I want to tell a story about the availability of tubal ligations in the United States. The backdrop for this story is my own personal experience. At 26 years old I delivered my third child, a girl, who I also had a devastating condition called Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) with. It went undetected during pregnancy even with multiple rounds of testing, an amniocentesis, and repeated ultrasounds. IUGR is hard to identify during pregnancy and is often detected after a stillbirth. So, as you can see I am extremely lucky that my daughter was not only born alive but healthy and still thriving at eight years old now. That diagnosis on the delivery table had me inquiring about having my tubes tied, which the doctor would not do for a laundry list of reasons.
- I was only 26
- I was emotional in the wake of her birth
- I didn’t consent prior to surgery
- I didn’t consult prior to my c-section
It sounded like a lot of bullshit, and since my actual OB/GYN was in Miami helping her sister move since my c-section wasn’t scheduled for another two days, I really didn’t have it in me to argue with the on-call. Also, the fact that I was literally cut open at the moment didn’t help my case.
In the weeks after her birth, I decided to let it go, and by November of that year (Addison was born in April) I opted for an IUD instead. I wasn’t wanting to go under the knife again because I had a series of kidney stone surgeries after she was born, but I knew there was no way in hell I was having any more children after the IUGR diagnosis. It just wasn’t safe. (Side note to the story… This took place in Connecticut. I gave birth to all of my children when I still lived in the Northeast.)
Fast forward to five years later. I attempted to have my IUD removed and the OB/GYN couldn’t find it. It was no longer where it was placed all those years earlier and then POW! My insurance was canceled after the ACA was attacked for the first time. This basically meant that I couldn’t go have an ultrasound to find the missing IUD. This went on for two years while having to take hormonal birth control pills on top of the hormones in the IUD because I was concerned about pregnancy.
When they say “good for five years,” I thought… I’m not taking any chances. Just not happening.
Finally, I got insurance coverage again in January of this year. Immediately I started the process to find a new OB/GYN in my area (Florida) and finally found an awesome doctor in my town. It was a huge win, and a big shout out to my own primary care doctor who referred me to her personal OB/GYN because I was so anxious about finding a female provider who was not only caring but gentle. The first provider I saw in Florida for my female needs was a HUGE bitch. She brushed off my anxiety about the missing IUD and basically called me a baby. *Women… this is not how providers should be treating you. Find a new doctor. YOU ARE THE BOSS IN YOUR OWN CARE!*
With a quick ultrasound, she located my missing IUD embedded in the lining of my uterus. At first we weren’t sure if it was embedded, but once she tried to remove it in the office, and it didn’t budge without sending me into a world of pain… we scheduled surgery. This is where I was finally able to consult about having a tubal.
33 years old, three kids, IUGR, embedded IUD… THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED TO GO THROUGH TO HAVE A PROVIDER PERFORM A TUBAL LIGATION ON ME.
This is a problem. You have all of these anti-abortion activists screaming about tubals when this is how out of reach they are for the average American woman.
“Don’t want a baby? Don’t want to get pregnant? HAVE A TUBAL!”
Yeah… because it’s really just that easy. (Insert eye roll here)
I was able to successfully have my IUD removed and have my tubes tied at the same time, in outpatient surgery in April. Thankfully I’ve recovered well, with only minor hormonal issues I am working on but the whole point of this entire post is to explain how complex it is for women to actually make their own medical choices.
It isn’t just an uphill battle for abortions, its an uphill battle for any choices we want to make regarding our bodies and that shouldn’t be the case.