(Quick update: My grandpa is doing much better, but he needs to use a walker at the moment since his legs are still wobbly. And I’ve lost seven pounds in two weeks! HOLLA!)
Sorry if the title misled you, but I am talking about my womanly parts.
Shortly before I met my hubs, I got an IUD (it’s a little T-shaped device the doc puts in your uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to five years). At the time my son (who doesn’t live with me and has medium-functioning autism) was 8, and I wasn’t anywhere near ready to have another kid anytime soon.
When hubs and I started dating, I explained in great detail about why I didn’t want to have any more kids, the main two reasons being that my first was autistic and no one has an explanation on where the disease comes from-but there is a belief that there is a genetic link; and that I had Bipolar, which more than likely stemmed from my dad and his side’s insane genes. Those two reasons were cause enough to want to seal my womb off for eternity. My hubs, at the time being 22 and madly in love with me, didn’t have much to say except for that he understood.
Four years later…he doesn’t so much.
Last month, I had asked the doc to take my IUD out (it was nearing its expiration date anyway) and give me a referral to get my tubes tied. I figured that since the procedure is free with my health program and, after this last major bout of depression I DEFINITELY didn’t want to EVER carry ANYTHING in my womb, I may as well get it done and not have to worry about birth control or synthetic chemicals (the IUD) in my body.
When I told J about it, he seemed to be hesitant. When I asked what he was worried about, he said “I guess I am still holding onto hope that one day we will have children of our own”. Wait a sec…was I not clear when we started dating that I really had no interest in babies, baby? To be fair, I understand that being 22 and dating is a lifetime away from being 26 and married. I also see his family dynamic-parents married almost 30 years and a sister for a best friend versus me and my half-brother and half-sisters and my three-times-married mom who shuttled us from house to house growing up until she met my now stepdad.
His upbringing was so different from mine, and although my mom was nurturing and loving, his was a “mom’s mom”: a stay-at-home mum who shuttled her kids to sports practices, made dinner every night and generally lives for her kids. My mom worked full-time most of her life and loved her “private” time, like I do mine now. I like sleeping in. I like eating dessert before dinner sometimes. I like doing my own thing. I feel like, with kids, you sacrifice so much. I’m not ready or sure I could do that. Ever.
And honestly, me wanting to be selfish the rest of my life isn’t even the half of it. I feel like if I had a baby it would be a crap shoot. My son has autism, severe enough that he will most likely never drive a car, never have a stressful job, never get married or have children of his own-and as much as I am proud of him and love him to pieces, it breaks my heart. It’s just not fair! Why did someone so wonderful get the short end of the stick? And I feel like, what kind of person would I be if I brought another child into this world who will grow up at a disadvantage? They are cutting funding for special needs left and right, and as more and more kids are being diagnosed with autism (shockingly 1 in 110 children have it now-with no cause or cure in sight), a lot of the resources are being spread painfully thin. Not to mention a new study came out today that shows that parents who have one child with autism have a one in five chance of having another child with the disorder, and if you are expecting a boy, the chance increases to one in four. I am not comfortable with those odds.
The other main huge reason I don’t want children (especially from my own seed) is because I am Bipolar. Duh. It’s one thing to worry about even having the capability to raise a child, and it’s quite another to worry about passing on this horrible, incurable illness to your child. I never know when I am going to have another episode. What if my baby is screaming to be fed and I can’t get out of bed? What if I lose the ability to take care of myself (something I know I am capable of due to this last bout)? Children of mentally ill mothers have a higher risk of developing mental illness, partly due to genetics and partly due to the parent-child interaction because of the parent’s illness. It’s bad enough to be blamed as a parent for screwing your kid up for something you weren’t aware of. I don’t want to get “I’m Bipolar because of YOU, mom! YOU did this!”
I’ve talked to my husband in depth about how strongly I feel about this, and I just don’t think he understands where I am coming from. Not because he is a stubborn dick or anything, I just think he is an eternal optimist. I think he feels we will defy the odds and have this perfect little baby with cute clothes and we will teach it to walk and talk and be the best parents ever (don’t we all?) I think no one will ever understand having a child with special needs unless you have one. To the mothers that are reading this and have one or are themselves mentally ill, I commend you for being able to do one or both. I truly do. I just know that I do not feel like I can handle it. I’ve mentioned adoption to J later in our lives, and he says, “I can’t imagine not having a child that’s not half you”. To that I say, you want half me? All you have to do is look at Tito. I have strong ass genes.
My son and I, both taken around 10 years of age. Ignore the mullet.
The feminist in me wants to say it’s MY womb, I can do whatever the hell I want with it. But what if the tables were turned? What if I wanted kids and one day J came home with a vasectomy? I would be crushed. I am part of a unit now, and I truly believe that we need to make a decision together. I just don’t see how that’s possible. We are both standing strong on the issue.
In the meantime, I have cancelled my appointment to get my tubes tied. I get a new 5-year IUD this Thursday. Maybe by then something will change. Maybe I will be a fully functioning member of society. Maybe they will have found a cure for autism (or Bipolar!). Maybe J and I will be divorced and he will have a new wife and kids of his own. I just don’t know. But it’s probably the biggest decision the two of us will have to make together.