Why I May Never Have Children
Managing an auto-immune disease is a full-time job. There is only so much energy a person has in the day. Some of that energy, when you have Crohn’s disease, is devoted to taking medicines, controlling your diet, running to the bathroom, and getting sufficient rest. Throw in work, family obligations, and exploring areas of interest—in my case these are mostly creative—and raising children begins to seem overwhelming.
I tell friends I probably will never be a parent and some seem surprised. They seem to think doing so is a key component of adulthood. Without it, I am, supposedly, going to struggle to find happiness.
Don’t get me wrong. I get the allure. There are certainly benefits to passing on your genes. I’m sure it makes you a more well-rounded person to care about someone other than yourself. It’s nice to be able to leave a legacy.
The work and fatigue that comes with raising children
But what is less nice is having to actually do all the work of raising children. All those dirty diapers...yuck! The constant attention to his needs required. Wowzer! The burping him and feeding him in his high-chair as he makes the area around him look like a bomb just detonated. Yikes!
I often hang out with my 1-year-old nephew. He’s very cute. But the benefit is I can go home when I want. I do not have to take care of him full-time. Many nights he cries and cries—I’ve been in a house with him—to the point where it can drive you insane. Do I really need that? When I have Crohn’s disease, is that, truly, going to give me the sense of well-being I require?
Worries about passing Crohn's disease on to a child
I also worry about bringing a child into the world, since there is a high probability he or she will get Crohn's disease. Obviously, this all depends on a myriad of factors. But, as we all know, it is a highly genetic condition, and, in my family, for example, my grandpa had it, and, currently, two of my brothers have it.
Given this strong genetic predisposition, it seems likely my child will have it as well. Do I want to potentially expose my child to all this suffering? Are the risks involved really worth taking?
Focus on self-care and goals with Crohn's
Finally, I would want to be a fully devoted parent, but I'm not sure I have that in me. I have many of my own goals. I have creative goals, for example, such as writing more books that will get interrupted if I had a child to raise. I also like to keep my options open, in terms of my future, and that’s not always possible when a parent.
Having children can be a wonderful adventure. For some, it is the obvious choice. All I'm saying is that others—like me—who don't have kids and don’t necessarily intend to, shouldn't feel guilty.
It's not for everyone. A huge commitment. Besides, when you have Crohn's disease, a life-altering condition that can be just as challenging—in certain ways—as parenting—there may be a bit of wisdom in putting more emphasis on self-care.
I look forward to your feedback, and, as always, thank you for reading.
What is your comfort level disclosing your IBD to your employer?