VasecTimy: Why We Need a Permanent Option

Condom

VasecTimy: Why We Need a Permanent Option

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Now that we’ve arrived at t-minus two days until Tim’s vasectomy (and he has PROMISED me a guest post, so let’s all hold him to it!), I thought I’d share a bit about why he and I have chosen a permanent birth control option.

The really short version of this story is that it’s just about our only birth control option left. But the longer version begins with one simple statement:

I am birth control challenged.

That’s right. Birth control challenged. As in, just about every birth control option available to us is not an option at all. (And YES, people, I’m going to get to the miraculous wonders of Natural Family Planning in just a second.)

“But, but..!” you say. “What about this amazing option?!”

Nope. Not that option. Not that one either. And nope! Not that one.

But why not the pill (or another hormone-based birth control)?

Two reasons.

1. I was on the pill for most of my late teens and early twenties, and I don’t want to infuse my body with all those hormones anymore. Now, please note that this is radically different from suggesting that hormone-based birth control pills are inherently evil or dangerous. They’re not. I even think that they were the absolute best birth control option for me when I used them. On the other hand, they aren’t without risks either. And I’m simply not willing to take on those risks, or to compound them with continued use, any longer.

2. I’m still breastfeeding, and the last time I took the birth control pill that was compatible with breastfeeding, it led to some pretty severe emotional consequences. In fact, stopping the pill helped me to recover from postpartum depression after Miles was born. I’m definitely not willing to compromise my mental and emotional health like that again.

But why not a diaphragm?

You need to use spermicide with a diaphragm, and after Alec was born, I broke out into a rash all up and down my legs whenever Tim and I used spermicide.

Do you know what kills the mood really fast?

An itchy rash running up and down your legs, that’s what.

condom

image credit robertelyov on flickr, used under a creative commons 2.0 license

But why not a condom?

I have a latex sensitivity. And by “sensitivity,” I mean that when Tim and I were using condoms after Alec (our second child) was born, the pain would take my breath away. It wasn’t a friction sort of pain: in other words, needing more lube wasn’t the problem. (Hello, Internet. Welcome to Kristen’s Overshare Café.) It was the same sort of pain that I developed soon afterward when I put on a pair of latex gloves and felt an awful burning sensation on my skin.

EXCEPT WITH A CONDOM, I FELT IT IN MY VAGINA.

Latex allergies and sensitivities aren’t all that uncommon either, especially for someone like me who spent a couple years working in a profession where I wore latex gloves many times during the day. (During high school, I worked at an orthodontist’s office and cleaned all of the instruments each afternoon. Fun/gross/interesting, right?)

So…yeah. No latex condoms (or gloves) in our house.

Or in my vagina.

But why not an IUD?

Allow me to be clear: I know many, many people who love their IUDs. I don’t doubt this love, nor do I doubt that an IUD could have been a great option for me. But what happened with the IUD I chose to try after Miles was born was both highly unusual (think a 1 out of 1000 chance of occurring) and terribly traumatic for me.

Right before the IUD insertion, I told my physician that I had an extremely high pain tolerance but a rather low threshold for discomfort. In other words, I didn’t think that I’d need a local anesthetic for the insertion, but I wasn’t opposed to using it if the experience became too intense for me. And I meant this in all sincerity: it is, I think, a truthful self-evaluation.

Yet very shortly into the procedure, I was begging for the drugs. I wasn’t even using narcotic pain medication two days after my cesarean section, I never once asked for an epidural during my vaginal births, and here I was begging my doctor for drugs–something, anything to take away the pain.

Once he was finished, I asked if I could lie on the table for a few seconds to gather myself. When I later I stood up, I felt woozy and nearly fell into the chair in front of me. I asked if that was normal, and the most I got was a condescending smile and a nod. (Sometimes I wonder if they were thinking, “Oh, a high pain tolerance, hmm?!”)

And then once I arrived home, I literally crawled from my car to the front door.

Something wasn’t right.

I called my parents (a nurse and a doctor), and they suggested that I call my OB/GYN’s office to let them know how much pain I was in. And so I did. I even let the nurse on the line know that I thought I might be bleeding a bit more than I was supposed to.

She suggested that I take a Motrin and report back if there were any “real problems.”

The next morning, I was still in pain. I could feel that something wasn’t right. And by mid-morning, I was feeling spasms in my bladder.

The nurse the day before had told me that my urine levels looked like I might be close to getting a urinary tract infection, so all I needed to do was call the office if I experienced any physical symptoms over the weekend and they would call in a prescription for me.

