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No Kidding: Where's My "No Baby" Shower?

There's a running joke in my circle of friends: When do we get "no baby" showers? Just because we don't need a houseful of onesies, pacifiers, and toys doesn't mean we shouldn't get to throw parties celebrating our own non-parent milestones. Tongue firmly in my cheek, I like to say that a "no baby" shower should be only scary, dangerous, or vulgar gifts—stuff that celebrates no kids underfoot.

(It seems relevant to mention that along those same lines, many of my friends and I are in long-term partnerships and laugh about having "you stayed together" parties in lieu of some sort of ceremony and reception marking the supposed beginning of our lives together, as if that didn't begin long ago. It should be said, though, that we really are kidding. We don't need more stuff, especially from our equally cash-strapped pals.)

When I told the story of voluntarily having my tubes tied on American Public Media's The Story a few weeks ago, host Dick Gordon asked, jokingly, if I wouldn't have some sort of sterilization party. The truth is, no longer having to pop birth control pills or stress about my cycle might make me as happy as having children makes other people. Since I quit taking my birth control pills, for example, my lifelong migraines have all but ceased. While I was arguably on the path to healing long before I got rid of hormonal contraceptives thanks to acupuncture, I think we can all agree that being able to choose to end chronic suffering is something worth its own celebration of sorts.

But when we consider parties, we also ought to consider mourning. The two aren't mutually exclusive, after all. It's been touched on in the comments here before, and I'm really interested in the idea of choosing to hold space for the loss that not having a child can be, even if an intentional choice. There will never be a little me running around the house, just as I will never see my partner's fantastically sexy features replicated on a smaller scale. There are things I will never experience—pregnancy, labor, the personal biological evidence that life doesn't end with me. For many women, even those who choose not to have kids, accepting some of those hard truths is tricky or even painful, no matter how many years of babysitting our friends' kids or playing peek-a-boo with tots in public places we have ahead of us. It's important to recognize that our joy in not procreating can also come with contradictions that deserve consideration.

When I think about the idea of celebrating children, I come back to the same question again and again: Why shouldn't an intentional choice of any kind be honored? When feminists* talk about reproductive justice, it's often within the context of not just the ability to, say, have an abortion, but to raise a child the way you see fit, or to give birth on your own terms. The very notion that we should be in charge of our own bodies—that if possible, we shouldn't just wait for things to happen to us—is central to a conversation about rights, health, and justice. Don't you think intentionally opting out—in the same way that many intentionally opt in to parenthood—is worth a few streamers and noisemakers too?

*I get that not all feminists understand the true meaning of reproductive justice. In this case, I'm making a good faith attempt to recognize that many do.

Photo of me as a child, grabbing my own ass, via factory takeover

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Comments

56 comments have been made. Post a comment.

NO Baby Shower

I admit to feeling a little sad for people who are not able to or choose not to have children - and want to thank you for talking openly about making that choice. This is a new way of thinking for me.....Its a freedom that should be celebrated- much like the 'divorce' party that became popular in the 70's - perhaps you should be the first to start a new trend. I would give you something breakable and delicate to keep on a low shelf - all your parenting friends would be deeply envious!

Sad?

Hmmm...this comment surprised me. I've never thought of anyone being sad for me or anyone else who chooses not to have children. I have met a good number of strangely defensive parents who seem to feel that my choice to not reproduce somehow lessens their enjoyment of their own children. That attitude has always baffled me-in the case of one friend, I know that she viewed getting married and having children as a way of finally "arriving", and the fact that I don't envy her accomplishments upsets her. In her view, I as the single, childless woman, should spend my nights weeping over my empty life, merely because she would be unhappy if she were unmarried with no children. Frankly, most of my child-free friends seem to be very happy, and many people I know with children seem to be unhappy. That makes me sad.

equal-opportunity pity party

I think of directed-at-childfree-people sadness kind of like I think of oh-you-didn't-go-to-your-prom sadness. People with children who feel sad for childfree people feel sad for the joys THEY attribute to THEIR children, which we of course won't have, because there might be some good things out of life that are directly connected to having kids. There are also great things out of life that are directly connected to NOT having kids. Maybe a better example is how I sometimes wonder what life would be like if I'd gone into journalism instead of graduate school -- I feel sad that I miss out on some of that stuff, but it's not a soul-crushing blackness, you know?

