Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Petrified Forest - Myths of "Childless by Choice"

From Po:

We throw around this phrase, "You can't choose your family."

I disagree.

Maybe you can't choose the family you come from, but let's be honest - we do choose whether to live in the same state as our family, and how often to see them, and whether to call them once a day, once a week, or once a year.

And when it comes to forming your own family, we increasingly exercise choice. We choose whether to marry, we choose who to marry, we choose which friends to be part of our local family. We choose whether to bring our elderly into our homes or keep them in their own homes. Women have economic rights and legal rights are aren't forced by law to remain in bad marriages. Young adults can get jobs and move away from their family. Choice is everywhere. Not every aspect of family life is a choice, by any means. But more of it is regarded as a choice, today, than any time in history.

In the 21st century, we are free to remain sole, unattached individuals if we so choose. You can have your career and friends and find myriad ways to help people in need and have a life rich in a sense of "connectedness" - without any of it being family. In the 21st century, if you're going to have a family - be it the family you come from or the family you form - you have to choose to be together.

One of the ways we exercise conscious choice is when to have children, and whether to have children. Of all our choices, it's the least irreversible and carries the most responsibility. It's one of the weightiest decisions we face.

But because of this notion - that having a child can be a matter of choice - throughout our society there is a misconception that anyone without a child must have consciously chosen to do so.

For decades now, the media has been misreporting this phenomenon, and further entrenching the misconception. We agree that more women are remaining childless, for longer - but we disagree that for all these women it's an actual "free" choice.

  • Pinned down by financial limitations, unable to afford the life she'd want for a child, a woman might "decide" not to have a baby - but that's not her first choice.
  • Married to a workaholic with a temper, a woman might opt not to have a baby for fear her husband will never be around - but that's not her first choice.
  • In a career that punishes a woman for leaving the field for any significant length of time, a woman might decide not to jeopardize her career - but that's not her first choice.
  • Unable to find a suitable partner, a woman might consider having a baby all by herself, then decide, ultimately, not to - but that's not her first choice.
  • Having bought the media hype that she can wait until 40 to bear children, a woman might discover that medical science's magic isn't living up to that promise.
  • Having fought breast cancer or ovarian cancer for years, a woman might decide not to put her body through the incredible risk of carrying and birthing a baby - but that's not her first choice.
  • A healthy, strong, 40-year old woman might have a uterus that can't carry a child, because her mother took Thalidomide as a sleeping aide in 1964.
  • A woman who tutors kids every single night at a church in a low-income neighborhood might "choose" not to have her own child, because she's already got children in her life that she loves.
  • A woman who spent her teens and young adulthood raising her younger siblings after their parents died might decide she's already given plenty to children, and needs the rest of her life for her own growth.

Unfortunately, when the media covers this trend, they don't trot out examples like these. They begin with an anecdote about a successful, wealthy professional woman who is married. She could afford a child, and she could carry a child, and she is not scarred by her past in any significant way. She's choosing to not have children, and she espouses the joys of non-motherhood - a career still on track, an uninterrupted sex life, and an active social life.

Then a statistic is thrown out - such as this one, and it's a doozy:

  • In 1976, 10.2 % of women age 40-44 had no children.
  • In 2004, 19.3% of women age 40-44 have no children.

Percentage-wise, it's doubled.

We, the reader, are left to conclude that all those modern women must be like the woman in the opening anecdote - choosing freely not to have children.

When in fact that conclusion is completely unfair, and doesn't recognize the stressors and limits upon women. (And men, too).

It's harder and harder to get in a position where having children is a free choice. First, you have to educate yourself, go to college, take out loans. Then, you have to get your career started, and get it going strong enough that you can leave it for a year or more. Somewhere in there you're supposed to find a partner. You might also have devoted several years to working hard to buy a home. Then, you have to be lucky enough not have an illness or be scarred the way you were raised. And be in a city without terrible schools.

If you've managed to do all that, and still be under-40ish, then you face the choice.

