Health Care, Love, Life Stories, Wellness

Why I made the decision to not get pregnant when I was twenty

Please consider what people like me with chronic illnesses face before judging us.

Despite feeling like a child, I often get comments from family members, mostly those who don’t know me that well, asking me if I want kids. I often laugh this off and say that I’m too young to think about having kids. But, in reality, I’m not ready to have conversations with people about how getting pregnant could put my life at risk.

I have a rare disease called Hypocomplementemic urticarial vasculitis, which very much impacts my day-to-day life.  To say developing this disease was a shock would be an understatement. I have no history of autoimmune diseases in my family, and I did not have any symptoms of this disease until I was 18 and a half. I’m still learning how to cope with this disease mentally and am realizing how this autoimmune disease will impact the rest of my life.

I'm learning how to cope with this disease mentally and am realizing how this autoimmune disease will impact the rest of my life. Click To Tweet

Due to the aggressive nature of my disease, I know that if I become pregnant, my pregnancy would be a high risk one. I already feel like my life could end suddenly because of the severity of my symptoms, so I do not want want to have to put myself through that. Additionally, I would have to stop taking a medication that helps control my rare disease if I get pregnant. There is another medication–namely a form of steroids called Prednisone, but I am concerned about the emotional side effects that I have had on that medication. I’m not alone with this, Prednisone and similar medication, as studies have shown that steroids can cause mood and cognitive changes. On top of hormonal changes that often come with pregnancy, I’m not sure I could mentally cope with unstable emotions caused by this medication.

I'm not ready to have conversations with people about how getting pregnant could put my life at risk. Click To Tweet

I also would not know how to live with myself if I passed on this disease to a child. There’s no study that proves if vasculitis isn’t genetic–and I do not want to take my chances. I’m miserable enough with this disease. I could adopt, but I’m still afraid of how my illness could interfere with me being a good parent. I am exhausted and in pain 99.5 percent of the time. I can barely take care of myself, let alone a small human being. Fine, I’m good at taking care of dogs but they’re much simpler than us human folks. That’s why we have arguments if cat people or dog people are better–not baby people.

I also would not know how to life with myself if I passed on this disease to a child. Click To Tweet

In general, I’m not a huge baby or kid person, so not having kids not a failed dream of mine. Instead, I’d be a lot more crushed if I could never adopt dogs. And if I change my mind down the road about having children, I know I would take the route of adopting, because getting pregnant is not an option that I would consider.

But, the fact that my family members are asking if I want kids hits at a different issue: People really need to mind their own business regarding fertility and pregnancies in general. You don’t know if someone is struggling with fertility or someone could be facing a similar issue with the same or a different chronic illness that I do. If I or someone else don’t bring up the topic of us wanting to get pregnant and have kids, please don’t ask. I don’t want to have to explain how my health issues made me make the decision I did regarding getting pregnant to every nosy family member who asks.