I Met the Love of My Life and Then Found out He’d Had a Vasectomy


Sometimes you don't get a choice

by Anonymous

couple holding hands on a rug

When we told our wedding guests that twenty-five children would be attending our wedding, most of them were incredulous (to put it politely). That’s right: A quarter of our guests were under the age of five. Considering our wedding was already a little out of the ordinary (we hosted a four-day celebration at a mountain hotel in the Swiss Alps), we knew our single and child-free friends sighed and our parent friends gulped, all at the same time. Funnily enough, our friends who are parents rejected our kid-friendly wedding most robustly: did we know what we were getting ourselves into?

The truth is, I really wanted those kids to be there. This was a family affair, after all. But more importantly, I wanted to make a statement of sorts. My husband and I will never have children. He chose to have a vasectomy at the age of twenty-five, and told me straight away when we met four years later. We hadn’t started dating yet, but I had already fallen for him. I was twenty-three, and at the time, kids weren’t on my mind.

whose feelings matter here, anyway?

Over the last few years, I’ve had a number of reactions after sharing that he and I would not have kids. Ever. One of the most enthusiastic responses came from my gynecologist, who exclaimed: “Fantastic! You don’t have to worry yourself with contraception or the chemical consequences thereof—enjoy it!”

Most times, however, I find myself dealing with more negative reactions. My mother was stunned, and cried when I finally told her. He and I were dating seriously at that point, but we were still finding ourselves as a couple and nowhere near marriage. A slew of questions and reprimands ensued, from her and the rest of my family. Friends questioned me as well. The most common misconception was that since my boyfriend didn’t want to become a father, he didn’t like children. He does—and he’s actually great with kids. He is a favorite with his nieces and nephews.

The second most common misconception I encountered was that people somehow expected me to be completely on board with this decision. And here is where the tricky part begins. It goes something like this joke:

Q: How do you embrace a porcupine? A: Very carefully.

you don’t always make every decision together

I love kids. They are generally kind, unpretentious, and hilarious people to be around. Growing up, I played house with dolls, bathing and clothing them. Later, I was often the designated babysitter for family friends, and at conferences to which my parents had been invited as speakers. I spent my teenage summers as a camp counselor. I grew up thinking I’d have a family of my own one day.

That said, I fully respect my husband’s choice. If I didn’t, I shouldn’t be here, eight years later, married to him. However, it doesn’t change the fact that this decision to remain childless is his choice, and it was a selfish decision. I believe two people should decide together if they want to have children. He took that choice away from me, and that was a dick move on his part. And yet.

There are all kind of scenarios in which this perfect-world scenario of “a couple decides these things together” just doesn’t happen. Be it because the couple can’t conceive, or it’s a same-sex couple and adoption isn’t an option, or because one person in the relationship feels more strongly about this issue than the other person. (As friends have moved from the “having a baby” phase to “having a second baby” phase, I’ve learned that this issue not only comes up in regards to having kids generally, but also in regards to the question of how many.)

i choose my choice

For a while, I did not know how we would be able to handle this down the road—especially when I hit my early forties, and know my last chance at a biological child is slipping away. Where will that leave us, as a couple, together? How can I build a life together with this man, when I expect I’ll be throwing plates at his head in desperation in in a few years’ time? To be clear, I could have backed out at any point. I could have chosen any time to say: “Listen, I respect your decision. I do. But having kids is too important to me to set aside for a life together with you.” I could have said that and walked away. I didn’t do that—I chose not to walk away. Instead, I grew more excited about the life we are shaping together.

My father handed me the key to ending this construed dilemma when he pointed out that quite likely, this will not be the only rough patch we will encounter in our relationship. Rather than focusing on that bump ahead of us, I should be asking myself if I feel comfortable facing those difficulties together with this guy, and if I believe we can support each other through rough times.

Amazingly, that shift in perspective helped me. A lot.

We’ve chosen to live in community with friends, and are currently sharing a home with eight grownups and three children. There are babies to cuddle and snooty noses to be avoided. I love coming home to a room full of people of various ages sharing dinner together. Last year, very good friends asked me to be the godmother to their son, and I can’t wait to develop a relationship with him and do cool godparent stuff. And yet I feel strangely relieved that it is our friends having the babies and not us. It is unburdening to know I can go about my life without having to calculate the perfect time to start a family.

I have not only come to accept my husband’s decision, but have felt—at times—strangely grateful for it, as well. I can point to his vasectomy without having to answer to critical voices demanding to know why a perfectly healthy young woman would not want to start a family.

While it was maddening at times, I see now how important it was to have friends and family asking me difficult questions about his decision. If anything, we should be able to speak honestly about these things with the people we feel close to, even if we can’t really explain our feelings. Through the years, those conversations have helped me better understand the choices I’ve made.

lavender instead of rice

As we had planned, we celebrated our wedding surrounded by one hundred people. Family and friends came to spend time with us and each other. There were twenty-five children at the wedding. All the kids threw dried lavender on us when we were leaving the ceremony. The dried florets, crushed underfoot, instantly gave off an intoxicating fragrance.

