Not many things are more personal than the choice to procreate. Yet, somehow, when someone (especially a woman) decides to get a permanent procedure to prevent all future pregnancies, everyone seems to want to know why. I don't know if it's because they assume every person with a uterus wants to get pregnant or should want to get pregnant, but they seem to have a hard time wrapping their heads around the decision. However, if you ask 20 women you'll probably get 20 different reasons why they decided to get their tubes tied, which makes it all the more apparent how personal reproductive choices truly are.
I, myself, decided to get my tubes tied (the super cutesy name for bilateral tubal ligation) for a variety of reasons. Our family is currently the perfect size for us. My husband and I each had two children from our previous marriages and then decided to have a baby together. Five kids is enough, believe me. Plus, I had horrible, complicated pregnancies. I am old AF, tired, and having hyperemesis gravidarum (severe vomiting and nausea during pregnancy) and prenatal depression during my last pregnancy made me want to put a permanent "no vacancy" sign on my uterus.
So, my husband decided to get a vasectomy. After all, I had carried our child for nine months, at great risk to my health so he figured it was the least he could do. He went in for a consult and discovered that the procedure would cost more than our monthly mortgage. Damn. So, I asked my doctor for information about my options. She discussed the pros and cons of the two permanent methods they offer: tubal implant and tubal ligation. Ultimately, I decided on a tubal ligation, because I could get it done right away and it is effective immediately, whereas there's a bit of a waiting period for the implant. When I asked her about the cost, we discovered that either option would be free, due to the provision in the Affordable Health Care Act that requires insurance companies to cover birth control at 100 percent. Thanks, Obama. Literally.
I was curious, so I asked other moms to tell me, if they wanted to, why they decided to get their tubes tied, too. This is what I learned, and this is just another reason why reproductive choices should be left to those who are making them. No one knows your own life better than you.
"I was already having a c-section to have my third child. At almost 35 years old, with three c-sections in three years and difficult pregnancies, so I was so done. It just made sense for me to get it done during childbirth."
"I decided to get a tubal, but I wasn't allowed to have it during my c-section because I gave birth at a Catholic Hospital. I am extremely fertile. I don't want to trust birth control for eight months while my husband gets a vasectomy and is cleared. I can't emotionally or physically handle another pregnancy. Plus, any future pregnancy would be medically dangerous, due to the amount of scarring on my uterus and how thin it is. I can't take the chance of something happening to me."
"I had my tubes tied when I had my c-section with my second baby. I had severe toxemia with my first and had a less than 50 percent survival chance with that birth. I didn't want an only child and had talked my husband into a second pregnancy. That one went fine but didn't want to risk a third one that could very possibly kill me. I never regretted my decision. I never wished my husband had a vasectomy, either, since it was my health at risk, not his. However, had I had a vaginal birth, he said he would have had the vasectomy done rather than me having another surgery."
"I was 39 when I decided to get a tubal. We chose it because it was covered by insurance, whereas my husband's vasectomy would not have been. Honestly, if given another chance, we would do things differently. The recovery was so much harder than anticipated, and even though I was definitely done after having my fourth baby, there was an intense grieving process I did not anticipate. Having my last baby, turning 40, and surgically ending my fertility all in the span of a couple months made me feel propelled into middle age prematurely."
"There were many contributing factors on my decision. Firs, I felt done having children. I have no desire to be pregnant or have another newborn. Financially, we're in a position that we can give our kids what they want and meet their needs comfortably, and I did not want to take that away from them for another child. I had considered a long term form of birth control like an IUD, but I do have a medical condition that makes pregnancies very complex and possibly dangerous, and felt a permanent solution was in order.
I want to be clear that my health didn't dictate that I was done, I simply knew I was. My husband and I discussed our options. Being a blended family, I know how one cannot see or predict the future of their family or relationship, so I felt like I couldn't ask him to do it. It wouldn't be appropriate, as it isn't my body, and as he's five years my junior, perhaps there would be future opportunity for him. So I booked a bilateral salpingectomy (they removed my tubes entirely). We have been exceedingly happy with our decision."
"I was 30 when I got my tubes tied. I chose to get a tubal because I couldn't take hormonal birth control because of health issues, I was already having a c-section, and I knew that I was 'done at one.' I had preeclampsia in my pregnancy and didn't wish to die trying for another baby."
"I was 29 when I got my tubal. My husband and I were in agreement that we wanted two or three kids. My pregnancy with my son was no issue, though working on my feet 40 hours a week, while pregnant, was hard. I went into labor on my own, and my cervix dilated and effaced, however, after two hours of pushing, my son was chin to chest and not budging. So I ended up having a c-section. I was in labor for 20 hours, pushed for three hours, and in surgery for three hours. It was had a really hard recovery. I had to go back to work, even though I wasn't physically ready at eight weeks postpartum, because I ran out of short term disability and I was the only one working.
