I’ve just been reading an article in the New York Times about the growing number of people who are opting not to have children. Aside from a massive ‘hell yes’ I was thinking while reading it, it got me thinking about my own situation. I wanted to share some of the things that have caused me no end of stress in the last two years to put a bit of context to things.
Firstly, I can’t have children, I will get to the whys for those who don’t know in a mo. I do however want to say, before I couldn’t, I didn’t want children. I’ve never wanted them. I don’t go all gooey when there’s a baby on TV or if there’s one in public. I feel absolutely nothing. A baby or small person is more likely to annoy me than charm me.
I place this not wanting of children to the lack of maternal instincts I had from my mother. A woman who I’ve recently worked out had borderline personality disorder. Or Jekyll and Hyde as I called it. From an early age she made me think that if mothers were like this then I wouldn’t want to be one because it was no way to treat another human.
So – No children for me.
About 2 years ago, my doctor found that I had a very large fibroid. I knew I had it, but had been told by another doctor to ignore it. For those who don’t know, a fibroid is a non-cancerous tumour that grows in a woman’s uterus. There are a few different types and they grow, and grow and grow if left untreated. When they get to the size of the one I had, the medical profession refer to them in relation to a pregnancy term. Very cruel in some ways. Mine was rated as 18 – 22 weeks. Or the size of a honey dew melon when it was finally removed. It was about 1 – 2 kilos.
When they get to this size, there is only one course of action that is realistic. A hysterectomy. I had a hysterectomy when I was 36. Oddly, the whole having the surgery and taking the thing out was seriously very easy to deal with. Being in control in a situation like that is vital.
The problem was not the surgery, it was the look on people’s faces when I told them. So I didn’t really tell anyone. I didn’t want to discuss it. Well, I did, but I didn’t want to discuss the whole question around having a child. I didn’t want the pity or the insistence that I would actually want a child and therefore I was making the wrong decision (I actually had that conversation with one person I think and it made me really angry).
To be clear, my body, my decision. Your body, your decision (although I do question strange facial piercings).
For 6 months I felt pretty miserable. Probably because I didn’t really want to talk to people. I wound myself up in knots having imaginary conversations with people about it and how I might have to argue the above.
The problem for me came with the constant thought of ‘it’s one thing to have the choice not to have children, it’s another for someone to take that right away from you’ it no longer becomes a choice.
I felt like I was damaged and broken. That no man wants a woman who isn’t altogether there. Please don’t tell me it’s ridiculous. My logical brain knows it is (ridiculous), but going through it, it is something you invariably end up feeling. It sucks. It sucks even more when a man you love cites it for one of the many reasons for why he’s ending a relationship. Yeah, I know.
So to clarify, I don’t want children and I can’t actually have them.
I don’t feel a sense of loss or failure for not having them. Others, some of whom I’m related to, have tried to make me feel like I have failed as a woman because I haven’t reproduced. So I’m saying this now – you have no right project this onto me.
Being childless doesn’t define me. I’d say I’m childfree and available to pursue my own life on my own terms.