Showing posts with label childfree. Show all posts
Showing posts with label childfree. Show all posts

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Analogy for why preserving unwanted fertility isn't caring for the patient's health

This post is a restatement of a previous analogy that needed further refinement.  I just realized that it wasn't the analogy itself that needed refinement, but rather the title. So I'm restating the analogy under a more accurate title.

Imagine you have a big, ugly mole.  You hate it and wish it wasn't there.

However, you live in a society that thinks beauty marks are attractive.

You've made inquiries about the possibility of getting your big ugly mole removed, but you get a lot of push-back (and some doctors outright refuse to do it) because there are a lot of people in your society who put a lot of time and effort and resources and emotional drama into getting plastic surgeons to give them beauty marks.

On top of all this, your mole has all the characteristics of a cancerous mole.  Unfortunately, your society doesn't have the ability to detect cancer before it starts metastasizing so you have no way of proving or disproving that your big ugly mole is cancerous, but it does have all the characteristics.

Now, within this context, suppose you have to get surgery in the general vicinity of you big ugly mole.  You ask the doctors if they can remove the mole while they're doing surgery in that area, but they refuse.  You try to emphasize to them that you don't like the mole and don't want the mole, but they are not swayed.  You beg them to, at the very least, not prioritize saving the mole - to give you the most effective surgery without regard for whether the mole is lost, but they still take specific measures to save it despite your protests. And, perhaps, their efforts to save the mole result in a suboptimal approach to the surgery as a whole.

And when you complain about this, people tell you "He's just looking out for your health!"

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Refining the analogy for why unwanted fertility isn't part of health

I was previously trying to write an analogy about why unwanted fertility isn't part of health.  My shower gave me an idea, which still isn't as perfect as I'd like but I'm blogging for the record.

Imagine you have a big, ugly mole.  You hate it and wish it wasn't there.

However, you live in a society that thinks beauty marks are attractive.

You've made inquiries about the possibility of getting your big ugly mole removed, but you get a lot of push-back (and some doctors outright refuse to do it) because there are a lot of people in your society who put a lot of time and effort and resources and emotional drama into getting plastic surgeons to give them beauty marks.

On top of all this, your mole has all the characteristics of a cancerous mole.  Unfortunately, your society doesn't have the ability to detect cancer before it starts metastasizing so you have no way of proving or disproving that your big ugly mole is cancerous, but it does have all the characteristics.

Now, within this context, suppose you have to get surgery in the general vicinity of you big ugly mole.  You ask the doctors if they can remove the mole while they're doing surgery in that area, but they refuse.  You try to emphasize to them that you don't like the mole and don't want the mole, but they are not swayed.  You beg them to, at the very least, not prioritize saving the mole - to give you the most effective surgery without regard for whether the mole is lost, but they still take specific measures to save it despite your protests. And, perhaps, their efforts to save the mole result in a suboptimal approach to the surgery as a whole.

And when you complain about this, people tell you "He's just looking out for your health!"

Monday, June 05, 2017

Childfree for Dummies: Part VI (plus: help write the analogy!)

Sometimes medical professionals insist on taking measure to protect the patient's fertility even when the patient is childfree and doesn't want to be fertile.  And sometimes, if you complain about this, people will counter with "But he's just looking out for your health."

But unwanted fertility is not part of health.

Fertility is a thing my body does that I don't want it to do, much like acid reflux or gaining weight or sweating profusely.  It has no benefit for me and adds nothing to my quality of life. On top of that, unlike acid reflux or gaining weight or sweating profusely, fertility could have the most severe negative consequences possible - both for myself and for innocent others.

Therefore, fertility is not an aspect of my health, but rather a chronic condition to be managed.  And managing it is the top priority of my life. The vast majority of the medical care I receive is in service of managing this chronic condition. If it were not possible to receive the medical care that permits me to manage this condition, I would take drastic measures - up to and including breaking the law, risking my personal health and safety, and relocating to another part of the world - to keep it under control.

