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Taboo of women who don’t want to have children – and one young woman’s struggle to get sterilized

A married woman in her twenties who wants to get her tubes tied. A married woman in her forties who wants to make the decision whether or not to have kids.

Meet Megan and Maxine.

Megan, now 28, is steadfast in her pursuit of permanent sterilization. Maxine, now 48, is vacillating about becoming a parent.

Both are featured in a new documentary, ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid,’ which explores a subject that is still tied up in taboo and social stigma: women who choose not to have children. The film is one of the first to take an in-depth look at the child-free and its growing community. It comes at time when many women are spending around $10,000 a pop – plus storage costs – to freeze their eggs.

Since a young age, Megan Turner has known that she does not want to have children. But she waited until she was 25 to start the process of getting on a list for a procedure called tubal ligation, commonly known as getting your tubes tied.

‘Earlier would have been a nightmare,’ Turner told DailyMail.com. ‘They would have laughed me out of the room, I think… I was 25, 26, 27 doing it and they were still very – I think everyone was afraid of being sued to be honest.’

Megan Turner (pictured), now 28, has known from an early age that she does not want to have children and wants to be permanently sterilized. She is one of the women that is part of a new documentary called ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid,’ which takes a look at the growing childfree community. Turner, here in a still from the film, had just left a medical appointment in order to be placed on a list to get a procedure called tubal ligation, commonly known as getting your tubes tied

Maxine Trump (left) is the director of a new documentary called ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid,’ which she told DailyMail.com she filmed to try and figure out whether or not she wanted to have children. Trump, now 48, is pictured here with Megan Turner (right). Turner, now 28, has been trying since she was 25 to get on a list for a surgery that would permanently sterilize her

Maxine Trump (left) is the director of a new documentary called ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid,’ which she told DailyMail.com she filmed to try and figure out whether or not she wanted to have children. Trump, now 48, is pictured here with Megan Turner (right). Turner, now 28, has been trying since she was 25 to get on a list for a surgery that would permanently sterilize her

Josh Granger (left), co-produced his wife's documentary, ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid.’ Maxine Trump (right) cradles a camera as if it was a baby. In the film, Granger and Trump share their discussions about having kids - a subject that they did not talk about before they got married

Josh Granger (left), co-produced his wife’s documentary, ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid.’ Maxine Trump (right) cradles a camera as if it was a baby. In the film, Granger and Trump share their discussions about having kids – a subject that they did not talk about before they got married

In the documentary, the viewer meets Turner as she leaves a medical appointment. 

A manager for a pharmacy, Turner has been married since she was 21 and lives with her husband in Wales. After meeting with her general practitioner, she was referred to a larger hospital that has a gynecology department, and is looking to get on a list for the tubal ligation surgery.

Her consultation with doctors for the sterilization procedure was ‘not great.’

‘I went in and they sit me in the same waiting room where all the pregnant ladies are, which was kind of awkward,’ Turner says in the film. ‘I’ve been for probably four or five months preparing for this. I had brought in a three page, like, document that I had written up the night before with citations on it.’

The doctors tell her that there are other options, such as birth control, but Turner is looking for something permanent.

‘Look, I’m not coming in here seeking an operation, I’m coming in here seeking a permanent form of sterilization,’ she tells the doctors. ‘If I could get that in a pill I would obviously take the pill. I’m not keen to be cut open.’

‘I said to them, in no uncertain terms ‘cause I don’t like to mix words, I was like I would rather die on the operating table than have a baby.’

In the film, Turner explains why she wants the surgery.

‘I’m trying to lessen the damage that I do by not having an unwanted kid. With my (mom), she was way too young to have me and she never got to live the life that she could have,’ she says.

Speaking with DailyMail.com, Turner said that she knew from the around aged seven that she didn’t want to be a mother.

‘My mom was a single mom and she did absolutely the best she could and she was a good mom, but I could see the strain it had on her,’ she said. ‘So even in my seven and eight-year-old mind, I was bargaining down going, oh, I only want to have one kid so it’ll less stressful, because I didn’t even realize at the age of seven and eight that having no kids as an option.’

‘It’s kind of always been in the back of my mind.’ 

