April 21, 2018

Finding Peace With The Decision To Not Have Children

Deep breathes. This one is hard to write my loves. I feel every ounce of resistance pulsing through my body as I start to type this blog for all of you but while reflecting on what I wanted to share with you this week, I knew it was time to fully share this.

I just left my beautiful friend Amanda’s apartment where I spent the morning with her and her precious daughter Arya. In a few hours I will be heading to my other friend Kavita’s home to see her and her newborn son, Sohum. On Tuesday I have my weekly playdate with my other bestie Michelle and her 6 week old son, Ryker. And in two weeks I am headed to Massachusetts to celebrate my soul sister Sarah having her third child and play auntie with her other two children, Marshall and Anabelle.

For someone who has decided to not have children, there are so many beautiful little ones in my life but it wasn’t until the last two years that I learned to fully embrace the role of “Auntie”. It’s been a process of learning my truth and fully owning it in order for me to show up in a way that feels amazing for everyone involved. But the process of owning this truth has been harder than I could have imagined. It’s only now that I am standing a bit more on solid ground with it all, that I can share it with you.

Around the age of 31 I started to get this strong pull inside of me that was begging to be explored. It was like this question screamed out of nowhere, “do you even want to have kids?!” as I was frantically searching for my person and wondering how my future would turn out. You see when I was married I was incredibly sick and at the peak of my pain with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis so kids weren’t really something my husband and I had talked about because we knew it wasn’t going to be an option any time soon. I had always assumed that I would be healthy one day and that when that day came, we would have two children (a boy and a girl) because that’s what my parents did.

When my life opened up after my divorce and I got healthier, started my own company, ignored a lot of the “rules” and started learning more and more about my truth, I started to deeply question if having children was a part of the future I truly wanted for myself.

I tossed and turned about this for YEARS. I remember when I first told my parents that I had decided I didn’t want to have children I was ready for battle, thinking that they would be devastated and would try to convince me that I was making a mistake. Only to find out I couldn’t have been more wrong. My Mom and Dad both looked at me and without hesitation they said, “we actually think that’s the right decision for you and your health. Plus, having children is a huge deal and not to be taken lightly, so if you don’t think you want them you should not have them.” I was shocked and almost a little confused because without their objection I was really left to feel into what I really wanted, which was scary for me.

I have a lot of reasons I had been thinking about not having children. Mainly being that my health would put me in the high risk category and I wasn’t sure my body could handle anymore high risk situations after everything it had already been through. I also have to take medication just to be able to walk and keep my psoriasis from becoming debilitating. Getting pregnant would mean that I would have to get off of my medications and I am honestly not willing to put my body through that much discomfort. In addition, and this one is a hard one to admit, I was pretty certain that I wasn’t interested in being as selfless as I needed to be in order to be the kind of mother I would want to be. I had spent 20 years putting my disease first in every situation in my life and having to put aside what I desired in countless moments so that I could manage my health. I wasn’t up for putting aside my moment to moment desires any longer so that I could love my child for the rest of their lives. Even though I knew that there was tremendous beauty and it was an incredibly rewarding experience for most parents I knew, I was also really present to how selfless you have to be in order to embrace motherhood. I was already burnt out by nurturing my illness for over two decades and was ready to focus on what NITIKA wanted in life.

Over the years I played around with these ideas a lot. I would be so clear whenever I spoke to my girlfriends about having kids and I would always say that I knew I would never have any. But then, I would inevitably meet some man that wanted to have children and find myself confused again. Maybe I did want to have children? OMG have I been wrong about this for this entire time?

My closest friends would get a tiny bit excited and remind me that I am the most nurturing person that they know and would be an incredible mother. But then also remind me that until I met this random dude I was really clear, so maybe I shouldn’t rush into anything. Ah, don’t you love good friends that love you enough to remind you of your truth? They were always right, I was certain, but I really didn’t want to be.

Why? Because as I have continued to date in my late 30’s I have been forced to really sit with the discomfort of this major life decision. For most men it is a total deal breaker and having to sit in the fact that this is my truth, while staring at a man that I like, is painful in a way I didn’t really understand at first. It’s just painful to own who you are while hoping that someone will like who you are but having no idea if they will. It’s emotional torture.

I have been lucky that the last few men I have dated, while they haven’t resulted in the partnership I desire, they have been a beautiful practice for me to own my truth. To own that I will never give birth to a child. To own that I might be open to adoption but I might not be and that I have no real desire to be a mother to my own children.

Over the last two years I really started to see that a lot of my energy around children was based in a ton of fear. I was terrified I would never find anyone because of this decision, I was terrified that I was making the wrong decision, I was terrified that I wouldn’t connect with any of my friends once they had their children. Fear was definitely running the show for a long time where kids were concerned. But once I realized that, I started to tap into the beauty of the children that I will have in my life. All the little angels that I get to love so fully and so deeply, as if they were my own, but also take care of my needs in my own life at the same time. What a gift.

