Having Kids – Is it what I want?
I love kids. I always have. If you had asked me at 20 about family plans, my energetic self would have told you with a big grin, YES! 2 kids were what I had planned, and soon! I wanted to be a young mom. Not too young, but mid 20's seemed about right. The trick was finding a willing and able baby-daddy. I was busy having a great time, going out, making friends, traveling around and being footloose and free. There was no real urgency to settle down, I had lots of time…
In the blink of an eye, some boy had convinced me to settle down a little, and spend my weekends watching sports and cooking at home. Sounds like my mama goals would be achieved right? Well, he wasn't into the idea of having kids, not then, and really not ever. So I poured all my mothering energy into him, my co-workers and customers.
When things ended with him, I was all alone and had no idea what path my life should take. Now in my early 30's I considered having a baby alone. I read mom blogs and researched donor options. I made dozens of pro and con lists. The work of a single mother is outrageous, and that paired with the feeling like I didn't really know myself I crossed off to be a single mother from my job possibilities. If I was going to mom it up, I wanted a partner in parenting.
In my early 30's there was still a pretty good chance I could meet someone online dating, fall in love, start a family and live happily ever after. Right? I mean all my single friends were encouraging, and all my married friend assured me “don't worry it will happen for you” (which is the basis for a whole other rant/ blog post for sure). I mean I'm probably not as energetic and bold as my 20's but I was still fertile? It meant getting off my half a couch and meeting people, but I could dust off my sparkling personality and push up bra and trick someone into starting a relationship?
My Body Stopped Cooperating – Stupid Hormones!
I was tired all the time, my hair started falling out, I couldn't lose weight and I wanted to cry constantly. I crashed. My adrenals were depleted, I was exhausted but I couldn't sleep, I had done a variety of diets and exercise programs with no success shaking my ever increasing weight. My doctor wanted to put me on anti-depressants and call it a day. I went off hormone birth control pills and ran to my naturopath. There was something wrong. I started my plight to balance my hormones and figure out what was wrong. I felt crazy, and like it was all in my head. Was I imagining all these problems? I took hormone spit tests, tested cortisol levels and started trying to decipher all the results, I started asking my mother questions- I knew she had suffered numerous miscarriages between me and my brother, and that her labors with both us kids were fast and messy. I learned about my maternal grandmother, who also had a hard time carrying a pregnancy and had had progesterone shots in the 50's to try keeping pregnancies. My grandparents tried for 10 years before they had a baby. My paternal grandmother had also had numerous miscarriages and RH factor babies. Maybe my body wouldn't cooperate with my desire to be a mother? I was already so tired just taking care of myself, could I handle a family?
It took 3 years of testing and appointments to figure out I had Hashimotos Disease. Hashimoto's can make getting pregnant and staying pregnant a challenge, and pregnancy hormones can cause a Hashimoto's flare in some people. Would a motherhood plan be in my best interests health-wise? Now I'm 37. Do I risk my health and change my life to be a mother? Is that something my body will cooperate with? Will I be suffering heartbreak and miscarriages twice a year, like my mother did? Would my body revolt and leave me bedridden? And there is the small detail that I haven't found and secured a suitable father figure for my imaginary baby. Do I want to change my life completely? I wanted to heal my body, stop taking synthetic hormones. I decided to make the decision about my personal reproduction.
Permanent Birth Control – Tubal Ligation
I asked my GP about a tubal ligation. This wasn't the first time I had mentioned it. The response previously had always been “No… you are too young.” This time she looked at me with my fresh Hashimoto's diagnosis, general tiredness, and my crazy high blood pressure and said “sure… where would you like to be referred?” We decided my community would be most convenient, and she sent in the paperwork. 4-6 weeks for the consultation with the gyno, and 2-6 month for the procedure from there. That was on Feb 24th. It was exactly 2 months from then it was all done.
It all happened at breakneck speed, March and April were appointments and consultations, blood tests and research. I saw an energy healer, therapist and my naturopath. I read other accounts on the internet, asked friends and family that had had it done, I had a long deep discussion about it with my parents. If nothing else I like to be informed, and this was a major life decision. I got a little anxious as the date loomed closer. I had never had surgery. Shit was going down at work, and my date was pushed back a week. The date change meant part of my support team was going to be away.
I got up early on the day of my procedure and went to work. Just a couple odds and ends to tie up (haha”tie up”) before I would be working from home. I had planned on a week away and had a list of things I could work on from home. And of course, the website has a never ending list of things I can do! I was anxious but excited. I had my house clean, some meals made, laundry done, I had bandages and pain relievers, “granny panties” and all the things anyone said I might need after surgery. I was ready! I made friends with my nurses and doctor's- it seems like the majority of people in surgery are not having the best time. The last thing I said to my OR team as they put me under was “I'm going to leave you a great review on Yelp!”
I woke up in another room and my throat was searing. I wanted water. The person in the bed beside me was crying. Sobbing. I was foggy, but not really in pain. I chatted with my recovery room nurse- turns out we had a mutual friend. I have no idea how long I was in there but it seemed fairly quickly they were wheeling me down to the visitor area. Raj was waiting for me, I think with the hope of drugged musings. But jokes on him, I ALWAYS have witty remarks, I don't need anesthesia.
I visited with the staff for a bit, they have a bunch of things you have to do before you can leave, and I managed to check them off the list. I felt sore and a little out of it, but the worst of the pain was my throat from the breathing tube. I was going to be fine, a week was maybe too long to take off! But I was bold and stupid about my recovery. That night I went to bed as normal, and woke up- I didn't feel bad. Sore and slow but the pain was manageable with ibuprofen. After 20 ish hours, I was alone for a couple hours. I could handle it. I walked around my apartment and 10 minutes to a local restaurant for dinner. I was decidedly sore but I thought I would be okay.
3 days after the surgery it hit me. HARD. In addition to the surgery to remove my fallopian tubes, I was getting my period. The first period after going off hormonal birth control. This first cycle after stopping the pill is always especially vicious for me. I spent the day on my couch trying to sleep and crying. I got up and walked for 20 minutes, getting home and crawling into bed. I slept, and cried and slept curled up in the fetal position. I was in so much pain I couldn't get out of bed for anything. I had the worst menstrual cramps I had had since being a teenager, but the difference was as a teenager my mom was there. One of the stipulations of my surgery was that I couldn't put anything in my vagina for a couple of weeks after the surgery. Normally it wouldn't be a big deal, I mean, I don't really use it to store things, but having my period and not putting anything in my vagina meant no Diva Cup. No tampons. Great. I had planned knowing I would need pads, and found unbleached, unscented organic and plastic free pads. I had even bought super soft high-waisted underwear (super NOT sexy) for the inevitable pad situation.
It was like my uterus knew it was its last fertile cycle, and it was angry. I was a bloody mess, physically, emotionally and actually. My first shower after 48 hours I stepped out gingerly and have never been so thankful for dark towels and a bath mat, There was mystery blood running down my leg, and I wasn't sure if it was from my incisions or… yeah. Lovely right? I shuffled around my apartment dragging my navy towel like a security blanket in one hand and a box of tissues in the other.
I have found in the past, they first cycle off birth control is especially nasty, and this was a good example of plain old bad timing. I will delve more into my experience in part 2!