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Designing a Childfree Life

Designing your life after making the decision to be childfree.

If you’d like to learn more about Brandi’s infertility and childless not by choice journey, check out her blog, Not So Mommy…  You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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…)

For another inspiring story on embracing a childfree life after infertility, check out Rebekah and Lenny’s story here.

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.

For another inspiring story on embracing a childfree life after infertility, check out Erin and Brian’s story here.

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!

Interested in sharing your story through Chasing Creation? Drop me a line through my contact page.

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Trauma creates change you don't choose. Healing creates change you do choose. Michelle RosenthalI suck at creating babies. Even the most advanced medical interventions available can’t convince my body to perform one of its most basic biological functions.
 
During my infertility, all I could do was watch months turn into years with no hint of a positive pregnancy test. I started feeling like a failure. It was devastating to know that the thing I longed for most in this world was not within my power to create. No amount of will, desire, or action was going to change the outcome.
 
I spent so many years focusing on what I couldn’t create that I lost sight of what I could. Since making the decision to embrace a childfree life, I’ve worked to identify and celebrate what I create in my life and the world. To see myself as the powerful source of creation I am. Here are a few of them.
 
  • I create loving, compassionate relationships.
  • I create a better world for children through the policy change I work toward at my job.
  • I create a healthier earth by respecting the planet and being conscious about the resources I consume.
  • I create music when I play my ukulele, sing or write music.
  • I create space for magic and play in my life.
  • I create nourishing food and a connection to the earth when I garden.
  • I create an understanding, supportive space for people to connect through my blog and social media accounts
  • I create kindness by treating those I meet with respect and courtesy.
  • I create beautiful surroundings when I take on remodeling projects at home.
  • I create a better world by donating my money and time to causes I care about.
  • I create self-love by taking care of my mind, body and soul.
  • I create compassion by opening my heart to myself and others.

If you need another reminder of how powerful you are, check out my post, “I’m not a mom, but…Life isn't about finding oneself. Life is about creating oneself. George Bernard Shaw

  • I create laughter by making those around me laugh and seeking out humor.
  • I create a more just society by voting and using my voice for social activism.
  • I create a vision for my future by developing and moving toward goals.
  • I create happiness by focusing on the positive aspects of life.
  • I create a healthier future for myself by letting go of the past.
  • I create authenticity by following my inner voice instead of trying to fulfill others expectations of me.
  • I create health and joy by cooking delicious, healthy meals.
  • I create courage by letting go of fear.
  • I create peace by practicing forgiveness.
  • I create knowledge through reading.
  • I create resiliency by accepting and adapting to the shit life throws at me.
  • I create meaning in life by defining and following my dreams.
  • I create a new future by letting go of regrets.
  • I create self-acceptance by loving myself, flaws and all.
  • I create a connection to the world through travel.
  • I create confidence by gaining new skills and recognizing my achievements.
  • I create empathetic space for others who need a listening ear.
  • I create awareness by sharing my experience with endometriosis and infertility.
  • I create my own truth by questioning the beliefs and ideas of others.
  • I create deeper connections with myself and others by living in the moment.
  • I create meaningful conversations by listening and being open.
  • I create memories by taking photos of the people and places that are meaningful to me.
  • I create a life I’m in love with.

You are also a powerful source of creation. What are you creating in your life and in the world?

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How long did you spend trying to get pregnant? Did you try any medical interventions?

In 2012, Brian and I decided the time was right to have children.  Brian had just finished grad school and had found a job in his field, I was established in my own career and we just purchased a home with three bedrooms.  After several years, a number of miscarriages, one of which threatened my life and going through part of the adoption process, we became childfree by circumstance. 

How did you know you were ready to stop trying?

Marriage is a partnership and there are times when both partners are not on the same page at the same time.  My last miscarriage was an ectopic pregnancy, which can be life-threatening and at that point, Brian was ready to stop trying, out of concern for my health.  After talking through it, we decided that we would stop trying to have biological children and that we would begin exploring adoption. Adoption is a wonderful thing to do but after going through a number of the steps required to adopt, Brian and I decided it just wasn’t the right thing for us to do.  It was at this point we both knew that we were ready to stop trying and that we would be childfree.