I have gotten so close to Arya, Marshall and Anabelle over the years and can’t wait to see my relationship with Sohum and Ryker develop as they continue to grow. It’s filled my heart in a way that is deeply fulfilling and my relationships with each of their mama’s have been enriched in the process. Now I feel like I have so many nieces and nephews that I have an abundance of children in my life and I don’t feel that I am lacking anything because I am choosing not to have children of my own. I have also come to peace with the fact that the man who is right for me is going to want the things that I want in life, otherwise, he’s not the right one.

Thank you for being a safe and loving audience for me to share my truth with, my loves. I wrote this post today because I know a lot of women (chronic illness or not) struggle with this decision and feel a ton of shame around it. I hope it helps you know that you aren’t alone and that there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Your body. Your choice. And that is a beautiful thing.

Please share your experience and process in the comments below if this blog resonated with you at all. I always love hearing from you!

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  • Kim

    Nitika, words cannot express how much I relate to this beautifully open blog! I hear you and feel you girl! It was no coincidence I met my husband who doesn’t want kids either, but what a scary moment at 37! It’s so ok, we have a big purpose and that’s to help others, those are our kids and it’s so rewarding on a different level. I personally LOVED this blog because it tells the world that everyone should do what makes them happy no matter what “rules” or “norms” society created. Love!!! Thank you!❤️ Kim

    • Nitika

      Thank you for the love Kim, I so appreciate it and I’m so happy that this post resonated with you! It’s also nice to hear that you met your husband at 37 since I just turned 37 last week! Lots of love to you!! <3

  • Ama

    Thank you so much for being so vulnerable and sharing this. I am in a similar position. I am in my late 20’s and have realized that I don’t think I want children. I’ve worked with children and have been around children but have never had this innate desire to have them. There are things I know I want to experience (travel, business opportunities, adventures etc), but children have always felt like something I should do so I’m not bored in my 40s and 50s. I’m open to changing my mind and doing any healing work around the fears present, but I am also open to hearing from more women who don’t have children. I worry about that with dating because I know so many men want to start having kids in their 30’s. There’s so much I want to do in the world and honestly, I don’t feel I can do it and have children. I feel like I’ll get overwhelmed easily and sacrifice so much of myself to be a great mom to them and I just don’t know if I can do it. It can be really hard when it seems everyone around you knows they want children and I’m unsure and leaning towards a no. It also makes marriage tricky because a huge reason for getting married is to have that family. But I know I don’t need to know everything now- I just need to love myself and my life now. Thank you so much for sharing your truth and heart. Those kids are blessed to have such a great Auntie in their lives! xo

    • Nitika

      Thank you so much for sharing this with me Ama! I so beyond relate to everything you wrote. Even without the medical reasons, not having children came down to a lot of the things that you mentioned and it was a hard back and forth for me for a while. Trust me when I say you just need to listen to YOUR truth and the rest will work itself out. Sending you so much love!! <3

  • Kristina Jones

    Nitika, you are not alone. I have also been married, and now divorced. I had self esteem issues and was trying to follow in my parent’s footsteps. I was living a life that was not mine. After my divorce, I started to really look at myself, asking what did I want out of life. I made the decision of not having kids because I do not think I will be able to be as selfless as I’d need to be as a mother. I do feel shamed and sad at times. I live close to my parents and my partner’s parents, and they have all shared that they would like grandchildren. But this kind of decision should not be based on anyone else. When I shared my decision with my mother, her response was “you’re going to regret it.” I have not changed my mind.

    • Nitika

      Thanks for sharing this with me Kristina! I love that you have been asking yourself the tough questions and really learning how to listen to yourself in all of this. That’s so important. Sending you so much love!!

  • Sue

    Hi Nitika! It’s Snack with Sue of the self-love challenge! 🙂 Thank you for your admirable courage in sharing this personal journey. We have some similarities being around the same age and also the same culture. I’m 38, I’m not married and I don’t have kids. For me it is not a conscious choice, I am finding myself here. I feel like I am letting people down because Indian culture is so family oriented. But at this late stage I find myself wondering what if never? This is a small insight for a huge topic but I have pulled away from my friends who have kids. I didnt understand that journey and felt like I had nothing to share. Thank you for showing me that I can be a beautiful auntie if I just let myself. Isolating myself isn’t the answer. I know that wasn’t the main point of your post, but that perspective resonated with me.

    • Nitika

      Hi Sue! I am so glad that this blog resonated with you, that means a lot to hear because it was scary to write it! I also love that you feel more inspired to fully own your auntie role. It wasn’t the main point but one of the points in sharing this for sure. Sending you lots of love! xx

  • Linda Ross

    Namaste Sistar xo thankyou for your sharing. I am still admist the confusion of that very decision. 20 years raising a health baby – right!! ????

