I Didn’t Want Kids. Then I Lost My Period. Then I Suddenly Wanted Kids?
First came love, then came marriage, then came…this kind of wild saga.
My mind was racing as I jogged to a pharmacy in the Balinese village where I’d spent the past month surfing, studying yoga, and filing stories as a travel writer. I was 29 years old and in the best health of my life—peak fitness, decent diet, zero medications. Yet something very vital had gone missing: my period.
I left the drugstore with three pregnancy tests, as one does, and the nearly overwhelming fear of getting a positive result. For my entire adult life, I’d been adamant that I never wanted kids. My pilot husband and I had spent the seven years of our marriage actively trying not to get pregnant as we enjoyed the freedom of a dual-income-no-kids lifestyle. “Uncle Mark and Aunt Kristy forever!” we proclaimed as we moved to Europe, explored Asia by tuk-tuk, and booked last-minute trips to beachy destinations. We both loved children—we just didn’t feel the need to create any of our own. Pressure from family or friends to procreate would evaporate as we listened to them also complain of sleepless nights and canceled vacations. Yet here I was, hovering over a toilet, nervously anticipating two telltale pink lines. Except just like my period that month, they never showed.
That’s when I first felt it—a slight…incompleteness to my relief. It was subtle and confusing, and I couldn’t tell: Did this mean I did want kids? Or just that I was worried something may be wrong with my body? Or both? The inkling of uncertainty remained as I waited an entire year to have a period. No matter where I traveled in the world, I’d check the toilet paper after every wipe for any semblance of a red streak. When none arrived, I finally went to a doctor. He encouraged me to quit running and consume more fat, and he warned of the long-term dangers of not menstruating: bone density loss, heart complications. But another year and 30 added pounds later, I had yet to have a single period.
It started to really hit me then, the fact that what I’d spent years protecting—my choice not to have kids—was a choice my body was taking off the table. And this new lack of agency made me realize I hadbeen keeping a kernel of “maybe” alive in my mind, and it slowly started to feel like more than just my period was absent from my life.
I got a second opinion from another doctor, who diagnosed me with secondary amenorrhea (basically, a missing period, which, thanks, I got that part) and referred me to a fertility specialist. I came home with a bag of syringe needles and antiseptic wipes, trying to swallow the doctor’s theory that using hormones to force my body to ovulate would “jump-start” my menstrual cycle. I spent the next two months with a bruised stomach and Google tabs populated with searches like, “How to keep fertility needles refrigerated on planes” and “Can you bring needles into Canada?” (a small cooler and yes, if you’re curious).
I didn’t end up getting my period—instead, I got pregnant. I miscarried nearly as soon as I found out, my body still not functioning properly enough to support the twin embryos starting to grow. A wave of grief washed over me. I blamed my tears on my out-of-whack hormones, but there were those whispers again, creeping in as I waited for the miscarriage to complete itself.
After that, I shut the door on fertility treatments, but my husband and I also decided to ditch birth control…just in case. It was sort of a half-decision that felt right. And in the meantime, with bone density loss on my brain, I reached out to an acupuncturist in Montgomery, Alabama, where we were living for a few months. She took one look at my tongue, checked my pulse, and told me my body was ice-cold. My circulation, she said, was “stalled,” by which she meant that blood wasn’t freely flowing where it needed to be flowing. It sounded like an answer to why my fingers were chronically cold, why I constantly needed to wear a sweater, and maybe why my period wouldn’t flow at all? She started me on twice-weekly acupuncture treatments and prescribed a series of Chinese herbs that she said would bring heat and circulation back to my body.
During my sixth session, she placed a pin in my left shin and I felt a shock run from my leg all the way to my fingertips. The drive back to our apartment was the first time in three years I didn’t turn on the car heater. I half expected to finally get my period soon after that bizarre jolt, but what I got was a positive pregnancy test. And this time, it was excitement, not fear, that I felt as I read the result. This time, I was ready.
As I write this, three miscarriages and two successful pregnancies later, my second child is falling asleep on my breast, and I finally feel like I am where I want to be in my life. My period has since returned, and so has the traveler’s lifestyle my husband and I love.
I don’t believe in biological clocks—life simply isn’t that linear—in the same way I don’t think every person who says “I never want kids” will eventually change their mind. Some will, many will not, and that’s great. Having children definitely isn’t for everyone, and everyone should have choices. It took journeying through my own messy layers of uncertainty, fear, pain, and loss to find the choice that was right for me.