Traditionally, rice is thrown at the end of a wedding, to signify wishes of fertility for the couple. I’m not sure if lavender has any such symbolic meaning, but whatever our version of fertility may be, I know we’ll do just fine.

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • Loran

    Lavender is a healing herb, so I think that’s a lovely way to start a journey together.

    • Jess

      Oh, I love this thought.

    • Mrrpaderp

      I was hoping someone would illuminate the significance of lavender. I love the idea and might steal it!

  • Leela

    I went through a parade of emotions as I read this, but I ended up tearsmiling (and let’s face it: wishing we could be friends in real life so I could come to dinner at your House of Awesomeness).

  • Kate

    I wish it was as easy for a girl to get sterilized at 25 as it is for a guy.

    • stephanie

      I have a friend who is 28 and has been trying to get her tubes tied for about two years to no avail. It’s maddening!

    • Jess

      I wish it was as easy for a girl to get sterilized as it is for a guy period! The procedure is a million times less invasive.

    • Keri

      How easy is it to get a vasectomy? One of my friends won a free vasectomy ON THE RADIO.

  • Sarah

    Well written piece. And reason 538 why you should tread very carefully around dicussing folks’ plans for procreating.

  • sofar

    My fiance and I are (probably) remaining childless. But we are also having 17 little kids at our wedding. I also find it funny that people are surprised at this. We love our friends’/siblings’/cousins’ children. Why wouldn’t we want them there?

  • elle

    As I start my first cycle of trying to conceive with my husband, I find myself oddly jealous of you. While my husband and I always knew we wanted children and are getting started ASAP into our marriage (we’ve been married less than two months), I keep thinking about all the sacrifices we – and more specifically, me – have to make for this decision. The small sacrifices of caffeinated beverages, my daily nightcap, delicious cheeses… to the large sacrifices of giving up the body I’ve known for 30+ years to share it with another human being, the large chunk of our incomes that will be spent on someone else, etc. I keep trying convince my husband that a life as “spinsters” would be a beautiful one and even though I don’t doubt it would be, it’s not what we really want. Having someone else make this decision for me would have been so much easier than the constant uncertainty of “holy crap we are about to change our lives forever”. I think you’re really brave and you and your husband will have a really great life.

    • Sarah

      Good luck! My first kid recently turned 6 months. Yes, you give up your body for a time and have to be more thoughtful about decisions you make around food, etc but it’s temporary. In the past month or so I’ve started to feel like the “real me” even nursing and pumping and having to come home right after work every day–no more errands or impromptu dinenrs/happy hours. If you frame the whole decision as a series of sacrifies you lose the joy.

    • Amy March

      Can we not describe a life without children as “spinsters” please? That isn’t what that word means. Also, c’mon really? Really?!? It would have been much easier to know that you have no possibility of children with the man you love as compared to giving up cheese?!?!?!?!? Please do not ascribe “easiness” to “not being able to make the decision to have or not have children”- it’s a really painful comparison.

      • elle

        I just wrote honestly but I’ve deleted my comment since it was so offensive to you.

  • Erica Klein

    “However, it doesn’t change the fact that this decision to remain childless is his choice, and it was a selfish decision. I believe two people should decide together if they want to have children. He took
    that choice away from me, and that was a dick move on his part.” – I have a hard time with this statement. He decided something important about his own life, long before he met the author, so in fairness he didn’t take anything away from her. Would it be unfairly selfish for a woman to have her tubes tied before she was even in a committed relationship, let alone married, if she knew 100% she did not want children?

    That being said, I totally feel for the author in making what I’m sure was an incredibly difficult decision, choosing love over children. I can’t imagine having to do that myself; am lucky that my husband and I had the kids discussion less than a week after our first date and both were already firmly on the side of “nope”.

    • Violet

      I think if we take any pejorative connotation out of the word “selfish” and look at it for what it is, something you do ONLY for yourself and not taking into account others’ opinions/wishes/desires, then, yes, I think she can say it was a selfish choice. As would be your tubal ligation scenario. I think it’s about unlearning that selfish must always equal bad. Sometimes selfish just… is.

      • cpostrophe

        how about “independent” instead of selfish? I appreciate the connotation that “selfish” implies taking actions for personal benefit regardless of what other wishes may be and your implied responsibility to those other people.

        I think it’s more problematic to ascribe this term to someone who made a decision for themselves four years before meeting someone else. You don’t owe anything to a theoretical future partner who isn’t present when you make your decision.

        If we can talk about how men should not dictate what women can and can’t do with their bodies with regard to carrying a child, I’d think we can also talk about how problematic it is for women to tell men what they can do with their sperm and fertility.

        With all that said, we have similar, if slightly gender flipped feelings in our upcoming wedding. I had been open to the idea of kids, but my fiancee decided a long time ago that she wouldn’t want them. I knew that was a choice that she believed in strongly, and I accepted that choice as part of being with her, because she makes happier than anyone else I’ve ever known and while I love playing with other people’s children, I’ve been somewhat ambivalent to my suitability as a parent. So, we also had similar sense of disorientation from people about being a child free couple who wanted to emphasize a kid friendly wedding. Your group house sounds lovely and enviable, and I am glad that you’ve crafted a community that aligns with your choices.

