Monday, August 12, 2013

Two and Done: Birth Control Decisions

As some of you may know, Justin and I finally made some birth control decisions rather than continuing our completely ineffective approach of just winging it (see examples A and B).  While our previous approach has resulted in some pretty fantastic offspring, we had already decided while Lucia was still cooking that two is enough for us.  [Funny to read a post before we even knew she was a she.]

I looked into Mirena at my 6 month post-birth checkup, but that was pre-Obama Care so it was going to cost a whopping $1000.  I passed, and we invested in the dreaded giant box o' condoms.  Then the transition from a 3 family unit to a 4 family unit proved to be especially challenging for us (HA - understatement of the year), so I was more worried about the state of my marriage than the state of my uterus.  

Once things settled down and we entered into marriage v. 2.0 (now with improved stability!), we decided we were ready to transition to birth control that we didn't have to think about.  After the year we had, it should have been a no brainer, but I did make myself think through a number of scenarios before I was completely comfortable with the decision.  

If we got divorced, would I want more kids?

What if we won the lottery?

What if one of the girls got really sick / was in a terrible accident / was abducted by aliens and we suddenly became a one kid family?  

I know it's really awful/morbid to think about losing a child and that a new baby would never fill that hole, but that's just how my mind works.  I needed to think through every possibility and to be comfortable that NO MATTER WHAT, we were done having kids.  It wasn't that hard.  I'm 34 and I'm fucking TIRED.  I have two beautiful, healthy girls.  You have to actually PLAY the lottery to win.  I'd probably just get some cats if we got divorced.  I'm done.

I originally talked to my doctor about Essure, but she quickly pointed out that Mirena should be free now and sort of gently pushed me in that direction.  I had heard some horror stories but I have never had any issues with the pill (other than, you know, REMEMBERING TO TAKE IT and HAVING A BACKUP PLAN WHEN ON ANTIBIOTICS, which are kind of key to its effectiveness).  Plus the possibility of not getting a period was appealing, so I decided to go for it.  Worse comes to worse I could take it out and go for Essure later.

But that was only half of the equation.  Justin and I are both fairly convinced that we would totally be those people who still managed to get pregnant even with appropriate protections in place, so we were in complete agreement that he should get a vasectomy double tapping a zombie.  Enough of his work friends had it done right there in the doctor's office for no charge, with no issues healing up.  He was fully prepared that it wouldn't be FUN, but that it wouldn't be the end of the world either.  And he was beyond certain that he is done having kids.  He was ready.  

We actually both had our various procedures done the same week.  Skip the next 2 paragraphs unless you are in the process of doing your own birth control research and are gathering info, they are TMI heavy.  

Mirena Issues: I had fairly awful cramps for the first 4 days or so (sort of like the post birth contractions that make your uterus shrink / help milk production), and have had a RIDIC amount of spotting.  It started on day 5, lasted for like 2 weeks after that, and I have had 10+ days of spotting for the two periods I have had since.  I personally would rather have my crazy heavy 4-5 day period than nearly 2 weeks of spotting, so that's annoying (but my doctor says it should even out).  And about 2 weeks after insertion Justin became convinced that he can now feel the strings if I'm on top when we are having "married people time" (TM Erica).  The doctor checked the strings and said he SHOULDN'T feel them but yet he says he can.  So that is beyond annoying.  If that continues, I'm likely going to have it removed at my next annual appointment, assuming both of Justin's samples are clear.  As promised, I have not been charged for insertion.  

Vasectomy Issues: The procedure itself was pretty simple - J had to take some happy pills before we went in that made him delightfully loopy, he disappeared for a half hour or so, then I was good to take him home.  It took him at least a week to recover, and he took vicodin that whole time.  It was KILLING ME to watch him milk it, because I had 2 kids without pain medicine, both of which involved WAY MORE STITCHES than what he had, and I still had to be a fully functioning parent within seconds after popping them out.  But whatever.  He's fine now.  He had to submit one sample last week and has another in a couple of months to make sure there are no rogue babymakers in his man goo.  [Oddly, he literally called me as I was typing this - sample #1 came back negative].  The only real problem was the bill - he was under the impression that since the procedure was done in the doctor's office it wouldn't be that costly, but since the room he recovered in was owned by the hospital, he was charged $1700 freaking dollars.  Not a happy surprise.  

I also mentioned here that I am a bitch on Mirena and Justin is way nicer post vasectomy.  So that's weird.  I don't like to be yelling mom / mean wife.  Ugh.

