Our Labradoodle, Charminator, was spayed recently, making me the only person in our condo who isn’t fixed.
Bosco is fixed. Charminator is fixed. The Hubs is fixed.
I feel a little left out, sure, but not enough to fork over thousands for an invasive surgery that insurance won’t cover. Plus, I still heart my quarterly birth control, nevermind the incredible skin clearing properties. My bacon (adapted from the abbreviation “b-con” that I use in my daily phone alarm) and I are in it for the long haul. Bacon bacon bacon!
The Hubs said I need to start mixing in some shorter posts since the long ones take awhile to put together, so since it’s Thanksgiving this week in the U.S.A. and we are gearing up for some major in-law time, here’s a poem instead of a longer eulogy of three fourths of our family’s reproductive skills. It was supposed to be a haiku, but I decided to give up counting syllables and drink box wine instead.
Three Out of Four
Happy Thanksgiving to all the wide and wonderful world!
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the approaching first anniversary of the Hubs’s vasectomy. It was a major day in the history of our childfree freedom, but it’s a day I never really thought about celebrating. I mean, isn’t it weird to celebrate a surgery? Yuck!
But then our good friends from our old city, Allie and Billy, told us they were getting a vasectomy, too. We were giddy, not just because we finally had offline friends who were officially childfree like we were, but because we were delighted they had made a huge choice about their future. I felt that it should be celebrated in the same way a pregnancy announcement should be celebrated. I sent them a cutesy baby card, crossing out the “baby” in “congratulations on your baby” and writing “vasectomy” in red permanent marker. Inside, I listed a few of the awesome things they had to look forward to as childfree folk. They loved it.
Instead of a shower gift, I told them once Billy was feeling better, or whenever we saw them next because we moved away, we wanted to take them out to dinner to celebrate.
It makes me so happy to feel like we have a little bro and sis in the unofficial childfree fraternity. And it does feel like a fraternity, because even though we can be candid with Allie and Billy other, our official status is private from the world at large. People online congratulated us when the Hubs was sterilized and that meant the world—it really did and still does—but it’s so cool to be able to do that for someone in offline life. To treat their decision with the same level of celebration we would if they had chosen to have a child. I really think rooting for them made their experience different. Isn’t life better when you have a few cheerleaders?
I texted Allie on the day of Billy’s procedure to say “happy baby-free birthday!” and realized that maybe there’s something to that idea. I later spent 45 minutes on the phone with her so she wouldn’t be alone in the waiting room. I have never been more honored to be there for someone, especially since when the Hubs had his procedure done, nobody was there to hold my hand. Yes, the decision to have a procedure causes butterflies, but all said and done, I wanted to help Allie feel like it really was something to celebrate. And it was.
As childfree people, we don’t celebrate kid birthdays, but since I love holidays and celebrations, maybe I should start celebrating the day we became a childfree couple. Or, if not the day of the surgery because it feels a bit morose, just pick a random day and pretend it’s the day we decided, then start some traditions to go along with it. (“How are we celebrating tonight, Brain? The same way we do every night, Pinky–by getting takeout and streaming Netflix.”) Who cares, I just like holidays, and you can’t have too many.
Then again, I have to be honest—celebrating a specific day feels a little superfluous, since every day is seriously a celebration. And I’m not kidding. We love our lives that much.
A personal holiday honoring our non-parenthood makes sense, after all. There’s a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, so why not a ChildFreedom Day? (If you have a better idea for the name of this new holiday, please, please leave a comment!)
So, fellow childfree by choice adults, do you celebrate the anniversary of the day you officially joined the childfree club, or the day you medically said c’est la vie to your ability to procreate?
Update: Now that Allie and Billy have gone through their vasectomy, we have all decided to skedattle off to Disney as a Fearsome Foursome next year. We are celebrating milestone wedding anniversaries, milestone birthdays (30 is coming up, Aurora!), and our milestone decisions to be childfree. Now that I think of it, were Mickey and Minnie childfree, too? Mind. Just. Blown.
Folks, I am bursting with excitement because today is a special day in the lives of our very best couple friends, Allie and Billy. Today is the day Billy gets snipped.
