A friend posted an article on Facebook, https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/people-who-dont-want-kids-are-really-smart-121622692199.html , about the choice to not have kids, those people making that decision being smart people. It was written by a mother, it was short and good. It reminded me of all my struggles through infertility and the ever burning question, when do I give up on having kids? I am reminded painfully of all the well-intended advice about getting pregnant, praying to Jesus, relaxing, “it will happen when you least expect it.” The times my husband said you’ll regret it if you don’t try one more time. Commenting on the lives of women we know without kids, saying there was “something” missing in their lives. I would get so angry at him, tell him, “You’re so wrong.” I can be just as happy living a life without children. “Those women may be totally happy without children, you don’t know.” I’d say. “What would your mom’s life be like without you and Danny?” He’d ask. Yes, it was true, my mom loved us, especially when we were all older, I mean she always loved us but our early years as a family were extremely difficult for her as a single mom. They were very turbulent times, but she did express she always planned on having babies. I can’t even say how she would have felt without us, and I don’t know how Alan can? Maybe it’s an Irish thing, his mom had ten kids and she definitely wouldn’t have been happy without having children. Part of her worry about me was definitely because of her own experience having children and the fulfillment it gave her. I think it was different for me, I was so much older than her, by the time I started trying, I was thirty four, she was done having kids by then.
When I met Alan at Thirty One years old I said, “I never want to get married or have kids.” I said this over and over again. I probably said it partly out of fear, the thought of losing my independence, being dependent on someone else, having someone be dependent on me, that all scared me. I also felt like the world was a hard place and life was hard and I didn’t know if I wanted to bring someone into our world. My idea about having children started to soften, and I was willing to try for Alan, he definitely wanted kids. We tried and tried and tried, month after month, year after year. We went down the list of things to try, and people would probably think I really wanted to have kids putting myself through all that physical and emotional pain. The amount of doctors’ visits, the disintegration of my psychological wellbeing, almost to the point of thinking I needed to be admitted into a psychiatric hospital. I literally went crazy trying to have a baby when I knew I’d be fine without one. This is an expert from a Self-progress report I wrote in 2012:
“Now if we agree the twitch is caused from stress, then it was caused by an accumulation of stressful events unfolding over the past 5 years. This is just a theory. Maybe starting with the death of my mom, the failed IVF treatments, the massive bleeding, from the pregnancy, repeated trips to the ER finally ending in miscarriage, applying to graduate school, completing an intense year, debating over using a surrogate, going through a very emotional situation with her, maybe the twitch was just caused by all this?”
I had a very bad facial twitch, it lasted over a year. I was embarrassed. The constant thoughts in my mind were “should I give up having a baby?” Alan and I would have discussion after discussion about it. He always said, “I think you’ll be happier with kids, I think you’ll regret it if you give up too soon.”
This is an excerpt from a piece I wrote called Identity Crisis also from 2012:
Maybe I don’t even want kids now. When people ask, “do you have kids?” and I reply, “No, we’ve been trying.” They always say back “it’ll happen, just don’t think about it, stress is the worst thing when you’re trying to get pregnant.” I really hate those conversations. In Ireland, my husband’s mom made an appointment with a priest. “He has the relic of St.Gerard” she tells me. We get to the Ahaskeragh Abbey, the priest lets us in the door, in from the cold and the darkness. The priest is wearing a brown cardigan, wool slacks, grey hair, he has rosy cheeks. I am starting to feel guilty, I don’t believe in any of this and he’s such a nice man. Maureen says, “Thank-you so much father, this is my son and his wife, they have been trying for a baby without luck.” We follow the Priest into a room, where the relic is. He places the relic on my belly, it’s a piece of a bone in a glass jar. I start to giggle, I’m embarrassed, I want to believe.
It was a long, long, road and the decision to keep trying was extremely difficult, the decision to give up would have been even harder. Now as I sit here at 3:32PM on Tuesday afternoon, babies in play and packs hollering for me to come get them, I was hoping they would take a nap! I feel so removed from that pain, from that decision that had to be made. I feel like I made the right decision, I feel like Jack and Fiona are meant to be here with me. I am glad I decided to have kids even though I knew I would have a great life without kids, in fact my husband and I had decided we were going to become world travelers if we didn’t have kids. And that would have been quiet nice! But seeing Jack and Fiona’s delight today at Tilden Park on the Steam Train is beautiful as well, it’s precious in fact. Learning how to keep painting and writing while raising babies has been the biggest challenge in my life, and the most, I hate to use the word, Fulfilling! Even though I always have so much cleaning to do, I never get a morning off, my work day goes from 6:30AM until 8:00PM, every day, I think it’s worth it. I couldn’t live without Jack and Fiona now, I love them so much.