For another inspiring story on embracing a childfree life after infertility, check out Rebekah and Lenny’s story here.

What resources, support, or other things were most helpful in making the decision to stop trying and to help you work through grief? 

Being in a loving, supporting partnership and openly communicating with each other about how we were feeling was the best resource in working through our grief and was the only way we were able to come out the other side of this experience together.  

How long after you stopped trying did the shift from mostly grief to mostly at peace with your situation happen?

It was a process, not an event and it took years to completely work through grief and arrive at peace with our situation. Life doesn’t always turn out the way you envisioned it, arriving at this conclusion did not mean we immediately accepted how our lives had ultimately turned out, it really just meant that the grieving could begin for the life we had originally envisioned for ourselves.

Are there changes you made in your life that you wouldn’t have made if you had become a parent? 

When Brian and I came to the realization that we would be childfree, we were both at a very unhealthy place in our lives.  We were quite overweight, didn’t exercise and ate fast food far too often. This had a profoundly negative impact on both our physical and mental health. We had both always wanted to go on exciting adventures like climbing mountains and running marathons, but our lifestyles at the time made it impossible to have those adventures together.  During the years we spent trying to have children, it had felt like we put our lives on hold, we let our physical and mental health take a backseat to our desire of having children. Realizing that we would be childfree came with grief but it was also liberating, we could stop living for tomorrow and instead, live life to the fullest with each other today.  Together we changed our lifestyle, lost a combined 200 pounds. We have also climbed mountains and run marathons (well, half-marathons).  

For another inspiring story on embracing a childfree life after infertility, check out Rebecca’s story here.

What are the aspects you appreciate most about your childfree life? 

Making the lifestyle changes we did have opened up a whole new world of adventures which are much easier to experience together being childfree. Having the time and resources available to take on these adventures and seek out new ones is what we appreciate the most about our childfree life.

Are there aspects of your identity you had to shift in the transition to a childfree life? 

I had to become more focused on living in the present moment and became happy with what I currently have, rather than focusing and spending time anticipating things that may or may not happen in the future.  One positive outcome of this is that I’ve become much more relaxed and less worried about the future!

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? 

It’s hard to know if we would have made the lifestyle changes we did if we had children, but I suspect that since we spent years putting the desire to have children ahead of our own physical and mental health, we would have put our children’s needs ahead of our own in a similar way.  For that reason, I’m ultimately grateful that we are childfree and wouldn’t want a ‘miracle baby’ at this point, since not only are we living life to the fullest, but because of the lifestyles changes we made, we will likely have more years to enjoy together.

For another inspiring story on embracing a childfree life after infertility, check out Tracey and Dan’s story here.

What advice do you have for those who have just made the decision to give up their dream of parenting? 

If I were to provide one piece of advice to couples who have made the decision to give up their dream of parenting, it would be to work together as partners and make new dreams.  It’s not an easy process, but it’s so worth it!

You can read more about the health journey Erin and Brian took as part of their transition to a childfree life on Today.com, KHOA.com and GlobalNews.ca.

Interested in sharing your childfree by chance story through Chasing Creation? Drop me a line through my contact page.

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How do you make new friends as an adult?

I was grappling with this question a year ago and faced some challenges as I began my quest.

  • I had recently moved to a new city.
  • I didn’t know a single person.
  • I’m not religious and don’t belong to any organizations.
  • I work from home and don’t live near colleagues.
  • I was looking for friends who weren’t parents since I was embracing my identity as a nonparent.
  • I wanted to meet people who shared my interests, hobbies, and values.

Impossible, right?

I kept seeing women at restaurants, coffee shops, and book stores who looked very friend-able. I would rehearse opening lines in my head, searching for something that wouldn’t sound weird or creepy. I would compliment her style and we’d talk about her shoes or hair for a minute and that would be it. I could never find a way to turn that initial conversation into a hangout.

For more ideas on how to expand your social circle, check out my post, “There’s More than One Way to Create a Family.”

Bumble BFF

My actual Bumble BFF profile.

Then I found Bumble BFF. If you’re not familiar with Bumble, here’s the gist. Bumble is an app that includes three settings for connecting with new people:

  • Bumble Date,
  • Bumble BFF,
  • and Bumble Bizz.

