Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The BIG decision

Ok, so going by the responses on the 'It's got to be for you', post, I now feel confident enough to tell you about a massive decision I made a long time ago about my life, 25 years ago to be exact. Not many women make this choice, but after much soul searching, I knew it was the right path for me to take. I opted for sterilisation.

It didn't come to me in a blinding flash, it wasn't some kind of whim, and I didn't have it done on medical grounds, ie, some genetic disorder. As far as I know, my perfectly healthy body was capable of taking a pregnancy to full term and giving birth. But I always knew in my mind, that I could not go through with it.

To some people that might seem a thoroughly selfish attitude to take, but going back to the title of the previous post, the decision had to be for me. I always knew I wouldn't have children, even from a young age. I saw my mother become totally distraught when we were out of her sight for more than an hour or two. Her whole world revolved around us, and me being headstrong, I found this increasingly suffocating as I grew up. I couldn't wait to strike out on my own and embrace my independence.

The thought of another human being depending on me to provide all it's needs for the next 18 or so years, scared me to death. The material needs, and the emotional needs, I knew I wasn't capable, I didn't have it in me.

The few friends that I did mention it to said, who is going to look after you when you are old? I was shocked, is that the reason why people have children, surely not!

I am also a bit squeemish about medical matters, a bit of a coward where pain is concerned, and could not visualise myself giving birth. Oh, I know they say you forget it the moment you have your baby in your arms, and it is all well worth the effort, but I would rather not, thank you very much.

By the time I was 37, all these thoughts had been coming to the surface now and again, in between earning a living and supporting myself. Should I or shouldn't I? I always arrived at the same answer, I will never have children. At that time it was said that it was dangerous to take the contraceptive pill over a long period of time, so I asked my doctor for a more permanent solution, sterilisation. At first he was reluctant to talk about it, as I was single and didn't have a man in my life. There was a chance I might meet someone and I would change my mind. He said there was no rush, and to go home and think about it.

At the next six monthly appointment I saw another doctor and asked him about it. He saw that I was serious, and said he would fix me up with an appointment to see the gynaecologist at the hospital. A couple of months later I went. The lady doctor asked me loads of questions, about my physical and mental health, I wondered if she thought I was round the bend. She asked if I had thought about carrying on the next generation, my answer was, there are enough people already doing that. Little did I know at the time, but there are more than enough people in the world now, and we are in danger of not being able to sustain the population explosion indefinately.

The gynaecologist, herself a Miss, said she could see I was serious, and would fix me up with a date for the operation, it would be in 6 to 9 months. Three months later the letter came to say I would be going in the following week. It was a bit of a shock, this is it, I could change my mind now, last chance.

There was no changing of mind, no going back, this is what I have wanted for a long time. Total peace of mind, knowing it was the right thing for me to do. It was quick, keyhole surgery, one night in and home. I remember it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. People used to ask me when I was going to settle down and have children, like it was expected that every woman did that. I always made some excuse, too busy working, never met the right man, etc. I never said it's not for me, because they would just think I was strange.

So now I am proud of making that choice, and 25 years on, I know it was the right choice. I apologise to anyone reading this who has gone through the heart wrenching process of trying to become pregnant, or who has lost a baby or small child. I hope I haven't offended you, and you find peace in your life.

14 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing that with us. I'm sure it can't have been easy.

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  2. Well done for taking control of your own life and fertility in this way. You obviously thought long and hard about it, and judging by your positive attitude to life, it was the right decision for you.

    I have a dear friend, in her late thirties, who has various medical problems. She decided not to have children because of these, particularly because her offspring would carry a strong risk of the serious health issues that she is having to live with.

    People make these decisions for all sorts of reasons and should be respected for it.

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  3. Thank you for confiding in us Ilona, you should be proud. As someone who has suffered a miscarriage and a stillbirth as well as giving birth to a lovely daughter between those two events, I still feel very strongly about people who think they have a right to ask someone, who is often a perfect stranger, about their intentions regarding children. I've lost track of people who have asked us why we only have one child, don't we think having one child is selfish etc. My daughter currently has no intention of becoming pregnant but she (and we) are frequently asked about grandchildren It seems to be the one area of private life which people think is in the public domain.
    It's the right choice for you and you were strong enough to make it, well done.

