Perspectives on (Not) Procreating

I have for years known that I don’t want kids. I have for years whined, moaned, complained, and griped about the injustice of the medical industry, denying the agency of women who want sterilization under the pretense of “oh, you’ll change your mind.” Only for women under a certain age. Because it’s for their own good. Because, y’know, they’ll regret it. And thus, I have for years gone to many a doctor, asked about tubal ligation, and been laughed at (literally), patted on the head (metaphorically), and told that I don’t know what I’m talking about (literally).

Then this magical thing happened. I hit 30. I went to see the doctor yesterday. And I discovered that all the resistance had melted away. 30 is apparently that special the age when women become adults.

The doctor didn’t ask me about why I wanted to be sterile. He didn’t ask if I had a boyfriend or a husband, or what I would do if I changed my mind. He just assumed I knew my mind. This was novel.

I’d say that maybe this isn’t so much a case of age-based discrimination, that maybe I’d just found the right doctor, except… he had that cringing look on his face when he thought I was in my 20s. Except I brought up that I had wanted the procedure for 10 years, and he replied that the resistance was likely because there is such a high rate of patient regret. Except on my way out he made a comment, a joke, about me being 30 meant I was a grown-up now.

Now I’ve done my research. Regret? I’ve seen widely varying numbers, but even the highest (see the section on “Long-Term Complications”) have it only at about 1/4 of patients expressing regret, with the average being closer to 1/10, controlling for all factors.

And the adulthood joke? Harder to interpret. I have to admit, it was well-placed, as jokes go. I’d like to look at it as a comment on how our society views younger folk as kids. In a lot of ways, American culture doesn’t let people grow up until our 30s, anyway. 25? You’re still just a kid. A kid who can legally enter contracts, mind you, but a kid all the same.

I know that when I was 25, I knew my birth control options. I knew oral contraceptives worked my system over in the worst way, and that doctors wouldn’t put an IUD in for me. I knew that Depo Provera was scary being yet another hormonal birth control, and one I wouldn’t be able to discontinue if I had the same problems that presented themselves while taking oral contraceptives. And then there was the fact that no one would believe: that I knew I didn’t ever want kids.

Well, I am finally getting my way. By my next post, I will be well on my way to having occluded fallopian tubes, scar tissue forming blockages due to feathery little inserts in tiny cages in what look like coiled metal springs. Yay, Essure! Yay, technology!

But it feels like a pyrrhic victory. I still had to wait. And wait. All those pregnancy scares, all those horrid hormones placed in my body to finally get to this point. It doesn’t seem fair, especially not when I knew what the outcome would be 10 years ago. I was sure then, too.

5 thoughts on “Perspectives on (Not) Procreating”

  1. 30 does seem to be a magic number. I had a few similar ageist remarks on “adult” topics post-30. In my case, to be fair, I'm just now becoming comfortable enough with myself that I can genuinely choose to do something I want to do without fear of social consequences. I'll take those consequences and move on with life. Apparently, though, 30 is when “most people” become “set in their ways.” Odd how that's when I started changing the most.

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  2. I went for my snip after I hit 30, and they didn't make a fuss.

    When I called in to make the appointment, they guessed that I was calling about vasectomy. When I asked how they knew, they said, “oh, you're the right age for that.”

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  3. Steven, yeah, that age thing is weird. The tacit assumption that there is a “correct” age for that. It deeply bothers me. But now I'm all proceeded upon, and waiting for my body to do the rest of the work. It's a fantastic relief. I've also heard they they make more of a fuss for women than men; many male friends of mine went in for their snip in their early and mid-twenties with no resistance. It seems highly imbalanced. Like the basic assumption is that men somehow are “naturally” averse to having kids. Which is bunk, as we both know. But you and I are alike in knowing what we've always known: we want no babies, thank you very much. ❤

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  4. You know, that's something I've noticed as well, having read your related statements. I've always been a stubborn little thing when it comes to pursuing what I know I need, or the things I deeply want, but lately, I've been a lot less concerned with fitting molds other people place on me and chasing down my own happiness. It's not so much a change in who I am, but a release from a weird little cage in which I'd been placed by an odd mixture of my own and other's expectations. And without that cage… I feel more free to morph and change and sample of and delight in the world around me. I am more me than I've ever been, and at the same time, more ready to change that me. It's neat. And thank you for the congrats!

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