As told to Kathleen Guthrie Woods
Kara, 34, was one of those little girls who mothered her baby dolls and younger siblings. “I always knew I was going to be a mom with a lot of kids,” she says, but circumstances led her down a different path. These days she experiences the all-too-familiar cocktail of grief, guilt, and anger, with hints of acceptance, as she and her husband pursue their Plan B. Here’s what she has to share about her journey.
LWB: Are you childfree by choice, chance, or circumstance?
Kara: Childfree by circumstance. After trying for 10 months, my OB/GYN thought it was because my cycle wasn’t regular. After we “fixed” me and I still wasn’t pregnant, my husband was tested. His sperm count came back zero and he was diagnosed with no vas deferens [a congenital condition in which the tubes that carry sperm fail to fully develop].
After doing our own research, we talked our primary care doctor into having my husband tested for Cystic Fibrosis (CF). He was diagnosed with CF, but in what is called a “mild” case. Mild cases are where the mucus builds up somewhere other than the lungs, usually either the sinuses (my husband’s case) or digestive tract. Because of his having CF, I had to be tested before a fertility clinic would see us. I don’t have CF, but I have 5T Polymorphism. For me that means nothing, that is just how my DNA is “strung” together. But 5T doesn’t “play” well with CF, and we would have a 50% chance of having a child with a classic CF case (in the lungs). That was something we didn’t want to do to a child just to be parents. We stopped the journey after only four years, and we already knew adoption wasn’t a calling we felt was for us.
LWB: Where are you on your journey now?
Kara: I still go through the stages of grief, usually skipping denial and spending more time than I should in the angry stage. We’ve moved on to Plan B, but sometimes I feel guilty being there.
LWB: What was the turning point for you?
Kara: After meeting with the fertility doctor and seeing how all they wanted was my money and not caring how the process was difficult for my husband, we just stopped cold. They didn’t care that my husband was the one with the issues. We could get donor sperm and that would make a baby. I didn’t want any baby, I wanted my husband’s baby. After much prayer and talking, we decided it was healthier to stop.
LWB: What’s the hardest part for you about not having children?
Kara: Seeing others mistreat their children. Or parents complaining about their kids for selfish reasons.
LWB: What’s the best part about not having children?
Kara: Being able to do Plan B: travel around the world. Sometimes, when I’m in the angry grief stage and a mom complains to me about my travels, the best part is saying, “You got to multiply and replenish the earth…I get to travel the earth.” (Sometimes being the big B word is mentally healthy for me.)
LWB: How do you answer “Do you have kids?”
Kara: It usually starts with a quick no. How sarcastic my answer is depends on who is asking and what stage of grief I am in that day.
LWB: How has LWB helped you on your journey?
Kara: It gives me a place to read about and to vent to others who know how it feels to go through life without children.
If you’ve been feeling that you’re all alone on this journey, I encourage you to read other members’ stories here. There is a lot of wisdom and support in the stories themselves and in the comments. Then, when you’re ready, I hope you’ll share your story with us. Like Kara, you’ll find a safe place to “vent to others who know how it feels to go through life without children.” Go to the Our Stories page to get more information and the questionnaire.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status.