Some people dream of having kids from a young age; they know how many children they want and plan their pregnancies accordingly. Others may become pregnant unexpectedly or may choose an independent lifestyle with no children. Then there are people whose lives and health lead them down a path where childbearing isn’t possible or maybe just isn’t meant to be. I fall into the latter category and I’m at peace with this because it is ok to be different and not conform to a standard.
The usual evolution in life is to get married, buy a house and start a family. My husband and I purchased our first home several months ago. On our first evening in our house, we introduced ourselves to the neighbors across the street. They are a retired couple and one of the first questions we were asked by the wife was, “Do you have children?” Noah and I responded that we did not and several minutes later into our conversation, she said, “So, you don’t have any kids.” I chuckled to myself, thinking, ‘No, our answer did not change from several minutes ago and no, we did not have kids in that short timeframe.’ She looked so perplexed by the fact that we do not have children.
While this may be a personal topic for some, I am as comfortable sharing my thoughts on having children as I am about sharing my entire health journey. In February 2013, I wrote about our thoughts on having kids in a post titled, Filling the Void. This post received many comments on the topic as well, and I encourage you to read it. Even though it has been four years since writing the post, our feelings are pretty similar today. We are almost 100 percent sure we will not have kids.
Last week while getting an ultrasound done of my heart, the technician asked if I had kids. When I told her no, she asked if it was because of the fear of passing PKD on to our children. I said no, because I am so proud of my parents and thankful that they brought me into this world despite the 50 percent chance my mom had of passing on PKD. I told the ultrasound tech that it was much more than that. My back issues would make me unable to carry a pregnancy, and if we went the surrogate route or adopted a child, I would not be able to hold our baby because I can’t lift anything heavy. For those reasons, and with my kidney transplant, I would be concerned about putting extra stress on my “gift of life” and possibly losing my kidney. With a suppressed immune system I could get sick very easily from our child, and if they were ill, I could not be around them for fear of catching what they had. I have so much going on with my health that I don’t think it would be fair to a child, my husband, or myself to have kids. Our conversation wrapped up with me wondering aloud if my maternal instinct will kick in one of these days and I’ll desperately want to be a mother, or if my mind subconsciously doesn’t let me go there because it knows what is best for me.
It can be difficult finding married friends our age to hang out with because it seems like everyone has kids, and when you don’t have kids, it is hard to socialize with those that do. Since writing my blog post on this topic four years ago, we have found several really amazing friends our age who do not have children and share similar sentiments on having kids. We treasure our friendships with them, enjoy our adventures together, and take comfort in knowing that we are not the only ones diverging from the “normal” progression/timeline in life.
The key to Noah and I being happy about not having children is that we are wholeheartedly content. We are fulfilled with each other and do not feel like anything is missing in our lives. We enjoy our freedom, each other, our love for adventure, taking trips, seeing new things, cooking dinners together and having deep conversations about life and us. We know that we wouldn’t be able to do many of the things we do now if we had a child. We understand how our lives can change in a second with my health, so we truly soak in and appreciate each healthy day we have together. While I know that Noah would be an extraordinary father and I sometimes wonder if he would want to be a dad if he were with a healthy woman, I am forever grateful for his patience, support and how he embraces and loves me for who I am. I am blessed to share this journey with such an incredible man. We are a family and I am proud of us.
My mom recently told me, “We always want our children to have better than we have.” Even if I never have the opportunity to be a mother, I can deeply connect with her sentiment because I feel the same way about the PKD community. I want all of you to have a better PKD journey than me. Through sharing my story, writing and volunteering, I hope I can leave a positive legacy and pave the way for a better future for generations to come, as parents do for their children.
I’d love to hear your stories and/or your thoughts on having children.