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.
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.
Don't forget to follow The Life Jolie on Pinterest for more parenting tips!