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Reversing A Tubal Ligation to Have More Kids

At a child's birthday party, friends and family sing and applaud for the special day.

"Happy birthday, dear Brook, happy birthday to you . . . make a wish!"

Brook's mother, Christine Craig, also has a wish. A wish to reverse a decision she made after the birth of her fourth child.

"I had four kids up to that point. I was 25 and at that age everybody was like, that's just too many kids, so I had my tubes tied."

Christine, now 31, did what three-quarters of a million women do each year: had her fallopian tubes tied, a practical procedure that made her sterile. She remembers asking her doctor--what if she changes her mind and wants another baby.

"He just looked at me like, 'You have four kids, you are 25 . . .' I mean, he looked at me like I was crazy--what was I even thinking?" Christine recalls.

It's a question that Christine would think about again years later. Her marriage failed. She was divorced and found love a second time with Jeff Craig. Christine brought her four children into their new marriage. Jeff brought none.

"I see the way he is with my kids and with him not having his own, I was like, 'He's perfect. He would make a perfect father,'" she says.

Christine found the answer to her "what if" question on the Internet.

"I put in 'tubal reversal,' I think, just out of curiosity, and Dr. Berger's name popped up," she recalls.

Dr. Gary Berger runs the Chapel Hill Fertility Center in North Carolina. He specializes in tubal reversals. His unique expertise and flat rate of $5,500 didn't just catch the attention of Christine: Hundreds of women from across the country are drawn to Dr. Berger each year.

"Basically, I just repair the tube," explains Berger. "I put back together the healthy parts of the fallopian tube. Typically, with tubal ligation, perhaps the middle section of the tube has been damaged, either by a clip as in Christine's case or by a band, and by burning and cutting the tube. But whatever the method, that always leaves behind some healthy fallopian tube and I just take the healthy parts and stitch them back together."

Berger says there are a variety of reasons why women would want to have their tubes reversed. "New marriages is a common one," he says. "Sometimes couples who have been married and already have children and who've had a tubal ligation at a later time come to regret it and would like another one."

For Kim and Don McLean, another one was named Colin Joseph. The McLeans, parents of a 20-year-old daughter and two teenage boys, were just few years shy of becoming empty nesters when they realized they missed the pitter-patter of little feet.

"Fifteen years ago, we thought that was it for our family. Women weren't having children much older than I was at the time, which was 26. We decided, 'This is it, our family is complete' . . . so we really feel blessed that we were able to do this over again."

Don agrees. "We got a second chance--and nt everybody is as fortunate."

Kim, 40, became pregnant just months after Dr. Berger repaired her tubes. After Colin's birth she found solidarity in a decision women sometimes regret.

"It's more common than you think. I don't know why it's not talked about," she says. "I've even had some of the nurses at the hospital ask me where I had my tubes untied because they wanted to have it too.

It's estimated that 10% of the millions of women who've had their tubes tied would like their fertility restored.

This is going to be a whole new beginning now," says Christine Craig. "I feel like there's a part of me that was missing, that was taken away from me. I have it back, and I'm not letting it go this time."

Kim McLean says it's hard to answer why she did it. "People ask me all the time: 'Why did you want to do this all over again?' It's kind of unexplainable. I think for the both of us, [it] just came to us--it was something that we felt we had to do."
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