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I never wanted to have children, but am so glad I did.
I cannot say that I liked or disliked children. I never thought about the decision to have children from a place of liking them, but rather whether we were able to properly care for them. Were we financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically fit for the job? I didn’t think I was. I now know I was not.
I know children don’t come with instructions and we learn as we go along. We prepare ourselves by choice, from a place of love, and wanting to do better. We set an intention, but setting an intention doesn’t mean the job is less challenging, scary, full of ups and downs, doubts, wanting to give up, needing time off, and sometimes considering not bringing another human into the world because we’re already in over our heads.
When I was about 14 years old, I remember my sister-in-law, who was just four years my senior, speaking about labour pain and how difficult it was. My brother came home telling us about women screaming in the maternity ward in excruciating pain and how he was able to hear his wife from across the street. To me, he sounded disgusted with her lack of courage. I found this intimidating as I didn’t think I possessed that type of courage myself.
My sister-in-law later told me how she had an episiotomy as the baby was big and got stuck in the passage—she explained that the cut tore and she had lost a lot of blood. She also confided that sex was painful for a very long time afterward.
There was nothing attractive, glamorous, endearing, beautiful, or desirable about motherhood. It was painful carrying a fetus and birthing a baby. Then came the responsibility and hard work to raise the child. It appeared to me that the burden of bringing a human into the world rested squarely on a woman’s shoulders.
I saw mothers preparing meals, feeding children before going to school, washing clothes, and cleaning the house. They sought to provide a healthy environment for the family, protecting and shielding children from physical abuse, carrying the physical and emotional burden of caring for a young, dependent child. All this scared me. I didn’t know if I had the internal resources to provide, protect, and guide a child. I didn’t want to hurt anyone or stand by and see a child being hurt and feel unable to do anything. So, I made an early decision that I would not have children.
Then I grew up and fell in love. I forgot about the decision I had made. Well, I didn’t really forget, but thought once married I didn’t really have a choice. Out of a union of love, children came, and as silly as it may sound for this time in history, I didn’t know how to manage not having children in a marriage. I didn’t know much about contraceptives and I was ashamed to buy them. At 19 I was lost in the adult world.
There came one child, then two. When I became pregnant for a third time I was terrified and I told my then husband that I wanted to have an abortion. Although he wasn’t happy about it, he allowed me to make that choice, so I booked an appointment with my doctor and planned to terminate my pregnancy.
I was 24 years old with two young children and a new business to run. When the appointment date arrived I dropped my five-year-old son at kindergarten and my one-year-old daughter at daycare. Then I went to my shop and met with my staff, attended to a couple customers, and left for the appointment. While driving myself there I kept seeing myself holding a gigantic syringe and injecting the fetus in the head. I kept closing and opening my eyes but the image continued flashing in front of me.
I realized I couldn’t go through with it, so I drove past the doctor’s office, and went back to my shop. I called my husband and told him I couldn’t do it.
I decided I didn’t want any more children but was still too embarrassed to go to the male pharmacist with a prescription for a contraceptive. My body had rejected the IUD so I opted to have a sterilization (have my tubes tied) after this baby was born.
With my first pregnancy I had eclampsia. My husband woke up as I was having a seizure. He called out to my mother who had arrived from Venezuela two weeks before to help me with the newborn. My mother quickly realized I was in deep trouble and urged him to hurry me to the hospital. They both left in their pyjamas with no shoes on their feet. My husband had called the doctor before he left the house and by the time we arrived at the hospital the doctor was already there.
I gained consciousness for a short while and was told I needed to have a cesarean as the doctor was expecting another seizure and the baby needed to be out by then in the hope of saving us both. I remember in my semi-unconscious state saying some silly things not wanting to be cut, dreading the scar in my belly because I wanted to wear a bikini. I was only 19 so I guess it goes with being young. After having the surgery I was kept in an isolation room as my blood pressure was extremely high. Soon after I had the predicted second seizure.
Fortunately my mother was close by as she refused to leave my side and the hospital provided a bed in my room for her. I stayed two weeks in hospital in the isolation room being administered drugs to sleep, being fed intravenously, with no sound or light to disturb me. I met my son for the first time two weeks after his birth.
With my second I had preeclampsia and was advised to also deliver by cesarean due to the increased risk involved. I accepted in part because I was still extremely scared of labor pain. At that time I had not forgotten the childhood stories told to me by my sister-in-law who was also practically a child herself. The third pregnancy was actually a little easier than the first two.
At 25 years old I was the mother of three, still young in many ways, much younger than my years.
I brought up my children as though they were my siblings—I saw myself as the older one, taking care of my brother and sisters. I spoke to them about everything and shared how I considered having an abortion. They were appalled at this revelation. I felt guilty and not sure what to say for myself. I didn’t know how to explain to my daughter that it was many things but not a rejection of her.
After many years of therapy and taking the time to inquire within, I know it was fear.
Fear of not being able to care for so many children and provide them with a better childhood than I had.
Fear that in my lack of preparation I may hurt innocent people.
Fear of my past and how it might follow me and cause more hurt.
Fear of myself. I feared I wasn’t good enough to be a good parent.
My conscious mind didn’t want children due to my history, my emotional childhood, and the stress of life around me. I had numbed out in childhood to survive a very harsh and unkind world and it took me many years to wake-up from the daze I lived in. Slowly my awareness expanded to include more of what was once unconscious and family life was always and still is very important to me.
Thankfully, God’s plan for my life far exceeded my plan.
At 16 years old I supported my 18 year old girlfriend through an abortion. We were both students in a foreign land, alone, and we needed each other. I went on to support others throughout my life who faced this dilemma. I am unapologetically pro-choice—but I chose to have all of my children, because they were already mine from the moment of conception.
Having made the decision to bring children into the world, I then made the decision to become the best parent I could be. I embarked on what has been my life purpose: “To wake up, heal, unlearn unhelpful behaviour patterns and embody new behaviours.”
It took real effort. It was messy at times. I made plenty of mistakes. But, I am grateful to the universe for the opportunity to become a mother. It gave me reason to want to love myself and become whole, in order to love my children.