Response: Why Physicians Should Stop Thinking That A Woman’s Choice To Be Childfree Is Up For Debate

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Sometimes in life, you have moments that get your attention. You survive something and you do your best to minimize and/or normalize the experience. The truth is, you’re deeply disappointed by your world and those you thought were there to help you. It’s only years later, when you’re allowed to dust off these memories that you realize that the shame you’ve been carrying around doesn’t belong to you.

When I was in my 20’s, I was married and in seminary. I was quickly realizing that I didn’t want to have biological children. My husband agreed. We had made our decision, after 5 years of research and marriage, 7 years together as a couple, which is more than I can say for many parents but I digress.

When I went to my (female) doctor seeking a more permanent solution I was laughed at and told to wait for menopause or told to have a couple kids and then we could discuss my options.

I switched providers.

My husband had a vasectomy and he was still under scrutiny but not told to wait for old age or to have children first before he could have the procedure.

In the time before and since making our decision permanent, I have cultivated a childfree network online. Recently a person in that network wanted to write about experiences such as mine. I didn’t even realize until I read her work in it’s entirety how ashamed I was, for what had happened to me at that doctor’s office.

I’m not ashamed anymore, I am “A” I am April Barnhart.

Thank you Chanel for the gift of bearing witness to my pain/shame and in so doing, allowing me to place it where it belongs, I now offer my story as a gift, may the internet take it where it may, may it be a mirror, with G-d’s help,  a snapshot, reflecting a moment in our world and our medical industrial complex.

Is this how we want things to be? Don’t we all deserve better?

 

Read more of Chanel’s piece here: 

http://helloflo.com/why-physicians-should-stop-thinking-that-a-womans-choice-to-be-childfree-is-up-for-debate/

Childfree Reflections

Feeling like a Childfree square peg in a round hole? There have been moments when I have felt similarly.

What I would say to you has best been said by That Vegan Couple (on Youtube) In the following video take everything they’re saying and add Childfree when they say Vegan:

For instance:

“One of the most common (comments they receive is) I really want to go vegan (childfree) but I live in a non vegan (child-centric) household (world)”

“Let’s begin with clarifying that every vegan (childfree person) is surrounded by non-vegans (those who have chosen to have children) this is not special this is not unique, this is not, oh, it just happens to one person…this is all of us

It’s not important what anyone thinks or feels about you as a vegan (childfree person) but how you, yourself feel about you as a vegan (childfree person.) In many cases the way someone treats you as a vegan (childfree person) is very much a reflection of your relationship with them and how they treated you before you went vegan (Childfree.)”

MOST IMPORTANTLY:

Each and every family member (and friends and people you will meet) is (are)going to react differently to your choice to be vegan (childfree) and IT’s NEVER REALLY ABOUT YOU but rather about their own insecurities, fears and moral dilemmas regarding everything that veganism (being childfree) represents.”

Are You Thinking of Having Kids?

Are you thinking of having kids? Well, take a number, our preoccupation with childbearing and rearing is as old as breathing. Then again, it is also as old as eating, defecating, singing, crying, laughing.

I  have chosen the road becoming more often travelled, a life without biological children. If you are inside what I refer to as the bottleneck, hold on, it gets easier.

Let me preface this with saying that this blog entry is for those who are contemplating child-freedom (not having biological children) and those who love and support the right to choose a life they love regardless of whether or not that life includes bio kids. I don’t condone trolling about particular life choices and  I don’t claim to have a superior stance to those who have chosen differently than me, all I can do is speak my truth. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

Don’t waste either of our time trying to police me or sway my beliefs.

For those in the bottleneck, please seek counselors, seek love. I should explain that I call it the bottleneck because it feels like a bottleneck, a noose even some days.

Let me explain. So, you’ve been with your partner or significant other for a considerable amount of time, at first, you can shrug off the questions about when are you going to have kids. If you’re like me, most of the time, those questions were always presumed with a when, not if. At first, you shrug it off, but then it seems like the whole of your life is funneled around this juncture,  jammed like a production line of too fast moving chocolates a la “I Love Lucy”:

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Will you have kids? Won’t you? Why or why not? You research, you ponder, it makes you sick just trying to keep up with the flurry of data and feelings. It’s excruciating and no one you talk to seems to understand it. You don’t even fully know how to understand and/or articulate it.  Welcome friend, to the bottleneck.

First of all, take a deep breath in and exhale slowly.

Ah, isn’t that nice?

Me: Alright, let’s get to the meat of why you’re still reading and that is:

You: How can I find peace amidst this internal and sometimes external $*** storm?!?!

