Somehow I forgot to have children. I say forgot but to be honest, it's been a bit like this:
Age 10: I'm never having kids, that's so YUCKY.
Age 15: I'm never having kids coz I don't want to be fat.
Age 19: If I have a screwed up ungrateful sh*t of a kid like me, I'd rather not have kids...ever.
Age 21: And there's the whole 'getting fat' thing.
Late twenties: All my mates are popping them out; maybe I should follow the trend?
Early thirties: I'll decide later, I need to find a career. I can't think about vaginal stitches right now.
Mid thirties: It's going to be much harder at this age to get my post-baby body back. I'm no Victoria's Secret model. I'd also rather not crap myself all over the child birthing bed, thanks. I'll decide later.
Guess what? Later is here, tirelessly knocking on my ovaries like a snotty trick or treater who isn't satisfied with one Mintie. I never thought I'd run out of time to decide, but I'm now faced with the fact I might never have children.
I've spent too much energy on procrastination and not enough on baby making. I've assumed I'd know if and when the time was right, but there's never been a thunderous crash of lighting that's illuminated the sky with a big YES, the time is NOW!
I'm at odds with myself over most life matters, but this baby-producing thing has been a constant source of stress since I was a kid, proclaiming to Mum there was NO WAY I'd ever have children when I was a grown up. And perhaps that's the problem; I don't think I'm a grown up yet. I still see deformed vegetables at Coles and think phallic thoughts and I don't have a solid silver cutlery set from the 1800s.
To have children or not isn't a new conversation, but it does seem there's only three main choices up for discussion. The woman who has kids over career, the women who has a career over kids, and the woman who has both. But guess what? There's another emerging group of women my age who need a voice. Woman like me, who are misunderstood, judged and feel pressured to make a decision in a certain timeframe. Women with more of a 'let's see what happens' attitude face the possibility of missing out entirely.
You may call us a selfish minority. I mean, the desire for kids is supposed to be in our genes, in our blood, in every fibre of our being, so where is it? Why haven't we had an overriding craving to segregate lunchboxes into appropriate food groups and to stand on footy-pitch sidelines cheering our little one on?
The answer is more complex than simply being selfish, and there many reasons why we delay.
One of my friends, for example, had the desire for children, but never found that necessary component: the man. The right man. Another works hard, plays hard and kids aren't a consideration. She probably wants them, just later.
Then there's a very close friend of mine. We have similar opinions on everything, we've experienced similar challenges AND she also sees penises in Coles parsnips, so it stands to reason we've agonised over the 'to have or not to have' dilemma together. That was until that decision was taken from her with the news she had Premature Ovarian Failure at 34. She doesn't have the luxury of choice. Maybe I no longer have either. A caring GP told me I'm deemed infertile as I've not used contraception for a year and a half and not fallen pregnant. Thanks for breaking that one to me gently.
You'd think that news would make what I wanted clearer, but no. One day I'm sad about it, wondering who will benefit from my ultra-warm crocheted socks if I'm grandchildless, the next day I'm dreaming of infinity pools in the Balinese jungle, by myself.
My feelings on this topic have had more swings and roundabouts than a playground. Am I purely selfish? I don't think so. I worry about what I can offer a child, if my depression will be passed on and if I deserve motherhood. I wonder if I want a child because society tells me to or because my friends do. I wonder if having a child is more selfish than not having one.
I thought I was pregnant a few years ago, but suddenly had an unusual bleed. Terrified, I went to a doctor who was as supportive as a deficient back brace. He told me I was probably losing the baby or having an ectopic pregnancy. The bored sonographer he sent me marching off to wasn't any more caring. "Nope nothing there, you could be losing it but probably never pregnant." I think she even yawned in my face. Thanks for that.
As I scuttled out the door feeling like a major strain on medical resources, she asked me if I wanted to get pregnant. I found myself saying yes. Because in that moment I did. I really did. She then bluntly told me to "hurry up" as "time is a ticking".
I didn't know people of that profession, in this century, actually uttered sentences like that. Honestly, do people think we don't know how old we are? Do they think we haven't counted every birthday that's passed and the million eggs that internally combust every time we blow those candles out?
There are many reasons why women my age aren't walking around with toddlers pulling at their organic cotton tank tops, but others don't stop to think of those reasons. It's much easier to judge. We see the smug mothers at the cafes wondering, we feel the burning questions as we stand alone at our friends kids' birthday. We feel the isolation our different situations have put us in.
Here's the thing. Some people just don't know if they want children. Some people fear bringing kids into a world where nuclear bombs exist. Some people just want to adopt. Some people, like my beautiful friend, simply can't.
So please stop asking us if we have kids. You can see we don't, so don't assume we want to tell you the ins and outs of our failing reproductive organs. When we have to answer no, we don't want to feel we need to explain ourselves, whatever our reason. Please also stop asking us whether we want them. How painful is that loaded question for those who can't? And if we say no, what would you say then? Awkies.
I don't know if I want children. It depends on the day, my mood and faith in my ability to keep a human dwarf alive by remembering where I last left it.
I'm tired of having to answer questions about kids, just because of my stage in life. Believe me, I'm well equipped to judge myself in most areas of my life by now, no one else needs a shot.