'I'd rather be a good aunt than a mum with regrets'
Married seven years, sales rep Rachel* (41), from Dublin, has no desire to start a family -- but says she regularly has to defend her decision.
"When I met my husband on a work trip to New York, it was love at first sight. After returning home to Ireland, work kept us apart for weeks on end -- but that only made us more certain that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.
"We discussed having children almost immediately. But while I love children -- and was even at the birth of my godson -- deep down I knew that I didn't want to have any of my own.
"Having witnessed his 10-year-old niece go through leukaemia -- and experienced first-hand the anguish it caused, my husband felt the same.
"Meanwhile, I also have a serious back problem that would make carrying and having a baby more difficult. Ultimately, we made the mutual decision that our relationship with our nieces, nephews and friends' children was enough for us.
"Although our families were incredibly supportive, we've encountered a lot of negativity towards our decision to remain child-free from certain friends and colleagues.
"People assume we're going to regret not having children down the line. But I know more couples who jumped into starting a family without thinking it through properly than the other way around -- and that's a responsibility they have to live with for the rest of their lives.
"Frankly, I'd rather be a good aunt than a mum with regrets. And I consider myself very lucky to have found a wonderful, like-minded husband."
* Surname withheld