Me: What helped me the most in this journey was to really seek to discern, is this an internal pull or an external push? There is a huge difference. For me, I felt both but ultimately, the push outweighed the pull. Everyone is different. There are no right or wrongs here and if you feel differently, you are a-okay, if you feel similarly, you are a-okay.

Don’t like cookie dough ice cream? It’s fine! Don’t want to do calculus? Okay! Don’t want to learn to play the sax? Cool! Guess what? Biology isn’t destiny, just because you have all the ingredients to make a cake doesn’t mean that you have to, you could make a baguette, cookies, or throw out the ingredients and let someone else cook for you. Why should having or not having children be any more complicated?

Because it is a life, you say, a precious amazing, horrible yet beautiful life.

I agree, life is precious and a horrifying, scary, bewildering, awesome, beautiful experience but before you jump ship and dive into full blown baby fever, do me a favor.

Do the entire human race a favor. Work customer service for at least 1 year, because it’s true, nothing will make you hate or love humanity more than working customer service.

So, go do it, for at least one year, bonus points if you make 1+ years in a call center.

*Fist bump to my fellow call center customer service friends*

A great thing to do while you’re in the bottleneck, you might as well have some companions. Sometimes the people who will mentor you most, you will never even actually meet. Think about it, the gifts of an actor, writer, singer, movie producer, costume designer, poet, chef are sometimes offered to you by those in your close knit circle but sometimes you let other artists into your internal tribe. In this day and age, you can instantly grow that tribe via technology.

So read blogs, read articles, opinion pieces, know that no opinion is superior or inferior, just different data and different conclusions and the revision process is constant for all of us, “this may or may not be true, but it’s todays working theory”  has always been one of my favorite quotes and this shifting nature to things is okay and beautiful.

Read more books, join online discussion forums (facebook has a ton!)for and by childfree authors about their experiences, no, their story wont perfectly mirror yours or tell you what to do, but see what resonates or doesn’t about their experiences and insights and trust your internal guidance that has guided you since you were a kid. Again:

Biology isn’t destiny, just because you have all the ingredients to make a cake doesn’t mean that you have to, you could make a baguette, cookies, or throw out the ingredients and let someone else cook for you. Why should having or not having children be any more complicated?

Eventually when you can get some emotional distance from this whole thing,  as was my experience, you may also experience: Grief/Relief (in my opinion no matter what choice you make you will have this ambivalence. )

Ambivalence is a part of the human condition, unless you’re Hitler and you can only see the world in terms of black and white. However, #sorrynotsorryHitler The world isn’t just black and white or even the broad spectrum of gray, color, anyone? I love color, I put that $*** everywhere.

No matter what choice you make, you can only make one and at the end of the day, even if you find you’re not pulled to have bio kids, you can nurture yourself and other people’s(fur and not as furry) children. These are all good choices that add love into our shared world and yay, love!

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But seriously, work customer service if you get the chance, and see for yourself just how horrible/beautiful humanity is and remember, biology isn’t destiny, even your family of origin patterns aren’t destiny, little teeny tiny, miniscule choices all add up to the kaleidoscopically beautiful expression of the universe that is manifesting itself as you for a little while (in the scope of the eye of eternity.)

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No matter what choice you make about anything, do it with love, grace and a sense of humor. May you radiate resplendently or as Rihanna says:

Grace & Peace

Wherever your paths do take you,

Love,

Songbird Sparkle (April Barnhart MDiv)

Modifying Dominant Cultural Narratives and Finding Childfree Meaning

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It goes without saying that having children has historically given many people a sense of immortality, purpose and meaning. That’s excellent and I celebrate that.

That being said, I love the linked video below but as someone who has chosen not to have children I find myself often having to reinterpret cultural narratives relating to the meaning of life, for myself if no one else, especially when those narratives are as child-centric as this one happens to be. I can appreciate the idea that the children mentioned need not be my own but sometimes these narratives do feel exclusionary.

As someone who is childfree and artistic, I feel that art is my child and this comic resonates immensely with my lived experience. I also think this comic is applicable to anyone, awake, growing and living authentically:

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(Image credit: http://dorrismccomics.com/)

Do me a favor, think of your mentors, professors, friends, counselors, teachers and colleagues. Even if you aren’t blood related, people impact you, people impact me.

When listening to this video’s wisdom, I would rather we envision and embrace the myriad of  ways in which we “pass torches.” Let’s not sell ourselves, short, whether we are biological parents or not, there are many “torches” to be passed in our shared world:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qK1BJkBJdtY#t=66

Wishing you all peace, wherever your paths do take you.

Songbird Sparkle (April)