Vyckie's Tour de Crap: A Change of Heart

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Are these all yours? No ~ not all ~ Angel was at the zoo when this picture was taken yesterday at the park ~ so one of them is missing ;-)

I’ve been thinking that now would be a good time to add our “reversal testimony” to my Tour de Crap ~ since I am to the part in my story when the babies started coming … and coming … and coming. Plus ~ Mother’s Day is coming up so that seems like an appropriate opportunity to tell how it is that, although I had determined as a child that I would never have any children, I ended up as a mother to seven kids. (And in case you’re worried that I’m not happy about all these children, please read this.)

I originally wrote this testimony about six months after our first “reversal baby,” Hazelle, was born ~ it appeared as a chapter in Nancy Campbell’s book, “A Change of Heart: Testimonies of Couples Who Have Had Reversals of Vasectomies and Tubal Ligations” ~ my chapter was titled, “A Tough Conviction.” A few years later, when Nancy wanted to republish the book, I added the update to tell about the addition of Andrew, Lydia Jean, and Wesley to our family.

So, here’s the article ~ at the end, I’ll add some commentary:

A CHANGE OF HEART

by vyckie bennett

During our premarital counseling, Warren and I asked the pastor if it was okay to use birth control. Since I had already had a daughter, Angel, who was four years old, I knew that I would have to deliver all my children by c-section. This would be expensive, but I still wondered if we wouldn’t be “playing God” by using birth control. The pastor said that he felt sure that the Lord would want us to “get established” before having any more children. I was extremely apprehensive about going to the clinic to get free pills because I knew that abortions were performed there. So the pastor’s wife went along with me to the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City to offer “moral support.” It was a very creepy place.

I was never really faithful about using the Pill, I suppose my heart was just not in it. It didn’t take long before I was pregnant. I miscarried that baby, and although I hadn’t wanted to get pregnant at that time, I was very devastated by the loss. I tried to get pregnant again right away, which I did within two months. Berea was born by c-section on August 26, 1991. The recovery from the c-section was difficult and I experienced some postpartum depression.

I didn’t want to go through so much misery again too soon, so I made an appointment to get a Norplant insert. I thought a five-year break would be about right, then we’d think about having more children. But when I mentioned to a Christian friend that I was getting a Norplant, she told me that it could act as an abortifacient. I decided to reschedule my appointment so I would have some extra time to find out more about Norplant. In the meantime, I got pregnant. Berea was only four months old, so the c-section was still pretty fresh in my memory. I cried at the thought of having to go through that again. At the same time, I was happy to have another baby, because they are so precious and lovable!

Our third girl, Chassé was born on October 16, 1992. This time the c-section was much easier since it was so soon after the last one so I could remember all the little tricks that had helped with recovery the last time. A few days after I came home from the hospital, I broke out in hives. The doctor prescribed some Benadryl for the swelling that was mostly in my eyes. The pain pills must have affected my thinking, because after I took the pills I set them on my desk, within Berea’s reach. I even thought to myself, “Berea can probably reach those, I should put them up.” However, I was so “out of it” from the medication that I just went back to bed.

Warren woke me to tell me that Berea had eaten some of my pills. We had to take her to the emergency room, but since Warren is blind (and doesn’t drive), and I still could not drive because I had just had surgery, we had to call my sister to take us to the ER.

Here I was at the hospital: with a 13-month-old who had been poisoned and her week old baby sister. I was so drugged up that I barely knew what I was doing. My face was all red and my eyes were swollen shut from the hives. I thought, “I can’t go through this anymore! This is too much!”

I decided to talk to a Christian OB/GYN about birth control. I asked specifically, “Is it Biblical?” The doctor did not answer my question. Instead, he began telling me about all of my “options,” i.e., the Pill, the condom, etc. When I asked about Natural Family Planning, he cracked a joke about the only word he had for couples who relied on NFP for birth control – “I call them parents!

