The Choice to Have Children
My husband and I know multiple people who have chosen to not have children. They made the choice, not as a result of infertility, but as a result of knowing what was right for them. They simply made the choice.
I respect and admire anyone who chooses not to have children. I respect and admire anyone who chooses to give their child up for adoption to essentially a stranger. Although completely different, both these circumstances take immense courage. To make either of these decision means you are going directly against societal norms. I see three main ways that people choose not have children:
- Choice with good birth control
I could probably write an entire post on each one of these choices, or at least my perspective on each one of them. There are merits to all of them. There are definitely downsides to all of them.
As for the choice not to have children, society dictates that a couple should have children sometime in their 20’s or early 30’s. To say no to this and consciously choose an alternative life is truly remarkable. I distinctly remember a very good friend once saying to me “I will have children once there is no joy left in my life.” At the time, years before we were trying to have children, it stunned me – my mind was running with thoughts on how anyone could think this way and how could anyone not want children. But now, I get it. He recognized that he wasn’t prepared to share himself to that level with anyone, so it was best that he didn’t have children. This makes sense. Children are not a part time commitment. Children are not returnable. Children become your life, and if you aren’t willing to share your life and dedicate yourself to your children’s soccer games, learning the alphabet or teaching your child to ride a bike, then its best that you don’t do have children. At that time I naively believed the decision to not have children was made selfishly. I no longer think this is the case. I think people make this choice for hundreds of reasons, some which may appear selfish, but in fact are just about making the right decision for them and for the potential children. Kudos to anyone who knows themselves well enough to know before it’s too late, and to say no to societal pressures.
The second, way to choose not to be a part is through abortion. Now, let me be clear, I am not trying to write a novel on the world’s opinions on abortion – it is and will likely always be a highly contentious subject. I do not respect those who choose abortion as a form of birth control. In fact, I firmly believe the decision not to have children should be made before a child is created (to my knowledge, there are countless excellent birth control methods available that can and do prevent the vast majority of unplanned pregnancies). That said, nothing in life is perfect, I can appreciate that there are a million different reasons people choose abortion. But, I do respect that they have made one of the hardest decisions of their life. Having sat in that waiting room with virtually no choice available to us, I know, I absolutely know, the heart ache that everyone in that room is feeling. The room is full of tears. Couples, mothers and adult daughters, single women, etc., nearly every person in that room is not there because it is there first choice. But, the results of their decision will stay with them forever, and something they will have to live with. I suspect, this decision is something they will think about and reflect on every single day for the rest of their life. And I’m thankful I live in part of the world, where this option is available, because I think it is a women’s right to choose, even if I could never choose to terminate a healthy pregnancy (and I never thought I could have chosen to terminate an unhealthy pregnancy either, until I was in the life or death situation).
Then there is the choice to remain child free, by giving your child up for adoption. I cannot image how hard this decision is for any women to make. The choice to carry a child to term, providing for them and protecting them during such a critical time, when their life literally depends on yours. This is a big deal for anyone, but imagine doing so while knowing that you are contemplating giving the child to someone else. In Canada, when domestic adoptions are chosen, they are almost always open-adoptions where the birth mother is able to choose the family who they entrust to raise their child and the birth parents may have involvement in the life of the child. Yet, there is no certainty about how the child will be raised and live. There is no certainty about what the birth parent relationship will become. As someone contemplating adoption and knowing people who struggle to have children, I know realize just how big of a decision this and I am truly thankful people do turn to adoption when it is right for them. The choice, for whatever reason, that you cannot or do not want to raise this child, gives others the opportunity to be parents and to raise a child in a house filled with love. Yet, I still cannot imagine the negative judgement that birth parents likely receive, and I cannot imagine the struggle of going to the hospital to have a child and then going home without it. In my opinion, these people are truly amazing!
At the end of the day, the one thing I respect about anyone who has chosen not have children, is that they made the choice. I believe the majority of people making the decision not have children, are doing so in the interests of both themselves and the potential child. I do not think people make this decision simply. They decided that children weren’t for them, and therefore recognized that it wasn’t right for the child either. If they weren’t prepared to be parents for any reason, to give everything they have to another human being, then they made the right choice.
Then, there are people like us, where the choice to be childless is not a choice. There is a dichotomy of people like us who are desperate for children, and those who are living without children by choice. Yes, we may eventually have kids for all we know (for all we know our next pregnancy could result in a healthy live baby). And yes the option of adoption is available to us if we eventually decide we are done with RPL before we get a healthy living child. And yes, one day we may choose to not have children because we choose to stop trying and we choose not to adopt. So, I do recognize that living childless would be a choice for us, but I also recognize that in a perfect world, it’s not a choice we would ever make. But, as of today, we are childless while wanting to have children. We have lived 2 years desperately wanting children, and all our efforts have resulted our five babies who never made it. If I add up all the months I have been pregnant, we have actually been pregnant for long enough to have a living child, but each one has died instead. If I add up the time we’ve been trying, we could actually have 2 living children by now if things went right.
So, we are stuck living in this place of trying to make the most of what we have; knowing what we may never have; grieving for what we have lost; and watching everyone else around us achieve what we cannot.
It’s a hard place to live. It’s a damn hard place to live.
So, for now, we are making a conscious effort to make the most of what we have and to find joy in what we can. We work to accept our situation as it is out of our control. And, we hold on to hope. Hope is our driving force right now. We hope that our storm eventually ends and the skies clear. We hope for our rainbow at the end of the storm. We hope that whatever happens, we can come to a point of acceptance and live a meaningful life with the cards we were dealt and the decisions we in turn made.
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