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Amy’s Story: How I ended up childfree

Amy AtkinsI’m 45, so I guess that’s the age that we realize it’s almost too late to have children. The regret of not having children should start to creep into my mind. But I don’t have any regrets. I love my family. Here’s how I ended up childfree and loving it.

I was 15 years old and I wasn’t driving yet. My mom and I were in the car and we were backing out of our driveway. We were probably going to soccer practice. She turned on the car and put it in reverse. Almost immediately, she had a grand mal seizure. She has epilepsy and our family usually saw warning signs like a headache before her seizures. This time there was no warning. I was able to turn the car off while she was having a seizure before we got out in the street. My desire to be a mom went from a 10 to a 5 that day.

I never really wanted to be a mom from that day forward. Epilepsy is genetic. I could have passed that onto another human being. To me, that’s the exact opposite of love and sacrifice. It’s also the complete opposite of being selfish for not being a mother.

When I was 26, my mom got diagnosed with breast cancer. She was diagnosed in the early stages of Stage 1. My brother and his wife were pregnant with their first born so I was my mom’s caregiver during her treatment. She survived cancer and as she has gotten older, her epilepsy has taken a toll on her. One day I was checking out at Target. The woman in front of me was with her elderly mother and an infant in her arms. She looked overwhelmed. I love kids and I love my mom but I don’t want to take care of two generations at once.

Have I even brought up infertility yet? I have endometriosis. I got diagnosed in my 40’s. The doctor told me I have a bent fallopian tube which means it’s 99% impossible for me to carry a child to full term. I also have a short cycle which also means it would be very difficult to carry a child to full term or even get pregnant.  I asked for a full hysterectomy and my request was denied. The doctor looked at me with a straight face after he gave me my diagnosis and asked,”So what are you plans for starting a family?” I suppose doctors don’t feel comfortable telling women that they might be better off not trying to conceive.

Infertility runs in my family. Some women adopted and some didn’t. Fortunately, generations before me exemplified childfree women are amazing and complete human beings. I assured my doctor that it was okay to be childfree. I think he needed a hug! His sigh of relief was a sign he felt better, but I was wondering why he even asked in the first place.

My partner and I love our life. We would love to travel more with our two dogs. He’s overcome a lot of obstacles and he’s proof you don’t need a child to become a better version of yourself. I have time to spend on my own business so as my mom gets older, I’ll be financially secure when I’m a full-time caregiver.

We love our home because we kind of like our peace and quiet. We never doubt our decision to be childfree. Genetics played a role but we never considered fostering or adopting. Our dogs are spoiled rotten. We have a routine and it works for us. We’re a complete family.

Amy Atkins lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her partner and their spoiled pets. She’s the owner of Rustic Botanica. Her partner, Garrett, works with dogs for a living.

Would you like to share your story? Send it to: nina@nonparents.com

Comments

  1. Hi Amy. Thanks for sharing your story. I did read part of it on your website when you first made contact, and I have to admit that I was struck by your honesty regarding the genetic disorders that run in your family. The way you have chosen to deal with it, is simply remarkable. I wish you and your loved ones, the very best for the future.

  2. Rustic Botanica says:

    Thanks Nina. I understand why a lot of women think the decision to start a family is personal. If we talk about our rationale more openly, childfree families can continue to get more support.

    • I agree. This is first and foremost what this website is all about. Telling stories of childfree people getting on with their lives positively, as opposed to the negative assumption some within the mainstream often have of non-parents.

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