by Lynzi Russell
My decision to not have kids has been scrutinized by many people in my life.
I have an X-linked genetic disorder that is categorized as a Urea Cycle Disorder. X-linked meaning my hypothetical unborn natural children would have a 50% chance of inheriting my disorder. Boys are more affected by the disorder due to the fact that they only have one X chromosome and it would be defective. I have lived with this knowledge since diagnosis at age 13. Due to my age at diagnosis “family planning” appointments with genetic counselors were a part of my treatment plan. These appointments were essentially sex ed, genetic biology and reproductive option lessons.
Obviously many years passed before having a child was even an option, so the first few years the emphasis was birth control. Although once I was of age and curious about the possibility of having children in the future the real reproductive options began to be discussed. Natural birth, chorionic villus sampling, amniocentesis testing, egg selection, IVF with PGD, and surrogacy.
After much consideration, I weighed my options and feelings and landed on a controversial decision to not have children. My decision is just that, mine and very personal. Why I don’t have to explain to anyone my decision, I often find myself explaining it because societal constraints have made it so that if you reach a certain age and have not had a child people tend to think that you have somehow failed in the marriage and carriage part of life.
Just because I am a woman does not mean I am required to reproduce. My decision was made after surviving an extremely challenging and traumatic childhood due to this complex diagnosis. I couldn’t imagine bringing another soul to this earth to suffer in the same aspect. Not to mention putting myself through the possible loss of my hypothetical unborn child after birth. So I decided this diagnosis, “Ends with Me!”
Many believe my decision is selfish, but I assure you it is so much more than that. I did not come to this decision easily or without many conversations with family, doctors and my life partner. Because of my decision my parents will never be grandparents which I know is a loss for them. My life partner had to weigh the decision of whether he was okay with his name not being carried on and himself never having a natural born child. Not to mention the loss I felt for the motherhood I would never experience. I will never feel the kick of a baby foot from inside my womb. I will never have my baby recognize my voice. I will never have the transformational experience of childbirth. I will never know the joy of being a biological mother.
Some say the day you become a mother is the day the strip turns pink. For me the day I became a mother was the day I made the most selfless decision I have ever made. Choosing to put my desires and dreams of motherhood aside to protect my hypothetical child from experiencing the same pain I felt growing up. A mother is supposed to protect their child, I believe I have.
Someday in the future I hope to adopt or become a foster parent but for now I am very fulfilled by being a mentor to the young adults with my disorder. It gives me purpose and I believe my sacrifice was not in vain.