This year, I learned something that somehow I feel I always instinctively knew: I can’t have children.
I wish I could say it was a complete shock, and while mildly disappointing at the time, it definitely struck me that deep down that I knew this was possibility. I’m not sure why.
For some reason after five years of marriage and an ongoing mutual agreeance that we weren’t in the right place for kids, the tides suddenly turned. Over multiple glasses of wine on New Years, the mister and I started talking about it. Everyone we knew were having children, even those who said they weren’t interested or seemed like they weren’t. Why weren’t we, we mused? We had reached great points in our careers, owned a home, were comfortable and had a solid happy relationship. We could give a child everything they needed. We owed it to the world to procreate. We would also be super awesome parents, of course.
So we commenced, and assumed it would just happen. It didn’t.
We sought medical intervention after awhile, frustrated by our lack of ability to do something so basic; something we’d seen friends and family accomplish easily or even accidentally. It seemed so easy, until it wasn’t. We were upset. Briefly. I’ve never been cool with failure, no matter what the circumstance.
In the middle of all this I’ve dealt with the standard frustrating quips:
“When are you guys having kids? You’ve been married long enough.”
“You won’t know true happiness until you’ve experienced the love a child brings into your lives”
“You don’t have kids? Why? Do you not like children?”
“I guess it’s just easier to work and have lots of money and free time.”
“I envy you guys, having the freedom you do. Honestly though, I wouldn’t trade places with you for anything.”
“Who’s going to get all your money when you die? Who will look after you when you’re old?”
Oh. My. God. It’s baffling to me that people who supposedly care about us could throw such passive aggressive (well meaning?) barbs.
I had to get real with myself on some points though: I’ve never really been maternal. I’ve never looked at babies or children and felt that deep yearning in my loins to spew forth life from them. I didn’t dream of a future as a mother. What I truly valued was a great life partner, and some sense of fulfillment and gratification from life; I just wasn’t one hundred percent convinced kids would provide that. I figured when the time was right I’d feel that biological clock tick that would spurn me on to this point in my life that everyone assured me was coming. At best I felt a tiny pang and ran with it, clutching to that small moment and hoping it was enough. Then we learned it wasn’t to be and the feeling died. Completely.
Perhaps it was a blessing. We were offered the option to try IVF (results not guaranteed) for a price that gave us pause. We were told by multiple people it was ‘completely worth it’. However we both hesitated, seriously. Not necessarily because of the money, it just sort of felt like “why are we forcing something that isn’t supposed to be?” It felt, well….wrong. We both agreed wholeheartedly this wasn’t what we wanted.
Surprisingly, I realized I was completely at peace with it. I may even be, dare I say it, relieved? It made me question my reasons for pursuing it in the first place. Were they altruistic or selfish? Was I bowing to the pressure put on me by a societal assumption that a childless woman is selfish, empty, broken, or just not a ‘real woman’?
Here’s what I KNOW: I love my life. I am happy and fulfilled, I have a great partner; all the things I desired. I travel. I volunteer. I love my job and have great friends. I never felt like anything was missing in my life and I still don’t even after being told I can’t procreate.
All those questions people put to me and still continue to? Still there, still rude. It’s easier to just tell them now that I CAN’T have kids, and honestly I secretly enjoy watching them cringe with the realization that their inquiry was potentially insensitive. That’ll teach you, I think. I hope it makes you as uncomfortable as your unsolicited questions and opinions about my reproductive abilities and choices have made me.
I am not missing anything by being childless. You can’t miss something you never had. I do count the blessings in my life every day, and there are so so many. I love my nieces and nephews, I genuinely enjoy time spent with my friend’s kids. I am happy they’re happy, but I am happy too believe it or not.
Oh, and don’t ask me who will care for me when I’m old: it will be the same nursing home your kids put you in. You’ll whine how they don’t visit enough, and that will likely hurt more because you expected to be ‘taken care of’, where I’ll have no such expectation.
My money will go to charity, which thrills me more than providing a legacy to people profiting from my years of hard work (at a job I love) simply because we share DNA. I’m going to help people that will really need and appreciate it.
I won’t have kids, and it’s just fine. I realized, finally, that I don’t need them to be happy.
I also really love sleeping in.