It’s weird to feel excited that a doctor is going to be rummaging around in your friend’s balls, but that glaring statement aside, I choose to turn a blind eye to the ooey gooey of it and focus on the main fact: We finally have offline childfree friends.
I’ve blogged about our lack of childfree friends before. We just couldn’t find any, and every time we thought we had found someone who chose to be in the same boat, they popped out a baby. We were thrilled for these people in the way we will always be happy when friends get what they want out of life, but facts are facts, and in modern American culture, parents generally dump friends-without-kids in less than a year and a half after their child’s birth date. Think I’m being harsh? This professional confessional from a parent backs me up.
One beloved couple even went so far as to make it to their 40th birthdays before going baby bananas out of the clear blue sky, pushing their bodies past the limits of health and wellness for years until they had In Vitro twins. Now that the twins are here, in my mother friend’s own words, she is pretty much drowning. She’s sailing on another course now, and I can visit, but she can’t look back. Her time is spent keeping the kids alive. Mine is evidently spent blogging about it.
So anyway, after years of making friends who said they didn’t want kids and then had twins, we couldn’t believe it when Allie and Billy broke the news they were making their childfree status official. They said “childless” because they didn’t know they’d just joined an international secret society, but little did they know they were in the best of hands. After all, I, Aurora Bordeaux, am apparently a global voice in the childfree movement. Lucky them! Lucky me!
Oddest of all, these nice folks were our nearby neighbors back in the suburbs. We never would have met if we hadn’t attended one of those lame-o community meetings where people bitch about other people not mowing the lawns, and suddenly, there Allie and Billy were. We instantly bonded over a shared weakness for Indian food and the fact that we didn’t have kids. But most friends always started out that way, then two years later—bam—kids.
Allie and I had more and more in common the more we got to know each other, and I really liked her. We found we could share truthful thoughts the way we just couldn’t seem to with other people. So, gradually, I began to make it more clear that our no-kid status was the real deal. And she, gradually, began to share her conflicts about what she really wanted for the future of her family. She was the second of only two living souls I ever told about the Hub’s vasectomy.
Over the winter and spring, Allie and I spent a lot of time talking about being childfree. The poor gal was at war with herself. Billy had become clear about not wanting children, but Allie was on the fence. It was almost obvious from the outside that she didn’t actually want kids, but the shadow of needing to please others was obscuring her view of her own desires. She was scared of regret, she was scared of letting her parents down, and she was going through the same cycle of self torture I put myself through when I was “trying to decide” but felt obligated to second guess myself.
I didn’t tell Allie what to do, I just advised her to stop thinking about other people—her parents, her family, her husband—and ask herself what she wanted. I made it clear that I would support her whatever she chose, and I meant it. If she could silence the other voices in her mind and make it only about herself, what would she choose?
Four weeks later, the day she and Billy helped us load our moving truck, Allie told me that Billy had made an appointment to get snipped. She was happy. Really, truly happy.
I was overjoyed, but not just because we finally had officially childfree couple friends. It’s because Allie had made a decision and was at peace with herself.
I’d like to wish Allie and Billy a very happy baby-free birthday, even though they don’t know I have this blog. To Allie and Billy: We wish you a quick procedure, a speedy recovery, and a blessed life of childfree bliss. Even though you don’t know the childfree club is out there yet, well, welcome to the club.
Well, peeps, it’s that time of year again. The time when green leaves turn colorful and crispy and our alma maters flair their siren signals to draw all graduates back in an effort to siphon more money out of our retirement savings. It’s Homecoming!
Approaching return to my higher education institution of choice has certainly cooked up some reflective thoughts. For example, what do I wear? Should I bother with eyeliner or not? How will my ten-years-later physique and wrinkle ratio compare to my former cohorts’? Will my ex boyfriends be there, and will I trounce them in the happiness category? (Answers: Cowboy boots, screw eyeliner, probably a little better based on my skin care regimen and mixed martial arts, yes, and yes.)
Those are shallow questions, I know, but I’m just being honest. You have to be honest on the Internet. It’s, like, a rule or something.
