November 20, 2017

10 More Reasons to Not Have a Baby

Why no kids? Projectile vomit!

Why no kids? Projectile vomit!

As if you needed more reasons to not have a baby, I’m tapping Scary Mommy this morning for a few reminders why some of us opt to remain childfree.

Ready?

[Do a little dance!]

Jill Smokler’s motivation for scribling just a few (in the comments she admits that plenty more could have been added to the list) reasons to not have a baby was a comment directed at her family while visiting friends recently: “the Smoklers certainly serve as excellent birth control.” (Full disclosure: I admit, my bride and I have more than once cited others (friends and otherwise) as reasons to not have a baby…)

Unoffended but inspired, Ms. Smokler set out to trump their childfree quip with 50 Reasons To Not Have A Baby. Although you’ll enjoy all of her unfiltered quips, these are my favorites.

  1. Stretch marks on top of stretch marks.
  2. Sex with a fetus in the middle.
  3. The placenta.
  4. Worrying that the baby’s floppy head might actually fall off.
  5. Rectally taking temperatures.
  6. Sore nipples.
  7. Being incapable of having conversations with other adults.
  8. Projectile vomit.
  9. Spit up covered shoulders.
  10. Explosive diarrhea.

(via Scary Mommy)

From stretch marks to diarrhea, Scary Mommy squirms at nothing. Honest gripes from a candid parent. Thanks, Ms. Smokler, for reminding WNKers of a few less heady, more body-and-body-fluid reasons why no kids trumps kidding… Add them to your list of reasons to not have a baby, and if you’ve got a particularly gross addition, please add it in the comments.

Saving Birth Control for the 99%

1926 US advertisement. "Birth Control"

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From the Ms. Magazine blog Twitter feed:

“Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended–how would making birth control less available solve this problem?”

There are some interesting points to this discussion and WNK would love to hear from our readers. Why should we pay for contraception for those who can’t afford it? Why should contraception be available and inexpensive? Would you rather pay for children that people can’t afford? Do you think people should be more responsible in making family planning choices?

“Contraception obviously is a deeply held value by American women. But the fact that in the United States a startling half of all pregnancies are unintended makes clear that birth control is used only sporadically by some. There are a number of reasons why this is so, but a chief one is that so many women cannot afford contraception, especially the most expensive—and most effective–methods, such as birth control pills, and long lasting reversible contraception, for example, the newer (and far safer) models of IUDs (intrauterine devices). In short, the same economic disparities that pervade every other area of American life manifest here as well: poor women depend on publicly-funded programs for their contraceptive services, but, according to the Guttmacher Institute, only a little more than half of the 17 million women who need these services currently receive them.”

Check out the rest of the article here.

 

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Viagra 1 Birth Control 0

Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral contraceptive...

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Conservative groups including religious colleges and hospitals continue to pressure the Obama White House to give them exemptions from providing hormonal contraceptives to their employees and students. But the interesting fact is:

“The Guttmacher Institute analyzed US Government data and found that 14% of adult women and one-third of teenagers who use oral contraception are on it for non-birth control reasons. Some use it to manage menstrual symptoms like cramps and heavy periods, others use it to help clear up their skin. About half of the teens who use the pill for non-contraceptive reasons have never even had sex— but all of them are sinners who are going straight to hell!” (Jezebel)

And insurance companies continue to pay for Viagra for medical reasons but not birth control. Where is the fairness in that? Bill O’Reilly famously said that birth control is not a medical condition. He’s kind of right, but that’s like saying Viagra is not a medical condition. It’s not. The very real medical conditions that birth control prevent include: acne, ovarian cysts, irregular menstruation, PMS, etc. I promised I wouldn’t get political on this blog but this is about fairness and if I have to keep watching stupid erectile dysfunction commercials on television I going to scream about inequality and sexism in 2011. Maybe if I had more affordable birth control I wouldn’t be so PMSy.

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Too Old to Have Kids?

