I Went From Wanting Children to Living Happily Childless
By Nina Steele
Our journey to conceive started in 2004 and ended unsuccessfully in 2013. We tried to conceive naturally for 3 years only to discover that my husband was azoospermic. We were placed on the waiting list for IVF around 2007 and a year later we started the process.
It is a gruelling process that involved taking lots of medication and injecting myself. I suppose that like all the other couples going through that experience, you keep thinking of the likelihood that you will become parents at the end of it and so any discomfort and unpleasantness is seen as worth it.
Even though the doctors had known all along that my husband suffered from azoospermia, they were confident that they could find sperm by operating on him on the day of the procedure. But of course they found nothing. We later tried artificial insemination with donor sperm and that too failed.
My husband has never been that keen on having children and so not being able to conceive affected me more than it did him. Looking back, I can see why that was the case. Not only do we live in a child centric world, but being originally from Africa makes having children even more of an imperative.
Indeed, from an African perspective, a life without children is unthinkable. There is no such thing as choosing not to have children. Everyone has them and those unfortunate enough to be childless are vilified and not given any sympathy whatsoever.
When a couple is unable to conceive, the finger of blame is automatically pointed at the woman. In reality, as this article from the World Health Organisation shows, in 50% of cases, the cause of the problem is male infertility: http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/12/10-011210/en/
Eventually, after 9 years of trying, we decided that enough was enough. What helped me come to terms with being childless is spirituality. Coming to the UK has changed my life in so many ways that I started to realise that I was ignoring how blessed I was compared to the majority of the people I have left behind in Africa.
When you have experienced poverty first hand, you tend to view life differently. Unlike the West, there is no such thing as a welfare state in Africa and so when you are poor, you are pretty much on your own. And so, living in abundance as I do now, made me realise that I already had everything that life could offer. Gratitude is now part of my daily routine and I give thanks for everything that happens, because every occurrence allows me to grow that much more.
Ultimately, our life is what we make of it. Whether we are happy or sad is up to us. We can choose to focus on what is lacking in our life or we can be thankful for what we already have. I am blessed with a healthy and happy marriage and so much more, that to be anything other than grateful is missing the point of what this life is all about.
Too many people make themselves miserable not because they do not have enough, but because they spend their lives comparing themselves to others and trying desperately to fit in with the mainstream. What they forget is that not all paths are meant to include children. The penny finally dropped when I came to that realisation.
As a couple, we are now focusing on living life to the full and making the most of whatever time we have got left together. I truly love my life and am eternally grateful for everything in it.
Nina Steele is the founder of www.nonparents.com, a community for people without children, by circumstance or choice.
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