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Surprised by post-vasectomy grief

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

My husband had a vasectomy a few days ago.  We have two kids over 5, a boy and a girl.  I had my last one at 34 1/2, and soon after got a Mirena IUD, because I wasn't ready for anything permanent.  I am now 39 1/2, so I have had 5 years to say, "No I really do want a third!" I have had 5 years in which I could have experienced "baby lust" but instead I mostly felt content, with only occasional ambivalence about ending our childbearing years. My husband felt even more strongly than I did that two kids was right for our family, given our age, our energy levels, our finances, and our valuing of one-on-one time with the kids we have. But if I had said I really really wanted another, he would have gone along, and said he would have welcomed and loved that child. As the years passed, the thought of having a baby at 38, 39, and now 40 (!) seemed intimidating, especially to a couple who was on the fence anyway about adding to the family.  We are not a couple who would terminate our pregnancy if there was a problem.


When we walked into the small operating room for the procedure, I cried, but I did not try to prevent the vasectomy. I could have.  Even in the middle of it, I briefly thought about saying, "Stop! Leave one of the testicles alone!" But I did not.  Because rationally, I knew it was the right decision for us.


My womb obviously didn't agree, because that night and in the couple days after, rather than the peace I expected, I was sobbing on my bedroom floor, thinking of ways around it. Maybe we could catch the last of the sperm before he was declared sterile, or get it reversed, or adopt.  What was I thinking? Birthing and nurturing kids has been the best part of my life, was I ready to move on? I am much calmer now and I don't think it was a mistake. If anything, maybe I should have had a third at 37 or so, but even then, my youngest would not have been ready.  And if I really really wanted a third, wouldn't I have had a deeper and clearer longing for that when the option was still there? I suspect maybe my feelings now are a result of wanting what I can't have anymore. Anyway, I wrote all that out to see if there's anyone here who can relate to this. I'd love to hear more stories.

post #2 of 8

Sometimes when the option is no longer there it really causes pain.  Just knowing it's over is the hardest part.  Sorry you feel this way.  Hopefully it gets better for you.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for your kind reply. In a way, it feels like the death of that hypothetical third child.  Sometimes I would see another little blond toddler walking around the yard, and now he/she will never be.  I'm also mourning the end of an era, the upcoming entrance of my youngest to school, and the beginning of middle age.

post #4 of 8
My husband got a vasectomy in december and I am still struggling to come to terms with it. We have 3 kids- 2 boys who are 6 &7 and a girl who is 9 months. My husband was happy with the two boys but I begged for another. Finally he gave in and while I was pregnant with our 3rd he said after she was born he was going to have the surgery. I didn't say much at that time, I was just so happy we were having another and focused on that. After she was born he kept talking about it and I would tell him I didn't understand why he would intentionally mutilate himself and why couldn't I just go on the pill or get an iud or something? He wouldn't hear of it- he made up his mind, called a doctor, and two weeks later had the surgery. I haven't been the same since. It's not that I want another baby- I love the way our family is now- I feel resentful that he made this decision entirely on his own, without my agreement, and I feel differently towards him as a man. I know that sounds weird, but for some reason my knowing that he is sterile makes him less sexually attractive to me. I was feeling very angry with him recently and was having a hard time expressing to him why that was. I finally realized that this has affected the way I feel about myself, too. For some reason I feel like I'm "broken". Like my body is unable to do what it is supposed to. Not that I would have chosen to have another baby had he not had the surgery, but now that ability has been taken away from me, forever, and without my consent. I'm trying very hard not to become bitter. I thought it would help if I took up a hobby to help me to start feeling better about myself. It had to be something that I would have hard time participating in if I was pregnant or had a newborn- just so I could appreciate my ability to be involved in this hobby specifically because I was not pregnant. ( I don't know if that makes sense- it made sense in my head, though!) Anyway, I decided to train for a marathon. I've always enjoyed running for exercise (though I haven't done it in a long time and it was never any long distances). But I feel like this is something that would help me feel better about myself because I would be getting a lot of exercise, it would be a major accomplishment, and not something I could do if another baby was on the way.
I still have days where the anger creeps up on me, but I keep telling myself that in a few years from now, when I'm forty (I'm 37 now), and the kids are 10, 9, and 3, that I'll be happy that I'm done with the diapers and sleepless nights and can focus on being involved in the boys' sports and things like that.
post #5 of 8

I imagine I'd feel the same way if I were in your shoes.  It's hard to know that an era has ended and that your life has entered a new phase- and that there's no going back.  We're still in the not quite sure if we're done stage, but if we don't choose to have another within the next couple of years, we'll be making the same decision.  I'm not looking forward to it.  The finality is painful. I hope you will start feeling better about it soon, and seeing the bright side.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Wow, I'm sorry your husband made a unilateral decision. I can see how that could complicate your grief.  I can understand what you said about not wanting another baby, but feeling the loss of fertility.  It would almost be easier if I knew I was already infertile, and of course, at 39 1/2, it's possible I am. 


I hope you can come to terms with this and that your marriage doesn't suffer too much from it.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you jennyanydots! I am already feeling significantly better.  The grief and anxiety have lifted quite a bit and I am feeling hopeful about the future, and once again in touch with all the good reasons we felt we had for not having more kids.  I'm sure I will always feel a bit wistful and wonder about what another child might have been like. But I suppose even mothers of 3, 4, 5 kids or more have to deal with some of those emotions as well.

post #8 of 8

You know, I think it's common for us to mourn the end of our childbearing years...seems like we should have a ceremony or something to mark that shift.  It just happens relatively un-noticed but we feel much grief.  What about a special trip when your daughter weans with your husband or girlfriends in similar situation? 


I think I'll always want "one more" and I'm hoping I go right into grandmotherhood fairly soon after I stop having my babies!


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