And so I did. I described my pain and the rest of my symptoms too. And I began my antibiotics later that afternoon.

By Sunday, I was still in pain, except now the location of the pain was a bit different. My parents were both concerned, and my father was especially concerned, calling to check on me just about every two hours.

This, I knew, meant that something could be serious. My siblings and I have always joked that my dad (who’s seen his fair share of real emergencies in the ER) would tell us to “quit our whining and take a Tylenol” if we were on our death beds. But my condition was worrisome enought to warrant some major concern on his part.

So I called the office again. I explained my concerns again. I described the location and sensation of my pain again.

And I started to feel more like a pest than a patient when the nurse on the line brushed off my concerns yet again.

The next day–Monday–I left to teach one of my Intro to Ethics sections at the local university. My first course of business was to go over a recent quiz that they had taken. But as I looked at the quiz key, I realized that I couldn’t figure out how to decipher it–the pain, the wooziness, all that I was feeling made it nearly impossible for me to read a simple mutiple choice quiz key.

So I looked at my students, told them that class was canceled, and asked one of them to walk me to my car.

By the time I got home, I was feeling pain whenever I sat down.

At this point, when I made my fourth call to the office and described the location of this pain, they finally asked me to come in for an evaluation.

As the sonographer rolled the transducer over my abdomen, she tried to mask her look of shock as she walked out the door to get the OB/GYN who was in the office that day. When the doctor arrived in the room, she too looked at the ultrasound with barely-masked concern. She didn’t even explain to me what was wrong before she asked me to put my clothes on and follow her into my office.

As far as they could tell, the IUD had perforated my uterus during insertion. What’s more, it had migrated entirely outside of my uterus and, from what I was describing, was likely lodged in between my bowels and my uterus.

The next day, I underwent a laparoscopy to have the IUD removed. It would be an understatement to say that the two OB/GYNs present for the surgery were relieved to see that the IUD had caused no other damage to my internal organs besides the tiny perforation through my barely-healed cesarean scar. (I’m sure they were also relieved that I am not the litigious type.)

And I learned two valuable lessons from this experience:

1) Never underestimate the value of a care provider who truly listens to you.

2) Although this complication had an exceedingly small rate of occurrence, it was enough to loom so large for me that there is no way ever, ever, ever that I could choose an IUD again.

But why not Natural Family Planning?

What do you think we’ve used to prevent pregnancy for the past four years?! (And no, this is NOT the rhythm method. We’d have ten babies by now if we were relying on that notoriously unreliable method. We rely more on a quasi-fertility awareness method.)

Look, I love charting and being in tune with my body and “taking control of my fertility” just as much as the next NFP-lover. (And yep–using NFP helped me to be so in tune with my body that we got pregnant very easily these past two times!)

But I’m not gonna risk an “oops.” An “oops” would have been okay before Eric. We knew we wanted another baby before Eric was born. And even if, for some bizarre reason, I was to get pregnant between now and Friday (or now and that moment when Tim’s swimmers are really, truly, finally not swimmin’ anymore), it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

But to get pregnant two years from now? Five years from now? Ten years from now, when we’re almost “home free”?

HELLS TO THE NO. Capital “N”, capital “O,” with a cherry on top. NO.

But what about getting your tubes tied?

Ha! Get my tubes tied? Oh no no no no no. Tim can take one for the team this time. My ladyparts are done with the baby-making–and anti-baby-making–thankyouverymuch.

So vasectomy it is.

And that’s the whole story.



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17 Comments

  1. Gina Crosley-Corcoran
    Gina Crosley-Corcoran01-10-2013

    My reason: It's about damn time HE takes one for the team. My body has been through ENOUGH.

  2. Celia
    Celia01-09-2013

    I know it’s not a permanent solution, but I thought it might help other readers to mention polyurethane condoms. They are less allergenic than latex condoms and have some other advantages, too (no odour, can be used with oil-based lubricants, etc.).

    • BirthingBeautifulIdeas
      BirthingBeautifulIdeas01-10-2013

      Thank you so much for mentioning this option, Celia! I’ve never tried them before (nor have I ever tried lambskin condoms). And I won’t after tomorrow (yay!). But I’m sure that this will be helpful for other readers.

