Be My Guest: Tara Pringle Jefferson


She had six children. Found a doctor to give her eight more. And my guest today can't get her tubes tied. Hmmmm.

A few months ago, I got a submission for the Pitch Me section of my blog. A young woman who wanted to get her tubes tied had written an essay for a mothering website. They passed on her essay and she wanted my thoughts on why. I read the essay. And I thought it was great. I wasn’t sure why the website didn’t publish it. But I explained that Pitch Me was for ideas that were passed on–not fully completed stories.

But I urged Tara to pitch the essay to another magazine. It was timely and it was provocative–two great combinations.

Then, I asked Tara if she’d be willing to share her story with us. I’m not a large-circulation magazine–yet–but we do have a community of people who’d be interested in hearing her story.

Tara agreed.

And I’m honored to have her as my second guest blogger…

It’s quite a dilemma Ms. Jefferson has. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Enjoy…


“I want my tubes tied.”

It was my first question to my gynecologist after I found out I was pregnant with my second child, not even a year after giving birth to my first.

My doctor hesitated. “I don’t want to tell you no,” he said. “But I will say that I don’t recommend women get their tubes tied, especially at your age. If you regret it, it’s very hard to get it reversed.”

“But I won’t want it reversed.”

“But you might.”

“But I won’t.”

“Tara, you’re only 22 years old. You might want it reversed.”

“I won’t.”

“But you might.”

Around and around my doctor and I argued for the rest of my pregnancy. At 22, it was assumed that I couldn’t possibly know if I’m done having kids.

But if I’m old enough to have a working uterus, shouldn’t I be old enough to decide when it should retire? And if I wanted it reversed later, that’s on me. I made the decision and I’d have to live with it. That’s how adulthood works, right?

I got pregnant with my daughter when I was 20. I was finishing up my senior year of college, working toward a degree in journalism. I had completed a promising internship with Reader’s Digest and was looking forward to returning after graduation.

I gave birth six days before my 21st birthday.

Before my career as a writer could even take off, I had taken a major detour through the land of Dreams Deferred.

I got married and graduated from college soon after my daughter was born.

And then, when my daughter was 11 months old: I found myself staring down another positive pregnancy test.

Say it with me: breastfeeding is not birth control. No matter what the old folks say.

I have to be honest. When I saw the pregnancy test, the only thing I could think was: damn.

My husband’s support was the only thing that kept me going. He has this unbreakable cool. He just doesn’t get flustered – ever. Fatherhood didn’t faze him in the least.

I wanted to jump off a roof.

Okay, baby number two was on the way. Fine. But as I drove to my first prenatal appointment, I knew I was going to ask my doctor about a tubal ligation after giving birth.

It wasn’t that I resented having my daughter or that I didn’t love her. Quite the opposite. My love for my daughter was all-consuming. Her moods controlled my moods. If she was happy, I was happy. If she was upset, I wanted to die. I couldn’t imagine having two (or more) kids, each with the ability to control my happiness, to tear my heart into several different directions.

I wanted to be a good mom, but I felt I was barely getting the job done with the kid I had.

First, I struggled with breastfeeding. (It’s hard to adjust to a baby hanging off your nipple twelve times a day.) Then I experienced a mild bout of postpartum depression. On top of that, we dealt with her extreme eczema flare-ups that required me to coat her in prescription-strength body oil twice daily.

Once it was time for me to go to work full-time, I discovered that finding suitable, affordable childcare was a drag.  I had to change my work schedule and piece together babysitters here and there.

“I can’t believe I’m going to do this again,” I thought to myself late one night as I rocked my daughter to sleep.

I began to rethink my prior choices of birth control. Clearly I needed something more effective. I’d gotten pregnant while on the pill. And the birth control patch left huge, red, oozing welts on my skin. I had to figure out something.

The truth was: I knew I was done having kids. In my heart, two kids would be more than enough.

And yet, my doctor still won’t consent.

When my daughter is screaming to watch Mickey Mouse for the tenth time or my 10-month-old son is throwing five-pound dumbbells (true story), I’m tempted to camp out in my doctor’s front yard until he puts me on his schedule for the procedure, my age be damned.

Other friends my age reported the same struggles with their doctors. Most doctors want you to wait until you are over 30 with a couple of kids under your belt.