I think it can be perfectly legitimate to feel sad that people won't have the joys of reproduction, but I also think I get to be sad that those people don't get to travel ever again. Maybe this is what causes many people to feel defensive when we express how much we enjoy life without kids -- they miss their childfree joys and they know it, but it's usually only acceptable to miss one kind of joy.

Yep. I didn't go to my prom

Yep. I didn't go to my prom and still get the *sad-face* about it. I'm 24.

I didn't go to my prom so I

I didn't go to my prom so I partied with people I actually liked that night instead of having to schmooze with people I disliked and listen to mainstream music that was terrible.

I chose not to have children and met a wonderful and talented husband who felt the same way and we collaborate on sound and visual or word pieces and I'm exhibiting in an art show Saturday.

Ok, I'm done, everyone can go back to feeling sad for me. :)

I didn't go to any of my

I didn't go to any of my proms and dances either. During my senior prom, I was 100 miles away, in a forest with my brother and his friends playing paintball for the first time. Wonderful fun. Yeah, definitely no sad face there. (Especially when I found out a bunch of guys got arrested for underage drinking shortly before prom and another got served with a statutory rape charge the next day. My friends complained about the terrible DJ. Fun?)

LOL

Yeah, I literally had a teacher tell me, to my face, that if I didn't go to senior prom I would regret it for the rest of my life because it was the most important night of my entire existence thus far. I remember being like, "WOW! That is the most dramatic thing I have ever heard and I just went through four years of high school."

I did go to prom, and I'm

I did go to prom, and I'm still sad about that!

Sad .... Really?

Feel sad for people who choose not to have kids? I got a great chuckle out of this. Why on earth would you feel sorry specifically for this choice? It seems condescending obviously, and myopic. The response to this comment is applauded. Original poster is a class act to give such a tempered and intelligent response. You are a greater woman than me.

SAD? are you kidding me?

Right on! don't waste your energy on feeling sad for me, I feel sad for many who didn't plan their kids. Let's admit that many of them were accidents. It's so much easier to just let them develop inside you than to take care of yourself and make sure you never get pregnant (abortions, etc) staying child free is much more difficult and therefore admireable. These are new times, having a child is not the only accomplishment that makes you fulfilled. Volunteering abroad and helping several orphans in a tiny village is more altruistic and contributing than just taking care of ONE baby that "just happened" I love my mom! she said "you're not missing anything, really, if you volunteer overseas, it will feel the same" she rocks

I think Sex and the City beat

I think Sex and the City beat you to it about seven years ago.

whenever a woman says

whenever a woman says something independent from normal society there is always a woman to put her down (see "sex in the city" comment). Its a shame because no thoughts are ever really original but we should celebrate them just the same.

There was another episode

There was another episode where Samantha literally has an "I don't have a baby" party, in the episode titled The Baby Shower: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0698670/ from the first season. I remember her saying "I don't have a baby, everyone drink!" and she also got the mom-to-be a bottle of scotch. Pretty funny.

I've always been very aware

I've always been very aware that some family and friends have been "sad" for me and my husband, in that we have not children. They make the assumption that we are equally sad, most likely also assuming that we have no children because we couldn't, not because we chose not to. It's something not often brought up...they don't want to risk an intimate conversation that might hurt us, and I choose not to defensively bring it up myself. I have to say it does bother me - that people might feel sorry for us. So I take this opportunity to say: you can relax. We are perfectly happy. Neither of us has spent one day of our 23 year married life being sad that we chose not to have children. Okay? Also, as a side note, I HAVE spent time feeling sorry for a handful of people in my life that do have children that cannot handle the responsibility. But what can they do? They can't put them back. Anyway, there are two sides to every coin. I would say, don't waste time feeling sorry for people who choose to be childless. And don't put that vibe out there at us...we don't want it!

At that same time, I was thrilled to read Brittany's thoughts about the possibility of mourning...a mourning that the childless-by-choice individual or couple facilitate for themselves, for their own reasons. Sympathy borne of misunderstanding and presumptions just does not cut it.

Thank you

"I would say, don't waste time feeling sorry for people who choose to be childless. And don't put that vibe out there at us...we don't want it!"

I've never understood why those who want children pity those who don't. I have had it explained to me that some pity me for everything I'll be missing out on for not having children. Each decision you make means you will be missing out on things that would have occurred had you made another choice, but that doesn't mean everyone should be pitied for every decision they make. I don't pity anyone for having children, why should they pity me for not? We're both getting what we want. Shouldn't we be happy for each other that it worked out that way?

