A heavy subject.

Posted: July 13, 2009 in Family, Headspace, kids

1iconpenI’m thinking about a permanent solution to birth control. The solution I’m thinking of is non-reversible, which means once I decide to do it, there’s no changing my mind or going back. I will be rendered incapable of bearing children, ever.

I’m going to be thirty-five next week, and I know that I don’t want to have children – I’ve actually known for quite some time, but I’ve given myself the leeway to change my mind. I think I’ve come to the conclusion, though, that my mind is made up.

My decision to not have children is not something my doctor’s office wants to hear, simply because I’ve never been pregnant, and never had children of my own. “Keep your options open,” they’ve said to me in the past. “Don’t make an irreversible decision.” “You never know.” “You’re still young.” “There’s still time.”

Um, thank you, but I DO know. I know that as far as I’m concerned, I DO have kids of my own, who are grown, and I don’t want to start all over again with a newborn just because of some misguided notion that, as a woman, I’m supposed to want to have a child that is biologically mine. It’s odd how the medical community regards a woman making a decision like this during her child-bearing years. As if I’m young enough to bear a child, but too young to make a permanent decision NOT to.

I’m allowed to make that decision, and it doesn’t make me less of a woman. It doesn’t bar me from the ranks of parenthood, because Michael and Marie are every bit as much my kids as they are Calvin’s and their mom’s.

Well. I talked all about the decision to not have a baby, here. No need to re-hash it, now. My reasoning and line of thought is still the same, even five(!) years later.

Anyway. The option I’m considering is Essure. It works by implanting tiny coils into the fallopian tubes. The body grows tissue around the coils, thereby sealing off the tubes and preventing any of Calvin’s swimmers from getting frisky with my eggs. There’s no hormones, no surgery, even anesthesia isn’t required. Total time in and out of the doctor’s office is around 45 minutes, and there’s next to no recovery time needed. It’s even covered by my insurance.

I’m damned tired of being on the pill – I’ve been taking it since I was sixteen. And I’m damned tired of the side effects the pill causes. I’ve tried other forms of birth control (shots, inserts) but they all effect me even worse than the pill. And, at the risk of oversharing, condoms aren’t my thing. So. Essure looks like it might be the right option for me.

If I can just convince my doctor – they’ve even suggested that I might want to go to a therapist first to REALLY make sure I’m making the right decision, which I kind of resent, to be honest. That just infers that there’s something mentally wrong with me – a woman, who doesn’t want to have children.

My mind is made up, and I think I’m okay with my decision. Though I reserve the right to feel regret. As I said in that entry I referenced, there’s positive and negative aspects to this decision, and just because I have made up my mind not to have children doesn’t remove any sadness that I might feel about it.

Life is complicated, sometimes.

  1. crisitunity says:

    I’m planning on getting my tubes tied when I turn 30, because I will be in the exact middle of my childbearing years, and if I haven’t changed my mind even one iota at the halfway point it seems unlikely to me that I ever will. I’m trying to prepare nowfor all the bullsh!t I think I’m going to have to face about it – from doctors, from family, from people who find out. (My mom, for one, thinks it’s a great idea, since not having to take the pill anymore will lower my risk for a bunch of medical problems.) Tube-tying is sort of reversible to my understanding, so I can change my mind if I really, really want to.

    I am APPALLED at the therapist suggestion. Part of me says reasonably that they just want a therapist to try and get to the root of a decision maybe made too hastily, but the majority of me thinks the same way you do – as if you’re Charlotte Perkins Gilman, creeping around the yellow wallpaper, just because you don’t want any biological kids. Oh, that makes me angry.

    In any case, it’s your body and you make the rules. I think it’s great that you’ve come to this decision.

    • jadesymb says:

      Tube-tying is reversible, but it’s surgery to do it, and most insurance companies won’t pay to undo it, so its about 5K-10K out of pocket to have it done. It’s why I’m not going to have it done after I have my baby, because,we might want another one in five years (I’m turning 30 next month), even though we are pretty sure that our two boys will be enough children to keep us busy forever!

