Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Infertility’s Cruel Joke April 16, 2011

In an earlier post this week, I talked about hope and moving on. The post generated a lot of great comments and a number of people mentioned how hope is like carrying around a bowling ball and that it is impossible to move on as long as you hold onto it. I couldn’t agree more.

I have definitely let go of my “bowling ball.” I am no longer hoping for a miracle pregnancy. Given my condition, it would be virtually impossible. The problem is the “virtually” bit.

Recently, after talking to someone about moving on, she reminded me that it could still happen and that her friend, who had been told she’d never have children, got pregnant at 48!

She was trying to make me feel better, in that “hopey” way, but it didn’t work, and now I can’t get this thought out of my head.

What if I got pregnant now? Hormones do wild things and as menopause approaches (which I’ve been told it is) those hormones have been known to misbehave. What if my body suddenly kicked out that one juicy egg? What if I got pregnant at 48?

Even overlooking all the health risks of being pregnant at 48, my husband is 15 years my senior, which means he’d be in his 80s by the time our child made it out of high school!! My father-in-law is currently 81 and he is no condition to be taking care of a teenager, nor would he want to.

But there’s an even bigger factor at play here. The bowling ball. I’ve let mine go and I don’t want to pick it up again. I can’t say that I no longer want children, because that’s not the entire truth, but I don’t want to live with the hope or the worry that I might get unexpectedly pregnant. I want to keep moving on with the life I’m creating now.

So, I now find myself in the ironic position of being diagnosed infertile but having to consider contraceptive options.

Sometimes I wonder if life isn’t just one big April Fool’s joke.


13 Responses to “Infertility’s Cruel Joke”

  1. Kathleen Says:

    That’s how I like my Irony served. Wonder no more. Life IS just one big joke (you can leave out the words “April Fools”). Isn’t is a universal law that once you decided to stop trying to get pregnant, you get pregnant? May I recommend Depo Provera. Feel free to contact me directly for a long list of reasons I highly recommend Depo Provera based on my personal experience.

    I leave you with a quote from “The West Wing” show.

    C.J.: So, the Four-H Convention?

    TOBY: We’re not going.

    C.J.: I don’t get it. How can you not want to see the butter cow?

    TOBY: I’m that way.

    C.J.: There’s also a butter Elvis and a butter Last Supper, which has, I swear to God, Toby…

    TOBY: Butter on the table?

    C.J.: It’s got butter on the table– right there between butter James and butter Peter.

    TOBY: How do they keep it from melting?

    C.J.: How indeed.

    TOBY: It’s like there’s nothing you can do about that joke. It’s coming, and you just have to stand there.

    C.J.: A cow made of butter? That’s how I like my irony served, my friend.

  2. Kathryn Says:

    Oh, you’ve nailed it!

    My husband & i married when i was 43. We had our first pregnancy and miscarriage when i was 44. I’ve had 2 others since then, very, very early losses. The last one was almost 3 years ago. I am 49 now, soon to be 50. I still have regular periods, so i know i “could” but as the last loss was 3 years ago, i am working at “acceptance.”

    Most of the time i think i’m doing pretty well.

    But this last month i saw that stuff – the egg white mucous or whatever it is. If you’ve been thru natural fertility treatment, this is something you watch for.

    A few days later i was saying to myself – WHAT were you thinking????

    I’ve some fairly severe health problems. We have to hire help in the house 2-4 times a month. This stretches our budget. We cannot afford daily help to care for an infant. For me to consider getting pregnant at this time is just as irresponsible as a teen getting pregnant. (The difference, of course, is that the teen has years ahead to be a mama.)

    Because of my health, finances, and our age, we have decided not to further attempt to be parents, whatever the route (IVF, surrogacy, adoption). However, for a while we said that if it happened we would “accept it as a gift from God.” In fact, i expected that gift as a reward for my patience.

    I found that even tho i KNOW with every fiber of my being that it is best for us to accept this and remain non-parents, that sure doesn’t solve the desire of my heart to be a mama.

    Doesn’t help that i saw a new doc this week (to address my health issues not to attempt to be a parent) and she said, “If you are still having periods, you can still get pregnant.”

    Thank you. Yes i know. But i’d rather not have that dangled in front of me, thank you. I need to accept my life. I’m trying to turn this lesson:Turning Straw into Gold (written about dealing with poor health) into a lesson i can use to accept childlessness.

  3. Mali Says:

    There is definitely a time when I think we’ve both dropped the bowling ball, and the years have caught up with us, and we know we don’t want to be pregnant. This happened for me a few years ago. I have blocked tubes – and haven’t used contraception in years. But It doesn’t mean that if I’m late, I don’t worry!

  4. Sandy Says:

    Isn’t it funny how this goes in cycles. I thought I had left the bowling ball in the ally, and that it had finally stopped following me, and then this week I heard another one of those stories that did the same thing – she had tried fertility treatments, gave up, finally adopted, life was good, and then at 47, almost 15 years after starting the ttc journey found out she was pregnant and gave birth to a healthy girl, etc, etc.

    That and a number of different things this week conspired to remind me that while I had dropped the bowling ball and keep trying to leave it behind, the muscle soreness from carrying it so long still remains.

