Empty Vessels


Let’s start things off positively: we’re prepared for a life with or without children. Life is good, regardless, and we’re generally nauseatingly happy.

It is, however, a bit of a shocker to realise that trying to have a baby will be something you have no control over.

Our sexual health education as young girls results in a reduction of the accidental population. We are taught that getting pregnant is as easy as pie, that babies can be machine-gunned out just by a spot of frottage with a pustular teenage boy.

We assume that pregnancy is a natural side-effect of being female. So, be careful, child, you’re supposed to wait until you and someone special love each other very, very much before you have a baby. For us, it’s been seven years. And we’re still working on it.

Water-cooler chat reveals more and more women needing fertility treatment of some form. Many people assume that, for us, it’s due to my age (38), that I chose a career over home and children and have now decided it’s ‘time’, that I’m ‘ready’.

We kid ourselves on the upside of no kids: more money, long lie-ins, holidays whenever we want, no stroppy teenage angst, heated debates over public school education (me) vs state (him) then how we would fund it. Blah blah blah.

I read an article recently which stated that the world population will go down over the next 10-12 generations. Not by government restrictions, but because ‘No one’s figured out how to boost fertility in countries where it has imploded’ . It’s demographic-based, yet they posit the root cause is the education of girls. Educated women tend to engage in a career, the result of which is postponing children as a result of career impact, budgeting, enjoying personal time and a greater understanding of responsibility.

I’m glad girls are educated – there are many countries could do with improving their education of women – and, TBH, it’s no nevermind to me what people chose to do with their reproductive systems. I’m not particularly bothered if the global population reduces significantly in a few centuries, if humans are still around then.

I understand why people feel it is acceptable to openly discuss delayed families with me, if they raise the subject at all. It’s a sensitive subject that we, sometimes, stumble into accidentally and don’t want to appear rude by clamming up or blurting out something crass. Ironically, this is how people react around the recently bereaved.

To tell them the truth would be cruel. So I smile a silent, cardboard smile, adding a gentle, oblique, teflon-shouldered comment designed to change the subject. In time this will cease, people will feel less pity for us – which in fairness we do not actively seek – while comparing their lives with children to ours without. And we’re cool with that.

We’re cool in our understanding that life will be good, and how ‘good’ life is relies on mindset.

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