On World Mental Health Day 2017, I wrote a blog post sharing that I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to have biological children because of my genetic clotting disorder (Factor V Leiden) and my ongoing mental health struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and specifically with Bipolar Disorder. Not only was I frightened about passing these disorders with a genetic component on to an unsuspecting child, but I was worried about my ability to parent a child or children with these disabilities when I spend so much time in my life simply trying to take care of myself and my own disabilities. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Bipolar Disorder “results in 9.2 years reduction in expected life span and as many as one in five patients with bipolar disorder completes suicide.” According to StopTheClot.org, blood clots kill an estimated 274 people each day.
Many people with disabilities are wonderful parents to both healthy and disabled children, but I simply didn’t feel that I was up to the task of risking my life and a baby’s life for a very dangerous pregnancy, only to not know if I would be physically and mentally able to care for my child or children. I also have a hard enough time taking care of myself that I don’t feel like it would be a good idea to be completely responsible for a tiny human. I enjoy sleeping through the night, going to concerts, going out with friends, and international travel. I like being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I appreciate that the only person I am responsible for is myself and that River is the only one who depends on me. In short, on top of not thinking children are a good idea for me, I simply don’t want them. If I change my mind about that particular aspect later in life, there are nearly 438,000 children in foster care in the United States on any given day who each deserve loving family homes.
I began speaking to my OBGYN about permanent birth control options many months ago and she was incredibly supportive, particularly in light of the fact that having Factor V Leiden and a history of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVTs) means that it would be incredibly unlikely for me to have a safe and healthy pregnancy at any point in my life. I slowly began sharing with friends, my mother, my father, and my brother that I do not want biological children and was planning on a surgical intervention. While I expected to get push back and arguments, the responses of the people I chose to share with were overwhelmingly supportive. A few people questioned if this is what I really want, but left it alone after I explained that it is. The majority of people cheered me on for making a “responsible” and “selfless” decision. The decision to pursue permanent birth control was not an easy one, but it was the right one for me. My OBGYN and I discussed my different options, which were basically either a tubal ligation or a salpingectomy, and together we decided on a salpingectomy (permanent removal of both fallopian tubes).
On Wednesday, July 18, 2018, my OBGYN, who I trust and adore, performed a bilateral salpingectomy. I thought that I would feel sad afterwards because of the significant loss of not becoming a biological mother, but all I feel is relief: relief that I know I will never have an unplanned pregnancy, relief that I’ll never be put into a position where I have to decide if abortion would be the right choice for me, relief that I’ll never have to experience the heartbreak of multiple miscarriages that so many women with Factor V Leiden face, and relief that I will never have a pregnancy that could kill me and leave my child and/or future partner alone.
I sincerely appreciate all of the love and support I have received from people so far. You all mean more to me than you know. Whether or not you decide to have children, please know that I support your autonomy and support your right to make that choice for yourself and please know that I am a safe person for you to talk to about it.