Another bizarre element to the happy-happy reunion is a previously unconsidered elephant in the room, the ever constant marker on the Game of Life: Which couples have children and which couples don’t. I even caught myself saying something silly to the Hubs as I was brushing my teeth the other night: “Remember Bransen? I’m so surprised she hasn’t had kids yet. (Spit.) She’s been married for years. I figured she’d have a zillion by now.” Well, Aurora, you’ve been married nearly a decade. And aren’t you always pissed when people assume you should have had kids by now?
It’s not that I dislike or disrespect Bransen for not procreating, and it’s not that I’m judging her. I’m just literally surprised because she is a teacher (probably a good one) and obsessed over kids even as a student. She was fixated on all things child and I guess I just imagine her as a mom. Then again, who am I to imagine who would be a parent and who wouldn’t? I was so embarassed. But it’s the Internet, so I have to tell the truth.
I wonder if now, in addition to income, hair retention, and overall hotness and “success,” reunions will have the added measuring stick of who totes a toddler and who doesn’t. Will people wonder if the Hubs and I, who are firmly but silently childfree by choice, are either 1. having conception issues (please, God, don’t let anyone assume this and give us advice), or 2. selfish. Maybe culture has evolved considerably since reunions were created and people aren’t as judgy wudgy as they used to be, but I doubt it.
I keep thinking about one of my all time favorite movies, Grosse Point Blank, where golden-boy-turned-professional-killer John Cusack is mystically called back to his town of origin. “Ten years, man” is a long time, and a lot can change. None of my former cohorts know anything about who I am today, my love of martial arts and general weaponry, my choice to defect from the supposed natural order by declaring myself childfree, even about this hit childfree blog. These people no longer even know my name. How am I supposed to go back there and act “normal”? I’m not that girl anymore.
I’m sure I’m overthinking Homecoming. But I figured, while I’m overthinking it, I might as well make a blog out of it. I’m cool with myself. I’m thrilled with my life. I’m excited to see the wonderful people I am about to reconnect with. Everyone else can go be ugly somewhere else. (To put all this into context, I went to a high end but highfalutin college, so expecting coldness from some isn’t exactly unreasonable. We have a longstanding rep for bitchiness.)
While overcoming introverted heart palpitations at the thought of the mass interaction I am about to face, I imagined conversations and the way they’d play out. I don’t know if this is a common introvert activity, but I often imagine chats to kind of rehearse. It’s a way to get all (or most) of my stupid out in a safe space where no one else can hear me.
So, since it’s the Internet and all, I’ll play one for you.
Mean Girl: “So, when are you two thinking of having children of your own?”
Aurora: “I don’t know. When was your last bowel movement?”
Mean Girl: (Speechless.)
Aurora: “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought we were asking invasive, inappropriate questions.”
And then Tina Fey and Amy Poehler leap out of the bushes, clapping slowly, and everyone starts clapping all at once and Tina and Amy hoist me onto their shoulders and spin me around like it’s a Jewish wedding. Then we all dance with ourselves to Jimmy Eat World and eat brownies and never, ever get fat. Oh, and we’re in a white tent and there are Christmas lights strung across the ceiling. And it’s awesome.
Even if weird things happen and some moments are just as awkward as being a student often was, it will be awesome. I’m armed with a highly evolved sense of backbone, an outstanding Hubs, and two righteous Labradoodles. How could any Homecoming, even if it’s at the Ground Zero of the place where I started becoming the best version of myself, not be fantastic.
Dear Friends, today I’d like to talk about a pressing issue facing our childfree community. You know how mothers are always throwing a superiority complex your way, complaining that “you’ll never know pain” unless you have a baby? Well, pardon my French, but what a load of balls. This week, I experienced a feeling that even women who have birthed multiples claim is a demon bitch dominatrix far worse than childbearing: The un-trumpable kidney stone.
Kidney stones (or as I like to call them, piss diamonds) are basically itsy bitsy jagged rocks that begin in your kidneys and slice an excruciating path through your ureter, a teeny weeny straw the size of a molecule that connects the kidneys to the promised land of the bladder. It may not sound like a big deal to the uninitiated. I thought it was something that only happened to old men who complained too much about everything.
I was so wrong.
