No One Warned Me
"I remember when I should have shared our story with you," reflected my sister-in-law. "We were standing in your kitchen and you were talking bout having a tubal ligation after the baby was born. I knew I was supposed to share with you our heartache over my husband’s vasectomy, but I just couldn’t."
I was 26 years of age and pregnant with our third child. My husband and I had been married for six years and we had shared the joy of the births of our daughter and son. Up until this point my body had responded on command, just like I had been taught in my high school sex education classes. As a teen I was told that if you didn’t use birth control, you would become pregnant. However, if you did use birth control and practiced using it consistently, you wouldn’t become pregnant. Planned Parenthood’s "misinformation" colored my attitude and I unknowingly carried this into my marriage. My body belonged to me. I called the shots. After all, a woman needed to be "in control" in this area…or so I thought.
I was shocked when I learned that I was carrying our third child. "How can this be, David?" I cried, "We were using birth control! I can’t be pregnant, I just can’t be pregnant!" I sobbed in despair. The timing of this pregnancy was lousy. David had just quit his full-time job and had enrolled in college to finish his computer Science degree. I was working two part-time jobs to help meet the needs of our family. Now that I was pregnant, how were we going to manage?
For weeks I was furious that my body had betrayed me.
"I've let you down, David. How can I ask you to quit school now?" I moaned. David had been going to school on and off again for the past 14 years, trying to complete his four year degree. He was only three semesters away from completion. Between anger and despair, I even thought of abortion. How dark my thoughts were! I was desperate. I had to find a way out!’
During this time I was very active in our local Christian church where I sang in the choir, helped in VBS, etc. But I was not reading God’s Word, and if the Holy Spirit had tried to bring the truth to me, I was not aware of it. Both sides of our family verbally gave me the go ahead to undergo a tubal ligation. Even our friends chimed in with "Three children are enough for anybody."
At the time of the birth of our son, Aaron, I had my tubes tied. It was neat and tidy, and that was that until Aaron and I came home from the hospital. He was a precious, perfect little boy and my spirit became so heavy as I realized for the first time what I had done. Didn’t God’s Word say that children are a blessing? Who was I to say that they weren’t? Why was my attitude about children so contrary to God’s? I came to realize how selfish I was. I had entrusted my eternal life to the Lord’s keeping, yet somehow I thought I should be in control of my life here on this earth. I looked at Aaron’s round face, beautiful blue eyes, gorgeous red hair, and I wept for the future babies to whom I had said, "No" by having a tubal ligation. While reading Philippians 2:21, I read these words which so aptly described myself. "For they all seek after their own interests not those of Jesus Christ."
For months after Aaron’s birth I continued to sweep my feelings under the rug. I deeply regretted my decision, but I felt that I needed to "get a grip" on myself and get on with my life. Within 12 months I was into a full-blown emotional whirlwind that took me by storm. It swept me off my feet physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Nothing in my entire Christian life had prepared me for the warfare that began taking place. Racked with guilt over our decision, combined with fear, stress, and anguish, I was eventually hospitalized with symptoms that led me to believe that I was having a heart attack. I had so much pressure bearing down on my chest that I was sure I was going to die.
Within two days the doctors said that everything was fine and sent me home to take things a little easier. However, it became very clear to me that I was under tremendous conviction by the Holy Spirit. I knew what I had done was wrong, but I didn’t know how we would be able to make things right.
David and I confessed our sin to the Lord. On many occasions when David would come home from work to find me once again weeping, he would take me to our bedroom and pray that the Lord would help us find a way to make me physically and emotionally whole again. We asked the Lord to bless us with more children and we asked that He would provide the finances as well as a doctor who could do a reversal.
God forgave us for the sterilization, and two years later mercifully provided for a reversal operation through the sale of our home. I cannot begin to describe the joy that David and I felt when the Lord brought buyers for our home and they offered us our full asking price. Not only were we able to pay off our debts, purchase a home with twice the living space, but we now had the needed funds to pay for reversal surgery.
The Lord led us to Dr. David Brewer, a gifted micro-surgeon, committed to the ministry of restoring a woman’s reproductive system. He was very hopeful for a successful reconnection of my fallopian tubes. Three long years and one week after my tubal ligation, I was in surgery with Dr. Brewer to have my tubes reconnected.
