The Struggle to Sterilization: An Interview with Childfree Woman of 2016
There has been a lot of buzz lately about women’s reproductive rights. After reading the many stories of women speaking out about their method of choice for birth control, I was even inspired to share mine. I also felt encouraged to get in touch Crystal Money, 2016 Childfree Woman of the Year. Although Crystal was not nominated for the way in which she remains childfree, her tubal ligation has certainly sparked interest. In fact, Crystal will be giving a TedX talk next month about her recent sterilization surgery. Prepare to be emboldened as we hear from Mrs. Money herself:
In your interview with Laura Carroll, you mentioned trying a variety of birth control methods at the insistence of your doctors but were unsatisfied with the side effects. Which contraceptives did you try before ultimately choosing a tubal ligation? Can you elaborate on the side effects?
I honestly don’t remember the names of all of the pills I tried, but I can say that I tried a variety of pills over the course of several years, and the worst side effects were frequent night terrors and night sweats. The shot option made me bleed non-stop for four months. Then the last option I tried at the insistence of doctors was an IUD. With the IUD I felt a constant depression and as if I was always being jabbed from the inside. While these side effects aren’t detrimental, I just didn’t see a reason to have any of them when I knew that I never wanted children. For the past 5 years, I have known for certain that I wanted a tubal ligation, and the only thing standing in my way were all of these alternatives that the doctors were actually willing to prescribe.
Being married, did you consider a vasectomy for your husband?
He actually got a vasectomy before I got a tubal ligation. All he had to do was walk in and ask for it once for a doctor to oblige. My tubal ligation was on principle. I was determined not to be denied my rights to make my own choices for my body. While my husband was sterile, I still felt trapped in a body that had the ability to give me a life that I did not want. Getting the surgery also did wonders for ending the conversation with my family.
Did anyone try to talk you out of having a tubal ligation?
Every single doctor, even the one who performed the operation, tried to talk me out of it. I was told everything from how much I will regret it, to consider the feelings of my second or third husbands (That being said, my marriage is wonderful and I was more perplexed as to where they were getting off telling me it wasn’t.) The doctor who performed the surgery was actually most worried about how my mom felt about this choice (note that I am almost 30.) For this reason, I asked my mom to take me to the surgery and to prove a point to the doctor. My mom will always support my decisions and let me be me.
I actually kept my choice to get a tubal ligation from much of my family until it was over because I didn’t want to hear all of the reasons I shouldn’t get it. Post-surgery, I have lots of people questioning my choice and perplexed as to why I would do that to myself (as if it were bad for me), but I usually cut them off and end the conversation. It is my choice not to have children, and it is the best decision I’ve ever made.
Why do you feel so strongly that tubal ligation is the best form of birth control for you personally?
As I mentioned above, I really felt trapped in a body that could someday give me a life I didn’t want. I understand there are other options such as abortion, but the stigma and potential trauma of maybe having to go through that someday really scared me. As someone who has an active anxiety disorder, I tend to choose options that will best calm my mind, and you can’t get much calmer than the assurance that it is all over. I woke up from the tubal ligation surgery with the reassuring calmness that I would never have to have a life that I wholeheartedly do not want. Also, I am terrible at keeping up with taking daily medicine, so taking pills was stressful for that reason alone.
Would you recommend this surgery to other young women who are considering types of long-acting birth control?
Absolutely. My mental stress has greatly decreased after getting the tubal ligation. Not only do I never have to worry about being pregnant or keeping up with birth control, but my whole outlook has changed. Because having children is no longer an option for me, my path in life is so much more clear and I deal with less outside pressures to have children. If there is one way to shut people up, it is to get rid of the option altogether. I am beyond proud of my choices and accomplishments when it comes to being childfree, and that gives me so much hope for my future.
Are you at all worried about regretting this surgery at a later date?
Not at all. If for some wild reason I did change my mind in the future, I would adopt maybe a tween or teenager just to give someone a positive future. I’ve never had the maternal desires to be around babies and children.
Lastly, what do you think needs to change in order for other women to avoid similar struggles to sterilization?
Going through the experience of being rejected by doctor after doctor opened my eyes to the true patriarchy that is our medical system. Not everyone NEEDS to have kids, especially those who do not want to or simply shouldn’t for one reason or another. Pronatalism is oppressively the normative of society, and since societal norms are tough to change, I think the best thing for us childfree people to do is accept and create acceptance for being non-normative.