There is this thing that happens shortly after you get married. You’re still walking around in newlywed bliss and then people, those you know and those that are strangers, begin asking “When are you going to have kids?” This is true for any recently married couple. In fact, I guarantee it. Except that, in our case, when said person asks that question, you quickly realise how very little they know about you because my husband had a vasectomy many years ago and has been vocal about it ever since. You missed the memo, sister (and maybe we are not actually friends).
Kids have never really been in the equation for when it comes to me and how I envision my life. I have just never had that mother-pull. My woman parts have never screamed out at the sight of a newborn. I treasure the quiet and the peace in my home. I like staying up late – drinking wine or tea – with friends at a bar or home alone with a book that I cannot put down. I like to sleep in late or get up early while my bartender-husband still sleeps, knowing that I have three hours of silence and alone time that I can take full advantage of. To me this is bliss and having a kid in the mix would mean an end to that… at least for eighteen years or so.
So last week I had a hysteroscopy. I don’t want to get into all the bloody details (haha!) but I will say that for the past while, my woman parts have been at war with me and I was tired of fighting. After months of weighing my options, I opted to have the surgery, something less invasive than having body parts removed but something that would hopefully put a stop to the war inside. Part of having this surgery is basically signing off to say that you will never get pregnant. That you are past your “child-bearing years”. My doctor kept expressing this to me, emphasizing the importance of it and the risks that would come should I get pregnant and I listened patiently until I could not anymore and simply blurted out “My husband has had a vasectomy.” “Oh! Well then, that makes all of this that much easier,” was her reply. So that was that. It was official. I would never be a Mom (or at least I would never birth my own child). I had thought about it for a long while and in my guts I knew this to be true but signing off on it, literally with a pen on paper, just made it all that more real. When I went in that day to tell the doctor that I wanted the surgery, she told me she had an opening for two weeks later, otherwise it would be at least a three month wait. I took it as a sign and booked the appointment.
So it was happening and I had two weeks to be fully, 100% good with it. It would be a lie if I were to say that those two weeks were awesome. That I was floating around and feeling super great. Because I wasn’t. I was emotional and while I knew that I was making the correct decision for my body and my life, I still questioned it. Throughout this time, I didn’t tell many people in my life what was happening. I mean, it is kind of a weird thing to start a conversation with. I especially didn’t tell my friends who were parents. Because in my mind, making this decision just separated me further from them. I would officially belong to a different club. The Childless Adult Club. But in reality, we were always separated by this, me having my surgery just crossed that line officially. (So, hi friends! This happened!)
So one night last week, I went to my nieces first every solo singing recital. Her family filled a pew and she nailed it all. Then the next afternoon, I lay in a hospital bed in that humiliating hospital gown with only my wooly socks on. I remember the big hospital lights hanging above me and the anesthesiologist doing his thing while my doctor rested her files on my stomach and told the team my story. (“We’re going to talk about you now, Jess.”) Then once she was done, she looked me so sincerely in my eyes and said “We am going to take very good care of you.” The anesthesiologist told me to think of the beach and vacations spots. I remember thinking, “Have I made the wrong decision? Should I get out of here? How would I?” and then that was it. I was out and woke up an hour later in a bed with an old man in a matching one beside me. A couple of hours later they let me go home and the next morning I woke up feeling different. But the thing was, I looked exactly as I had looked two days prior. On the outside I was the same but on the inside, I was different. I felt strange but good and lighter somehow. I was wearing my pyjamas and when the Canada Post person came to deliver a package to my door at 3pm, I wanted to tell him, “No, I am not one of those people that spends a regular Wednesday in their pyjamas. I have just been through something. I am changed.” But, of course I didn’t. (Even though I am a huge advocate for talking to strangers.)
The thing is, I love kids. I love other people’s children. When my niece Li’l K was born ten years ago, my life 100% flipped. I discovered a kind of love that I had no idea even existed. She is such an important part of my life. I was there when she was born and we are connected and I honestly don’t know what I would do if she wasn’t in my life. The same goes for my other sister’s three kids. Those hilarious little humans light up my life. And I love the kids that belong to my friends. I love watching them grow. I love seeing how they resemble their parents whom I know so well. I also love the kids that I photograph. I love interacting with them. I love capturing what they give me when my camera is in action. I love it all. But I also love coming home afterwards to my quiet house filled with things that are dangerous for young kids and filled with silence that I so crave, especially these days.
I feel grateful that I was born in this country where these choices are possible and where a health care system exists that allows one to choose to have thing kind of surgery without cleaning out their life savings. Kids are incredible. But they are not for me. At least birthing them are not for me. And I feel good about that and I hope that you respect and support me and other woman who also feel the same. The world is a wacky place filled with individuals living very different lives. And this is something that makes it such a wonderful place. Plus, I rule pretty hard at being everyone’s favourite Auntie.