I had always taken my body for granted, but after reversal surgery, I came away with a deep appreciation of the body that my Lord made for me. My fallopian tubes can never be restored as perfectly as God formed them. In fact, x-rays reveal that they are rather shortened and some doctors speculate that this in itself hurries the journey of the fertilized egg too quickly through the tube to the womb. God made our bodies in such ways that even the medical community doesn’t fully comprehend how the length of the fallopian tube affects the journey of the baby to the womb.
At the time of this writing, I have watched three anniversaries of my reversal surgery come and go and still there is no baby in our home. In a period of 21 months I have been pregnant four times and the Lord chose for those babies to arrive home in His arms and not mine. At times I was sure that I was only hanging on to my Lord by a thread. "Father God, " I prayed, "I obeyed you and it cost me so much. Why, Lord, have you not allowed a baby to remain in my womb? Why, Lord?" In the face of each miscarriage, I have been painfully reminded that before my sterilization my body worked beautifully - three blessings, Kristen, Adam and Aaron.
During my fourth miscarriage, Dr. Brewer prayed with me and suggested that we see a Reproductive Immunologist. For the first time in over three years, we now have some answers. It seems that my body has been attacking the baby, when it should have been protecting the baby. My body cannot seem to discern that a baby is a group of ‘good cells.’
As I sat in Dr. Brewer’s office reviewing my treatment for this problem, he became very quiet. Minutes ticked by and then he spoke. "Do you suppose that this immunological problem was a result of your sterilization? We know that a man who has undergone a vasectomy begins to attack and kill his own sperm cells." He paused and went on, "The ramifications of this would be phenomenal."
The consequences of tubal ligation are very real. Between 20 percent and 40 percent of women suffer from post tubal ligation syndrome which means that women are experiencing increased pain with periods, abnormally short or long menstrual cycles, severe PMS and Pelvic pain. In addition, women who have undergone a tubal ligation end up having a hysterectomy much sooner than women who were not sterilized.
Every day for over five years I have had to live with the physical ramifications from my sterilization, but the emotional and spiritual consequences are even greater. 1 Corinthians 3:16,17 says, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are."
There is no doubt in my mind that I would have been crippled emotionally, if we had not chosen to restore the damage done to my fallopian tubes. I cannot begin to speculate where my spiritual journey would be with the Lord if we had chosen to pocket the extra cash that we had made from the sale of our home. To have done so would have been an act of disobedience, because the Lord convicted us to make restitution for what we had done.
No one ever warned us about the consequences of sterilization. My sister-in-law and I have wept together many times over the painful journey on which this path has taken us. Our way is NOT better than God’s. We will never again refuse God’s most precious blessing, the gift of a baby.
I look back on the journey the Lord has brought us through. In 1994 we underwent a series of treatments to correct an immunological response my body was having to each pregnancy. My body began to attack each baby and destroy it rather than protect it. Once we completed this yearlong process, we began praying for another baby, but no subsequent pregnancy ever came to be. We continued through the medical process of looking for answers to why I wasn’t becoming pregnant again. In 1996 I underwent a laparoscopy and we found that I had had an ectopic pregnancy which had ruptured through my fallopian tube and had bled extensively causing irreparable damage to my reproductive system.
The Lord in essence made it very clear to us that our journey to physically bear another child was now through. The Lord had released us from doing anything further medically and as we wept over this closed door, we were also thankful that this medical ordeal would now be over.
My arms still ache for another child, but there is a peace that I can stand before the Lord knowing that I did all that could be done medically to make the way for a little one to survive in my womb. My heart is so tender to all babies now and especially to mothers undergoing infertility and miscarriage. Now I can fully share that burden with them.
We would covet your prayers as we seek to adopt a baby. In the adoption world we are looked upon rather oddly. Why would a couple with three children want to adopt a baby? Please pray that the Lord would bring a birth mom to us and that we would honor our Lord through this whole process. This is a new chapter in our lives and we feel that the baby that we desired and so longed for will be a precious "heaven sent angel" in our home. I’d love to hear from you.
22950 S Dreschsel Road
Worley, Idaho, USA 83876
David and Sherrie’s children are: Kristen (14), Adam (12) and Aaron (9)
Published 1994 in Above Rubies # 42 and updated June 1997.
No children since reversal.