My name is Eve I am childless – not by choice.
My story, is I suspect, like those of so many others. I was born in 1957 the last of 4 children, my eldest sibling was born at the beginning of WWII and subsequent siblings 3-4 years apart. I was the last in the brood, and young compared to my siblings with a large age gap between all of them and me.
My mother, being early 40s when she had me, was soon after, then in menopause and her struggle with that and my growing needs meant she was often agitated and short tempered. I spent a sometimes lonely childhood, not surrounded by other children and not really fitting in with my grown siblings. With ageing parents who’s health was not good and siblings already having children, their own families , for many reasons I felt this meant I needed to grow up and be ‘mature’.
An inappropriate sexual encounter at 12 left me feeling even more isolated from the family. Further isolation came with a pregnancy and termination I had a 16. In that era – the early 1970s - I didn’t think my parents would accept my unmarried mother situation – I would lose their love. I had two further terminations as a single woman, because I thought this way for a long time.
I left my home and moved across the country to remove myself from my failure to be part of the family. I made friends and began to date, met a fellow – fell in love but felt he was not really mature enough for me despite the fact that he loved me, I wanted more (what, I didn’t quite know). I met an older man (who already had children) and felt my time would come as he loved me and he would really want more children. I was of course, wrong.
After 11 years dealing with my step children, with none of my own, I was 33 single again and trying to meet Mr Right. I still wanted to have a ‘proper’ marriage and family. That resulted in another long term relationship between ages 34-42 with a man who told me that he really wanted marriage and a family. Despite me throwing myself again wholeheartedly into the relationship working hard at the marriage and our home - he was eventually shown to be immature, dishonest and a socio-path.
Leaving him I realised that was my last opportunity gone to have a proper family of my own. I had looked into adopting but the rules for single women adopting were pretty clear at that time and as well I didn’t have an income I felt could support me and a child. Many women friends said – ‘just get pregnant’ – but I thought it would be cruel for the child not to have a ‘proper’ family. IVF seemed only for couples. Surrogacy too expensive – out of reach, foster parenting not available to a single woman (and too cruel if I had to give back the children).
I now have a step family who at worst mistrust my motives making the most of my husband and my actions to live our own lives and at best give us access to my husband’s grandchildren.
I had a long meaningful discussion about childlessness with my oldest niece after she and her husband told all the family they weren’t going to have children. She now has two little girls. The other nieces and nephews in the family have children - most recently a single niece who despite having little income – with help from her mother, my sister just decided that she may as well have a child because she wanted one and she didn’t feel she’s ever have a partner so she just ‘got a sperm’ and is now expecting.
I HAD to write this all down because I have had such horrid time since this last news – depressed and tearful – about not having children and also not having a family to care for me in the future. Despite carrying on making my way in my music and other jobs to make ends meet, and despite having a truly lovely and supportive husband – I am ashamed because I feel jealous, angry, sad, bitter and so desperately alone about this side of my life.
It is currently overwhelming – I would like to offer some hope and a ‘good ending’ to this story – but I don’t see there being one, I am sad for the child I was unable to just enjoy being a child – putting pressure on myself to ‘grow up’ and I am desperately sad for myself now. I wish I could offer hope to others. I feel grateful I can get this out of me and tell someone.
Eve, 62 years.