At some point, every one of us has to stop and ask: why am I doing this? Why do I want children so badly that I am willing to do this to my body? I don’t know if fertile couples do this or not; I would guess that most decide they want children, have sex with no protection, and get pregnant. End of story — no late-night discussions, no deep conversations, no navel gazing. But for us infertiles, or sub-fertiles, or fertility-challenged, however you want to put it, we have to figure out exactly why we want children, why we will tolerate pills and shots and scans and surgeries, and how much pain and suffering we will go through for the opportunity to bring a child into our lives.
For most of my life, I did not think that I wanted children. In fact, one of the reasons I married manly was that he was the only man I had ever met that I would consider having children with. Even the first few months that I came off the pill, I was perversely happy that it had not happened that month. But now, almost two years into this process, I’ve found myself thinking about why exactly I’m going through all this trouble.
My first and foremost reason is that I want to share the joy of raising a child with my husband. I want to watch him interact with a son or daughter, watch him experience the happiness of fatherhood. I’ve seen him play with our friends’ children, and it makes my heart swell to watch him patiently working with a toddler to put a jacket on, or carrying a small baby off to sleep in another room. I want to have that experience with our own children.
The second reason is that I really will not feel like we (manly and I) are a family until we have a child. You may disagree (and I know a lot of people do), but for me, children are a necessary component to transition us from being a ‘couple’ to being a ‘family’. As an extension of this, I want to have children who are biologically related to my parents, to manly’s parents, to our siblings, our grandparents, the whole clan. I want to be able to look at my child and say, “you have your great-grandmother’s nose” or “you look exactly like Uncle J when he was little”. I want our children to have a network of family members who they can turn to for love and support in their lives.
Third, I want to be able to give my child the things that I did not have when I was growing up. Not material things, because we always managed to scrape by, but experiences and unconditional love and support. I want to raise children who feel safe and happy in their childhood, and to be able to protect them from the scary outside world. I really believe that this is something that I need to do for myself to be able to purge some of the anger that I feel at my parents.
Last, I just do. I want to grow a person inside of me. I want to have someone call me “mama”. I want to read betime stories, give hugs, and change diapers, and pick up socks, all the things that come along with having kids. Deep down, viscerally, I want a child, and that’s something that is not just going to go away.