While Nadya Suleman found a doctor to agree to in-vitro fertilization to give her eight babies at once, (brining her total to fourteen), I can’t find a doctor who will allow me to limit the amount of babies I bring in to the world.

One of my young friends was able to convince her doctor to do the procedure, but only after she had three kids in three years. Too late – she’s full-on crazy now.

After I had my son, my doctor and I settled on the five-year IUD. He assured me it’s 99.8 percent effective, but all I want to do is talk to the 0.2 percent about how they got knocked up.

I’m still considering having the procedure done next year.

Maybe they’ll consider me old enough at 24.


Tara Pringle Jefferson is a freelance writer from Ohio. (She lives in Stow, which is near Akron, which is where LeBron is from. See, she’s famous.) She writes the parenting blog, The Young Mommy Life ( and volunteers with a local teen-moms group.

Dear Readers: At first I was thinking, if Tara wants to get her tubes tied, let her! Then she sent me this photo this morning and I was like, “she’s a baby! Don’t touch her uterus!”

23 is so young. I sort of agree with her doctor. But then, it’s her body. And her responsibility if she regrets it. Right? Ugh. I don’t know where I stand.

What do you think? Should Tara find a doctor who will tie her tubes if that’s what she wants? Do you think 23 is too young for this procedure? Do you think she may actually want another baby in five years? Doesn’t she have the right to do this if she wants to?

Tara and I would love to hear from you…

36 Responses to “Be My Guest: Tara Pringle Jefferson”

  1. allison Says:

    1. I cannot stand Nadya Suleman. I know, not the point and it’s prob fertility related hate on my part, but still, I needed to say it.

    2. When I first saw this, I thought to myself, what the hell did I know at 22??? Hell, what do I know now, but I digress. I mean I am pro-choice in every sense of the word, but something about this seemed hasty and not well thought out to me. Then I read the story and I can’t imagine having two under two at twenty-two – now say that five times fast! She makes a point, it’s her body and her choice and if later she decides it was a mistake, she’ll have to sleep in that bed when she gets to it. Sorry, messed up the saying. I think back to decisions I made back then and I know if I had the chance to go back, I’d prob make different ones, but that’s what growing up and being a grown up is all about. Making choices and either dealing with the consequences or standing by them regardless of the outcome. That’s why we get to stay up late on “school nights” and eat dessert before dinner. So do you girl and good luck! Maybe you should go to Nadya’s doctor and he could hook a sista up? :)

    Them’s my two cents!

  2. Robyn Says:

    I agree with Tara. Granted, 23 is young but she should have the sole right to decide on when she’s done having children. Whether or not she wishes in the years to come that she did not have the tubal ligation is something she would have to live with, which I’m sure is her doctor’s fear to a certain degree.

  3. allison Says:

    Just wanted to add Tara is adorable! Don’t mean to offend, but you could be my kid! Dang, just depressed myself.

  4. Stesha Says:

    She made a decision that her doctor should respect. You hear about this all the time among women-how their doctor will try to persuade them reconsider and use another form of birth control.

    My husband and I have 7 children. They are what some refer to as “stairs, because they are so close in age. At times I think back to the birth of our third child. I asked my doctor for a tubal and he question me about it so many times that I changed my mind.

    Finally, after 6 and 7-the twins he performed the procedure. Am I blaming him for our large family? No. We love all our children, and I am very grateful that we can provide for them.

    In my opinion this decision should be made by the person(s) who have to love, nurture, and provide for these children.

    Not the doctor who gives them a quick pat on the butt, and off he goes to the next delivery.

    Hugs and Mocha,

    Please forgive my spelling errors blame my iPhone:)

  5. Dylan Says:

    No matter what we think of Tara (and I think she’s talented and wise beyond her years), what she does with her body should be 100% her choice. Tara–find a new doctor!

  6. la negrita Says:

    I think 23 is a bit young as well. At 23, I would have never imagined I’d grow so much in just a few years, and I’m STILL very young! I’d go over all possible options before doing something so major…and I’m 85% sure I don’t want kids LOL. I dunno…I see all these people who graduated with me who now have children and I always wonder if the just gave up on birth control after college. It’s like, you went 4-5 years having sex and not getting knocked up and now you’re just fertile as hell? Nuh uh. User error! I know married couples who manage not to have children right away. Just gotta be careful.

