My decision to have a tubal ligation and choose sterility for my future was not a decision taken lightly. The recovery was not for the weak (to read more about the procedure and recovery process check out Recovering from a Tubal Ligation, Day by Day). Beyond that though, the emotional and rational components of taking this permanent step were quite simply- a Big Freaking Deal.
My Gifts to Myself
I turned 40 last December and have given myself many gifts since: a new tattoo, red hair
(which gorgeously covers the new grays), the confidence to set and maintain boundaries in relationships, the freedom of learning to say “No”, a budget that includes savings and as much live music as possible, a true commitment to embracing my body as it is, and the creation of a space for a healthy and loving relationship with a wonderful man.
As the year went on I decided to give myself one last birthday gift – sterility. I have two amazing, healthy, gorgeous, hilarious children. I am divorced and self-employed. I have three jobs. My marketplace health insurance is ridiculously expensive. My younger child just started Kindergarten; there is a lot of parenting still to do. Boyfriend has a child who is 11 months older than my daughter. We’re learning to blend.
I love babies. I love pregnant women. My primary job is all about pregnant and new moms. I am keenly aware of the realities of life with a newborn, an infant, a toddler. There is no space in my world for teething, sleepless nights, potty training, or another round of preschool. My family is complete and it is perfect exactly how it is.
This body I am learning to embrace made two humans.
This body birthed two humans with no interventions or pain meds under the carefully watchful eyes of two incredible midwives.
This body made the milk to feed two humans for many, many months.
This body is squishy in places, and adorned with stretch marks and battle wounds.
This body has done its work.
A Decision Shared
Early in our relationship, when Boyfriend and I were discussing where we each were with wanting more children, I casually mentioned a vasectomy. This idea was not met with a response that passersby would have seen as positive. There is an unusual attachment that men have to their testicles. I suppose that because their bodies are never beaten up internally by tiny hands, or they’ve never felt a hiccup on their bladders, and they have limited to no knowledge of the term “scooch down.” They take refuge in the pristine-ness of their parts.
As women who choose to and are fortunate to be able to have babies, our bodies are not our own for years. We lend out our uterus, our vaginas, our breasts. We are obliged to accept invasion and change. Men are not ever obliged to such. From that place I can understand the reluctance to commit to a simple in-office procedure that requires no more than a local anesthetic and a day or two of rest. I can, really.
My children’s father and I went several rounds for several years about a vasectomy. He agreed to the procedure, but not to actually making an appointment for the procedure. Fertility was not one of the struggles we faced in our marriage. The vasectomy never happened.
My Body, My Choice
Not long after Boyfriend offered his less than enthusiastic response to a vasectomy, I began to consider a tubal ligation. My desire to spend another ounce of energy on trying to convince a man to commit to a procedure to alter the landscape of MY fertility equaled exactly zero. This is my body. This is my choice. This is my gift to myself.
For the first time in my reproductive life I visited an Obstetrician to discuss my options. Hormonal birth control is not a healthy option for me. I don’t respond well to it (it makes me bat shit crazy). I am confident that I don’t want more children. We discuss statistics, side effects, the procedure, the recovery time. I ask 4,789 questions. She answers them all with truth, humor, and grace. She is skilled at developing rapport and trust. I like her.
My over-priced self-pay health insurance covers Tubal Ligation at 100%. The date was set. There were several weeks between the time of consult and procedure.
There were lots of thoughts and emotions surrounding my choice. I made jokes about “shutting this shit down” while crossing an X over my uterus with my arms. I talked about the upcoming surgery with my children. They are still too young to fully understand what is happening. My youngest was stuck in the limbo of “but I want a baby brother” and “I get to be your last baby?!?! That’s awesome.”
Peace and Freedom
Despite the thoughts, at no point was I not at complete peace with my decision. I know that I cannot afford to have any more babies, either financially or emotionally. I know that my children would suffer if I had another baby. I know my career would suffer. For me, sterility is freedom. Sterility is empowerment. Sterility is a foundation for my middle-ages; a foundation on which I honor myself.
I set up the arrangements for my care. I filled my freezer with rainbow sherbet, knowing it will sound good even if nothing does. (This came true, read about my rainbow sherbet love during recovery here.) There were multiple calls between myself, the hospital, and the insurance company. Wires got crossed, wires got uncrossed. I was inundated with messages from friends who say “if you need anything, just ask.” I believe them. One of my very best friends came up from Atlanta to drive me to the hospital and take care of me for a couple of days. I knew she could handle my post surgery whiny bullshit. Boyfriend took a couple of days off of work to help. He was there when I woke up. He responded lovingly and supportively to all of my various “I’m scared of the surgery; I’m not going to die, right?” text messages. (I mean, for real though, he totally should be doing exactly all of these things.) I waited for the day to come. And when it did, I had my tubal ligation. As predicted, the recovery sucked. More than I really anticipated.
But I still feel that peace. I still feel that freedom.