Getting pregnant – survival of the fittest

17 Oct

If you are just tuning in, I have an almost 16 month old daughter and am pregnant again.  I got pregnant this time around when my daughter was only eight months, on the first month that I was fertile.  No, it was not an accident or an “oopsie.”  Those thought processes, by the way, annoy me incredibly.  While I know that accidents can happen and might even happen to me in the future, I feel it insults my intelligence when people’s jaws drop when I tell them my children will be 17 months apart.  If there is any word that is acceptable to me for an unexpected pregnancy, I would definitely choose the word surprise (however, in our case, our pregnancy wasn’t really unexpected, but it was a surprise).  Like, “wow, you had an IUD in and got pregnant!”  Now that is a surprise, and does not insult the user’s intelligence.

Anyway, I will further clarify that I knew that I became fertile and we wanted our kids close together.  We weren’t doing anything to prevent a pregnancy, but we definitely weren’t trying.  In fertility land, I define trying as fertility charting (or at least consciously making an effort to pay attention to the womanly cycle), and frequent…um… interactions.  The month we got pregnant was almost literally like Russian roulette, if you catch my drift.

With a story like that, it is hard not to think of myself as Fertile Myrtle.  I know many people who have struggled with fertility issues.  Some friends have adopted.  Some have gone through fertility treatments.  Some had tried for an entire year before finally getting pregnant.  And most recently, I have a friend who sent me a picture this week of her positive pregnancy test after six months of trying.  And here is the kicker – she has a daughter the exact same age as my daughter.  AND her fertility returned right after giving birth.  And they got pregnant on the first try with her daughter.  That is some crazy, stressful stuff.

I would like to focus on that last example.  The above mentioned friend is not the only one who didn’t get pregnant instantly after having her first baby.  I have other friends who are in the same situation, or at least similar situations.  Another friend has a newer baby and wants to get pregnant asap, but she just physically cannot because her fertility has not returned.  People in those types of situations might end up jealous of my ease of getting pregnant, but I start to look at the situations from an evolutionary and historical background.

Am I an extra blessed woman because it is so easy for me to get pregnant?  Or are my friends who are struggling to get pregnant again the biologically blessed ones?

I can’t help but look at everything through the eyes of biology.  It is just the way I was raised and it is just the way I was educated.  Thousands of years ago, there weren’t many options of birth control available in comparison to today.  Getting pregnant was just the norm, and there wasn’t much that could be done to avoid it.  Jewish law regarding intercourse is mandated so that a woman has sex during the most fertile part of her cycle, therefore producing a pregnancy.  While childbirth and pregnancy are pretty safe and common, if you have a transverse baby and no medical assistance, you could be in for a death sentence.  According to sources in this website, mortality for birthing mothers was at 10% and infant mortality was at 50% during the rule of the Roman Empire.

So, here I am thinking how in a matter of 30 months I have had 3 pregnancies and will have had two children, because I am “just so fertile!”  However, if I lived a few thousand years ago, where it was common to have a dozen children, my chances of dying earlier than someone who struggled a bit more would be greater.  We can deduce that an increase in frequency of pregnancies would surely equate to an increase in chance of maternal death, at least a few thousand years ago.  Since the rate quoted above was 10%, that means that if I had 10 babies, I would very likely be dead by the tenth one.

This post is not to downplay infertility or even to entertain the idea that pregnancy and babies are a curse.  These are just some thoughts that I had.  Many people have mentioned, “Oh my!  You sure will be busy with two so close together!”  I agree, and respond with, “If I couldn’t handle it, it wouldn’t have been biologically possible,” (yes, there I go again with my biology) but now I question myself.  God created our bodies pretty well.  God provided a law about feminine cleanliness which helps a woman get pregnant (be fruitful and multiply, anyone?).  In the past few years I have really begun to trust my body and tune in to what it was created to do, which is why I am carefree about two kids under two.  However, when I consider God’s original design, my modern, carefree attitude is more like ignorant bliss.

If I had been living thousands of years ago, I wouldn’t have been working in a rigidly scheduled job where I was away from my nursing baby all day long, five days a week.  I wouldn’t have been using a man-made, rather inefficient breast pump (which I didn’t even get to use as frequently as I should have).  If I had been a normal mother thousands of years ago, I would still be nursing my little babe.  Nursing is nature’s birth control and nature’s way of spacing out pregnancies.  I know plenty of women who did not have their fertility return until at least a year and a half postpartum.  And these are American women, living in an American culture, where weaning happens much earlier than it does in other areas of the world.

So, for those mothers out there who are looking to get pregnant asap after just having a baby and getting frustrated, take comfort in the fact that your body is actually doing what God designed it to do.  Your body is biologically preserving YOU for as many years as possible, and you are still preserving your genes because you already have a child.  Besides, my midwife pointed out that there should be two years in between births, because that is how long it takes for your body to heal after pregnancy and birth.  So while it might seem that I am fertile myrtle, I broke nature’s rules.  You truly are the fittest.

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