So when medical professionals disregard the fact that a patient is childfree and give them treatment that preserves their fertility in cases there are also options that may reduce or even eliminate fertility, they're basically refusing to cure the chronic condition that overshadows every aspect of the patient's life.


I'm trying to think of an analogy for this concept, but it's not working out as well as I'd like. Here's what I've got so far.

Analogy: imagine you're a pre-op transman, and you're diagnosed with breast cancer. One possible treatment is mastectomy. This would not only eliminate the cancer and either vastly reduce (or even completely eliminate) the likelihood of its returning, and vastly reduce (or even completely eliminate) the amount of follow-up care you'd need, it would also remove the breasts that you don't even want (and, depending on their size, may cause you day-to-day discomfort).

But the doctor refuses to give you a mastectomy, and in fact says they will make every effort to save your breasts.  Because most women want to keep their breasts. When you point out the unfairness and very near cruelty of the doctor making you keep your unwanted breasts when removing them would be an effective treatment to everything that ails you, people counter with "But he's only looking out for your health!"

Of course, the problem with this analogy is it's likely ineffective to the people who need it. People who aren't able to imagine what it would be like to not want to have children ever are also likely to have difficulty imagining what it would be like to be transgender. (Unless there are transfolk who can't imagine being childfree, which would be an interesting combination of characteristics.)

Can you think of another comparable analogy that would explain the concept more effectively for the target audience?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Things They Should Study: proportion of childfree vs. non-childfree people who change their minds

I've blogged before about how I used to want to have children, but then grew up to realize that I am in fact childfree.

Conventional wisdom is that people who are childfree may well change their minds (which is why it's so hard for those of us who have never had kids to get sterilized), but I find myself wondering if it might be the opposite.

Your worldview is first formed by your surroundings when you're a kid.  You first think that your surroundings and experiences are baseline human reality, and then gradually your worldview broadens as you grow up and learn more.

And, when you're a kid, the primary adults in your life are, necessarily, adults who are raising children.  So your very first impression of what you consider to be baseline human reality is that adults raise kids.

To arrive at the idea that you never want to have or raise kids, you have to put thought into the matter and question the basic assumptions you grew up with and conceptualize a reality that you may never have actually witnessed.  Critical thought goes into it - it's not a decision made mindlessly.

Because of this, I wonder how many people who are childfree actually change their minds compared with those who previously wanted children and then changed their minds.  This would be interesting to research.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why childfree people are useful to your children

Some people who are parents like to try to convince others (including the childfree) to have children. 

I think this is a strategic error on their part.

First, if I don't have children, I'm not creating competition for your child. My child would be after the same daycare spaces and university spaces and scholarships and jobs as your child. Why would you want that?

Second, if I don't have children, the resources that would be dedicated to my children have the potential of going to your children. 

Example: several months ago, the manufacturer of My Favourite Little Person's favourite cereal changed the recipe so it contained something she was allergic to.  Her parents (who, by the way, are not the kind of parents who try to convince CF people to have kids) were trying to hoard as much of the old version as possible, so I promptly went to the supermarket, bought up every box, and brought it all to them.  But if I had a baby of my own, especially if my baby had the same allergy, I would have responded to this news by buying up every box for my own baby, and MFLP would be out a few months' worth of cereal.

Another example: I was recently at a professional gathering where some of the people in attendance were new parents.  One person, who was on maternity leave, brought her baby with her.  She wanted to have an uninterrupted cup of coffee, so several people, including me, held the baby for a period of time.  I was holding him when he started fussing, and even managed to get him to stop fussing so his mother didn't have to drop everything.  But if I had a baby of my own, I wouldn't have found holding a baby to be an interesting and amusing diversion and would have instead been more interested in having my own uninterrupted cup of coffee, and that baby would have had a more stressed mommy that day.