So, would we do it again?  Probably.  We are the laziest, and these options are good for lazy people.  Since I like to grade the things I talk about (power trip!!) I'll give vasectomies a solid A and Mirena a C-.  If Mirena doesn't get her act together in the next grading quarter, she drops to an F and will have to find a new home in the trash bin.  

Please share your birth control stories below, good or bad.  If you have Mirena, do you love it or hate it?  Does it suck to get it removed?  Did your husband have a vasectomy and now you have a chubby little newborn?  How did you know you were done having kids / How do you know you're not??? Tell me everything, I want to know!


Lisa (@PixelatedMama) said...

Ohhh, I'm going to be stalking this comment thread. We are in the giant box o' condoms phase and UGH, I'm so over it. This permanent birth control thing though, such a touchy subject for us.

There's some unknown tie between melanoma and pregnancy, which is a weird thing itself because it's one of those things that you either "believe in" or you don't. Some docs say to worry about it, others say don't. But I just CAN'T go there. (Which is so awkward, because medical professionals find out we only have one and I say we're done, they want to know why, and when I say why, they act like I'm nuts and tell me not to worry about it. And I know they mean well, but they're not helping.)

Anyway. J is very weirded out by the *idea* of a vasectomy. And honestly, I don't know if that's the best choice. Why preserve MY fertility, when really my body is the issue here? If something happened to me, would he want to have kids with someone else (he swears he wouldn't, but I don't think he can really answer that now.)

Damn adult decisions.

Celeste said...

Mine refused the snip and I knew I was done. A tubal didn't seem worth the downtime and hospital bill for how much fertile time I had left. I did try going back on the pill but it seemed like such a nuisance to have to get refills on top of all I had to do. My OB was crazy wild for Mirena, so I got it. Basically it's setting out the welcome mat for menopause. I have gained some weight, but I don't blame the gadget. I seldom spot and if I do it's only for a couple of hours. I'm on my second one now, and I have to say that removal was a non-event. Getting a new one put in was worse than getting the first one because I got a little cut on my cervix that had to be sealed up with some horrid biogel that was a nightmare. But when this one comes out in 2016, I'm done.

I don't know that there's any best answer but I think most people find something that's good enough. All I can say is, don't rely on condoms exclusively if you really truly don't want any more kids. That's how a friend of mine got #3, and it inspired people to tell her to her face no less, that she wasn't really trying not to conceive. Number 3 is an amazing child, though, but post snip he's the end of the line. ;o)

susan said...

I really enjoyed mirena. I think it took two months but I eventually had zero period. B said he never felt it, I know I never paid any attention or noticed it. If I didn't hold out the hope that maybe some day I'll get pregnant, I'd go back on it to avoid a period. Sorry you're not loving it. I cramped the afternoon after it was removed, but that was it. Nothing afterwards.

I have high estrogen levels apparently (my old doc said it was because of my weight?) so I tried to stick to lower estrogen solutions. I bled for 3 weeks a month with the ring, so I knew that combination of hormone wasn't for me..

Kara Keenan said...

I have the copper IUD, and I got it when I was 8 weeks post-partum with #3. So, my IUD is now 6 years old. This means I'm at the point where I'm starting to freak out that it will fail me because A. I'm the unluckiest person born and B. It failed for other women in my family at the 7 year mark. My DH won't get snipped. Just won't do it, is convinced that he'll be the guy that has complications. As far as I know he's never "felt" the strings of the IUD. So, I'm looking into Essure (though my OBGYN doesn't love the idea of having two pieces of metal in your body for the rest of your life) and getting my tubes tied. Essure will be covered by my insurance. Another IUD will be covered by my insurance (and that will take me to my early 40's if I go that route). I don't know about a tubal however, and what my insurance would cover. But I do know that I am DONE with having children. And that I don't want any hormonal birth control. I'll live with the horrible cramps and heavy periods if it means I'm not pregnant.

Brenna said...

I am in the midst of trying to get my husband to get his butt in gear re: vasectomy. He says he wants to, and that he will, but he's been saying it for years and hasn't made a move. So, now I'm being proactive. I'm getting urologist recommendations, and figuring out the best time for him to get it done.

I've considered Mirena and Essure, but I'm not jazzed about hormonal bc or having foreign objects in my body. So I'm thinking about a tubal ligation at this point. I have 3, I'm 35, and I am DONE DONE DONE. Why not make the leap? Cost is really the only factor at this point. Is a tubal covered under Obamacare? Anyone?

Brenna said...

And I forgot the vasectomy FAIL story: A friend of mine (this is an actual friend, not an urban legend that I heard sixth hand) got pregnant with her 4th less than a year after her husband's vasectomy. They weren't too terribly upset (they got a boy after 3 girls), but there it is. It happens.

