The Reversal, Part 1: The Vasectomy

This series has been much requested and a long time coming. It has been hard for me to put this all down in black and white, since this journey was such a personal one. I’ve split the story up into parts to keep it from being too long. They will be published over the next 3-4 days.


Our vasectomy reversal was so much more than just a change of mind.  It was a chance for us to grow up in and embrace our faith, and it was a major turning point in our lives.  But I can’t share the story of the reversal without telling you how we ended up with a vasectomy in the first place, because those were the first steps on our journey.

I have hesitated to put this story in print for a very long time because one of our children was a complete surprise and it was that pregnancy that led us to get the vasectomy.  I never wanted him to have to read this story and feel in any way like he brought our faith crisis and vasectomy about, because it wasn’t him, it was our reaction to the difficulties that come with pregnancy.  Interestingly enough, down the road, it was the vivaciousness and joy of this child that helped to change our hearts.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  I just have to start by saying that Ben, you were the best surprise that I ever received.  You changed my life for the better in so many ways and I thank God for you all the time.

And now, The Vasectomy.

Pregnancy is never really an easy thing to go through.  It is exhausting and hard on the body.  But my body’s response to pregnancy was to experience morning sickness to an extreme degree.  What I experienced was called Hyperemesis Gravidarum and involved complete disability on my part.  I lost a ton of weight and could barely move without it causing more extreme nausea and vomiting.  My first pregnancy involved multiple hospital stays.  In subsequent pregnancies I was able to use home health care for my I.V. fluids when I couldn’t hold down foods for weeks on end.

During my third pregnancy in five years, the stress really got to us and we decided that we could not go through this again.  Since I was breastfeeding and had just become Catholic, we resolved to follow the Church’s teachings on birth control and use NFP to prevent getting pregnant ever again.  We went through the classes and began to chart in earnest.  (We had charted and used NFP to conceive our third child, but this was our first experience really using NFP to prevent pregnancy.)

Seventeen months later, during an ambiguous cycle involving a fever on my part, we learned that we had a fourth baby on the way.

I was angry, Jay was angry.  I felt both betrayed and at fault at the same time.  How could I make such a mistake?  How could NFP fail us like this?

In retrospect, once our emotions calmed down, we were able to look at our chart and see exactly how it happened.  The rules are there for a reason and they define the fertile and infertile times.  We very clearly broke the rules in hopes of shortening our time of abstinence.  The end result was that we were now pregnant.

But it took us a long time to realize that.  At that moment, we just felt like we could no longer trust NFP to keep us from getting pregnant.  Our need to not get pregnant again became frantic as I endured the worst pregnancy yet as far as the Hyperemesis.  For weeks, I could barely move.  I was under the supervision of a negligent doctor at the time who allowed my condition to become very serious.  At one point, when I had nothing by mouth for nearly three weeks, the home health nurse came to deliver supplies and start a new I.V. line and was disturbed to find me in such a state.  My heart had begun to beat erratically and I was barely conscious.  He told us that he wasn’t leaving our home until he had spoken to the doctor directly and seen that I had been admitted to the hospital.

Thankfully, the negligent doctor was not on call that night and the nurse made contact with another doctor in the practice who took my condition seriously.  I was admitted and received some better treatment during that hospital stay.

That was a scary time for Jay, and really sealed in his mind that we just could not go through this again.

I recovered slowly and had a healthy baby boy, our Benjamin, in May of 1997.

Ten months later found us in a clean, fancy doctor office for Jay’s vasectomy.  The doctor brought us both back, talked for a moment, and then I was led back to the waiting room.  I waited and read a Cosmo in that shiny, white place.  20 minutes or so later,  Jay walked out, seemingly no different.  I was surprised that he wasn’t in pain, but he was still numb from the anesthetic.  I brought him home and tucked him in bed so he could rest for the day.  He told me a little bit about what happened back there, but I don’t remember that we ever really discussed it much again.  It was over, we were done.  No more fear of living through an awful pregnancy like that again.

We knew that what we had done was a sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church.  But we really felt that if the Church had to really look at our situation, they would have made some kind of loophole.  I mean, my health was at stake!  That last pregnancy had been the worst of all, who knew what could happen if we were to slip up again!  One friend of mine was understanding but did all she could to talk me out of it.  She was never pushy, she just offered information, she never judged us.  I was very grateful for that, and it kept our communication open for later on when our hearts started to change.

The Reversal, Part 2: A Change of Heart

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