    All that being said, it IS the OP’s body and she should be able to do what she pleases with it. Regardless of my feelings on the issue, I wish her the best.

  7. spamwarrior Says:

    She does have the right, but I think that she should listen to her doctor. She’s 23… and that’s young to decide. She doesn’t know whether she’ll want more children in the future.

    I also think that she should find some other options for birth control. Chances are there are some options that will let her not get pregnant.

  8. dkwatts Says:

    Tara seems to be assuming that getting her tubes tied is 100% effective. Is it 100%, 99.9%, 99.8%, cause I just finished talking to my male co-worker whose 4th kid was born after he got his “tubes” tied.

    Go figure! (literally)

  9. Tara Pringle Jefferson Says:

    See, I already have kids. Two kids. When my husband and I got married, we decided: two kids. That was our limit. Did we expect them to come so soon and so close together? No, but hey, they’re here and we love ’em. Now it’s time to shut down the factory. LOL.

    As far as everyone who said I should get a new doctor – I would but I still love him. No, seriously. Some women hate going to the OB/GYN – I actually wish I could go more often. That’s how good he is. Sooo, yeah.

    Thanks everyone for commenting! :)

  10. AVP Says:

    She and her husband should consider a vasectomy. Tubal ligations is a complex procedure that requires a hospital stay, while the vasectomy is cheap and done in under a hour.

  11. Tara Pringle Jefferson Says:

    @ AVP – Unfortunately, a vasectomy is a no-go from my hubby’s perspective. I mean, I guess I can understand it. I don’t like it, but I can understand.

    There’s a lot of detail to my story that I left out in interest of space, but one reason we were talking about a tubal ligation is because I was already scheduled to have a C-section and my doctor could have done it then. So I would have been recovering from both at the same time. Having a tubal now would not be so convenient, you’re right.

  12. A-O Says:

    I loved the story. Yeah 23 is young but it’s her body. Who’s right is to tell anynone what to do with it. If she has her tubes tied and regrets it later it is not on the doctor’s head. If 5 years down the line comes and she wants more children. There is always adoption as an option. She and her hubby can give a child a good life they deserve. there problem solved.

  13. Yolonda Says:

    Tara, do what you feel is best for you and your family. If your hubby supports it, then go right ahead. It is reversable and I know a lady that did just that and has a beautiful baby boy now without any complications.

    I totally support your decision…that you should be able to make at any age/stage in your life.

  14. Aliya S. King Says:

    Here’s my thing. If I were her doctor, I would advise her, based on my experiences with other patients. But if she knew that’s what she wanted, I’d perform the surgery. Period.

    BUT. What if we’re speaking just as friends. If Tara was just a friend and not a patient, what would you tell her?

    I have to keep it real. I would urge her not to get her tubes tied.

  15. clove Says:

    As a doctor, yeah, it would seem that you should adhere to your patient’s wishes. if her age is the only reason he’s not performing it, and not some crazy health risk, that’s questionable. but at the same time, age is a big issue. same reason plastic surgeons choose not to do surgery on really young patients. so as a friend I would advise against it because things you do when you’re 22 are often regretable

  16. Luvvie Says:

    From a friend perspective, I’d tell Tara not to tie her tubes. I’m 24 and I know how I’ve grown and changed in the past 3 yrs so I can only imagine how much I’ll grow in the next 6. Making such a permanent decision in my life as an irreversible procedure makes me nervous.

    I can understand why her Doc wouldn’t wanna do it. And if he is so un-okay with it, he oughta recommend her to another Doc. B/c in the same token, Tara’s body is hers to make whatever decision she pleases and it should be respected

  17. Timothy Says:

    During our 4th pregnancy my wife started talking that jive about having her tubes tied. I said no. Not that I want more kids, because I’m way cool with what we have. But for me I’m just totally against elective surgeries. No matter how simple or apearingly safe, it’s still too risky.

    Put it like this, if something tragically goes wrong when a doc is repairing my arm from a gunshot wound, I can live with that. It’s justifiable.

    But if something goes tragically wrong during my vasectomy, I’d be banghing my head against the wall everyday. Totally unjustifiable. The risk outweighs the benefit.

