What they don’t tell you about getting a Tubal Ligation

This is the post I’ve been afraid to write. It’s very personal and to be honest I’m a little bit terrified to put it all out there. But I’m going to do it. So please bear with me and try to be kind.

I got a tubal ligation after my last pregnancy. I had to put together this post to share some truths that I learned from it. Here's some information about my experience with getting my tubes tied.

A little more than two weeks ago I got a Tubal Ligation. More specifically, I had my Fallopian tubes removed. This is something we had been talking about for a very long time. Justin and I agreed that two was the absolute right number of children for a variety of reasons. Sure, we love babies. Especially our babies. But we both strongly feel that two is the right number of children for our overall family unit.

When I was pregnant with T, I spoke with my doctor about our options. The original conversation was about J getting a vasectomy, which tends to be a bit easier and less invasive. But I have ovarian cancer in my family. When my doctor informed me that they’ve found certain forms of ovarian cancer can originate in the Fallopian tubes, it became clear that having my tubes removed was going to be the best course of action (you’ll note, she didn’t take anything else, so I’m not having early menopause or anything like that).

After T was born, I went ahead and scheduled my surgery. Originally it was for the beginning of June, right before my return to work, but was moved to mid-July due to a scheduling snafu. Life got busy and I pushed all thoughts of surgery out of my head. But as the date got closer and closer my anxiety started running high.

Anxiety is nothing new to me. I’ve struggled with is since I was a kid but have been able to keep it under control without medication for a long time. Some days can be harder than others but I get through it and continue to move forward.

In the days right before my surgery, I felt at though things were moving way too fast. I figured this was entirely due to my fear of surgery particularly the anesthesia. I had never been under and I was certain I was probably going to die. And yes, I realize how irrational that is.

On the day of the surgery, I said goodbye to my girls and headed in with J and my parents in the waiting room. The hospital staff was so kind to me. I was on edge and extremely emotional and scared. But I got through it. I was a bit groggy, swollen and sore after but not horrible. The first couple days were not great physically, but not nearly as bad as I had expected.

What I wasn’t expecting was freight train of emotions that basically ran me over and that I am still grappling with. I realize now that I was so focused on the anxiety about the actual procedure that I really didn’t give myself a chance to process massive change I was about to undergo.

Now please don’t misunderstand. I still feel extremely confident that we don’t want another child. And that might just be the weirdest thing of all; simultaneously feeling like I made the very best possible decision, yet still being sad about it. It’s so odd and hard to explain but I’ll try my best.

Part of it is the finality of it all. A friend of mine put it best when she told me “there’s a difference between can’t and won’t.” I’ve been told by several other women who’ve had this done that each of them also felt a little sad. In each case they also knew that they absolutely didn’t want to have more children. But even if you’re 110% dead set on not having anymore kids, it is still a lot to try and wrap your head around the finality of it all.

I do wonder if it might have been easier if J had been the one to have the procedure. I can’t be sure. Is it weird that I feel as though something is missing (I mean something literally is missing, but still…)? I went from being completely full five months ago to being empty. And I know I’m not empty, but it in my rare, most melodramatic moments it sometimes feels that way.

I’m rational enough to recognize that I’m still firmly entrenched in the postpartum time. Although postpartum has been much easier this time around, my hormones are still all over the place. I can’t help but wonder if this would have been easier from a psychological standpoint if I had waited until my hormones had evened out a bit. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s my only real regret with this; not waiting until I was over the postpartum hump. I actually feel kind of stupid for not considering that when scheduling my surgery.

It also doesn’t help that for at least a week I was barely able to lift Tess. I even needed help nursing. That killed me. It’s almost as though this procedure magnified the fact that this season of life is fleeting. It’s going by at lightning speed. Tess is already rolling around and grabbing things with her hands. She barely fits into her three month clothes and I know that if I blink she’ll suddenly be smashing cake at her first birthday. Don’t even get me started on Miss-Independent-Alice.

The truth is, as difficult and hard as the pregnancy and infant phase can be, this has been such a special time in our life. I cherish the memories of my pregnancies so deeply in my heart and my soul. Labor was no fun and quite painful, but both of my labors and deliveries were such incredible experiences and were so deeply personal to Justin and I.

