Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Whiny Wednesday: Heredity July 25, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

My dermatologist informed me this week that my latest skin issue is hereditary. It pretty much came over with my foremothers from Ireland four centuries ago and landed on my face, and there isn’t a darn thing I can do about it.

It’s more of an annoyance than a scary or damaging condition, so I’m not too put out by it. And I have to say, as I was leaving the doctor’s office, I thought of one benefit: At least I won’t be responsible for passing it along to any unsuspecting children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.

It’s Whiny Wednesday, so tell us: What physical or emotional traits have you inherited that you wish your ancestors had kept to themselves?

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her decision to be childfree.

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23 Responses to “Whiny Wednesday: Heredity”

  1. On the one hand, I was born with female parts from the back shelves of the malformations/anomalies department, so no pregnancies at ALL ever ( a fact I learned in my early teens). But… after my mother’s suicide when I was 28, one of my aunts, in a maximally awkward attempt to ” comfort ” me, told me that my Mom’s mental condition wasn’t her fault, it was hereditary (her mom also suffered from serious depression occasionally). I thought ACK, this woman is seriously not thinking about what she’s saying ! A classic memorable moment in Things Not To Say, imho.

  2. Maria Says:

    I like this topic. The stuff I wish I hadn’t inherited – high cholesterol and OCD. The OCD has manifested in healthy and some very healthy ways but I finally have it under control with diet and meditation – yes meditation, not medication. It really works. The cholesterol keeps climbing year after year notwithstanding the fact I have been a vegetarian for 30 years, don’t drink, don’t smoke, and exercise every day. It’s very frustrating. I also inherited huge breasts from my mom and she is the only one who understands my back pain and why I dress conservatively. My husband doesn’t seem to mind though. 🙂

  3. Kate B Says:

    I wish my grandmother had kept her big boobs to herself. I think that’s the only thing I got through my father aside from the color of my eyes. He couldn’t have passed along his nice wavy hair and his good eyesight? Nope. Big boobs. They are annoying. Men may like them, but they don’t have to fit clothing around them. They don’t have dents in their shoulders from the bras that keep them up. I just hope my husband still likes my big boobs when they are hanging around my belly button. Funny little story – when I was little, maybe 3 or 4, apparently I was sitting on my grandmother’s lap – the big boobed one – and I patted her breasts and sad “My other Nanny doesn’t have these.”

  4. jeopardygirl Says:

    My large bust has been the bane of my existence since I was 15. I went from nothing to a C cup in less than two years, then had another bosom growth spurt in my early 20s. I get it from both sides of the family, so I was doomed from the get-go. I could lose 50 lbs. and still have a Parton-esque figure. Gah!

  5. Leanne K. Says:

    oh, i’m with all of you on the big boobs. thanks alot, mom and grandma and great grandma etc. oh, and thanks a million for the thyroid problems, moms side (which just so happened to disappear after having a first child for great grandma, grandma, mom and sister). and heavy periods…lovin that too!

  6. j thorne Says:

    For me it’s big thighs and a host of potential health problems I will be glad NOT to pass along to a child.

  7. Did I post the wrong type of comment ? just wondering .

    • Debra Harrington Says:

      I don’t think you posted the wrong kind of comment at all. I think the topic got to be too much about physical attributes about ourselves that we don’t like. People say all kinds of inappropriate things when they don’t know what to say (i.e. your aunt). I’m sorry that you had to suffer through your mom’s suicide. Mental illnesses are sometimes hereditary and sometimes not. You just have the make the best of what you’ve got.

  8. Heather Says:

    I am soo with you girls and the boob inheritance. I keep debating if I want to have them reduced but then I chicken out when I think of all the things that could go wrong… and there it is, another trait I don’t like… anxiety and a touch of depression. Thanks great grandma who passed it strait on to her daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter. At least I won’t be passing that trait along.

  9. Julie Says:

    Heart disease from both sides of the family, and the apple body shape that stores all my body fat in my midsection. Diet and exercise are the only things to help both of those! I just wish they helped more.

  10. Kathleen Guthrie Woods Says:

    I LOVE you all for jumping in with these comments! Will add that I’ve had two good friends get reduction surgery with no complications and life-changing (for the better) results when they were finally free of back pain.