    Cliché, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it or in this case don’t break it.

    5 year our seems like a more practial solution to the dilemma.

  18. Tara Pringle Jefferson Says:

    See, this ain’t plastic surgery. This isn’t something I want to do for kicks. This isn’t some procedure to my ear lobes smaller or my boobs bigger. This is to prevent me from having any more kids, kids I’ll have to love, hold, feed, teach, protect, etc.

    I don’t want any more kids. End of story. None of this talk about how maybe in a few years my outlook will be different. All I can do is work with the information I have right now and the info I have right now is telling me that if I pop out another kid – oh, EVER – I will not be happy about it.

    The biggest issue people have is with my age. I’m 23. I get a little older everyday, but apparently, I can’t make time move fast enough to get it to the point where doing this is social acceptable for someone in my age bracket.

    I’m not the average 23-year-old walking around here all clueless about life. I’ve got a mortgage. A full-time job. Career plans. Goals. Aspirations. Two darling kids who take up every second of every day of my life thus far.

    But at the same time, I AM the average 23-year-old because I’ve got a lot of living left to do. The advantage to having kids so young? THEY WILL BE OUT OF MY HOUSE WHEN I’M 40. 40!!!!! I’ve already sacrificed my twenties and thirties for my kids. If I have any more down the road, that pushes it back to where I have to give up my forties (maybe fifties as well). Sounds selfish, but that’s where I stand.

    I don’t mind folks like Timothy who are against it as a whole. That’s very understandable. But at 23, I’m a grown woman. Don’t need mommy and daddy to sign for nothing. It’s all me.

    Okay – I’ve beat my point into the ground. Thank you Aliya for giving me space to vent! LOL.

  19. Gregory Parker Says:

    Several years ago I would have taken a harder stance for not getting her tubes tied at such a young age. But two kids later and being a single father(I ended up with custody of my children) because of a young mother who didn’t want to be one at the time. I use to think what could be worst then a woman pursuing her career and pleasures of life and waking up one day (after child bearing years) and realizing she wanted to have a child? Then a wise woman said to me “What could be worst, How about a woman that has a child and then realize that she doesn’t want it”. I was like “WOW”. After seeing the effects of the rejection that my kids felt from thier mother not being there. I applaud her!

  20. jovi Says:

    Don’t get your tubes tied. Get the 5 or 10 year IUD. Nothing is 100% so don’t get caught up in the numbers.

    I agree with Timothy and elective surgeries. The surgery may be simple and routine but who knows what could happen.

  21. Taiia Says:

    I’m 36 and my doctor doesn’t want to tie my tubes because I only have one child. What am I going to wake up at 40 and decide to have another one? Happen not gonna. I remember sleepless nights and breast feeding every HALF hour for the first few months. I could barely pee without the kid needed to get my mommy juice. And then said kid grew teeth and would bite me and think that was funny. I can laugh now, but that crap hurts.

    If anything, my husband and I have discussed adopting–a child who is older.

    Yes, 22 is young and you can decide to change your mind. But I think that when you have children who are “stairs,” you get to realize that this thing parenting a wonderful CHALLENGE. It’s not easy people.

    From 0-5 there is a lot of work that has to be done to take care of kids and thankfully, they get older and are able to do things on their own.

    From a doctor’s perspective, I would probably tell her to wait. And from a friend’s perspective, I would probably wait too–although secretly understanding her plight. But then what are the alternatives?

    The thing is, birth control becomes the woman’s “issue.” Either we go on pills–some that make your period disappear for months, have IUD an inserted for years or stick patches on our hips and hope that we don’t get blood clots and die on the way to work.

  22. Lashonda Silver Says:

    I went through this with my 3rd child at the age of 32. My doctor said I am not usually in the business of stopping babies(jokingly) but he did look at both my husband and I and asked were we sure. As a general rule, my doctor said the practice is 25 years or more that 3 kids if under 25. Other than that they do prefer to ask patients to wait. Scary thing is I have friends who love to tell me of someone they knew who got pregnant after their tubal.

    As a friend I would say it is up to you. Some people know what their limit is. Ten years from now the chance of you wanting to start over is not strong, so I can see how you feel about that. I also have to say that I enjoyed your article and think it would have made a great read for a magazine. They were crazy to turn you down.

