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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Not Ready Yet. 
4th-Mar-2011 03:30 pm
Some things can't be fixed
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.
4th-Mar-2011 08:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing this. I read it all.
4th-Mar-2011 08:54 pm (UTC)
Precisely this.
4th-Mar-2011 08:33 pm (UTC)
My decision about whether or not to have children was taken from me too, by infertility. And I still have problems with babies and toddlers. I am so sorry to hear of your struggle, yet glad to know I'm not alone in difficulty being around the little ones. I wish I could give your choices back to you.
4th-Mar-2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
I do adore them! It's just that there's often always that twist in the gut...

I wish I could give yours back, too.
4th-Mar-2011 08:42 pm (UTC) - I read this.
4th-Mar-2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
I planned to get a hysterectomy after having a baby.

I got an IUD instead.

I don't know if I can have any more kids (I definitely don't want to go through IVF again) or if I even want to (life with a chronic illness and a newborn is BRUTAL) but... I'm not ready either.
4th-Mar-2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
*holds your hand, and occasionally your baby*
4th-Mar-2011 08:45 pm (UTC)
It's okay for you to never be ready, if it turns out you won't be, to be permanently sterilized. It's one thing to know intellectually that something isn't an option and quite another to take steps to actively shut that door forever. *sighs* I too am relieved to not be the only one who has difficulty around babies and toddlers.
4th-Mar-2011 09:01 pm (UTC)
I read this whole thing.

I'm keeping aside a small place in my heart and mind for you today.
4th-Mar-2011 09:03 pm (UTC)
I understand, sterilisation means giving up that last tiny shred of hope...

There's surrogates, with or without using your own eggs. We're maybe around 5 years away from the first artificial uterine replicaters. [and with this book deal, you might even be able to afford it]. So, who knows...
4th-Mar-2011 09:05 pm (UTC)
My choice to have more kids was also taken from me, for similar reasons - disability, medications, quality of life, etc. It was good for me to read someone else's account of how painful that can be, to override the voices of "but you already have one" and "but you weren't sure you wanted another one anyway." That choice should have been mine, damn it.

I keep thinking about sterilization; have even asked my doctor about it, but keep getting pushback and haven't had the strength to overcome that yet. And yeah, it's hard - it would be like closing a door, that even though I know I can never walk through it, I just want to stand and look through it a little bit longer.
4th-Mar-2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
It was good for me to read someone else's account of how painful that can be, to override the voices of "but you already have one" and "but you weren't sure you wanted another one anyway." That choice should have been mine, damn it.

This. I mean, yes, we are incredibly fortunate to each have one, but it still sucks to not have the choice whether to have more. Having one doesn't make that not suck.
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4th-Mar-2011 09:58 pm (UTC)
It would likely be your medical status that would get them to agree to it, not your age. I knew I never wanted to have children, and had asked for permanent sterilization at age 33 after having my stroke, because I was no longer able to take birth control pills. They would not do it. Instead, I had an IUD put in - which worked fine, until it decided to puncture my uterus last year (not fun). At age 41, they STILL would not give me the full hysterectomy I wanted, but they at least they agreed to give me a tubal ligation.

I'm furious that we women are not allowed to make decisions about our bodies, whatever those decisions may be.
4th-Mar-2011 10:36 pm (UTC)
I got my tubal ligation (through Planned Parenthood; I was low enough income that it didn't cost me anything) when I was 29. Had tried before that, but no one would give me one. The whole bloody damned "you'll change your mind" paternalistic fucking crap. Hello? I didn't even mention the chronic migraines, just the "I am a carrier for Retinitis Pigmentosa. My mother and two of my aunts are blind. I would rather kill myself than pass that on." thing. (Not that ... oh ghods, there's a lot to unpack there. If I'd stayed married, we'd discussed adoption, and probably of a blind child or children, 'cause I've got the skills to raise one, would just have felt so guilty for causing it when I knew the risks.)

Anyway, choice. Mine to make, yours to make, not an easy thing no matter what the decision, no matter what the reasons. (I've still got a fair amount of anger about never being told that tetracycline - which is one of the few antibiotics I'm not allergic to - can interfere with birth control pills. Luckily, I didn't get pregnant and have to make a difficult choice. Not giving women information like that is, in my mind, absolutely criminal. Our lives. Our bodies. Our choice.)

I just... gah. long-distance internet hugs if you want them.

4th-Mar-2011 10:44 pm (UTC)
I hear you.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I hadn't gotten sick so young, if I had had a chance to have a child. Usually I can brush it off, shrug my shoulders and go "Well, at least I didn't pass on my genetics".

But, sometimes...

I wish I had at least the choice. Even if I decided not to have children, I wish I had been able to make the choice for myself.

I really do somethings think that having that choice taken from me by my myriad of chronic illnesses is the worst loss out of all of it.

Edited at 2011-03-04 10:44 pm (UTC)
4th-Mar-2011 11:49 pm (UTC)
I read the whole thing. And read it again.
5th-Mar-2011 01:03 am (UTC)
No one ever mentions adoption. Is that such a bad choice? I'm seriously curious, since I didn't have children myself, by choice. I was sterilized when I was thirty. One of the reasons I did it was that I could always choose adoption if I changed my mind. Maybe I would understand better if I'd ever wanted my own kids.
5th-Mar-2011 05:33 am (UTC)
It's not a bad choice, but it is not necessarily right for everyone. It's also an expensive choice, and one that subjects prospective adoptive parents to a shitload of intrusive scrutiny and judgment. It is highly likely that shadesong's health history and polyamory would be used against her in this process.
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