Turner, who is Canadian-British, met her husband, who is Welsh, when she was 19.

‘I was up front with him, I was like, look this is how I feel and that’s fine if you feel differently, but I can tell you definitively now, I’m not going to change my mind,’ she recalled.

‘I definitively know that I don’t want to have kids and my husband supports me in that.’

Megan Turner, pictured her in a still from the documentary ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid,' has been trying since she was 25 to get on a list for a procedure that would permanently sterilize her. Now 28, Turner got married when she was 21, and met her husband when she was 19. She told DailyMail.com that her husband supports her decision not to have kids

Megan Turner, pictured her in a still from the documentary ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid,’ has been trying since she was 25 to get on a list for a procedure that would permanently sterilize her. Now 28, Turner got married when she was 21, and met her husband when she was 19. She told DailyMail.com that her husband supports her decision not to have kids

Megan Turner, now 28, has been trying to get on a list for a surgery that would permanently sterilize her.

Megan Turner as young girl. Turner told DailyMail.com she knew from a young age that she didn't want to have children.

Megan Turner, shown her in a selfie, (left), and as a young girl (right). Turner told DailyMail.com that she knew from a young age that she didn’t want to have a children. She said that her family, in general, been pretty supportive of her decision. However, she has gotten pushback from acquaintances. ‘I’ve heard countless times: you’re going to change your mind, you’re going to change your mind,’ she said

In the United States, an estimated 13.4 percent of women have undergone tubal sterilization from 2011 to 2015, the most recent data available, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A little over 3 percent had a hysterectomy and 2.3 percent had other operations, according to the data.

Tubal ligation is a ‘safe and effective’ surgical procedure ‘that permanently closes or blocks your fallopian tubes,’ which means that a ‘sperm can’t get to an egg and cause pregnancy,’ according to Planned Parenthood’s website.

While Turner was categorical that she wanted to be sterilized, Maxine Trump, the documentary’s director and one of its subject, was searching for an answer on whether or not she wanted to have kids. She started looking for stories similar to her own.

‘Essentially there was no other film out there like this that would really help me in processing and making my decision,’ Trump told DailyMail.com.

Trump started thinking about the child choice in her thirties.

‘I finally finished my last film and I was like, okay, Maxine, you’re now in your early 40s, you need to make a decision and so there I was picking up my camera,’ Trump, now 48, recalled.

It took five years to complete the film. She started shooting in early 2013 and finished it a few weeks before its recent world premiere at the DOC NYC film festival.

‘It’s the longest gestation period ever,’ she quipped, then laughed. 

The film opens with Trump, who is showing her scars across her stomach from an operation that she had at aged 15 after it was discovered she had trouble with her womb. She explains that she never dreamed of having children, but she also never thought she would end up walking down the aisle. Turner, who is British, married her husband, Josh Granger, who is American. They didn’t talk about kids before getting married.

Trump, who has lived in New York City for 15 years, is then off to Wales to see her family. Trump explains in the film that she had a religious upbringing and that her sister, who offered to carry a child as a surrogate for her, is a preacher. Throughout the film, Trump talks with her mom and her family about whether or not to have kids.

Maxine Trump (right) is the director and subject of a new documentary called ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid.' She is pictured her with her mother (left). Throughout the course of the film, Trump has discussions with her mom and her family, who live in Wales, about whether or not she should have children

Maxine Trump (right) is the director and subject of a new documentary called ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid.’ She is pictured her with her mother (left). Throughout the course of the film, Trump has discussions with her mom and her family, who live in Wales, about whether or not she should have children

Maxine Trump (pictured) said she started shooting the documentary in early 2013 and spent five years on the film, which recently had a world premiere at the DOC NYC film festival. She told DailyMail.com that she was looking for resources to aid her while contemplating the life choice but did not find many

Maxine Trump (pictured) said she started shooting the documentary in early 2013 and spent five years on the film, which recently had a world premiere at the DOC NYC film festival. She told DailyMail.com that she was looking for resources to aid her while contemplating the life choice but did not find many

