Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

“Getting Over” Infertility July 10, 2010

We’ve talked a lot about how to get over being unable to have children and for those of us who are childless-not-by-choice it’s an ongoing effort.

I came across this article today about Infertility’s Double Whammy, when friends begin having grandchildren. The article gave me little encouragement, but it does fall into the category of forewarned is forearmed. The author warns:

The continuity of fertility can leave you feeling totally excluded from the great human cycle, for ever outside the loop of life. And what makes it especially hurtful is that people blithely assume that you have ‘got over’ your disappointment by the time you have reached the age when your contemporaries are becoming grannies. As a result, those same people can be a lot less sensitive about the fact that infertility is not just an issue in your 30s and 40s, but can also come back to haunt you in your 50s and 60s.

This is something that wasn’t even on my radar. My plan for this is to make sure I’m on a tall ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean or searching for lesser spotted dodos in the Amazon when my friends’ babies start having babies.

Has anyone had this experience of grandbaby envy yet?


8 Responses to ““Getting Over” Infertility”

  1. Jennifer Gill Says:

    Oh, crap, I didn’t think of this…I was bumbling along figuring if I could just get to menopause I might not feel so outside. But of course, it will come back at us. I hope that by nurturing relationships with nephews and nieces and other young friends, I can be a fun great-aunt as well. I suppose keeping friends of all ages is a good idea all the time. 🙂

  2. lmanterfield Says:

    One step at a time. I think that there are always going to be events that trigger this for us. I think you’re right about nurturing relationships and keeping a mixed group of friends.

  3. Kathryn Says:

    Yes, i think i hit this about a year ago. It hit me really, really hard. Not only never to know the joy of the infant, newborn, & all that love, but to never have “related to us” babies or grandbabies either seems just too much to bear.

    I’m not a “young aunt” (your previous response to my comment, 🙂 my husband & i married rather late in life).

    A number of blogs i follow are either mamas or grandmamas. Several of my friends or cousins are either grandparents or soon to be grandparents now. My younger sister (mama to 6) will be a grandmama for the first time this fall. (It has also been hard to have this sister tell me, “You can’t understand, not having children.”)

    I honestly don’t think i’ll ever “get over” not having children, but i do hope that the envy i feel of friends & children of friends will abate. But it is hard when folks post clueless things on FB. My niece posted on how awful & depressing it is to lose her “slim figure.” We have a friend who is expecting her 4th & has belly pics on FB. Another blogger friend is recently PG with her 5th, & it is so hard not to think, “It just isn’t FAIR!”

    • lmanterfield Says:

      Kathryn, infertility is a huge loss. And it’s not “losing someone who never existed” because those children existed in our imaginations. Like any loss, I don’t think you do ever get over it, you just find a way to kep moving forward. My father passed about 24 years ago and day-to-day I function perfectly normally, but every now and then something will trigger a memory or a thought of “it’s not fair.” It’s the same with never having the child you wanted. You don’t get over it, but it does get easier to live with, bit-by-tiny-bit.

  4. Dorothy Says:

    So glad I found this place. Thank you.

    It overtook me, quite unexpectedly one day on Facebook. The daughter of grad school friends I hadn’t been close to in years because of their children and my childlessness friended me and she turned to be quite pregnant. When I saw her big belly photo, I had this sudden flash, “you can spend the next 50 years as miserable over this grandchildren thing as you have the last 30 miserable over this childless thing or you can just figure this out and learn to be happy for them. ”

    So far I’ve been trying: Small manageable doses of the grandchildren. Cultivating honest feelings of pleasure from the joy of my friends. Lots of time set aside to be sad about what I will never have. Working very hard at turning my sadness and grief into compassion for others whose griefs are disenfranchised. And did I mention lots of time just to be sad about my life.

  5. Jessie Says:

    I hope I’m not out of line by commenting on this feed! I was 26 when I got with my then 39 year old boyfriend, he is a divorced father of two. Two years later, his daughter, 20 lives in another state, his youngest is now 17, he lives with us! And has the two years we’ve been together. I am an Aunt to many blood nieces and nephews and also to many of my friends’ kids, but until him I hadn’t found “the one” to try with! In March of last year we stopped trying to prevent pregnancy. We had reached a good place in our relationship and were ready to try and have a baby of our own. I was ecstatic to be trying to create this beautiful baby I’ve dreamed of for years, to give this baby anything and everything it ever wanted; a good, loving home first and foremost! I’ve believed from the beginning that it would be a blessing by God for this to happen! As the months pass periods keep coming and no signs of a blessing yet! In June of last year we were advised that his then 19 year old daughter was pregnant! I was happy for her and him to have an addition to their bloodline… I was a little flabbergasted (Spelling?) as well though. This is the same 19 year old girl we pay her cell phone bill because she and her bf couldn’t afford to do so on their own. I tried to show only joy through congratulating her and asking questions. Couple of hours later laying in bed I found myself crying, being so envious of this little girl with so much to learn and experience still!