In my next post, I'd like to explore one particular subset of these scenarios - the borderline cases. What if you're just unsure about having kids? What if you feel scarred and confused by the way you were raised, to the point you've grown up with very mixed feelings about the whole endeavor of being a parent? I heard this so many times, and I felt it myself. I call it a subset, but maybe it's a huge subset.

If that's your scenario, how do you work through the decision of whether to take on this huge responsibility of parenting? How do you tell whether your fears are legitimate deal-breakers, or they're just regular fears that need to be worked through and overcome?

30 Comments:

Anonymous tirzah harper said...

This comment is not related to the scarring that you're going to talk about, but it's very real for me and so probably for a few other people as well.
How do you justify your desire to have children when:
*You can't afford them without forcing your budget to the barest necessities
*You already have a family (stepchildren, in my case)
*You are quite happy as you are and you don't think that children will be the end fulfillment of your life
*You don't mind making sacrifices, but you won't make your children the center of your universe even so
*Your life partner doesn't want more children, and you don't want to take on the responsibility without an enthusiastic partner (not just someone who would have a child with you to keep from losing you)
*The world is already somewhat overpopulated and really doesn't need any help from you

And after all that, you still would like to have biological children. What do you do with that?

6:09 AM  
Blogger Po Bronson said...

That choice seems to personal to comment upon, as a stranger.

How do you justify it?

If it seems a natural longing for you to have a baby, then it doesn't need intellectual justification - when you've already got an emotional justification.

One of the main points of the chapter "The Trial" is simply that we too often use intellectual reasoning around this choice to have children, when having a child is not an intellectual journey, but a mystical one. I suggest that expecting to be able to "rationalize" the decision is unfair. It doesn't need to be rationalized.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Andreia said...

I would have to agree with you Po 100% on the mystical nature surrounding the decision and process of having children. I sometimes see people who have reduced the decision to an balance-sheet. They are often miserable.

There is however, one essential element in having children. It is the willingness to be selfless. Parenting demands it.

The problem is that there is no way to gauge your readiness for the kind of demands placed on you by having children. You simply grow into the job with each situation. Remember the Peter Principle?

Its when you are in the moment that you learn the skill. Its the night you are dead-dog sick and your three kids are vomitting every 15 minutes. No help from your spouse who is out of town on a business trip. You hold one while the others cry. You cry. Someone vomits on you. You hold another. You crawl to the bathroom. All four of you fall asleep on the bathroom floor.

If you put all the unbelievable situations parenting can throw at you in a cost-benefit analysis, no one would have children. But you can not quantify the joy either.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Julianne said...

My situation is much like you describe: over-educated, married late, infertile due to my "advanced age" at 41 years. All along I'd been making choices, but never realizing the full array of consequences. That's the deal, though. We don't understand all of the consequences of our choices, and therefore, end up with some pieces of our lives that aren't part of the grand design we envisioned for ourselves. I wonder sometimes if these huge aspects of our lives (whether we have children, who/if we marry, whether we choose to be a doctor or lawyer or stay at home parent) involve much choice at all. . . but a whole course in philosophy is compounded into that question, and is much too much for this short space. Let me say, however, that we aren't the only ones who have dealt with such fickle twists of fate. Perhaps the spin we put on our our angst is different, however, in this time, in this place. My Grandmother was adopted by her aunt because her biological mother, Sally, died of the flu and my Grandmother's biological "Papa", Lawrence, GAVE UP THE CHILDREN (his daughter and son) because it was improper for a man to raise children alone. Bottom line is, it was probably just too hard for a man to work on dusty fields from sunrise to sunset and somehow care for two small children simultaneously. So he gave them up, writing occasional postcards to his children, signing them "Love, Papa." How hard was that? My destiny feels pretty cushy, compared! What did all of the players think of this then? Probably thought of it in terms of "old time religion", but the feelings must have been the same. The majority of my professional life has been spent in the field of human services, and I am also an avid observer of people in my spare time. I've come to conclude that every life has it's challenge. Being childless is one of mine. This challenge slaps me hard against the cheek nearly every day: when my friends complain about the difficulties of raising children, when I see pregnant women abusing concaine, when I hear of a teen mother who believes her life is wrecked by the intrusion of the baby in her womb. This may not have been my choice, but it is my life. Ultimately, I believe the quality of my life will be the same, with or without children. It's a big lesson in paying attention to what has been given, instead of focussing on the one missing piece. When I am able to do this, I realize how very lucky I am.

