Please stop telling me I'll change my mind about not wanting kids
I was 19 when I had my first argument about not wanting children.
My then-boyfriend was drunk, I was sober, and he turned to me in a dodgy Dublin city centre pub and said: "I can't wait to have kids with you."
I could have just went along with him, safe in the knowledge that he'd probably forget the conversation in the morning, but my mild irritation at the fact that I was playing a serious game of catch-up got to me and I snapped: "You know I don't want children."
He didn't speak to me for the next two hours.
Falling into my first relationship was the first time I'd ever found myself considering the prospect of parenthood.
Before then, the idea was foreign to me. It was never something I had considered growing up, nor was it something that I felt expected to accept.
Whenever someone asked me how many babies I wanted I said none, because at that moment in time that was exactly how many babies I, a 14-year-old girl who'd never even kissed a boy before, did want.
But then time passed and for many of the young women I knew, having children - whether soon or far into the future - seemed to become an inevitability.
It wasn't necessarily something that we discussed at length but the topic did come up. Discussions of other women we knew with kids started with "When I'm a mother..." and comments on other people's children were led by "When I have kids..."
Motherhood wasn't an option right now, but at some point in their lives, it was going to be. Starting a family was just one of the many other things that was going to happen to them over the course of their lifetimes. It was a given - next question.
Not many people my age question things like their fertility and whether they'll be able to physically have kids.
I don't either, not really. It was something that didn't play on my mind too often until quite recently when a few of us went to a fertility clinic to have our eggs counted for this very series.
My results came back totally normal. I have no plans to have children but hey, that's a positive thing right? Good for me.
It did make me think though - if I decided to start trying to get pregnant tomorrow, it wouldn't be my egg count holding me back, it would be something else entirely - a pre-existing condition I was diagnosed with a few years ago.
This condition affects a lot of things in my life in a lot of ways, but it also tends to make naturally conceiving a child extremely difficult.
I've considered that my aversion to having children may stem from a deep-seated knowledge that it will probably be impossible for me to have my own anyway, so I've blocked off the possibility entirely.
Maybe I say 'no' because it's easier than committing to an extended period of stress, heartache, and very possible failure in the future.
Or maybe I say 'no' because I just don't like the idea of having kids. Who knows?
Still though, I do worry about it sometimes.
I worry about reaching the Baby Age - that pocket of time when all the women I've surrounded myself with for years start having children, the period when people stop asking if you want them and start asking when your first will be.
I worry about having to explain myself every time I meet up with old friends, trying to justify my reasoning for remaining childless, urging them to believe that I am, in fact, happy. Women with children don't need to prove their happiness - apparently, they just are.
I worry that one day, in the very distant future, I'll break all my own rules and decide that I do wants kids - but I won't be able to have them.
Right now though, I just can't picture myself being a mother.
I can't see myself devoting my entire life to a little human that I created and am totally responsible for.
I don't think I could physically or mentally cope with the trauma of birth, carrying a pregnancy, or the very real likelihood of postpartum depression when it's all over.
Becoming a mother is one of the most difficult, demanding, and life-altering experiences a woman will ever go through - and I just don't know if I'll ever be ready for that.
That's right now though, and while I'm almost positive that I won't be getting pregnant and having babies any time soon, I'm well aware that I could wake up one day and think, "you know what? I do want this."
And if that does happen, it'll be because I reached that decision on my own.
It won't be because I was consistently told that I'll "change my mind when I'm older" or that I "just need to find a nice man to settle down with."
It won't be because looking at babies made me feel broody, or because being around other pregnant women my age made me feel that I was somehow missing something.
It'll be because I decided to change my mind. That's it.
This October is Fertility Month on Her, when we’ll be talking all things reproductive health and having babies.
You can check out all of our Fertility Month articles here.
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