READER REPORT:

Childless and loving it

BARB EDWARDS
Last updated 05:01 11/12/2013
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Empty swings at an Auckland playground.

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Choosing not to have children

Stuck on the baby-go-round We don't hate kids, we just don't want them 'I just don't have time for a child' No kids for us, no grandchildren for them Freedom first, not kids My reasons not to have kids Cost of kids not just money 'Judged and ridiculed' for not having kids 'I think I'd make a rotten mum' Childless and loving it

We've been married for almost 29 years and we're childless. It was never intended to be that way. We planned to be "normal". Then, five months into the marriage came the first miscarriage, followed by another four over the next several years.

We never advertised our miscarriages, figuring that was our business. We just got on with life and hoped for better luck next time. Medical opinion of the day seemed to be that we were probably "incompatible" and, since I was already in my early thirties by this time, I was considered to be a bit on the "geriatric" side for having kids anyway.

During this time we were under plenty of pressure from our family and friends who knew best. I lost count of the times that old family friends, in the most serious way, took me aside and told me it was time we started a family. I used to just smile.

One Old Dear made the mistake of saying it when hubby was around. We were at a church gathering at the time. He turned to her and said, "Aunty, Abraham and Sarah in the Bible had to wait a long time to have a family, so I think we've got plenty of time".

These days we tell people that he wanted 12 kids and I said he could have the first one, but I'm still waiting...

As life was ticking along slowly with no family arriving, we decided to look into adoption. If we couldn't have our own kids, we could surely provide a home for another child. Because of my husband's mixed racial heritage we even thought of going to his mother's homeland and adopting a child from the poverty that exists there. Unfortunately, we are both white, and the powers-that-be of the 1980s wouldn't allow us to adopt a dark-skinned child. It didn't matter that it would have a dark-skinned grandmother, uncle, aunt and cousin... Go figure! 

Adopting within New Zealand was just as bad. The year we were applying there were 200 couples in the region we lived in who wanted to adopt, and only 200 babies available for adoption in the whole of the country. Plus I was approaching the 35-year-old cut-off point. Once that magical number was reached one was considered too old to be a parent.

After eight years of trying, events really turned against us and I needed to have a hysterectomy. By this time, due to medical issues, it kind of came as a relief for both of us. There were now no ifs or buts. We were going to be childless.

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"What about me? I wanted another grandchild!" That was the cry when we finally announced my need of surgery. Talk about guilt tripping. But hey, it was our lives we were dealing with, not theirs, and we made up our minds to get on with it and live our lives forward.

Sure, there were days when we mourned, but more and more we were aware there were other things to fill our lives with, other blessings to be had from life.

Now we are in our fifties and our families and friends have children that are causing, or have caused them, grief. We've done our share of helping out nieces and nephews, and now it's our time to travel and leave them to it. Most years since 1999 we have had an overseas holiday, some of them five-star.

It's ironic, but the very ones who were feeling so sorry for us a few short years ago, because we couldn't be normal like other couples, are now envious of the fact that we are free to live the lifestyle they would love to have. Hubby says to them, "If only you'd said 'No' that night all those years ago, you too could be like us..."


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