You can download the app for free, create a profile and instantly connect with people in your area.

I’m only discussing my experience with BFF mode since I haven’t tried the other two. In fact, you can disable the other platforms all together if you don’t plan to use them. In BFF mode, you’ll only see profiles of the same gender you select when setting up your account.

Spoiler Alert

I have so many new friends! After a few months, I had connected with dozens of women. Of those, I met up with about ten, and ended up with a handful of new friends that I adore! Just yesterday I met a friend for ice cream, art, and dinner (yes, in that order). I met her through Bumble almost a year ago and we’re still hanging out. Next week, I’m grabbing a drink with someone I connected with a few days ago.

For more ideas on how to embrace your unexpectedly childfree life, check out my book review of “Sweet Grapes: How to Stop Being Infertile and Start Living Again.”

Getting Started

My actual Bumble BFF profile.

  1. Create your account. If you already use Bumble Date: tap on “Bumble Date” at the top of the page. From here, you can toggle to Bumble BFF to get started. If you’re new to Bumble: select ‘New Friends’ when creating your account.
  2. Set up your profile. You can add photos, fill in the “about me” section, and basic info. You also have the option to link your Instagram account so users can view your pics.
  3. Choose your settings. In the “settings” tab, you have the option to disable Bumble Date. You also have the option to select the age range and distance of your desired friends.
  4. Start making friends! You can now view the profiles of potential friends. When a new profile pops up, look through their info to decide if you’re interested in connecting with them. If you are, swipe right on your screen; if not, swipe left.
  5. Get connected. If someone you swiped right on also swipes right on you, Bumble will notify you that you have a new match. Now you can message your new friend directly. But don’t wait too long, the match will expire after 24 hours if neither of you reaches out to the other.

So, does it work?

For me, it absolutely did! I’ve met some amazing women over the past few months and made a few new besties. I live in a small town so you don’t have to be in a big city for this to work.

Tips for Success

  • Include what makes you unique in your profile. I’m surprised at how many women don’t include any info in their profiles, just a few pics. Or, how many read exactly the same. I can’t tell you how many women only list wine and Netflix as interests. Let your personality and interests show through!
  • Make the first move. I’m not gonna lie, it’s awkward to connect with strangers. But you’re both there because you are looking to make new friends. Be brave! Send that message, set up that hangout! You’ll be glad you did.
  • If you’re looking for friends who aren’t parents, include that you’re childfree in your profile. It will help others who are also looking for childfree friends find you.
  • Be patient. Making new friends kind of feels like dating. You’ll probably have to hang out with a few people before you find the ones you connect with. Keep trying!
  • Have fun! Your new besties are waiting for you!

What does making friends have to do with embracing a childfree life?

My actual Bumble BFF profile.

Part of embracing an unexpectedly childfree life means shaping your identity as a nonparent. Making new friends is a fun way to explore that.

In the past year, I’ve met other women and couples who don’t have kids and it’s been amazing! They help me identify the benefits of a childfree life, and are so much fun to spend time with. I love my friends with kids (love you so much!) but it’s been affirming to add a few friends who can provide a different perspective. If you’re coming out of infertility, making new friends can also help you reconnect to other aspects of yourself that may have been on the backburner.

Good luck!

Click here for more posts on designing an unexpectedly childfree life.

Have you tried Bumble BFF? How did it go? Let me know in the comments.

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Connect with Rebekah on Instagram for inspiring content focused on being childfree by chance at @RebekahReclaimed.

How long did you spend trying to get pregnant? Did you try any medical interventions?

We tried for four years. We started trying on our own and changed our lifestyle so that both of us would be as healthy as possible. I have PCOS and do not ovulate on my own. Even after a 50 lb weight loss, I was still not having cycles unless medicated.
 
We went to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) when I was 33 because we didn’t want to waste any time. We started out doing a few cycles of Femara with trigger shots and timed intercourse. After that wasn’t successful, we moved onto IUI’s with medications. After several IUI’s, we then moved onto IVF. Our first round of IVF was “successful,” but ended in an early miscarriage. I waited 6 months before doing another round and that round was not successful either.
 