Obviously, a few boxes of cereal and a round of fussy baby bouncing aren't life-changing.  Most of the time, my life has no impact on the children around me - positive or negative.  But when I do come in contact with the children around me, the fact that I have no children of my own allows me to be a slight positive influence in a way that wouldn't be as possible if I had kids.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Thoughts from advice columns: sperm donation

Q. Letting Wife Know About Sperm Donation: My wife and I are very good friends with a lesbian couple who is trying to have a baby. They asked me to donate sperm to conceive the child. After discussing it with my wife, I declined. They were very understanding and we remain good friends. However, in the course of our decision-making, my wife commented how odd it would be for me to have a child "out there." I agreed with her out loud, but the truth is, I have donated sperm. (I stopped before I met my wife, however.) For all I know, I could have several children "out there." I never told her about it because I never imagined it coming up and when I donated it seemed like I would always remain anonymous. After doing some research, however, it seems possible that a child that resulted from my donation COULD find and contact me. Should I tell my wife about my donations, and if so, how?

(This question is originally from a Dear Prudence chat, but I linked to the CF Abby entry because my thoughts are stemming more from the discussion.)

1. LW doesn't mention whether or not he and his wife have children or plan to have children, but if there is the potential for children in his relationship, I think he should tell his wife, just in case he one day decides to tell his children. There are reasons why you might tell your children that you've been a sperm donor (for example, so they know that they might have biological half-siblings out there and keep this in mind when making decisions about their own sex life), and different people have different ideas about whether this is a sufficient reason to disclose what some perceive as a private part of one's personal history. But, if it's a secret from your wife, that makes telling your kids harder. If your kids know, your wife should know first. And if you ever do have to tell your kids, it will be much easier to do so if your wife has already processed the information.

2. Some of the CF Abby commenters seem to think that it's not right for Wife to get a say in what Husband does with his sperm, citing his sovereignty over his own body. I question whether this really is a question of sovereignty over his own body (it makes no difference to his body if his sperm are donated or not), but, regardless, I think it's fair for Wife to at least express her opinion, and not unreasonable for Husband to take it into consideration.

What marriage has always meant to me is a deliberate choice to be each other's #1 person. If you didn't want to be each other's #1 person, you wouldn't get married. And, I think, part of being each other's #1 person is that you get first dibs on using their DNA to make children. There are arguments for or against whether the wife should be able to veto the husband's sperm donations, but I think it's completely reasonable and entirely within the spirit of marriage for her to have first dibs on bearing his children, because she's his #1 person. If Wife and Lesbian Couple all needed a kidney donation, Husband should offer to Wife first. If Husband, Wife and Lesbian Couple were all walking down the street one summer evening and it was a bit chilly, Husband should offer his jacket to Wife before he offers it to either half of Lesbian Couple. If Husband has two tickets to a concert, he should offer the other ticket to Wife before he offers it to one of Lesbian Couple. If he were to offer these things to Lesbian Couple without giving his wife right of first refusal, that would be completely inappropriate. Procreation is far more personal and intimate, so it would be even more inappropriate to let someone else bear his children first.

Another part of being each other's #1 person is respecting each other's emotional needs. This means that even if Wife's desire for Husband not to donate sperm isn't 100% rational, he might opt to respect her feelings rather than pushing them aside in favour of Lesbian Couple's desire to have a child (which is also not 100% rational). It's fair to express your emotional reactions to your partner without having to censor them for complete rationality, and it's anywhere from a valid choice to a loving choice to respect your partner's emotions without nitpicking them for rationality.

3. Personally, if I were to discover long after we got married that my husband had donated sperm in the past, I would feel that he had withheld important information. It would be kind of like discovering that your spouse had been a prostitute, or votes for The Worst Party. This is the kind of thing I'd want to know early on, because I find the egotism inherent in thinking it's a good idea to make new people out of one's DNA rather distasteful, and I'd have to work through it before I could potentially get involved with a person who has that specific shade of egotism. I'm sure some people reading this object to my distaste for sperm donation. And, if sperm donation is so important to you, wouldn't you want to know if I have such objectionable opinions before getting entangled in a relationship with me?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Sterilization technology update

I just found out today that there's another sterilization procedure that's like Essure, except the fallopian tube inserts are silicone rather than metal. It's called Adiana. It seems it hasn't been approved in Canada yet, but is going through the process.