"Each decision you make means

"Each decision you make means you will be missing out on things that would have occurred had you made another choice, but that doesn't mean everyone should be pitied for every decision they make."

This is a great point. By not starting college until I was 24 I missed out on the experience of living in a dorm and being a full-time student. Sometimes I am sad for that missed college experience but I also acknowledge that at the time, that's not what I wanted anyway. That's what it boils down to-making the decisions you want to make at the time that they are right for you.

I did go to college right out

I did go to college right out of high school, and I made almost no friends. Honestly, I wish I could've done what you did and go later, when I was ready to really learn, and who knows, maybe the social aspect would've taken care of itself.

I also went to college right out ...

... and sometimes I wish I had worked a few years before I went to college. I had great friends and fun in college, but I was a lousy student and didn't graduate. Then I had to take a few years off and work so that I could go back to school, and I got SO much out of it the second time I decided to go to graduate school.

But again, it comes to the path not taken ... if I had taken time off between HS and college to work, I might have had a better educational experience. But I wouldn't have found my amazing friends, or met my husband, which I would never give up in a million years. So maybe I don't really wish I had taken the other path. Maybe I just wonder where that path would have taken me.

I think this is a good

I think this is a good question. I noticed that there seemed to be some opposing desires here.
A. To celebrate the non-having of children (which I won't argue is a bad idea, given our exponentially growing population) and
B. to mourn the loss of children who will not exist (also refreshing, since I don't hear alot of discourse about this one)

I believe rituals/rites of passage of all types are sorely lacking in our society. But I am not clear which, option A, or option B. the author is going for. A little of both perhaps?

I've had a baby, and a blessingway/shower. I've had an abortion and a ceremony of loss. I'm now about to turn thirty, and considering consciously giving up plans to conceive again in my reproductive lifespan. I wouldn't mind another ritual, if and when I decide to be serious about my decision.

What I hope, however, it that it could be an honoring without the smug snarkyness I see, though not necessarily in this piece, coming from the intentionally childless. I suppose the reverse is true about those babyshowers tho...

Lau

Both

I think it's a little bit of both. It would be celebrating that you've made a decision about your life that makes you happy, but at the same time recognizing that the decision does come with sacrifice.

Wasn't this touched on in Sex

Wasn't this touched on in Sex and the City a few years back? Carrie registered for a pair of pumps after her friend's kid ruined her other pair and Carrie sent an invitation to that said friend. As a mother who has not had a baby shower but has attended a lot of other parties for her childless friends I guess I don't get the tone of this article. Don't we already celebrate other parts of people's lives besides just children and marriage? I go to birthday parties, housewarming parties, graduation parties, anniversary parties (you don't have to be married to have those ya know), ... etc etc for my friends all the time. I bring them gifts and celebrate the new joys, milestones, and accomplishments in their life. Maybe every intentional choice should have a party following it, but lets face it, a lot of them already do (and not all intentional choices are as exciting to other people as they might be to ourselves.)

As for reproductive decisions, you are right, more people want to celebrate having a child than choosing not to have a child. But hey, you don't have a kid and probably have a little more time and money than your friends with children do to throw a fun party celebrating that and other fun parts of your life. I hope you do have a sterilization party and I hope your friends come and have a total blast and support you. :)

Sex and the City wasn't exactly the same ...

... the issue for Carrie was that she had bought for her friend:

- wedding shower gifts
- wedding gifts
- housewarming gifts
- baby shower gifts for 2-3 babies

The last baby shower was just the last straw for a women who had not yet (and might not ever) experienced any of these milestones. Which I get, but I will never begrudge a friend a gift. A gift is a gift is a gift.

I hate to be nitpicky, but ... yeah.

Have a party! It's not like

Have a party! It's not like you have to find a babysitter to do it! ;-)

And maybe instead of gifts you could ask for donations to a nonprofit that works with children and/or parents. Help take care of the ones already out there. I think that is something that would be appropriate for both celebration and mourning and I bet it would be something that even people who don't quite understand your choice could get behind.

What's the purpose of a baby shower?

I think you raise interesting questions but that you mistake the purpose of a baby shower. It's not simply a celebration of a choice to have a baby-- it is also (or perhaps primarily) one of the few instances in modern life in which a community gathers to intentionally welcome and provide support a new member-- a baby. A baby shower could be viewed as less of an opportunity to exalt coupledom and more of an opportunity to acknowledge and deepen non-romantic relationships in the formation of a community oriented around care. It is a rare exception to the privatization of care and specifically, child-care.