    To add – As. Practitioners and educators we get to feel like mothers and nurtures to humans all around the world. That’s a great service!

    I’m gratiful to you, to be connected!

    Aroha xo

    • Nitika

      Thank you for sharing this Linda!! And it’s nice to know that you see how much we get to nurture and mother as healers in this world because that’s definitely a huge part of it for me. Sending you lots of love!! xx

  • Aimee

    I can’t thank you enough for writing about this. I’m 39 and have decided I don’t want kids. I’ve never had that driving need to be a mother. I used to think if I had kids that would be great and if I didn’t that would be great too. For years I’d been trying to convince myself that I’d be open to having kids if I met the right man and he wanted a family. I thought that was what I was supposed to do to, and what people told me constantly I should do in order to truly be fulfilled.

    When I hit my early thirties I finally admitted to myself that having kids isn’t something I want. It makes dating difficult at times, I’ve had men argue with me about it. One actually got up and walked out of the coffee shop we were in after I told him I had no intention of having kids. That was humiliating, but it also reinforced my decision to be open about it early in the dating process so I don’t waste their time (or mine).

    I love how your parents responded when you told them about your decision, they sound like amazing people! I can’t say I’ve had many people be supportive of this, outside of a few of my closest friends. Some people seem baffled, some think I’ll change my mind, most are sure I’ll regret it. As my aunt put it, if I don’t have kids what will I do with my life? I guess we’ll find out.

    Thank you again for talking about this. It helps to feel like I’m not alone when it comes to this subject. 🙂

    • Nitika

      Aimee I am so glad that this post resonated with you – it was so hard to write so that means a lot! I have totally had people argue with me, tell me I am being selfish and men not want to date me because of it. And it SUCKS. But it also has helped me get more and more clear at the same time. Sending you so much love and so proud of you for being so clear in who you are and what is right for YOU! xx

  • Samantha

    OMG! This was like reading my own life story. I myself, was battling one illness after another while I was married and always assumed that once I finally got better my husband and I would have kids. However, after we divorced, I started to consider the fact that I might never have kids. Especially once i met my current boyfriend who ran his own business and I jumped into a life with him. He has one son already but had a vasectomy since his wife then didn’t want any more kids. Both of us have discussed him getting a reversal but neither of us have really done anything to make it happen. Like you, I have to take all kinds of medication just to survive and I know at least one can not be taken if pregnant. So I honestly do not feel I have it in me to put my body through a high risk pregnancy just to have a child. I was told once by an older gentleman that to not have kids is selfish. This coming from a man who had 5 kids only to leave them as children with their mother. Who is calling who selfish again? There is still time for me to decide but I honestly do not see myself ever really going out of my way to make it happen. If it happens it happens. What’s meant to be will be.

    Thank you for sharing your story. You are definitely not alone!

    • Nitika

      OMG that’s amazing to see how similar our stories are Samantha!! I know it’s a huge decision and often a really hard one, so I am happy to see that you’re doing your best to figure out what is right for you and your body. That’s beautiful. Sending you so much love and thank you for your comment!! xx

  • Marissa

    Yes to all of this! I am 31, and deeply questioning these things too. Yes, no, yes, no. I have a history of severe Epstein Barr and Lyme disease and although I’m on the other side of it, I have daily struggles that still remain. I don’t think my body could handle a pregnancy and what it takes to be a mother. People too always say to me how nurturing and mothering I am and it makes me doubt my decision. It’s a constant flipping and flopping. I recently dated a beautiful guy who said he didn’t want kids and I ran. It’s all so confusing. Thank you for writing this. There unfortunately is so much shame surrounding a woman who doesn’t want kids. I think you’re amazing and perfect and SO brave. Thank you. ❤️

    • Nitika

      Oh my goodness Marissa you are SO precious, thank you for your kind words and for your comment. I am proud of you for taking the time to really ASK yourself even when I know it’s hard and so confusing. Keep listening and the truth will surface when the time is right. I promise! Lots of love xx

  • Lety

    I love this post. In my early 30’s I was in such a rush to settle and have children because that is what my “friends “ did little did I know the relationship I was in was extremely toxic and left me feeling low and depressed. Now 37 Im questioning do I want to have children I’ve been an aunt since I was 14. Would I have the patience and energy for them? I love children I do but I feel like I am just now learning what I want and have a passion to teach yoga and maybe travel teaching. Is that selfish I want those things? It’s a constant battle I have with my inner voice leaving me feeling guilty. I am glad I ran into this safe space surrounded by everyone sharing there thoughts and feelings. Thank you

    • Nitika

      I SO get that Lety – thank you for sharing your story here! I wondered if there was something wrong with me or if I was being selfish so often. I still have that creep in every once in a while, but I come back to my truth more and more. And yes I LOVE kids so much!! It’s a new exploration for so many of us, but we are allowed to choose what’s right for us. This I am sure of. So glad this post resonated with you!

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