UPDATE: Here is my part on Gus Lloyd’s SiriusXM’s Catholic Channel show “Seize the Day” about this article. Enjoy and share.
Well, so much for a surprise in this blog. Used birth control, and wish I hadn’t. I also was pro-choice once. These philosophies made sense to me at one point in time.
I got married at 22, my wife was 23. I was just as ambitious then as I am now. Only difference was I didn’t have a career or an education at that time. We were what I would still term “devout Christians”, though not yet Catholic, that came years later. We knew exactly what the next couple years would look like and sure enough, it turned out exactly like I had planned. After I was to get out the Air Force, several months into our marriage, I was to drive us down to Grand Forks, North Dakota and finish my degree as quickly as possible. Three 24 credit hour semesters later, I finished. Not much of a time waster. Months after that, though I felt as though I was struggling, I got a great job in Omaha, NE. Things went almost exactly as I had planned.
She, my wife Jessica, on the other hand put her life on hold for me. We knew what the plan was: let Shaun take as many courses as possible, get out of the Air Force, move, finish degree, get a job. So of course there was no room for kids. I asked her to go on birth control immediately. She didn’t want to but I wanted her to… more… so she did. Her being on BC was vital to my success. I thought so anyways. Oh, and I had her get a job, after telling me that she didn’t want to work. That’s not even the rest. She got a job that worked overnight, on weekdays, as many as 6 days a week. So while I was earning my dream degree, learning to fly, she was working her ass off (sorry for the language). She was also getting sick regularly. See, contraception didn’t make her feel any better than being pregnant would have. She was so often sick I had her switch on multiple occasions to other brands/means. The pill, the shot, the patch, condoms, take your pick. I wasn’t a mean guy. I’ve always loved and adored my wife, but I thought this was common practice. This is what it took to get a degree and a job, right? Everyone’s doing it! Why can’t we?
So the moment came one October morning where I approached her and told her I wanted to try to have a kid. Did I feel obligated? No. Did I yet know what she sacrificed for me? I don’t think so. I wanted this because I knew that she wanted it and even though we hadn’t enough money to heat out our little apartment, I was willing to trust God. We used to turn on the electric burners on the stove to heat that crummy little place.
We didn’t get pregnant for months. The hormones from the contraceptive can stay in a woman’s system for years. In May 2011, she took me to a resteraunt and handed me a framed picture with what I thought were highlighters or Sharpie’s on it. I gasped when I realized what it was (the positive test sticks). Here’s the video:
My life changed when Gabriel Alexander entered our lives. He is 2 now and I just can’t imagine life without him. Though I confessed this terrible thing to my priest when I entered the Church, I still wish I hadn’t done it. Heres 5 reasons why:
1. My wife said no. Is there any more important thing than taking care of your wife’s body? I was willing to risk her ability to conceive at all in order to reach my goals.
2. My success was not as important as I thought. Not to mention it was *my* success, not our success. My success would have been much more enjoyable with a child to look down upon and say, “I did this for you, not me.”
3. The wait was not worth not having a kid. I enjoy my little boy so much that I would have loved to get to know him years ago. I wish we had him right away because he illuminates our lives so much with his laughter and his smile.
4. It was selfish. To say that my life is so important that I am willing to deny another child life was easily the worst choice I every made. Who was I to play God?
5. It was selfish. I removed my wife from all of her ambition in order to fulfill my own goals. She got sick, was alone at night working the front desk of a hotel in a small town, wasn’t even able to see me, and wasn’t able to be the mother she wanted to be cause I needed a diploma.
Bonus reason: It’s mutual masturbation. Think about it. It is.
I’m sure there are more. The bottom line is, nothing is worth denying the existence of another person. We married young and wanted to “enjoy” each other and earn success, but since having kids, we enjoy each other a lot more. And busy? I’m still just as consumed as ever. I’m working 8 hours a day, and more hours for Holy Apostles College and Seminary on the side, I’m earning my second masters degree, writing two books, blogging for four sites, playing hockey, golf, Xbox, and still make time for my family and friends. People ask, “How do you do it?” I don’t know, so don’t ask.
It’s not just about the sin of using contraception or following the rules. I wish I hadn’t because it didn’t actually make me happy — I was the one who missed out and selfishly withheld this happiness from my wife. Good thing she still loves me.