Growing up in a close-knit, Catholic family in the Franconian countryside, having children was pivotal to me. Jesus loves children, it is a woman’s greatest duty and pleasure to continue the traditions of centuries, without your family you have nothing. Those were the tenets of our nice little rural world. There was no way for me not to imagine having children one day – preferably the first one before my 30th birthday. On the other hand, my great-uncle was a Franciscan monk (not the reason why my name is Franziska, by the way). And my grandmother had two good friends who had become nuns. Somehow, it was acceptable not to have children when you dedicated your life to the Holy Trinity. After all, you had to spread the most important message!
As I grew older, I realized that I was probably not entering vocational training, but going on to university. So that left me a very small window to get started on children – I absolutely abhorred the idea of caring for a child if I hadn’t at least earned my first “real” money. In my mind, I pictured meeting my future husband at uni, getting married by 27 or 28 and having the baby by 31 at the latest.
In my teens, I admitted to myself that it might not be that easy. Who could tell whether I would be able to find a suitable partner? Also, I lost my faith at 14. My parents’ breakup was brutal. They fought for months, my father started to drink and ended up raping and beating my mother. He also tried to beat me, but my mother intervened. We fled the apartment the next day. Did that make me lose faith in relationships and family? Interestingly not. I had boyfriends not long after that. But I could no longer hold on to that Catholic ideal of the perfect wife and mother. Especially, when all my role models – i. e. my relatives – turned bitter and nasty in the follow-up. I found out how bitter it can be to be left by one parent and how straining it can be for the other to care for a teenage girl on her own. My world was in shambles, but I was rather determined to become a mother myself one day.
For quite a while, I knew that there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t as fit or energetic as other people. I tried to tell myself that it was only because I wasn’t much into sports. When at 17, however, my jaw joints started to crack and ache I knew I had to seek counsel. I had had orthodontic therapy to correct my square teeth prior to that and thought this also might be easily cured by some sort of therapy. Boy, was I wrong.
We went from doctor to doctor, a real odyssey. Nobody was able to help me properly and seeing one doctor after another was a nightmare. Once, one professor even accused me of inventing all of that because I wanted to hide anorexia. After some time, we found a doctor who had a suspicion of what was wrong with me. By way of magnet resonance imaging, they found out that I had arthrosis in my jaw joints. Also, they were horribly misplaced and my joints had reduced drastically.
This was probably due to a trauma I had suffered when my wisdom teeth had been removed. Back then, I had swelled up horribly. And no wonder: The doctor also found out that I had a genetic illness called Factor-V-Resistance, better known as Factor-V-Leiden (after the city in the Netherlands). Basically, I am the opposite of a bleeder. Coagulation happens due to 13 factors in our blood. In mine, the fifth factor is in oversupply because I lack or have very little of the enzyme that controls it. Bummer.
“Side effects” of this marvelous occurrence are that I tend to have low blood pressure, thromboses, easy scarring, cold hand and feet, weak joints (bad circulation makes them degenerate), and low energy levels. Also, anything that is connected to blood – periods, having babies, is extremely challenging. As a FVM, I have a 5 to 10 times higher feeling of pain, a high propensity for miscarriages and excruciatingly painful periods and clotting in my womb. Welcome to my world, baby.
Women like me are able to have babies. They “simply” have to give themselves blood thinners during pregnancy and bear the pain that comes with it. When I was 19 or 20, I was still motivated to go through it – at least once. Baby number 2 or 3 could arrive via adoption, I didn’t care. But the idea of getting pregnant was still firmly planted in my head. I don’t berate women for using fertility treatments or falling back on the option of surrogates. Whatever works for you, right? But for me – no (apart from the fact that surrogates are illegal in Germany).
This lasted all through university, although I tended to lean more and more towards adoption. Why go through all this when there are so many children out there who need a good home? But on top, I realized that my energy levels are low. How could I raise a child when I all my energy goes into studying? And also, it became very clear to me that any genetic child of mine might have Factor-V-Resistance themselves. How could I do that to any child (and guess what, preimplantic diagnosis to rule it out is illegal in Germany, too)? And adoption when you have a chronic illness? Please…. The authorities are not into that, especially when you adopt as a single parent.
Once I started working, my personality changed. I went from being a natural nurturer to a very sober person. Colleagues and friends started to have kids – and don’t get me wrong, I find babies extremely cute! – but that didn’t tick the box for me anymore. I sort of faded out of my desire to have children. Additionally, I realized that I was asexual. Asexuality basically means that there is no sexual attraction to other people. On top of that, I am aromantic, which means that I don’t fall in love. Never have. So that makes having a solid relationship difficult (even though I’m open to it). Adoption? Definitively not happening now.
After all those years of thinking and planning and thinking and planning all of a sudden I stood there realizing that I don’t want kids. When I see them on the street with their parents, I say “oh cute” but that’s about it. There is no feeling inside of me that tells me to have a baby on my own. That I am missing out or something. And even with my 30th just around the corner, I feel no biological clock ticking whatsoever.
I don’t want to be a mom, period. And, considering my overall health status, I am happy as can be with that.