No Babies. All Love.
Last week I was in a meeting pitching morethanpkd.com’s planned initiatives to a potential partner. I had finished explaining how PKD is a genetic and usually hereditary disease and it’s nature and effects. The male representative of the potential partner firm then asked me about my triathlon training and I made a comment about loving getting up early for training and seeing the dawn everyday. He jokingly quipped in response “You only like waking before dawn because you don’t have kids yet! Just wait till you do! You won’t like it then!”. He and his female colleague laughed heartily. I chuckled uncomfortably at the inadvertently horrific nature of the joke. It was one of those times in life where if you don’t laugh you’ll cry.
I ask all these questions because in my meeting that gentleman made that joke with no malicious intent but with complete disregard for what I had just told him about PKD being a genetic condition and what might be inferred from that information. You see, I have PKD (genetic mutation). I had Nephrotic Syndrome (also genetic). I carry the gene for Lupus. AND I have severe Endometriosis which is so painful that I still cannot have sex after having had excision surgery and treatment two years ago. It is likely that I cannot bear children and if I were to it could have very negative consequences for my health. I also would not wish my set of genetic short straws on even my worst enemy, let alone create a child so at risk of suffering. The only saving grace is that I had always said I never wanted to have children, even before I found out the full extent of the genetic burden that I carry.
It still hurts though. I went through my teens and twenties being asked and interrogated over and over again about when I would have kids and why I didn’t want them. I was told time and time again that I would change my mind. This personal invasion was agonising and made me feel less and less like a ‘real’ woman. I was suffering depression at the time and these conversations hit deeply as I struggled not to retort that the world was such an awful place that I could never inflict its horrors upon a new human being! I would tell people that if I was to ever change my mind I would adopt and care for a child that was already here. This was always met with the response of “But they’re not your own and your partner’s flesh and blood. It’s not the same”. I couldn’t for the life of me understand this selfish obsession with creating a ‘mini-me’. I personally couldn’t see any great need to try to replicate myself, nor any other average person for that matter. Nor could I fathom how people could neglect their own parents in nursing homes whilst asking me why I wouldn’t want to bear someone to look after me when I get old?
I do have to admit though that when I was diagnosed with PKD and Endometriosis a part of me did die inside considering my fertility. It wasn’t because these were the nails in the coffin of my decision not to have kids but because I felt like my RIGHT to choose not to have them had somehow been stolen by these diagnoses. I felt that I lost some of my freedom of self-determination and I mourned this for a time. Having these conditions did at least give me a ‘good’ reason and a way to hit back hard against those who pry too far. Nothing shuts someone down faster, and makes them regret their words more than answering “Do you have kids?” with “No. I can’t” followed up with their “Oh, I am so sorry!” being countered with my “Well, I’m not”. And the old “Why don’t you want kids?” repelled with “Because I have an incurable degenerative condition for which there is no treatment and I do not wish to pass it on”. These answers, I hope, serve very well to teach people how inappropriate, sensitive and personal these questions are. I hate to think what it feels like for women who want children but cannot conceive. It’s time that asking about, or commenting on, a woman’s fertility becomes as taboo as religion and politics as a conversation starter.
Personally, I have determined that I am here on this earth to love all, not just those of my blood line. I run a business where I care for and invest heavily in the wellbeing of my staff so that they can be happy and healthy parents and look after their families and community. My business and now morethanpkd.com are my babies. I gave birth to them (it was very painful each time), have nurtured them, been hurt by them, sleep deprived by them exhausted by them, shat and vomited on by them and have proudly watched them learn, grow and achieve. FTD has helped hundreds of individuals and families conceive of and bring into the world children of their hearts and minds. These have been in the form of businesses/livelihoods by which they have been able to fund the raising of their human children in turn. Morethanpkd.com provides inspiration, information, and projects aimed at raising healthy, happy and active individuals to reach their potential. These babies are the conduits of my passion and my love. As plant based organizations I hope that both FTD and >PKD will also shape a better world for the human, animal and plant children of this planet.
The universe, for whatever reason, has directed me to nurture in a more broad and conscious fashion. To build a business, in my own image, that looks after me now I am older and provides me with the freedom to set up an NFP to support others, this planet, and its children. Through this, I aim to leave a positive legacy and honour the world that raised me.
© morethanpkd.com | 2016