        • Violet

          I hear you. I don’t think “independent” quite works, because that concept is describing a state of not being controlled by someone else or needing someone else. Those issues (control and dependence) aren’t at play, here.
          If you don’t think that a hypothetical future partner’s opinions need to be considered at all, that makes sense to me. In that case, it’s like the question becomes: “Was this a selfish choice?: a. Yes b. No c. N/A” and choosing N/A. But if you’re the kind of person who thinks future hypothetical partner’s opinion matters, then you could circle “Yes,” for this is selfish. But my point is, even if that’s the way someone thought about it (like how OP seems to) there’s a way to look at something that is selfish without then also concluding it’s necessarily bad.

          • Amy March

            I don’t even know how you could begin to seriously take into account hypothetical future partner’s opinions. They could literally be anything.

          • Violet

            My sister has been ambivalent about kids her whole life. She never did anything permanent by way of birth control, because her take was that she would do whatever her husband wanted. She married a guy who doesn’t want to have kids, so they’re not. But she didn’t make any permanent decisions until after she found her permanent guy.
            I’ve not found myself in a similar situation (yet), but I see that it is theoretically possible to consider the opinions of people you haven’t met yet.

          • Amy March

            And somewhere out there some woman might be really glad this dude had a vasectomy and she isn’t pregnant. It can’t possibly be selfish to fail to take into account the beliefs and desires of future people you might never meet who might have opposite preferences.

          • Not Sarah

            Yes! I would love to have fallen in love with a guy who had had a vasectomy.

          • cpostrophe

            I think that if a person chooses to sterilize themselves because they know that they don’t want to have children, we should respect the person’s choice and not call them selfish regardless of gender. The act of sterilization should definitely NOT be taken if you’re ambivalent, but it doesn’t sound like this man was undecided.

          • Orangie

            This x 100

          • Violet

            I respect people’s reproductive choices, whether male or female. It sounds like at this point, OP respects her husband’s choice as well. She was describing the process she had to move through emotionally to learn to do exactly what you’re saying is healthy to do- to not assign blame, to accept that this is the reality, and take ownership for her own decisions to stick with him given the reality she was very aware of from the get go.

            My knee-jerk reaction was about “selfish” automatically having to be a bad thing, which, you’re right, in the popular lexicon, it’s always taken that way (even though the actual definition is much more value-neutral). Women are often taken to task for not thinking of other people enough, and frankly, I find that attitude tiresome. I think people have times where they’re allowed to only think of themselves, whatever you want to call that. So anyway, my feelings about that got in the way of the actual issue at hand. I’ve appreciated reading your really clear response to my more muddled one!

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I think the writer meant selfish to be a bad thing in this case. I get what you’re saying, but using context clues here, the author was definitely implying that selfish = bad here. Notwithstanding, her process getting through it.

          • emmers

            When I used to buy things like comforters, sometimes I’d buy something less “girly,” in thinking that maybe someday I’d have a partner who wouldn’t like something so girly. Silly, past-me! I should have totally just gotten the comforters I wanted. Hindsight, ya’ll!

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            You can’t.

          • cpostrophe

            And to be fair, ‘independence’ is absolutely at play here. The guy got a vasectomy 4 years before meeting their fiancee! The writer had a choice about whether to pursue the relationship once she knew his choices around kids.

            Nobody gets to blame their partner for choices that they made before they met! It isn’t helpful, it isn’t supportive, and it isn’t healthy for either side.

            Continuing to insist on using a loaded word like ‘selfish’ but then saying that ‘it doesn’t mean what you think it does. You’re just assigning negative connotations.” is pretty textbook gaslighting.

          • MC

            Wow, I think ‘gaslighting’ is bit of a strong accusation. Violet is sharing her interpretation of the writer’s word choice. You’re sharing yours. The only person who can share what the word really is supposed to mean in this context is the author (and maybe an editor).

          • cpostrophe

            thank you, that’s a fair critique, and I’ll take back the gaslighting inference. I just get sensitive to when people feel a need to re-contextualize a word. Words mean things, and we do ourselves a disservice by trying to make excuses for either lazy or uncandid writing.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Yes and honestly, maybe selfish is what the writer meant to say. She says other things that make the use of the word selfish completely appropriate here. I’m not gonna say she was lazy. She said selfish. I assume that’s what she meant.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Sorry. I love your reasoning but this is a reach.

          • Violet

            Haha, thanks. It was a point for a different topic of discussion, clearly. You’re right that in the overall context of OP working through her uncharitable views of her husband’s choice, she meant it with a negative connotation.

      • AmandaBee

        To be fair, it was also referred to as a “dick move,” which I can’t imagine any sort of non-negative interpretation of.

        • Violet

          True. There are some definite “working out of feelings” happening in this post.

          • AmandaBee

            Yeah, I found it to be a lovely essay but it sounds like the author still has some serious stuff to work out in her head, not least of which is the blame being cast on the partner who, it sounds like, was very fair in the sense that he made his choice.