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you wrote this perspective... I'm sick of the media pigeon-holing why women are "waiting" to have children. I can relate to at least 3 of the reasons you mentioned... yes, outcome is all about choices but who knew, based on past generations, these choices would lead to the issue of "now, how do I have a child if 'choose' to have one?" How many choices can one deal with in short lifetime?

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spent years criticising my mothers' life because it seemed so narrow and without choice. She married the local boy and at 21 they had a first child - me. I wonder if it was a choice or accident or duty or just what people did. In the end, if I evaluate my mother's life, I would say that being a mother has not brought the joy and happiness and fullfilment, comfort and so on that she hoped for. It seems sometimes that she is jealous of me and my life.

My life has been about almost endless choices that I have made and not always fully considered. I, at 42, have never been married and have no children. I have chosen - not always consciously - the opposite of my mother- often for the reasons that you have written about - time, resources, right partner, political ideology.... But maybe I am childless by defiance.

It would be easy for me to be critical about my life as well as my mother's life. For example, there are times when I am jealous - as friends cuddle and snuggle with their newborns and children.

So in the end which of us has done it the right way? I'm thinking both of us and neither of us. More and more I relate to what Julianne says about paying attention to what has been given. Maybe the best focus for me is to live each day in loving, kind, honest, fair and compassionate ways with whoever I meet in my life and trust that this will bring me to a feeling of a life well spent at the end.

9:47 PM  
Blogger Po Bronson said...

Thanks to the author of that last anonymous post, about how her life was chosen in defiance of her mother's life - it couldn't have been stated more tenderly.

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Po

As a single 34 year old I am used to settled down motherly types "consoling" with me over the years that I have not yet experienced the rewards of motherhood.

However, I have never had a craving for a child and this has always been met with a response of , "you will change your mind when you meet the right person, or when you get oder". It is as though I am supposedly in denial.

Time has passed and my thoughts on the matter have remained the same. I do not crave a child, I never have. I am content to have children in my extended family life but stil have no wish to have my own to fill a gap of any sort.

People do not realise how demeaning it can be to presume that having a child is a pre-requisite or that I am somehow not a full woman because I do not want to be a mother.

I was diagnosed about 6 years ago with a medical condition which means that I probably would not be capable of having children anyway. My reaction? Relief, as I finally had something that I could roll out to shut up those who repeatedly raise the motherhood issue.

I wish that people would respect not only a womans choice but also her prediposition to be childless and that we are not all the same.

In this age, finding a lifepath that is right for you is hard enough without having lifestyle ideals foisted on you. I am currently reading your book "What should I do with my life" and I realsie that there are a lot of choices out there. But as your bok has helped me see, ultimately you have to go with who you really are underneath.

This is a big challenge and may be one that I cannot meet but I am doing my best.

Jo

8:06 AM  
Blogger Rosanne Catalano said...

Hi Po,
I love your philosophy on what it means to be a writer, how right you are about what it takes to be a writer. It's also late and after reading all these posts and comments I'd like to ask everybody to consider another reason there are couples that are childless, not by choice. Which is what my husband and I are.

How about the women who were not able to have children after years of trying? Fertility treatments and all ... still no baby to bring home, lots of miscarriages instead. My first choice was always to have children (I wasn't greedy; only prayed for one child) but that was not to be. Even got pregnant this past September at the ripe old age of 47 years old --fourth miscarriage due to stress from taking care of my dying dad in the hospital.

Nobody ever thinks of the women who could not physically have a child, and what adds to our heartbreak are the insensitive comments women & men with children make ... they 'think' it was our choice to not have children. Well it wasn't; I cry like a baby myself when I do think about the fact that my husband and I will never be able to have our own biological child (yes, we are now discussing adoption but that is a pretty expensive endeavor to undertake).

