Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Our Future Together October 2, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

“Your Future Together: Health Information You Need to Know.”

When my husband-to-be and I went to city hall to get our marriage license, we left with a small stack of papers, including a booklet with the above title. Curious, I opened it in the car and flipped through the pages. “Living a Healthy Lifestyle” was introduced on page 1, with recommendations for regular check-ups and exercise, a balanced diet, and up-to-date immunizations. Brief sections explaining the warning signs and resources for victims of domestic violence and HIV/AIDs followed. All this got me up to page 14. The remaining 34 pages are all about—you guessed it—family planning, pregnancy, and healthcare for babies.

There are resources listed for where to get genetic counseling, two full pages on the importance of increasing folic acid intake, and tips on things such as “Have someone else change the cat litter box daily” when you’re expecting. But no where—no where!—is there any mention of infertility, IVF, adoption, or the childfree option. Wait, I need to amend that. On page 16, there’s a list of family planning services available to eligible, low-income couples. Bullet number 4 reads: “Limited infertility and cancer screening services.”

I assumed this pamphlet must be way out-of-date, but the copyright is 2010, and the legal notation on the back indicates it must be distributed to all marriage license applicants. If that’s the case, I’d like to add some new sections to the 2012 edition, sections that address questions such as:

How long should we try to conceive the old-fashioned way before seeking professional help? What is the process for adopting a child? As a gay couple, how do we protect our parental rights? Who offers counseling when our dreams of having children are crushed? Can we have a happy and healthy marriage as a family of two?

I think someone needs to let city hall know that there’s a lot more information we need to know.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She—and her husband—have chosen to be childfree.

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5 Responses to “It Got Me Thinking…About Our Future Together”

  1. Dreamer Says:

    Hah. I remember getting that exact pamphlet. I got married at the courthouse in 2011. I was a little… irritated. My husband and I, at the time, were considering the childfree life. I don’t understand why they would not include alternatives for the childless and the childfree.

  2. Mali Says:

    You’re right!

    (It’s Wednesday here in NZ – and I really NEED Whiny Wednesday right now! That’s my whine – it’s not Whiny Wednesday yet.)

  3. Julie Says:

    I respectfully disagree. If it were up to me I would eliminate this pamphlet altogether. I don’t know why the government is advising people on all these things anyway. There are plenty of other community resources that can give people this information without having tax payer dollars pay for yet another pamphlet.

    If the pamphlet is going to be given out it needs to be drastically shortened. It probably started out as a few pages and over time people insisted on having more and more information in it. Soon it will become a book.

  4. Elena Says:

    Why shouldn’t you be the exact person to let the city hall know? Do it, write them a letter, suggest some points. Noone else is gonna do it. Maybe they will ignore it, but maybe not.

  5. Maria Says:

    I got married in NJ, USA. We didn’t get such a pamphlet. However, when we applied for the license, we had to bring a witness and we all had to give our full names – and we all had a name that we hated and didn’t want to disclose. My first name – Vita, my husband’s middle name – Cameron, and our witness’ middle name – Vilnis. I recall we all walked out laughing about it. Anyway, the government can’t put on a pamphlet every bad thing that may happen in a marriage — what to do if your spouse dies in a car crash, gets cancer, has to go in a nursing home, has an affair, leaves you for a younger woman/man, can’t hold a job, the list is endless. I wouldn’t take the failure to put infertility on the pamphlet too personal.


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