When I first heard about the Zika virus, I was upset. Of course. The situation is truly frightening, especially for expectant mothers. But after the sympathy for their crushed summer plans had passed (no nature hikes or backyard BBQs for those ladies), I confess all I could think was, “Oh thank GOD for Zika!”
I’m not happy about the crippling effects this disease has on newborns or the emotional rollercoaster pregnant mothers must be riding in its wake.
But I can't deny that I was relieved about the fact that, finally, I have a society-approved excuse for not getting pregnant this summer.
Family planning is something I’m slowly easing myself into. I’m recently married and not in any rush to have kids. I don’t even want to have my own kids when the time comes (we’re planning on adopting). But you know people — they’re always looking ahead. And they never mind their own business.
“So when are you going to have kids?” is a question I deal with a lot. I want to scream at the top of my lungs, “NEVER, HOPEFULLY!” but I know that elicits a worse response. People usually stare at me, their faces screwed up, and reply, “What do you mean, you don’t want to have kids?”
Then I have to go through my laundry list of reasons, none of which they accept. Ever.
So when I heard about the Zika virus, and how whole countries are trying to dissuade women from getting pregnant, I couldn't help but think, “How can anyone argue in favor of pregnancy when microcephaly is such a prevalent risk?”
This is how messed up our treatment of childless women is — that I get excited about using a horrible disease that hurts children as my scapegoat for not wanting kids right now. It's not even really how I feel about the situation. It's awful that I'm lying too.
Truthfully, I shouldn’t need an excuse. I should feel comfortable saying, “I’m not ready to have kids yet,” and not deal with responses like, “It’s harder to have a family as you get older,” or “You’re never READY to have kids. You just make it work!”
The intense pressure society puts on women to keep the population going is something I've battled with for a long time. It's incredibly difficult to find a doctor who will tie your tubes before age 35, and those who have had the procedure done are often demonized as a result. Jennifer Aniston can't even go a day without someone thinking she's not a "complete woman" because she's gorgeous, has married gorgeous men and has yet to produce gorgeous children.
It shouldn't take an epidemic to help people justify our (incredibly personal) decision.
I also think it’s sad that people only accept my reasoning based on this particular devastating condition. No one would buy it if I said, “I’m choosing not to have children because bipolar runs in my family.” They’d think I was incredibly selfish. But Zika? Somehow that gets a hall pass.
Zika isn’t something I’d wish on anyone, and I hope they find a way to prevent it soon. But if a mosquito bite is enough to get someone off my case, I guess I’ll take what I can get.
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