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Carly’s Story

by Katy

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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Brandi’s Story

by Katy

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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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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Rebecca’s Story

by Katy

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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