So consider another angle on childless, not by choice -- those couples who tried and tried, spending thousands and thousands of dollars on fertility treatments and so forth, still nothing but miscarriages, stillbirths and heartache...

Thank you, Po, for reading my post.

Rosanne Catalano
(a.k.a. R.C.Kayla)
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief & Writer/Author
Publisher: "The Cat's Meow for Writers & Readers Ezine" (a progressive online magazine)
Author: "Touch of Tomorrow - In Loving Memory" (book of poetry) and numerous short stories, poetry and articles published online and in print.

10:38 PM  
Blogger meredith said...

I'm the youngest in a family of five "accidents," most of whom now have children of their own- I am the only exception. I find myself reflecting on my own childhood and how it has shaped and continues to affect who I am today, and I am terrified of beginning the journey into parenthood: What if I don't turn out to be the kind of mother I always wanted mine to me? Should I really be thinking of bringing another person into this mind-boggling experiment we call life? I can't even figure out my own sense of purpose, yet I am actually considering introducing a child actor into this drama? It's all too much...

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. You nailed exactly what my husband and I are going through. I'm 36 and he's 50, and we change our minds about the kid-issue every 10 minutes. We've been trying for years, but it's not going to happen naturally it seems, due to my husband's treatments for cancer. We have some sperm in the bank, and are trying to decide whether to "withdraw" it before it's too late for me. I feel like I can't decide because I have no way of knowing what it's really like. People say it's worth all the hard times, and I love most kids, but those horror stories scare me. I relate to most of the reasons you list for waiting this long and still having trouble deciding. I haven't seen others talk about the scarring from our own childhood though. I had an okay childhood, and some really good times for sure, but overall I felt like being a kid was hard. I hated school! I would feel bad having to force someone to go through that. I worry about what it will be like to get old without having any family around me though. But then, a lot of old people with kids are still unhappy because their kids don't do enough for them, which causes all this resentment. Thanks for bringing up this discussion. A lot of this kind of discussion comes from women, so it's great to see a man looking at it from so many perspectives.

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Ari T. said...

I understand what you're saying, that if women could have their ideal situation they would most likely have children. But you've forgotten the superficial reasons we (okay, I) don't want children:

1. They do quite a number on ruining your figure
2. Children would likely alter the dynamic you have with your spouse, if you didn't marry simply to have a family
3. Did I mention that although it's natural, it's painful, disgusting and common to go through childbirth. Being a parent is a lifelong committment. Anyway, mothers are a dime a dozen and incredibly irritating.
4. Why have children when you can have fun?
5. You never know if you're going to get a kid with lots of problems or if you're going to develop problems later on yourself.


www.babynotonboard.com

Don't get me wrong, kids are cute and amazing, but just the other day, I saw a pregnant woman with three kids and I just couldn't help but feel pity for her.

Some of us just need stability. We already have jobs. We don't need to be managers 24/7 or the stress of being parents.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about having a child for the sake of a marriage. When I met my husband we talked alittle bit about having children and I know he would be an amazing father, however I found out, two years into our marriage that I had an extremely painful nervous system disease and can't even imagine having a child now. I'm so scared I'm going to lose my husband and I know it would be wrong to have a baby, just to appease my husband. I'm 41 now and we have been together almost 13 yrs so friends say don't worry but I can't help feeling really guilty. I know he loves me but I also know that my condition has worsend and I don't know if I could give a child all the love and attention it deserves. On the other hand maybe I would forget my suffering because of the baby needing and counting on me? I don't have alot of help either, although my husband say's he'd take on most of the ressponsibility. I don't think I could take his word on that odviously. Meanwhile, my clock is ticking....

2:33 PM  
Blogger Po Bronson said...

Wow, that must be difficult and scary. For what it's worse, I don't know that having a kid makes people forget their pain. It might make it worthwhile to put up with pain, but it doesn't make physical pain from a nerve disease go away. I certainly respect your fear, here.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Sue said...

