Childless, but not by choice

a Personal Story by Cam

This is the third story in our Pass the Mic blog series featuring the voices of Black women who are part of the infertility community. Join us as we #passthemic, and please pass their stories on if you wish to share. Together, we can amplify these voices, vocalize and normalize infertility journeys in all communities and help bring people together.

A hopeful beginning

The greatest regret of my life is that I never had children. I am 51 years old, single, with a niece and two nephews, a dog, the memory of an abortion at age 23, and regret that I didn’t do more or know more about my options for having a family.

I come from a very long line of women who did not have to worry about whether or not they would have children. My mom had three children, her mother had three children, and her mother had three children. My great-great-grandmother gave birth to two children. Two lived and two died at birth. When I look back at my family tree, there was never a reason to think I’d never become pregnant. I always believed marriage would come first and at least three kids would automatically follow.

On my 29th birthday, after two years of marriage, I nervously watched my biological clock in hopes that I would soon become pregnant. Although I didn’t feel like we were ready for a baby, my mother had given birth to my older brother at 24 and younger brother at 33, so I felt confident that I was still within range of having a healthy pregnancy.

We divorced two years later.  I was happy we didn’t have kids and slightly regretful that I didn’t work harder at trying to have a child – all at the same time. I didn’t want to be married to him, but I would have welcomed the child. Sounds pretty selfish, but I was pressed because I could hear my clock ticking.

Feeling the clock ticking

As the years passed, I knew I was clearly in danger of missing my window of opportunity to have at least ONE baby.

At 41, one day while visiting my ob-gyn, I finally decided to ask if there was something wrong that prevented me from conceiving. Was there scar tissue preventing an egg from attaching itself to my uterus? Was my sex vs. ovulation timing off for the last 10 years?? I asked her every question I could, and her only response was this, “There is nothing wrong with you. You’re fine.” I remember leaving her office feeling there was something wrong with me – and she wasn’t probing to find the problem. Honestly, I felt like she didn’t care.

As I look back, that would have been a great time for my doctor to introduce the topic of fertility, options for becoming pregnant using alternative means, or surrogacy. Instead, she rushed through the exam and moved on to the next patient.

I went on about my life choosing to believe there was nothing wrong with me physically, and I would eventually become pregnant.

Left with questions

Ten years later, I’m 51. I’ve learned about surrogacy and in vitro fertilization, and I’m clear that there were options available that no one, not even my ob-gyn, had chosen to discuss with me. But why? Why wouldn’t she make the attempt to tell me about my reproductive options? A single woman who, at 41 years old, is mature, responsible, and asking about fertility deserves some answers! I was nearing the end of the line for having kids, literally dancing on the line, and she blew it off.

Today I question why she never broached the topic. How many other women my age who visited her practice expressed concern about their inability to conceive at 40 and a desire to have a baby? Was I alone? Did she not discuss alternative means of reproduction because I’m a woman of color? I’ll never know.

All I know is that I missed my window of opportunity to be the kind of mother to my child that my mother was to me, and it is a pain that I live with every single day of my life.