I am not a medical professional and I am not in a position to vouch for or endorse this or any other medical procedure. I (unfortunately) have no firsthand experience with any sterilization procedures. I'm just posting this because it seems like it might be promising for people who are in the market for Essure but can't tolerate the metal inserts.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Women's trust is irrelevant to men's contraception

Tangental to this:

One thing I've frequently seen mentioned in discussions about the possibility of a male birth control pill is that it wouldn't fly because women wouldn't trust their partners to take the pill.

The more I think about it, the less I can see how this is at all relevant.

If my partner doesn't want children, he takes his pill. If I don't trust him to take his pill, I take my pill. Then we're doubly protected. Nothing wrong with that.

I've recently come to the realization that I still want to be sterilized even if my partner has been sterilized. But that doesn't mean my partner shouldn't get sterilized too if that's what he wants.

I know many people make these decisions as a couple and operate under the assumption that if between the two of them they can't make a baby, they're fine. And it is entirely their right to do so. But that doesn't mean that people who happen to be coupled shouldn't also be allowed to take measures to make sure that they, personally, don't sprog.

Some people will say that making these decisions as an individual implies that you're going to cheat. (Personally, I was thinking more along the lines that I could get raped.) But even if you are going to cheat, isn't it better to avoid making unwanted children while doing so? Best-case scenario: there's an affair, you reconcile and decide to move forward, if there are no children you can leave it completely behind you. Worst-case scenario: you DTMFA, there aren't any sprog requiring child support payments to take away from your alimony.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why your childless friends stopped calling

I often see in advice columns new parents complaining that their childless friends aren't calling them as much or aren't as involved in their lives.

Here's why:

We don't want to wake up the baby.

We know that you're not getting much sleep, and that the baby requires a lot of time and attention. We know that whatever idle chitchat we might have isn't nearly as important as letting the baby sleep if it's asleep, or as letting you parent the baby if it's awake. So we aren't going to go barging in on your important stuff for our less important stuff. Frankly, we don't know how you do it, but we do know well enough not to go imposing additional burdens on you.

So if you want to chat, call us when it's a good time for you. If you want something specific from us, let us know. Remember: you have been childless, but we have never been parents. Your needs have changed immensely, but ours are still pretty much the same. You know where we're coming from as well as you ever did, but we can only guess where you're coming from. You're the only one with the ability to bridge the gap, because you're the only one in this relationship who's been on both sides.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Search String of the Day

Tubals make you horny

Do they? Forever, or just temporarily? Could it possibly be because you stopped the Pill after your tubal and it was suppressing your sex drive?

(Search String of the Day concept shamelessly yoinked from L-girl)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Brilliant Ideas That Will Never Work: childfree ring

This idea started here and was enhanced by this.

Childfree people don't want to be in a relationship with non-childfree people, and vice versa. There's just no point. However, reproductive goals don't always naturally come up in conversation, and it's really presumptuous and kind of creepy to bring them up early on in a potential relationship. ("Want to go for coffee sometime?" "Sure, but I won't bear your children.") This could have the unfortunate result of people ending up emotionally attached to people who would make unsuitable partners. You might be well on your way to falling in love before you discover that one of you wants kids and the other doesn't, so the relationship will necessarily have to end.

Solution: a universally agreed-upon visual signal denoting one's childfree status. It would work the same as a wedding ring. You wear it and anyone who cares can look for it, see that you're childfree, and proceed accordingly. It doesn't necessarily have to be a ring, but it should be subtle, visible, and unisex.

