July 10, 2013

Thoughts on Living Child Free (Not By Choice)

I don't even know where to start with this one.

Obviously living Child-Free is an option and its one I have brought up a could of times here. I'm grateful, I guess, that M and I are the sort of people who *can* see ourselves living a future without children and being okay, even though that's not the way we had envisioned our lives going.

It is an attractive end to this miserable IF road because I know that when I'm not in the thick of pursuing that one thing that I simply cannot have, I'm generally a very happy person. I am able to recognize and be thankful for that which I *can* and do have. I have an amazing husband who loves me for some crazy reason even through the times when *I* don't love me. I have an insane, but loving family who I am close to, including two nephews who are the lights of my life. And I live close enough to them to be a permanent part of their lives. M and I have jobs that pay well, with good benefits, and without children we would be able to afford to travel and engage more fully in charitable endeavors and tons of other cool things.

I have no doe-eyed fantasy about how perfect and delightful parenting is. I know that having children means sleepless nights, fights with your spouse, innumerable compromises, putting other plans and goals on the back burner for several years, etc. And we are all willing to make those sacrifices for the honor of raising up decent little human beings. I also realize that a childless life frees you up from many of those stresses and leaves open many other opportunities for you to pursue. See, look at that - I'm being all "glass half full" and shit.

And then this weird guilty feeling swoops around me and cloaks me in its negativity. I feel like...if I see positive things about living child-free, if the thought of that life doesn't make me sob with loss...there must be something wrong with me. I'm really *not* supposed to be a mother because a woman who is supposed to be a mother would doggedly pursue that goal until she reached it. Not lamely give up because "boo hoo, this is *hard* and if I stop now, I can still afford to visit Europe someday."

Its like that terrible conversation we have all been trapped up in at least once where some "helpful" acquaintance tries to make you feel better about your broken lady-parts by cheerfully encouraging "well, think of it this way: you get to sleep in on weekends and go out alone with your husband whenever you want, or take a last minute trip without having to consider any children!" And you're all like "...yaaay...that totally makes up for all my hopes and dreams being cruelly crushed under the heel of reality month after month...". Aren't I just spouting those same platitudes to myself? Shouldn't it make me angry, not hopeful, about the future? I mean, I can't actually be *that* well adjusted, please! A quick glance at the history of this blog proves I'm relatively unstable. So I judge myself for being comforted by these same ideas that, given by an outsider, would enrage me.

I tell myself I must unfit to be a parent because I can see life another way. And that's kind of sick and twisted to. Its beyond stupid to say "I don't deserve to be a mother because I won't move heaven and earth to achieve it" because MOST WOMEN DON'T HAVE TO. They have the luxury of it just "happening" for them, they didn't make any kind of extraordinary pursuit - it *fell* into their fertile. fucking. uterus. And all of these feelings are cobbled together inside of me, battling it out. Its rather nerve wracking, really.

Also, what if we *do* decide to live child-free and then in ten years I find myself regretting that decision so much that I just want to die?? What if my husband is taken from me by illness or accident and I have *nothing* left for the rest of my life because I don't have kids? Or what if we do live to be old but then there is no one to take care of us? Who takes care of the elderly that don't have children? Is it super depressing? And its not like you can ask someone that - "Hey Aunt Mary, I'm very sorry about Uncle Jim's death. Now that you're all alone, do you wish you had had children who could take care of you?" Oh yeah, that's *real* tactful and sensitive...

You might think, since I have so many worries and concerns, that this is not the right path for me - that it sounds like we should keep trying. Because at least then, if it doesn't work, we would definitively know that not having children was not within our power to change, no matter what. Unfortunately, short of some test coming back and saying "CurlySue, you have no eggs" or "M, you have no sperm and you never will", there will ALWAYS be a *chance*, however small, that we could have a baby. And I'm not going to live the next 8-10 years of my life that way, until advanced maternal age reduces my already small chance into basically nothing. I will NOT do that to myself or my husband. Which leaves me no choice but to create my own cut off point.

Cue continued self-judgement, now about the criteria used to choose the cut off point. I can't win.


  1. great post many of us infertiles can relate to your feelings on this subject!!!

  2. I don't think seeing alternative ways of life means you shouldn't be a mother. As you said, most people never have to consider this question. In part I think it's a self-protection mechanism -- as ttc keeps failing, you naturally look for alternatives. Even if they aren't what you initially had in mind. Aramis had a great post on this topic recently, with lots of thoughtful comments. Maybe some of those resonate with you.

  3. I am so glad to know that I'm not alone in thinking like this. I agree with a lot of people that it's part self defence, and part just being rational about what we are putting ourselves through to achieve. I also like your point that we have so much more time to think about the repercussions of becoming pregnant than fertiles, which means that we can overanalyze things a bit. But I've always wondered when I'll know that I'm at my cut off point. Scares me to think I might get there, but it'll happen eventually. I just hope I'm at peace with it when/if it does.