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This article is the first in the “Pregnant over 40” series on Jumble & Flow. Stay tuned for the next installment.
Four months ago, I went off The Pill. I had been taking birth control pills for twenty-three years—since I turned 18 years old—and before I even had sex. As an ultra-responsible, Type-A teenager, I had a long distance boyfriend and so I wanted to be prepared. As a senior in high school, I went to Planned Parenthood and bumped into a classmate. We awkwardly nodded to each other in recognition, and we never spoke of it again.
There were a few months here and there in those twenty-three years where I gave the pill a break when I was between relationships. The second I was ready to start dating again, like clockwork, I called my gyno for a new pack.
The pill was great. My period was on a schedule, which meant that I could plan. I made sure my most comfortable panties were clean and ready to go. My tampon bag was filled. I would check my work schedule to see when would be the least awkward time to walk to the bathroom, tampon bag in hand.
This predictability was a godsend after the erratic, heavy periods I had as a teenager. The pill made my periods light with minimal cramping. I loved the pill, and there wasn’t any reason to be off it since I didn’t want to have kids, a decision I made at 18 years old.
As a teenager of the ‘90s, I was the queen of cynical. This was the era of grunge and emo. Flannel shirts, Beavis and Butthead, and everything sucks! My friends nicknamed me Daria for my most excellent deadpan sarcastic remarks. So, of course I didn’t want to have kids. My attitude was that everyone sucks, the world sucks, and so why bring children into this sucky world? Looking back, I had a bad attitude and even as crazy as the world is nowadays, my 18-year-old self’s worldview was pretty f’d up. Decisions made at 18 really need re-evaluation.
In my late 20s, I was in an emotionally toxic relationship. We were engaged and he romanced me with ideas of wanting a family with me, even though he didn’t want kids with his ex-wife. My ego bought it, and appealed to that power-hungry side of me; the love we crave when we’ve been missing love in our lives. Him wanting kids with me made me feel he loved me more than the other woman. This dream of being married with kids felt so good, despite not wanting it earlier in my life. One minute, he’d make me feel safe with this dream, and the next, he’d call me a whore and break up with me. We did this over and over for three years, until I finally was able to wiggle myself out of the relationship.
So then, in my 30s, I further committed to my “No marriage, no kids” rule. I didn’t ever want to be in a situation like that again. I needed to be an independent woman who didn’t need a man to take care of me. As I anxiously climbed the corporate ladder, I remember thinking “I wish I was the type of woman who wanted to get married and have kids.” Looking back, I realize I had blocked myself from this desire. To me, the world was a scary place that I needed to control. I feared being trapped. Marriage and having children meant leaving a whole lot to chance.
In my late 30s, my “No marriage, no kids” rule began to break down. The question in my subconscious and body got louder and louder. I had a very vivid dream in which a co-worker came to me as a spirit. He took my hand and said, “I want to start a family with you.” In the dream, it felt so good. Loving and safe. The feeling of desire was intense. When I woke up, I was confused. I had no interest in that co-worker, and I was in a relationship, but—did I want to start a family?
Around this time, my body began to betray me during my periods. I would get horrible cramping during PMS. I would wake up in the middle of the night, and it would feel like I was having contractions. It felt like my uterus would squeeze tightly, let go a bit, then squeeze again. If I could get myself up to take a few Ibuprofens, the pain would subside, but I’d still feel it in the background.
A year and a half ago, after an intense healing session with my mentor, I had a vision in meditation. It was 10 years into the future. I was married with kids. I lived in a nature-y place surrounded by trees. In the vision, my husband went to answer the door with the kids hanging off of him. One dangled on his arm while the other had strapped themselves around his leg, he pretended to be Bigfoot being taken down by hunters. The kids were laughing as they teased their dad. The vision then cut to a retreat center where both my husband and I did spiritual service work. We lived quietly. We taught quietly. We were humble and simple. And we were happy.
