Interview with Simantika – A type 1 diabetic who does not want to bear children

minute read
April 29, 2024
A confident type 1 diabetic Indian woman, who has decided not to bear children.
Note: Image for illustration only. It is AI-generated, and does not show the author of this story. Image credit - Kritika Singh.

Simantika is a type 1 diabetic. She’s 28 years old, a psychologist, and because of her disease has decided not to bear children. Here, she shares some of the thoughts and feelings that went into making that decision and how it’s been received.

Question 1: When were you diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and hypothyroidism on September 18th, 2015. I’ll always remember that date very clearly because it completely changed my life and almost all aspects of it.

Question 2: Does anyone else in your family have type 1 diabetes?

No one else in my family has type 1 diabetes. My paternal grandmother has type 2 diabetes and was diagnosed in her mid-30s. I was always aware that she had it.

My diagnosis is autoimmune and not genetically transmitted.

Question 3: Are you married or do you currently have a partner?

No, I’m not married, and I’m currently single.

Question 4: Would you marry a type 1 diabetic?

Yes, I would be absolutely okay marrying a person with type 1 diabetes – However, this wouldn’t be my answer if I wasn’t going through it myself.

But as I am, I believe marrying a type 1 diabetic would be beneficial as they (and their family) would be more aware and accepting of the challenges that come with it. It might make things better for me, as I shouldn’t have to explain the multiple nuances that come with having diabetes.

Question 5: Are you aware of the chances of a child inheriting type 1 diabetes from a parent?

Editor’s note: As a mother, if you're <25 years old, the chance your child will inherit type 1 diabetes from you is 4%. If you’re >25 years old, the chance decreases to 1%.

I am aware of the statistics regarding type 1 diabetes and heredity. I’ve read a lot regarding diabetes and pregnancy, and I’m aware of the countless women with type 1 diabetes who have delivered successfully without complications.

However, with my mother’s history of uterine fibroids and my type 1 diabetes and thyroid problems, this isn’t a risk I’m willing to take, no matter how negligible.

Question 6: When did you make the decision not to bear children?

I love children. However, from the beginning, I was never sure I’d want to conceive and reproduce a child.

My periods have always been painful (to the point where I fainted), and I’ve always associated the pain of childbirth with that – Maybe a hundred times worse.

I remember thinking, “If my periods are so painful, I don’t even want to think about labour.”

Then, after my diabetes diagnosis, my resolve to not bear a child became stronger.

Beyond the concerns of genetics and heredity, I noticed that before my periods I got quite high sugars, was more susceptible to infections, small wounds bled more than they should, and my blood glucose level was harder to control.

These were all small factors that contributed to my decision. And when combined with the genetic concerns, the complications, risks, and additional difficulties made the prospect of pregnancy a lot more troublesome and unappealing.

Question 7: What role did discussions with healthcare professionals play in informing your decision, if any?

I’m a headstrong person – My mom would say stubborn.

Once I made my decision, I didn’t see the point in talking to any healthcare professional about it. Even if they told me that my condition wouldn’t be transmitted genetically, the chance that I would change my mind is very, very slim.

Question 8: Was your decision influenced by any emotional or psychological factors?

My decision is more practical than emotional.

Of course, as I see my friends having children, there is a tiny part of me that (very rarely) wishes for that experience. But I’m aware of the consequences and repercussions of pregnancy, genetics, pain and diabetes.

Because I love children, I have a very special bond with all my friends’ kids. And I’m sure it’s very different when it’s your own child – But because I don’t have that, I don’t know what I’m missing out on, and I never will.

I don’t regret my decision, and I’m not pained by it. In fact, any time I have to deal with a diabetes-related mishap, I feel thankful for not wanting kids of my own. It would have been a tougher decision if I wanted to conceive and then decided not to.

I’m open to adopting though and hope to find a partner who feels the same – Because I’m not open to bearing a child, this is a non-negotiable for me.

Question 9: You’d be open to adopting? Tell us more.

I would love to adopt. So many children in India, and across the world, do not have a home or conducive environment to grow up in. I’d love to provide that to someone.

And, as I’ve said, I love children. I have a bond with them. And the cherry on top is I’m trained in child psychology – I practised it solely and extensively for the first 3 years of my career.

I think I’d be a great parent.

Question 10: Would you be open to not having children?

Yes, I’d also be open to not having children.

While I have unconditional love for children, I’m okay with the thought of not having one of my own (not even via adoption).

This decision may change over time, I’m not sure. But at the moment, I’m content with the way things are in my life. I’d also be okay not marrying.

Interestingly though, I remember having a discussion with my mother where I told her that even if I didn’t marry, I might want to adopt. She was extremely supportive of that as well. However, I’m not 100% sure on this.

Question 11: So your family is aware of your decision not to bear children, and have accepted it?

Yes, my family is aware of my decision, and they have accepted it.

In India, marriage and partnership are often between two families. It was important to keep my family in the loop when making this decision. And thankfully, I come from an open-minded family who have never pushed or forced any decision on me.

I’ve not spoken to my parents about their dreams of becoming grandparents. I’m sure they’d like that. But they wouldn’t want it to be at the expense of my comfort or against my will.

I also think they’ve given up hope of me finding a partner because I’m 28 and still single – (Joking!)

They do recognise though that my biggest challenge now is finding a partner (and his family) who would also accept my decision.

Question 12: Do you think you would ever change your mind about bearing children, particularly if your partner was keen to?

Even if my partner was keen, I wouldn’t change my mind.

I’m very, very open to adopting, and I hope and wish that my partner will be open to that as well. When looking for a partner, I’ll be aiming to find someone who meets this (probably rigid) condition of mine.

Unfortunately, even though we live in a society of free will, having a child is considered a rite of passage – At least in India.

But I’m prepared for the obstacles. I won’t change my mind because:

  1. I’m stubborn.
  2. I’m afraid of the risk that my child will inherit diabetes through genetics.
  3. I don’t think I’ll be able to bear the pain of pregnancy.
  4. Surrogacy will still carry the same hereditary risk.
  5. I made this decision after long and careful thought, and I’ve held it for a long time now.

Question 13: Have you encountered any misconceptions or stigma regarding diabetes and pregnancy?

I’ve certainly encountered questions – A lot of them.

People are quite unaware. They don’t know much about diabetes in the first place, let alone all the small factors that come with it.

I’ve never been asked or told much regarding pregnancy – Maybe the misconceptions will arrive once I start looking for a partner.

But with my ‘psychologist brain’ I’m prepared to encounter some stigma.

Question 14: Do you have any final thoughts or advice you'd like to pass on to others who may be considering the same decision?

Yes, I think the best advice I can give is to learn from what I didn’t do – Especially if you truly want kids.

I have read and am aware of women with diabetes delivering healthy babies, thanks to having the right knowledge and care. And with the great developments in healthcare, the possibility of having a child of your own has only increased.

Do your due diligence and research before you make and become headstrong in your decision (I didn’t do that).

Graphic of a female profile picture.
Simantika Chanchani
Editor's note: The opinions and experiences reflected in stories from the diabetic community belong to the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InDiabetes.

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