Last Thursday morning, I had to be at the hospital at the ungodly hour of 6:00 a.m. to prepare for surgery. Before having surgery, there’s a whole mess of stuff you have to do — a pre-operation visit two weeks ahead of time where they tell you every little thing that *might* go wrong so that they cover their butts if any of that stuff actually happens; Post-operation visits scheduled; papers to sign. You know all that stuff.
The point of the 2-week pre-operation visit is so that the morning of surgery, basically all the papers are signed, you’re well aware of what is about to take place, you have asked all your questions and so the morning of surgery — it’s like a cake walk. No problem. Easy-peasy.
On Thursday morning, quite quickly, I was taken back to a room where a nurse would continue prepping me for surgery. I had gotten up at 3:30 a.m. to take a shower with antibacterial soap and put on comfy clothes. I had my medical insurance card and my driver’s license ready to go. I went back and the nurse started with all the questions.
What caught me up was this exchange:
RN (asking what seems to be a “standard” question): Are you still getting periods or able to get pregnant?
RN: Do you want us to complete a tubal ligation while we are in there today?
RN: We will need to do a quick urine pregnancy test to make sure you are not pregnant.
Me: Okay. I am ovulating right now.
RN, looking a bit startled and with a funny look on her face: Hmm, isn’t that interesting how some people are able to figure that out about themselves…?
First of all — I’d like to tackle the question she asked me about doing a “tubal ligation while we are in there…” Wow. Where to start. So, I am in there for a procedure completely unrelated to sterilzation, but they ask me if I would like to be sterilized, “while they are in there”? What is this, McDonald’s? Oh, having a medical issue addressed, would you like a tubal with that?
Okay, in my head, I kind of get it — it saves time and money if he’s already “in there” meaning completed an incision in that area of my body — to just get it out of the way and cut/tie my tubes, right? But part of me thinks… WHOA, Nellie! I don’t want to break my body — I’m trying to fix it!!
Now, as I mentioned before, we had to spend some time in prayer and discernment before the decision was made to go forward and have this procedure done, because it is not a prudent use of time and resources if we were to have more children (biologically) after we have the procedure done. But we’re blessed to know NFP…we had some really awesome instructors that gave us all the information we needed to be really good at NFP. We’ve never been surprised completely by a pregnancy, and we understand the need to practice conservatively going forward to avoid pregnancy. When we’ve actively sought to avoid pregnancy, we’ve been successful every time, so we feel very confident that we can do this the remainder of our fertile years. But all of this was decided before we went into the hospital on Thursday.
What saddens me is to think that there is the possibility that a Catholic woman, perhaps not as well versed in NFP or in Catholic theology might be faced with that question. And ultimately, if they are having the procedure done, fully knowing they should not have any more children, but are simply taking a pill or something to avoid pregnancy — they might be quick to say, “oh heck yeah, just do that while you’re in there.” There are psychological ramifications with sterilization (whether they will admit it or not) and a woman might not take those into account, and later have problems with the fact she was asked if she “wanted a tubal with that” some years back and went ahead with it. Of course maybe not, too, right?
It also occurred to me that women are asked this question (“Would you like a tubal ligation…”) at the most inopportune times to be answering the question with a clear head. I was asked if I wanted a tubal ligation when I arrived at the hospital to deliver my dear sweet Gregory, who had already gone on to Jesus in heaven. Yeah…not quite the best emotional state of mind. And many women are headed in for a c-section when they are asked this question. And sometimes, it’s baby number 3 or 4 or 5 and women are asked this question while they are laboring or shortly after giving birth. I guess in our society, the question itself is something that begs to be asked given our society’s stance on family size and all — the biggest problem I have is the timing.
The best part of this conversation, however, is the last part though. I LOVE that I was able to tell her I was ovulating — and I knew that I was! I had received a HIGH reading on my monitor on Wednesday morning, felt my physical signs of ovulation during the day Wednesday, taken a digital OPK test Wednesday night that indicated ovulation was on its way and then my monitor registered the PEAK reading Thursday morning before I headed to the hospital. Now, how freaking cool is that? I love being able to know what my body is doing and when. It also completely validated my scheduling of all my appointments (my only instruction was that I could NOT have the procedure during menstruation).
The RN seemed a bit confounded that anyone could know that about themselves. And I think that’s sad. I mean, we have millions of health care professionals who have birth control pills and sterilization shoved down their throats as the only means to help people “plan” their families and so they are completely caught unaware when someone really does know what is going on with their body.
So, ultimately, I say, “YAY NFP!!” I’m so grateful for the teaching couple who taught Craig and me so long ago that we could identify our fertile and infertile times by simply observing what my body does naturally. I’m grateful for the development of many different methods that work with different temperaments and body types so that women have choices in how to observe their natural rhythms and get the information they need. And…I’m grateful that I could confidently tell that RN that “No. I am not pregnant” and “I am ovulating right now.”
Made for a fun story while waiting for surgery anyway.