Now peeps, old Aurora Bordeaux isn’t quite a health nut, but I’m definitely healthy. I hit the mats about five times a week for intense MMA workouts, I walk at least 10,000 steps a day, and I eat pretty well and acknowledge that sugar, salt, and bourbon are treats, not food groups. What I’m trying to say is, I didn’t deserve this. That’s the bitch and bear of kidney stones, they don’t discriminate based on lifestyle. It can happen to anyone, any time. Boogety boogety boo!
I started feeling some abdominal discomfort a few days before, but ignored it. Even when the discomfort escalated into pain, I ignored some more. I figured it must be freak, out-of-season menstrual cramps or a weird digestive issue that would take care of itself. But when my little pain pet started mutating into a stabbing monster that no amount of stretching, breathing, lying down, or walking could alleviate, I started to seriously worry. The piercing pain was radiating from my lower right abdomen, and combined with twisting nausea and chills, I was scared it was appendicitis. My good friend, Google, confirmed this.
The Hubs toted me to my very first emergency room visit. I still somehow insisted that I was probably fine and didn’t need a doctor. But the traditional side effect to untreated appendicitis—death—helped me go along with the need to seek professional help.
At the ER, I was in so much pain I could barely speak. I didn’t moan or hum like the other whiners in the waiting room, I just closed my eyes, breathed like an instant yoga guru, gripped my packed bag of clothes and soap, and moved my feet in square patterns on the floor to give myself something else to focus on. I didn’t care how it looked. I didn’t care what anyone thought. I just cared about digesting the pain enough to make it through that second, then processing fresh waves of agony enough to make it through the next. Blogger though I am, I’m not sure how to adequately describe the gripping, ripping, white-hot hell I was in. I’ll just say: It freakin’ hurt.
I kept thinking, “There is no way labor can be worse than this.” There were no breaks like women in labor get with contractions. It was a solid wall of all encompassing “yow!” I began to resent it, given that one of the hundreds of reasons I never wanted children is because I didn’t particularly want to spend a night in the hospital in labor.
I waited and waited, swarms of ER nurses and doctors passing me by without a single glance. I barfed in front of a super cute male nurse who was kind and rubbed my back while my head was buried in the bucket. I gave blood. I peed in a cup. I waited, waited, waited, all alone, the Hubs sequestered in the main waiting room with the druggies and 2 a.m. crazies. The pain gradually began to subside, and Google told me my appendix had likely burst, which causes a temporary relief until your body floods with poison. Hours passed. Time became elastic. I polished up my gratitude—I was in a clean, safe place with people who, though they ignored me completely, probably weren’t going to let me die.
Seven hours later in the wee hours of dawn when I left the emergency room after learning I had passed a kidney stone, I found out that what I went through might actually have been worse than labor. Many women, including the mother of four quoted in this CNN article comparing kidney stones to child bearing, say they’d rather do childbirth multiple times over than suffer through another stone.
That made me feel like a childfree champion. To all the mothers who have ever looked at me like they were chosen soldiers superiorly designed to bear pain, all the women who have acted like I don’t know what pain is: Try a kidney stone and get back to me.
A dear friend who I love told me when she had her second child, she screamed her head off for thirty minutes so loud that people down the maternity hall were asking who was being murdered. I love my friend, but I thought it was a little overly dramatic to refuse drugs, then siren off piercing screams that disrupted the experience (and maybe sleep) of everyone else in the entire ward. These other women were going through exactly what she was and yet managed not to make a horrific scene. I always felt a little guilty for judging her, but after surviving a passed kidney stone while believing I might be at death’s door without making a single peep, I now feel that maybe I can wear my judgment beanie with the little spinner on top for a minute or two.
If you’ve ever had a kidney stone, I love you and want you to consider this a virtual hug (mwah!). We are stone brothers and sisters now. And if you haven’t had a stone, I hope you never get one. But if you do, know that you might not have to worry that you could be dying of appendicitis. But for the love, see a doctor!
The upside is that I’m fine, and now every time I pass the emergency room in our new city, I can say, “Hey, I’ve been in there.” All in all, I’m a lucky duck.
For the record, I think this video is a tad over the top, but still funny. Since this week’s post is related to smugness, it seemed like an appropriate clip. I just love that little pipsqueak Kate Micucci–what a doll she was in When in Rome!