    Since our relationship started and he and his son moved in with me I’ve played the “mother” role! He has a mother but she’s in another state and only sees him on breaks from school. I’ve never tried to replace her! I’ve only tried my best to be what he needs in our house, our family! If any of you are childless step-mothers then I’m sure you can relate to my struggles! The fact that you’re doing everything a natural mother would but yet for a child that you never carried in the womb, never rocked to sleep at night, didn’t get to experience milestones with, didn’t get to teach manners and respect and all of the in between. Don’t get me wrong I am very grateful he is in my life and that I’ve been here with him learning to drive, his proms, helping with homework, cooking him things I know he likes to eat, going clothes shopping for school, being here with him every night to ask him how school was, and of course to talk to him about all of the troubles that come with high school love… The downside being trying to discipline a child that was raised for 15 years by someone other than yourself, the fact that his mother gets to have him Christmas morning and Thanksgiving day, and the ever so dreaded you can’t tell me what to do your not my mom! I feel awful being a little resentful of the fact that I am in this role with a child that isn’t my own!

    Things have gotten considerably harder in the past twenty eight hours or so… I wake yesterday morning when my bf comes home from work telling me his daughters water broke. All of my fears of this being an end to us trying to have a baby came flooding back. I’ve been scared since day one of finding out that once the role of grandpa set in he would no longer want to start all over with a new baby. He tries to assure me that that is not the case. “This is an addition to OUR family” he says, “but she has her life and we have ours!” To tell the truth that doesn’t erase the fear. Anyway at 1:00 this afternoon I get a picture of this beautiful bundle of joy. She apparently ended up having a c section due to the baby being stuck in her pelvis for 30 hours. I was relieved momma and baby were both great but I couldn’t help feeling left out. Him, his son, his sons mom, and babies father were all there to hold this baby, take pictures of him and with him, to see him in his first hours of life… A phone call from my guy would’ve been nice seeing as though I had to stay home with our 2 dogs and 8 one week old puppies! I feel insignificant in this equation of separated families. Yet when talking to a few people today and informing them I’m told Congratulations Grandma! I can’t help but think I can’t be a grandma I have no children of my own!

    I’m so sorry for a life story here and hope to not have offended anyone! I just got online and was browsing and decided there have got to be people out there that experience the same pain and guilt that I deal with everyday! I’ve got so much more to say but I think I’ll save that for a bit 🙂 Thanks to anyone who has any advice or would just like to comment back with their stories!

    • LilyM Says:

      Wow!!! If l may so it’s such a comfort to know that lm not the only one out there in this crazy world with the ‘maybe baby’ syndrome. So apologies for this lengthy story but till now l have kept alot of what l feel to myself. So thank you Jessie for telling your story… here is mine.

      For the past 20 years, l have had front row seats to the biggest & longest show on Earth titled ‘Procreation’! Watching your high school friends, party friends and colleagues meet a man, fall in love, get married or fall pregnant whichever comes first these days. l just couldn’t stand it when another one of my colleagues or friends fell pregnant…. or another friend has just given birth….or your long lost friends on Facebook are proud parents of 3-4 children. I would just go home and cry myself to sleep, why me, what does it all mean.. why am l not part of this Club they call Motherhood???

      But the worst part of this 20 year mini series ‘Episode 768’, is watching the part when your friends or colleagues break up with a man or gets divorced, be there to scrape them off the floor, help them get back on their feet, finally go out on a few girls nights out cos your both single and date some guys here and there and then ‘SNAP’…..
      she meets the ONE and falls pregnant!!!!! Ohhh would someone just shoot me now!!!!
      It’s excruciatingly painful to watch in silence and pretend to be happy for all those around you. Its sounds so selfish, but only those that walk the same path will understand my words. Don’t get me wrong l luv all my friends and their babies but sometimes you just have to distance yourself from them, just a little…. so you don’t lose all your sanity.