And that is where I think the sadness comes from. The knowledge that we are closing the chapter on this profoundly special time in our life. From the moment that doctor in Sacramento told me I was pregnant, our life and our family dynamic changed completely in ways I could never have imagined. We have experienced love like never before. Every day I am astounded by how much love my heart can hold. It’s so full already and yet there continues to grow more and more.

Now that the pre-op anxiety has passed, I have finally been able to sit down and begin sorting through this tremendous mix of emotions bubbling up inside of me. The weight of the finality serves as a harsh reminder that someday, sooner than later, my sweet babies won’t want me to hold them anymore. At least not like I do now.

Even though I never want to go through a pregnancy again, the idea that I’ll never get to feel those sweet baby kicks is a bit of a bummer. And the knowledge that I’ll never again get to experience those delicious newborn snuggles with my own sweet babies makes me a little nostalgic for the hazy exhaustion of those first days home from the hospital.

I had one really rough night where I just let it all out. My poor, loving husband must have thought I was nuts. But because he loves me, he tried his very best to understand something that is impossible to comprehend until you’ve lived it. He held me and kissed me and told me that I’m not crazy (at least not in regards to this situation!)

And now here I am a couple weeks later. After that rough night, I’ve been doing pretty well. I still have my nostalgic moments where I get a little misty. I definitely miss my girls during the day while I work, even more than usual. But the sadness gets a bit less each day and I continue to give myself the grace to grieve the end of this special time.

What doesn’t get less is knowing in my heart that through the downs of it all, I’m still really happy that I got it done. The times when things get crazy and J and I are able to divide and conquer serve as a reminder that two is a really great number for us. Or when T is congested and wakes at 3am, I can enjoy those late night snuggles while rejoicing in the fact that I won’t always have the sleepless nights that come with a young infant.

Most importantly, the smiles on my girls faces and their sweet giggles serve as an important reminder that although this precious super-early parenting chapter is coming to a close, we have so many chapters ahead of us. I know in my heart they will be filled with even more joy and laughter. And when I think of that, I can’t help but be excited to move forward with our life as a family of four while still treasuring the precious moments that have been given to us in the past.

I also wrote a three part series about my experience getting a tubal ligation about what to expect before the surgery, on the surgery day, and in recovery. Check them out to learn about the process from a physical and logistical standpoint.

You can read all of my parenting related posts here.

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  • Reply
    July 28, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    “there’s a difference between can’t and won’t.”
    So so true.
    I remember being home with my newborn baby, after a traumatic birth experience, and a c-section, where they tied my tubes at the same time. That profound sadness, despite knowing that we were “done” is SO hard to explain.

    Thank you for posting this. Seriously.

    • Reply
      August 1, 2016 at 11:34 am

      Yes, she really put it perfectly with that phrase! I can’t begin to imagine how it must have felt for you having to recover from so much and grapple with the hormones and emotions. My heart is with you!

  • Reply
    July 28, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    This is such a great post. Parenting is full of conflicting emotions. It breaks my heart to think of never getting to hold another newborn of my own, and I’m still in it! But they grow so fast. I can’t imagine going through that on top of post partum hormones. You are doing great and will be able to enjoy so many wonderful times with your beautiful girls!
    Alyssa recently posted…Once I was a runnerMy Profile

    • Reply
      August 1, 2016 at 11:33 am

      Thank you! It sure is full of emotions. I’m not sure I’ll ever be prepared for all of them. <3 enjoy those sweet snuggles!

  • Reply
    Sarah @ My Joy-Filled Life
    July 29, 2016 at 12:24 am

    Thank you for writing this and thank you for being real and honest. I’m 38 weeks pregnant and we have decided that this baby will be our last one. I’ve debated on getting my tubes tied when I have the baby, or waiting a bit. I have suffered from post partum depression in the past and I’m worried that getting my tubes tied right after the birth will only make things worse. After readying your post, I’m thinking it will be wise to wait. In the meantime, as we await our little one, I’m trying to enjoy these last moments of pregnancy as much as I can.

    • Reply
      August 1, 2016 at 11:30 am

      Thank you for the kind words- I was terrified but I had to share my heart. I’m no expert but I encourage you to wait and give your hormones a chance to calm down a bit. I have a friend who waited 5 years and said was still hard. Congrats on your sweet baby- I wish you an easy and healthy delivery (and lots of sweet newborn snuggles!).