          • stephanie

            As someone who supported my husband’s decision to get a vasectomy when our son was 10 months old, I think it’s 100% healthy/normal for her to have many, many feelings to work through for possibly years. I grew up assuming I would have 2-3 kids because that’s what I was supposed to do, right? Maybe I wanted to, maybe I didn’t, but I didn’t really question it. We made the decision together and I have been in a wonderful place where I am firmly happy with the choice for a couple of years now, but it took a WHILE to get there.

          • AmandaBee

            Sure, it’s normal and healthy to have major feelings any time we need to adjust our pre-planned life path, and this is a huge change. But expressing those feelings as blame or guilt towards one’s partner come with the risk of developing some really unhealthy thought processes and relationship patterns down the road. The reality is that OP and her husband made a choice together: he chose to remove the potential for biological children, she made the decision to marry him knowing that meant a childfree future life. At no point was her choice taken away from her, though she seems to swing toward framing it that way, which is what I think people find concerning about this piece.

        • MC

          And see, I thought that was thrown in there to be a little punny :)

      • Amy March

        I don’t think it is possible to remove the negative connotation from selfish, and I don’t think it actually does mean something you do only for yourself. The negative parts are part and parcel of the definition of the word.

        • Violet

          I see what you’re saying. In general, I agree, it does have a negative connotation. But there have to be times where someone acts exclusively in their best interest without it being necessarily a bad thing. I don’t agree that word is “independent” in this case, and if “selfish” has already been completely co-opted by the dark side, I guess I just wish there was a better word. Then OP could have used it.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          Exactly.

    • lottie

      That was the one line that stuck out to me too, in a piece that I otherwise found thoughtful and lovely. I could understand the classification of the decision to get a vasectomy as “selfish” if they had already been dating and she made clear her interest in children. But committing to something he felt strongly about when there was no one else in the picture to object — just a decision he made, like getting a tattoo that someone else might find ugly (also mostly permanent) or buying a house that someone else might hate (easier to get out of, if the housing market is ok), etc. The parameters for making decisions–wise or poor–change depending on age, life stage, who is in our lives with us, etc.

  • Lauren

    “I believe two people should decide together if they want to have children. He took that choice away from me, and that was a dick move on his part. And yet…” This statement stuck out to me mostly because I can’t relate to this reasoning. To me, it’s always someone’s individual decision to create a human with someone else. I’ve decided I would not like to have a child with my husband, nor anyone else. He’s decided the same. No one has taken that decision away from me or him. But perhaps that is a less common way of thinking about? Not sure!

    • Amy March

      Me neither! I 100% want children. For me that isn’t up for debate or decision with a romantic partner- either you also want kids or bye.

      • Yep! My husband was very much on the fence, possibly leaning to no kids when we met. When it started getting serious I told him that there was no point in continuing our relationship if he didn’t want children and he made a decision.

    • Eenie

      I think that statement could be true if you were on the fence. I was on the fence. And my husband feels very strongly for children. His opinion influenced my decision, even though it was still my decision. That doesn’t mean everyone has to decide that with their partner.

  • Kayjayoh

    “He took that choice away from me, and that was a dick move on his part. And yet.”
    “I could have said that and walked away. I didn’t do that—I chose not to walk away.”

    Just moving those closer together, since I think they are important. He didn’t take the choice to have kids away from you. He took the choice to have kids *with him* away from you. Or, he didn’t offer the choice in the first place. And it is good that the essay addresses this. I just think that should be pulled out a bit.

    My husband hasn’t had a vasectomy, but from the very start of our dating (though not our courtship) he was crystal clear on his desire to no be a father. I knew this and chose to continue, because while I would love to be a mother, I really, REALLY don’t want to be pregnant or give birth.

    Had I fallen in love with a man who wanted children, I probably would have had them. Had having children been more important to me, I could have said, “No, this isn’t the relationship for me.” Instead, we are aunt and uncle to three kids, and I’m an “auntie” to a whole bunch more. Like the the writer, we had ALL THE KIDS at our wedding, and it was great. This past weekend I got to chase a 3 year old around the house and yard and have a 3 month old fall asleep on my chest. And then I got to give them back to their parents and go home. No regrets.

    But the choice was mine. Nothing was taken from me. I own my choices.

    • rachel

      “He didn’t take the choice to have kids away from you. He took the choice to have kids *with him* away from you. Or, he didn’t offer the choice in the first place. And it is good that the essay addresses this. I just think that should be pulled out a bit.”

      Yep. If having one’s own biological kids was the most important priority/value (which is often true, but also “selfish” in its own way) then one would make a different decision. Kids could still be on the table even with a vasectomy. There were a cascade of choices and decisions made, and they seem very thoughtful, so it seems unnecessary to make the partner’s pre-partnership decision so all-encompassing when it took away one option and only one option. Now, it probably reflects a broader desire not to have kids (but also could reflect a desire not to have biological kids or pass on certain genes or whatever), but that’s a different story.