    • Laura says:

      I occasionally get input from Calvin’s side of the family, who would love to see us have another child. My sister and uncle haven’t said anything at all about my “childless state”, but it hasn’t really come up. Michael and Marie have both said they wouldn’t mind having a little brother or sister, but they’re not all hell-bent for us to have one, either. So, strangely enough, it’s the relative strangers that are giving me the most flack.

      I’d consider getting my tubes tied, but as it’s surgery and I’m not a huge fan of hospitals, to have a non-surgical procedure that, erm, uses the access that God gave me, is a better choice for me.

  2. jadesymb says:

    It’s a legal thing. They don’t want you to come back and sue them later because you “didn’t understand” that is was non-reversible….

  3. Jeanette says:

    Sounds like your sure that you want this so really, who is the doctor to give you a hard time. That Essure sure sounds like a great form of permanent birth control. I wish that was available to me back then.

    • Laura says:

      I just want to get off the hormones. My body hasn’t had the ability to just do its natural thing for almost twenty years, which can’t be good! And if the doc continues to give me a hard time I’m just going to go to another one, dammit.

  4. dyskinesia says:

    I work for doctors who do the Essure procedure every day, and someone who works for me has had it done too. The basic principle is the same one that they use for doing coil embolizations in the brain in order to occlude aneurysms (pardon me whilst I get all scientific); point is, if those little coils can go in your brain and help you live, they can sure as heck be safe in other places too. Not that you asked if it was really the vundebar procedure that they claim, but I’ve heard only good things so far. As far as complications, have only seen 1 patient have complications, and they had a good idea that it would be the case going in because they knew she had other issues.

    Now, as far as the kid issue, next person in your doctor’s office gives you THEIR opinion for YOUR body, let them know that you’re just sure they shouldn’t go through with that sex change operation because they might change their mind later!

    Seriously, if you feel the need to bother discussing it with them, tell them that not only do you have your children, the constant abuse your body has taken from the hormones in birth control through the years has been MORE than enough. Menopause sucks, but wow can I tell now just how well and truly those stupid pills made my life worse over the years too.

    Go for it.

    • Laura says:

      I really appreciate your feedback, your specific perspective is really helpful. So even if I didn’t “ask”, your input is (always!) welcome.

      The complications are what I’m concerned about, since I’ve heard that certain forms of internal (the only word I can think of that means putting plastic bits and springs and butterfly clips and whatnot in my innards) birth control doesn’t work as well for women who have never had children. Something about pregnancy that better prepares the lady bits for thwartation… heaven if I know.

      So. Yeah. I’m going to schedule an appointment (after our vacation) and, of course, I’ll let you all know (in glorious technicolor detail!) how it all goes.

      • Dyskinesia says:

        While I have heard that about tubal ligation, I’ve not heard it about Essure; that is BY NO MEANS any type of expert opinion there, but just haven’t seen it personally.

        I have very limited exposure to patients who have had ablation, and what I have has been for patients with very heavy abnormal bleeding — have seen none done electively as a sterilization method. It also cannot protect you from ectopic pregnancy (technically Essure cannot do so 100%, but odds are much better both procedures work as they are designed to).

        NOTE: Actually NovaSure, a common endometrial ablation system in the U.S., says on their site that you should continue using birth control after endometrial ablation.

        ACOG info on ablation: http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp134.cfm

        NovaSure FAQ: http://www.novasure.com/irregular-period/heavy-menstrual-bleeding.cfm

  5. iamheatherjo says:

    Just popping in, I’m thinking about you! We’ve already talked about this a few times over the years and are pretty much on all the same pages. I’m always behind you no matter what you decide…but you already knew that too. 😉

  6. Megan says:

    It is amazing how much non-medical advice doctors feel free to dish out! Your doctor should be telling you the medical implications of your choice (physical risks, benefits) and not giving you advice on how you should feel about your decisions. Ironically, perhaps, I’ve noticed this especially with pediatricians, who give advice about everything from how to potty train to when the kids should stop taking naps or how to stop misbehavior. Many of these things are connected to medical issues in only the loosest possible way.

