Barrenness Is Acceptable

Tree of Life with burning red sunlight behind it. Painted by Michel Lang.

After I’d become bored with a tally I was keeping at a family get together, (where I’d been asked about children 20 times), I decided to dissuade the group from any further pursuit of the matter, by finally disclosing to them that I was sterile. It was at this point, I realized that God would now become central to the conversation regarding this problem. They said people are constantly told they’re sterile and later, find themselves able to have kids. I was told that if I prayed hard enough, Jesus would give me a child.

These people I refer to as family were ignoring the factual reality of what I was trying to cope with, and I wanted to scream in anger at their insensitivity. I remember crying at how seemingly indifferent they were. Sure, they were well-meaning, but this conversation about the prospect of children had come to an end – it was gone – though it had never been there in first place. It would be like telling someone dying of cancer that if they just tried harder, they’d survive. Or telling someone who’s confined to a wheelchair that if they’d just stand up, they’d be able to walk. It’s cruel, insensitive, and completely unwarranted. Apparently, my physical inability to conceive was not a good enough reason.

The day arrived finally, when I went to my mother and lost my temper. The pressure that’d been building had ultimately come to a head. Thankfully, and as a result, the unrelenting pursuit of this topic finally ceased. It was none too soon, since it really hurt my husband, who felt like less of a man. He would never be able to decide for himself about having children of his own.

The argument has now changed from birthing children to why can’t we adopt? I’ve been told on a regular basis that we should adopt children, and never mind that in the United States, adoption can cost upwards of $14k, if not more. Others suggest IVF, which is also expensive, not that insurance would cover it. We may be stable now; we don’t have to worry about affording a car payment and groceries, but we can’t justify spending that kind of money in the face of such medical challenges.

Things have gotten better. Now that I’m nearing my 30th birthday, my family has finally given up on the idea of my having children. After years of fighting, my barrenness is acceptable. Everyone is leaving us alone, and we’re finally able to move on with our lives. The crushing realization that we may never have children is no longer fresh, and while I may decide to adopt someday, my journey has taught me a lot about myself and our society.
There is simply too much emphasis placed on having children. We’re told from a young age that we’ll grow up to be moms and dads; we’re told that there’s an inherent expectation to get married and procreate. However, times have changed and we are now faced with a world that is bursting at the seams with people. I’ve found that choosing not to have children isn’t inherently wrong. The choice to have children, whether it be for religious reasons or because you love children, is an extremely personal choice that doesn’t involve anyone but the subjects creating the child. So when I meet someone, I may ask if they have kids, but I’ll never ask them if or when they’re having kids—-because it’s none of my fucking business.

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