I’m obsessed with the television show Teen Mom and the five sixteen year olds that MTV has followed over several seasons. Watching the show is an excellent example of not only why we should have abundant, low-cost and available birth control everywhere, but also why sixteen is too young to have kids. So how OLD is too OLD to have kids?

Like many people, I was stunned to see a recent cover of New York magazine with a naked, albeit Photoshopped, grandma-looking pregnant woman. In their article “Parents of a Certain Age” NYMag asked the question, “Is there anything wrong with being 53 and pregnant?” Most readers agreed: YES! Including one reader who was so repulsed he threw the entire magazine in the garbage without reading a single word.

“The age of first motherhood is rising all over the West. In Italy, Germany, and Great Britain, it’s 30. In the U.S., it’s gone up to 25 from 21 since 1970, and in New York State, it’s even higher, at 27. But among the extremely middle-aged, births aren’t just inching up. They are booming. In 2008, the most recent year for which detailed data are available, about 8,000 babies were born to women 45 or older, more than double the number in 1997, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Five hundred and forty-one of these were born to women age 50 or older—a 375 percent increase. In adoption, the story is the same. Nearly a quarter of adopted children in the U.S. have parents more than 45 years older than they are.”

It seems logical that as the average age of the world population continues to rise the age of first time parents will also rise:

“Among the countries currently classified by the United Nations as more developed (with a total population of 1.2 billion in 2005), the overall median age rose from 29.0 in 1950 to 37.3 in 2000, and is forecast to rise to 45.5 by 2050.” (Wikipedia)

So why is there a trend of older parents? Couples are getting married later, and it’s taking longer for wannabe parents to feel financially stable to provide for children. Also, we live in a world where it is possible to have children at a later age through advances in science and medicine. But just because we can reverse menopause and make moms and dads out of senior citizens does it mean that we should?

As a woman on the cusp of forty, I am relieved that I have almost aged out of my fertile years. People ask when I am having kids less and less. My joints are starting to creak and my short-term memory stinks. I am aging, and as my body changes I can understand why it would be difficult to have a baby later in life. I respect that it is a parent’s choice to have kids or not, but I do feel uncomfortable about the risks associated with older parents on both parents and their children.

From the article:

“After 40, a pregnant woman is likelier to become afflicted with preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and hypertension—the worst outcomes of which can result in the death of the fetus and occasionally the mother as well. It is also after 40 that the risk of having a child with autism increases—by 30 percent for mothers and 50 percent for fathers, says Lisa Croen, a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente. Advanced paternal age is likewise associated with miscarriage, childhood cancer, autoimmune disease, and schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders.”

My grandfather once told me that the most embarrassing day of his life was his high school graduation. His forty something year-old mother sat in the audience with her white hair piled high in a bun and a bun in her oven, she was eight months pregnant. So maybe I have good genes and maybe I have science on my side. For me, still, maybe does not equal baby.

WNKies: Can you be too old to have kids?

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Happy Conception Day

Conception Day

Hat tip to starsspinningdizzy for the link to this conception day cartoon by Zach Weiner.

I Am the Population Problem

This is one of the most compelling, well-written pieces I’ve read recently: I Am the Population Problem | RH Reality Check.

“Real reproductive freedom has to include social acceptance of the decision not to reproduce.”

Borrowed from friends at GINK – green inclinations, no kids, this story includes some enlightening statistics, great writing and an apology.

“I recognize that I am the population problem. I’m trying to be part of the solution.”

Here are some of the many highlights:

“Population isn’t just about counting heads, although by this October we will be counting 7 billion of them worldwide. The impact of humanity on the environment is not determined solely by how many of us are around, but by how much stuff we use and how much room we take up. And as a financially comfortable American, I use a lot of stuff and take up a lot of room. My carbon footprint is more than 200 times bigger than that of an average Ethiopian, more than 12 times bigger than an average Indian’s, and twice as big as an average Brit’s.”

