Sunday, December 4, 2011

Childless by Choice

Well, it's over a week late for giving thanks, but I'm now in the midst of IVF#2 (transfer is tomorrow!) so lately I've been reading a lot of infertility discussion boards. I've probably read hundreds of women's stories and experiences at this point and one thing they have made me realize is that there is a particular area of my life where I am extremely fortunate.

Yes, I am beyond thrilled that my insurance unexpectedly covered two rounds of IVF. I'm grateful beyond words that my husband and I are still great friends and totally in love despite this challenging process.

However, the thing I'm really thankful for today is that my sister and my best friend absolutely, completely, 100% do not want to have children.

My sister is two years older than me and will be turning 37 this year, so she is probably too old to be an egg donor, but recently told me, "too bad I can't give you my eggs to double your chances, because I will NOT be using them." My sister lives a happy, childless life in New York City and finds the idea of pregnancy and birth appalling. Not only would it cause her to gain back all the weight that she carried around as a chubby teenager, but then she would end up having to deal with a baby after all that. This is not to say that she is not completely excited for me to have a baby. She'd love to be the fun aunt who babysits my kids once they are old enough to feed themselves and use the bathroom on their own. But the idea of being responsible for small people for the next 18+ years is just not her thing.

My best friend struggles with her nieces and nephews. She loves them, but she also kind of fears them. You can't just take them to lunch and chat about the latest story on NPR. You actually have to know about things like dump trucks and ponies and act interested in talking about them. You have to find restaurants the serve chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Or worse, to learn how to prepare those things yourself. My best friend married a man who is significantly older than she is, who already has grown children of his own and has no desire for more. He even had a vasectomy to seal the deal. Recently my best friend found out that she has a medical condition where it would be extremely dangerous for her to get pregnant and while sad about the condition, felt that it was a happy turn of events that no one in her family would dare ask her when she plans to have kids now. Like my sister, she would be thrilled for me to get pregnant, would be pacing the waiting room when I went into labor, and would be the first person to show up with dinner when I was struggling with breast feeding a new born and losing my mind. But she will never, ever long for the same experience.

I know that to the average person, it would seem really strange that I would be thrilled that two of the most important women in my life are so anti-children. After all, wouldn't it be better if they had babies so we could all push our strollers to the park together and they could advise me on which diapers are the best?

Actually, I have plenty of great women friends who have babies or plan to have them, and I'm sure that there will be no shortage of stroller-pushing mothers in the park to bond with. But when you're a woman who has been struggling with infertility for longer than anyone should have to, there is something so comforting about knowing that your sister is not planning to make her big pregnancy announcement at Christmas dinner, and your best friend is not going to tell you in a pitying voice that she got pregnant after accidentally forgetting to take her birth control pills on vacation with her. I might sound completely selfish for saying this, but it's a wonderful blessing to have two women in my life who are not now and never will hop onto the baby train and leave me behind in the dust.