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When my husband and I got married, I wasn't sure if I wanted kids. Now I'm 72 and childless, and I don't regret it.

Louisa Rogers   

When my husband and I got married, I wasn't sure if I wanted kids. Now I'm 72 and childless, and I don't regret it.
  • When we met, my husband had twin daughters, but he wasn't sure he wanted more kids.
  • Eventually, he decided to get a vasectomy, and I never had biological kids of my own.

Back in 1978, when my husband and I got married, he was 36 and I was 27. At the time I thought I might want to have kids, and Barry thought he probably didn't. He already had 8-year-old twin daughters, and thought that might be enough for him. But neither of us was sure.

Over the next 10 years I rarely thought about it. I was fascinated with the idea of childbirth, though. I read books like the hippie classic, "Spiritual Midwifery," and joked that I wanted to experience pregnancy, labor, and breastfeeding — all the physical changes a person who gives birth experiences — without the complications of a baby.

I never fantasized about having kids, but I loved my stepdaughters

Looking back, I can see other hints that becoming a mom wasn't in my future. In childhood, I fantasized about being a writer and about visiting my family from exotic places — both of which came to pass — but never about being a mother. During college I told my mother that I worried that I wouldn't make a good parent because I didn't enjoy children much. Other than babysitting, I never hung out with kids or gravitated to them. I was not what you'd call a "natural" mother.

After marrying Barry, though, I grew to love my stepdaughters and enjoy their company. He and I made candles with them at home, took them hiking and cycling, played card games, and ate marshmallow treats that I prepared. But as fun as it was hanging out with them, it still didn't translate into thinking about having children of my own.

Then one day, 10 years after we got married, while we were in couples' therapy, Barry had an abrupt awakening.

"I really don't want kids," he said. "I want to have a vasectomy."

My husband got a vasectomy

It was a shock. I wasn't sure if I ready to make the decision definitively for myself.

Yet I had to decide at some point — at that point, I was in my late 30s, he in his late 40s, and we couldn't go on being unsure indefinitely. After all, in 15 years of being together, we had rarely discussed it. It had never been a priority.

But the decision felt so final, like the end of a chapter. Choosing not to have a child was still a choice, and felt like a kind of growing up. It was a way of saying, yeah, this is it, and owning my part of our decision. For me, endings are always bittersweet.

He went forward with a vasectomy, and afterward, we sat in our Honda in the parking lot of the San Francisco General Hospital. Barry was still woozy from the Demerol and I couldn't drive yet because my own stomach was heaving uncomfortably, some kind of physical reaction to the new phase we were in.

For the first year or so afterwards, every so often I'd think, "Oh, Barry and I would have made great parents!" and feel a whiff of regret. But the thought lasted only about 10 minutes, and then I'd forget about it and move on. Now, half a lifetime later, I have no regrets.

I still have young people in my life

We have two grandsons, now 21 and 19, with whom we have a great relationship. When we visit, we go away for a couple of days with them and stay in an Airbnb. We feel honored that they enjoy our company. We walk, play cards and do "writes," where one person offers a prompt and we all write on that theme, then read aloud.

And I have other young people in my life — nieces and nephews on both sides of our family. A few years ago I visited Washington, DC, where my nephew, then 28, lived, and we talked for seven hours straight. And one of my nieces and I chat on the phone every couple of months.

I have a friend who knew at 19, without a doubt, that she didn't want kids. That's not my story — I was always ambivalent. If I'd married a man who really wanted children, I might have ended up with one. On the other hand, I married Barry knowing he was uncertain, so my wish couldn't have been that strong.

Occasionally I'm asked if I worry about growing old without adult children to look after me. I don't. Since Barry is nine years older, I'll probably outlive him. Rather than moving near where our daughters live, I'll probably live my final years in Mexico, where Barry and I own a home. Since I have many peers who, like me, don't have biological children, I don't feel alone. However old I am, I'm sure I'll enjoy walking, writing, painting, and hanging out with people of all ages, just as I do now.

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