“You will regret not having children.”

One day the unthinkable happened. Although I’d taken every precaution, I—the woman who’d decided over and over against having children, who taught others about birth control—became pregnant herself. I was healthy and had a decent partner and stable finances. But as I once again weighed the option of having a child, I knew in my heart it would be the wrong choice. I felt like a failure and was furious with myself, as well as plenty embarrassed to be a patient at my own clinic. But accidents happen. They always will, as I’d seen over and over. When I chose abortion, I put the issue to bed finally and permanently. I would never have children in this lifetime, and I would never marry again. Those decisions went hand in hand.

I have wondered on occasion what a child of mine might look like or be like. How I would have felt driving my kids to school every day in the Suburban, trying to manage their temper tantrums in the grocery store, rocking and singing them to sleep in the middle of the night when they were sick with a fever. I wonder how hard I would have been on myself for not being the perfect mom. Very hard, I suspect.

I’m a creative person, so it is not lost on me that I missed out on the ultimate creation—birthing a child. I won’t deny it. My mother never said a word, but I doubt she fully understood the choice I made. I’d like to think she secretly admired me, supported the nontraditional path I took, and wondered at times what it would have been like for her to live my life of independence and sexual freedom. Our finite lives force these choices on us, and for every step we choose, there is a step we didn’t choose. Wherever our choices take us, we’re left wondering about the road not taken.

My decision to live as I have did not make my life perfect nor did it offer me sheer bliss. I’m sure that’s true for all women, with or without children. Nothing is perfect, but I am content with what is. I must admit the road I’ve taken has been pretty darn interesting and fun. More importantly, even with the disappointments and hardships that came, I’ve never regretted having chosen to walk down it.