How long did you spend trying to get pregnant? Did you try any medical interventions?
We spent 5 years trying to get pregnant. The “plan” was always to have a year of marriage first and then have kids. We spent 12 months trying before going to our GP for initial testing and referral to a fertility treatment center, first due to our age and then after the tests identified issues. From there we started with medication, more testing, actually fell pregnant with medication and doing an ovulation induction cycle, only to miscarry at 11 ½ weeks.
After more testing and finding more issues, our clinic moved us to IVF of which we tried 6 cycles where we did not retrieve any eggs from me at all except for the final round – of which we got two. One egg fertilized but it did not make it to freezing. We then tried a donor cycle, where I received treatment for my adenomyosis (which is basically taking medication which sends you into menopause) before doing the frozen transfer cycle. In January 2019 we found out that cycle had not worked.
How did you know you were ready to stop trying?
We always knew that adoption or fostering was not something that we were really wanting to go through, plus it’s extremely difficult and expensive in Australia. So when it became apparent we had to do IVF, we agreed we would do IVF and a donor cycle if it came to that – but once we did that we would stop. We had to have some really horrible and hard discussions which I am not sure anyone is ever really prepared for. Discussing what we were willing to try and what we would be willing to walk away from was probably one of the most difficult conversations I have ever had to have.
I think due to the medical issues being all mine I felt a sense of responsibility and guilt for putting us in this situation. In the end, it was such a strain on us (me especially) emotionally, but also financially. We spent 5 years renting and not being able to buy a house, not going on holidays or doing anything except working and paying for IVF. We needed to close that chapter and move on.
What resources, support, or other things were most helpful in making the decision to stop trying and to help you work through grief?
I found there was a real lack of resources or support available for people in our situation. The majority of the resources available are geared towards people still going through the journey of trying to conceive. My clinic had a fabulous counselor who I always encourage people to utilize if they have access to them. Mainly, I received support from my family and friends – I am grateful to have two of my best friends who have also traversed this journey before me and were able to really support me.
To me there was a real big gap of having support that is less clinical (i.e. the medical professionals can give us all the information) but it is the need to reach out and just have a cuppa (or a wine!) with someone and vent. Or cry. Or just say how hard this really this. There is also not a lot out there around how to move towards a life without children if that is where you have ended with your journey. With the support of my friends and family, I focused on trying to do what I can to start to fill the gaps that I found.
I have started an online support group, and have massive plans to turn it into a non-profit. Hopefully with some little centers all over the place where people can go, connect, chat with people who have been through similar situations and have access to services that will help them not transition through to their new life.
How long after you stopped trying did the shift from mostly grief to mostly at peace with your situation happen?
Ha! Not quite sure I am there yet! Seriously though, I will say the majority of the time I no longer have that “acute” pain. I am getting better with my reactions when there are pregnancy announcements, and that sort of thing – but I definitely still have some really tough days. Mother’s Day this year was hard, and while it has been for the last few years since I had my miscarriage, I think knowing this year was the first official year of us knowing we will not have children and therefore this is now our life, well it was just a bit tougher than usual.
I did go searching for some meaning as to why this has happened to me, so anything spiritual I was interested in. Journaling has been a massive release for me – I always feel better if I just write and then I can close the and move on.
Work has also been a great distraction! I will admit there is a little bit of relief at knowing the outcome now. The biggest thing I struggled with each cycle and each year was the unknown. Will this work, won’t it. Will this year be our year. Not having that hanging over us anymore was a relief.
Personally, I really needed something to focus on. Something that I felt would make the last 5 years worthwhile at least in the sense of maybe I can help others. Hence the focus on creating and expanding the support group! This is my way to move on.
Are there changes you made in your life that you wouldn’t have made if you had become a parent?
To be completely honest, I am not sure I would be the woman I am today if we had not gone through this journey and ended up childless. I was always very much a person who thought the worst of myself, felt everyone was better than me and really got down on myself. I still have to work on myself in the sense of not blaming myself for Ben and I not being able to have children (early on in the journey I offered to divorce Ben so he could find someone who could give him kids) but I recognize a strength in myself that I never knew I had. I had massive fear of needles, but I spent 5 years doing IVF treatment because I wanted this so much, I picked myself up after every cycle and kept hoping and trying. I managed to bring myself back from such a devastating event such as losing my baby when we should have been able to really start shouting from the rooftops – and again I kept going.
I was always one of those people who never really knew what they wanted to do with their lives. I went straight to work after school (no uni for me) as I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I thought I would go make some money while I figured it out.
I may not be going through my journey now – but I have hope that I can make a difference. I have the passion to try and at least ease this journey if I can for other people, and it has given me a new focus on in life. I know what I want to do with my life now.
What are the aspects you appreciate most about your childfree life?
Peace and quiet! I have a niece and nephew and when I visit them (or they come to me) wow, I enjoy the peace and quiet after they leave.
I think I also appreciate the time Ben and I can spend together, just the two of us. I think to a certain degree going through this journey has bought us even closer. It’s pretty confronting to really analyze yourself and your relationship with each other to work out if this is enough for you. Luckily for me, it is. Plus, we love to go to concerts together and that is just so much fun!
Are there aspects of your identity you had to shift in the transition to a childfree life?
I think taking all that love and energy and maternal instinct I have and finding a different avenue to utiliZe it was important to me. I love my family and friends and will always go above and beyond for them, especially the kids. Knowing that I want to translate some of that love and support into the support group is my way of utilizing it all in a good way! Without the focus of children, I had to really look at myself and identify the things that will make me happy. That’s not an easy task when the biggest thing you want is taken away! I know my wants and needs will continue to change over the years coming but at least I know I have the ability and can do it so I can live a completely fulfilling life.
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?
To me this is such a trick question. Due to my medical issues, I would say if I could do it again – absolutely, I want that magic wand and that baby. However, I would want it with the way I am now as a person, and with the relationship I have with my husband. I think it has been a really important lesson for me to identify the good points in myself, to be more gentle and forgiving of myself and also the relationship I have now with Ben – I wouldn’t want to change that at all. Especially not if I can help people in the way I hope I can. If it meant I was the ‘old’ version of myself – I would have to say no.
What advice do you have for those who have just made the decision to let go of their dream of parenting?
Be gentle with yourself. There is honestly no right or wrong way to process the decision and transition into your new life. You just need to do what is best for you – and take note, this can change daily! Also, to be prepared – this is going to potentially be one of the hardest things you have to do in your life, which will include working through what makes you happy and what your priorities are now. And that is no easy feat!
Use the support you have available to you – including friends and family. And just know – there are so many of us out there, we can be pretty easy to track down if you need to chat!
Interested in sharing your story through Chasing Creation? Drop me a line through my contact page.