      • emmers

        Yes. I thought about how Emily, another commenter here, did have kids with her husband, who had a vasectomy-reversal. I also thought about how if they had decided to, they could have adopted/had foster kids. Lots of options. I think the key here is that he didn’t want to have kids, and the author decided to stay with him, thus giving up kids. Two choices, neither right nor wrong, and no one was forced to make either, though it definitely sounds like it’s not been easy.

    • Meredith

      That line stuck out to me, too. I am in an eerily similar situation, except reversed. I, the female, do not want to have children and though I have not had my tubes tied, I was wildly clear about that early in our dating life. My male partner is 3 years younger than I am and was barely 23 when we met. I’m guessing he had not seriously thought about the kid/ no kid thing.

      If he wanted a life with children I was not it. I have 0 guilt about it. It was not a dick move on my part. He knows what he signed up for. It’s on him to own that decision as it was his and his alone.

    • AmandaBee

      I found this to be a really nice, thought-provoking essay. But I admittedly cringed at the first line as well, and the bit about making childbearing choices together. The idea of waiting to make any major decisions until we have our future (hypothetical) partners to consult with…just doesn’t seem ideal to me. Isn’t talking about life choices (especially kids) part of deciding if you’re compatible with someone?

      It sounds like the author may still be processing quite a bit here, and I would really encourage her to avoid laying blame and assuming that somehow her childfree state is his doing. That seems like a good way to quickly poison a marriage. He made a choice not to have kids; you had the choice to stay or go. None of those are selfish, cruel, or negative choices.

    • raccooncity

      I agree with this whole comment. Great essay about navigating the no-kids thing with your family, especially. I don’t want to pile on with the many, many commenters who have taken the OP to task about her idea that his decision not to have kids, which was openly shared with her from the very start, was selfish.

      I just want to point out that a huge part of the reason this didn’t sit well with me is because I speak out so loudly for women’s reproductive rights and their right to choose not to have a child at any time, whether permanently or on a by-pregnancy basis. Of course this man has the same rights, and those decisions do not make him selfish in the least. His body, his choice.

      • Kara

        Thank you for saying this. If we can support women and their choices with their own bodies, why can we not support a man and his choice about *his* own body!?!

        He chose this 4 years before they met. He chose his own path, and that was fully his decision. His spouse new about this decision from the very beginning.

        Calling someone selfish or calling their choice 4 years before you were ever in the picture a “dick move” is disheartening, disrespectful, and frankly hurtful.

        • toomanybooks

          Yeah, I miiight have called it a dick move if like, they’d already been together a while or married and he knew she wanted kids and he nipped that in the bud. But he did it before they met?

      • tr

        What he did was selfish, in that it was self serving. That doesn’t mean that it was wrong, just that it was done solely for his benefit. We all do things like that–unless you get married at 12, odds are, both partners have made some “selfish” decisions with repercussions that will be carried into the marriage (i.e. credit card debt, unnecessary student loan debt, aesthetically questionable tattoos, etc.). I hate this idea that “selfish” actions are inherently bad, because they aren’t. They can actually be very healthy.

        • raccooncity

          Yeah, I saw this argument elsewhere on the discussion. I think you’re (not you personally, just everyone making this argument) splitting etymological hairs in a conceptual discussion. Sure, I also wish that people would use the word ‘selfish’ in a fashion more accurate to the dictionary definition. However, given the context of the word in the entirety of the article and the other words the author uses to describe the act, it deeply suggests a less charitable view of the word.

  • Kathleen

    So timely, APW. My husband had a vasectomy yesterday. He has always known kids weren’t for him. My path to this decision was more meandering and my reasons are more complex. Making it final yesterday filled both of us with emotions, though we fully expect that in a few weeks we won’t even think about it. We’ll just be us, our same old lives, now with permanent birth control.

    • stephanie

      My husband had a vasectomy when our son was 10 months old, and while I was behind the decision, I was surprised by how I cycled through periods of being angry about it for years after (and also periods of being wildly happy). I’m now in a really great place where I don’t think about it, and I’ve been here for about 2 years. I don’t know the details of why for you guys (and am not asking for them—you owe me nothing), but just wanted to say that if you find yourselves feeling all the feels even years down the road, know that it’s ok and part of the process. If you’re totally over it in a few weeks, then awesome on you two. ♥

      • Kathleen

        Thank you, Stephanie. You bring up a good point. There’s something about making it permanent — just like the changes many couples feel between dating/being engaged and then crossing over to being married — that makes you do a lot of self-reflection and sorting through emotions. It’ll probably hit me at times, possibly forever, and I’ll wonder if I did the right thing, or I’ll think it was the best decision ever. I’m actually debating now whether to tell people, and whom to tell, and whether it’s anyone’s business, and what sort of reactions I might get.

        • stephanie

          By far, the most exhausting thing about it for me has been I know a number of people who insist that they just know, deep down, that they are meant to have more than one kid. No matter how many times I tell them that I once believed that I also knew this—I wish I still had an old blog post available in which I actually wrote that I could see the echos of potential children I could have had in my eyes, which makes no sense—they insist that they just KNOW IT and there’s no way they could be wrong. As someone who once thought I would have 3 kids and who is now SO HAPPY to have one, and who truly doesn’t want more kids and is happy as such, the endless tropes we push out about motherhood and how it’s the greatest thing women can do and how you’ll always regret not having a kid/having more kids (which is the other thing they like to say without directly saying it) are exhausting. The fact that some people can’t wrap their heads around people who really and truly don’t want kids at all, or people who really just one child, is exhausting. The worst stuff has always come from others, not what I’ve done or thought to myself. Best of luck to you guys!