  23. Denene@MyBrownBaby Says:

    Tara, girl, you are absolutely right: Your body is your body, and you have the right to do with it as you please, particularly when it comes to procreation. If we are going to take the argument to the Supreme Court that 16-year-olds (technically, minors) have the right to seek and use birth control without their parents’ permission, and Roe v Wade STILL stands no matter what the latest televangelist is preaching, then ain’t no way ANYBODY should have the right to tell you, a grown-ass woman with two kids and a mortgage and a ring, that you can’t tie the tubes. Period. There’s a much larger context here about a woman’s right to CHOOSE, and I think your experience speaks volumes to the radical shift our health system is undergoing as conservative/religious opinions evade the way WE legislate OUR bodies.

    Which brings me to another point (which I just love about Aliya’s blog!) about getting your piece published: Perhaps your it would have been more amenable to a magazine editor if it pulled back just a little bit from the personal story and incorporated your thoughts on the larger issue of women’s rights… If I were you, I’d go back at it. It really is a lovely testament to your experience, and I think with just a little tweaking and some additions, you could certainly get it published somewhere. Just my humble opinion! (Of course, you might become the face of the “wanted” poster for the conservative right. LOL!)

  24. Aliya S. King Says:

    @Denene: I’m wondering how that will work. Will magazines consider Tara’s essay officially published if it appears here? Could she still pitch this? I’d like to see her pitch a story on other women in the same situation, a trend piece in which she could outline her own situation. (I’m just realizing that Jane magazine, (RIP), would have totally run her story.

    Hey, media folks? How will this go down in the future? If you post an essay or any type of story on a blog, can you then pitch it to a print publication? There’s a big difference between and say, The Huffington Post. I’m wondering how this will work.

    I definitely want to see Tara pitch this piece…somewhere.

  25. Young Mommy Too Says:

    So, I don’t think she should have the procedure. Her doctor is right. She is too young. Its not the fact that she doesn’t want to have anymore kids, its more that once you do it, you no longer have any options if you do or not. Plus, remember that in America there is a 50% divorce rate, so if by chance she should get divorced, and then finds someone else later, doesn’t she want the option to have kids with her new partner? Anyways, thats just my opinion.

    PS I love her blog – Great Idea!!

  26. Denene@MyBrownBaby Says:

    @Aliya: Great question! (I do think it would have been perfect for JANE too… definitely RIP!) I think that if the story is recast and made into a larger issue incorporating expert opinion, stats, and perhaps secondary stories (great suggestion!), it would fly. But, of course, she would have to fully disclose that she did a similar piece elsewhere, for a smaller audience, and with a different premise. Then it would be up to the editor to decide if it’s a go or not…

  27. Timothy Says:

    @Young Mommy – great point

  28. A. Nicole Says:

    My God mother had this dilemma 22 years ago after her one and only child. She didn’t want kids but got married and pregnant. The doctor told her he wouldn’t allow her to get her tubes tied because she only has one child. Now don’t get me wrong, she loves my god brother but she never wanted to be a parent. She still to this day doesn’t understand why her doctor wouldn’t consent the procedure and she hates that she had to be so careful in her marriage as to not have another child when she could have just gotten them tied after having him all those years ago.

  29. Lari Says:

    I read this site all the time and never comment but this is a subject that is near and dear to me because I work at a family planning clinic. We usually advice women under 30 to think about their decision. We also recommend women get an IUD.

    1) IUD’s are just as effective as the surgery and are good for 5-10 years. 1 in 1000 women get pregnant after a tubal ligation. Trust me i have seen many of women come to my clinic with ectopic pregnancies ( pregnant in the tubes). needless to say being pregnant in the tubes is dangerous to the mother because as the pregnancy grows it does not have any space. This causes a rupture in the tubes and can kill the pregnant woman.

    2) surgery of any kind is dangerous. We have patients who go in just for a tubal ligation have complications and wake up with their uterus’ removed. true story. So if later on you change your mind you can’t even have in vitro, which is expensive, because you have no uterus.

    Everyone has the right to do whatever they want to their bodies. However, we as human change and so do our circumstances. So why not try a method that is just as effective for a couple of years and if you still feel the same way the surgery will still be there waiting for you.

