Why I Don’t Want Children: The Personal Decision and the Medical Decision

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Personal Decision

Alyssa Guzman

“Oh, you’ll change your mind” and “I was like you when I was your age” or even “Oh, motherhood is the greatest blessing there it.” For those of us who don’t want children, we hear this lot. And it’s so annoying.

It’s bad enough that society tells women that they have to have children to have value. But what annoys me most is when other women tell me that “I’ll want to have kids when I grow older.” I expect society to tell me that, but as a woman it’s frustrating that other women are trying to push me into a traditional womanly role that I don’t even want to audition for.

I’m tired of “selfish” narrative. IT. IS. NOT. SELFISH. TO. CHOOSE. TO. NOT. HAVE. CHILDREN. With children or without children, I am no less of a woman. I could have a thriving career in New York City, and you can have a family of five in the suburbs. We are BOTH strong, empowered, and successful women. CHILDREN DO NOT EQUATE TO YOUR VALUE AS A WOMEN. I am a strong woman because I want to be, and I was raised to be. I am successful because I strive to be. We choose our own path in life, and no one is selfish for choosing their career over having a family – especially a woman! – nor are you selfish for giving up a thriving career to have children. For some of us, that means having children, for some of us that means struggling with infertility or medical conditions, and for some of us that means deliberately choosing to not participle in motherhood.

The shame that society and women place on other women who choose to not have children is a dangerous game to play. Soon enough, that woman is going to tell you how she really feels, and you’ll regret ever telling a woman what to do. It’s rude, it’s degrading, and it’s irritating to be shamed for making the best decision for you.

In my case, it’s a personal decision to not have children. I do not particularly like children. To be honest, I absolutely hate children. The second they cry, I’m like nope, nope, nope. I don’t want to hold children, it’s awkward and I don’t know what to do. I have absolutely no maternal instinct. I personally don’t think I’d be a good mother. I’m too direct, too harsh, have too high expectations, refuse to give up my dreams and career to be puke on and woken up at 2 a.m., and simply do not want children.

There have only been two people in my life that didn’t respond with the above answers. These two women supported my decision to not have children, and we can have an honest discussion without placing blame or forcing someone to believe something they don’t. Those two people would be my co-author, Hannah, who also doesn’t want children for a vastly different reason; and my friend Isabella, who wants a large family. We don’t judge each other. Hannah doesn’t want biological children for medical reasons (which she’ll explain below), Isabella has always wanted a large family, and I’ve just never been into the idea of motherhood. Three vastly different women, with three vastly different life plans; yet we still understand and support the others in our life decisions, which includes our position on motherhood.

I want to be a journalist in New York City, which means I won’t make a lot of money. So it’s not financially a good decision to have children. And technically, the Earth is overpopulated anyways….so I’m saving the environment by lowering my carbon footprint. But those are just excuses.

What it really boils down to…I just don’t want children. And yeah, maybe I will change my mind or maybe I won’t.

But it’s not your place – whether you are my mother, my sister, my family, my friends, or a stranger on the street – to make that decision for me.

To degrade a women’s value, to judge a woman for not wanting children is sooooo last century. As a feminist (or not!), I would never push the idea of motherhood onto another woman.

“You can’t be a woman without children!” or “Oh, come on, you’ll like them when they’re yours!” These narrative needs to STOP! Women are women. Motherhood does not make us a woman.

For those of you like me who made a personal decision to not have children, whatever your reason: it is valid. And don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not.

You are a woman because you want to be. You are a woman whether you have children or not. You are valuable to this world because your talents and dreams and contributions, not what you push out of your vagina.

Whatever your decision, I support you 100 percent of the way.

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Medical Decision

Hannah Forbes

After reading Alyssa’s point of view, my initial reaction is that I feel like I cannot top that - but then I’m not going to pit myself against another woman. 

Now, Alyssa does not want children because she doesn’t have a maternal instinct. That’s 100%. She doesn’t. At all. Do not let her babysit. Ever. A brick would do a better job. I trust her with my cats, not my hypothetical future children.

I like kids. My first jobs were working with children. Big Brothers Big Sisters, a children’s library, an after-school program, etc. I always had a job working with kids. Since college I haven’t, and it’s weird AF. I’ve had friends try to push me into working with kids again. Children are funny. They crack me up. They can teach you so much about the world while you’re helping them learn 5x5. 

But there are reasons I won’t have biological children. They are legitimate reasons, despite what people say. “I don’t want children,” is what I say. I immediately get told I’ll change my mind, I’m too young to know, my partner will want children and -

Hold up. Shut up before I start crying. I have started crying when people do not leave the subject alone. Imagine that. Someone says one simple sentence, and you start ranting, and then I start crying because I’ve heard it so many times and it cuts like knives. Can I have biological children? Yes, I can. Is it a good idea?

HELL. NO.

Imagine if you had numerous chronic illnesses like me. And food allergies. And chronic fatigue. And developmental disabilities. Endless joint pain. Endometriosis. All GENETIC.

How the hell is that fair to me during pregnancy? How is that fair for that child? To live through the trauma and endless medical appointments and tests like I have my entire life? To have invisible disabilities and have people dismiss you? To have friends and family distance themselves gradually from you?

That’s not fair to put my body under so much strain, to stop medications that ease my pain for the sake of conceiving and pregnancy and childbirth and caring for a child. If I can barely get out of bed some days, how could I care for a newborn? How is that fair to my spouse?

I want to be married. I want children. I want a family.  I do not want my genes passed down. If I ever did become pregnant I would decide with my spouse what to do and what would be best. That’s our decision and no one else's.

I would adopt. Or foster. There are so many children out there - not newborns, but older kids that people will not adopt. Those children would understand that maybe Mom cannot eat ice cream with everyone or watching TV in bed is a nightly routine. They would understand that it’s okay to take a break, to take longer with tasks, to talk about mental health, to be exposed to a world of invisible or visible disability I desperately wished I had.

You might ask what I would do if my child is able-bodied. Well...I’d parent. That’s what my spouse and I would do. That would be our goal. Yes, I have dreams and a career like Alyssa.

But like Isabella, I want to add children to that dream. Someday. 

But like Alyssa AND Isabella all of our dreams for the future are valid. We’re all women. We all have a way we would like our life to work out. Our vaginas do not define us, even if we have endometriosis or decide to push a child out of it. 

I support y’all ;)