Great point on baby showers!

This was a great anthropological perspective. I wonder how the decline of these types of bonding ceremonies in particular cultures affect us. It seems to me that Hispanic culture keep these types of traditions and ceremonies intact and that they benefit in many ways. My family has zero traditions. it is sad. My background is waspy Anglo type. Not a lot of warmth or celebrating growing up.

You don't throw a party for

You don't throw a party for someone who is celebrating their decision not to have children and then give a donation in their name to help children, that's tacky. It makes it seem like somehow they're still in the wrong. the "present" should be more focused on the woman. They don't necessarily have to be tangible, but they need to be focused on her.

The gifts I received at my

The gifts I received at my baby shower weren't for me. They were things I needed or could use to care for the child I was having. I don't necessarily think it's tacky for a woman to say she doesn't want to have/raise a child, but still cares about kids. I actually think it's kind of tacky that we give so many useless and unwanted gifts to people so often.

I don't think it's tacky

I don't think it's tacky to do this. If the person having the parents wants this to be so for their own personal reasons, then why not? It's not like the person choosing not to have children suddenly wants to rid themselves of anything to do with children ever. Some might, but not all.

Although in general, if a person wants donation gifts, it doesn't *have* to be for children, it could be for planting trees for all I care (or for all anyone should care) so long as it's something this person wants.

I can understand baby showers

I can understand baby showers in the practical sense, especially if it's a first pregnancy--you need baby stuff and people will give you baby stuff at the shower. But I also, like the commenter above, like the idea of celebration and ritual for life decisions and passages, as long as they are facilitated by the people who are making those decisions and passages (which is why, in an unrelated vein, I do not want to have a "wedding"). I think that celebrating any choice, growth or passage, any happiness or sadness is wonderful. I say party on! (If I ever get invited to a no-baby shower, I'll bring a crossbow.)

And Brittany, that is a great shot of you. It kind of looks like you're smoking a cigarette, which is hilarious.

Hmm...maybe

I guess we could throw parties for this- but isn't the purpose of the babyshower to shower the new baby with items it may need when it comes into the world? It seems kind of weird to me personally to shower a person with items for a decision (which is not concrete) rather than a new child- but hey if you can get people to go- by all means- go for it.

I personally only attend baby showers if I feel the person having the baby may need assistance in acquring items for the new baby- in other words they are not so well off. Or a 1st baby. Otherwise, I mail off a cute outfit or something for well wishes, but do not attend.

I also do not want to physically have children, which works out well, b/c due to various medical issues, I most likely cannot have them. I adore kids though, and enjoy thier company better than most adults, and hope to adopt one day- but still need to wrok on my fiance about this, as he's really into imprinting his DNA on a kid. He'll get over it. It was one of my qualifiers before I accepted his proposal. I will admit though, it smarts when some nosy relative inquires as to the state of my uterus, or the flatness of my stomach. I've been with my fiance for 12 years, and my huge irish family thinks I should have 4 kids by now. Sometimes, it really gets to me. then I cry and get over it.

?

"He'll get over it?" I wish I had your confidence...if somebody (male or female) really wants children, then that will be their priority. I hope you discuss this further with your fiance before you actually commit to a marriage that's probably not going to work.

Agree with Anonymous

You need to work out the kids issue with your fiance before making the commitment to marry. It's unfair to both of you if you go in with the hope or expectation that the other person will "come around."

I feel like I have to say this too, though. That there aren't any guarantees. People do change their minds. When my ex-husband and I first got engaged, we were absolutely on the same "no kids for us" page; so much so that he got a vasectomy within 2 years of marrying.

While I became more energized and empowered by our decision to remain childfree, his close friends and coworkers were all getting pregnant and having babies. Eventually, he ended up having an affair with another woman and we divorced.

He is now married to his affair partner and they have a baby girl. I have no idea if he is happy - but I hope he is.

"Friends" Baby Shower

I remember Phoebe on the sitcom Friends having a baby shower when she was the surrogate for her brother and his wife. She was given gifts to celebrate having her body back post-pregnancy: leather pants and a bottle of tequila.

I've often thought I should have an anniversary party for my sterilization and hope that I too get leather pants and a bottle of Patron.

