Monday, July 9, 2012

Childless Not By Choice?

I've been mulling over this issue lately, and found this article

"Is Childlessness Felt More In Middle Age?"

The answer is YES. 

I guess I am surprised there are 1 in 5 of us that never had children. That's 20%. There are many women who do not marry and other factors that play into this. Several of my friends have never had children. 

Late last night I was talking to my husband about this issue, and how we were unable to have children. He married me at my peak weight 14 years ago. We also had a discussion prior to marriage where I told him, the chances of me being able to have a child were pretty low, and he would have to go in with eyes open regarding that factor. He is not troubled by the no child thing, which has been a relief to me, given that if I had married someone who got bothered by it, as they aged, that may have caused a lot of trouble for me. He sees his "legacy" being in other places.

Trying to have a child when I was going in and out of the hospital with statis ulcers, infections and severe breathing problems would have been insanity nonetheless at near 700lbs. I am considered mostly infertile. When we married, it was kind of odd, I did not expect to live long at that time.

My periods disappeared at age 19 and only came around later either under Provera or other drugs, and well I maybe have a period a couple times a year now. My doctors however hedging the bets, told me to use birth control religiously just even for that slight chance I may ovulate on an off day. I have been told by three different doctors I would die if I got pregnant. This has more to do with just the severe obesity but with the cardiomyopathy issues from the hypothyroidism and others.

I've always have tried to be a responsible sort even if I have failed at it, at least knowing bringing a child into a household where the two adults could barely take care of themselves financially and with such severe health problems was crazy. I also have to admit I feared passing on the severe obesity, and other health problems but that definitely did not form the core of my not having children, being swamped by tsumanis of ill health and severe financial problems for years and years, had far more to do with it.

I also admit that I was on the fence about having children even on a mothering-nuturance basis, I worked in day care, I babysat, I took care of violent teens who were hard core residential cases, so I knew the nitty gritty, from day one and what actual child-care took and that I was not in financial,  physical or emotional shape for it. Online, there are these extensive "child-free" groups,. but most of those folks are child-free by CHOICE, which in our crazy society and the financial and other stresses, one can see why people would be leaning that way, but that doesn't describe my situation in total.

Our society makes motherhood look all bliss but it's not, its a 24/7 job. Even if you have children does not mean everything will turn out perfect. Also who wants to have children with selfish intentions? You have to be there for the child and able to GIVE.

My time to get pregnant was as a teen or in my very early 20s, I have to admit, that sometimes I wish I had been more wild and gotten pregnant when young despite the hardships, because at least I wouldn't be looking back with regrets knowing there would be no "family", and no "children". Part of me doesn't regret it, in that, I did not think I was well suited to the rigors, and I probably made the "best" choice given I and my husband's circumstances. But there is that part that does regret it. This mostly has to do with feeling "alone" in this world, and knowing I have no "family" in the way that counts.
You hear about people visiting or their relationship even with an adult child, or see the endless family photos on a social website and it can be tough business.

You do start worrying "what if I grow old and I am alone in the world?" I've had the scary thing already happen where they thought my husband was having a heart attack 11 years ago, and he was hooked up to wires and more, and beyond being terrified for him, I had the fleeting thought, "What is going to happen to me?" It turns out his heart was OK, but he has other worrying health problems, that bring this issue to the forefront. No one wants to have children simply to be a future caretaker, what if they move away? But these issues come to mind.

I worry about my husband ending up alone when I am gone, because he only has one living relative-a sister, in the entire country, and she already has had cancer and never had children either, not having married. Both of his parents are deceased. So yes that sort of thing troubles me quite a bit.

Our society is very family-centric. Even if you happen to be a married couple and there are plenty of people who are single too, you can be made to feel like you are on the fringes as you have no children. I've experienced this in churches and other venues, where having no children, grown or otherwise means you didn't fit in. I grew up in a family where because of its religious culture, one is not viewed as a "full adult" unless they had children. Oddly I grew up under the conflicting demands of extreme feminism coupled with this idea that unless I fulfilled certain demands--motherhood and a high level career, that I was not worth anything.

I think in times past even if one didn't have children, they were included in the family of origin, as the auntie, or uncle, where they could become close to nieces and nephews, and be on going part of their lives. This option hasn't been opened to me, though I try to send them cards and visit as I am able, I remain somewhat a stranger since they only see me once a year. Two nephews I haven't seen in three years. One aspect that is frustrating about dropping down the socio-economic ladder is the upper middle class has no qualms about living hundreds of miles or even thousands of miles from each other, but what happens if you fall down the ladder and can't afford the gas or trips? You feel you have failed in these relationships despite your best efforts.

More and more I have been closed out of my own family circles, it is a long story, but something I have noted has made things far more difficult for me. For a variety of factors ranging from how my weight is viewed, personality, religious differences and too many miles and miles of distance, the door has been shut more narrow every year. Some childless people have a family of origin that still surrounds them even on a day to day basis. Even if they do not have children of their own, they are included in their sibling's lives and lives of other relatives. They have relatives, their aunts and uncles even who remain part of their life. What happens to those without "families"?

I always try to find "families" of friends, and have sought other forms of community in life, and other endeavors and am glad I have my husband but lately have been mulling over this no child and no "family" thing and realizing some of my emotions about it all. I have told my husband and he understands, this feeling of "not being connected", and I know for me, when I lost my last community and close church 6  years ago, because of these issues, that the pain for me was more acute then it would be for an average person.  There are things I was able to do and explore without the responsibility of children so it is not all bad, but just some things I am thinking out.

I had this weird dream years and years ago. It is kind of strange, but I had in my early 20s, and it repeated a few times. I had a "daughter" who was grown visit me and tell me, "I won't be able to come earth to be born". What a strange dream, but I think it came out my knowing my body didn't work right, and that things were not going to be "normal" for me.

If there are others reading this who never had children married or single. I know how hard it can be. Some could be facing children who moved away or cut contact.  Some may even have chosen not to have children, whether they stood by that decision later or regretted it or understood why they had to make those choices.


  1. I am in a similar boat, my husband and I are also childless, though I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a late in life baby. Sometimes I wonder if that's the responsible thing to do, though. I did some family tree stuff for my dad and skipping his generation and my grandparents generation, the previous three generations prior all had kids into their 40s and all lived into their 90s, but what if we don't, I don't want to leave a child in their 20s or younger with no parents.

    I don't really have any extended family or even close friends with kids, or even close friends. My husband is younger than I am by a few years, but has a nasty history of cancer in his family (colon cancer, so somewhat preventable with very frequent colonoscopies) but my family is very long lived on both sides, but what about me with my health issues is it even responsible to have kids?

  2. I hope you are in the health and financial place where you can have a baby, I know some women having them up to their mid-40s. You do have to decide if it is for the best. I know my contact with children today is very little, I am like one of those old people that didn't seem to understand kids, I used to remember when I was a kid. Sorry that your husband has colon cancer in his family but if they have made it this far, and are able to overcome it. Perhaps your child would take after your husband when it comes to weight. I know I would be worried about leaving a child as an orphan if I had been able to have one.