Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Marking the End June 21, 2011

Unless you’re one of those people who always knew they didn’t want children, you probably wrestled with your decision, or whatever circumstances were forcing your hand, for a long time.

As it was becoming more and more apparent to me that children were not going to be in my future – at least not in the way I’d anticipated – I started trying to get to grips with the idea that I would never be a mother. Some days I knew that I had to get off the infertility crazy train and start regaining my sanity, but then something would happen and I’d change my mind and try to figure out how to give it one more shot. I flip-flopped back and forth like a suffocating fish for many months, but finally I reached the end of the line.

There were several things that happened that pushed me closer to that decision, but there was one day that I will always consider to be “The End.” While tracking down gravesites for some of my husband’s more distant relatives, we discovered the unmarked grave of a baby cousin who had been given the same name we had chosen for our child. For me, that grave will always be my place of commemoration for the children I never had. I’ve never been back since then, but I always know that place is there if I need it.

I think it’s important to mark the end of things that are lost, and giving up on motherhood is an enormous loss. How did you know you’d reached The End or the Big Decision? How did you mark that point? If you haven’t marked that point, do you think it would help to have some kind of memorial, even if it was something only you knew about?


10 Responses to “Marking the End”

  1. Ficelle Says:

    We just finished our 4th & last IVF october of last year. The 4th & last disappointment. I say “just” because I’m still in the middle of marking the end, going here & there for more options. But I want to get off the crazy infertility ride already that I feel I’m finally letting go of motherhood. Then there’s this nagging feeling that I’d regret not having tried all other options. This is a choice that will seem to be so hard to assume in the future. But like all other memorials for everything we lose, we never forget. I think I’ll hold my memorial on my menopause – and everything that I lose with it 🙂

  2. Mali Says:

    My 41st birthday. I’m going to write about it soon, and will link back here.

  3. loribeth Says:

    I’ve written about this before too… basically, we had agreed to a set number of IUI cycles, & had reached the end of them. In the back of my mind, I had always thought we could move on to IVF after that, if we wanted to — but I started having anxiety attacks. I was a nervous wreck. We took a time out over the summer, & when it was over, it was clear we weren’t going back.

    That was just about exactly 10 years ago… I am actually in the process of revisiting that time (including our IF treatments) in my blog right now, actually! Come visit if you want to read more, under the label “The Treatment Diaries.”

  4. Sue Says:

    After our second miscarriage we went through all of the testing possible only to find nothing. We told ourselves we’d try the dr’s possible solution (medication) and it was either third time’s the charm or three strikes we were out. That third strike came in the midst of my mother having an emergency quadruple bypass, followed directly by the deaths of an uncle, and a close friend’s father. I was so full of sadness and tired of holding back tears every day I decided to go to a grief counselor. I found a counselor very close to my home and she actually had infertility listed as one of her specialties on her website. During my first session I poured my heart out about all I had been through and my thoughts on all of our options and why we had chosen not to go through with any of them and remain childless. I expressed that I was looking for a way to process my grief and move forward. During my section session with her she suggested I have some sort of memorial service and allow myself a private time and place to cry and let go of all I was holding in. I thought this was wonderful advice and knew it would help a lot. Later in that same session she asked me if we considered using donor eggs. At the end of that session I thanked her for the memorial suggestion and I never returned to her. I’ll admit I never did have that service for myself. Even after reading about your/Lisa’s visit to the cemetery in your/her book I was certain it was what I needed, I just didn’t do it. Maybe I wasn’t quite ready for “the end” at that point, but as I approach a year since that third strike, I don’t feel I need it anymore and I don’t want to revisit those feelings. Commenting on this site has definitely been therapeutic and has helped me move on.

  5. Elena Says:

    Sue it feels a bit like my experience with my psychotherapist. She suggested to make up a ritual to “let go” and asked me to think of something for the next session. her suggestions were either write everything the wish for a child meant to me on sheets of paper and then discard those (burn/throw away) or actually find something that symbolized the wish for a child and then bury that. I went back in the next session and told her it felt like burying a live baby. We never talked about ritual anymore.

  6. Joleigh Says:

    We had our final procedure llast fall and lost triplets (babies #6, 7 & 8). I am still grieving it. After a 12-year journey of IUIs, trying to adopt, endless needles, every kind of IF med and finally donor embryos, I’m finding it difficult to move on. We have considered a few things.

    1. a memory box with things like ultrasound photos, a baby bib, the names of our 8 babies, etc.
    2. a Celtic cross and bench in our back yard, something we could take if/when we ever move, someplace to be near our 8 babies.
    3. more recently I’ve been thinking of a tattoo, something i can always see to remind me of my 8 babies and something hopefully other people would ask me about so I could honor my 8 babies by keeping their memory alive.

    It’s a difficult time. My mom keeps saying I should be over it by now and move on with my life, she will NEVER get it, and that only makes things harder.

    i’m so glad i found you.

    • themissruby Says:

      ohhhh yes, i have heaps of people like your mum in my life – i should be over all my losses, i didn’t really lose babies, merely the prospect of them etc etc

      you’re right, there are some people who will just never get it and it does make it harder. unfortunately for me, my life is FILLED with most of these types of people.

      the thing is as well, we not only grieve the loss of our babies but also the opportunity of motherhood, is a double dose of grief and for me at least, being told that i simply have to “get over it”, by people who HAVE children, is not only unhelpful but also upsetting and mean.


  7. Allegra Says:

    I got pregnant “by mistake” as a 23 year old with a guy I had only been with for a few months. I had an abortion, but wound up staying with the guy. 6 years later, we felt ready to have a child and we started trying. I figured since it happened once without even trying, getting pregnant again would be a snap. But, of course, the Universe reminded me that we are in charge of nothing and that I have no idea what can happen. . .

    After 7 years of various procedures and emotional turmoil, we are done trying. You can imagine the feelings I had/have about that first pregnancy way back when and my subsequent infertility. What if that had been my one chance? But we never know these things. Every pregnancy is a miracle, but that one truly, truly must have been.

    I read this great book “Waiting for Daisy” about this woman who was infertile, got pregnant and then miscarried. She found out about this Buddhist ceremony that a woman can have for a miscarried or aborted baby. It’s called a “Mizuko Kuyo” or something like that. I decided to have one for my aborted baby in the midst of all my infertility sadness, as if memorializing this baby might help me in some way get pregnant. So, the gist of the ceremony is to write a letter to your baby, name him/her, make a small shrine for him/her and leave a toy at the shrine. I did all of this. I also got a tattoo that became enormously meaningful to me for many reasons–as a memorial to my baby (I named her “Hope”), as a reminder of all that is good and happy, as a sign that there is an inner spirit that will help see me through bad times and, now, also, as a sign of being finished with the baby race. He is an adorable, chubby, smiley Buddha on my ankle, and I cried when the tattoo artist was finished. He is the most important thing I have ever done for myself. It’s like he was there all along and the artist just rubbed my skin away to reveal him. Now that the previous poster has mentioned getting a tattoo to signify the end of trying, I like the idea of added something on to my little guy, a necklace, perhaps, to formalize my end with trying.

    People around us for whom this has never happened will NEVER get how this all feels, but I can say the tattoo experience was pretty powerful. I put him on the inside of my ankle so can always see the little guy.

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