“I am so excited for the rest of my life – and it’s starting this minute, right now.”

Natalie, 35, UK

My partner just had an elective vasectomy. The sheer giddy joy that rises inside me when I think of this, and what it means for our shared future, is unparalleled. It feels like the future suddenly stretches out before us, an endless adventure together.

A friend sent a “We’re expecting!” text and my partner replied with genuine congratulations and a note that we were celebrating too: a vasectomy! We generally keep it private, not wanting to upset anyone who might be battling infertility, but that’s how we feel – absolutely elated.

I have been on contraception since I was 15 and am eager to get to know my body again (when we have had the all-clear on the vasectomy success) and my implant is removed. I know different kinds of contraception can affect your mood/emotions, and have always accepted this as a necessary evil. How much my prolonged mental health issues have been worsened by such side-effects, I wonder if I will see when I finally stop contraception. Then, roll on the menopause!

I requested tubal ligation but my doctor advised it is riskier than a vasectomy, so my partner had that instead. I do still feel a pull to have the procedure and for it to all be absolutely final.

I have had the usual “Oh I didn’t think I wanted children but one day I just *knew*!” propaganda throughout my life. All this time, the only “reason” that I felt in my bones to be true was that my parents would love grandchildren – and I would be taking this away from them. (Obviously, I now know this is no “reason” at all.)

My parents have taken our decision *quite* well, in terms of their hiding any disappointment about not having grandchildren. The reaction I didn’t consider or expect, and that has been heart-breaking, is my mother’s visceral terror about my “dying alone”. I have explained having a child with expectation they will 1) want to 2) be present to 3) be able to provide palliative care is fundamentally flawed, as well as incredibly cruel to the child you are bringing into the world. Nonetheless, these thoughts lead her to panic attacks in the early hours. My heart hurts just thinking of this, but I feel I cannot resolve it. I can’t bear the knowledge that I am causing her so much pain, but I will not have a child. I would hate her to be hurting in secret, but at the same time I sometimes wish I wasn’t aware so I wouldn’t feel