Today, I want to talk a bit more about Infertility. Specifically, what happens when Infertility is your ending. I’m pretty open about my experience with PCOS and Endometriosis and how that played a HUGE role in my experience with Infertility, but I also want to start having more conversations about Infertility and what it means to live a life that is child-free and not by choice.
Infertility Doesn’t Guarantee Children In The End
I am often asked how I’m able to “move on” with how my situation ended. For those of you who don’t know, I ended up having an Endometrial Ablation. I go into a lot of detail in the post that is linked, but basically, my entire Endometrial Lining was removed. It was a hard decision, but I didn’t want to have a constant fear of my issues returning and being worse as I aged. No Endometrial Lining basically means no chances of pregnancy as you DO NOT want to become pregnant in this
My story probably won’t end there as, over time, it’s predicted that my lining will return and I might possibly have to have future surgeries. I had numerous conversations with my Doctor about this situation. A Hysterectomy was discussed as opposed to an ablation, but we both agreed that we would like to take the less invasive route at first and see what happens from there.
I know plenty of women who have gone through Infertility and have been successful and have had children and I’m so happy for them. Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone who worked so hard and went through so much, to end up with a child. I sincerely mean that.
However, some women have Infertility as their ending. Some of us end up living a child-free life and I’m here to tell you that it’s not horrid and lonely like some people make it out to be. Is it hard? At times, yes, but you can go on and live a happy life. I promise you. Being child-free doesn’t have to mean your life is over.
Living A Child-Free Life
So what does a child-free life look like? Probably more “normal” than a lot of people think. We still have stressful days where nothing goes right. We often have nights without sleep. We try to balance crazy schedules. Some days it takes us more time to get out the door than it should. I still sometimes have piles of laundry that never seem to end. There are days where I struggle to have dinner on the table and on time. Some days there never seems to be enough time for it all. My point is, our life is very similar, just minus children.
I get frustrated when I see a lot of women talking about how other women who aren’t mothers can’t and shouldn’t ever complain about being tired or busy. Sure, being a mother is incredibly hard. However, just because I’m NOT A MOTHER doesn’t mean that I should have to validate my reasons for not having enough time in the day or why I’m tired. Nor, should another woman make me feel bad because I’m talking about how tired I am. Why do women do this to each other!?!? There is no need to one-up each other’s situation. We’re all tired and trying to do the best that we can do!
Infertility Assumption:You Must Feel So Alone
When Infertility is your ending, a lot of people will probably assume A LOT about your life. I get assumptions, comments and “suggestions” all of the time about:
-How alone we must feel
-How we, as a couple, probably feel so jealous of everyone around us who do have children
-How we will save so much money now that we won’t have kids. Mind you they forget about the debt you put yourself into to have kids.
-How we’ll be able to travel so much more now that we don’t have children. Again, a lot of people will be dealing with debt from Infertility expenses for years.
-That we have ALL OF THE TIME in the world to do what we want and binge Netflix and Bravo all day long. Ha, it’s pathetic how behind on shows I am.
-That you should be able to move on from all of the pain, grief
–Why don’t you just adopt? Most people don’t understand that just because we have Infertility issues doesn’t mean that everyone is open to adoption NOR do they understand the expenses involved.
-That your marriage won’t last….
-That it’s automatically the woman’s issues that are preventing you from having children. For me it was, but often it is men dealing with Infertility as well and it’s not something a lot of people talk about.
-That being a woman with Infertility and being child-free (not by choice) means that you suddenly become unable to attend baby showers or anything so they just don’t invite you anymore. (More on this in another post)
I could go on and on, but you get the point. A lot of people make a heck of a lot of assumptions about something they probably know nothing about. I try to cut people some slack and give them the benefit of the doubt knowing that they probably mean well. However, if someone continuously says rude, inappropriate things to me, I will be vocal and express myself.
I don’t think Rob and I feel “alone” at all. People assume we are lonely because we don’t have children. I HATE it when people say this to me because it’s just so rude in my opinion. We have an amazing marriage and are two best friends living their life together. Would we have loved to have children, absolutely, but it doesn’t mean we are lonely because of not having children. Our life would have just been different with children.
Infertility Assumption:You Must Be So Angry All of the Time
Yep. There are days when I feel like we are the “oddballs” because every time I log onto Facebook or Instagram, there’s another pregnancy announcement. Do these make me sad? Yeah, but it also doesn’t mean that I hate other couples for living their life and announcing something that is special to them. Just because I can’t have children doesn’t mean I want other people around me to not talk to me about their life, even if it is about pregnancy.
Are there days when I’m angry? You bet there are. It’s more about being angry about my situation than anything else. Am I angry at those who ARE able to have children? Am I angry that all of my friends get to have periods and they still have their endometrial lining and I don’t? COME ON PEOPLE. NO!
