Tuesday, October 20, 2015

From Child-Free to Child-Less

  Part I of the guest post by Jennifer Forlin
Photo by Rodion Kusaev

On my wedding day I said, “I don’t”.

            On June 26, 2010 I said I don’t want children, I don’t want a family. I don’t want to be hitched to a world where companies chase me, shoving their baby-friendly and mother-engineered, over-priced products down my throat. Emptying my wallet. Manipulating me to pay attention. Coercing me to cuddle, coddle and swathe. (Now was that companies, or my mini-me?)

It wasn’t a body image thing, or a financial thing, or even a “I’m saving the world by not bringing another being into it,” modus operandi. Besides, everybody knows that it’s expensive enough to live Vancouver, Canada, let alone have children.
Photo by Serge Esteve
            Our courtship was a whirlwind of adventure and lavish gifts: gowns, jewelry, the opera. I’m not kidding. Extravagant dinners and luxury travel. (Still not kidding). Why would I want to wreck this? “Why would we want to wreck this by having babies?” we mused over cocktails, en route to a prix-fixe meal, far from home.

            Here’s some backstory:

            After two, almost three years of being single, (save for the single Dad with three children I was engaged to for a month; don’t ask), and celibate by choice, (except for that one event with an Aussie traveller), having children did not enter my mind.

I was that single acquaintance friend of yours who was happy for your upcoming nuptials, but wasn’t really happy for your upcoming nuptials. I was just trying to get my own shit together. I know - a little shallow, a little two-faced. Trust me. I felt guilty, but I just couldn’t be present to your joy at that time. I’m sorry.

Celibacy had been prompted by recently stepping from a partying, sexing, (is that even a word?!), and drug-peppered lifestyle, into a faith-filled one. I probably had a bit of withdrawal going on whilst looking for that better path of mine. And as the psychologist, the late Abraham Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs proclaims, I was fervently working on establishing my physiological and safety needs. There you go, another reason to not have children, right? Plus, I’d just entered my thirties; lots of time, right? The ladies around me were dropping F-bombs: fertility, fecundity, fruit. Move along, folks, nothing to see here. Just another verdant womb in your face.
            And then I woke up. January 2011. Seven months married. Thirty-eight almost thirty-nine years of age. Wanting to have children. It was a warmth in my core, a feeling like melting butter on warm, blueberry oatmeal muffins my Mom lovingly made me. It felt like the secret sacred seed of a beautiful tree filled with desire and hope, ready to roll out new shoots into the big, big sky. I was giddy, like my future young children learning how to swim from their Mama. From me.

            I was trepidatious speaking to my husband. We had a pact. An understanding. “No kids.” Someone close to me said to get my IUD taken out and not tell him.

            “I’m sorry, honey, but I want to have kids.”  A silence followed this oh-so-Canadian of sentence structures. Pretty remarkably, he acquiesced. It was a beautiful moment. Thank you. He wanted me to wait until the summer to get my IUD removed, because the first six months of the year he travels a lot for work. He didn’t want me to be be pregnant while he was away.

Photo by Milada Vigerov 
            He is older than me, an extra six years’ wisdom in his veins. That makes our combined age 82. So we got at it; but not really. That fall I secured my dream job in a small community a couple hours north. We had a condo there with a craggy, snow-covered mountain view from the bedroom. He’d bought it on a May long weekend with my Dad and me in tow, saying to all, but directed at me, “Can you picture yourself living here?” We weren’t even engaged yet. I’d beamed and said yes.

            Weekends were it. Those were baby-making days. Before I moved up, we had self-referred to a fertility doctor. She said to try for six months and if nothing happened to come back and she’d get some testing underway. (“Because you’re older.”)

            It was six months along and nada. My period was clockwork as usual. Had a monthly in December and January’s wasn’t due yet. I went down to the City and got my hormones tested. He submitted his own masculine sample for testing. I went back up to the fresh air and the village that was the baby capital of Canada. (In 2010 alone, 80 babies were born in this 2200 person community; trust me on this one.) And then I did the one thing I don’t recommend anyone do, ever: check your medical results online, by yourself. (This was a convenient and free service provided by the lab I’d gone to).

            In a previous life I’d been a Personal Support Worker with a year and a half of Registered Nursing education under my belt. I could understand the lab requisition and thought I would feel comfortable reading the results.
            I really wish I hadn’t done that. I’d discovered a life-changing result by myself. In my living room. No partner to calm me down, no medical professional to explain things further. What I read in the results was that my body didn’t have any hormones that an egg would need to implant or grow. And the comments read, “POF. Peri-menopausal.” 


            Oh sure, I’d had hot flashes-dripping, slick, clothing soaking hot flashes. I just chalked it up to the stress of my previous job. My caffeine intake. Our recent three week trip to Australia where I’d met my birth father for the first time, (that’s a whole other story). Plus, I’d upped my red wine intake significantly since being alone Monday to Friday in the dark of a snowy winter. That December menses was the last one I’d ever have.

            In the still of the evening I slowly read the results again. No-no-no-no-no-no! Breathed in and out. Husband. Where was he? At home? Out of the country? Think. I texted him and said "Be On Skype Now!" He obliged and we connected. It all came rushing out-words, tears, curse words. He told me to calm down but it didn’t erase the truth.

            I think the last few minutes before I checked my results were the last time I was really happy.


Click here to read Part II  from PKM's guest blogger, Jennifer Forlin. Thanks Jennifer for your generosity in sharing this raw and painful story of your heart breaking journey with us. Please feel free to leave Jennifer a comment below. She'd love to hear from you.

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