    And if it were any of his/her business, the point your doctor is really missing is the relationship you have with Michael and Marie. I’m wondering how long you’ve seen this doctor, who doesn’t understand that you’ve come to this decision after years of consideration.

    Of course you are right that society in general does seem to think a woman who doesn’t want children is an abberation. But men can feel that way no problem. I wonder how much flak a thirty-something man would get if he wanted a permanent solution. (What a euphamism!) Maybe things will change as time goes by… There was a book (by the author of Clockwork Orange) where people who didn’t reproduce/overpopulate the world were the revered ones and ‘breeders’ were considered the lowest class of people. Kind of makes you think. I can’t vouch for how good the book is, as I read it as a teenager, but I liked it then.

    Good luck with this.

    • Laura says:

      I’ve gone to this same office for years, but the folks I see keep changing. I do NOT like the woman I’m seeing now, so I think for my next consult I’m going to ask for someone different.

      Thanks for your well wishes, Megan!

  7. Jean says:

    Laura, make sure you look into thermal ablation, too. It fries (sorry, but that’s what it does!) the lining of the uterus, i.e. endometrium. Not only do you get BC, but also get to be done with your period!

  8. Jean says:

    And it’s outpatient, usually done in a doctor’s office and you’re back up and around the next day!

  9. It is the insurance porton of this that makes this unbearable. It is almost like grown adults aren’t capable of making decisions for themselves. My insurance will not let me have a “procedure” with seeing one of their “couselors” and the whole thing creeps me out…

    It seems like there are more people in “control” of our bodies than ever before…and we aren’t one of them.

    • Laura says:

      I know they’re trying to cover their ass so they don’t get sued after the fact, but really. Just inform me of my benefits and risks, and leave the moral/biological clock thing out of it.

      It’s a horrifying thought to consider just how many people have input into how we treat our bodies.

  10. Taoist Biker says:

    I’m coming belatedly to this, but I thought I’d weigh in. With a huge flashing neon caveat that says “This comment does not in any way reflect my opinions concerning certain people who may or may not live in South Carolina.”

    You and I are the same age. Your kids are grown. Honestly, I’m a little jealous of that.

    Boy is almost 10, and I can honestly say that I like him more the older he gets. You know, I get to do things with him now instead of everything being done for him, if you know what I mean. He’s also just reaching the age at which he’s not permanently tied to the apron strings; we can leave him alone in the house for a 20-minute trip to the grocery store if need be. This has been a welcome development.

    Do I occasionally miss little-kid stuff? Yes, but rarely. Also, while I hardly consider myself a geezer, I can definitely tell the change in my gitupn’go over the last three or four years. My college roommate, a year older than me, just had his first kid last year, and all I could think was “Woohoo, and thank GAWD it ain’t me.”

    Ultimately though, your decision is no more or no less valid than Crisitunity’s or Kim’s. We all make our choices for what’s right for us…and that’s our right. If anybody else has anything to say, they can suck it. (That therapist thing pisses me off.)

    In our case, the decision to not have any more was taken away from us, really, and it caused us a good deal of anguish at the time, but in retrospect I’m glad it was. It spared us a whole lot of second-guessing of what I now think was clearly the right choice.

    • Laura says:

      Hi TB, I appreciate you weighing in. I DO like the fact that we’re still young enough to enjoy life, with kids that are grown and out of the house. It’s what we talked about right off the bat, when Calvin and I first got together. “You’ll only be in your early 40’s when the kids are gone!” etc. Also, I’m glad that I made the decision for myself, instead of having the decision made for me, and I’m sorry that you and Dys had to go through any anguish whatsoever before coming to a happy conclusion.

  11. LL Cool Joe says:

    I just wanted to say I really admire you firstly for writing this post with such honesty, and secondly for being true to yourself and knowing what you want to do with your body.

  12. […] and it’s a hard sell to a doctor who could face a lawsuit in six or seven years. Tiffany has explained that I could be subject to therapy before I’ll get a green light. That would probably not be a […]

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