The flaw in this plan is that since a childfree ring is worn only for the benefit of potential mates, wearing one implies that you're on the prowl. After all, if you're in a relationship, the general public doesn't need to know that you're childfree - whether you're CF or not, you still won't bear their children. Not everyone might want to walk around at all times wearing a symbol indicating that they're on the market. (I certainly wouldn't!) But then if you don't wear it all the time, you'll have a romantic comedy meet-cute with the guy in front of you in line at the grocery store and fall in love before you both discover that you're CF and he wants 12 kids. So I wouldn't wear it (although I'd have supermarket guy reading my blog before we got too serious anyway), and if not everyone wears it then it won't work.

Actually, now that I think about it, people who are in the market for a relationship should all blog. Not about looking for a relationship, but about everyday stuff. If I were looking for a relationship and a potential partner read my blog, they'd discover that I'm CF and urbanist and recovering catholic, they'd get a sense of my politics and tastes and neuroses and sense of humour, so any core incompatibilities would be identified immediately and incompatible partners could reject me before I even noticed they were looking. It would be much more efficient.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The argument for sterilization before marriage

One of the barriers people face in getting sterilized is "But what if you get into a relationship with someone who wants kids?" As we CFers know, that's a deal-breaker. We don't want to be in a relationship with someone who wants kids, period.

But, as we also know, some breeder types think we can be talked out of or are going to grow out of being childfree (we're not) so might enter into a relationship with a CFer anyway, only to write angsty letters to Dear Abby years later when they find we were telling the truth.

Therefore being sterilized before you've found your life partner is a good idea, because it serves as an automatic breeder filter. Even if your future reproductive plans don't come up in conversation early on (You can't exactly do "Hey, do you, um, want to go get a cup of coffee or something?" "Sure, but I'm not going to bear your children."), it will come up in the birth control conversation. ("I've had Essure, but we'll need condoms at least until we both get tested.") No one will ever be under the impression that you could be convinced to breed, and it will therefore save everyone a lot of angst.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Analogy for why you might want a tubal even if your husband has a vasectomy

When reading about the couple who was denied a tubal even though they had two children and their family was complete, one of the most frequent comments I noticed was people saying the husband should get a vasectomy instead.

I know a vasectomy is far less invasive than a tubal, and I know it is a solution that works for a huge number of couples. But some people might still want a tubal even if their husband has a vasectomy.

Here's why:

Suppose some evil bad guy has given you a bomb. For plot purposes, you can't just put down the bomb and walk away - it is somehow attached to you in a way that you, personally, are unable to remove. So you call the bomb squad for help.

The bomb squad arrives and tells you you're in luck - this bomb isn't going to go off by itself, it will only go off if exposed to open flame. So the bomb squad goes through your home and removes ever source of open flame. They remove your barbecue and your fireplace and your lighters and your matches and your candles and everything else in the house that might produce or require open flame. Then they say "Okay, no more sources of open flame, you're safe."

Now, by strict statistics, the vast majority of people aren't going to be inadvertently exposed to open flame. There are no sources of open flame in your home, and if you ever see any open flame anywhere else, you're going to run in the opposite direction.

But you still want them to get rid of the bomb, don't you?

Friday, June 19, 2009


Two of the things I need to blog are important. I'd would be derelict in my duties as a citizen if I did not blog them. Plus there's other stuff floating around in my head and sitting half-written in my drafts.

But I've been spending all day wrestling disorganized thoughts into a sensible and cohesive form, and I just don't have it in me to do this with my own thoughts. Plus my apartment's a mess. And I'm really overdue for one or two fussy girly things that involve spending long periods of time in the bathroom. Posh problems, I know, but there we go.

Here's a picture of a baby armadillo drinking from a bottle. Which caused the google ads that seem to have suddenly appeared on blogger to try to sell me baby formula. So I'm going to loudly insert the world childfree here. CHILDFREE!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Childfree for Dummies: Part V

Some people dismiss our self-identification as childfree because they themselves used to not want children, but grew to want children when they got older.