It never occurred to me to mourn the loss of my fertility. It simply doesn't make me sad. I didn't realize how much mental energy it took to remember to take my pill or worry about condom breakage until I was sterilized. It was a huge sigh of relief and a weighty burden lifted after I had the dye test - confirming the effectiveness of my Essure procedure. These days, I even forget that I was sterilized unless I'm reminded by a conversation, or in this case, a blog post. Having an accidental pregnancy is simply no longer a concern - which for me, is a reason to celebrate, not mourn.

Essure

Do you have any good resources on Essure that you could point me to? Please and thanks!

"A word after a word after a word is power."
- Margaret Atwood

Check out the LJ community

Check out the LJ community http://community.livejournal.com/sterilizationqa/ -- there's a lot of posts and info about Essure there!

I simply went to their

I simply went to their website and looked up doctors. I was lucky to find a doc near me who had done 150+ placements and was frequently called upon to teach other docs to do the procedure. I recommend that you find an experienced doc and make sure you won't be used as a teaching tool or guinea pig for other docs to observe - unless you're into that kind of thing. Also, if you've never been pregnant, I recommend going in for twilight anesthesia.

I have to comment again

I have to comment again because I keep thinking about this.

Celebrations and gatherings sure make transitions easier. Having our friends and family around showing their support makes it easier whether the transition is a fun one or a sad one. Shouldn't we do this more often? And especially with big transitions like making the decision to not have children or accepting that you aren't able to? (I mean, if that's important for you... which I understand if it's not for some people.)

Nice thought...but really?

I think that life choices/events should be celebrated as the person making those choices sees fit, not as some culturally defined norm sees fit. Some people don't want baby showers, some people don't want divorce-finalized parties while others love to throw made-it-through-my-first-six-months-at-xxx-job parties. It all depends on the person.

Still, I think it's a little odd to celebrate something that you won't be doing. Sure, some people might want to make a public statement to their friends and family about their choice to not have children. But overall, I don't think it's common to party over the road not taken. There are a lot of those roads. This might have more to do with expressing solidarity with those who choose against childbearing, to rebel against the perceived norm, to be taken seriously, or even to feel like you're not invisible.

If someone wants a voice, to stand up and be counted among the many (and increasingly) childfree people, I think they should do whatever it takes to celebrate their choices. I feel a similarity exists for atheist/agnostics. Where are all the holidays without christian significance? How do you celebrate that you don't believe in god, or the same god as everyone else? You don't really. The whole point is that you're doing something completely different.

Just Chucking This Out There

I've been assuming that I would not have a child, but I try not to place myself in a childed/nonchilded camp, as often times you don't get to decide either way. After recently watching a close friend go through the whole process of our community finding out that she was pregnant with her first and seeing how they treated her really set my teeth on edge. Maybe this is my own issue with women and female friendships, but the baby shower and a lot of the tradition festivities and interactions made me reconsider whether I want to go through it. It is so cloying even from the sidelines! My friend asked me to run interference so that women in the community did not through her a shower (to avoid that attention, plus all the material items that were not asked for and may not be welcomed/usable.) She didn't want to offend anyone. Anyways, I think what gets me going is that people who you don't have a relationship with can see pregnancy (and your change of status to that of parent) as a reason to start a relationship -- when they have never bothered to otherwise. Welcome to the "Mom Sorority." We have wisdom to share with you now that you are one of us... I guess (even from the sidelines) I wish that were more of a choice. [Want a concrete example? How about not rushing to Facebook to post to everyone that one of your friends is in labor when that particular friend is someone who doesn't tend to broadcast her personal business and may have wanted to save the experience of announcing her baby for her and her husband to do when they were ready?] [A bit of a rant... sorry about that.]

I guess I end up thinking that choices are personal -- and yes, tradition and community matters, but people define these and revel in them in very different ways.

Where are all the holidays

Where are all the holidays without christian significance?

There are plenty of other religions/faiths besides Christianity. Let's remember that.

New Year's Day Martin Luther

New Year's Day Martin Luther King Day President's Day Memorial Day Independence Day Labor Day Veterans Day Thanksgiving Day April Fool's Day May Chinese New Year Cinco de Mayo Columbus Day Father's Day Flag Day Groundhog Day Halloween...quite a few non-religious holidays.

Any reason to party is a good one.

