Oh, Yeah, That's My Choice
It was the early afternoon on a Thursday when I awoke from a two hour long nap. The nausea had worn off and I felt rested.
I walked outside of my room and onto the small, side patio surrounded by a wooden fence and tall, wild grass growing through the cracks and in between the red bricks of the ground. I shielded my eyes looking up at the bright, sunny sky and thought to myself, "What a perfect day to have an organ removed." Enjoying the peaceful moment, I tried to stand taller and breathe in the fresh afternoon air but couldn't get my torso to stretch as my swollen lower abdomen felt sore. This didn't stop me from feeling on top of the world. I've taken my life into my own hands and I felt a rush of freedom and confidence for whom I'm choosing to become within this world.
That same morning I laid in a hospital bed with a plastic cap over my hair and a small, white robe lightly draped around my body. I watched the nursing staff walk in front of me, back and forth getting patients ready for their morning surgeries. My nurse, Anna, walked up to me to check my vitals and asked, "So you don't want to have any children?" "No" I responded without thinking. "Never have and never will." I said. "Well, it's admirable how well you know what you want for yourself." She said.
I've known since I was 7 years old that I didn't want to have children. In my twenties, I gave myself the option to change my mind and put the thought of children on hold but once I got into my thirties the urge to not have children became clearly apparent.
I said to Anna, “I'm thirty five and still don't want children - I know this is the right option for me now. I've waited long enough." Her face was expressionless and she walked over to my chart and brought it closer to her face so she could accurately examine my information. She said, "When is your birthday?" I immediately knew why she was asking me this question. I responded, "Oh yes, you are probably questioning my math skills right now. I’m not exactly 35, I was just rounding up. My birthday is March 20th 1986 which makes me, I don't know, 33 or 34 years old. See, my inadequate math skills - just one of the reasons why I shouldn't be procreating." I said jokingly. Anna laughed as she put my chart back onto the tall, steel pedestal that sat at the foot of my hospital bed. Graciously she said, "Well, you would make beautiful children." And she walked away. I guess I’ll take that as a compliment.
I had my fallopian tubes removed. Not just tied but removed. I am in control of my body and I've never felt more confident about the decisions I'm making for the life that I chose to live. I had always wanted this to be an option when I was younger but I never thought it was covered by my insurance and I was told candidly and multiple times that doing this would change my hormones and possibly launch me into early menopause. I wouldn't mind an early menopause but I never wanted to disrupt my hormonal balance so I hadn’t considered this as a good option.
It wasn't until last year that I had a routine health exam with a female doctor that we casually got onto the topic of having children. She told me that she had her fallopian tubes tied and that she felt relief for not having children. I asked her if it caused a disruption with her period and hormones. She laughed and said, "Of course it doesn't! I don't know why people say that. I still have my period every month. My body acts as if it's releasing an egg from my ovary but instead of the egg traveling to my uterus, the egg floats away and disintegrates into my body.” After hearing her explain this to me I knew I wanted this procedure.
By the end of 2019, my company switched health care providers and I kept hearing colleagues talk about how much better Aetna was going to be for us. I decided to look into whether tying or removing my tubes would be covered. It turns out - it is covered! Holy moly, let's do this.
I called my gynecology office and spoke with the receptionist about scheduling an appointment for tying my tubes. She gave me a list of days and times that would work for me to come in for a consultation but then interrupted herself and asked, "Do you already have children?" "No, I don't want children." I responded. "And how old are you?" She asked. "I'm 33 years old." I answered. "The doctor will only do this procedure if you have at least three children already." I kept my polite composure as I responded, "I understand the precaution the doctor wants to take with this and I will sign as many forms of consent as I need in order for her to know I won't sue if I change my mind." "Well, she doesn't think it's ethical to perform this kind of a procedure for someone as young as you." "Oh but she thinks it's ethical to tell a person what they can and can't do with their own body?" I snapped back. After a slight pause in her voice, the receptionist said, "She isn't going to do this for you, the appointment will waste your time." Accepting defeat with doctor number one I said, "Ok, thank you for your time. I will find another doctor who will do the procedure for me." Expecting to hear the receptionist say, "Have a nice day" instead she said, "You won't find another doctor who will do this for you." I knew she was wrong. I'm having this procedure done. This is my body and this is my choice.
I went on the internet and searched for doctors who perform the procedure and found a gynecologist, Dr. Peters, located in a nearby city. I called her office. The receptionist answered and I began the same spiel as before. I said I was 33 years old, do not want children and will sign consent forms to have this procedure done. Without skipping a beat she assured me that Dr. Peters is happy to do this for anyone who doesn’t want children whether they already have children or not and she found a time for my consultation quickly. Now this is how I and everyone deserve to be treated regarding this procedure.
On the day of my consolation, I met Dr. Peters and had a wonderful conversation with her about my decision not to have children. She did the right thing about giving me all of my options regarding birth control and after speaking about everything I told her that I still want the procedure done. Of course she was happy to do it for me. I told her about how irate I was that my current gynecologist refused to do the procedure for me and she couldn’t help but ask, “Who is your doctor?” I said, “Dr. Kroll” and she laughed. “Really? She wouldn’t do it? That’s strange.” She said. This was the day Dr. Peter’s became my new gynecologist.
I’m really exhausted by society beating it into women and young girls that they need to have children in their life. We don’t. Children are wonderful but only for those who chose to have them. It’s my human right to choose what can and cannot be done to my body. Any person who thinks that they can dictate choice for another human's body is a perpetrator. American society is drenched in misogyny and male dominance. Our health care system reflects this beautifully. Doctors, health care providers and insurance companies make it difficult for women to take control of their reproductive rights and this disgusts me. This is one of the most important changes that needs to occur in order to obtain full equity and equality for both men and women in the United States.
I fear that President Trump will be elected for another term. With the vanishing of abortion centers happening at a rapid rate throughout the US, I have zero faith in the integrity of this country. This is one of the greatest reasons I was in such a hurry to have my tubes removed. People say, “But you live in California, you’re safe.” I do feel a sense of safety regarding my reproductive rights - my human rights - but I remind myself of the Republican who ran against Governor Newsom in 2018. I can’t remember his name anymore, which I’m thankful for, but I remember one of his more dominant advocacies was to legally punish women for having an abortion if they are raped. What if he had won? Tragedy. That’s what would have happened.
This is why I wrote this piece. To tell women that they do have the option to tie or remove their tubes. It is covered by some insurance companies and if this is an option you’d like to have then I urge you to look into it. It doesn’t change the hormonal balance of your body, the procedure takes an hour, the healing process is really quick and easy. I was back at work by Monday and haven’t had any trouble since I had the procedure done. I don’t have to take birth control hormones anymore which means I don’t have to deal with migraines and extreme side effects ever again. Don’t let society tell you that you want children, that you’re going to change your mind someday, that you will want children when you meet ‘the one’ and don’t let people make you feel like there’s something wrong with you if you don’t want to have your own children. There’s nothing wrong with knowing who you are. America does a really good job at telling women we’re wrong and crazy for how we think. It’s quite the contrary. Let us not forget this.