Because I’m Selfish… Or Maybe Not

As a 34 year old woman in a stable, healthy relationship, everyone’s favorite question is:  Why don’t you two have children?  I often give a simple answer:  We don’t want them.  This leads to more questions.  After all, our biological clocks are ticking, we are both intelligent, how could we not want children… That’s selfish.

The truth is, we are selfish people.  My SO is very involved in darts and dirt car racing.  We spend most warm weekends at the campground where we have a camper and the freedom to do what we want.  Also, he’s a sought after mechanic.  Side jobs are always available should he decide to make a little extra money.  Even when he isn’t holding down his 8-5 job, he’s busy.

I’m a writer.  I keep strange hours.  I never know when the creativity will be flowing at full force.  I get cranky when the words are there, but the time to put them to paper are not.  Also, I’m very involved with darts.  I play league one night a week, go to as many tournaments as possible, and am currently the Vice President for my local organization.  I even run a handful of tournaments.

When we are together, our time is our time.  We aren’t helping children with homework or changing diapers (something I can’t do and no, just because their my own doesn’t mean my stomach will strengthen… I’m fine with blood and gore, not boogers and poop).

However, genetically speaking, I’m really not being all that selfish.  I have a genetic disorder that makes me incapable of processing folic acid.  The primary building block for fetal development.  I have a slew of heath issues because of it (mental illness, PCOS, overproduction of red blood cells, poor production of white blood cells, etc).  Do I want to pass that gene on?  Probably not.  It took several weeks to find a doctor who had heard of the disorder, let alone know how to treat it.

And since the primary building blocks for fetal development are impaired within my female body… What other sorts of defects will my child have?  Sure, I can pop prenatal vitamins (I already do), but they are a supplement, not a replacement.  Also, the build up of unprocessed folic acid is actually toxic.  So, despite pumping my body full of processed folic acid in vitamin form, I’m also harboring a toxin.  A toxin that will have an impact on fetal development.  So, again, what sorts of defects will my child have?  We aren’t talking about mental challenges, but severe physical ones.  Someone I know recently gave birth to a baby without a brain or skull cap.  It was stillborn, but that’s a common problem with folic acid deficiency.  As are babies without hearts, livers, kidneys, or lungs.  Bones can even fail to develop or may be too soft to protect the newborn from the rigors of birth.

So, yes, I’m selfish because there are too many things on my “want to do list” to have a child… But, at the same time, am I really being that selfish to not want to go through the problems that may arise?  I’m not talking about problems with small chances of happening, I was once told that if I decided to try to have children, there was a less than 5% chance of getting a relatively healthy child.  It is more likely, that my child will suffer from some serious birth defect that will make survival impossible.  Not to mention my chances of survival are also very low because of my clotting factor.

And wouldn’t it be worse to have an unwanted child?  This is one of those questions that I wish people would think about before asking.

*Side note: I do not have the “motherly instinct.”  I do not like newborns, babies, toddlers, children, tweens, or teens…

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