      So at 27 l married the man of my dreams and naturally thought babies would follow, but all was not as it seemed. His charisma & aura sucked you in that you thought this guy is too good to be true. But then the dark side was revealed and all the lies and verbal abuse was not what l imagined marriage was all about. So some 3 years later, 100’s of secrets revealed, we called it quits. I never understood why l couldn’t fall pregnant during my marriage, but it took a good couple of years of healing to realise that was it was my guardian angels telling me “This was not the man you were meant to have children with.
      That was probably the only time l was thankful that l was childless, as l would have ended up another single mum, like the other 2 wives and 4 kids l found out about that he walked out on aswell. Hats off to all you single mums out there, as its not easy being on your own with kids to raise.

      Then in my 30’s and starting all over again on the single scene was a challenge. It’s a whole new ball game when your surrounded by 20 something’s with mini dresses just covering their bits. But alas they don’t call it the Dirty 30’s for nothin!
      Some days are good and some bad, like when your friend’s boyfriend/hubby is calling you from the hospital that they just had baby no.3 and that l must come at once to see their bundle of joy. So the good childless single friend spends yet another $100+ in flowers, balloons and presents and wondered when would it be my turn to stare into the eyes of my new born baby surrounded by family & friends congratulating me.

      To then make matters worse and to add salt to the wounds, for quite some years now, mum has been quietly accumulating a closet full of baby clothes, toys, bath, cot etc…. patiently waiting until she hears those words….’Mum, lm pregnant’.
      I used to get so frustrated with her but it was more about myself, that l wasn’t the daughter who had the stereotypical marriage, house, children blah blah blah. But who has that now anyway! The world is a different place to when she got married 46 years ago. But alas I still felt like a failure as a daughter, that l couldn’t give my parents ‘grandchildren’. To date she is the only one out of all her senior friends that is not a Grandma. It brings tears to my eyes as l write this but god bless her, l think she will be waiting forever.

      So now at 40, l finally found the ONE to hold on to and call my life partner and comfortably say this just might be my chance to finally bring a child into the world. But of course there is always a catch when it comes to men over 40… its called ‘Divorced with 2 kids!!!! Our relationship is great and treats me really well, but l fail as the good step mum. The kids don’t live with us but having them over every 2nd weekend is enough. At first l thought this isn’t so bad, as they were 4 & 8 when we met. But now nearly 5 years on, as they grow older and find their feet & their big personalities, l still can’t bring myself to completely emotionally connect with them. It’s bloody hard, as they are not mine, l never gave birth to them and l can only teach or discipline them to a certain point, as that’s not how their mother would do it. It’s very difficult, alot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears and all the while, my yearning for a child is slowly diminishing the older and more selfish l find myself getting. When l say selfish, l mean we might not want to admit it but the older you get, the more set in your ways you get, so when that freedom is taken away from you, it’s like a real reality check. I have always said that l cant live my dream through his kids,l have to have my own chance.. l deserve a chance. We have tried to have a child hoping it would happen naturally before taking that next step ‘IVF’ but things have changed over the last few months and tables have turned for both of us.

      So just last night l finally got out of him that he doesn’t want to have another child and wants to start living and enjoy the pleasures of life. Naturally l was devastated as l thought perhaps he could have told me that when we met and said ‘Thanks but no thanks’ and we both moved on. But today even though l am still extremely sad, l couldn’t stop thinking that maybe my intuition for the past 10 years is right and l am not supposed to have a child in this life. Good things or bad things always happened in my life and it was a case of it was never the right time. In a relationship, too early in the relationship to talk about babies, then out of a relationship, if it wasn’t one thing, it was another thing and everything else was always more important at the time.

      I began searching for some answers, searching for other women out there who are dealing with similar set of circumstances and that’s when l came across this blog this afternoon.
      I have to be real and cant kid myself, as lm not getting any younger and l think do l really want to throw a child into the whole equation?? at this stage in my life. Oh and sorry but l don’t want to hear its not too late, all my friends with kids tell me that!!!!
      So if anyone can share with me how you made that final decision… how to say it’s OK to let go of the 20-year baby itch. How do you let go of the grief, the dream of being called Mum and first day of school, handmade mothers day cards and all that comes with it.

      God l never thought this would happen to me and that at 40yrs of age, l would be sitting at my kitchen table at midnight writing this blog about still being childless at 40. I am quickly giving up on trying to solve this mystery they call Procreation. I look forward to your thoughts as lm all dried out. 🙂

  6. Lynsay Says:

    I can only imagine how you feel. My 3 year younger baby brother is on baby number 2 and I have had 2 miscarriages. I’m now 35. The family expects me to be happy and doesn’t understand why I’m not. I liked reading what you wrote though because i thought it would make me feel better if I had someone who had kids, and we could be the Brady bunch. Thank you so much for sharing.

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