  11. Maria Says:

    Everyone on this site has a big boob problem — I wonder if it’s related to inferitlity? Haha. You know I forgot to mention that the other bad thing I inherited was my infertility. How awesome is it that I forgot? I have 2 aunts and several cousins who were unable to have children. I don’t know if their problems were the same as mine because of course no one talks about it. But I was amazed with myself that I totally forgot about it until just now!

  12. Wolfers Says:

    I look very pregnant when I’m NOT. 😛 and to rub in salt, some folks who don’t know me would ask me when the ‘baby’ is due. Arrrggh… Thanks to my mom and grandma… they look pregnant. At first I thought maybe because they had children, but it doesn’t explain for me- I don’t have any children! 😦 Arrrggghhh! Sit-ups don’t help.

    • IrisD Says:

      The women on my mother’s side of the family have all had that little lower belly pouch!! So, I sooooo get you. I think I’ve been asked 5 times if I’m pregnant, makes me wonder how many others wanted to ask and decided not to. I will never, ever, ever, ever, again wear a baby doll or imperial waist dress.

  13. rainbowbrite1979 Says:

    From someone who has never gone past a B cup in her life…shut it! lol 😉

    But seriously…it is a relief to know I won’t be passing on the thyroid disease, anxiety, infertility, acne, hirsutism, weak adrenals, hmmmm, did I forget anything? Oh yeah and the SMALL BREASTS! LOL

  14. Mali Says:

    Boobs not a problem here either!

    Hips and thighs. Hips from my mother – unfortunately called “child-bearing hips” by almost everyone. And instead of getting her lovely long long long legs that balance out the hips, I got my father’s shorter, stockier legs.

    And I also got pale, Irish skin. I’m paranoid about skin cancer (my father died as a result of skin cancer) and sunburn and freckles and moles. I wouldn’t have minded passing on this if society would finally admit that a tan is not healthy (it is actually just damaged skin) and celebrate natural skin whatever its colour!

    Finally – there is cystic fibrosis in my family. I know this because we know my sister has the gene. I don’t know if I have the gene, but chances are I might, and at least I’m not passing it on to an unsuspecting relative.

  15. shari Says:

    Facial hair is my big problem. I go to have my eyebrows waxed (if I didn’t I would have a unibrow). The woman there always ask me if I want to wax my upper lip, chin and jaw area. Then she will say,”Too much hair”. I really need to find a new place, but I like how she does my eyebrows.

  16. Elena Says:

    This isn’t helping really. I am convinced that i “inherited” some emotional trauma from both my parents. My mom was abandoned by her mother and not treated well by the relatives she grew up with. My dad experienced WWII as a child. He is from another country and culture as well. I am pretty sure that a lot of my emotional issues are inherited. I know this is only a half-baked idea based on some psychological facts i picked up sometime along the way and I’m probably making myself crazy/blaming other people for my issues with this. But the idea sticks. Thing is, like most people i would have wanted a child to “make it better” than them, I child which would have grown up in a nicer environment. My parents already made one step by letting my sister and me grow up in a more or less stable and friendly atmosphere, i just think that some of their issues lingered and were passed on to us and therefore keep us from just being happy (again I know that sounds stupid but looking at other families makes me feel that way). I could have taken it all a step further and produce an even less damaged, even happier child. Now I just feel that I am a failure and that partly my parent’s background is to blame.

  17. Kt Says:

    Ha ha ha…I often think, well…at least I am not passing my infertility on! I do also have skin problems…but of a cancerous kind…and I am very happy to be keeping those genetics to myself!

  18. KJ Says:

    In my case heredity is a good bit of why I’m not having kids. I’ve always been a kid person (I was interviewed for a paper at age 2 or 3 and said when I grow up I’m going to be a mommy). I nanny now actually (get my baby fix? heh). When I got married we both said we wanted kids, but with depression on both sides (pretty bad on mine, though luckily my own is mild, but it’s definitely in the genes), fibromyalgia and thyroid issues on mine, bad headaches on both… you get the idea. And we both can’t afford to adopt and can’t afford to move from our little condo if we did somehow (our income looks too good on paper for most grants, but where I live…). Oh, and DH is 40 now (I’m 31) and feels its too late anyway. And is likely though not definitely infertile from an accident almost 20 years ago, not that matters. So. Issues.


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