How did you know you were ready to stop trying?

After our second round of IVF, I just told myself that everything was fine and that I didn’t need to deal with my grief. I pretended that life was perfect and just went back to business as usual. That led to me having what I call a “mental break.” I began having panic attacks almost daily. I wasn’t able to function at all. It’s like my body was there but my brain wasn’t. I was lucky enough to have an amazing therapist who did very intensive work to help me through this time.
 
My husband and I decided to take a year off completely from treatments. During that year, we traveled and had so much fun!  We made career changes and several updates to our home. We finally got back to being us! The thought of going back down the infertility road now just makes me anxious. I truly love my life the way it is and I don’t feel like anything is missing the way that I once did. When faced with the decision to try again, I just don’t feel the drive to go there at all.
 

What resources, support, or other things were most helpful in making the decision to stop trying and to help you work through grief? 

My therapist said something that really changed my perspective on what my life should look like. She said:

Imagine you spend months and months planning a trip to Bali. You read all the books on Bali, you’ve bought the perfect clothes, your itinerary is planned, etc. Bali is the only thing your heart is set on and no one can tell you that any other place would be just as amazing.

Now, let’s say your plane has to make an emergency stop in Alaska. Due to the weather conditions there, you cannot get out for at least 1-2 weeks. This is definitely not Bali. You didn’t read the books on Alaska!  You didn’t pack for Alaska!  Frantically, you have to decide.

Do you make this the adventure of a life time or do you waste that precious time and only think about Bali?

Perhaps it’s because I’m so in love with travel, I don’t know, but this analogy hit home for me. My husband and I were so disconnected. Our relationship was so strained. I was constantly on hormones, constantly obsessed with what I was putting in my body or what I wasn’t. I was stressed from getting from one appointment to the next on top of working and being exhausted, and not sleeping well, when all he had to do was jizz in a cup a few times. I was full of anxiety, I was angry, I felt slighted. He became only a means to a baby to me and I took a lot of that out on him.

So taking some time off and reconnecting gave me the chance to see that I already had all that I ever needed. I have the best husband ever, family and friends who love me, the ability to travel and read and do volunteer work. That is all something I’ll never take for granted again because I feel like I came very close to potentially losing it all.

How long after you stopped trying did the shift from mostly grief to mostly at peace with your situation happen?

It took about a good solid year. The grief will never completely go away. I think there will always be the, “what if,” factor. Baby announcements can still shake me up but I don’t carry it constantly anymore. Now I genuinely am happy for those who become mothers and just want the best for them and wish them well. 

Are there changes you made in your life that you wouldn’t have made if you had become a parent? 

I believe so. I openly speak out about infertility now. I am very open about my journey and I like to give the perspective of what life can look like when your plan B becomes your plan A. It ain’t all that bad! I am more aware of how I am growing and I do things that I love and make time for myself and my husband above all else.

What are the aspects you appreciate most about your childfree life?

I have a lot of freedom. My husband and I live life on our own terms and I think we are able to really hone in on aspects of our marriage and ourselves that we want to work on. We plan to do a lot more travel and many more updates to our historic home. I am singing again and I did not have time to do something I am so passionate about when I was going through treatments. I am not sure I would have the time and energy to do a lot of the things I do and plan to do if I had had children. 

Are there aspects of your identity you had to shift in the transition to a childfree life?

Absolutely. I always just assumed I would become a mom. I think it wasn’t ever really presented to me as an option in life. As a little girl, one of my first memories was getting a doll at Christmas that would wet its diaper after you fed her a bottle. I was over the moon! I mean didn’t all little girls grow up to become mommies?  It sure feels that way!  It was like becoming a mother was just fulfilling my destiny.

I don’t think I ever thought there was any other life for me. So now I have to change what that life looks like. Sometimes it’s challenging because I feel like the odd man out. Most of my female friends have little ones or plan to. So what kind of organically happens is we see each other less and less and we have less in common to chat about. So that has been challenging. But, I have found wonderful friends online and in real life who are childfree by chance (for many different reasons). I enjoy our conversations and time together so much. We really help each other grow and cheer each other on, much the way I am sure most new moms do.

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?