As I witnessed this vision, my heart was filled with love and joy. Tears came to my eyes as this seedling of a possibility planted through my being, one I hadn’t ever considered. A deep knowing followed. If I am to live my purpose, my life needs to be very different.
At the time, I lived in the city and the husband in my vision was not my current partner. I didn’t know who the person was, but it was clearly someone else. My partner and I had some ongoing issues, but I had not been planning to break up with him. After more dreams that pushed me to see the joy that could come if I chose a different life, the choice became clear. We needed to let each other go, to live the lives we’re meant to live.
Two months after the break-up, the world went into the COVID lockdown. Four months after lockdown began, I met my current partner. Or rather, I re-met him—he was a former co-worker. He’s not the one from my dream, but he does check the boxes from my vision. As a seminary student, he feels called to do spiritual service work, loves nature, and definitely wants kids. Despite all the dreams and visions, I still wasn’t 100% sure. We were falling in love, so I needed to figure out quick what I wanted.
In the beginning months of our relationship, I got energy readings, went on contemplative walks, and fantasized about being a mother to see how it felt in my body. I healed wounds around family, obligation, caretaking, community, relying on others, and trust. I had many excuses as to why I didn’t want to be a mother:
Being in lockdown by myself for all those months destroyed any notion I had that I’m a completely self-sufficient being. We need each other, that’s for damn sure. We’re all connected, and to pretend like I’m not part of humanity? That’s an illusion I’m no longer comfortable participating in.
It was time to stop running. In an energy reading session, the reader said, “You never considered that being a mother would make you an even more amazing woman than you already are.” She was right. I invalidated motherhood, having a troubled relationship with my own. I realized I had inherited the patriarchal view that motherhood is not valuable. I had valued all the masculine qualities of climbing a career ladder, hyper-independence, trying to live my life as an island.
Ironically, my mother always thought I would get married and have kids, and was shocked I didn’t want to. In many ways her insistence made me not want to get married and have kids. I thought she didn’t think I was capable of anything more than being a housewife and mother. I couldn’t see what she saw in me—deep down, I have a simple, sweet, nurturing nature, which I kept trying to hide. Those qualities will make me a good mother. As a stay-at-home mom herself, she knew that motherhood is a purpose all its own. It made me wonder: what if motherhood is part of my purpose?
In this modern world, as Feminists, we have the power of choice, more than any other time in the history of the world. On one hand, we are empowered. On the other hand, we are pressured to take paths we may not really even want, but believe we must take. Paths like becoming masculine versions of ourselves that don’t feel good to us. I have no regrets in my career. I’m so glad I got to do some cool shit I didn’t think I’d ever do and all of my experiences created the person I am today.
As a mother, I’m never going to wonder about the path not taken, because I took the path! I’ll never wonder if I’d rather be pursuing a career, sitting in long meetings, analyzing data, because I already did it, and it’s not as great as it sounds. Having taken that road, the road of changing diapers, making school lunches, and driving kids to their soccer practice, doesn’t sound all that bad.
In no other time in history, can women have entire careers, then decide they want to have kids. Technology, health and medical knowledge allows women to have children later in life than ever before. It’s given women the power to decide. And if that’s not feminism, I don’t know what is.
Next month: The Type-A keeps preparing! I’ll open up about my experience going off The Pill and using non-hormonal birth control method Natural Cycles to better understand my fertility for when I’m ready.
Rev. Bonnie Ho is a spiritual counselor, energy reader, and author of the Living in the Third Eye column for Jumble & Flow. After spending most of her adult life trying to prove her own worth through an analytical career, Bonnie found a spiritual path that led her back to herself and her own heart. Now, Bonnie aims to help others heal their wounds, find their joy, and embrace their intuition and true desires, in a grounded, balanced way.
Bonnie is available for spiritual guidance and energy readings. Visit bonniehoinsights.com to learn more.
ON THE BLOG
In My Prime: interviews with women thriving in midlife
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Pelvic health: Everything women need to know
Adventures in Perimenopause, essays by women in perimenopause and menopause
What is perimenopause? An empowering guide to everything you need to know
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