3 women on their choice to be childfree


By Dakota Sands
I am a boomer, a feminist before there was ever a movement in the 60s. When I graduated high school, I openly announced to my father I wasn’t going to have children. He told me I was a suffragette and offered an explanation. He recognized my independence.

This decision was incubated in the 50s. I was socially, politically aware. Somewhere during this time period, there was a prediction there will be overpopulation in the next 30 years, decade or century. Though I was a loving, nurturing young woman who babysat for neighbors’ children and cared for my younger sister, I made a pact with myself it would be harsh to bring a child into a world of overpopulation when there were children on earth I could nuture/mother.

To date, I have a god-daughter who has been a part of my life since she was 2 months old. Also, I’ve worked with children as a counselor and adults as a psychiatric social worker. For this I am satisfied. I’m satisfied knowing I was right about my unselfish deed to humanity. Especially in the last several decades of horrendous social, political disturbances. It would have worried me to no end if I had children and grandchildren in this unsafe world.

I had the best, living through the mild, innocent 50s. Though it was oppressive for women, there were some of us break out women who went on their own way. I have more to say about my adventures I wouldn’t have had if I were with child. There are trade-offs and mine is working.

By Carol Austin
It was Mother’s Day. “So Carol, Are you a mother?”. ‘No’. I responded without elaboration. I am gratefully beyond child bearing years. Months later, he asked again as I navigated through a busy traffic intersection. My answer was the same.

My mind went back through the years. Two pregnancies, no live birth was recorded on the official medical forms. A spontaneous abortion when I was too young to know what happened. Cramping then a discharge which I flushed down the toilet. My mother took me to the doctor. A cleanup and years later I became aware.

Later in my early thirties, I had moved to a different city. I was one of a throng of young people living in a University town. I had stopped taking my birth control pills. My partner had moved to another State to be an assistant professor at a small religious affiliated college. I reasoned that since I had not become pregnant during our three years together, I was not at risk.

I met a guy at a bar. I knew the moment it happened. Wearing overalls, I sat in the basement of a church in a community clinic awaiting the results of the official test. A neighbor asked, ‘What are you here for?’. The standard question when encountering another in some institution. ‘Pregnancy test’. ‘Who is it? Some guy with no job?’. It was.

The test came out positive. I left with a piece of paper that had the contact information for a doctor to perform the surgery. My partner had said he would support me in a pregnancy even if the child did not belong to him. I considered this. Our friend said she did not think it fair to ask him. I made the appointment at the clinic.

Somehow I found a book called, ‘End of Childhood’ discussing various scenarios of both women who had kept their child and the ones who had not. I took it with me to the clinic where I sat in a waiting room with expectant mothers who were there for their routine checkups. My purpose was very different. Tears overflowed down my face as I tried to reconcile my intellectual decision with the surprising and strong sense of protection toward this unborn presence that was a part of me.

The kind of procedure I had was a time honored Japanese technique involving seaweed. When the moment approached, the doctor arrived and introduced a young female medical student who was being trained. After the fetus was discharged, he showed it to her saying, ‘This is a six week old male’. Then he threw it in a trash receptacle for medical waste.

I was left alone to recover in the cubicle. This time, the tears emerging from the sadness at the center of my being rolled down the side of my face. I felt an existential loss. For years I rarely passed the clinic. Then one week, I was charged with transporting a Russian group from the airport. We drove past the building. Part of their itinerary was to visit Planned Parenthood. I had just read an article in the Village Voice about abortion conditions in Russia. I could not turn away. The universe had conspired. It was years before I spoke of this event. On a road trip to Houston with a friend, the story unfolded. It was the end of my childbearing years and I had a different view, twenty years later.

By Anonymous
How do you look impressed, excited, and googly-eyed, when a friend or acquaintance, announces [yet another] grandchild? To sit mutely by has excluded me from gatherings; they are the losers for it, not me.

I never got “the mommy” gene, never wanted children, and told my mother at age 13. In 1976 I finally found a program through Planned Parenthood that allowed me to get sterilized via tubal ligation, at age 23. This was after so many doctors refused to consider a sterilization procedure, telling me “you need to have a couple of kids first”. Any medical history taken since then has included 0 births written down. Still an anomaly.

Nowadays, when someone asks me how many grandchildren I have, I can quiet them with one sentence, “You can’t have grandchildren if you never had kids”. Why is that so appalling, I’ll never understand. I’ve been proud to be a rebel, to follow what felt right to me, and stand up in the face of society. Child-free by choice should not be considered selfish, but honoring yourself!

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