20 May Be My Guest: Tara Pringle Jefferson
A few months ago, I got a submission for the Pitch Me section of my blog. A young woman who wanted to get her tubes tied had written an essay for a mothering website. They passed on her essay and she wanted my thoughts on why. I read the essay. And I thought it was great. I wasn’t sure why the website didn’t publish it. But I explained that Pitch Me was for ideas that were passed on–not fully completed stories.
But I urged Tara to pitch the essay to another magazine. It was timely and it was provocative–two great combinations.
Then, I asked Tara if she’d be willing to share her story with us. I’m not a large-circulation magazine–yet–but we do have a community of people who’d be interested in hearing her story.
And I’m honored to have her as my second guest blogger…
It’s quite a dilemma Ms. Jefferson has. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Enjoy…
“I want my tubes tied.”
It was my first question to my gynecologist after I found out I was pregnant with my second child, not even a year after giving birth to my first.
My doctor hesitated. “I don’t want to tell you no,” he said. “But I will say that I don’t recommend women get their tubes tied, especially at your age. If you regret it, it’s very hard to get it reversed.”
“But I won’t want it reversed.”
“But you might.”
“But I won’t.”
“Tara, you’re only 22 years old. You might want it reversed.”
“But you might.”
Around and around my doctor and I argued for the rest of my pregnancy. At 22, it was assumed that I couldn’t possibly know if I’m done having kids.
But if I’m old enough to have a working uterus, shouldn’t I be old enough to decide when it should retire? And if I wanted it reversed later, that’s on me. I made the decision and I’d have to live with it. That’s how adulthood works, right?
I got pregnant with my daughter when I was 20. I was finishing up my senior year of college, working toward a degree in journalism. I had completed a promising internship with Reader’s Digest and was looking forward to returning after graduation.
I gave birth six days before my 21st birthday.
Before my career as a writer could even take off, I had taken a major detour through the land of Dreams Deferred.
I got married and graduated from college soon after my daughter was born.
And then, when my daughter was 11 months old: I found myself staring down another positive pregnancy test.
Say it with me: breastfeeding is not birth control. No matter what the old folks say.
I have to be honest. When I saw the pregnancy test, the only thing I could think was: damn.
My husband’s support was the only thing that kept me going. He has this unbreakable cool. He just doesn’t get flustered – ever. Fatherhood didn’t faze him in the least.
I wanted to jump off a roof.
Okay, baby number two was on the way. Fine. But as I drove to my first prenatal appointment, I knew I was going to ask my doctor about a tubal ligation after giving birth.
It wasn’t that I resented having my daughter or that I didn’t love her. Quite the opposite. My love for my daughter was all-consuming. Her moods controlled my moods. If she was happy, I was happy. If she was upset, I wanted to die. I couldn’t imagine having two (or more) kids, each with the ability to control my happiness, to tear my heart into several different directions.
I wanted to be a good mom, but I felt I was barely getting the job done with the kid I had.
First, I struggled with breastfeeding. (It’s hard to adjust to a baby hanging off your nipple twelve times a day.) Then I experienced a mild bout of postpartum depression. On top of that, we dealt with her extreme eczema flare-ups that required me to coat her in prescription-strength body oil twice daily.
Once it was time for me to go to work full-time, I discovered that finding suitable, affordable childcare was a drag. I had to change my work schedule and piece together babysitters here and there.
“I can’t believe I’m going to do this again,” I thought to myself late one night as I rocked my daughter to sleep.
I began to rethink my prior choices of birth control. Clearly I needed something more effective. I’d gotten pregnant while on the pill. And the birth control patch left huge, red, oozing welts on my skin. I had to figure out something.
The truth was: I knew I was done having kids. In my heart, two kids would be more than enough.
And yet, my doctor still won’t consent.
When my daughter is screaming to watch Mickey Mouse for the tenth time or my 10-month-old son is throwing five-pound dumbbells (true story), I’m tempted to camp out in my doctor’s front yard until he puts me on his schedule for the procedure, my age be damned.
Other friends my age reported the same struggles with their doctors. Most doctors want you to wait until you are over 30 with a couple of kids under your belt.
While Nadya Suleman found a doctor to agree to in-vitro fertilization to give her eight babies at once, (brining her total to fourteen), I can’t find a doctor who will allow me to limit the amount of babies I bring in to the world.
One of my young friends was able to convince her doctor to do the procedure, but only after she had three kids in three years. Too late – she’s full-on crazy now.
After I had my son, my doctor and I settled on the five-year IUD. He assured me it’s 99.8 percent effective, but all I want to do is talk to the 0.2 percent about how they got knocked up.
I’m still considering having the procedure done next year.
Maybe they’ll consider me old enough at 24.
Tara Pringle Jefferson is a freelance writer from Ohio. (She lives in Stow, which is near Akron, which is where LeBron is from. See, she’s famous.) She writes the parenting blog, The Young Mommy Life (http://theyoungmommylife.com) and volunteers with a local teen-moms group.
Dear Readers: At first I was thinking, if Tara wants to get her tubes tied, let her! Then she sent me this photo this morning and I was like, “she’s a baby! Don’t touch her uterus!”
23 is so young. I sort of agree with her doctor. But then, it’s her body. And her responsibility if she regrets it. Right? Ugh. I don’t know where I stand.
What do you think? Should Tara find a doctor who will tie her tubes if that’s what she wants? Do you think 23 is too young for this procedure? Do you think she may actually want another baby in five years? Doesn’t she have the right to do this if she wants to?
Tara and I would love to hear from you…