It’s very difficult to put into words what Infertility does to your thoughts and emotions. You beat yourself up because you feel so guilty for the days when you are angry and jealous. You’re not angry or jealous of your friends, you’re angry and jealous of the situations you won’t be able to experience. The emotions that you don’t understand. The events that you’ll never be able to be a part of. Infertility is sort of a complete mind f*&$ if I’m being honest.
Maybe you’re angry that you went into debt to have a family and you left with Infertility being your ending. Maybe you’re angry that your child-free life is because you couldn’t afford IVF, adoption, surrogacy or because of your own health issues. Being angry is ok. Being angry that someone else gets to experience pregnancy and you don’t, it’s a part of the grieving process that comes with Infertility. YOU MUST MOVE PAST THAT though. Trust me. Don’t let this turn you into a bitter person.
There Are Up’s and Downs When Infertility Is Involved
If you’re someone who has never been through Infertility or maybe you aren’t living a child-free life, then I encourage you to really do some research. There is a difference between child-free by choice and child-free NOT by choice. My situation is child-free not by choice. Meaning that I didn’t have a choice as to whether or not I could be a Mother. My body decided that for me.
A part of the experience that I have dealt with is knowing that there are up’s and there are downs. Some days I am great, other times I’m not even close. The thing with Infertility is that you’re given this life that you never expected. Rob and I didn’t expect to not be parents, but it’s our life now. You have to grieve and be ok with letting yourself grieve. You also need support and understanding from others because it’s probably going to be a situation that isn’t going to be gone in a week or a month. It’s a long-term battle that you’re facing. A lot of people forget this.
My biggest piece of advice to those who are trying to navigate a child-free life is to never be embarrassed or ashamed. This is something that I struggle with, but have tried to be better about. I’m not one for public crying or showing emotion. However, I also can’t just keep burying feelings because I don’t want to accept the fact that I’m hurting or that I’m not ok. It’s alright to be sad and it’s ok to have to turn down an invitation because it’s too difficult.
Being open about things that might be too much for you to handle is important. My SIL is currently pregnant and if there were ever a moment where it was just “too much” for me, I’d be honest with her and tell her. I think she would know that I wasn’t being mean about it, but that I have limits and that’s ok. Being vocal and open about your situation is very important.
Find Your Support and Your Tribe
Since being open with my Infertility experience, I have met amazing women who have gone through the same experience. These women are who I can turn to when I’m having a bad day and no one else might understand why I’m sad or upset. Find these women and engage in conversation with them. There are so many women who have messaged me on Instagram about being child-free not by choice and who have experienced Infertility. There are plenty of women and couples out there!
Having a support group or a group of women who can be there for you is incredible. There are new groups and tribes popping up all over the place. One that I’m incredibly proud of is, InfertileAF based in Illinois. They have sold-out their first Summit and what I’ve seen them create is incredible. I know they will have helped so many women with what they’re doing! Psst…Follow them on Instagram as they are incredible!
Also, I would say that Therapy can be very necessary and there is NOTHING AT ALL WITH NEEDING HELP from a professional. I can’t stress that enough!
I write these posts and speak about all of this for the women who message me on Instagram and such about not knowing what to do after an Infertility diagnosis. For the couples who silently deal with infertility as their ending. For some people who reach out, this is all new to them. Others, like myself, have been at this game for quite some time. Either way, it’s still very difficult and raw and I think having a go-to for support is crucial.
Infertility is Life Changing
I think one of the things that I want to do with these posts, other than keeping the conversation rolling, is that I want to talk about the “things” that people seem to be so confused about. I want to be brutally honest and share my perspective and feelings on all things Infertility. The good and the bad. I promise I won’t sugar coat things, but instead, I’ll share my personal experiences and my thoughts on certain situations.
I know a lot of people have questions, probably some who are going through Infertility, as well as others who just want to learn more to help support family and friends who are dealing with Infertility as their ending. I love that people are wanting to learn more to keep supporting those they love.
While I’m not ever going to label myself as an “expert” when it comes to Infertility, I do feel that I’m pretty experienced as Infertility was my ending as I did not become a Mother. I never thought this would be my ending, but here we are. If my experience, story, and words can help others, well I’m going to keep talking…
When Infertility is your ending, it’s ok. You aren’t alone and I promise you that your life still matters. I want you to not feel broken. I want you to still love yourself and know that you are worthy. I want you to know that even though life might not make sense, that you still have a purpose.
Telling myself those words over and over again is how I deal with Infertility being my ending. I didn’t walk away with a child, but I did walk away with tremendous sadness that I still battle. I still have days when life just doesn’t make sense and I struggle with “what’s my purpose” sometimes.
Here’s the thing, I’ve also learned a hell of a lot about myself and what I can go through. I know that I’m not weak and I think my purpose now is to remind those women out there who are currently deep in the battle, that if their story doesn’t turn out as they hope, it can still be ok.