box could barely contain the significance that my fertility had taken on, though it fit so nicely when I packed it away. I held that little box in my quivering hands as I contemplated our future, my longing for children, the past transgressions that the Pill had allowed me to perpetrate without a second thought. The tears were flowing down my cheeks by now. How could this weighty box ever have felt so light? How could the matter of my own fertility ever have meant so little to me?

And then, it really hit me. There I sat, in the prime of my biological child-bearing years, a virtual desert of infertility. I felt like a stripped down version of myself. On the outside I was all woman, complete with eclectic accessories, expensive handbags and a closet full of shoes. I wore feminine clothes and feminine scents, embraced my role as a wife, loved to cook… all the pieces were there. There was just that one minor detail that was missing – an internal detail that sustained my biological role as “woman” – and I had given it away. That precious gift that so many women would almost kill for… I had it, and had run from it like a house on fire, thanking my lucky stars that I had escaped unharmed.

Of all the things that I fear in this world, the inability to have children just might be #1 – yet I had willingly rendered myself infertile. It suddenly seemed so unnatural that my body had not been allowed to cycle in years, and that I knew nothing of my reproductive health. I suppose I was planning on waiting until we were ready to conceive to find out where we stood as far as my fertility was concerned. Great plan. This giant question mark was far more worrisome than the prospect of leaving the Pill behind, particularly in light of the highly effective natural methods of birth control that I was learning so much about. I wanted to know myself. I wanted to reclaim control over this pivotal aspect of my world – a subject that meant so much to me yet had been so casually and carelessly ignored.

Knowledge is power, and the female body is a wealth of it – harvesting that information just requires a little extra attention and a thermometer. That vital information can be used to postpone pregnancy, to achieve pregnancy, to troubleshoot fertility difficulties… all without ever stepping foot in a pharmacy or a doctor’s office, and most importantly, without harming a woman’s health or future reproductive capacity. No chemicals, no regret. Just your body doing what it was made to do, naturally and effortlessly.That, my friends, sounds like a great plan for me.

A few months ago, I was more empty inside than I realized. The growing weight of my fertility was blindingly apparent in some ways, yet I had failed to notice that the dusty little box that contained it was ready to burst. I understood all too well the significance of the gift of child-bearing, and how exceedingly important that was to me, yet I had stripped myself of it and taken my body for granted. I can forgive myself for the decision that I made all those years ago – young girls simply cannot understand the profound magnitude of their fertility – but I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around what took me so long to put two and two together.

But today, I stand before you a new woman. It is as though a sizable chunk of my soul has found its way home. I suppose it was in that dusty little box all along, alongside a little slice of my heart. These missing pieces were so small in the beginning, I thought I’d barely notice them. Oh how they grew, but it was such a long, gradual process that it fooled me for a very long time. Now that they’re back where they belong, I feel full again in a way that I never anticipated. I never knew what it all meant to me until I had it back. One thing is for sure – I’ll never let it go again. I know that there is little I could say to convince most young women that they’d feel the same way if they allowed themselves to unpack that dusty little box, but I hope that my story will at the very least give you a moment of pause to contemplate what your fertility means to you.

For the full story of my journey from the Pill to Natural Family Planning, catch my Guest Post on Planted & Blooming

Comments

Angela said…
Great article about the heartache the pill can cause and the beauty of NFP! As a Catholic mother now dealing with secondary infertility (although not related to the pill) I can very much relate to the pain of not being able to conceive. Thanks for posting this!

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