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Why I Don’t Have Children… Yet.


Since some of my previous posts dealing with my personal life seemed to have been a hit, I figured it was about time I wrote this one.  Apparently, the Interweb is full of voyeurs. This is yet another topic that I’d wanted to write for quite some time, but due to its sensitive nature I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it.  I’ve been asked about this a lot.  It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it, it’s just that it might make other people uncomfortable – so, consider yourself warned.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m in my thirties and just a few short years from over the hill.  My hubby has already climbed that hill and will soon be exhibiting mysterious new superpowers known as grey power (we’re both curious as to what this much lauded power will bring, but that’s another post for another year).  We’ve been life partners for well over a decade now and do not have children.  Now anyone who knows anything about the female reproductive system knows that I am well past my prime child-bearing years.  I am now officially considered high-risk by the medical community.

Wedding Day

Wedding Day

Shortly after hubby and I officially tied the knot, we were besieged with questions from family and friends about the “pitter-patter of little feet”.  I found it strange considering hubby and I had already been together for eight years and our marriage was merely a formality (and a great excuse for an awesome party).  We actually had no intention of ever getting married, but decided it might be fun to get our families together – particularly since they had never met.  Hubby and I were committed to each other with or without a piece of paper.  We also felt strongly that we didn’t need to be married to have children.  I mean, we were both raised in some pretty eclectic family situations and we turned out alright.  I’ve also met more than my fair share of people who came from traditional family homes – and some of those people have a lot of issues.  So, clearly traditional marriage doesn’t always equate to the well-being of children.

Truthfully, for the first half of our relationship, having children wasn’t a priority.  In fact, we weren’t even sure we wanted to have children.  We would often talk about how we weren’t grown up enough yet to even consider it.  Then other conversations would revolve around just how much we enjoyed our life, the way it was.  We were both very career-oriented.  We were also having a lot of fun hanging out with friends, throwing dinner parties (or any party, just for the sake of having a party), going to concerts, and spending our money on things/experiences we could finally afford.  Yep, we were DINKS (Dual Income No Kids) and we were perfectly fine with that.  So for many years, the prospect of children wasn’t even on our radar.   We weren’t alone either.  Many of our friends also fell into this category.

Of course, there is something about babies and marriage that is rather contagious.  As wedding invitations began arriving like a landslide and newborns started gracing our extended family and friend network, hubby and I began having a more serious discussion about both.  Getting married seemed like a no-brainer.  So long as the wedding was conducted how we wanted, we couldn’t see a downside (except to the bank account, but it was well worth it).

Babies, however, that was a bit more complicated.  Neither of us believed that we needed children to start a family.  Hubby and I were a family – with or without children.  There were also a myriad of reasons not to have children.  This became particularly evident to us as we listened to many parents complain about lack of sleep, privacy, energy, money, time, etc., etc.  Of course, these complaints were always followed by “but, I wouldn’t change a thing.”  After a lot of discussion, hubby and I decided that if children blessed our life then we’d happily embrace it, however, we were both realistic.  We knew that given our ages, it might be difficult.  So, we also decided that if we couldn’t have children then we’d embrace that too.   That was seven years ago and the journey between then and now has been interesting.

Being a middle-aged couple without children often elicits some rather interesting behaviour, particularly from people who do have children.  The most common approaches are advice-giving, avoidance, and misconception (no pun intended on that last one).  The prospect of children seemed to elate our parents.  It began with my mother sprinkling magic fairy dust (i.e. glitter) on hubby at our wedding and reciting a blessed grand-babies chant.

Mom perform Blessed Grand-Babies Ritual on Hubby

Mom performs Blessed Grand-Babies Ritual on Hubby

If you’ve ever met my mother, this would not surprise you.  She’s a bit of free-spirit, to put it mildly.   In the months that followed, both of our mothers tag-teamed hubby and I with weekly phone calls to ask if there was “any news?”  Friends also got in on the action with similar questions.  Those who had had children offered up their tried and true methods to conceive.  These varied from various positions during sexual intercourse to certain rituals post-coitus (i.e. not peeing for an hour, lying for half an hour with feet propped up toward ceiling, climaxing immediately following ejaculation, etc, etc).  We were advised to have as much sex as possible – and told to save it up for our most fertile times.  I’m pretty sure we were given almost every possible piece of advice – and it was all a bit daunting to say the least.  Hubby and I graciously accepted their advice, but refused to become slaves to conceiving.  Part of the fun of having a baby is in making the baby, right?  So, why make it stressful with rules?  We carried on, in our usual fashion, while our family and friends overzealously offered advice.