Lacey said...

I HAD the Paragard IUD because I no likey the hormones in BC. It was pretty great after the first couple months of heavier periods. We are not done though, so the IUD is no more for now. I'll likely get that again after baby #2 until we decide if we are done with just 2 (he=yes! me=not so sure) and make more permanent bc decisions at that point.

Swistle said...

Paul had a v-snip, not only because that's what seemed fair (I did all the hormonal birth control AND pregnancies AND childbirths) but on our insurance male sterilization was way cheaper than female. (It was totally covered except for an office-visit copay---but his doctor didn't do the good drugs or the recovery room.) Also, if he'd left me and I remarried, I would have wanted to have the option to have more children (and I would NOT have wanted HIM to have some with some new wife, after he said he didn't want any more with me). After his second, er, test, we haven't used anything else.

Mama Tully said...

Good info, thanks for sharing! I'm always curious about other people's family planning methods. Right now we are just using breastfeeding as bc, lol! Not the most effective, but I don't usually get my cycle back until my babies are around 9 months old or so, so I'll worry about it then. I think I'd like to have another baby in a few years (although, I'm no spring chicken, so that may not happen) and the hubby is sort of on the fence regarding a 4th child (would be less so if we also won the lottery, haha). But we aren't quite ready to take any permanent measures yet, though when we are, the hubby is definitely getting a vasectomy.

Brittany said...

My first Mirena was amazing, I had literally no problems whatsoever. I had it removed, popped another wee one out and got a new one. I don't know if they changed the formula of it or what happened but I became an unbearable bitch with the new one. It went as far as me having thoughts about harming my kids, husband and self.

Needless to say, had that shit yanked and I'm playing Roulette.

Alicia Curley said...

This was great - thank you for sharing, even if you think its TMI. The TMI is what helps make others make better decisions! I am beyond paranoid about birth control not working and I too would be afraid that I would be in the small percentage where the IUD would fail. But my boyfriend and I are so young (not married yet, not yet in our 30's) so its too soon to say "no kids for sure." which means anything more permanent is out of the question... I too have issues with pills (forgetting to take them). I used the ring for awhile and might consider going back to that because it is relatively easy and less annoying that pills. But at the same time, I still don't trust it.


Emily said...

I was DONE after the first one and when number two came around, I knew something had to be done. The big ol' box of condoms got us baby number two, so that was out. Hormonal birth control makes me batshit crazy, so no. Mirena wasn't covered by my insurance and would have cost $1,000 that we didn't have, so nope. And B was a gigantic wuss about getting a vasectomy, which left me with Essure. This also worked well because I was a million percent sure I didn't want any more kids, and B was still sort of on the fence about wanting a third. I told him he's more than welcome to have all the kids he wants. It just won't be with me.

I don't have any Essure issues. It was an outpatient procedure, but I had to be put all the way under anesthesia (I've heard that some docs will do it in their offices). I felt yucky and crampy for a day or so afterward, but that was it. I also had to go back in six months for an HSG, and had to use a back up method until the test to make sure everything was nice and blocked off.

Jess said...

I had a Mirena inserted at my six-week post-partum visit after having Callum, and loved it. Insertion barely hurt. I spotted lightly for about six weeks. After that I had faint spotting for a few days as my period each month--nothing that required more than a pantyliner to deal with. Torsten never felt the strings. I had it removed so we could go for baby #2, and I'm planning on getting another after this one is born. We are done after this, so when we get near the end of the next Mirena's five years, we will discuss whether we want Torsten to get a vasectomy or if I will just keep getting Mirenas. Or both.

If the strings are bugging Justin, I bet you can get them trimmed. My midwife told me you don't REALLY need to check the strings regularly, which is good because I could never reach mine anyway. Trimming the strings short is certainly preferable to taking it out entirely, assuming the heavy spotting clears up--which it most likely will.

kirida said...

My husband and I did the same thing--his v-snip and my Mirena IUD. You can get them trimmed. I saw a show on Bravo where the woman just took it out herself and I went eeeeckkk. It's the second one I've had and I love it. It took a while before the cramps and periods stopped, but now, it's heaven.

Jessica said...

I loooooved my Paraguard. I suffered through and experimented with hormones for a long time, then moved to the box o' condoms, both of which I hated and had to think about constantly. But the Paraguard. So nice. I didn't have to think about it and it didn't have side effects. I'll get another one after #3, assuming #3 ever happens.

d e v a n said...

D got the Big V when Miss L was a month or two old. After his second check, we have used nothing.

Carol said...

This is really a great decision of both of you. I would like to appreciate your decision of yours.
Painless Childbirth