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Designing a Childfree Life

Designing your life after making the decision to be childfree.

* Registration for the book club is now full. If you would like to be added to the wait list you can still sign up and I will contact you if space becomes available.

Living the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children by Jody Day

As Jody Day has said, “The room called childlessness has many different doors. Not just the ones marked didn’t want or couldn’t have.”

Regardless of how we get here, coming to terms with an unexpectedly childless/childfree life is hard. It means giving up the vision you had for your future and moving through grief and trauma. The good news is, when we make the decision to embrace a life without children we make room for new possibilities in our life.

In Living the Life Unexpected, Jody Day addresses the taboo of childlessness and provides a powerful, practical 12-week guide to help women come to terms with their grief, and to move on to live creative, happy, meaningful, and fulfilling lives without children.

Join me and others who are embracing a childfree/childless life for a virtual book club beginning the first week of August! The book club will provide a supportive community to share your challenges and successes as we work through the 12-week guide together. 

In order to create an environment where we can get to know each other, participants will be required to join by video.

Register below to join the club! In mid-July, I’ll be sending a survey to everyone who has signed up to identify the days and times that work for the most people. 

I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

* Registration for the book club is now full. If you would like to be added to the wait list you can still sign up and I will contact you if space becomes available.

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

Dan and I started trying to get pregnant in June, 2008. We stopped on October 31, 2014. We saw many different doctors, specialists and alternative health providers during this time including 5 rounds of IUI with injections.

How did you know you were ready to stop trying?

We had set an expiry date on our time at the fertility clinic when we first started there in February, 2014. We wanted to be finished there by December, 2014 whether we were successful or not.

The trips to and from the clinic were a huge stress on my work life, personal life and emotional well-being. The fertility clinic was located 134km (83 miles) from home, so my routine was to be up at 4:00am for the one-hour drive to the train station. I then spent an hour on the commuter train taking me into downtown Toronto. I then boarded the subway and took that six stops, followed by a two block walk and up 15 floors in the elevator to the clinic. I was usually at the clinic for 20-45 min roughly while I had blood drawn and an ultrasound performed. I then reversed the trip, only instead of going home, I went to work. I would arrive at work 11:00-11:30am most days and would work through until 5pm. Then it was a 30 min drive home for a very short evening, as I needed to give myself an injection, and be in bed between 8:00 and 8:30pm so I could do it all again the next day.

The decision to be done trying came sooner than our expected end date of December 2014. We had completed 5 IUIs and during the last, I over-responded to the medication meaning the clinic cancelled my next cycle to let my body rest and my hormones re-set. This left us unable to complete our 6th and final planned IUI in 2014, and so we were unexpectedly done. On the day I should have been going home to start my last round of injections, we were suddenly faced with the fact that we would never have a biological child.

From there, we went on to become approved for adoption and tried for nearly two years through both private and public agencies. We were never anywhere close to successful with these attempts either. I knew I was ready to stop all attempts to become parents on the drive to our final homestudy visit. It was kind of bizarre how it happened. Dan & I were talking in the car on the drive home and realized that neither of us were nervous at all. We had the visit, and when the case worker left with a list of things we’d need to do around the house for our approval we agreed that neither of us wanted to be bothered. We were “done” and it happened at the same time and in the same way for both of us. We’d been working towards closure together, and just like that it happened.

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

Definitely a good counsellor was my best resource. It took me a couple of tries to find the right one, which was difficult at the time, but worth the work and the wait to find the one that was the right fit for me. With the self-imposed deadline on our time at the fertility clinic, my counsellor & I were already talking about how we would approach closure if/when it came to that and what kind of language we would use surrounding stopping treatment and accepting a childfree life. That helped to take a lot of the unknown out of it for me. My counsellor was invaluable to me during the darkest periods, the transitions and beyond.

I had been seeing a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner for acupuncture to help with my fertility treatments, and I continued those appointments to help my emotional and mental health as well.

I was part of a great online community of women going through fertility treatments, we answered questions for one another and also provided endless moral and emotional support. I seriously could not have done it without these ladies!

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

I had about four months of intense grief after we stopped trying to get pregnant before I started to notice a shift happening. It was around the four-month mark that we started the process of getting approved for adoption, so I think having that to focus on helped. I also found the process itself very therapeutic because the approval itself was done through a counsellor. She did both couples and individual evaluations on Dan and I, and had us fill out some very detailed questions about ourselves including our family history, strengths and weaknesses and our vision for our lives. This sparked some great conversations between Dan and I that we would not otherwise have had.

Once we also stopped our efforts to adopt, and truly accepted that our life would be childfree, I had a crisis of self. I didn’t know who I was anymore or what my life would look like going forward. I did a lot of self-exploration through many different methods. I started doing yoga, attended some drumming circles, and basically any spiritual and self-discovery events I could find. I felt desperate. Journaling my way through these experiences and events was key for me to make sense of what I had been through and where I was headed. Every event helped me learn something more about myself and my place in the world, and become at peace with who I am.

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

The freedom to set and follow my own schedule. I don’t want to make it seem like it’s completely carefree, since my husband and I both work demanding full-time + jobs, but our downtime is important to us, and it’s all ours.

I appreciate having the time and the ability to look beyond the needs of our own household – I give my time and money generously to issues and causes in my community.

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

Absolutely! My identity for as far back as I can remember centered around the idea that I would someday be a mother. I chose a partner I knew would make a good husband and father, with the idea we would parent together. The personality traits that I believed would make me a good mother, I have worked to find other ways to apply those in my life. I didn’t want to turn my back on those instincts within myself, squash them down because I couldn’t use them the way I’d intended to.

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, I wouldn’t take the magic wand baby in arms at this point. I feel like I am such a strong person and I wouldn’t be who I am without the experiences leading up to now. I wouldn’t trade that for a baby in my arms. I’m truly at peace now and love my life exactly the way it is.

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

It does get better. For many years, my infertility defined me. What was lacking in my life truly made me feel less than. I felt on the outside looking in. With time and the work I put in to properly grieve and explore who I am and where I fit in the world has paid off. My infertility is just a small part of who I am now. It’s something I went through that made me stronger.

Practice good self-care. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary. Figure out what that looks like for you. For me, it’s making sure I set aside time for yoga, journaling and preparing ahead.

Don’t be afraid to seek out, ask for (and accept!) help. No one has to do this alone.

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

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