I realize that the age of 29 is a pretty young age to decide that children just aren't going to happen. That doesn't mean I'm not capable of logical thought just because I'm not quite 30. Still, I'm surprised by how much this decision hurts. Curse you, Facebook--my old high school friends are firing out children by the dozens (not all at once, thank goodness), and all I can think is, "8 years of marriage, 1 miscarriage, 1 failed adoption." That's what I have to my name. No cuddly infants or precocious toddlers. Just Chris and me.
Honestly, the choice not to have children came from a particularly distressing situation. I've sort of made the choice not to have kids on numerous occasions, but it always seemed like a positive thing--a celebration of an unusually good marriage that wasn't turning out to be fruitful--and not at all coming from a place of pain. Then I decided to change my medicine for my major depressive disorder. Taking the meds away gave me incredible anxiety, but adding them back gave me a deep depression that I haven't experienced in years. Although I'm doing better now, I'm still working things out. With these thoughts in mind, Chris and I were forced to look at being a family of two (I prefer that term to childless or childfree) from a place of pain rather than the usual "why fix what ain't broke?" standpoint.
Most of the time I'm okay. Sometimes I'm disastrously depressed. I take meds that could cause birth defects, and clearly changing my meds to something more suitable could put me in a very bad place. Yes, I could do it, and it's an option, but it's also a risk--one I'm not really interested in taking. So getting pregnant--something already unlikely after all this time--is out.
But what about adoption? Let me count the ways ...
1. Did you know there are 36 couples for every one infant available for adoption?
2. Did you know stigma against mental illness prevents me from adopting abroad?
That would leave adopting from foster care, but I know those children would have needs that could possibly send me into a downward spiral. I don't want to be unavailable to a child because of my own problems, and I don't want to leave Chris as the lone parent for long intervals. Chris has a hard enough time and I've already caused him plenty of heartache just over the past few weeks. Oh, and never mind that adoption agencies want you to be stable in your mental illness, which I'm clearly not.
I've been rereading Sweet Grapes (now on Kindle for your convenience!) because I need a refresher course in making this a good decision instead of just one more miserable one. In the coming days (or weeks, knowing me), I'll post a list of things I'm going to do without children just to stay positive. In the meantime, here's my heartbreaking choice--our heartbreaking choice.