Thursday 22 August 2019

As I get older it hurts more and more that I don't have kids

18 Jul 2012 Siobhan O'Connor at the Dublin Premier of Batman Dark Knight Rises, Savoy Cinema, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
18 Jul 2012 Siobhan O'Connor at the Dublin Premier of Batman Dark Knight Rises, Savoy Cinema, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Siobhan O'Connor
The current legislation, the Adoption Act 2010, replicates the 1950s closed model or the 'transplant' model of adoption

Siobhan O'Connor

Childless in my mid-30s. It's not how I imagined things panning out, but the best-laid plans rarely work out.

At 22, climbing the Fox Glacier in New Zealand, I recall the moment we were asked what our life ambition was, and I said, "To have a baby, surely it's the greatest gift of all." But then I went on more adventures, worked hard, partied harder and spent most of my prime child-bearing years hung over.

Western society is full of contradictions, constantly fighting against nature. As a female growing up in Ireland, where men and women are equal, we're brainwashed to put child bearing off.

"An unplanned pregnancy will ruin your life." The mantra was like an indoctrination. Yet it's widely known that the optimum age to conceive is between the ages of 18 and 25 - less complications, easier delivery and you've got more energy when your bundle of joy arrives.

Attending an all-girls' convent school, we were conditioned to study like robots and get enough points in the Leaving Cert to secure our first choice in the CAO. You then get the dream job, find the one, lose the one, only to face the pathetic realisation you're in your 30s and your window of opportunity may have vanished. A little beating heart beat inside you may never become a realisation. Time is running out.

We live in a bubble of choosing to ignore the very real statistics. Our societal pre-conditioning has a funny way of making us think we can have it all and that our bodies are invincible.

If you're under 30, you have a 90pc chance of getting pregnant. Leave trying for kids until you're 40, and you've only got a 40pc chance of conceiving.

The great fertility debate plays out in spectacular fashion when it comes to the world of celebrity. Leading Hollywood ladies have been fighting against nature for years, knowing that it could have an impact on their careers. Julia Roberts took time out to raise her twins and her career never fully recovered.

Recently wed Angelina Jolie is an exception to the rule. Her football team of kids almost enhanced her brand. Hooking up with Brad Pitt also strengthened her position as a super mom. "Brangelina and their brood of kids…" The power couple make having it all look so easy, but then again the normal Joe Soaps of the world don't have around-the-clock staff pandering to the needs of their offspring.

Paradoxically, Brad's ex, Jennifer Aniston, has lived her life plagued with questions on when she's getting married and reports even commenting on how her fertility is diminishing.

When Jen was spotted with cupping marks on her back last year, there was in-depth analysis on whether the ancient Asian therapy was in a bid to boost her fertility. Ever since she found love with fiance Justin Theroux, there have been reams of headlines about their dream to start a family.

Some A-listers have weathered the storm and made leaving it late look simple. Nicole Kidman, Gwen Stefani and Mariah Carey all gave birth in their 40s and now they're the poster girls of their generation - an ad for how you too can have it all. But Mother Nature has a funny way of sneaking up on us. Ironically, the very society which deems leaving pregnancy on the long finger the norm, is now fighting against nature, and friends of mine resorting to IVF, in a desperate attempt to turn back the clock, are 10 a penny. I've witnessed the devastation as some of their efforts are fruitless.

It's ironic that the society that turned us off conceiving has an uncanny way of making you feel less of a person for not having children. As I get older, it's hurting more and more when people ask me why I don't have kids. At times, it feels like I'm only half a human for not having a child. I recall when a close friend once said: "You'll never understand what I mean because you don't have children, you'll only get it when you become a mum yourself." Another uttered, "Nothing beats hugging my daughter, but you wouldn't understand."

Maybe they don't realise how lucky they are that they've been blessed with children. Having to focus on another human being makes you less selfish. I, for one, am so sick of myself that I relish the thought of becoming a mum one day.

Siobhan O'Connor
Siobhan O'Connor

That's tempered by the realisation that now, at 35, it may never happen. It begs the question: are we lesser beings if we don't procreate? Some people just don't want kids and that should be accepted too. I mean, there are enough children left wanting in the world and bizarre adoption regulations. I have a dog who I adore, but I need a licence for him - anyone can have a child if they're blessed. My only regret is I wish I had frozen my eggs!

Irish Independent

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