Warren consulted with our pastor (we had moved and were attending a fundamentalist, “Bible-believing” Baptist church). He asked the same question, “Is birth control Biblical?” The pastor did not refer to the Bible at all, but stated that he believed the Lord wanted us to properly raise the children we had. He said that he was planning to have a vasectomy himself. We tried to search the Bible for ourselves, but did not know where to look – we certainly didn’t find anything in the concordance under ‘birth control,’ ‘contraception,’ or ‘The Pill!’

About this time, Bill Clinton was elected President and we began to wonder how we would raise godly children in such a wicked world. We were worried about whether we would be allowed to home educate our girls, whether we could afford the three children we already had and how we would pay for any future pregnancies. We could not get insurance to pay for c-sections, as it was a pre-existing condition.

The day after Christmas 1992, Warren had a vasectomy. Even before we left the doctor’s office we both felt terrible about our decision, but we thought, “What else could we do?” After all, the Lord wants us to be wise stewards and it wouldn’t be very ‘smart’ to continue to have children and place such strain on our family – right?

Over the next couple of years the Lord really worked on our hearts. He convicted us of our fear, which is not faith and therefore sin. I finally read Mary Pride’s book, All the Way Home and we became convinced that we had sinned in this area. We realized that the Bible actually has quite a bit to say about birth control, specifically ‘conception control’ which is God’s prerogative and not man’s.

I want to be very honest about the effects of the vasectomy on our marriage. I pray it will be a warning for anyone else who might take sterilization lightly as we did. I began to identify with Rachel in the Bible who wept and mourned for her children. I felt that God had intended to give us more children, but that we were preventing their conception. I cried often as I longed to hold my babies! I constantly battled with the temptation to become bitter towards my husband. Sometimes I would catch myself thinking, “I’m not the one who can’t have any more children – it’s Warren who is sterile.” I’m sure you understand the implication of such thinking. Only by much prayer was I able to put those kinds of thoughts out of my head.

Whenever I looked at Chassé, or held her, I was constantly reminded that we had not intended to have her. She is such a sweet and delightful little girl, yet we had planned on getting the Norplant to make sure she wouldn’t be conceived. I felt guilty knowing that our own wisdom and selfishness would have denied Chassé her very life. It only confirmed that God knew what was best for us. He gave us such a precious blessing, even though we had other plans.

Both Warren and I felt that since we knew that the vasectomy was wrong, we must do whatever we could to make things right again. The local urologist we spoke with looked at our three daughters and said, “You have a beautiful family. You should concentrate on raising them properly. But if you really think you want a boy . . .” He said he could do the procedure for $6,000, not counting the hospital costs. Of course this seemed like an impossible amount of money. I was already working full-time to supplement Warren’s income. Nevertheless, we believed that God wanted us to get the reversal, so we began saving about 15% of our income each month towards the surgery. We had to save a large percentage because we wanted the reversal before I went through menopause! I was 29 years old at the time.

About two months after we started saving a friend gave us a publication by the Couple to Couple League which mentioned that CCL had a list of surgeons who did reversals at a reduced cost. I called immediately for the list and found that there was a doctor in Omaha, about 100 miles away. The flyer said that he charged approximately $1,500. We made an appointment and when this Urologist saw our three daughters, he said, “You have beautiful children, you should have more!” He explained that the sooner the reversal was done after the original vasectomy, the more likely it would be successful. It had been about two years since Warren’s vasectomy and the doctor wanted to do the surgery right away. When we explained that we did not yet have the money, he told us not to worry about it as we could make payments. “We’re not going to leave you without money to put food on your table,” he told us.

On Valentine’s Day 1995, Warren had the reversal surgery. The surgery went fine and when we got the final bill from the doctor it was only $170. No joke!

We knew the surgery was successful when I became pregnant in early June. Through a series of events we discovered my first three c-sections had been totally unnecessary. Imagine my disgust! I was at the same time, however, delighted by the possibility of having this baby naturally. We were convinced that this was the Lord’s way of providing financially for the delivery. I thought the Lord must have been honoring our obedience by showing us an easier way to have the babies.

