antinatalism: “a philosophical position that assigns a negative value to birth”
tokophobia: “the fear of pregnancy and childbirth”
Turn on the television and scan for a while. Open a few works of fiction about female main characters. Browse through Netflix. In every medium, you’ll find a very common theme: thirty-something women dying to have children.
I turn thirty in April, and I have never experienced a genuine moment of desire to conceive, carry, deliver, nurse, or nurture a baby. Not once. For as long as I have been sexually active, I have lived in fear of this horrific prospect. The idea of a parasite budding and growing in my uterus for nine months, bent on tearing its way out of me and forever demanding the zenith of my devotion, for me, is the stuff of the darkest nightmares. Quite literally, I have woken in cold sweats from dreams about pregnancy. The word turns my stomach; to think it, say it, type it, or hear someone else say it aloud. Sharing space with pregnant women disrupts the course of the rest of my day, and haunts me all the way to sleeping that night.
Sounds a little dramatic, doesn’t it? It gets worse. I used to shower immediately after intercourse (immediately, without exaggeration), even though a condom was always involved, and even stayed in a relationship because the guy didn’t mind this behavior. In times that a period came late or skipped altogether (which happened to me for several years in early adulthood), there were times I felt desperately compelled to injure my own uterus. Just in case. I heard somewhere that Chlamydia causes infertility, and somewhere in the back of my mind I thought peacefully, “Well, now, there’s a silver lining.”
Hopefully now you have a fair grasp of the legitimacy of tokophobia as a real psychological peril, but for me it was only a necessary precursor to a more sound minded decision.
In the United States of America alone, over 400,000 children are in the foster care system on any given day, with the overall number in 2015 exceeding 670,000. Furthermore, in 2015 over 100,000 children were eligible for and awaiting adoption in the US, with only about 50,000 finding homes. On the other side of the fence (and in portion contributing to the former statistics in any given year), nearly 4 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2016. Four million births, nearly 700,000 children already waiting for a second chance, or just a first one.
To be clear, antinatalism is a moral, political, and philosophical objection to childbirth, not to children. Children are, well, the future, and no good comes from mistreating the engineers of destiny. My beef is with people who think they need bright, shiny, brand new ones, when the world is chock full of equally beautiful children, full of the same (if not greater) potential as any child one can give birth to brand new.
But, Cheyenne, instinct tells us to pass on our genes! But logic and reason tell us legacy can pass as easily through love as it can through blood. At this point, the gene argument is very flimsy. Human beings have walked this Earth (fully erect, anyway), for 200,000 years. The water is muddy, and your bloodline is nonsense. For every family convinced of its purity, there is at least one child born out of a secret affair or adopted under clandestine circumstances, both masqueraded as a legitimate branch on the family tree. And guess what? No one knows the difference, because there just fuckin’ ain’t one. All I hear when someone says, “Adoption isn’t enough!”, is selfish ignorance.
At this point, willfully creating new lives in an already overpopulated world is negligent and indefensible. Now, because I am not a psycho, I support my friends who have children. I go to birthday parties and accept Christmas cards and offer advice if I have any, because their choices are valid whether I agree with them or not. Similarly, my friends support my decision never to have children, even if no fiber of them can agree with my position on the morality of childbirth in today’s world. We do this because we are decent, reasonable people. That being said, I have more respect for people who opt for abortion after accidental conception, than people who bring new lives into the world because “it’s the right thing to do”. Nah.
This isn’t a blog about abortion, so let’s keep moving. A year or so ago by now, one of my closest friends had elective surgery to remove her fallopian tubes completely, thereby preventing any chance of pregnancy. Late last year, another of my closest friends had the exact same procedure. Next month, it’s my turn under the knife. My thirtieth birthday gift to myself is the promise that I will never become pregnant, not even temporarily.
The procedure is called laparoscopic bilateral salpingectomy, laparoscopic meaning they go in through the abdomen with some scary poky instruments, bilateral meaning both sides, and salpingectomy meaning the removal of one or more (in this case, both, of course) fallopian tubes. Essentially, they’re gonna put me under and make three small incisions in my abdomen, inflate the area with CO2 so they can root around in there, insert some fancy rods of some sort, and excise my fallopian tubes. Takes maybe 45 minutes from start to finish.
I should have started blogging about this a while ago, but I was afraid to jinx it. Even now I’m tempted to delete all of this and pretend I never typed it, but I’m trying to be brave. I’m going to take the best notes I can, blog my thoughts as periodically as possible, and include photos where appropriate. I’m fat and flabby, so it’s going to take a lot of courage to post pictures of where they’re cutting me open.
Until next time.