I Am (Probably) Never Having Kids

3:03 PM

My little family
(TW: lots of talk about infertility, miscarriages, IVF, etc.)

Dear friends, family, colleagues and other persons of interest,

I am never having kids.

No, I probably won't "change my mind." No, I'm not the least bit sad about this. And yes, I've thought this over for a long time.

So let me repeat myself. I am never having kids.

My husband, Andrew and I reached this conclusion a few weeks ago, and I decided to use National Infertility Awareness Week as a time to talk about it. Because while most of our decision centered on a general aversion to raising a baby, it also involved 1) my questionable fertility, 2) our poor alternative options and 3) my overall health.

Before I get into my story, please note that I am absolutely not trying to talk you out of having kids or going through fertility treatments. I am all for women making their own decisions and choosing what is best for them. This is just a play-by-play of how I came to my own personal choice, and my tone will probably come off as sarcastic and vitriolic because that's how I do. But please, please, please don't take medical or financial advice from me, and please do your own research before coming to a conclusion.

Okay. Glad we settled that.

So once upon a time, I was figuring out finances for our household. I am a big saver, and I like to plan ahead for things. Having come to the realization at a young age that literally anything can happen at any given moment, I secured a solid "emergency fund" for us and then moved on to our next big future expense - a house.

As I started to map out how much we needed to save to afford a down payment on a house, a little voice in the back of my head said, "Yeah, okay, but what about your uterus?"

"What About My Uterus?" should honestly just be the title of my autobiography. It comes up in every. major. decision.

You may know by now that endometriosis is a leading cause of infertility among women. Typically, this is because scarring and adhesions block the Fallopian tubes, making it difficult to impossible for a woman to conceive. But other times, the general quality of a woman's eggs are depleted because of endometriosis, so an egg may never develop into a fetus.

On top of that, tube blockage can cause ectopic pregnancies (in which the egg implants outside of the uterus), miscarriages, stillbirths and other pregnancy complications. 

Looking at my likely infertility, I knew that Andrew and I would have to start saving money. The lovely thing about infertility is that it adds insult to injury. 

"Oh, you can't have a baby on your own? That's fine. How about you try in vitro fertilization?"

Full disclosure: I've never tried IVF. I have friends and Twitter buddies who have, with mixed results. But from talking to my friends, reading a lot and delving into other resources, I've learned four things about IVF: 

  1. It costs thousands of dollars.
  2. It's probably not even slightly covered by your insurance. 
  3. It most likely won't take the first time. 
  4. It's emotionally and physically painful

According to this Forbes article, IVF costs approximately $12,000 per cycle before medication, which runs between $3,000 - $5,000. Other parts of the process can costs thousands of dollars more, and choosing to "freeze" your eggs or embryos can add to that.

I've heard through various article, blogs, website, resources, etc. that three is the magic number when it comes to IVF cycles. Women are often 66 percent more likely to conceive after three IVF cycles. 

So. Three. That's three times you have to pay the aforementioned thousands of dollars.

Let's say it cost you $20k a pop. So $20k times three = $60,000. That's more than my student loans from my private liberal arts college. (Which are, you know, also in the tens of thousands.)

And if/when IVF does finally take, please keep in mind that you're adding the cost of actually giving birth to that child to your approximately $60,000. Luckily, health insurance will cover part of that... but probably not all of that.

There are many states out there that require varying levels of health insurance to cover fertility treatments. My state, however, is not one of them, leaving women to figure out the fun part of "how am I actually going to ever afford this?"

You do have some financing options, albeit complicated ones. If you'd like to learn more about them, check out Resolve's resources.

So at 25 (me) and 30 (Andrew) years old and less than two years into marriage, Andrew and I can't really afford three rounds of IVF. I mean, I honestly don't really know anyone our age who can. 

But let's pretend I could handle the financial burden and physical pain of IVF on top of my already chronic physical pain and other health-care costs.

The emotional pain of IVF... that's something I'm definitely not ready to handle.

Unfortunately, just because an embryo comes out of IVF does not always mean it's going to be viable. It doesn't always mean the baby will survive to term. And while three cycles may be the magic number for IVF, it's frequently more for many, many women.

I like to think of myself as an emotionally strong person. But that doesn't mean I don't crumble into a ball and cry because a major organ in my body isn't functioning in any way, shape or form that can be described as "normal." I hate it. I really, really do. And I really don't think I can deal with more frustration and feelings of failure.

That's the insult to injury. Young women are robbed of so much with conditions like endometriosis - things they never expected to lose. And after navigating the agony and frustration that come with these diseases, women who want to have a baby then also have to face the pain and disappointment that usually accompanies IVF and other fertility treatments.

In their prime fertility years, these women are force to navigate their health, and their developing career, and now additional financial burdens, and now their ability to have a kid. To me, it's injustice.

It just... it just sucks, guys. There's nothing else to say. It just make me so. angry. for these people.

Anyway, where was I?

"Hey, Tracy! IVF may not work, but have you thought about adoption?"
"Yeah, that's like $40,000 on average and can take years, and also, adoption credits suck."
"Oh, okay. Uhhh surrogacy?"
"Uh. Fostering?"
"Well, uhh that's not a guarantee that I'm going to be able to adopt said child."
"...you see my problem here now, right?"
Actual footage of my non-existent baby throwing my money out a window
"Alright, Tracy. So maybe all of that isn't going to work out right now. Have you ever thought of, you know, just trying to see if you can have kids naturally?"