  30. Cyn Says:

    Loved your article. Well done!

    I’m not a mommy but I am proud auntie to 3. My sis had her tubes tied around 28 years old after her third baby. I thought she was too young then and that she might just want one more eventually. You know, life throws you for a loop sometimes.
    Long story short her marriage ended and now that she has found Prince Charming she would love to have one more.

    In any case, it is your body and if folks can have a million babies that they cannot care for you should certainly be able to limit how many you can have if that’s what you choose.

  31. debo Says:

    i too know how it feels to be ready to shut down the shop and have everyone around you second, third, and fourth guess you. people don’t seem to want to trust the idea of quality (of life) over quantity of kids. i’d much rather, and i’m sure the author of this blog, would much rather have 2 kids and her sanity and a decently functioning body, than 3+ kids, no memory, the daily feeling of insanity, a body on the decline from overworking it, and regrets from not following her first instinct: to do what was was right for self.

  32. yes Says:

    Some doctors give you a hard time about IUDs too! That may be more for those w/o kids though. I do think her doctor should let her make her own decisions though. She not the average immature young adult out there, she’s actually married and responsible. But Young Mommy made a good point, what if something happens to the husband? But then again you could adopt like someone else stated and you can skip the whole waking up in the middle of the night thing!

    So many things to think about. I’m just glad I don’t have any. lol

    Denene brought up some interesting points about the teens and birth control. Maybe they are allowed to get it because of their age and maybe older women are encouraged to keep having kids because they are more stable and therefore will provide a better environment for the children. hmm…..

  33. Denene@MyBrownBaby Says:

    @ yes: Sure, we could argue that birth control is given to teens to keep them from having children they don’t have the basic skills or money to care for, and that grown women are encouraged to have kids because they’re more stable. But age doesn’t necessarily make you a better mother; indeed, grown women who can’t handle the responsibility of taking care of their kids get paraded across our TV screens on the nightly news, all too often the subject of sad news stories about neglect/abuse/death they caused their children. Plenty others drive up statistics. On the flip side, there are plenty of teen moms who have a baby and go on to finish school, attend college, and make a fine life for their kids. Age is, of course, a factor in one’s maturity when it comes to dealing with such an incredible responsibility, but it doesn’t necessarily dictate whether you can or can’t handle bringing a life into the world and doing what it takes to sustain it.

    My point is that if we can grant teenagers reproductive rights, doesn’t it make sense that a grown woman should be able to call the shots with what should or shouldn’t happen with her own body?

  34. kimkim Says:

    This is a well written piece let me first say.

    Tara seems very adament that she doesn’t want any more children so why should she be prevented from having the procedure done? No form of BC is 100% effective however because she got pregnant on the Pill, tubal ligation may be the next best step for her family. I do understand the worries related to the potential dangers that come with elective surgeries but to label it an unwise decision because she’s “only” 23? I don’t agree with that. If she was adult enough to get married, have kids, maintain a mortgage, etc why is she now not capable of making a decision regarding her reproductive rights? Now her beliefs are questionable? I can’t say that. Not all 23 yr olds are trying to still discover who their core being is; she seems to be pretty smart and self-sufficient.

    I do believe that the ability to have a child is one of life’s precious gifts but when you know that having another child would not be in the best interest, you should have the right to decide that. Quite frankly, there are a few people who are in this world that NEVER should have been allowed to have childen. I know that is a harsh statement but that is the reality we live in.

    I work at an HMO and I think the standard age was 25 OR at least 2 kid. Her and her husband seem content with the lifestyle they have. From reading her story, I don’t get the vibe that Tara is indecisive when it comes to major decisions so I don’t see how she would benefit for waiting more years just to appease society’s notion of “what’s best”.

  35. mamajanna Says:

    No woman at age 23 should take this step. It’s too final. Anything could happen. Remember the woman who’s child had some hideous form of cancer? She had a second child whose bone marrow transplant could save the first child’s life. Suppose she had had her tubes tied? That option would not have been open to her. Now I was definitely conflicted about that. Having a child to save another child somehow seems barbaric to me. However, the fact remains this woman was able to do that. As I said, anything can happen. Although no birth control is 100%, an IUD comes close. She and her husband will just have to try harder!

  36. Toby G Says:

    Nicee post thanks for sharing

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