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On Having Kids

By now you’ve probably noticed that I’ve never mentioned having kids. That’s because we don’t plan to.

I decided before I met Hart that I didn’t want to and, fortunately, he was indifferent. Everyone told me that I’d change my mind when I got older. There’s a good chance I would have if circumstances were different.

But they aren’t. My head hurts all the time, some days worse than others. Hart works long hours. It’s hard enough to find time to spend together when I feel good and he’s not at the office. Where would the time be to spend with — or even care for — kids?

I worry about the physical effects too: Hormonal changes during pregnancy and their potential to change my future headaches. Headaches triggered by never getting enough sleep. Stress.

Our most important concern is how it would affect the child. My inability to function for some part of most days. Days or weeks that I can’t get out of bed at all, much less feed a child or take him or her to school. There would be canceled play dates, missed practices, and times I couldn’t go to the school talent show.

When I’ve asked on forums how people cope with having kids and headache, they all tell me it’s worth it. They never tell me how it affects their children. If the topic comes up spontaneously, parents talk about the activities their children miss out on, how much time the kids spend playing alone while their parents lie in bed. And how awful this is for kids and parents.

Some may say that all parents feel guilty for something they’ve done to “damage” their children. I’ll buy that, but our eyes are wide open to the potential for my headaches (and also Hart’s infrequent migraines) to harm a child.

I’m only 30, so we have plenty of time to change our minds. I just don’t think we will.

Please don’t think I’m passing judgment on headache sufferers who have or plan to have children. This is my decision for myself.

11 Responses to On Having Kids

  1. Eleanor says:

    Hi. I read your blog regularly, but haven’t commented in a long time. I have chronic daily headache, and migraines.

    I decided long ago not to have kids as well. I’m currently single, so it’s not really an option right now anyway, but my long-term plan certainly doesn’t involve kids. If things were different, maybe, but as it is, I think it would just be TOO HARD. I read the blogs of some mothers who have CDH, I honestly don’t know how they cope.

    I live with my two best friends, who are currently expecting a child. I’m a little scared! But excited too. It’s their responsiblity, I am going to help out, but will most likely be Auntie Eleanor who sometimes needs to be left alone in a quiet dark room!

    I’m just glad we live in an era when it is (mostly) an acceptable chioce for a woman not to want children, for whatever reason.

    ********
    I’m glad too! People are so much more accepting of the idea now than when I was 20. Maybe it’s where I live or that I’m older and wiser, but I never feel judged. I hope you enjoy the same kindness.

    It’s exciting that your best friends are having a baby. We love and enjoy our best friends’ kids so much. We stay with them a lot when we’re in Phoenix and have said that if we all lived in the same city, we’d seriously considering living together.

    We all have different strengths, all of which are helpful with kids at different times. I love that they’ll cuddle and play with me like I’m a normal part of their lives, but I can still take care of myself when I need to.

    It may be tough living with an infant at first, but you have such a great opportunity to adore a child even if he or she isn’t your own.

    Sorry to ramble. It’s a topic that I love to talk about!

    K

  2. Rachel says:

    Good Morning. I read your blog everyday, sometimes more then once and have found that if I miss a day, then I am left feeling like I’ve missed something as routine as putting my shoes on.
    I am a single mother who started having CDH’s after I had my son. Unfortunately, yes you are completley right the toll it has taken on my ability to be a mother let alone a GOOD mother is indescribable. Would I change the fact that I have my son? No probably not. I love him more then any person or object in this world. I would change the fact that there are as you said days I can’t get out of bed. I would change the day he came home from school and found me almost completely unresponsive in my own vomit and had to call my parents for help. Yes, that’s the day we decided that I couldn’t do this alone. So, sadly my son now lives with my parents. I won’t move because I have a really good job that is at least right now pretty okay with my frequent abcenses and frankly I don’t want to go on disability! I’m only 27 and damn it I’m to young for this.
    So, tomorrow I’m off to Chicago to start a clinical trial for Botox hopefully it will at least make life a little better and my child won’t feel the pain anymore.

    ********
    My heart aches for you. I’m so, so sorry that you have to go through this.

    Best of luck with Botox. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

    K

  3. Eleanor says:

    Not rambling at all!

    Yes, people do understand my choice not to have kids. My mother is disappointed at not having grandchildren, but she understands, and gives me so much love and support.

    I’m almost entirely looking forward to the baby arriving, and my friends are being wonderful about it. We’ve talked about ways we can do things so that it will not impact on me too badly when I am unwell, ways to make sure I can still sleep well in the early weeks.

    I feel really lucky. Aside from the bad luck of having CDH to begin with!

  4. Cyndi says:

    Great job deciding not to have kids because that is what is right for you! 🙂 I think lots of people should be comfortable and supported not to have kids and I think you are right it is slowly changing.

    I am glad I didn’t know this would happen to me or I wouldn’t have had my kids. There is no such thing as coping, just surviving. I also would be divorced by now and I would have no reason to live.

    It probably isn’t “fair” to them to have a mother like this, perhaps some of the divine reasons will appear later in hind sight.

  5. Jen says:

    My husband and I, a 3 years and counting CDH-er, just decided to start trying to have kids. I’ve always wanted children, and I feel like it would be such a sacrifice to not have children and let this be another thing that my CDH would take away…yet in the same regard, I’m terrified! I can’t talk to my family or close friends about it because they all insist that I should still aggressively seek treatment for my headache (as though, after three years, something out there could possibly cure me!). It’s such a tough situation.

    Thank you for creating a forum to talk about this. There’s no one in my life, except for you wonderful bloggers that I’ve been watching for months, who can understand this horrible dilemma.

