With the proposed elimination of funding for Planned Parenthood, a lot of the blogs I read have been flooded with posts about reproductive health. And, for the past few days, sterilization.
Here is some background.
I am emphatically pro-choice. I have never had an abortion - in fact, I've had several miscarriages, and I wanted to be pregnant almost every time I was pregnant. (The one time I didn't want to be, the miscarriage happened early enough that I was not yet really in a position to make a decision about whether I ought to have an abortion.) I have good friends and acquaintances who have had abortions, and none of them made the decision lightly, and all of them chose what was best for them and their families. This post is not here to debate abortion, and abortion debates in comments will be considered off-topic.
I had Elayna when I was barely 21. She was due on my 21st birthday, in fact. Having her was a decision I agonized over for a lot of reasons. I am glad every day that I did have her, especially considering the shit that my body has gotten up to since. I'd had miscarriages before becoming pregnant with her, and I figured that if this one stuck, maybe she was supposed to be here, and maybe this was my only chance to have a child. As it turns out? Probably was.
That's hard to write. All of this is.
When I was 29, I was diagnosed with epilepsy, and I started on the cycle of nightmare medications that shrank me to 85 pounds (which is where I was for the last miscarriage; my body was too wasted to support life) and robbed me of my balance, my vision, my memory, and my mind. For years. YEARS.
Try to imagine what that was like. Especially for a newlywed who was thinking that she'd really like to go for a second kid, maybe one who'd have her husband's lovely dark hair. (I maintained a list of baby names for the longest time, mostly with Adam's late father's initial; Jewish naming tradition.) I was devastated, and I don't use the word lightly. I would burst into tears at the sight of a toddler. I love the hell out of my daughter. I wanted those years again. Gradually, I resigned myself to not having more kids. Very gradually.
It's only in the last two years that I've had any quality of life from my meds. And now I have the celiac diagnosis. (One of the side effects of untreated celiac: recurrent miscarriages. YA RLY.)
I'm 37 now. I am doing better, physically. But I am not what you would call healthy. And I take a bunch of medications - for my seizures, my heart, et cetera. Medications that you can't be on when you're pregnant and breastfeeding. I'd have to change my entire medical regimen for years, and this is the only regimen I have quality of life on.
It would be tremendously stupid for me to have more kids. (Please note that I am not saying it would be stupid for any other person with a similar medical situation. I am saying only that it would be stupid for me personally. I am the expert on me and do not claim to be the expert on anyone else.)
I'm at an age and a medical status where if I went in and asked for sterilization - surgical, Essure, whatever - the doctor would probably not try to talk me out of it. Sterilization would most likely be the best choice. Because I do still have tremendously wistful thoughts about having another child (especially because so many people I know are pregnant or new parents these days), but I recognize that that would be self-injurious in a lot of ways.
So why, when I see blog posts about sterilization, do I freak out a little inside? Why, despite me saying for seven years that I should get my tubes tied, have I not gone in and done so?
Why am I not ready yet? When will I be? What will make it okay?
I don't have answers on that. All I have is the thought that this whole never-having-more-babies thing - this is not my choice. That this is my body, but my choice was taken away. And you can imagine the sorts of emotions that are connected to that.
I didn't choose to not have more kids. That was taken from me. I can choose sterilization, as opposed to an IUD or just condoms.
I'm not ready yet, and I don't know when I will be, if at all.