Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Changes of Heart… a touchy subject

It seems to be all around, people who never wanted kids getting clucky all over the place. The phrase "I used to be childfree" makes me squirm.

"Oh, you'll change your mind" is a favorite amongst the critics of my choice not to procreate… that or "what if you change your mind?" It makes my blood boil, but at the same time it's a somewhat valid point. The fact is, biology makes us that way. It makes people change their minds.

I suspect it's probably similar to the thing inside us that makes us hate boys when we're kids, that makes us think sex sounds apalling. Some argue that the fact that I am indifferent to babies and I find toddlers mostly just irritating (save for a handful of token really adorable moments) is just a phase that I'll get over "when the time is right."

They said it would happen when I met "the one". Nope. Didn't happen with my first husband when I was 21, and it's certainly not happening with this one. "Wait 'til you've been married a year." Nope — we're more adamantly childfree than ever.

And yet the phrase "I used to be childfree" haunts me. Mothers I know say it. Friends and family say it. Strangers say it. "I used to hate kids, but…" BUT.

I wonder sometimes if I will change my mind. While I get the occasional twinge now and again, I attribute it to hormones because I simply do not want a child, nevermind everything a child involves. Do these "formerly childfree" folks want a baby, or do they want to raise a child? I think that's the difference between us and them — them being the clucky ladies who want nothing more than babies babies babies without ever considering what that really means.

I've been asking myself again lately if I would terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The IUD makes that an easy decision, given the risk of birth defects and my complete disinterest in taking any sort of risks. I realized just recently that yes, I probably would, and for a number of reasons, ranging from the occasional cocktail I enjoy to the fact that we don't want our lives to change. It was a sobering realization, because I've long thought that I wouldn't be able to do it because I'm old enough, financially secure enough, and really have no excuse, but it really came down to three main things:

1. I don't believe life begins at conception. Perhaps it happens sometime between conception and birth, but I don't believe it's in the first trimester. Argue with me if you must, but I've researched it myself and we'll just have to agree to disagree. This is something I've thought long and hard about and I'm comfortable with my beliefs. I believe if I were in this situation I would be terminating a pregnancy, which is not the same, in my mind, as killing a child. You may believe differently and that's okay. (Note: I will not be engaging debate on this topic. Let's just agree to disagree.)

2. Every child should be a wanted child. I don't want to raise a child and have long insisted that an accidental child would be reared primarily by my husband, while I would be a secondary caregiver. But I don't want to have an "accident". This is the 21st century and I am an enlightened woman who knows what I want from my life. There is no reason I should have to go reluctantly into such a life-altering situation with no do-overs.

3. I am completely unwilling to deal with a child that is not the best case scenario. This sounds ridiculous, I know, but there are so many things — physical things, behavioral and emotional things — that can go wrong with a child. I would be utterly devastated if my own child was disabled in some way. Call me heartless, that's fine, but I'm being honest with myself. If I am not willing to potentially give up my career and my own life to care for a child, it is not worth the risk.

But primarily, it's this: We're adults. We don't need an excuse. It is our lives, our consciences and our gods we have to answer to; no one else can make the decision for us and it is no one else's business. Just because my infertile friends would be devastated if they knew I did such a thing, why would they have to know? It has nothing to do with anyone but my husband and me.

I do not want a child. I do not foresee myself ever wanting a child. Will that change? Who can say. There's precedent enough to say 'maybe'. But that's something to deal with if it comes up. Otherwise I live my life for me.

Do it; call me selfish.


Anonymous said...

I think you're self-wise and should be proud of it!

If only most childed did as much careful thinking and considering of their own thoughts as us childfree (as evidenced in your excellent post), all children would be wanted and well taken care of.


Ashley said...

You're no more selfish than I am. I also live my life for me, and I have been doing so for some time now. You can't please everyone, so you might as well please yourself and your spouse. I agree with anonymous that the non-childfree should be giving as much thought to this as we do...it's really scary and sickening to me that they don't. I'm on LiveJournal, and I have a friend who got knocked up by her loser ex-con husband. She always claimed to be as adamantly CF as I am, but she's decided to go ahead with this mistake, despite not having any money, virtually no supportive relatives, and a tremendous dick of a husband. This whole thing has upset me tremendously, and it makes me wonder how people can be so stupid.

cipher said...

