Tuesday, September 28, 2010

From Mumbai: It’s a Blessing Not To Have Children

I love hearing from people around the world who are living childfree by choice. Recently Leena contacted me from India with her story:
I am Leena aged 34 from India and I would like to share my story about being Childfree by Choice.
In India the only reason you get married is to breed. The primary reason is to have an heir for your family name and going against such an orthodox society means (you) get shunned and looked down upon. But I and husband Alex (aged 40) now have been married for 12 loving years and we are so glad that we took the decision against all odds to remain Childfree.
In spite of the fact that we are in the so-called "developed megacity Mumbai" you still get the "stare" and "comments" from most of the society around. At my work place, mommies share their agonies and I am the one having the last laugh, though I can not share it openly with anyone.
But I just want everyone to know the life I and my husband lead is a blessing. The intimacy we have after 12 years of marriage is not comparable to any couple married for that long. This is just a glimpse of my life but it comes right from my heart. I am blessed to not have children. My life is more complete, I have more to give to the world today as I don't have to keep anything for anyone. I have more love, more compassion, more of Life!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You Won’t Know You Want a Kid Until You Have One

“You won’t know you want a kid until you have one.”

We’ve all heard a version of this. It’s the kind of warped logic that comes up when you say “I’ve never wanted children.”

The BBC New Magazine challenged this assertion in an article titled “The Women Who Choose Not To Be Mothers.”

This piece quotes a childfree step-mom who doubts her preferences will change with the arrival of a child, and a therapist who acknowledges that childless and childfree women can, and do, live very satisfying lives, despite the lingering stigma:

Julia Wallace, at 40 a step-mother to three children who live elsewhere: "They say, 'you don't know what you're missing, you won't know until you've had a child that that's what you wanted to do'. That's a hypothetical question - if you've got no motivation to have a child in the first place, why would you do it? I wouldn't chose to become a nurse on the chance I might love the career once I get there."

Beth Follini counsels women agonising over whether to reproduce. It's a decision she herself has struggled with. Until her early 30s, she hadn't wanted children and told her partner so. "Then I just started to feel this urge. I spent a year or two battling it out and in the end I decided I wanted a child. But I know that if I hadn't, I would have a very different but equally fulfilled life."

Many of her clients do not want children but feel pressurised. "Often this pressure comes from friends who have had children - 'you don't know what you're missing' or 'you'd make a great mum'. Or joking that you hate children. Sometimes it's from parents hoping for a grandchild."

But it can be the most passing of acquaintances who pass comment.

“Many people assume if you a single and child-free that you haven't met the right man yet. But if you are in a relationship, they ask 'when are you taking the next step?' A woman's fertility status is still very much considered public property.”

Follini is right. For some reason, people feel compelled show childfree folks the error of their ways. But is anyone really swayed by this?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It’s a Girl Thing!

Periods suck! Particularly if you are like me and my friend Karen who have a tendency to have monster flows—the kind that can’t be absorbed by any measly super-sized tampon or pad.

Sorry guys. You can skip this post if you like. Naturally, girls talk about these things and recently my friend told me about an endometrial ablation treatment she was considering, marketed under the trade name NovaSure. Endometrial ablation is the medical term for a procedure intended to destroy, through minimally invasive means, the lining of the uterus, or edometrium. In the case of NovaSure, this is achieved in less than five minutes by use of wand inserted in the vagina which delivers doses of electromagnetic energy. The resulting scaring of tissue means lighter periods or no periods at all for many of the women who undergo this procedure. Karen didn’t know what to expect but she hoped this treatment would at least remedy the ridiculous flows that had left her anemic and listless.

Karen gave me a report about two months after the procedure. She reported that her recovery had been complicated by an infection, and the fact that the procedure was scheduled just before her period was due meant she had to have a D & C to clear out as much of the blood as possible before her doctor went in. Karen experienced a six week recovery phase during which her body was still expelling blood and tissue but after that she noticed a marked improvement—a much lighter flow and a shorter duration of her period. She was very pleased she had undergone this procedure. Still, I had some more questions for her:

What other options did you have besides the NovaSure procedure to alleviate your heavy bleeding?
My other option was to get on the pill, or to have an IUD that releases progesterone into my system. Either way, the options were going to alter hormones. Given that I’m a happily medicine-free person, I didn’t want to go on any pills and the idea of having a foreign body in me made me really squeamish. I would rather be rid of the problem area, than put something else in it. I’ve already had my tonsils and my appendix removed— what’s one more unused body part?

Was your doctor proposing a full or partial hysterectomy as an option?
Neither of these was proposed, partially because of my age, and the fact that they tend to upset women hormonally. And nothing in my condition was that dire.

How did your doctor qualify you for this procedure?
I found my doctor on the NovaSure site. She was listed as a preferred physician who has done a lot of these. So she knew what to ask. She took a complete history, with good detail about what my most recent monthly periods have been like. She did a Pap smear, blood work and a urine analysis, to make sure that thyroid, diseases or other items weren’t causing the problems. They also did an internal ultrasound to verify that it wasn’t cysts or things like that. She was very thorough. As far as qualifying for it, and having it covered by insurance, the message was, if it’s making you miserable and your quality of life is suffering because of it, it’s a good enough reason to do it.

Did she try to make sure you did not plan on having children?
She did ask me this, to be sure, because the procedure does significantly, if not remove, the chances of becoming pregnant. Give my age, 39, and my desire not to have children, we eliminated this as an obstacle.

Does this procedure interfere with egg production?
It does not. I still drop an egg. But because the lining is gone from the uterus and can no longer hold blood, there’s nothing for the egg to attach to.

Does it affect hormones?
No. Because I still cycle, drop the egg, have my ovaries, etc. I liken it to a telephone system. If an office building has 15 phones, and you unplug one, the other phones still get calls going in and out. The phone jack is still in the wall, but there’s no phone to ring anymore. My uterus just doesn’t get the call to store up blood anymore, and there’s no lining there to hold it.

Does it affect mood?
Yes, for me it has to do with lack of stress and discomfort. I’m no longer fatigued, bloated, nervous about accidents, or scared to wear white pants. And so it’s one (gigantic) less thing to worry about. It’s made me feel sexier, more desirable, and more confident – that plays well in the bedroom. And now, I don’t have to take 5-10 days off from the gym, so my energy level is up, and my weight is down.

Two important things to note. This procedure is not recommended for those women who plan to get pregnant after the procedure as pregnancy poses risks for both mother and child, and it is possible to become pregnant after this procedure which is why doctors recommend birth control for those women who are still in their childbearing years.

I’m not a medical expert by any stretch but I was very pleased to learn we girls had another tool in our arsenal to combat the Monster Period. If you want to find out more go to the FAQ section of the NovaSure website or ask your OB/GYN about NovaSure.