It was probably a year or two after our wedding that we noticed the advice-giving began to subside.  Babies were rarely mentioned to us, and when news of a friends’ pregnancy was delivered to us, it was done so gently and decidedly unenthusiastically (I’m guessing this was so as to not offend us with such joyful news).  Whenever we were asked about babies, it was very cautiously and often followed by queries as to what kind of fertility assistance we had sought out.  We had not and for very good reasons.

As I previously mentioned, we did not want to become slaves to conceiving.  We had seen far too many people go to great extremes to have a child – which is commendable – but it was not an avenue we wanted to take.  Hearing stories of husbands carrying around pagers so as to be beckoned when the oven was hot, or wives injecting themselves with various hormones daily was not something either of us wanted to do.  Nope, if it was going to happen, it was going to happen the good old-fashioned way.  Others suggested that we simply get tested to see if it was something easy that could be fixed.  That was also not an option because testing also meant that we might find out that one of us was biologically responsible for our inability to conceive and neither of us wanted that guilt or potential resentment clouding our perfectly blissful relationship.  We decided we’d rather not know and just leave it be.  We even had friends offer to be surrogates or donate sperm (bless their hearts), but that wasn’t an option either.  Hubby and I hadn’t become a couple because we wanted to have babies; we became a couple because we loved each other and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.  In the end that’s all that mattered.

As the years have passed and we have gotten older (and less likely to conceive), hope has diminished for those who have prayed, chanted, or wished that we would have had children.  While we are still faced with the odd bit of advice-giving or avoidance, we also saw a new behaviour emerge.  Given our age and the fact that hubby and I seemed quite content; people (usually those that we didn’t have a history with) made some interesting misconceptions about us.

Perhaps the most disturbing was that hubby and I didn’t like children.  Admittedly, there’s been a couple occasions that I’ve been a bit insulted by such an assumption, particularly given that I spent more than half my academic career studying child development and behaviour (which incidentally, no matter your academic/professional background, if you don’t actually have children – you have very little credibility with parents).  The other rather disturbing misconception revolves around adoption.  Adoption had always been on the table for us – even before we thought about having our own children.  I was raised by a man who is not my biological father, but he’s my Dad in every sense of the word.  I wouldn’t trade one second with him to have been raised by my “genetic donor”.  Hubby is an adopted child and his parents are his Mom and Dad.  There is absolutely no question about that.  There have been a few occasions when we have mentioned our intention to adopt that the response has been incredibly ignorant.  I once had someone say to me “you could never love an adopted child as much as you could your own flesh and blood.”  I challenge that person to say that to my Dad or hubby’s folks.  I also challenge that person to take a long hard look at the countless deadbeat parents who abandon their own flesh and blood.  Puts things in perspective doesn’t it?

Hubby and I have even been questioned with our desire to adopt older children, perhaps even siblings.  We’re told about the baggage they carry and that they wouldn’t integrate well into a new family, etc., etc.  No wonder these are the children that are considered unadoptable, if these are the kinds of things that are thought about them.  That would be our biggest reason for wanting to adopt though.  Shouldn’t these children have just as much of a chance to be happy?  For me, I can’t think of a greater gift than offering a stable home, love, and support to siblings that have had that uprooted – particularly given that siblings may be separated.  Why shouldn’t they have the chance to grow up together in a happy environment?

Whether hubby and I ever have natural or adopted children is a mystery.  I’m often reminded that I still have time to get pregnant, and while that may be true, my body isn’t what it was ten years ago.  Without a doubt, pregnancy at this point would be difficult.  That said, it’s still on the table, but there’s a lot more anxiety around that prospect now.

And what if we don’t have children?  Well, we’ll be spending a lot of time travelling and enjoying the company of family, friends and their children.  We’ve discovered that kids really enjoy spending time with us.  I think it’s probably because hubby and I feel blessed whenever we are in the company of children and this resonates with them.  They know that someone is paying them undivided attention and is enjoying their endless banter about nothing in particular and everything all at once.

So, there you have it.  That’s why I don’t have children… yet.  I certainly can’t speak for the experiences of many, many couples who deal with infertility.  Some do so quite tragically, while others rise above it and find a different purpose in life.  I’m not saying either is right or wrong, I’m just saying that we each can choose how to accept the cards that are dealt to us.  For hubby and me, that choice is to live in the here and now, to enjoy and be grateful for what we have, and to look forward to the possibilities of tomorrow.



M. xo

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