I prefer my current life. This is a question that I have asked myself a lot over the past 6 months or so. I can honestly say that I don’t even think about my future as a mother anymore, unless you count my 3 cats and new puppy 🙂

What advice do you have for women who have just made the decision to give up their dream of parenting? 

You can absolutely have an amazing and fulfilling life after infertility. It’s scary because it looks different. It’s scary because it can feel lonely. It’s scary because society puts a whole lot of shit on you that you didn’t ask for. But so is motherhood.

We don’t always get to choose which path life takes us, but we do get to choose whether or not we want to rock it and make it the best it can be. I choose to boldly rock this new life and just keep making me the best me that I can. I hope somewhere along the way I can help someone see that this choice is a real choice, and can be a very beautiful and meaningful one, as well. 

Interested in sharing your childfree by chance story through Chasing Creation? Drop me a line through my contact page.

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How long did you spend trying to get pregnant? Did you try any medical interventions?

We tried for four years. Since I was already 37 when we got married, we decided to start adding to our family right away. We waited, mostly because of health insurance; babies are expensive. I had already been tracking my cycle for several years, so I didn’t notice any red flags in that department. But I made an appointment with my OB/GYN for my annual and to discuss pregnancy. We were told to try naturally for three months and then if we weren’t successful to come back in. Three months later I was back at the OB/GYN. He gave me a script for Clomid and three cycles later, I still wasn’t pregnant.

I gave up on that OB/GYN and found another one—she was even less helpful. She wrote me a script for Femara and sent me on my way. Four cycles later, still not pregnant. She also suggested I drive up to Billings, Montana to have an HSG test, which would have cost $2,000. We lived in Gillette, Wyoming, so there wasn’t a single practicing Reproductive Endocrinologist in sight. The closest practice was either in Montana or Colorado.

By this point, two years had gone by. Our kid-making plans were put on hold while we relocated to Florida. Once in Florida, I was able to meet with an actual Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). During all the standard testing, my RE found that I had fibroids, a large polyp, a septum in my uterus, and she suspected that I had endometriosis. In January of 2017, I had laparoscopic surgery to remove all the fibroids, septum, and polyp. Turns out I had stage 3-4 endometriosis; it was everywhere. My 45-minute surgery was extended to three hours and it was pretty terrible. My RE had to stitch one of my ovaries back in place and I had endo all over my colon and bladder.

About three months after healing from surgery, I developed a pelvic floor condition and was in constant pain. This new condition won me a trip to pelvic floor rehabilitation and after three more months of therapy I finally felt I was in a good place to get back to treating my infertility.

We did one monitored medicated cycle with injectable medications and two IUIs with injectable medication. After three failed cycles, my RE had me come in to discuss our options. She told me that endometriosis had more than likely done its damage to my reproductive organs in my 20s. Knowing that Jason and I didn’t wish to pursue IVF we discussed our other options. 44 cycles of big fat negatives. (We took a few cycles off for personal and medical reasons.) Not even a blip. We suspect I had a chemical pregnancy at some point, but have no way of ever knowing. We don’t know because I made a personal decision early on not to test until I was at least a week late.

How did you know you were ready to stop trying?

To be honest, I did and didn’t know at the same time. I was very lost and had to find help. I was lucky and fortunate to find a therapist who specializes in infertility. Over the course of four months we talked through our infertility journey, life and love, and loss and expectations. Even during therapy, I continued to research donor eggs, donor embryos, and even adoption, but I would only get so far in the research phase—I could never bring myself to pull the plug and make any appointments, plans or anything. I always stopped and felt overwhelmed . . . like it should be easier . . . I shouldn’t need to do all of this . . . I can’t do all of this . . . I don’t want to do all of this.

My therapist really helped and encouraged me to explore all my options and understand that stopping treatment was perfectly okay too. That was something I hadn’t considered fully, because I thought it meant that I was giving up. I thought it meant that I really didn’t want to be a mom after all, and that everyone would judge me and think I was selfish for waiting so long to try and have kids anyway.

What resources, support, or other things were most helpful in making the decision to stop trying and to help you work through grief?

My husband, Jason, was the absolute best. He was beyond supportive, patient, and understanding. He told me from the beginning he’d be happy to have kids, or not have kids, so I never felt any pressure from him to make a choice toward any direction.