And I don't mean to sound like a college party animal as I'm 37 and 7 months into my first pregnancy. But. It took me 6 months of mourning my goodbyes to my child-free life. Yes I got pregnant unexpectedly. Yes I had mixed feelings about it since I had not planned on having children. Nonetheless, I was with someone I loved, and I saw no reason to not receive this unexpected gift. My point is, I was so completely thrown off guard that I mourned (the depressed, cranky, angry, confused as well as hormonal kind of mourning) until I realized it was because I had always loved my child-free life. I cherished my freedom and was well aware of how patently different my reality was in contrast to my peers with children. I never envied them. But when I became pregnant, it all became even clearer how different my path in life was from having not had any children. I'm not saying I regret my decision. I'm very very very excited and touched to have this opportunity to live an entirely different kind of existence than before. But boy, a good ol' hooray for my child-free life party might have made saying goodbye to that life a little less difficult and confusing.

I'm 19. At my current job, I

I'm 19. At my current job, I am 1 out of the 2 women who have not had a child or been pregnant. I had a coworker ask if I had a child and when i said no, she said that i should get to work on it. Personally I think i am entirely too young. Most of these coworkers had children very young so I'm a mystery to them. Also because of my body type, I always have women asking how far along I am, and after saying that i wasn't pregnant, one woman actually asked why not. Said i was too young and she really said "not really." I mean I do want to have children when i get older but personally, i hate the fact that teenage pregnancy is accepted although "frowned" upon. (maybe something for the next post). So the fact that women don't just tell me that i should reproduce but also i should "get a move on" kinda pisses me off. I still have a lot to do in my life and i do not want to have worry about raising a child while I am still growing up and maturing. Now for the people who have done this, i applaud you, but don't most of them, or at least a good portion of them, wish they had waited just a little longer? Someone earlier made a comment that parents who don't like the childless women or couples that are happy with their lives is because the parents miss having that life. I can understand that. No matter how old you are, when you have a child you do lose some of your freedom and your life changes, whether you believe for better or whatever.

But anyway, I feel like the whole idea of celebrating anything is very narcissistic. We want the spotlight on us. For instance, my birthday is coming up and i did have a moment of, "Yes! It's my day. Everyone should cater to me." The same logic goes to baby showers. Now I haven't personally been to a baby shower, but the way the media has portrayed them in movies and tv shows, it's all about the loot and the gifts you get. You hardly ever see it be about the child. Take a look at some of the games they play at the showers. The one where you guess how many squares of toilet paper does it take to go around the mother's belly. How well do you know the mommy-to-be. I mean, there are some games that focus on the baby. But i just don't see how much they talk about the actual baby. How is it about the baby? If you want to celebrate the baby bring something after the actual birth.

But should we celebrate the women who choose not to have babies? I think celebrate is the wrong term. Don't celebrate per se, but commend them on making the choice that is right for them. Don't feel bad for them if they don't. and don't be angry with them. If it really upsets you that a few women don't want to have children, then have those extra 2.5 children yourself. It's like what I say about abortion. If you don't agree with it, then don't have one....although I guess in this case, it would be "then have one."

Hm. I wouldn't necessarily

Hm. I wouldn't necessarily say "ought to consider mourning" so much as that people should process the emotional impact of their reproductive choices. For me, it was never something to mourn. I've never wanted kids, and the older I get, visiting/chatting with friends who have them, what I feel is not regret that I won't have them, but relief. I won't have to deal with pregnancy and its impact on my health, years of getting no sleep because the baby is awake, migraines from every time the baby cries or throws a tantrum, 3am runs to the ER because of an earache, hours of homework help, ferrying the children back and forth from school/friends... yeah, I realize these are all things that most people see as normal and acceptable, but for me... I'd resent it. Strongly. And it's not sadness I feel, it's just plain relief that it will never be me.

I feel exactly the same way.

I feel exactly the same way. Some people just don't seem to understand that. Also they think that you should be interested in every little thing their kids do (I am not)...but that is another discussion.

:D

I loved this, completely. :)

I think there's a distinction to be made

Firstly, I am in full support of an indivdual (male or female) celebrating/partying/publicly recognizing that he or she will not ever become a parent. Having said that, there is something distasteful about being happy about not bringing a child into the world. Some people may interpret a celebration of non-reproduction is basically saying that kids stink. While that may be the reason why many women and men choose not to have children, there are those in the same camp who choose not to bear children who believe that children are a blessing, a joy, but ultimately a responsibility that is wholly too emotionally exasperating, too costly. If there was a way to express to friends and family that you respect those parents who make the incalculably demanding task of raising a child and value the beautiful potential in each child, while at the same time trumpeting there decision to fully develop themselves as a person.

