Kids or No Kids? That is the Big Question

To have kids or not to have kids? This is a deeply personal question, And for people living with multiple sclerosis, there is no correct answer. Several of my fellow Living Like You bloggers including Jamie, Karen and Tony share their experiences raising children while living with MS. I, on the other hand, want to offer my perspective on my decision not to have children.

Although life was good in my last relationship, I secretly decided that having children would probably not be on my list of things to do. Not because of the lack of love in my relationship, but because many believe that the condition is passed down through generations in families. I didn’t want to give my own illness to my future son or daughter. When we eventually talked about possibly mixing my illness with screaming babies and hectic lifestyle, I realised that for me, children were not what I wanted.

Like any big decision, this one also came with regrets. I still get broody sometimes. When I see friends post pictures of their children on Facebook, there’s a slight tear waiting to fall, but I do my best to stop feeling selfish and guilty over my decision.

One of the few nice things about being chronically ill and being childless is, when looking after children of friends and family for a short while, you can give their children back. I get to go back to my own cool, dark bedroom in my quiet house, and I have my broodiness resolved for a while. Check out the Living Like You article about the joys of being a PANK (Professional Aunt, No Kids).

Eventually my decision came up when friends started to wonder when I would have children. A few people around me raised their eyebrows to the roof when I told them, something I anticipated, but was still difficult to face. Especially in a country like Ireland, where motherhood ranks highest in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I was asked if that wasn’t selfish on my part, or if I simply didn’t have any motherly needs within my heart.

I knew I had to defend my decision, but I also had to tread carefully. Not everyone understands what life with multiple sclerosis is, or can be like, and I don’t always feel like explaining my symptoms. When I’m tired beyond measure because of fatigue, it’s as if I’ve left the building. Nothing registers and talking gives way to preserving my energy for what I am doing at that moment. My brain checks out, and the only place I need to be in, is my bed. It’s the last place you imagine yourself being when your child asks you to join him or her in their games.

Despite having no children at the age of 40, I am very much enjoying life. I am involved in volunteer advocacy, and I write a lot in my own time, at my own pace. When I feel it’s time to lie down and rest, I can do so without having to justify myself. If life turned out differently, of course I would want to have children of my own. Absolutely and without a doubt!

My relationship ended for reasons different than not wanting children, but it taught me a valuable lesson. Being honest with yourself pays dividends. Some people decide to keep quiet, but honesty breeds honesty. After all, MS is a life-changing event, but so is having children. It’s very much a personal choice, but also a very important one that cannot be ignored. Whatever your decision, know that you have the Living Like You community to support you!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on deciding to have or not to have children despite you MS. Share with us on Facebook.

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