Monday, August 31, 2015
Permanent: Birth control, decisions, disability
Last week I finally had a procedure for permanent birth control. I wanted to write a post about it because it has been something I’ve been wanting for a very long time and has colored my view of my sexuality for many years.
First off, regular readers of my blog will know I was born with a birth defect, Lipomyelomeningocele, and I live with a visible physical disability. My health has been a central reason for not wanting to physically have a baby. I have had 15 surgeries just to be able to live, I have had numerous kidney and bladder surgeries. I am over 20 pounds underweight, as my nerve damage prevents me from properly digesting. I refuse to subject a baby to that kind of risk.
On top of my health, I do not want to have a child for other reasons as well. A family, in the traditional sense, is not something I desire or need out of life. Many people assume that my physical condition is the sole reason I would not want a child and they act perplexed as to why I, as a woman, am not fighting with everything I have to have a baby, physical risks be damned. I know there are women like this, but I am not one of them. Yes, my physical body prevents me from risking pregnancy, but I also do not plan to adopt or have children through a surrogate. I simply do not want kids.
There’s a whole mess of social and neo-political issues I’ve dealt with on my journey with birth control. Disability history is rife with horrible instances of forced sterilizations, or fears that disabled parents will produce disabled children. There has been a policing of disabled bodies and in a way I’m made to feel like I should be ashamed for acknowledging that my body poses a risk when it comes to pregnancy. That I should be ashamed that as a woman my top priority in life is not to have a family. To feel ashamed that I’m pursuing a permanent birth control procedure with absolutely zero ambition to adopt a child. To feel ashamed that my decision to pursue permanent birth control at such an early age is, somehow, selfish.
Some ask how my husband feels about this, and he feels the same way: he doesn’t want children. I don’t think we would be married if he wasn’t on the same page as me concerning such a life-impacting philosophy as to whether or not to have children.
Regardless of all this, I’ve been inquiring about permanent forms of birth control from doctors since I was 21. I am now 27. I was told that I was too young, that I shouldn’t risk another surgery when other options were available, and that though risky, there was a possibility that I might be able to carry a pregnancy to term so I shouldn’t act so soon to have a permanent procedure.
I used condoms for a very short time. I’m allergic to latex and so I used polyurethane condoms. But I was constantly worried using them, psychologically more than anything. I wanted something more reliable. I started the pill, but the estrogen triggered my migraines. (Some women report their migraines get better on the pill, this is not a scare tactic, just my personal experience). I was put on a low-dose version but my headaches continued to be much worse. I started getting the Depo Provera shot and it worked for me very well. My migraines decreased and I had no ill side-effects. But I ended up being on the shot for many years. My doctor didn’t want me on it for more than another year. I needed a reliable, hormone-free option. I asked for a referral to a specialist to seek a permanent solution.
I was referred to three (yes, three) physicians in the CHI network that I had to cancel the appointments because I called, or they called me, and I found they “don’t do sterilizations.” I ended up making my own appointment at a women’s clinic after doing my own research and finding a place that offered surgical procedures and the non-surgical Essure procedure for permanent birth control.
I finally found what I was looking for. The staff and medical team were professional, evaluated my needs, listened to my concerns, and answered all my questions. I ended up having the Essure procedure done last week.
There’s plenty of propaganda and bad press lolling about on the internet regarding the procedure, but after talking with my doctor and doing my own research I am confident in my decision. You can learn more about the Essure procedure here.
A nice plus was that my insurance covered the procedure. I am fortunate to currently have a full time job that provides health insurance, but paying off another surgery would have been devastating to my progress in life at this time. I have nothing but gratitude that this procedure was available for me.
I will return to the doctor in three months for a dye test to make sure my tubes are blocked and then I can stop using the shot and transition back to a life without hormonal birth control, and regular periods. I am relieved knowing I will be able to do this at a younger age and be able to keep a better eye on my body as I approach menopause, as I don’t know how my disability might impact that, if at all.
I am beyond happy that I have been able to get this procedure. I do not take for granted the fact that I had the ability and right to make this decision, go to a clinic and receive the care I needed. I am a woman with my own unique needs and I know there are plenty of people out there who think I should not have had this procedure. That I should not have been able to make this decision.
But I have.
It is the best thing for my body, mind, and life.
I will continue to advocate for women’s rights to access healthcare and birth control, and to have as many options as possible.