The Key Word in Baby Shower Is Baby

I agree with the contributor that stated that the gifts received at her shower were for the baby, not for her. The purpose of a baby shower is to celebrate the impending birth of a baby with family members and friends. That child is not only being born to the parents, but also to a larger community. The baby will have a direct impact on the lives of the people attending the shower as the child will ideally be a source of joy for the parents, as well as the friends and family. Consequently, most (if not all) of the gifts given at a shower are for the care of the baby, not the mother.

I do not understand why a woman's decision not to have children is cause for celebration. I understand why it would provide an individual woman with a sense of peace and satisfaction, but do not see why others would want to jump for joy and shower her with gifts. Her decision will have little or no positive impact on her family and friends. To expect that one's decision not to have children is the same type of milestone as birth is ridiculous and selfish.

I would suggest throwing yourself a birthday party.

Her decision will have little

Her decision will have little or no positive impact on her family and friends. To expect that one's decision not to have children is the same type of milestone as birth is ridiculous and selfish.

I don't see how it's either ridiculous or any more selfish than the birthday party you suggested. Rituals and celebrations bring people together and help them transition from one phase of life to another.

As for its positive impact, having children is not always positive, especially if the parents/family cannot afford them, will not treat them well, or are simply not in a place to be good caregivers. What if, for example, the mother's health would not allow her to survive a birth or pregnancy? In that case, I think the impact of the decision is definitely positive!

In a larger sense, in a world teeming with people and threatening to run out of natural resources while increasing problems like pollution and global warming, choosing not to have a child is choosing to allow more space/resources for those who do come into the world. I think that's pretty damn positive, too, should the woman make that choice.

Her decision will have little or no positive impact??????

Sorry I know this is a late reply but I just can't believe your comments!! I think you are under the misconception that having a baby is the be all end all of community contribution. Not having a child has huge positive effects on a community and indeed on mother earth. The world is grossly over populated. When someone can't have children or chooses not to have children, that is a huge positive effect on our resources, on mother nature, and not to mention all the animals on this earth that are constantly displaced and forced into extinction because we as a race. can't seem to see how our desire to replace ourselves is having a disastrous impact on the planet's future. How on earth can someone's decision NOT to have a child be considered selfish? I think it's a courageous and selfless decision not to. Not all of us are driven by the need to have a child. Having a child is a wonderful thing and I do not begrudge a woman for wanting that. But why do so many of us feel we have to have more than one or two children? There are many cultures on this earth that think it's better to have 5,6,7 children so that the parents are looked after when they are old. No wonder the earth's precious resources are running out. We are a selfish, selfish race. And your comment calling someone selfish for not wanting to contribute to the worlds gross over population is quite simply ludicrous.

You say that a woman's decision not to have children has little or no positive impact on her family and friends. What a load of rubbish! Such a narrow minded point of view. When you don't have children, you have so much more time to do other fulfilling things that are important to you, your family or your community. Choosing to not have a child is a milestone in my books. Celebrate it ladies. It's your right and you DO create a positive impact on your community. When you choose NOT to have a child you're saying you're happy to be who you are and you don't need a child to make you feel whole. I wish more women felt like that. I'm so tired of women thinking I'm strange because I don't have a child. Shame on anyone that has ever made a woman feel like that.

My decision not to have children means that NO BODY has been forced to buy me all the dreadful, harmful plastic toys and rubbish that we give our kids in today's society. Nearly all that junk ends up in landfill and poisons the earth. Not to mention all those disposable baby nappies. So I'm happy to celebrate my decision not to have a baby. Mother earth is sighing in relief and thanks me too.

to have or not to have children, a choice to celebrate

i am a 50 year old lesbian who was raised in a family that believes in "a woman's right to choose" whatever that choice might be. when i came out to my mother in my late teens, her primary concern was that she knew i wanted children and she was sad that i would be giving up that opportunity. i told her, "don't worry mom, i'll still have kids". i adopted my oldest daughter as a single parent in my 20's (she's 33 now) and i had my youngest daughter, via alternative insemination when i was 30 (she is now 20). my oldest daughter and her husband decided to have 2 children and her husband won my great respect when he had a vasectomy shortly after the birth of their second child, he said he felt his wife had done more than her share of the work in building their family and that having the vasectomy was but a small gift he could give in return. my youngest daughter doesn't want children. when her future husband expressed disappointment about that fact, she told him "ask me when i'm 30, if i'm going to change my mind that's when it most likely to happen."
i remember when, in our early 30's, my cousin got married and she & her new husband were under a great deal of pressure to have children from both of their families. neither of them wanted children. i called her and asked to give my opinion on the matter. with what sounded like resignation, she listened to what i had to say. i told her, "you obviously understand that having children is a lifetime commitment. please, under no circumstance, have children because someone else wants you to." she expressed relief and gratitude for the comments.
in any event, to make an intentional decision to have or not to have children is an act that deserves celebration in and of itself!