“Far and away the biggest contribution I can make to a cleaner environment is to not bring any mini-mes into the world. A 2009 study by statisticians at Oregon State University found that in America the climate impact of having one fewer child is almost 20 times greater than the impact of adopting a series of eco-friendly practices for your entire lifetime…”

“Here in the United States, the Pill has been available for more than 50 years. It’s now almost universally accepted that women will use birth control to delay, space out, or limit childbearing. But there’s not so much acceptance for using birth control to completely skip childbearing. At some point, you’re expected to grow up, pair up, put the Pill off to the side, and produce a couple of kids. Deviate from this scenario and you’ll get weird looks and face awkward conversations with family members, friends, coworkers, and complete strangers.”

“Many women who have not already had children find it difficult if not impossible to find a doctor who will perform a tubal ligation. Doctors warn that sterilization is an irreversible, life-altering decision. But having a child is an irreversible, life-altering decision and you don’t find doctors warning women away from that. The broadly held prejudice, in the medical profession and much of the rest of society, is that becoming a parent is the correct and inevitable choice.

Over recent years and decades, it’s become more acceptable for mixed-race couples to have children, and single women, and gay couples, and women over the age of 40, and that’s all good. Acceptance has been slower to come for the decision not to have children. There’s now a fledgling childfree movement, but some who are part of it say they still feel like they’re violating a taboo.”

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An Unmet Need for Family Planning

Undecaplets

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I’m reading a magazine to pass the time in my gynecologist’s office when I stumble upon the incredible “historical record” of one 18th century Russian peasant woman who reportedly gave birth to sixty nine children between the years of 1725 and 1765 (without fertility aids, of course).  Apparently, she did this with 27 multiple birth pregnancies and with only two lost in infancy.

“Not possible,” says my gynecologist when I share the figure with her.  That was my reaction too.  Nonetheless, even if the figure was doubly exaggerated, that still leaves a staggering number of children that the human body can create, and a puzzling question as to why any woman would want that many children.  Was she looking to start her own sports league or productive work force for the family business?

According to Yahoo, the “modern” record for the most number of children born to one woman goes allegedly to a Chilean woman (now in her mid 60’s) who delivered 64 babies, though the article qualifies that Chilean birth certificates are “something of a less-than-serious concern in Chile.”

Most number of children to one father, you ask?  The last Sharifan Emperor of Morocco, Mulai Ismail(1646-1727) reportedly sired somewhere around 800 children with 500 wives – a busy man indeed.  One wonders how he had any time to run an empire and one can well imagine many other legendary rulers throughout history who must have had impressive fleets of children as well.

Here are a few more staggering reproduction figures:  The youngest woman to give birth was, in fact not a woman at all but apparently a five year old Peruvian girl who delivered her baby boy by cesarean in 1939 in a small Andean village.  The community thought she had an abdominal tumor.  A pituitary malfunction was speculated to have caused the onset of her menstruation at three years of age.  The baby lived and welcomed his brother thirty three years later.  If this story is true it is disturbing by so many accounts but what I wonder is did they find  the man who molested her and cut off his nuts?  Unfortunately not –  the father remained a mystery.

The youngest father on record?  A twelve year old boy from England who had a son in 1998 with his fifteen year old girlfriend.

Oldest Father? A ninety three year old Australian man who died at one hundred. The oldest mother was a Spanish woman who had fertility assistance in producing twins at sixty seven in 2006 (which of course sparked international controversy).

Here’s another disturbing statistic:  According to Guinness World Records, in 2010 the “youngest identified group of drug addicts:” Unlucky babies born to young mothers in rural Afghanistan who are addicted to heroin and opium from the abundance of poppy crops in their country.  In addition to passing the drugs along to fetuses in-uteri, mothers are known in rural regions to blow heroin spoke at the babies to calm them and relieve pain.  The U.S. State Department “has categorized them as the youngest drug addicted group ever found for which there are no established treatment protocols.”