My father has never loved my brother and myself and has often told me that he only had us because my mother wanted children.

I married at 17 because the need to prove that I am loveable has always been intense. I am now 37 and have realised that my second husband will never love me enough for me to commit to having children with him. I was only single for 2 months after my first husband left and starting to see my second. I now know that this need to be loved has meant that I have twice settled for the first man I could find.

I couldn't bear to bring any more unhappy and scarred children into a loveless marriage with an unwilling father. I tell myself that I am afraid I may be like my father and unable to love my child, but deep down I believe I would be a wonderful mother as I have so much love in me that I have had no one to give it to.

Because of my upbringing, my need for security is immense and I doubt I will find the courage to give it up and start again alone. I also know that at 37 I don't have the time to hang around, it may even already be too late.

4:58 AM  
Blogger Po Bronson said...

Hi Sue,
It's tragic that your father was not able to love his children, even if he didn't desire to "have" them. Many men stumble into being parents, but nevertheless turn into wonderful, loving parents deeply devoted to their children. He missed out, by not opening his heart to you and your sublings.

It does sound like you're very cognizant of this impact in your life, and you're being extremely careful about passing any legacy on to a child.

While nobody will love you more than a young child will love you, good parenting requires giving not just unconditional love, but coaching a child to feel secure and gradually independent. Letting go (at just the right pace) is almost as important, ultimately, as holding on. It seems that you're well aware of this, and trying to do the right thing. Honestly, from where I sit - a stranger, admittedly - but your ability to be a mother doesn't sound like a red flag. Rather, the quality of your relationship with your second husband sounds more like a warning sign.

Our thoughts are with you.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I like the post that it is a "mystical" experience rather than an intellectual one.

I became a foster parent last year; however never could bring myself to take a child as I felt I could never get all my ducks in a row. There always seemed to be an excuse why I couldn't take a kid -- and most was not having enough time. How do single parents do it? I know they are kind of thrust into that situation. I can't reconcile how I have such a heart for kids, longing for a family and yet can't make it happen. And then the sudden panic, followed by gratitude for not having the responsibility of a child; especially when I hear about kids who no longer talk to their moms, or turned out rotten.

92% of people are married by their 40s -- so what does that say about me?

Am I too selfish for a child? Do I think about it too much? Is the only problem with finding a partner my choice to live in a small retirement town? Or am I in complete denial? Or is this simply the hand dealt? Have I not tried hard enough?

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Po -

Just finished reading 'Why Do I Love These People?".

Great book...I'm glad you wrote it. It is quite obvious that your love for your wife and children shine through your writing.

It would be nice if you were the teeniest bit more understanding in not talking down to those of us that really are happier with no children in our lives.

I decided when I was 8 that I did not want children. I was the oldest of 5 and from what I had seen, I knew then and there that no way did I ever want to go down that road.

All my life people told me I would change my mind. Guess what? I didn't. Turned down my first 4 marriage proposals cause all 4 guys wanted kids and thought they could 'change my mind'.

The guy I did marry did not want kids either. Our marriage sadly ended after 20 years but it was a happier marriage than most since kids were not part of the equation.

Even having two pregnancies via failed birth control did not change my mind. I couldn't get an abortion fast enough in each instance.

Now that I'm single again I'm finding that this is the happiest I've been in years. I have a great job, own my house, have wonderful friends and marriage is the last thing on my mind.

So yes, I am truly childless by choice and thrilled with my decision. I really think this world would be a much better place if more people decided to remain childless instead of being forced into it by society, parents and well-meaning others that sing the praises of having kids.

Just because you love being a father and happen to be good at it, doesn't mean that everyone will fare just as well.

12:09 AM  
Blogger Po Bronson said...

