Family Planning and the Narcoleptic

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I made the leap from thinking we were done having children to knowing we were done having children, thanks to a urologist and my husband’s unflappable temerity.  The means was largely my husband’s decision–many of the other officers he works with have done the same thing, plus the (small) fail rate for other forms of birth control was still too much of a risk for him, given how fertile we seem to be (four pregnancies in four years.)  Plus, a police officer and a would-be writer?  Maybe not able to support a family larger than four.

We’re both young.  We know that.  Even though life seems complete with our house and Josh’s career and our college educations and our two healthy babies, we know we’re young in the scheme of things.  But we’ve always done everything young: marriage, kids, home ownership…why not sterilization?

Anyway, Josh’s opinion and finances aside, the most important reason we’ve decided to limit our family is my narcolepsy.  On the spectrum of the disorder, I’m lucky.  I don’t have cataplexy for one thing, and, as long as I follow a napping and caffeine regimen, I can go unmedicated long enough to breast-feed my daughter, but as soon as she’s weaned, I’ll be racing to get that prescription.  Another child would mean another two or so years without medicine, taking in account pregnancy and a year-ish of breast-feeding.  And I don’t think I can do it.  It’s getting worse and I think it won’t be long before my nap and a cup of joe isn’t enough.

I know this all sounds faked or whiney or petty.  How can a nap be so important?  Hardly any parent, working otherwise, gets to catch up on sleep.  But if I don’t fight off that sleepiness, I’m a hazard to my kids.  It’s not safe to drive them (I’ve been in one sleep attack-related accident before), and it’s not safe to stay alone with them now that Noah can open doors and there’s a tiny infant to stomp on.

It’s hard to think this way, of myself as a hazard to my own children.  But the price is too high not to be realistic about my limitations.

Danger aside, there’s also the quality of time I spend with my children.  More days than I’d like to admit, I find myself encouraging Noah to color or read or do anything that involves us sitting because I’m too tired to move.  I use Teagan’s feedings as an excuse to slug on the couch, even though I know what Noah needs to be doing is running around in the last of the nice fall weather.  While I’m unmedicated, there are too many days when the babies only have half a mother: an exhausted, impatient half.

So we made the choice to stop.  I’m curious about other people.  Do/did you have a reason to limit your family size?  Because of a physical limitation?  An emotional one?  A financial one?

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3 Responses

  1. Hugs. I can imagine it’s frustrating. After my CBAC and cyst removal, the meds they gave me and my anemia made me black out. I got to the point where I had to have people with me every minute because I was worried I’d faint with a newborn and a toddler. It’s not the same, but that was scary enough. I can only imagine having a sleep disorder can be very challenging. I’ll bring you a bag of coffee to the next ICAN meeting.

    • Thanks, Jenn! I once heard the phrase that mothers suck it up and do what sucks, and I think that sums up our situations. At least I’m not in pain–that’s awful that your postpartum period was so miserable.

  2. Well, we haven’t even begun our family yet…so I have no idea about size. But, the comment about Noah needing his run around time before winter hits reminded me of this: http://emeraldcitygym.com/playtime/parenttot/

    It is an hour where the kids can run around and play on all the fun squishy thing at the gymnastics place. There are slides and fun things too. I know this was a life saver on some days with Bella! I hope it helps 🙂

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