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This is a moderated blog is a project of the Ruth Institute. Have a story to share? We're listening.
I was 35 years old, happily married and pregnant with my 5th child in 11 years. It was not a smooth pregnancy. I was sick with nausea, dehydration, weight loss and exhaustion for months. My doctor urged me repeatedly, due to my medical history, to consider having a permanent solution to any more pregnancies. The idea of birth control was assumed and for years we relied on the pill and condoms. Thinking about a “permanent solution” for me was: get a tubal. I could get it done while I was already at the hospital. It doesn’t inconvenience my husband in any way. It ‘solves’ our problems. However a tubal ligation did not.
My periods returned fairly quickly post-partum. But they were unlike any previous periods. The twice a month headaches were exponentially more painful. My doctor prescribed migraine medication. That didn't work. The uterine discomfort I felt every ovulation cycle caused me to double over in pain like labor. I was stunned. All this for ovulation? The doctor told me to take Advil. That didn't work. My periods were longer and more painful. I tried Alleve. That didn't work. What was going on physically was also mirrored in my emotional/sexual world. Those 14 or so days every month between ovulation times and menstruation meant almost ½ the month I was irritable, short on patience, and not in the least interested in romance, nor being touched by my loving husband, let alone sexual relations. I told my husband, “Ever since this tubal I feel like I was born on earth, but woke up on Mars. I am most definitely NOT the same person. I don’t understand this. I know it is connected to the tubal since it is involved with my cycles. But how can a little snipping of tubes inside my abdomen produce such a dramatic difference in me as a woman?”
Then I began to notice that at every period, as the months passed, I began to grieve. Grieve that I would never have another child, that I had permanently changed my body, that I no longer was a fertile woman in control of my body. The regret I felt I pushed deep inside – afraid to face it – but the sorrow remained. Then my brother confided in me. They had their 3rd child just a year after our last – and his wife opted for a tubal. He shared that he doesn’t understand what happened but for the past two years his wife is completely different. “It’s like she’s from another universe” he said (mirroring my exact experiences). My mouth opened wide in shock. I had my tubal one year before my sister in law – but our reactions were identical. I told my brother he wasn’t crazy. We drew comfort from the fact that at least there was a possible ‘cause’ for this radically changed behavior from both of us.
Fast forward 25 years. My husband and I became Catholic. I made an appointment with a priest for Confession. I began to cry as I recalled as many sins as I could, and then my mind and heart turned to the tubal. The decades of sadness I had pushed as deeply as I could, poured out in a wailing keen as I told the priest about the tubal. "I am so sorry I did this. I wanted more children. But the doctor told me it was for my health. I wanted more children…I wanted more children…I am so sorry.” Even as I spoke those words I had no idea I would verbalize the cry from my heart that so desperately needed to be spoken where heaven and earth meet in God’s grace. And the speaking of them opened my heart to hear the next words from this precious man of God: “You are forgiven. You are a mother. God made you a mother. You will always be a mother to others.”
I share this story knowing my sister-in-law and I simply can NOT be the only women who experienced this kind of reaction from a tubal ligation – one that clearly isn’t ‘medical’ but emotional/spiritual/psychological.
Submitted by D. P.