We were also lucky to not receive any pressure from our families to have kids. My therapist was a key factor in helping me move forward with living childfree. She gave me the tools to work through my questions and understand my grief; additionally, she helped me understand that not having kids was a valid and okay option. I also found support from the podcast, now titled, Live Childfree with Erik and Melissa; and Terrible,Thanks for Asking. The former because Erik and Melissa dealt with infertility and decided to live childfree, and the latter because it deals with the sad stuff that happens to us all.

I also found amazing communities on Reddit: r/infertility, r/IFseniorclass, and r/IFchildfree each helped me through various stages of my infertility journey. My Resolve support groups in Florida and now in Ohio have both been tremendously helpful. I also read, Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility. This book was helpful from both an emotional and an academic side. I’ve also started research for my own article, or book, or blog.

How long after you stopped trying did the shift from mostly grief to mostly at peace with your situation happen?

Sometimes life doesn’t give you enough time to process your grief. It hasn’t been a full year since we decided to stop treatment and the pursuit of bringing a kid into our lives. For me, grief isn’t a linear process.

The Ball in the Box analogy is by far the best explanation I’ve ever come across to explain grief. I’d say my grief fluctuates from a large ball in a small box, to a small ball in a large box. I have good days and bad, and every variation in between.

We also had some pretty life-changing choices to make in a short period of time. My father had spinal cord surgery the end of July and I flew home to stay with my mom. Jason and I had been putting some ideas together here and there for a video game LAN Center business. So, over the course of four months we made plans to sell our home and move to Ohio, primarily to help out my parents, but also to start a new business.

I feel these changes were practical and stem from a place of love and compassion. However, any one of the shifts Jason and I made would be considerable in and of themselves: our third cross-country move; caring for aging parents; starting a new business. Each was a major shift. To add grieving the loss of motherhood on top of these events can be (and is) overwhelming at times, so I try and take it one day at a time. I know time is truly a magical gift and stuff won’t always seem this out of step.

Are there changes you made in your life that you wouldn’t have made if you had become a parent?

Absolutely! Had we already had a kid, I don’t think we would’ve moved back to Ohio. I may have temporarily come back to help care for my father, but we wouldn’t have been able to afford not having a paying job for the three months it took to get our business up and running.

What are the aspects you appreciate most about your childfree life?

I most appreciate all the things I don’t ever have to deal with in regards to raising a child. I know that sounds cold, but please keep in mind it’s also all the stuff I’ll miss out on too. First birthdays, first day of school, prom, first date, first kiss, graduations, weddings, being a grandparent—I don’t have to deal with fights, sick kids, special needs, tantrums, school fights, or any of the other unforeseen circumstances that go along with having kids.

Are there aspects of your identity you had to shift in the transition to a childfree life?

I figured at some point in my life I’d get married and have kids, because that’s what you do. Well, I got married at 26 and was divorced by 28. We didn’t have kids and at the time I questioned if I ever would. Oddly enough, I met a lovely friend who was also a psychic; she told me (during a reading) that I was the type of person who didn’t need to have kids. I was newly divorced and my life was pretty much up in the air, so I found comfort in her premonition.

I met my current husband five years later and we didn’t get married for another five. At that point, I had been living a childfree life all along. So, my identity has been shifting and changing along with life. I thought I was happily married the first time around and had settled into a life with my ex-husband. Then we got divorced and I had to reevaluate my life completely. I went back to school and had planned on focusing on my career, and then I met my current husband and we set out on our new path altogether.

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?

I don’t know. There are moments that I would say YES! Of, course! But there are moments where I would say, nope! I’m good. Time. Time and distance, I think, will be the best medicine for me.

What advice do you have for women who have just made the decision to give up their dream of parenting?

You haven’t failed. You didn’t give up. You’re making the best decision that you can make. People are always going to judge you, so do what makes you happy—what brings you joy. At the end of the day you have to live life for yourself—not for your parents, grandparents, spouse, friends, or anyone else. Just you. So, you may as well make yourself happy. More importantly, you’re not alone.

Interested in sharing your childfree by chance story through Chasing Creation? Drop me a line through my contact page.

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