Finally, according to Nicholas D. Kristof in an Op-Ed article of the New York Times this past Mother’s Day, “215 million women worldwide have an ‘unmet need’ for family planning, meaning they don’t want to become pregnant but aren’t using effective contraception.”  He continues: “The Guttmacher Institute, a respected research group, estimates that if all the unmet need for contraception were met, the result would be 94,000 fewer women dying of pregnancy complications each year, and almost 25 million fewer abortions each year.”

I ask you:  Do these figures not call out a need for affordable birth control and accessible family planning education worldwide?

 

Vasa Deferentia Interrupta

Diagrama sobre a vasectomia. Baseado em Illu r...

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“You didn’t know I’d had a vasectomy?”

“Uhm, no, why would I have known?”

“I thought I told you… Anyway, no biggie. But it does hurt!”

“You mean they didn’t use any anesthetic?”

“Of course they did, but it still hurts. The doc told me it’d feel like a donkey kicked me in the balls. He was right.”

“After the operation?”

“During the operation. After the first snip, I said, ‘Oh, that’s not so bad. I can hardly feel it.’ ‘You will,’ the doc said. ‘Wait for number two…'”

“Why would the second snip be any worse than the first?”

“Your body knows, doesn’t want you snipping your tackle. The second? That’s your body’s last chance, and it goes down fighting!”

“So the doc was right?”

“You can’t imagine. Literally like a donkey kicked me in the nads!”

“How long did the pain last? Days? Weeks?”

“No, it was quick. A few minutes. Felt great the next day.”

We’d just enjoyed a spectacular dinner with our brides, and we were walking out to the parking lot to bring the cars around. We’ve known each other our entire lives, and yet I had no clue that my friend had voluntarily severed his vasa deferentia.

Vasectomies, even when casually mentioned over rack of lamb and fine wine, prompt a visceral shudder in me. Think of the feeling when someone runs their finger nails over a chalk board and then amp it up a notch or ten. Never had a vasectomy. Never contemplated one. But something primordial quivers when the word is mentioned.

And here was one of my closest earthly mates tossing it out casually, calmly, distractedly while explaining that they seriously were stopping at two kids.

“You never know,” I pushed. “Plenty of surprises born every day.”

“Oh, we know,” my friend volleyed, “I made sure of that!”

I was flabbergasted. But I waited until after dinner to follow up. During our walk to the parking lot he explained the logic.

His bride had wanted to have at least three or four children. He was adamant about stopping after two. While recovering from the birth of her second perfect daughter, his wife mentioned that two seemed like enough. He raced out that very same day and re-plumbed his tackle before she could change her mind.

It struck me as I drove around in the drizzling rain to retrieve my bride that my friend who’d always wanted kids and now had two lovely daughters had opted to alter his body to ensure that additional childbearing was impossible. I — who’d never wished or intended to have children — was horrified at the very prospect of having a vasectomy despite the fact that it would ensure my childfree choice. One more mystery to unravel.

It’s not the donkey kick that troubles me. It’s not even the quasi permanence of the operation. Or even the surgical procedure which would be a giant leap for a guy who still acts like a baby when I get a flu shot…

Maybe it’s fear or hubris, tampering voluntarily, unnecessarily with my body for the sake of convenience. I feel damned fortunate to be healthy, and I’d hate to risk upsetting the balance with elective biological tinkering.

And yet the explanation given by my buddy made sense. Not quite childfree, but child-no-more! What a complicated conversation kids represent, and what a simple solution a pair of snips and knots must have represented.

Video Vasectomy Shocker: A Survivor’s Tale of Survival

Jason Jones conducting an interview for The Da...

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A Survivor’s Tale of Survival – I Survived – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – 08/04/11 – Video Clip | Comedy Central.

This isn’t just another vasectomy story. Ot is it? Jason Jones is seeking a cure for a “disease” that makes him exhausted, fat and dirty?

Jason Jones narrating: “The doctor held my life in his hands.”

Jason Jones: ”Would you say I have a larger than average vas deferens?”

Surgeon: “You have a great size vas deferens

Jason Jones: “Thank you Dr. Weiner