Things did not go as planned, however. In mid-February I caught the flu, which lasted for six days and totally depleted my strength. By the time I went into labor, I was too exhausted to deliver the baby naturally. Hazelle Elizabeth was born on February 23, 1996 – our fourth girl, and such a precious little one!

Because she was also born by c-section, I felt that our resolve to allow the Lord to have control over our reproductive lives was being tested. How could we trust Him, when I had such difficulty delivering each baby? What about the hospital costs? At one point during the surgery, due to the complications from the flu, I really thought I was going to die on the table. Could I go through it again? One look into little Hazelle’s eyes and we have our answer. She is an absolute joy!

Yes, it can be a tough conviction to live with. But that seems to be true about most of our journey down the “narrow path” of our Christian walk. Sufferings, persecutions, and tribulations are all to be expected as we endeavor to be faithful to God’s revealed will for our lives. But the rewards are great, both here and hereafter. We are blessed with children, the joy each one brings can hardly be expressed. We are blessed with *peace, knowing that we are being conformed to His image as we submit ourselves to His refining and purifying fires. Oftentimes it feels like “the heat is on.” But, oh the beauty of fine gold!

When Hazelle was 19 months old, I became pregnant again. Although we were very excited about welcoming another child to our family, I was somewhat apprehensive about the upcoming delivery. Should I attempt another natural delivery? It just didn’t seem right for me to give up and schedule another c-section, knowing that medically there really was no reason that I should not be able to deliver my babies without surgical intervention. About halfway through the pregnancy I had a very strong sense of assurance from the Lord that this delivery would go well. I remember thinking that the Lord was going to allow me to have a natural birth and that He would change my name from Vyckie to Victoria — because I would be victorious! On June 20, 1998, Kent Andrew was born at home with the assistance of a midwife. Although I had a very long (40+) labor, it was not painful and there were no complications. A homebirth after four cesareans — truly, the Lord has rewarded our willingness to trust Him with our family in spite of the difficulties! Our firstborn son, “Andrew” arrived about an hour too early for Father’s Day, but he is a great gift nevertheless.

We have been blessed in every manner — physically (no more c-sections), financially (our small home business has prospered so that we are more than able to provide for our household), and especially spiritually. Our eyes have been opened to so many Bible truths, and we have peace with God and a clear conscience that were lacking when our total focus was on our own comfort and desires.

The Lord has since added a two additional blessings — Lydia Jeannette, born May 6, 2000 and David Wesley, born March 23, 2003.

Having seven children is actually less work for me than when I had three young ones. Angel, Berea & Chassé are old enough to do most of the housework and a good deal of the cooking. They’re also very eager to help care for and entertain the younger ones. When I think of how we nearly missed out on these four special people whom the Lord has placed in our family since Warren’s reversal, I am horrified that we could so easily have prevented their very existence. To me, this is worse than abortion because in that case at least the child has life — although, sadly aborted children will never know their mothers’ love.

I often wonder why the Lord chose to convict us of this truth — that children are a blessing and that we’ve no right to make eternal choices regarding another being’s existence. I know of so many other Christian couples who are limiting their children or “planning” their families for the sake of their convenience, but I am convinced that God has not given Warren & me that option. He has called us to a life of faith and trust, and He has proved Himself ever faithful on our behalf.

Sigh.

I could not see it at the time, but this testimony has it all: Martrydom, Superiority, The VISION, Conviction, Kid Collecting, Lack of Balance, …

I wonder now how convincing my testimony would have been if I’d have included all the details of my horrendous pregnancy and delivery with Hazelle, the gross incompetence of the midwife, Judy Jones, during my home birth, the partial-uterine rupture during Wesley’s delivery which nearly left six children to be raised by their ultra-domineering, tyrannical father?

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