audré

"Sociologists find that as a

"Sociologists find that as a group, parents in the United States experience depression and emotional distress more often than their childless adult counterparts. Parents of young children report far more depression, emotional distress, and other negative emotions than non-parents, and parents of grown children have no better well-being than adults who never had children. That last finding contradicts the conventional wisdom that empty-nest parents derive all the emotional rewards of parenthood because they’re done with the financially and psychologically taxing aspects of raising young kids. These research findings, of course, fly in the face of our cultural dogma that proclaims it impossible for people to achieve an emotionally fulfilling and healthy life unless they become parents. And that’s a problem, because the vast majority of American men and women eventually have children, yet conditions in our society make it nearly impossible for them to reap all the emotional benefits of doing so"

Simon, Robin W. Contexts, Volume 7, Number 2, April 2008 , pp. 40-45(6), University of California Press

www.fsu.edu/~soc/people/simon/simon_joys_parenthood.pdf

peace & love friends

I agree

I'm calling mine "No Mitosis for the Hostess" party...I even have games planned such as "Who can put condoms on bananas the fastest"...I think it beats melted candy bars in diapers any day.

I'm not having a baby... Shower

To the person who wrote this fantastic insight, I am in total agreement with you. I will be having a hysterectomy in a few months due to severe excessive abnormal bleeding. I agree that we should get the same opportunity to toast to our choice in life. I don't want children at all and I am only 28. I choose to spoil myself and my husband rather than a child for the rest of my life. My choice is something to be celebrated like those who want children. Especially for those of us who don't have a particular choice in life we must enjoy what is handed to us. There is no reason to be sad when our health is the number one concern. Why live your life in agony just to have children. To the person who wrote this article, you are officially invited to my "I'm not having a baby... Shower". Thank you for this great article!!!!

Bubbly not baby formula

I was born with Turner Syndrome ( http://turnersyndrome.org/) and have lived with the knowledge that I would never have children naturally. When I was younger it hurt me, altbough there were other options, I was single and wanted to be more financially stable. But as I've gotten older I realize tbat I simply do not have the temperence or patience to be a parent. I actually am relieved to be child free, I'm set in my ways now and enjoy living life without having to take into account the responsibility of raising a child (children). So for my big 4-0 my bff is throwing me an "I'm not having a baby" shower. We'll have a uterus pinata filled with goodies, champagne, sushi, and gifts fir me! No baby bottles, but bottles of vodka, no diaper bags, instead I'm looking forward to getting a dremmel and a dessert torch. Maybe we'll even have a stripper!!!

It never occurred to me that

It never occurred to me that people might feel sad for me because I don't want children. Sorry, yeah I get that alot, but not sad. I've never felt sad for myself. I've felt this way as long as I can remember. A friend of mine who has known me for more than half our lives even remembers me saying it as a child. She openly admits that people say those kinds of things all the time and usually end up changing their minds, but she always follows up by saying that I am the only person who ever said it that she truly believed, right from the very start. And it's not that I don't like kids, I love kids, I like my family member's kids, I like my friend's kids, I just don't want my own kids.
I guess if I were to feel sorry for anyone then it would be my parents. My mother more so than my father. She longs for that bond, she grew up in a family of 10 kids, she grew up with the understanding that people have kids, that just what they do. I can tell it bothers her when all of her brothers and sisters have "grandbabies." And yeah, I feel bad about that - I don't want to cause my mother pain or be the reason she's missing out on something that she's always wanted. For my mother, grandchildren are a part of life just as much and real and true as kids are not a part of mine. My sister does want kids though, and I'm happy for her, she'll be such a good mother, and I know that it fill that little missing space that my mom feels. So yeah, I guess I can understand holding what you mean by "the idea of choosing to hold space for the loss that not having a child can be."