This topic is always on my heart, but I have always felt alone in my feelings about it. It wasn’t until recently when a couple of my stepmom friends brought the topic up that I realized my thoughts and feelings are valid.
Jennifer wrote about her experience as a long-distance childless stepmom and her perspective on whether or not the health risks were worth the reward. Her post inspired me to share my similar yet unique experience and feelings about the topic. I think it’s important we keep the conversation going so that others know they are not alone as they wrestle with their decision.
How Badly Do You Want to Have a Child, Stepmom?
Wrestling the questions surrounding alternative conception methods.
So, all of that to say, how do you decide if you really want to have a child?
Really think about this… most of us think we want a child… but how do you decide, wholeheartedly, “This is exactly what I want?”
How do you know if you need a child, or if society has just brainwashed you into thinking you need one?
I’m sure this sounds like I’m spinning out… so let me try to explain.
There are some women who decide they want to have a child and intentionally get pregnant with ease.
For many women, pregnancy happens accidentally.
Many other women face challenges or complications trying to conceive and often face infertility issues.
There are options for couples who are having difficulties conceiving. With the help of medical professionals, there are many techniques, both invasive and non-invasive, that may assist in a successful pregnancy.
So, for the couples who don’t have any issues conceiving, I am truly happy for you.
But for the perceived majority of couples who face challenges conceiving and have to seek out alternative options… how do you decide? Where do you draw the line?
We have written before about alternative options through egg/sperm donation, surrogacy, or adoption… but I’m not talking about those options at that point in the decision-making process. I’m talking about for couples who cannot conceive naturally and without assistance, how do you decide if you really want to go through with it? Is the process worth it?
In my situation, the only options my husband and I have to conceive a biological child, and for me to carry it, are through either a vasectomy reversal or through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
For those who are unfamiliar with these options, I’ll give you a totally-not-a-medical-professional breakdown of my obsessive Google search results:
A vasectomy reversal is an outpatient operation which can be extremely painful for the man to recover from. For each year that passes after having a vasectomy, the chances of a successful reversal diminish. Of course, the cost will vary depending on your clinic, insurance, etc. but the average cost I have seen is $2,000-$5,000.
The actual process depends on how the vasectomy was done (cauterized, clipped, or both), but it is typically a 3-5 hour long outpatient procedure, with a 1-2 week painful recovery time.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a more invasive, more expensive ($20,000+) option to conceive; however, the success rates are much higher than through a vasectomy reversal. IVF is very hard on the woman mentally and physically, and the hormone injections pre-op seem to really take a toll.
The actual process, in a nutshell, is as follows: they extract sperm from the man, eggs from the woman, try to fertilize the eggs through science, then try to implant the fertilized eggs into the woman. Sounds simple, right?!
No… it doesn’t sound simple. Of course it doesn’t.
To be clear, this is the one time where I can say “I knew what I was signing up for.” I knew when I started dating my husband that he had a recent vasectomy, and I knew (at least, I heard him say) that he never wanted to have it reversed (although, I was certain his opinion would change).
With that in mind, this is not a post to complain about my situation. My husband is amazing, and we really do live a blessed life.
This post is one big plea for someone to answer my initial question… How do you decide if you really want to have a child?
When your life is great, your family operates like a well-oiled machine. Your routine works for everyone. You have your “kid days” and your “kid-free days,” and you enjoy and make the most out of both. You have family time, but you still get to date your spouse.
When you know the financial and health-based risks involved with a complicated IVF procedure and still may not end up with a child, or you may end up with an unhealthy child, is it worth it?
You want to look at your child and see the perfect mix of you and your husband… but do you need to?
You want a child who is truly YOUR child… who you can raise and mold and shape however you want to… but is it necessary?
Maybe your mom passed away when you were a child, and you crave that motherly bond. You want your own child to share that bond with. But will having your own child really resolve your childhood trauma?
Maybe you want to give your parents biological grandchildren. Maybe you are the only person remaining in the family to keep the genes alive. But are the genes that important? Can your stepchild carry on your family legacy?
You are afraid you will grow old and be completely alone, with no one to take care of you or check-in on you. But a biological child may also grow up and lose contact with you.
Are you less of a woman for not having a child? That can’t be true, right?!
Will you ever understand what deep, unconditional love is? Since everyone always says, “You will never understand until you have a child of your own.”
You know you want a child. But do you really want a child? How badly do you actually want a child?
Personally, I am working through these questions and these feelings. But one piece of advice I can definitively give you is this: If you want a biological child because you are craving some sort of control within your family, or because you’re tired of your stepchild’s mom seeming to call all of the shots, you need to drop back and punt.
If there is one thing I’m certain of, it is that adding a biological child to the blended family dynamic will not take away or ease any of the drama or turmoil you may be facing.
Since my marriage and family is rock solid, I know my desire to have a child isn’t based on the blended family drama. I know I want a child. But do I really want a child?
So how do you make the decision? How do you know whether or not it’s worth it to put your husband, your stepchild, and yourself through the physical, emotional, and financial trauma of an alternative conception method?
Much like asking the owl, “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?” the world may never know.
PS: Jennifer came to the conclusion it wasn’t worth the risk. Read her story on why she doesn’t want an ours baby.