There’s no denying that the past couple of years of living in a pandemic has left most of us feeling robbed.
So much of the life we knew, before Covid-19 decided to turn the world upside down, was stolen. Many of us lost loved ones, jobs, financial stability, security, pieces of our sanity, and more.
And for some couples, the price of the pandemic is proving to be even greater than they bargained for.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, written by Emily Gould and entitled “More Kids? After The Last Two Years? No Thanks,” more and more couples are choosing not to have any more kids and the pandemic is to blame.
While some people happily jumped aboard the pandemic baby-making train, others jumped the tracks and went hurtling off in the clear opposite direction.
The article cited the “glaring lack of structural support for families,” “slogging through pandemic life,” “waning fertility,” and “pandemic divorces” as just some of the reasons for closing up shop.
Dubbed “pandemic birth control” it seems that there is a growing trend of families who are saying they’re done.
And boy, do I get it.
I have three children. To say the last couple of years or so were challenging is the understatement of the century. These have been the hardest parenting years of my life, hands down.
It wasn’t JUST the bone-wearying exhaustion of juggling parenting, working, remote school, quarantine, isolation, and endless requests for snacks, although admittedly that was A LOT.
No, add to that the overwhelming burnout I feel, and honestly? IF I were considering adding another child to the mix (which I’m not), it would be a definite NO. Thankyouverymuch.
Parenting in survival mode has definitely taken its toll.
For mom, Anna Carey, and her husband, they are one-and-done. In an interview with Gould, she said it was society’s response to the pandemic that was the final nail in the proverbial coffin.
“The new realization of just how little society values kids and parents – especially mothers – in any way beyond lip service was a major deterrent.”
Unfortunately, she’s not wrong. Mothers were hit particularly hard during the pandemic. Massive disruptions in child care and schooling fell mostly onto mothers’ shoulders, bringing them dangerously close to their breaking points.
And it seems that things aren’t getting any better.
In a recent survey conducted by Deloitte that you can read about here, 53% of women said their work-life balance is still basically nonexistent. Additionally, their workloads that felt impossible last year have only increased in the past twelve months.
As well, A Canadian study looking at the mental health of mothers before and after the start of the pandemic found that their levels of depression and anxiety nearly doubled.
Something’s got to give.
For other couples, the choice not to have more children is not so much determined by the sign of our times but rather by time itself.
They say time waits for no one. And neither does fertility. Pandemic be damned.
The reality is that while we were all waiting for the pandemic to end so we could resume our regularly scheduled programming, time just kept marching on. And with it, our aging bodies and waning fertility.
This has affected both younger Gen-Xers and “Elder” Millennials who may have wanted to expand their families pre-pandemic but hadn’t yet had the chance to do so.
Many couples postponed having additional children as they dealt with the overwhelming stress of life a la Covid.
Two years later, they’re not getting any younger.
Edging ever closer to menopause and amidst declining sperm counts, these couples are now accepting that that ship has sailed. Instead of having babies, they’re choosing puppies instead.
The baby bust is real. And the data proves it.
According to the U.S Census, birth rates significantly declined between 2019 and 2021. To the tune of over 9.4% in January of 2020. This was the lowest it’s been in more than four decades.
And while the baby-making days seem to be over for the couples interviewed in the New York Times piece, there is still hope for future generations.
According to the CDC, the huge dip in birth rate is likely temporary and is in fact, showing signs of improvement. While birth rates are still declining, they are doing so at a much slower pace.
The latest data released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics shows that birth rates only fell by 2% in the first half of 2021.
This is a vast improvement over the same time period in the previous year and is inching us closer to pre-pandemic levels.
As for the effectiveness of the “pandemic birth control”? Only time will tell how long it will last. It seems, that for some couples anyway, it will last a lifetime.