When I Thought My Inability to Have Children Meant the 'End' of My Womanhood

“What do you mean you don’t have kids?”

I used to cringe when well-meaning people asked me this question.

I don’t have kids. It’s not that I didn’t want to have them. I couldn’t. I had many health complications that prevented me from having children. I had a hysterectomy at a young age and having children never fit into the equation for me.

I thought this was the end of my womanhood, of my marriage. My husband was, and still is, fine with us being childless. He’s always been more concerned with my health and we’re the type of couple who consider our pets to be our children.

Having a hysterectomy was a hard pill for me to swallow but there was no other choice. I thought I was now a failure as a human being because I couldn’t do the one thing women are “supposed” to do: have a baby.

It took me a long time to realize that I wasn’t a failure, not as a woman or a wife. Still, it was the way I was allowing other people let me feel about myself. The constant, “What do you mean you don’t have kids?” became, “Don’t you know you’ve failed as a woman if you can’t have a baby?”

I would have been a wonderful mother. I wanted desperately to have children before I got sick. Not everyone is meant to have children. At least, that’s what I told myself to pacify my own depression. At the same time, I couldn’t understand why people had children and didn’t take care of them. It seemed so unfair to me. Still, I trusted God’s purposes. I had to.

I have learned to accept that I can’t have children. I don’t understand why other people can’t accept this about me. I’ve always been gracious to people who ask me why I don’t have kids when all I’ve really wanted to tell them was to mind their own bleeping business.

Living with chronic illness is not meant for everyone either. It takes a special kind of strength to live like this everyday. We are not who we are because of other’s people’s expectations of us. We’re not defined by how many kids we have or how much money we make. I’d like to believe that what defines us is how we live our lives everyday. We cannot live by other’s expectations. We have to be able to get out of bed everyday and realize that no matter what kind of pain we’re feeling, we still have a purpose. We still have value, even if other people look down on us because we don’t live up to their expectations.

I have learned to accept God’s plan for me, a plan which includes remaining childless. Some days I do long to have had children, to have been able to watch them grow up, and then give me a cluster of grandkids to spoil. It wasn’t meant to be.

At one time, my husband and I thought about adopting but I have been facing so many health challenges it just didn’t seem feasible. We keep our adopting to the local animal shelter and we have been very blessed with our furry babies. They love unconditionally and are wonderful company, especially on those days when the pain is overwhelming that I can’t even function properly.

When you’re young, you make all sorts of plans for the future. When the future finally arrives, you often wonder why some of your plans never come to fruition. No one ever said, “When I grow up, I want to be sick and in chronic pain for the rest of my life!” I never said that and I never planned for this to happen to me.  But here I am and I’m doing my best to live life on my terms, not anyone else’s.

If people judge you because you’re sick or not living up to their expectations for you, let them go. Live life on your terms no matter what you think may be missing in your life. Because this is the only life you get to live and you can make the most of it, even if the pain and sadness is insurmountable. Life can truly be wonderful if you see the gift in yourself.

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