today i got asked, yet again, possibly my least favorite question: do you have kids? i get asked this question a lot. i am 32 and married, so when i meet new people they almost automatically ask if we have children.
no, i answer. no, we don’t.
it feels like more of an assessment than an inquiry. sometimes they talk about their own kids or change the subject. sometimes they tell me that we really should, that kids are wonderful, that having a family is worth the hard work and sacrifice.
thanks, i say. thanks very much.
i wish someone would ask me why. why don’t you have kids? i wish they would take the time to listen to my answer if they are going to ask the question.
i would tell them that having children is my life’s dream. that i have wanted to have a family for as long as i can remember. more than any job, more than any degree, more than any milestone i have wanted to have kids.
i would tell them that i have depression. that it’s an illness that requires me to take medication to stay safe and healthy. and that some of my medications make it unsafe to get pregnant.
i would tell them that i tried to go off those medications, under the supervision of a doctor, because i wanted to have children so badly. and because of how my body reacted to going off my meds i became dangerously ill. that i was hospitalized twice and was completely destabilized. that i couldn’t work, couldn’t socialize, couldn’t function and couldn’t even stay safe as a result of stopping my medications.
i would tell them that i had to make a hard, hard choice. i had to go back on medication in the interest of my own well being but that in doing so i could no longer try to get pregnant. i would tell them that despite having spent two years going off my meds with the hopes of having a baby i then spent nearly two more years trying to stabilize from the withdrawl and am now on twice as many drugs as when i first started. isn’t it ironic.
i would tell them that i don’t know if or when i can ever have children. that the idea of going off my meds again literally terrifies me. and that when i get asked that question, or see pregnant women, or scroll through facebook or interact with children that i feel like screaming. that what has happened to me feels so unfair. that even though my rational mind knows that everyone with children isn’t happy and that their families aren’t perfect i feel like something is fundamentally wrong with me because i can’t experience motherhood. that i feel like i am letting my husband down. and that i myself am so very let down too.
i would tell them that my clock is ticking. that i have to listen to it every day. and that i have been forced to reinvent my life and rebuild new goals because my dream of having babies hasn’t come true. not the way i thought it would.
no, i don’t. i don’t have kids.
but thanks for asking.