It was funny to me that mentioned the occasional cocktail in your reasons. I admit to being a fencesitter, but am getting to the age where I need to get off the fence.

We decided to give it a try, even though we weren't 100% for sure on it. For several months I gave up all vices (occasional cocktail, coffee, dying my hair, etc.) It was not very fun. But, I didn't want my decision to be made based on my lame-ass vices, just because I was too weak or vain to give them up temporarily. I'm glad I did it, because at least I can know that my decision was made based on real concerns and not that I can't stand going without a cocktail.

Now we've had serious second thoughts, so have laid off our attempts. I can have a cocktail again! (unless I'm driving, which I like to do, because I have a nice car...a benefit I consider I earned by not having a kid). Whoopee! People say having a child brings so much fun into your life. Maybe I'll never know, but I can attest to the fact that the preparations alone can take away a lot of fun from your life.

By the way, I love your blog.

thismomentisyourlife said...

I hate it when people say those things!

My current stance is "no children now, maybe no children ever." I'm still only 25, and I want to give it a few more years before I make that final choice.

My most hated statement is "It's different when they're yours." Well, yes, I'm sure it is. But, that's not really convincing me to have one.

I love reading your blog because you are smart and thoughtful. I know when we make the final decision, it will be one we truly thoughtful out and therefore the right one for my husband and I. I think most people don't think.

And there are so many accidental pregnancies. I can't remember the exact statistics, but it is some crazy amount of babies born each year were unplanned. I don't know why so many people have those children - but I assume they don't want to look at the other options. But, I also think most of those people don't think about what it will really mean to have that baby either.

It's great you know what you want, and what you would and would not do.

twiga92 said...

You're not selfish - you know your own mind. That's what gets me about the whole "you'll change your mind" comment - people presuming to know my mind better than I know myself. The nerve! I made my decision at 23 and 10 years later I'm as sure as ever that I made the right choice.

Anonymous said...

Okay, you're selfish. So am I.

I have known people who didn't want children and then they did. My sister was this way. In fact, to have a second child she went through years of infertility treatments and finally in-vitro. It was all painful, depressing, discouraging and expensive.

I was 16 when I knew I didn't want to be a mom. Thankfully, my husband feels the same way about children. We have a few in our lives we enjoy in limited doses (nieces, nephew and the kids of a few select friends). At 43 years old I consider my child-bearing years to be behind me, but I look ten years younger so people I meet still sometimes ask if I will have them. It's none of their business, but I have no problem telling them 'No, I've never wanted kids'.

I have had two unintended pregnancies, one when I was 26 and single, the second when I was 28 and married. I aborted both with no regrets. I know this decision affects everyone differently, but that's my experience. My husband had a vasectomy almost ten years ago, so there will be no more "accidents".

You sound pretty sure of yourself, which is good. Some of my childfree friends also went through a period of self-examination when they were in their late 20's just to see if they might change their minds. Some didn't, some did. And if you do, that's okay, too. Just be true to yourself and don't let the decision be driven by an accidental pregnancy.

Tanya said...

Join the selfish club. I'm a member too and proud of it.

For many of the same reasons as you, my husband and I do not want kids. Going without a drink for 9 months is not horrible, but why do it if I don't have to?

"You'll change your mind" is getting tossed at me more and more because I always said I would NOT get married and I did. Dang. Changed my mind. If I did it once, I will do it again, right? WRONG! My anti-marriage stance was more "if it never happens, I won't be heartbroken" than "I will NEVER EVER NEVER EVER marry a boy. Ick!" My anti-child stance is definately "NEVER EVER".

At the moment, my husband and I have a "get out of marriage" free deal wherein if one of us gets clucky and wants a baby, the other can leave the marriage scot free. I like my husband a lot. I don't want to be without him. I have a choice...babies or him. I choose him.