  6. Kacey says:

    I think I had some headaches pre-children but nothing like I have now. My first experience hit me about 8 months after having my first child. I was hit with the strongest headache I had ever had. I ended up in the ER two times in one week. After a CAT scan, blood tests and a spinal nothing came up so they sent me home with drugs which I could not take because I was nursing. The daily head pressure continued on a daily basis, not as bad but it was always there. It tapaered off a bit (or I just got used to it) and then three years later I gave birth to my second child.

    When I am pregnan I have no headaches (it is wonderful) then all of a sudden about 8 months later (again) I got hit with these horrible daily head pressure headaches again. I looked up my last headache diary which ironicly enough was about the same time post partum as I was starting this new one.

    On my own I started to see a connection and started researching hormonal headahces. I breastfed of my babies and it seemed weird that my horrible headaches started about the same time after having each one. The connection I found was that it was the same time each baby started weaning drasticly. This all lead to more research on postpartum hormones, breastfeeding and headaches.

    6 months later – my baby is weaned. the headaches are better but still not gone. My menstrual cycle just returned a few months ago so I do feel as if my body might still be getting back to normal. The most frustrating part is how little info there is on this. My Dr’s, midwives and neuro’s don’t seem to know much about it.

    So – to make a long story short – it is very hard living like this with children. I would probaly have more but the thought of going throug this again postpartum is the best birth control ever.

    if anyone out there has gone through this after having kids – please let me know.

  7. Audra says:

    Wow… What an intense topic. I have had CDH and migraines for almost 11 years now. I’ve always wanted children, and my husband wants them even more badly than I do. So, honestly, I wonder if he still would have married me if I said I didn’t want children…

    However, I have been pushing back on “trying” because I keep hoping something I try will work to rid these headaches first. We had thought we would start last year, but then I found a new doctor that seemed to give me hope, and I wanted to give him a chance, so we pushed back trying to get pregnant again – with my husband stating that was OK as long as we tried at some poin.

    I don’t know what miracle drug I think is suddenly going to work soon after all these years of having headache pain, but I’m hoping because I’m terrified of being off of my medication while trying to get pregant and being pregnant. While the medication doesn’t take the pain away, it takes the edge off sometimes. Also, I’m scared to death of the pain I could be caused when my baby cries while I’m in the confines of my car with him/her, for example, or if he/she shrieks with excitement when playing. I’m guessing I won’t breast feed so that I can go back on meds as soon as possible. And my husband and I have talked about how involved he will have to be since I won’t always be able to care for a crying baby – he will have to. And, I most likely will never be the stay-at-home mom, because it just won’t be right for me…

    I guess in a way this is me diggin my heels in and not letting these headaches rob me of a joy that I want in my life, and I pray that I can give a baby all my love to make up for my shortcomings that result from my headahces, so that he or she still has a happy life despite me..

  8. Audra says:

    P.S. Rachel, Are you going to the Diamond Headache Clinic for the Botox clinical trial? I would be interested to hear how it goes… My doctor is at that clinic and suggested I become a participant in a Botox study. We are suppose to discuss it again at my appointment next month…

  9. M-A says:

    Sounds to me like you’ve made the right choice. Children aren’t for everyone. And I went through much of the same thought process as you did. I only get migraines a few times a month but… still. When I’m suffering, I can barely get out of bed to care for myself and get through the day. To have a baby on the premises would be tantamount to planned neglect. Can you imagine being mid-migraine and having a wailing, inconsolable infant? I can’t. And… now that my child-bearing years are pretty much past… I’m happy and grateful for my choice. Hope you are, too, in years to come (whatever your ultimate choice may be).

    ********
    “Planned neglect” hits it right on for me. I’m glad to hear that you are happy with your decision. I’m pretty sure I will be too.

    K

  10. J.O.Svoboda says:

    Let us talk about HEADACHES. Daily headaches, Chronic headaches that become BIG MIGRAINE attacks if they are not stopped on time. I have suffered from Migraines and severe headaches for as long as I can remember from about when I was 5 years old or so. My mother couldn’t tell me that I was faking it so I didn’t have to go to school. I was a good student, since first grade I was always the first in class through college. I have read every book and talked to many specialist doctors and I am convince that Migraine Headaches are due to a Chemical Unbalance. What is it? I do not know but have several theories so far I have never found the right doctor or a pharmaceutical
    company doing studies willing to conduct a meaningful evaluation. Today everything I read I already know it or it is something that doesn’t make sense.

    Is there anyone out there willing to have an intelligent discussions and exchange experiences that may help to solve this problem?

    **********
    I don’t know much about your theory. I’d love to hear about what you’ve found. YOu can e-mail me if you want to (my e-mail address is on the about page).

    K

  11. Deb says:

    I am glad to have found some content on postpartum headaches, I had a miscarriage 3 months ago following IVF and have experienced a headache that never goes away. I have been to multiple doctors, MRI’s, Neurology, drug therapy…nothing works. Has anyone here experienced the on-set of migraines after miscarriage??? Are there any suggestions or ideas on what might work? I am 40 years old and unless I can solve this I’ll lose the opportunity to even try again.

    *********
    Hi Deb,

    I’m sorry you’re suffering so much. I imagine that with all your body has been through, your hormones are out of whack, which can trigger headaches. It may just be that your body needs more time to settle down.

    For anyone with headache, it can take a long time to find an effective treatment. If you’ve found a neurologist who is attentive to your needs, I recommend seeing him or her to try some more treatments.

    I wish you the best of luck. Let me know if I can answer any other questions.

    Kerrie

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