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  4. I admire you for making this very private decision. Too many children are born into this world who are not wanted and not cared for. You should absolutely be proud of yourself!

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  5. Hi Ilona, You made a very responsible and courageous choice. Especially as having a baby is described as the most beautiful and fulfilling thing a woman can do. I also decided a long time ago not to have children but this was for medical reasons, due to a heart problem I am not able to carry a child although I manage to be mobile (thank God) and can do sport and most things but have to take lots of medication for the rest of my life.

    Anyway, I got used to the fact that I will never have a sprog of my own and enjoy the other sprogs in the family, although most of them are abroad. No doubt Ilona, you too have nieces etc. who you can enjoy growing up. If not, you have your beautiful cats who you lavish your maternal affections on.

    I have decided that when I do find myself a job I will adopt a couple of animal companions from a shelter. Having an animal can satisfy the maternal instinct present in all of us, whether we want, don't want or can't have children.

    You decided not to have children, instead you have devoted your energy to helping the community/environment, caring for your cats and blind guestdog Jessica and not wasting the earth's precious resources, which is all highly commendable. If more people were as responsible and sensitive as you Ilona, this world would be a better and less selfish place to live in and might even end up spinning longer!! Sometimes I think we've only got a few more years before this planet goes out with a bang due to excessive consumption and overpopulation. Who knows?

    Anyway, must stop babbling, chores to be done.
    Love and kisses to all. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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  6. Love your babbling Anna, carry on. I have two nephews. When they were young I helped my sister with them, treating them, taking them out, babysitting etc. They are now having children of their own and I am a great aunt. I have also known my cousins since they were small, and they have grown into fine, well balanced adults, thanks to my lovely aunty Lyn. I love the get togethers at special times of the year.

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  7. Hi, Ilona - although I have children, and grandchildren, I certainly wouldn`t condemn someone for making the choice not to. To have children, and to be child-free - both have their benefits and drawbacks. The children grow up, and leave - and then you feel the pain of loss, and of redundancy when you`ve spent your whole life living for them. It can be very lonely. Better to be honest with yourself, if you don`t see children fitting into your life. Thanks for sharing. Lynn x

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  8. Its all in what is right for you and no one else can make that decision.

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  9. That is the great thing about choice. The only issue I have with childless folk is that as they age they sometimes get bitter and somehow get into competition with children over who is getting the most resources/attention etc. This can be depressing if it happens in your own family. You are obviously a well-balanced person with a lot generosity of spirit who seems to love life on your own terms and I would be so happy if you were my children s aunt as you would be a great role model and a real asset !

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  10. Hi Ilona, I have just spent some peaceful time catching up on your blog. Heavy stuff! I was on the other end of the scale, dealing with infertility for years and years until IVF was successful for me and Grant arrived. Seven years later Kellie arrived (a natural miracle!). I now find myself the wrong side of 45 and being a Mum to an eight year old is a bit demanding to say the least. It looks like I will be in my 50's before Clint and I are going to have the place to ourselves. I respect your decision to be sterilised and it was definately the right thing for you. For me, all those years ago to have the right to have a child taken away from me due to medical problems was devastating. But if you really didn't want kids and you knew that 100% even at that time in your life then, well done for taking such drastic steps....better than an unwanted pregnancy for sure. xx

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  11. I admire you for actually thinking about what you wanted out of life. Too many people DON'T think before they leap. They just follow along like sheep doing what their mothers and grandmothers did without question.

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  12. We have been childless by choice for 40 years. Sometimes it is just the right thing to do and everyone should respect your choice. Congrats for making a thoughtful choice.

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  13. I never ever wanted children ... did not even play with dolls when young ... I read all the time. Before I agreed to marry my husband I made sure he felt the same way, had he wished to have children he would have to have them with someone else!
    We married when I was 25 and four years later I finally got the medical okay to get my tubes tied. Op on the Monday morning, back to work on the Friday. I have not regretted it once, not even for a second.
    I am a very loving auntie & now a great auntie so get to see Disney films etc.
    Far too many people think more of the responsibility of getting a new car than creating a new life.
    Anne in Cambridge

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  14. Thank goodness we do have some options, like "two"
    whole options to consider. This makes infertility harder to overcome, but you can still use natural methods to get pregnant; , in
    many cases. While women sometimes blame themselves for not being able to have a baby, about 30% of the infertility problems
    lies in men.

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