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What It’s Like to Get Your Tubes Tied at Age 33

Photograph by Lauren Bulbin

It took Kelly Carnes, a PR executive and entrepreneur, more than a decade to find a doctor who would help her live child-free.

“I frankly don’t understand how people can afford to have kids in DC. A big part of my decision, too, is the environmental impact. I don’t even like kids. I just think they’re obnoxious and annoying. Even worse than kids is usually their parents. Parents feeling entitled to you accommodating the reproductive choice they made. I find that to be really aggressive. You lose friends over it—they just disappear out of your life because they have other priorities, and that’s just sad.

“For about ten years, I would ask about tubal ligation when I went in for my Pap smear and was told, ‘You’ll change your mind.’ That was so infuriating. I was being patronized by doctors telling me they knew my mind more than I did. Especially doctors who were female and had kids.


This story is part of Washingtonian‘s feature “What It’s Like to Be a Woman in Washington.” For more:


“I had kind of given up. Then I had to switch doctors and, bless his heart, Sylvester Booker at Howard University Hospital said he’d perform the operation. After that appointment, I literally walked an hour down U Street, got a jumbo slice of pizza, sat on a curb, and cried. I was so relieved. Six weeks later, I was in the hospital. I came home afterwards and took a black-and-white photo of an empty oven.

“My mother and I have a hard time with this. Everybody else has been like, ‘You know what? You came to my baby shower and bought me a present. I’m sending you a bottle of wine because you’re making your own reproductive choice and I support that.’ Without a child, I’ve been able to start a business, buy a house, take on professional projects and entrepreneurial projects, travel. I got married last year. There was no room for confusion. We get to do a lot of really fun things, like dress up in really insane cosplay costumes that we spend all our money on. I think I get to play a lot more.”

This article appears in the October 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

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Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She previously was the editorial assistant at Walter Magazine in Raleigh, North Carolina, and her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Adams Morgan.