Why Your Health Is More Important Than Sex

As a teenager, I had a very high-risk pregnancy. I don’t feel that it was a choice. It was a life-or-death situation. I know a lot of people who chose to have children, and it’s clear that many of those choices were much better than mine.

Why would you choose to have a kid that you know will die before even reaching adulthood? My sister and I were fortunate enough to reach adulthood, we have good health and are generally satisfied with our lives. But our story was about making choices—about trying to decide to forgo the chance to have children in order to save other people’s lives. There are a million reasons why women have children but if I had to identify ten common ground truths about having children and dying, I would say: 1. Having a child often means sacrificing the chance for another child. 2. The risk of dying during childbirth is far greater than in a car accident. 3. In the case of the mother, dying during childbirth can be a relief not only to a grieving family, but also the parents of the stillborn or disabled child.

How did I handle this choice?  I didn’t give up on my dreams of having children. I made the ultimate sacrifice— I put my whole life into saving my life as she went through it.   I did the dishes and cleaned the house as best I could, I took care of the sick people in the hospital the best I could, I made dinner. I didn’t let myself become a victim. I took the steps I knew would save me. But I also did a lot of things that hurt me badly: I quit my job, I got married early and had kids much younger than I wanted or needed them, I didn’t spend enough money on my house and I allowed myself to become too attached to my job. But that doesn’t mean I could have chosen a different path.

This choice to be in this position I know all about because of the choices taken by my parents when I was a child. They sacrificed most of my childhood, they had to make hard decisions that would hurt me to this day—but they did it for me. That’s what a person has to do every day to choose their life. It’s not always easy—and I don’t think it would be a good reason to have a child. But it doesn’t mean it would be wrong to have one.

One option that I didn’t think to consider as a young adult was to have a baby in secret. I was married at 23 and still hadn’t found a single girl I truly loved, so I was open to the idea of finding one who was the perfect wife. My ex-husband was thrilled about the idea, and the day after I proposed, I decided to take the first step, with the help of our fertility clinic. But my secret was soon discovered and it all fell apart when the clinic revealed that they had already taken blood samples from me. When word came down that the doctor found out I was carrying a girl, he was so upset that he tried to commit suicide two weeks later.

For many years he tried to explain to me why he needed to die; I just told him I was sorry for hurting him, that a miscarriage had given me the courage of my life, and that I needed him to be there for my baby; that if he was in pain, I was in pain; and that even if he had been so upset by my choice, he was still my husband and I could make the hard choice. If I could have asked him to make that choice he would have tried and I could have accepted it—even the hard choice.

But we made that hard choice by a series of hard choices.

As my ex-husband and I talked about what to do, we started talking about our lives. He had been working full time and had an excellent job. He was young and beautiful and lived in a nice home—with his beautiful wife. I knew the life of his dreams, but we both knew that it meant living in fear of being sued for child support if I got pregnant with another child.