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For more inspiring words and to connect with Carly, find her on Instagram at @herstoryourstrength.

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.

For another inspiring story on embracing a childfree life after infertility, check out Brandi’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? 

 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.

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

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.

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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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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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