Maxine Trump (left) is interviewing Victoria Elder (center) in New Orleans while filming her documentary ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid.’ Elder wrote a blog post explaining how she regretted her decision to have kids. Initially, she was excited when she was expecting at aged 29 but knew she made a mistake after the birth of her daughter, Morgane. Elder told the Guardian last year that the mistake she felt was becoming a mother, and made clear that she loved and cared for her daughter

Maxine Trump (left) is interviewing Victoria Elder (center) in New Orleans while filming her documentary ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid.’ Elder wrote a blog post explaining how she regretted her decision to have kids. Initially, she was excited when she was expecting at aged 29 but knew she made a mistake after the birth of her daughter, Morgane. Elder told the Guardian last year that the mistake she felt was becoming a mother, and made clear that she loved and cared for her daughter

In the course of film, Trump also travels to different parts of the United States while she contemplates her decision. She flies to New Orleans to interview Victoria Elder, a mother who penned a post about regretting having children. 

Elder says she was initially very excited when she found out she was expecting at aged 29, and that there was an expectation that she would have kids.

‘You’re not a real woman unless you have a baby,’ she says.

But after she gives birth and the her daughter is handed to her, Elder says, ‘I know I made a huge mistake.’

Elder told the Guardian last year that the mistake she felt was becoming a mother, and made clear that loved and cared for her daughter. 

Trump also interviews Elder’s daughter, Morgane, who says that is ‘still a taboo’ to say you regret having children. 

In the US, a total of 3,855,500 births were registered in 2017, down 2 percent from 2016, according to government data. ‘Birth rates for both married and unmarried women declined from 2016 to 2017,’ according to the November 7 report.

In the film, Trump takes a look at the baby economy, which is lucrative, and she calls it ‘a little insane.’ In 2013, $23 billion was spent on baby products in the US, a number that doubles to $66.8 billion in 2017.

In addition to New Orleans, Trump heads to Cleveland for the first ever NotMom Summit in October 2015. The NotMom is an organization for women that are not moms either ‘by choice or by chance,’ according to their website. Launched in 2012, it is a blog and a resource for women, and is making ‘connections for the growing community of women without children’ through its events. 

One out of every six American women is childfree or childless, according to the NotMom site.

Speaking with DailyMail.com, Trump said that the NotMom summit may not continue ‘because marketers don’t see the benefit in supporting people that are making the decision not to have children and yet there’s such much expendable income when you haven’t had to pay a fortune on child care and child rearing.’

‘I really hope it continues because there’s a real need for it.’

During the film, Trump and her husband, Josh Granger, who also co-produced the doc, share intimate moments and their discussions about whether or not to have kids.

‘It was hard for us both to eventually put ourselves on camera, you know, I make documentaries because I like being behind the camera,’ Trump explained. ‘I didn’t want to make a film that was just one of those talking head documentaries. This is not a preachy film.’

In a new documentary, ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid,’ director and subject Maxine Trump takes a look at women who decide not to have children 

In a new documentary, ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid,’ director and subject Maxine Trump takes a look at women who decide not to have children 

‘This is a fundamentally entertainment, I want people to walk away having laughed and cried and enjoyed the film and also thought about a subject that they may never have thought about before.’

For now, Turner’s surgery is on hold. Doctors told her that she has to lose weight before she can be put on the list for the sterilization procedure, she said.

‘They won’t even put me on the list for the surgery until I hit this magic number even though there’s plenty of evidence that I’m more than healthy,’ she said, noting that even after she is put on it, she could wait two or three years.

‘I’m basically in this limbo now.’

Turner said that her family, in general, has been pretty supportive.

However, she said: ‘As far as an acquaintances, I get a lot more pushback. I’ve heard countless times: you’re going to change your mind, you’re going to change your mind.’

Turner has never taken part in a documentary before ‘To Kid Or Not To Kid’ and said, ‘The big thing that I want people to take away is just… take people seriously when they say they don’t want kids as when they tell you that they’re pregnant or that they want to have 10 kids. The issue’s really not up for debate.’

Trump emphasized that the film is ultimately about acceptance.

‘There’s no judgement – that’s what really the essence of this film is all about. Whatever you decide to do is absolutely fine.’

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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