“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.” Right? Well, not for us. First did come love, when I met my husband, William, while we were in college at the University of South Carolina Aiken. After graduating, starting our careers and three years of dating, Will proposed. We planned everything in six months and finally said “I do” in Las Vegas in front of our family and friends.
Right after our wedding, the questions started. “When are you having kids?” people asked. “How many kids do you want?” And those were coming from friends and family! But strangers joined in on the questioning too. While my husband and I focused on simply enjoying each other as we navigated the complexities of newlywed life with cystic fibrosis, it felt like everyone was more worried about if and when we would expand our family than we were. We'd meet someone and instantly get asked, “How many kids do you have?”
But here is my question to them: Why do I have to have kids? The answer is that I don't, and neither do you if you choose not to. Our culture has it programmed into our brains that as soon as you get married, you are expected to have children. And being in my thirties, people always assume I have kids.
Initially, when my husband and I got married, we weren't even sure if we would go down the road of having kids. So we decided that we would spend time together, travel and just enjoy each other first. Then, after about five years of marriage, our interest in potentially starting a family piqued a bit. We decided to get my husband genetically tested to see if he was a CF carrier (he isn't), and I was even cleared by my CF doctor to carry a child due to my good health. This was all great news!
With all of this information, we thought long and hard about what would be best for us. We thought about whether we would want me to carry a child, if we would use a surrogate and we even read up on adoption. Our first big decision was that I would not carry a child for us; despite my “good” health, it just wasn't important to us that a child be genetically ours or that I experience a pregnancy. We just wanted to wait it out and not rush into bringing a child into our family. We had a lot on our plates with demanding work schedules and living with CF.
It's hard to say the exact moment when we made the decision to not have children. We were busy with work and traveling, and life was just full of excitement. We didn't (and still don't) feel like we were missing out. Our best friends have children, as do my older brother and sister-in-law. We are able to enjoy milestones with them, and we cherish every minute we get to spend with our nieces and nephews.
Every family must decide what is right for them, and we decided to choose the two of us. We have three dogs that bring us so much joy, we get to travel at a moment's notice and we don't have to rush home for bed or nap times. We couldn't imagine life any differently. Our family is complete just the way we are!