How long did you spend trying to get pregnant? Did you try any medical interventions?
My husband and I tried to have a child for ten years (from 2003 – 2013). We did seven rounds of IUI, plus we checked into various types of adoption, from domestic to international and even embryo adoption. Ultimately, I was never able to get pregnant and adoption was not our path.
How did you know you were ready to stop trying?
Honestly, I wasn’t ready to stop trying. Although I knew we would not have a biological child, as we were done with infertility treatments, I wanted to adopt. On 26 December 2013, however, my husband asked me to accept our life as it was. He was tired and did not want to spend the next ten years like the last—desperately trying to attain something (well, someone) that seemed out of reach. So, in 2014, I tentatively began trying to accept our childless not by choice life. (Yes, I actually say that I am childless, NOT childfree. If you’d like to find out why, you can read more on my blog, Not So Mommy…)
What resources, support, or other things were most helpful in making the decision to stop trying and to help you work through grief?
Who and what helped me as I started accepting the what is…
Well, my husband was a huge help. He gave me the initial nudge (it might have been more like a push) into letting go and moving forward. We had lost our Pomeranian of 13 years in March 2013. We adopted Maddie in July 2013. Over-zealously embracing my role as Maddie’s Dog Mom helped my healing so much. And becoming a host mom to a foreign exchange student in 2015 continued my healing even more. I’ve learned to change perspective about what it means to be a mom. In fact, I say that I am “redefining momhood.” Ultimately, this change in perspective, along with finding the bright sides of a childless life, helped me accept, redefine, and embrace the what is joyfully…
How long after you stopped trying did the shift from mostly grief to mostly at peace with your situation happen?
I did not realize it, but I believe I had already gone through much of the grieving process before we officially decided to accept our childless life. Now, that’s not to say that healing hasn’t continued over the past six years. Triggers and wobbles still happen (probably always will), but I feel 2014 was the beginning of moving past the grief, past the in-between.
Are there changes you made in your life that you wouldn’t have made if you had become a parent?
Absolutely! For one, I would never have quit teaching to start writing a childless blog. Second, I seriously doubt we would have moved to South Carolina or hosted our foreign exchange daughter. I don’t think my husband would have gone back to school to earn both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration. We wouldn’t live in a little log cabin that needed to be completely remodeled inside and out. And I definitely wouldn’t be driving a sporty car at age 42!
What are the aspects you appreciate most about your childfree life?
First, I must say again that I do not consider myself childfree. I am childless not by choice. Despite using the term “childless,” I am not a sad, depressed, bitter woman who wasn’t able to have kids. I have chosen to see the bright sides of infertility and a childless life. In fact, one of the most popular posts on my blog is “Good Things: The Bright Sides of Infertility.“
Are there aspects of your identity you had to shift in the transition to a childfree life?
Yes. In 2014, when my husband asked me to accept our childless life, I made the following resolution:
“Stop trying to convince everyone else I’m a mom. Just accept it myself.”
How could I possibly be a mom if I didn’t have biological or adopted children?! Well, for me, I accepted that being a Dog Mom means I am a real mom. When we hosted our foreign exchange daughter, I expanded my definition of a “real mom” to include being a host mom.
Because not everyone understands my perspective, I made another resolution at the beginning of 2019…
“Stop expecting others to understand my childless life. Just embrace my life and live who I am authentically and with joy!”
If you could wave a magic wand and have a baby in your arms, would you do it? Or do you prefer your current life?
Oh, this is a tough one.
During our ten-year struggle, I wanted nothing more than to have a baby. At that time, I would most definitely have accepted the magic wand with open arms!
At this point, however, it’s difficult to admit that having a baby at this point in our lives would be extremely difficult. We have remodeled our home to be perfect for our current family—me, my husband, our fur baby, and an extra space for when our exchange daughter comes to visit (as she is now family). As I said earlier, I traded in my SUV for a sporty car. My husband is growing his business, and I take an active role in helping him do that. We enjoy traveling, sitting in our snug and watching our favorite TV shows while drinking tea, going to fancy restaurants…
So, as much as we wanted a little, the time for one has passed. Give the magic wand to someone in the midst of her battle. I don’t need it anymore.
What advice do you have for women who have just made the decision to give up their dream of parenting?
Well, since I did not give up on my dream of parenting, I can’t give advice about that. In fact, I really dislike the “give up” mentality. I didn’t give up on anything. I did let go. (I’ve written a blog about that, too. You can read it here.)
What did I let go of? Well, I let go of what I thought being a parent was supposed to look like. I redefined momhood and embraced non-traditional parent roles. My hubby did, too, which makes this journey even sweeter.
I suppose my advice is this:
Accept what is, redefine your dreams & your expectations, and embrace your new Plan B with reckless abandon!
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