As it happens, I used to want children. When I was 10, 11, 12 years old, I had what I can best describe as a strong biological yearning for to have a baby, and even as old as 14 the idea held appeal for me. Nothing ever came of it because mentally and socially I hadn't reached the point where even kissing a boy seemed like a pleasant way to pass the time. But as I grew up and matured, I came to realize that it wasn't actually children I wanted. I wanted a living breathing visible sign to show the world that someone loved me, and when that desire met my newfound flood of hormones it manifested itself as a yearning for a baby.

Does that invalidate your desire to have children, making it merely a childish phase that you will grow out of?

Childfree for Dummies: Part IV

Apparently not wanting children is "bitter, selfish, un-sisterly, unnatural, evil."

Not all my childfree brethern will agree with me or publicly admit this, but I will tell you right here, upfront, that it's true - I am in fact bitter, selfish, un-sisterly, unnatural and evil.

In other words, not at all the kind of person you'd want raising children.

So don't you think I should be sterilized before some poor innocent child is subject to my bitterness, selfishness, un-sisterliness, unnaturalness and evilness?

(Also: Why do doctors who refuse to sterilize patients on the basis that those patients are too young and don't know what they're doing permit those very same patients to have kids?)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Anyone know the nitty gritty details of sterilization?

With both Essure and tubal ligation, the Fallopian tubes are made impassable, so the ova can't get from the ovaries to the uterus.

But these procedures do nothing to prevent the ovaries from releasing ova. So where do the ova go?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Ethical pondering of the moment

I wonder how ethical/unethical it is to mention (when the opportunity presents itself naturally in conversation) that I'm childfree to increase my perceived employability?

It isn't so much an issue with my current employer and perhaps not in the profession as a whole (it would certainly be foolish to discriminate against maternity in a female-dominated profession that claims to desperately need an infusion of young professionals), but I've read several things lately where employers discriminate against maternity, and it occurred to me that my childfree status could be an asset. Up until now I'd been keeping it a bit quiet, because I always thought people perceived it as immaturity.

On one hand, I shouldn't be facilitating discrimination against maternity. On the other, it could be a tipping point in my favour.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Childfree for Dummies: Part III

Think about porcupines. They're cool and interesting and can be cute, especially when they're little. If you're walking down the street and you see one, you totally give it a second look and maybe even stop to interact, and as long as nothing goes egregiously wrong it's a pleasant experience that makes a good story to tell when asked how your day was.

However, you don't particularly want one of your own. If you found one, it would never occur to you to keep it. If one popped up in your house one day, you'd probably get rid of it. And you certainly don't feel at all deprived for not owning a porcupine.

How you feel about porcupines here is the same as how I feel about children.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How to eliminate all but the most medically necessary late-term abortions

I know, this is a boring topic, but I'm just gonna do this one real quick post with a practical solution to a specific problem that has only recently come to my attention, and then on to more interesting things. They're going through the motions of dropping it, so I'll do the same.

In reading the comment pages lately (I know, I know), I'm surprised at how many people are concerned specifically about late-term abortion. I always thought it was more of an "abortions for all" vs. "abortions for none" dichotemy, but it seems for some people it makes a lot of difference how far along the gestation is.

Strange issue that never occurred to me, but luckily I have a solution that will reduce late-term abortion specifically:

Make timely abortion easily accessible to everyone.

If you can just get on the bus one day at your convenience, go down to the local abortion clinic, get your abortion, and take the bus back home where you can recover quietly, you're going to get it within a week of peeing on the stick, possibly the same day. However, if you have to plan out-of-town (out-of-province? out-of-country?) travel, scrounge together a bunch of money, take a day off work and lose a day's pay in the process, find a sitter, convince someone to come with you because you can't drive yourself home after an abortion and the only way to get to the clinic is by car, and/or ditch your overprotective parents and find someplace to crash out of their sight while you recover, that will seriously hinder your ability to get it done in the first trimester.

So if, for whatever reason, the idea of late-term abortion bothers you, the thing to do is lobby for increased access for everyone. That will eliminate late-term abortion in all cases except those upredictable ones where the fetus just goes kerflooey (or whatever it is happens - I'm not up on the third trimester) and has to be removed.