To Snip Before Bearing Children
Today is a strange time to be alive. In a world where you share everything from the most intimate moments in your life to those moments you will probably regret sharing later (I’m looking at you who post your random party videos doing naked keg stands in your parents living room). However, the ability to share these details allow the rest of us to feel connected to each other in a way we never have before.
I’ve now reached the age where the majority of my friends have children. Some are fortunate enough to have found someone to raise those children with, some have the equally special situation to raise their children on their own, and some have chosen to take the even more challenging position of helping to raise someone else’s children.
In watching how these different situations play out over the last 15 or so years of my life, I have found myself in the less common position of having ],µno children of my own, and no children from another person to take on as my own. And in recent months, interestingly enough, I find myself equally torn with this in my own personal life.
The Obligatory Advisory
So before we go any further into this situation, I want to make it extremely clear that I am where I am through no choice of anyone’s but my own, and again in writing this I have no regrets, hard feelings or “what if” feelings about my choices. However, a healthy reflection on my decision I hope will maybe bring clarity and information to any other adults considering voluntary medical sterilization (read - vasectomy or tubal ligation).
So with that, let us begin.
How I Got Here
For the majority of my life after high school, I was fairly confident I wouldn’t have children in my life. I was in a long term relationship with a woman who shared the same ideals as me… there are many ways to have an impact on this world and the thought of having a child of our own never brought joy, but stress about how we would have to alter our lives to make room for a child. For the most part, that was enough for us to know we were not ready to be parents, and rightly so. If the notion of having a child of your own doesn’t have even a smidgen of joy, it’s not time.
As I continued to age, I began to second guess that decision. As my friends begin having children, and seeing the joy it brought to them even in the hardest times, it was a realization that perhaps my thought that I would need to “make room” for a child in my life may be off base a little, and more so it changed to “maybe I would need to make room for the rest of my life” if I happened to father a child.
It was not long after this new thought process began that my long term relationship ended (not over the idea of having a child however) and I found myself single, in my 30’s, and without offspring of my own. Now, if you ever want a time of reflection, this is the situation that will force it out of you whether you want it or not. Fortunately, I had my wonderful dog Laynie (R.I.P. girl) at the time who was at my side through the best and the worst of it… but at the back of my mind I was really beginning to ponder how incredible it would be to have a child, to make an impact on a smaller scale of one life instead of dreaming to change the world.
Over the next few years, I have dated a few different women. Some with children, and some without. One in particular took a very strong place in my heart, and she also had 3 beautiful daughters who had taken a shining to me. It was during that relationship where I… got it. You reach a point where the world doesn’t matter, all that matters is that you can provide the best life possible for those who depend on you in a parental sense.
Where The Idea Was Formed
This relationship was serious. We discussed marriage, we lived together, and together we were providing for these 3 wonderful children who now looked at me as more than just a friend of her mom, but in a parental form. They had their dad, don’t get me wrong… and I would never have wanted to take away from anything he was doing with them. He was a good dad, and the girls loved him… the relationship just didn’t work out with the parents. However, this provided me the opportunity to share in something I had never really shared in before.
It was during this relationship, when we had decided to share our lives together for long term, that I made the decision to have a vasectomy. I was already heavily involved with raising these three little girls, and that was what I had truly wanted. One thing I was pretty sure I didn’t want though, was four little ones terrorizing the house! So, I had the assessment and a couple weeks later, I got the magical snip, eliminating the fear of potentially having a total of 12 human legs running around the living room all hours of the day (4 children, there mother and myself).
The First Doubt
Fast forward to where that relationship ran it’s course and I find myself back where I started… although with one drastic change; the inability to father children of my own. Yes, I know the surgery is reversible. Yes, I know there are other ways to experience fatherhood, whether it be adoption, or fostering. And yes, I am aware that at my age it’s highly likely that any woman I meet down the road will likely have children of her own that should things work out I will have the honour to share in raising them. But a little while ago something happened that really altered my opinion on the matter: one of my closest friends had a child of his own. And this child, I have had the cherished opportunity to watch him grow from womb to birth, to now at 4 months old beginning to turn into a little man instead of just a baby. And this experience, has had a profound effect on me.
For the most part, I have had a lot of friends who have had children. But this one in particular, because of how close his parents and I are as friends, I have had much more time with him, experiencing him, and participating in his early life. I have had the ability to watch how both his parents have changed as people, from the young social butterfly’s they were to the amazing parents they are now, and how literally instantaneously his dad, who always swore “I’m not going to change just because I’m having a baby” did change, into a caring individual who above all else will put his families needs above his own.
Through this experience, and watching from a very close vantage point, I have realized that perhaps I am going to miss out on something very magical, very humbling and above all, life changing.
I am OK with that. It was a choice I made, because of where I was in my life at that time and at the end of the day I know I will always be fun uncle Josh. I will get to be the one these kids call when they’ve screwed up big and they know their parents are going to be furious. I’ll get to be the one who watches them when mom and dad need a break, or a romantic holiday alone. Really, I’ll get to have all the fun times without any of the diapers, baby vomit, toilet training and overwhelming moments when parenthood is “just too much right now”.
But truth be told, there are many days when if I could go back and talk to myself at that point where I was considering this surgery, I would ask myself “are you really sure you won’t ever want to father a child of your own?”
And then I think about it, and I know at that point in my life, my answer wouldn’t change. Hind sight is always 20/20, but foresight is impossible to see.