By Symone Saul
EDITOR’S NOTE: THROUGH PERSONAL ACCOUNTS INTENDED TO GIVE VOICE- NOT MEASURE OUR STRUGGLES OR PREACH RIGHT OR WRONG- WE ENCOURAGE ALL TO SUBMIT STORIES ABOUT CHOICES OR LACK OF CHOICE IN PARENTING. THIS TOPIC RENDERS DEEP EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE FOR ALL AND WE’D ESPECIALLY LOVE TO HEAR THE EXPERIENCES OF TRANSGENDER HUMANS OR THOSE OF CIS-MALES ABLE TO RECOGNIZE THE DIMINISHED ABILITY OF CIS-WOMEN, TRANSGENDER PERSONS AND FEMMES TO MAKE AUTONOMOUS CHOICES WITHIN A PATRIARCHIAL SOCIETY. ANONYMOUS SUBMISSIONS ARE WELCOME.
I’ve known since I was twelve that I wouldn’t have a biological child. I told the OB/ GYN in 2015. I’d asked to get my tubes tied and was instead told to come back in 6 months and then again in a year so he could “get to know me” and make sure I hadn’t changed my mind. Women can be so fickle, right? “I’d lose sleep if a patient regretted or reversed my surgery.” IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!!, my brain shrieked as he recommended I instead shove tiny bits of plastic into my vagina or engulf my body with synthetic hormones and whatnot to disrupt my natural cycle.
I felt like a 12-year-old in a 30-year-old body, being told I had to pass his arbitrary test to prove that I’m ready to NOT have a baby. Yet, parents don’t have to wait a year to be granted consent to conceive! Instead of my fallopian tubes, he ripped away my autonomy – because it’s assumed that all cis-women will want to have a baby at some point.
I’d love to have a baby. Many cis-women have no desire to, but I spent most of my twenties wracked with biological urges to give birth to my own lovely human who’d remind me of my lovely partner. I had to consciously resist that urge because a world with 150 million orphans didn’t need another mouth to feed. Luckily, I was too poor to afford a child. Unluckily, that also meant I couldn’t afford birth control.
My motives to adopt, as I decided to do as a teenager, were drenched in toxic American attitudes that glorify white saviorism, require cultural extraction, enable corruption, or create racist foster care systems that separate and criminalize families instead of providing support to existing parents. Recognizing that now, I’m just as determined to provide for marginalized children rather than creating another child to vie for resources in a nation of overconsumption at a time when exponential overpopulation is fanning the literal flames of climate destruction. Through a socially-conscious lens, parenting seems unmistakably selfish, especially as the unfair pressure we put on parents to prioritize their child’s needs over the needs of others endlessly perpetuates poverty and inherited wealth gaps.
Pregnancy isn’t easy to avoid. My culture imposes propagation as normalcy and most don’t give it a second thought. Those unable or unwilling to bear children are devalued, unmarriageable, and cast as outliers. For my grandma, it was literally forced upon her through a Catholic narrative of perpetual rape. Still, she believed that the more children she had the closer it brought her to G-d.
My mother also survived that torture, and yet she still drags me through the conventional trope: “I was hoping for more grandchildren,” and “Who will take care of you when you’re older?” A friend recently pointed out the irony of expecting our children to be our caregivers! Are we bringing life into the world for their sake or for ours?
On top of the emotional toll and the physical difficulty and fortitude it takes to prevent childbirth, non-parents are repeatedly silenced and our self-advocacy invalidated. If we speak of our decision, we are demonized for undermining the more-important needs of parents -or worse, the infertile. My argument is not against parenting, but for a world in which people of child-rearing age can make conscientious choices knowing there are more alternatives than the social norms presented to us. A world in which no one’s reproductive choices are met with judgment; a world that includes education and access to care so we can use whatever ethical metrics we determine for ourselves, instead of mindlessly passing along outdated ideas about bloodlines, self-worth, and false gender narratives. I beg you to question the ways we daily feed into these storylines.
At 23, a doctor said I may be infertile (I wasn’t), followed by, “You better hurry up and get pregnant if you still can!” Is that really a justifiable way to make the most important decision of your life? Messages like these have caused me countless nights of endless tears, heart-broken over the myriad ways non-parenting has manifested this strange, unnecessary cruelty in my life. Yet not once have I regretted getting a salpingectomy last November, which finally rendered me unable to bear children.
For that, I am fearlessly joyful and grateful. I don’t pretend my journey has been more painful or oppressive than anyone else’s. Parenting is way harder and many others suffer more for various structural and cultural reasons that I hope my story opens up space to discuss, for the sake of future generations.
Symone Saul is learning to write and share her story and hopes you will, too.
NewPeople Newspaper VOL. 50 No. 5. July/August, 2020. All rights reserved.