  • Reply
    July 29, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Yes, I felt the same way…I believe it is the ‘Mother’ in us that reacts this way……It’s nice to know I was not the only one. I had mine done 36 years ago.

    • Reply
      July 31, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      Hi Linda- I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s a strange thing navigate the insane amount of love feelings that comes along with being a Mother. I wouldn’t trade it for anything but I can be overwhelming at times.

  • Reply
    August 9, 2016 at 9:44 am

    This is such an honest piece, and a great read. “There’s a difference between can’t and won’t” No truer words, honestly.
    I’ve just had my first child, so I’m nowhere near ready to think about something like this, but I think considering the emotional aspect of it is something many women tend to overlook. One of my good friends still feels some sadness over hers nearly 3 years down the road. Thank you so much for sharing your feelings on these because, though many women don’t talk about it, I’m sure it’s something that is very common <3

    • Reply
      August 9, 2016 at 11:11 am

      THank you- It was really hard to write but it’s true: I totally overlooked the emotional side of it all. I still feel good about it and I feel a lot less sad but there’s still that little pang. I think it’s the mother in me. Congrats on your first child 🙂

  • Reply
    Alexandra Howard
    September 8, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Posts like these are so heartbreaking to read. The sadness and mourning of your loss of motherhood is so real. God gave women the amazing inward desire to carry babies and raise children and when we take matters into our own hands and try to control what only God should control, there will be sorrow. You are grieving the loss of a precious gift that God doesn’t grant every woman or every family .
    Alexandra Howard recently posted…Curriculum 2016-2017My Profile

    • Reply
      September 8, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Fortunately, I haven’t lost my motherhood (a fact that my 6 month old and 2 year old will loudly and proudly attest to). As I stated in the post, for me it’s more about grieving the end of a special time and season in our life and welcoming a new season, which is also exciting. I feel blessed to have my sweet girls and very happy with and at peace with my decision from both a personal and Christian standpoint (which is not for any other human to judge or chide).

  • Reply
    September 8, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I would love to know how you’re doing in a few months. Have you ever heard of post tubal ligation syndrome? (PTLS) I have read so much about this, even when women know they don’t want anymore babies.

    • Reply
      September 8, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      Hi Jeanette- I’ve read about it as well. I’m happy to report that I’m doing really well with it (I’m now 2 months post-op). I feel really great about it in general. The first couple weeks had some rough moments but at the same time it’s also been kind of freeing (not having to worry about getting pregnant). I think it’s normal to get nostalgic about little babies, even if you don’t get the surgery and just intend to be done. From a physical standpoint I’ve also been feeling really great. At risk of sharing TMI I am still nursing so I haven’t gotten my period back yet and I’m not sure when to expect it since nursing didn’t work out with my last baby so it came back really quickly that time. I don’t know if that will be different now that I’ve had this surgery, I guess time will tell.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    I needed this. Thank you.

    • Reply
      October 4, 2016 at 10:28 pm

      <3 It does get easier. My Doctor explained it beautifully when she reminded me that it's a big life change. Like any other life change it takes some time to process it.

  • Reply
    Angela J.
    October 25, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    I wish I had read this before deciding to get tubal ligation. This is very true. We go through a “mourning process” no one tells you about this when you are trying to decide to get it done. I had mine done at time of c-section. I have had 2 high risk pregnancies. My husband and I decided to have one more at age 40. I had a very complicated pregnancy. I feel I have lost a piece of me even though I hold my healthy 2 week old baby. Thought I was going crazy, feeling so much regret and emotional pain. With repeated thoughts of “what if`s”. Telling myself this was your last baby, you are not in child bearing she anymore etc. Reading this makes me feel I am not alone. Thank you

    • Reply
      October 25, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. You are definitely not alone. I cannot believe how many people came out of the woodwork with the same feelings. I promise it does get easier, but I still get a little sad here and there. For me, it’s almost as though the finality of not being able to have any more babies made the reality that every first is the last first much more stark (even though, for us, they still would have been last first since we never intended to have more that two whether or not I had the surgery- but I can’t do that whole ignorance is bliss thing since getting pregnant is pretty much a physical impossibility now)). My primary care physician had a great conversation with me- she told me that it’s just a life change and it’s an adjustment- people apparently go through similar transitions when they retire and also when they go through menopause (which she likened to this since at that point they cannot have kids). Hang in there- my heart is with you.

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