When I was 17, my health teacher passed around a piece of paper with circles on it. Those circles, she explained, were the dilations a woman’s vagina expands to during childbirth. I saw the 10-centimeter circle and mentally excused myself from the motherhood table.
Obviously it wasn’t just the thought of childbirth that led me to where I am now. My reasons for being childfree are varied and too numerous to list here. My husband doesn’t want children either and we have been discussing not having kids since our second month of dating seven years ago.
Our families are aware of our decision and their reactions have varied. Some family members are in complete denial and make offhanded comments about us "continuing the family line" while others have accepted it without hesitation.
I get why people have kids -- I do. But those reasons don't apply to me. I'll arrange (pay) for someone to care for me when I'm old. I have plenty of unconditional love in my life. I have many people and animals to take care of and nurture. I don't feel the need to spread my crappy genes. I’m fulfilled and I love my life exactly as it is.
Children deserve to be wanted and nobody should be pressured into procreating with the promise of "It's different when they're your own!" And yet people continually confront me with a litany of rude questions and accusations.
"You'll change your mind" is the most frequent utterance and it gets under my skin because 95 percent of the people saying it don't know me nearly well enough to predict what I will or won’t do.
Another comment I get all the time absolutely infuriates me: "What does your husband think about all of this?" The tone is typically a patronizing one, as if they're asking me what my husband thinks about me frittering my money away on shoes.
But it's the implication that I made the decision on my own -- without ever once discussing it with him -- that really gets me fired up. I made the decision to never be pregnant because it's my body. However, our decision to not have any children is a collaborative one that my husband has equal say in. He’s on board. Hell, he reminds me to take my birth control.
Recently, we got the opportunity to make our decision physically permanent. Myriad gynecological issues have forced me to be on hormonal birth control for the past 11 years. In that timespan, I’ve been on at least 15 different Pills, switching when they stopped alleviating my symptoms or when they started to cause serious side effects.
This past year, my side effects became unbearable, so I went to my doctor and pleaded for something non-hormonal and permanent. I’ve built a good relationship with my doctor over the years and am lucky that he was amenable to performing the procedure on an under-30 nullipara. Many women in my situation aren’t so fortunate.
Adiana is a procedure where the doctor places a silicone insert into each of your fallopian tubes and delivers a mild electrical shock to them in order to stimulate scar tissue growth. The scar tissue eventually blocks the fallopian tubes completely, thereby sterilizing you. After researching the procedure and discussing it with my husband, we decided it was right for us and I made an appointment to have it done.
I didn't tell anyone I was having it done for fear of jinxing myself. Much like I don't tell people I've gotten a new job until after I've signed a contract -- I didn't want to tell people and then have the surgery get canceled due to a scheduling mix-up or my doctor being pulled into an emergency call.
In the weeks leading up to the procedure, I pored over articles online and got myself sufficiently freaked out because the official Adiana website said that women were typically only given local anesthesia and were awake as the doctor placed the inserts. The prospect of having anesthesia injected into my cervix and trying to lie still as the doctor put a hysteroscope up through my uterus and into my fallopian tubes terrified me. Fortunately for me, my gynecologist isn't a sadist; I learned I would be put under general anesthesia right there in the office.
Despite my anxiety, I never second-guessed myself. I knew I was making the right decision.
When I was finally in the ambulatory care room, I met the anesthesiologist and we went through a long list of conditions I don’t have. As he opened the valve on the anesthesia he asked, “So how many kids do you have?” to which I replied “None.”
The nurse repeated it back to me, sounding confused. “None?”
I responded with my most socially acceptable answer of “My husband and I have a lot of genetic diseases between us that we don’t want to pass on.” While that’s true, it’s not the whole story. I’ve found that “We just don’t want kids” isn’t enough for most people.
Frequently I get pressured into listing at least three or four reasons before they stop providing me with "solutions" to my reasons. E.g., "But you'd be a great mom!" Thank you. I'd be a great interior decorator, too, but I don't have the desire to do so.
As the anesthesia kicked in I found myself feeling excited, nervous, and a little mournful. While it was exactly what I wanted and I was ready; it wasn’t lost on me that I was permanently closing a door to myself.
The next thing I knew I was coming out of the anesthesia. The nurse led me to the recovery room -- where I flopped down and took advantage of a nearby heating pad. The cramping wasn’t bad -- it was about the same as my typical period cramps. After a nap, I felt good enough to let my husband take me out for a celebratory dinner.
In three months, I’ll undergo an X-ray test to determine whether or not I’m sterile. If not, I have to wait another three months for more scar tissue to build up and then take the test again. Once sterile, I can free myself from hormonal birth control and its side effects forever. I'm really excited to shed the emotional, sexual, and physical issues that have weighed me down for the last 11 years.
I’m extremely pleased with the procedure and would do it again in a heartbeat. I've only told a few friends and select family members about my Adiana. Not because of fear or shame or guilt, but because I don't want certain folks to view it as a topic that’s open for debate.
For reasons beyond my comprehension, there are some people who have taken it personally that my husband and I aren't having children -- as if we’re denying them the babies they feel entitled to. I wish everyone would treat me and my husband like adults who know their own minds. But I can’t change the opinions of others. I can, however, live happily knowing my husband and I made the right decision for us.