    After our surprise pregnancy and miscarriage at 43, I had dh get a vasectomy. He didn’t really understand, it took us 9 years the first time to get pregnant, what were the odds, but it was the only way I was willing to move forward.

  5. kate Says:

    I let go of the bowling ball only to be knocked over by it. Two and a half years after my divorce, and my acceptance over my childlessness, I’m struggling with these feelings again even though I am not in a position to have a baby, my body cannot carry, my eggs are fried from chemo and my boyfriend is childless by choice (vasectomy years ago)

    Weird how things pop back up.

  6. Gwen Says:

    I love the bowling ball analogy – it’s perfect.

    The only way I was able to set down the bowling ball for a while was to go on contraceptives. The myth of the miracle “We just stopped trying” pregnancy was so strong that even 6 months after we stopped treatment I kept fixating on my cycle – it was like we’d never stopped in the first place. The birth control pills just take that option off the table once and for all.

  7. Sue Says:

    I am all too familiar with infertility’s cruel joke. I call myself a fertile infertile. Getting pregnant was and unfortunately still is the easy part for me. My pregnancies always end in miscarriage. After we made the decision to move forward with our lives without children I knew I needed to go back on birth control but I didn’t want to go back to my doctor and listen to any pursuasive talk or pressure to keep trying. I’ve already heard enough people tell me I couldn’t give up yet. That infuriates me – people who have no idea what kind of emotional wreckage I found the strength to climb out of thinking they have the right to tell me I can’t give up. Anyhow, after being a week last a few months ago and being terrified to experience any of that pain again, I knew for certain there was no way I wanted to put myself through any more. I scheduled the appointment to see the doctor. I don’t ever want to see my bowling ball again.

  8. Tara Says:

    I think I question myself every morning when I pop that birth control pill. My husband is infertile so there is no chance we would conceive even if I wasn’t taking it, but I have PCOS and my hormones are much better under control when I am on the pill….stranger things happen when I am not lol!

    But yes, it does feel oddly comical popping that pill everyday!

  9. loribeth Says:

    I can relate. My great-grandmother had her last child at 47. I used to joke that perhaps I was just waiting for her genes to kick in. By the time I reached 47, I knew there was NO WAY I wanted to have a child at this point in my life, much as I had once wanted one.

    The infertility counsellor dh & I saw when we were at the point of ending treatment told me, “I know this is going to sound really outrageous, after all you’ve been through to try to have a baby, but you should seriously think of going on birth control. It’s the only way you’re going to be able to get rid of that little voice at the back of you head saying, “Maybe this month…” It took awhile for her message to sink in, but she was right. There have been a few times over the years that I’ve been “late” — & boy, you never realize just how much you’ve adapted to childfree living when you start thinking that Mother Nature just might have played the ultimate joke on you. :p

  10. lmanterfield Says:

    Ugh! Thanks for all the sound advice. My hubby and I actually started this conversation last night. I know it’s the right thing to do, but all that closing the door again. Ugh….

  11. Deborah Petersen Says:

    Can’t remember how I got to this site and I think you are all Americans? I live on the other side of the world and I am a mother but I read all these comments with such awe at the human spirit. Believe it or not, I can understand and feel (possibly b/c you are all so literate) so deeply for you living all the time with these decisions and other people’s tactlessness, verging on cruelty. People are always trying to give you hope. This goes for many areas not only infertility, and you have travelled so many millions of miles to get to where you are. They have not travelled those miles so they do not understand and they cannot cope with you deciding to take control into your own hands. Heaven knows you deserve a little control after having no control at all over miscarriages or just plain infertility. I didn’t know what to write or how to express my tearful empathy with you and my admiration of your courage. The decisions around putting down the bowling ball make perfect sense. I guess there will always be things that will ‘trigger’ the pain or the ‘hope,’ but I just wish for you all, that all the other riches and sources of creativity remain open to you. I am not in your position so I hope you do not mind me making these comments. I guess as you were writing about the cruel ironies of life, I was thinking about the ridiculous notion of the “Nuclear family” where 2 poor sods are expected to totally care for their children without so much as a day off for how many years?
    I would have given my right arm to have had a childless friend or Aunt or neighbour who wanted to be really involved in our lives and share the cares, responsibilities and joy of our children. How much richer our lives would be. How enjoyable it all could be, instead of a torture a lot of the time. No one can do something for 24 hrs a day 7 days p.w without feeling persecuted by it. Shame our societies in the west do not make it easy for the childless to become child rich by becoming important figures in a family.
    Go well and my wishes for rich lives to you all.

  12. ChrisP Says:

    I have finally realized that I need to put down the bowling bawl (pun intended!) We had decided to use contraception to help us let go of the bowling ball and the first time we used a condom, it broke! I actually laughed aloud at the irony and we gave up using the contraception. I had the secret hope that this last cycle would be “the one.” After 2 miscarriages in one year, I know the chances of another pregnancy being successful are very slim. When we first started to TTC, we agreed to try for one year only and then let it go. Two years later, we are finally able to start to move on and accept being childfree by circumstance. I am now 41 and already have many signs of perimenopause. I am drained and exhausted from holding onto the bowling ball and can’t move on without completely letting it go. Contraception is now feeling like a must for us to move on. The irony is not lost on us.

  13. […] This post was originally published on April 12, 2011. You might also enjoy the follow-up post from April 16. […]

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