          • Amy March

            But why isn’t it possible that they do just know, deep down, that they are meant to have more than one kid? Just because you changed your mind doesn’t mean they are wrong in their certainty.

          • anon

            Yup. I’m someone struggling through that right now with my hub. We desperately want more than one child. While I am very happy with our amazing child it’s just not how we intended our family to look–and age + a post childbirth infection have given me dubious (at best) fertility combined with two miscarriages that have crushed me. We’re in the lucky position of being able to afford fertility treatments (sadly, no insurance), but the minor ones we’ve tried (plus the miscarriages) are so so hard on my body and my mood (and therefore on our family life) that it makes it start to change some of the calculations.

          • MDBethann

            Hi anon. If you are having mood issues with the hormones, have you asked the doc about different ones? I did a low dose of Clomid early in our TTC journey and had horrible hot flashes – I felt like I was going through menopause. When we started IUI, the Clomid dose would have doubled, which was not okay with me, so we did a shot regime instead. I didn’t have a reaction to the shots. Our 3 rounds of IUI didn’t take, but we took a month “off” because of my work schedule (shots had to be timed) and that’s when I got pregnant. All any of us could figure out (docs included) was that the shots jump-started my system.

            Best wishes for your journey!

          • Lmba

            Oh my goodness, “if you don’t have more than _______, you’ll regret it later on!” Is, to me, just about the dumbest thing one person can say to another regarding their reproductive choices. Give me a break.

    • Orangie

      Just to share a different experience, I recently had the Essure procedure, and I was surprised that I didn’t feel any different afterwards. I guess I used up all of the feels before?

      This decision was mostly driven by me (I’m female, he’s male), and I do sometimes feel like I “forced” my partner into it, which is 100% not true. But truth and feelings don’t always align, do they?

      • Cellistec

        Thanks for mentioning Essure…I hadn’t heard of it, but now that I’ve looked it up, I’m bookmarking it for a future discussion with my doc.

        • Sara

          Do lots of research… there is a lot of recent controversy about the device and many, many horror stories.

          • Cellistec

            Oh I’m sure. I just wanted to check it out as one of many options.

  • MC

    I love this essay, thank you so much for sharing it. Husband & I are not having children and one of the things we are excited about with this decision is being able to be really present & involved in the lives of our nieces, nephews, and other kids in our lives. We’ve also talked about fostering when we’re older/more stable and/or hosting exchange students. I know many people do all those things while also having kids of our own, but for us & where we want our passions and energies to lie, this is the best choice for us.

  • Not Sarah

    Part of me wants to gift myself a tubal ligation for my 30th birthday. I’ll be 28 this weekend and I’ve never wanted kids. I don’t really like kids either, though how they learn things is a bit fascinating. My boyfriend is a bit taken aback that I am so confident in the decision that I would tie my tubes to be able to stick to it. (He’s in the “I like kids in general, but don’t want them in the next 5 years” phase of his life. I’m pretty sure he would decide to have kids at some point if I wanted them.) The main reason why I don’t want the surgery though is that my understanding is you still have your period even with your tubes tied and no way to have children.

    • toomanybooks

      It feels so useless to have to deal with periods every month when I know I’m not going to have kids… But, eh, I don’t feel like doing anything to my body to stop them.

      • Cellistec

        Same here. I wish I had the gumption to get permanent birth control, but my pills are free (thanks Obama!) and they’re mailed to me with the click of a button. The whole lack of fuss really enables my laziness.

        • Eenie

          I’m not 100% sure, but I thought most insurance covered sterilization pretty well since sterilization costs less money than adding a tiny human being to your policy. If you haven’t actually looked into how much is covered, it may be worth a look.

      • Q

        You’ll have to check with your insurance company, but the cost of tubal ligation SHOULD be covered in the US. Also possibly bilateral saplingectomy (complete removal of the Fallopian tubes, which is what my doc recommended–no chance of spontaneous healing and there’s some evidence it might help prevent ovarian cancer or something idr). I only had to pay like $12 for some bloodwork or something.

        Also, yeah you do still have to deal with periods. Mine are now lighter than they used to be but that’s by no means guaranteed.

        I’m not a medical professional, obviously, just sharing my experience. When I wanted to get sterilized it was REALLY hard for me to find good information– I was lucky enough to have access to a university library, and honestly I just ended up reading medical journals.

        • toomanybooks

          Personally I don’t have to worry all that much about the risk of having kids when I don’t want them because I’m engaged to a lady, but this will probably be helpful to other people! I have heard it’s a lot harder for women to get sterilized than men (and like, every teenager knows about a vasectomy but not really what the options for women are).

        • Just Saying

          Warning: Tubal ligation can and often does cause periods to become very very heavy. It’s a little-known syndrome. After I had mine, I then had to have endometrial ablation to control the bleeding.