I certainly undertand why you might think I believe everyone shoudl have kids, but in fact I don't believe that, and I say so directly in the book as well. Nor do I believe that everyone will have a better life if they have kids. The chapter on Rosa, and the post here on our blog, focus specifically on the thought process used to decide whether to have kids. Many times I try to say, "If you just don't want to have kids, then great." I guess I learned that the Pro + Con methodology doesn't get close to the reality. But for those who simple see mostly Cons, I would never say or suggest to them (yourself included) that they should consider kids. And many people in the book don't want kids or are not so sure they want kids. That didn't keep from writing about them.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never thought about having children until I was about 33 years old when my clock started to tick. I am 38 now and I am in a rocky r/t. I did not have good role models and both my sisters have not taken care of their children as I believe they should have. I also have major depression and am a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, but have been in recovery for almost 6 years now. My mother died of a drug overdose many years ago and my father is on his 4th marriage. I was raised in an emotionally abusive environment which still affects me even after counseling. I do not want to pass along the negativity or genes down to a child. I have had an abortion 1 time. I do regret it, but I did not think It would have been in my best interest. I don't think I would have been able to provide for the baby and its future the way that it deserves. Sure, I could probably provide the basic material things, but children need so much more than that. I am a nurse and work with pedi and toddler patients at times and it is a new endeavor for me. I enjoy it, but I do wonder what it would be like to have my own child. I know my clock is ticking. Some days it is difficult to take care of myself though. I thank you to the person who started this site. I was thinking that I was the only one with this problem. Good luck to you all.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never wanted children. I don't care whether it's because I had a scarred childhood myself. I have a loving husband, a good job and the freedom to live my life as I wish too.

Over the years I have been annoyed by the assumption that I would change my mind. I get even more angry with sanctimonious comments from mothers who automatically believe that I have missed out on the greatest gift in the universe and that I would love my own child.

It seems to me that many women with children are like religious converts, so totally convinced that their view is the right one that they cannot entertain the idea that there are women like me who don't share their beliefs.

Maybe I am not "normal" in the same way that, maybe, the 10% or so of the population that is homosexual is not "normal" but it doesn't make my wish to be child free either wrong or unacceptable.

6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, i have always wanted children, always told i was good with them etc. i love kids. but i never focussed on this as a mission. i just led my life by being lead by what happened to me. i am 44 years old and completely devastated by the clock run out. i have a job, not a career, i don't own a home i was in a relationships for the last 3 years where i finally thought i had found a guy i could be with and have a family with. he left me for someone else,then came back which i thought was great but spent the last year of my fertile years, saying he was still confused and didn't know what he wanted. to add insult to injury he then said he thought i would be too old for kids and what would happen if we couldn't have them; how would he feel. i have cried constantly for a year and a half about this issue and i can't see that i will not suffer desperate anguish in the future about this as well. i have considered sperm donation, how can i do this to a child - a 45 year old single mother who doesn't own a house and only has an average paying job. is this too cruel? or will i actually make a great contribution to a child's life? i can't imagine being a single mother. if i thought i could do it i would have done it at 30. somehow i always thought it would just happen. i am completely miserable and do not see how i will ever ever get over the relationship break-up and it leaving me childless at such a crucial stage in life. i try and see how i will be better off without a child and cannot see it - am absolutely shattered.

2:41 AM  
Anonymous JM said...

Child*free*
Not childless
Selfish, me?
Well, I confess
aversions that
I cannot count
obstacles
I cannot mount
But it's my life
and it's my choice
-free, not -less
Give *that* a voice

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so agree with the author who said mothers with kids are like religious converts ,they cannot understand that u may not share their beleives.i am a 30 year old married to a loving husband ,in the middle of building up my career and no thats not the reason i dont want to have kids.i have never wanted children.i am absoleutly happy even without them.been married three years now and now have started almost feeling harrased by enquiries about "any good news".at every step i meet people who cannot beleive that someone can be happy without kids.i am supposed in a state of deniel and the greatest joy in my life is yet to happen .i dont know whether its worth trying to convince them that no thank you my life is quite fine or to just ignore and continue smiling...somedays it does get tiring when you have been told the nth time "life is really incomplete without a child"

3:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never wanted children. EVER. My childhood friends remember me saying as much when i was a pre-teen.