  3. Molly
    Molly01-10-2013

    Gosh. You have so many reason, it makes me feel we’re being quite flip about it :) For us, the logic is more like: I freaking hate how I feel on hormonal birth control; raise your hand if you’re sick of condoms!; anybody want any more pregnancies? no?–yay vasectomy. But we need to wait until we have health insurance again to move forward.

    The ‘tubes tied’ option had never occurred to me. But then I’m squeamish, and Eric isn’t. (Says the woman who birthed her baby in her living room, I know, but that’s not the same as cutting. You should have seen how I carried on after having my wisdom teeth removed.) Isn’t it a much bigger-deal procedure?
    Molly´s last blog post ..book review: Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference

    • BirthingBeautifulIdeas
      BirthingBeautifulIdeas01-10-2013

      Um…have you seen how flip I’ve been about this in most of my posts? :)

      But yeah, from what we’ve researched, getting one’s tubes tied (unless you are already undergoing a planned cesarean section) is indeed more invasive than a vasectomy. I mean, Tim’s vasectomy is a total outpatient procedure that he’s getting done in his doctor’s office! (Not that it will be easy. I’m making him sympathy white chocolate pudding and have ingredients for Dark & Stormys–our favorite cocktails–on hand for the weekend. HA!)

  4. MR
    MR01-10-2013

    I agree with all of the above with one expansion to natural family plannin, for me the time when I am most “in the mood” is when I am nearing ovulation an I hate that with NFP those are the ones we have to abstain. It will be so nice to go with the mood once my hubby finally gets the snip snip.

    • BirthingBeautifulIdeas
      BirthingBeautifulIdeas01-10-2013

      That is a really good point–and yet ANOTHER reason that I’m ready for a more permanent option. (And yet another reason to CELEBRATE a more permanent option. :) )

  5. Tam
    Tam01-10-2013

    I thought I’d heard the worst IUD stories before (embedded IUD, severed uterine ligament etc) but no, you beat them hands-down. I was wincing and shrieking in sympathy while reading your whole post – you poor thing!

  6. QoB
    QoB01-10-2013

    I know it’s not an option for you guys, but like Celia I just wanted to mention it for reference; there is also Essure, which is invasive but not surgery (i.e.: can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic), and slowly blocks the Fallopian tubes over a few months.
    I haven’t had it and don’t know anyone who has, but it is out there as an option for women who want permanent non-hormonal birth control without surgery.

    I hear you on the pill – I’ve been on it off-and-on for about a decade, and while it’s been good to me, I’m starting to feel antsy about the user-error potential and look into a Mirena. Don’t worry that you’ve scared everyone off :)

  7. Rachel
    Rachel01-10-2013

    Thank you for sharing your story, Kristen! OMG, the IUD story is crazy. Is the theory that they inserted it before your scar was fully healed? I’m glad you were ok in the end.

    I may have missed a few posts, but sounds like you guys came to a decision. That’s great. Sending Tim lots of good wishes for tomorrow!

    • BirthingBeautifulIdeas
      BirthingBeautifulIdeas01-11-2013

      That is their theory. (I was only 9 weeks post-op when they inserted the IUD.) And it makes sense too, you know?

  8. psychsarah
    psychsarah01-11-2013

    “Hello, Internet. Welcome to Kristen’s Overshare Café” I love this cafe-it’s such a warm, fun, and non-judgy place to hang out. :)

    • BirthingBeautifulIdeas
      BirthingBeautifulIdeas01-11-2013

      Woot! That’s what I want it to be. ;)

  9. ajira
    ajira01-15-2013

    Yes! Totally relate to every issue- hate hormones, not a fan of condoms in my marriage, terrified of IUDs and even more so after reading your story but… still want more kids so guess we’ll be abstaining until we’re ready. :( Boohoo.
    ajira´s last blog post ..I love this stuff – link list

  10. korta.nu
    korta.nu12-20-2013

    We’re gonna go out today we’ve got some people from out of town yesterday.

    At this time of year to be fishing on the lake I will roll them into nice little balls and put them
    on my hook. The Scottish government said it was” not something he’s turned his focus to yet. It is best to do angler quilting tool it. Freshwater Fish Identification is another technique used by anglers. If possible strap the boat down to the next run and lines are set out again.
    korta.nu´s last blog post ..korta.nu

  11. Max
    Max12-01-2014

    You’ve got a great husband to be willing to go through with the procedure. For couples that have all the children they want already it is probably the most logical method of birth-control. But still, I think a lot of guys would never even consider it an option.
    Max´s last blog post ..Review of Sagami Original 002 Large Non-Latex Condoms

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