      • Sara

        Look up uterine ablation. My friend had it done after her second child, and has no periods and is unable to get to pregnant. Leaves all your hormone-producing parts in tact, so no early menopause or anything. I think this is the option I will go for when the time comes.

    • Summer

      have a hysterectomy instead. That’s what I did. You can have one without an open surgery these days too. It’s awesome. All the sex and none of the pregnancy scares and NO PERIODS!!

      • Not Sarah

        Oooh!!! Thanks for the idea :)

  • Guest

    Unlike most commenters, I agree with the writer’s characterization of her husband’s vasectomy as “selfish” even though they had not even met. It wasn’t selfish at her expense, though. At least based on the information given, he did it to foreclose the possibility of having children and maybe because he didn’t want to worry about accidentally becoming a father. He wanted to make that choice for himself and any future potential partner. That is a much freer choice than the choice she had to make of take it or leave it. A sort of opposite scenario: what if she had decided to have a child before they met, in order to make sure she achieved her goal of a child-full life? Would that be selfish? Sure–in a way. But if he married her anyway, his choice would be the coerced choice and her choice the free, selfish one.

    • Amy March

      Coerced? What? All of choosing a partner is making decisions about whether you are game for joining what they have going on in their life.

    • MTM

      Making informed medical decisions for one’s self is not selfish. He has a right to choose independently if he wants children or not.

  • Q

    I wanted to throw in my own experience with sterilization and partners’ responses to it, especially since (as others have mentioned) I was also pretty uncomfortable with the line about his decision being selfish.

    I have never wanted to be pregnant but it turns out if you ask a GYN to sterilize you at 16 you get laughed out of the office. Since I wasn’t sexually active I figured it was a moot point, but once I got into a relationship with a dude that was moving towards being sexual, I made an appointment to get BC. Even though I was in my mid 20s, I was able to schedule my sterilization.

    I hadn’t mentioned the possibility of sterilization to my dude up til now because I didn’t know if it it really WAS a possibility (we HAD talked about whether or not we wanted kids and I had told him–honestly– that I would be open to adopting or whatever but did not ever want to be pregnant). But at this point I did tell him.

    We’d only been dating for a couple of months. For me, he had no part to play in that decision, insofar as he did not get any input. I told him that this was something I was going to do. That I really wanted to try and see if there was a future for the two of us together, but if this were something that would be a deal breaker I understood.

    You could argue–though I would strongly disagree– that what I did was selfish or that this was a decision I should have made with my dude. But we’d known each other for a couple of MONTHS. It was my choice, just like it was his choice if that was something he wanted in his relationship or not. Technically, we didn’t “decide together” if we would have biological children or not, but a relationship in which there would be biological children of mine would not be a relationship I would be in. So that decision is, in effect, already made, REGARDLESS of whether or not I am sterilized– we made that decision when we decided to stay together.

    To be clear, I am not uncaring of my dude’s feelings or how this affects him. I’ve been purposefully not saying a lot about what he said or thought throughout this, because that’s his to share, but it wasn’t like he was just like “yeah sure no problem!” It was something we did talk about. I also do think about the possibility of him ha I g to deal with pressure or flak or whatever from relatives down the road. But that’s something we’ll work out together.

    tl;dr
    I’m a ciswoman who chose to be sterilized and this wasn’t being selfish–my cisman partner and I still chose together whether or not to have children kids when we chose to stay together

    • Q

      Oops! That first line should say partner’s, not partners’. There’s probably other typos as well, sorry.

  • tr

    Prior to meeting me, my husband abused *ahem* “performance enhancing drugs” that affected his fertility. I don’t know if he’ll be able to have biological children or not, but if he is able to, it certainly won’t be as simple as it is for most people. So yeah, I get where the author is coming from. Goodness knows I wish he would have made different choices when he was younger.
    And yet, ultimately, that’s part of almost any marriage. When you marry someone, you are marrying their past decisions, both good and bad…and almost all people have a mix of both. Sure, I wish he would have given more thought to his future fertility and less thought to his ability to throw a football at 16, but that’s life. I’m sure he wishes that I would have picked a cheaper college to go to, or at least that I would have selected one sensible major rather than two incredibly useless ones.

    • Jenn

      “And yet, ultimately, that’s part of almost any marriage. When you marry someone, you are marrying their past decisions, both good and bad..”

      Well said!

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    “However, it doesn’t change the fact that this decision to remain childless is his choice, and it was a selfish decision. I believe two people should decide together if they want to have children. He took that choice away from me, and that was a dick move on his part. And yet.”

    I think it’s important to work through all of the different emotions we have when trying to deal with something that significantly impacts our lives, but I also think it’s important to call out the bs and work through that too.