My first marriage dissolved after 15 years because I would not cave in to my ex-IN-LAWS desire for a grandchild. My ex-husband was too weak to stand up for me and too weak to stand up against what his parents viewed as some type of biological imperative. They hated me for not wanting their grandchildren.

I have been called every name in the book: selfish, unfeminine, etc.. I have been judged by total strangers based solely on the fact that I am childless by choice.

I am now 41. I am so glad I never had children.

I have recently married someone with primary custody of two kids, and I am afraid that the fact they came as a package deal will eventually destroy my current marriage. I don't want to be a parent. Not even a step-parent.

Another thing: I have been asking for a tubal ligation since I was 20years old, and have been told over and over how the doctors somehow knew myself better than I did, that I would change my mind, etc., etc. I found it infuriating.

Now, they know I really meant it, and they WANT me to have a tubal ligation. I say to them: NO. You didn't know what was best for me THEN, idiots. No, you will not get my money for a surgery I've been begging for for over two decades now that I am practically guaranteed to be infertile.

Thank God.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too share the views of the 44 y.o. anonymous poster. Almost identical situation. Am 44, too. Always wanted a child. I am shattered, too. It's a daily heartbreak. I continue to hope I'll meet someone who would be willing to fight the good fight...to adopt...or whatever. The person who left me after many years told everyone but me that he didn't want children. Now he has two stepchildren and is blissful. I'm alone; recovering; and trying to believe that God will somehow help me through this difficult time and bring me the ultimate gift -- a family. If I had the money to adopt and support the child, I would. If I had the money for AS, I would. Not childless by choice...just brokenhearted. I'm now finding it hard to even get a date-- and I've always been told I'm attractive -- but I'm no longer considered mother-worthy. It hurts.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous leeann.morgan@cox.net said...

My instinct has always been to not weigh down the planet with more pollution, stress, poverty, or bad drivers. The world is my child to protect. I've taught college, done medical research, and am an inventor. I'm female. I guess you might say I've had 3 brain-children. My 'inner' children are horses, tennis,writing, and the sound of my ice skates in a quiet arena. No sacrifices needed. I'm a happy girl.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me too -- 44 and also shattered by the fact that the clock has run out. Trying to grasp my ovaries as they disappear, I've tried IVF twice (failed), and am gearing up for a 3rd, and last time.

I too, just let life happen to me. Knew I wanted children, yet spent my 30s in a relationship with a man who professed that he did not want them. He was 3 years younger, and had been 27 when we met -- so I convinced myself he would change his mind. He did not, and when he cheated on me for a second time, I left.

To be followed by years of frantic dating, but nothing took.

I look back, and sadly admit that I regret the abortion I had at 24. At that time, I could not FATHOM how I would be able to afford a child financial or emotionally. Yet, I didn't really feel there was an alternative, and perhaps if I'd had support -- people to open my eyes to resources that would have made it more possible -- I might have chosen differently.

I see now that by choosing NOT to have that child, I also made it more likely that I would spend the rest of my fertile years dating men who WEREN'T all that serious and who didn't want children. One things for sure -- if I'd had the child, I wouldn't have ended up in a LTR with a guy who didn't want kids because he would never have pursued me. How many jokers did I date that never would have been in my life if I'd made that declaration early on by already HAVING a child?

Now my body almost certainly can't do it, even though I can probalby swing it financially on my own.

I'm not childless by choice. I'm childless because I just kept expecting that it would all happen for me ONE DAY, until all of a sudden, the future was the past and ONE DAY was behind me, and it had never happened.

This is what happens when you don't have goals, or don't have the fortitude to kick guys you are attached to overboard if they don't want the same things in the future that you do.

Take heed. Those 49 y/o stars having babies are using someone elses eggs. Not to criticize that, but you need to get real with yourself if you are in your 30s and still think you have all the time in the world for your prince to come. You need to make it a goal and take the hard steps needed to achieve it -- if it means ditching a guy who doesn't want or is ambivalent about kids even if you are in love with him, that is ABSOLUTELY what you need to do.

10:02 AM  

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