How long did you spend trying to get pregnant? Did you try any medical interventions?
We spent around three years trying to conceive. The first year and a half we were trying on our own by just getting busy as often as we could! I was only 25-26 at the time, so after trying for that long we knew something wasn’t right. My periods were irregular and painful, so we figured that was a factor, but at that point it was all a guessing game. That’s when we decided to seek help from a doctor.
Over a period of several months, we did all of the initial tests: blood work, ultrasounds, pelvic exams, HSG, and a semen analysis. What we found out was that I have PCOS and endometriosis, and on top of that, my husband’s sperm has low motility. The first step was treating the PCOS to see if that helped at all. While I was able to finally tolerate the PCOS symptoms better, it did nothing to help my fertility.
After all of this, we decided to proceed with a specialist’s medical intervention. We started with Clomid and progesterone treatments, but they went very poorly. I almost immediately had complications from the medications. Not only did I have the typical hormonal side effects, I grew huge, painful ovarian cysts. Because of this, I stopped the treatment after only a month or two. There was such a large chance of the same thing happening again I chose not to try another round.
With non-invasive treatments no longer an option, we decided our journey to become biological parents was at an end.
How did you know you were ready to stop trying?
From the very beginning, Wes and I knew we did not want to pursue any invasive treatments like IUI or IVF to try and get pregnant. We decided that if it came to that, we would consider adoption first. So when the more simple solutions didn’t work, we knew the time had come to stop trying. This might sound very practical and straightforward, but it was a painful realization that we to grapple with. Because of the hurt we were recovering from, adoption wasn’t even discussed for a long time.
What resources, support, or other things were most helpful in making the decision to stop trying and to help you work through grief?
At the time, I didn’t know of any resources for people like me who were ready to move on from that part of their lives. It seemed like everything was geared towards women who were still trying to beat their infertility, rather than accept it as I wanted to do. Or, they were people who never wanted children in the first place, which didn’t apply to me. So in that way, I felt rather alone.
But, knowing that we had a stopping point was very helpful to me. I am a very black and white person, and if there was any grey area in this process I would probably still be struggling. I know that not everyone can relate to that; we are all different and for some that greyness is comforting. But for me personally it was important to know when to let go.
And of course, having an ally by my side was the thing that gave me the most strength. Wes and I were on the same page from the beginning, which means we had to have some serious discussions. I know this can be hard for some of us, but being open and honest about what you want is so important to getting the support you need.
How long after you stopped trying did the shift from mostly grief to mostly at peace with your situation happen?
As I mentioned, I am a pretty black and white type of thinker. I did have a mourning period, but it was short. What I mostly felt was that a huge weight had been lifted. I felt relieved that there would be no more doctor’s appointments, no more failed tests, no more worrying and wondering. My focus shifted from wanting to identify as a parent to wanting to be a great wife, sister, daughter, and friend.
Are there changes you made in your life that you wouldn’t have made if you had become a parent?
While we didn’t necessarily make huge life changes after deciding to the childfree, we certainly added to and enriched our lives. Wes and I travel a lot, volunteer, have good friends, are close to our families, have hobbies, and are more in love with each other now than we have ever been. We are planning a five week road trip this summer and I don’t think we would have been able to even consider it if we had children.
What are the aspects you appreciate most about your childfree life?
I appreciate the way it brought Wes and I together. We shifted our focus from becoming parents, to becoming better partners. We are so in love and just into each other. Without having a child as the focal point of our lives, we are each other’s world. There isn’t anyone else I would rather spend my time with.
And I love, love our freedom. It might sound selfish, but it’s true. I love that we can go out of town at a moment’s notice. We get to eat whatever we want (though, this isn’t always a good thing, haha), and do what we want when we want to do it. We have the time and means to pursue hobbies and interests we have. Our choices and plans for the future are ours alone and it is one of the best feelings. Some of these things might sound small and petty to others, but it makes our lives richer and fuller than ever before.
I also appreciate how it has let us become closer to our families. We are able to give more time and effort into our relationships with them. One of my most favorite things is being an Auntie and having a close relationship with my nieces and nephews.
Are there aspects of your identity you had to shift in the transition to a childfree life?
Oh, for sure. I had to choose to change where I was putting my attention. I had wanted to be a mother since I was a child. I was the one who played with her baby dolls more than any other toy, and loved spending time around my baby cousins and being able to play with and care for them. I had to make a conscience decision to move past that and start believing I could be more than a mother. I’m not saying that in a way to put mothers down, what I mean is that I had to understand that it wasn’t my only option and it isn’t the only path to take in life.
Plus, I suddenly had all of this freedom to work with. As cheesy as it sounds, I had to look inside myself and see what else was there. What I found was that I am artistic and creative, I am adventurous, I love reading and learning new things, and I had dreams that were suddenly more realistic and achievable.
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?
No way! For now, I wouldn’t change our life for anything. I’m happy with our choice to be childfree. All of the good things I mentioned above are fulfilling enough for me to be whole without a child. Also, through this I have discovered a few reasons that parenthood would not have been a good match for me in particular. I deal with mental illness that requires medication and therapy, as well as chronic pain from the endometriosis. These two factors alone put enough stress in my life that I don’t know how I would handle a baby on top of it. Not to say that you can’t be a great parent if you deal with similar issues, but I imagine it makes things a bit tougher. If I didn’t have time and energy to put into myself, I don’t think I would be as healthy as I am today.
What advice do you have for those who have just made the decision to give up their dream of parenting?
Refocus your priorities. It might not sound simple, but it was the main thing that got me through the realization that I would never be a parent. Instead of putting money into doctor’s appointments and treatments, go on a vacation and reconnect with your partner. Take the time you would have spent pouring through TTC forums or learning about new treatments, and pick up a hobby you’ve been putting off. Take the time to do things that bring you the most joy. Do things outdoors like camping and hiking. Or if that’s not your thing, keep on eye on gallery openings and special exhibits at your local museums. There are beer gardens and music festivals and art walks you can attend. Even if you like the quiet, calm life at home with your books and crafts, just don’t dwell on the past. Plan a future just for you and your partner, and actively work towards it.
Interested in sharing your childless to childfree story through Chasing Creation? Drop me a line through my contact page.