This all cemented in my mind that I was done after two kids regardless if our second was a boy. When I got pregnant again, I was hoping for a vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC). We made a deal that if I had a VBAC, my husband would get a vasectomy, and if I went c-section, I would get my tubes tied. I ended up with a planned c-section, so tubal it was. My husband ended up getting a vasectomy about three years later at my request 'to be on the safe side' so that I wouldn't have to go through another c-section."
"I got my tubes tied during my c-section with my second (and last) baby. The copper IUD made my endometriosis cramps miserable, and I have [poor methylation and enzyme production, known as] an MTHFR mutation, and am was paranoid about hormones in other forms of birth control causing clotting issues."
"Mine was performed a few days after my last child's birth. Her birth had been terrifying and physically traumatic, and the OB-GYN and I agreed that another pregnancy would be dangerous, so off to surgery I went. I had a salpingectomy (Fallopian tube removal), as my OB felt it was a better procedure for me. I reacted badly to the anesthesia, dealt with severe muscle pain following surgery, and developed an infection after returning home.
In the long run, sure, it was for the best, but it was a rough procedure following a terrifying delivery, and if I had not needed surgery at that time anyway, we probably would have opted for a vasectomy for my husband instead. I never want to be pregnant ever again, but I still feel sad that I can never be pregnant ever again. Because logic does not apply here, it seems. It was chaotic and messy and not planned in advance. I feel like I did not have adequate time to process the decision in a clear-headed space."
"My husband and I knew for sure that we did not want more than two kids (and I had had to lobby hard for number two). I liked the permanency of it. I just had mine tied a week ago, and am healing from a c-section. I haven't had noticeable differences in recovery from my first birth."
"I was 30, divorcing, and had two children ages 7 and 9. I had always known that two children was the maximum number of children I wanted. I had an abortion a year earlier, because I was committed to only having two children. Planned Parenthood covered 90 percent of the costs which was so needed as I was a new 'head of household,' had relocated from an urban to rural area and had no college degree and no insurance. I am now in a good paying job, great benefits and pursuing my Ph.D. The opportunity to make the choice to get a tubal helped me change my life and my children's lives."
"I was 29, and was about to have my second child via c-section. I was already having surgery, so I thought recovery wouldn't be worse. I have a hole in my heart, so pregnancy and delivery was pretty stressful for my family. It was kind challenging for us, because my insurance at the time didn't cover the procedure, even though it would have covered my husband's vasectomy. So it took us a few months of back and forth to decide. My doctor was awesome, she answered our questions, without pressure or bias."
"I had the procedure scheduled after my second child was born, but then I chickened out. It probably sounds ridiculous, but the thing that stopped me was the idea of losing one of my kids and the other being left with no sibling. I wanted the option of trying for another one if I had to, even though I have no intention of having more children."
"My first child was diagnosed with cancer just after his first birthday. We weren't blessed with an easy pregnancy with him and had actually needed help getting pregnant, so when I got pregnant out of the blue with my second it was a surprise. I knew very early in that second high-risk pregnancy that as a woman over 40, my childbearing days were done. I can't take hormonal birth control, so it was either an IUD or a tubal. I got a tubal during my c-section. I have not regretted that decision for a single minute. My husband is 10 years younger than I am, and I often get asked if he is upset we won't have more children. I always say he is free to have more kids, just not with me."
"My last pregnancy happened as my marriage was ending. I was ready to be done having children. I enjoyed my pregnancies, and I'm grateful to have my children, but that part of my life was finished. I wanted to close the book on fertility permanently. For me.
I didn't ask for anyone else's opinion on the matter. It felt very empowering to make that decision privately. I knew I would be dating in the future. I did not want to jack around with birth control anymore. I know myself well enough to understand that, if I met a partner in the future who wanted additional children, I probably would have agreed to more. I didn't ever want to be in that position, so I handled it preemptively. I was having a planned c-section, so I would already have an open abdomen and surgical recovery. I felt like it was good timing, like a two-for-one special. If I had to choose it as a stand alone procedure, I would have considered an IUD more seriously, but again, moot point since I was already on the operating table."
"I had just given birth to my fifth child, and it was my sixth pregnancy. My youngest was a surprise. My husband and I hadn't been together but a couple of weeks, and I was already a single mom to my other kids. Pregnancy sucks. I had horrible morning sickness. I had one girl that I gave up for adoption because I was so young, and then four boys in a row. I desperately wanted another girl, but I couldn't continue to try to have one and be disappointed every time. It wasn't fair to my babies. I wanted to make sure that if my husband and I didn't make it, there would be no more babies for me to take care of alone."
"Considering that I didn't want to have any kids, one kid was plenty for me. Because I was single and under 30, I asked my doctor about getting my tubes tied for six years. When I finally got a doctor to agree, it was contingent on my being in a long-term monogamous relationship, having permission from my male partner, and lying and saying I was 100 percent certain. I'd had various problems with hormonal birth control and was very glad to finally be able to stop taking it. The procedure itself left me nauseated, and the confirmation test was very uncomfortable, but I'm glad I did it and that it worked."