    Something to think on: no one in life is owed a romantic and life partner. The very suggestion that a person shouldn’t make decisions about their reproductive health and inclination unless they are in romantic relationship with another implies that you owe someone partnership, a relationship etc. I find that absurd. People have lives and history and good times and sex and all sorts of things before they run into you because they’re living their own lives. And you get to decide, as an autonomous person, if you want to go along with whatever that person has got going on. This man deciding years before he met you that he did not want children and made sure that wouldn’t happen, wasn’t a dick move on his part just because you decided to fall for him, want him or decide that he’s the guy you want to marry. He didn’t take any choices away from you. There are over 7 billion people on the planet. This is the person you chose to be with. Good and the bad. You don’t have to demonize his choice to justify having all kinds of feelings about it.

    • KEA1

      THIS.

    • Plus a vasectomy reversible is also very easy (in the sense that it’s an inpatient procedure). And if that doesn’t work there is IVF, so it’s not even like kids in their future is impossible just because of the vasectomy.

      • MTM

        “…so it’s not even like kids in their future is impossible just because of the vasectomy.” Except that he’s very clear that he does not want children.

        • “JUST because of the vasectomy” was the key part of that comment. The point is that it’s not much different than being with someone who hasn’t had a vasectomy but still doesn’t want children. So she should grieve more at the fact that he doesn’t want children than the fact that he’s had a vasectomy…

  • CMT

    Jeez, there seems to be a lot of piling on today. The author doesn’t end this piece saying her husband is a selfish dick. It was a feeling she had, which is perfectly valid, and she worked through it enough to marry the dude and be happy. I know I’d feel pretty bummed if I talked about feelings I had that might have been irrational or recationary, but that I worked through and acted on appropriately. Let’s all just give each other a break every once in a while, okay?

    • Sarah

      Yup this is a personal essay about one woman’s experience. Hopefully writing it was therapeutic for her. She doesn’t need Internet strangers cross examing her for a few word choices

  • Alexandra

    This was a neat post. I once was very serious about a guy who had had a vasectomy, and the vasectomy was the only thing that I broke up with him over. Otherwise I think we could have been very happy together. We talked about marriage a lot.

    Life without the possibility of children because of my partner’s deliberate choice just wasn’t an option for me. I wasn’t angry at him for it. If he had been involuntarily sterile, I would have married him and adopted children or looked into other ways of having children. But he was very clear about his wishes. In a way, the vasectomy made him less selfish. What if he had married me on the premise that he was still deciding about children, when really he knew all along that he didn’t want them but didn’t want to do something so drastic that would obviously reduce his chances in the long-term relationship department?

    I probably would have been happy with the man I almost married all those years ago, and would have learned to be content without children (God knows the two I have now have changed my life drastically and I have found it is quite possible to have a rich, meaningful life both with and without children). But I’m grateful that he was so honest and so certain about what he wanted–it made it possible for me to make a clear choice with no regrets.

    • rg223

      I really like your framing of the vasectomy as a non-selfish choice. That’s a great way to look at it.

      • Alexandra

        Thanks! I thought about it after I wrote this–honestly, this ex-boyfriend was kind of a hero. Imagine if he had not gotten a vasectomy, pretended that he was on board with having kids (to keep the girl) and then dragged his feet and been lame about all the hard work afterward? (Like Trey with Charlotte on SITC; slightly different story but same idea) Now THAT would have been selfish.

        I really, really liked him. Walking away was hard. It was a choice I made knowing my true heart about what I wanted out of life and marriage. Nothing forced me to marry a guy who didn’t share my wishes. I think the title of this piece is misleading…the author DID have a choice. It was the choice to marry someone who had had a vasectomy.

  • Jbunny

    I am so, so tired of hearing that people who don’t have children are selfish. Getting someone pregnant and then disappearing is selfish. Choosing on your own, while you’re single, to get a vasectomy is not selfish.

    • MTM

      YES.

  • MTM

    “However, it doesn’t change the fact that this decision to remain childless is his choice, and it was a selfish decision. I believe two people should decide together if they want to have children. He took that choice away from me, and that was a dick move on his part.” This reminds me of a lot of the messages growing up in the Catholic church about saving one’s virginity for their future (unknown) spouse. I am having a really difficult time (like others) with this phrase. He doesn’t want kids. He made an informed medical decision about his own body. He didn’t take the choice away from the author; she could still have kids (presumably in a relationship with someone else).

  • Vasectomy Joy

    Hey, OP writing here. Very interesting to read all your thoughts and responses to my essay. There are two aspects to my choice of wording; in particular calling my husband’s decision to have a vasectomy “selfish” and “a dick move”.

    Firstly, english – in all its nuances – is not my first language. My wording was definitely never meant to be disrespectful or hurtful towards my husband. Note taken that those words were poorly chosen.

    Secondly: The question remains if such a decision is neutral or self-serving; if it is always made alone or should be made as a couple, etc.
    I appreciate that so many of the comments here have stressed that it is always a decision that someone makes by and for himself/herself. Framing it that way is indeed helpful as it takes a lot of hypotheticals out of the equation.

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  • The_D_Man

    Your body your choice, his body his choice. Hypocritical Women.

    A father has ZERO say in whether the woman should get an abortion or not; the only form of birth control men have is condom (which is not 100% reliable, and easily sabotage). But all of a sudden, men are selfish for getting a vasectomy? LOL. A man getting vac. to protect his wealth is no different than a woman getting pregnant for child support.