People always assumed my disability meant I couldn’t have sex let alone children (Photo: Samantha Renke)

“Not long until the big 40!”

When I celebrated my 37th birthday last week, a few people commented that I’m really in my late 30s now.

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It was all said in jest, so I managed to smile half-heartedly, even though it was the last thing I wanted to do.

The thing is, like many women my age, I thought I was now married and had kids, and as a single woman in my early 40s, that’s a dream I’m nowhere near realizing.

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But what’s even more unusual is that it’s an expectation I’ve set for myself.

Because unlike many other women, I was never really forced to become a mother. They always assumed my disability meant I couldn’t have sex let alone children – a crushing assumption that leaves me feeling empty, different and invalid.

Unfortunately, my disability identity often overshadows the other layers of me – as if I were a woman.

Growing up – and even into adulthood – I was never asked if I would date anyone or if I wanted to have kids in the future.

In a sense, I felt liberated from the societal pressures many women face. I didn’t get the side-to-side head tilt followed by micro-aggressions or biological clock judgments that “time is ticking” because I don’t have kids or a partner.

But at other times I felt incredibly left out. Mainly because I wanted a family. Why haven’t people asked me?

I am currently single, living alone and have no children – except for my two hairless babies (Photo: Samantha Renke)

I remember a friend of mine went to see a psychic in his mid twenties. She came back to me very excited, because I had apparently turned up for the lecture many times before.

The psychic told my friend that I wouldn’t find a partner or be in a relationship until my mid-thirties. I was absolutely mortified by this news because all I wanted was a little normalcy.

It’s strange to admit that I would have welcomed sexist remarks if people had objectified me as a woman in terms of my ability to have children. I would have loved to be a housewife.

I vividly remember my 30th birthday. I had a really big house party where so many people showed up and it was amazing.

However, in the middle of the night I had an anxiety attack.

“Oh my god, I’m 30, single and not a mother yet,” I thought to myself, gasping for breath. A pang of sadness, disappointment and loss washed over me.

I searched the room, found people my age and compared myself to them. Many of them were married, had mortgages, and were much closer to achieving what society considered normal: family life.

I was incredibly successful myself, but I wanted the same for myself.

I deserve to be a mom like everyone else. At least I deserve to be able to talk to people about what motherhood would be like for me.

Still, I didn’t succeed. Neither do my doctors, who often make me feel weak and even a routine pap smear is problematic because they don’t have the right equipment.

Samantha Renke holds a cupcake in her hand

I refuse to feel like a failure if I don’t have kids (Photo: Samantha Renke)

The only reason I know I can physically become a mother was to see other women with the same condition successfully give birth to their own children. However, when I speak to them, they tell me how family members and medical professionals constantly try to dissuade them from making this decision.

This should certainly not be the case. Doctors, we must work together to ensure that a woman has the right to be a mother if she chooses to be.

I’ve been thinking about my life for the past week. I am currently single, living alone, have no kids (other than my two furless babies), still very focused on my career, and for the most part quite happy with my situation.

But I certainly don’t rule out motherhood. I am currently in therapy to deal with my dating concerns and the past hurt partners left me behind.

I am also moving from my one bedroom apartment in London to a larger apartment this year. That means if I meet someone or decide to adopt, I already have the space.

I have already spoken to Fostering UK and after an hour of conversation they said as long as I have the documentation proving I am fit and able I would be a potential candidate. Actually, it seemed more of a problem to them that I had pets – because of my disability.

But while I haven’t ruled out motherhood, I’ve also given myself a passport. I refuse to feel like a failure if I don’t have kids. There are so many kids already, and isn’t the world on fire or something?

To me motherhood can mean many different things and what will be will be. Even if it means lovingly mothering or smothering a menagerie of pets.

I’ve always seen myself as unconventional in everything I do.

I don’t conform to the norm and tend to go against the grain – why should motherhood be any different?