Well, that was part two of my inner turmoil over babies.

I recently visited my ob/gyn, who tossed around the idea of sending me through another surgery to remove any endometriosis growth. Again, this is a progressive and incurable disease, so it's likely that a second surgery wouldn't be my last surgery. At this point, I'm not going in for one any time soon, and I'd like to put it off as long as possible. Since, you know, I'll likely be doing these for the rest of my life, unless an excision specialist suddenly moves to my state and is in my network.

The thing about surgery is that it is helpful when dealing with general endometriosis symptoms... but it can cause more fertility problems. Scarring = more blockage = fewer babies

It's why my first ob/gyn wanted me to get on Lupron as soon as possible - to temporarily shut down my uterus, stop the endo growth and preserve my fertility for a little bit. I won't get into it in this post, but Lupron is a total mess of a medication that I am not anxious to be put on. But DO Google it, if you'd like to learn about its heinous side effects.

So now, my overall treatment was a question mark. Was I willing to sacrifice my future kids in order to have surgeries and ensure that I could lead a healthier, happier, less painful life? So that I could keep working, traveling and doing the things that I love? So that I could live the way I want to?

I mean, am I even in good enough health to be a mother? Do I have the strength and energy to do this every single day? Can I even go through with giving birth? My mom had pregnancy complications. What's going to happen to me, when I'm already at a high risk for more complications?

After considering all of this, I realized something. "If these are major, life-altering concerns for me, I am absolutely not ready to have children."

I pretty much knew that I didn't want kids ever, even when I was young. I'm honestly terrified of being pregnant and giving birth. And I've had an aversion to small children ever since I was a small child.

For a little bit, I decided I would just wait until I'm 30 and then decide. But as my first ob/gyn reminded me, I don't have that luxury anymore. I needed to decide, like, right now.

And this long conversation with myself confirmed my suspicions. I didn't want this for my life.

If I were wringing my hands over money and chance and statistics, then I wasn't ready to go through with any of this. At all.

At this point, I did what I usually do when life becomes too overwhelming. "Annnnndreeeeeewwww!"

I stomped over to my husband, flailed my arms in the air and dramatically detailed all of these concerns.

"Andrew I know you want kids but I'm not sure if I do and I don't even really like them and we have so many student loans and we want a house and how can we afford fertility stuff if I need it and what if- what- what if I need more surgeries I PROBABLY WILL and I am really stressed out about this because we are not rich and GOD I HATE MY UTERUS WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD WHY DOES IT HATE WOMEN."

Andrew somehow found room in between my run-on sentences to say, "Why do you keep worrying about this kids thing?"

"BECAUSE, Andrew, we have to plan ahead we have to have money we don't have enough money and $$$$$$$$$ and I just don't know what we're going to do and ALL THIS STRESS IS MAKING MY UTERUS HURT EVEN MORE and I have so many feelings right now and"

"Okay, but, I don't even really want kids."

"...wait. Really?"

In the span of a few short years, Andrew had gone from super wanting kids to not really at all, and I guess just forgot to tell me. The whole time, I'd been on the fence, leaning toward "Haha no," which served as the basis for a lot of my fertility-related stress. I knew Andrew had been alright with not having kids for the next five years, but I was so relieved to know he was with me on just not being parents ever.

After talking everything over, we decided not to actively try to have children. But if a baby just so happened to appear, we would raise it.

Hey uhh someone please explain this gif to me.
"You're going to change your mind, Tracy."

No, I'm probably not. And if I do, then we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

"Aren't you going to regret not having kids someday?"

I really don't think so. I think I'll be happy not having all of these concerns about fertility and money and my health hanging over my head. I already have enough to deal with, to be honest...

"Who is going to take care of you when you're old?"

I mean, having a kid isn't a guarantee they're going to take care of you when you're old... I'm sure I'll figure that out just fine.

"But raising kids is so much fun!"

Stop lying to me.

"Don't you think that's a little selfish?"


"You're not really a woman until you-"

Don't make me commit a crime right now.

And so, dear readers, I've reached that milestone in my life when a lady says, "Dog babies before regular kind of babies." I've decided not to have kids, and I feel great about it.

I chose to talk about it during National Infertility Awareness Week because I want people to understand the thought process that many women are forced to go through when determining if they can/should have kids. Honestly, infertility isn't something that's really talked about. I never heard about it in school, and I never thought I was at a risk for it.

So we need to start talking about it.

It really sucks that infertility played such a major role in my choice not to have kids. And it's even worse that there are women out there who are just like me, except they really, really DO want kids. And we truly need to do better as a country in helping these women become loving mothers. I think everyone deserves that opportunity, regardless of how unreliable their reproductive organs are.

And if you are one of those women, please know that I am so deeply sorry you have to face infertility. Please know that I love you, and I hope you have a little baby to smother with love some day soon. Please know that I'm on your side, and that I think motherhood is an incredible, amazing thing, and you're going to be great at it.

And I'm so thankful that I can be at peace with my own decision.

But of course, regardless of my decision, this won't stop people from asking me when I'm carrying on my husband's lineage.

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