September 21, 2023

Nulliparity Definition

Shows fundal height at various stages of pregnancy

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Nulliparity isn’t jargon for Jimmy Buffet haters. On the contrary, I suspect there might be a significant overlap between the Parrothead and nulliparity lifestyles!

Deployed infrequently outside of the medical context, a nulliparity definition demands clarification if for no other reason than that it arises from time to time on Why No Kids?

Derived from Latin, the etymology of nulliparity is straightforward:

  • nullus, none
  • parere, to bear

So, in simplest terms, a usable nulliparity definition would be the condition of not bearing offspring (normally applied to a human woman).

A medical term used to refer to a condition or state in which a woman has never given birth to a child, or has never carried a pregnancy. (biology online)

Nulliparity vs. Nullipara

Although I understand why this term evolved to refer almost exclusively to women (men being biologically excepted from pregnancy), I would propose a nulliparity definition that is broader and more inclusive, applying to women and men who have not born offspring. Pregnancy and childbearing, after all, does generally imply the participation of a male in the creative process despite the disparity in inputs (ie. a few minutes versus 9 months!)

That said, the term nullipara specifically refers to a woman who has never given birth.

A female who has never given birth to a child, or has never carried a pregnancy. (biology online)

Choosing Nulliparity

This latter term, although obviously derived from the same Latin root, was unfamiliar to me until recently when I discovered Rhiannon Alton’s blog, Nullipara Life while searching for breeder bingo examples. A catchy title from a woman unabashedly committed to her childfree choice.

Don’t ask me when I’m going to have kids unless you’d like to hear my smart-ass response. I do not want kids. Parenthood is a choice, not an obligation. Some people might think there’s no point to me getting married if I’m not going to have kids…this is a completely asinine and ignorant thing to say. You see, my fiance is more to me than just a reproductive organ. I am not defined by my uterus, so please don’t tell me what I should be doing with it. Also, don’t tell me I’ll change my mind in a few years. How would you feel if I told you you’d change your mind about being a mother in a few years? Think about that the next time you try and pass judgment on me. (Rhiannon Alton)

Nulliparity, folks, is not the exclusive domain of the “childfree by choice” crowd as it certainly includes the involuntarily childless, but the straightforward, efficiency of the term is powerfully, succinctly echoed in Ms. Alton’s comments:

  1. Parenthood is a choice, not an obligation.
  2. You see, my fiance is more to me than just a reproductive organ.
  3. I am not defined by my uterus

Thanks for translating the life choice not to bear children into bold, bullet-point-able 21st century jargon, Ms. Alton! Any questions, folks? I suggest you start with Nullipara Life

Kiddie (Free) Lit

Ever wonder...

Doing my best Andy Rooney impersonation:

Did you ever notice how almost every book for women these days is about weddings and babies? I remember when women couldn’t even have books.

OK enough with the old man voice. I’ve been noticing a recurring theme with many of my steamy beach reads that is not so sexy – the main characters can’t decide if they should have kids or NOT! The stories are not the fun and tempting reads that the back cover teases. These fence-sitting literary couples struggle to find themselves and survive debt, betrayal and various inane obstacles only to come together and live happily ever after. Then they go and ruin things by making baby plans.

The two chick-lit novels below include the “Should we? Or shouldn’t we?” theme:
Baby Proof by Emily Giffen

Fans love her sorbet colored titles on marriage and the great void that happens next. In this story, Ben, the husband who vowed he’d live a childfree life suddenly wakes up one day and – yikes — changes his mind. Now what?
Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Four million readers loved The Nanny Diaries but when Nanny returned more people went meh? Not so much. Nan is back and fate has her crossing paths with her former charges, but can she handle a little cutie pie of her own? And will it tear her against-all-odds relationship apart?

A friend of mine mentioned that the childfree conundrum makes an appearance in Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. (A pre-Oprah Book Club copy is sitting on my shelf.) Franzen would likely freak out if he discovered his name on the same page as “beach read” or “chick lit” or “books for women”. Which brings me back to Andy Rooney…

Did you ever notice that people without kids have way too much time to read books?