Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Who Are You? July 7, 2011

It’s interesting to look back on my journey and see all the people I’ve been over the past seven or so years.

I’ve been a woman who expected to be a mother and wanted a baby with the man I loved; then I became a crazed mama-wannabe, desperately trying to solve the mystery of my infertility and looking for a way to get what I wanted.

I’ve been through a phase of realizing that children weren’t going to be a part of my future, but not being able to quite let go of that dream. After that, I entered a phase of acceptance, where I knew I had to get through this and move on, but I didn’t know how.

There was a period of wondering what I was going to do and who I was going to be if I wasn’t going to be a mom, and finally, I came to the phase I’m in now. I am a childfree woman, accepting and even embracing this new life, not apologizing for my infertility or my choices, and moving on to enjoy a life I couldn’t have had if I’d had children to care for.

I never imagined I would get to this place, mainly because I never expected I’d need to, but here I am, and do you know what? It’s not bad here. In fact, I think this childfree life is growing on me.

I know that some of you are at or near this place, but others are still struggling to come to terms with not having the children you always dreamed of. So, I’m curious to know: Who are you?

Are you a newbie, trying to reconcile the idea that you won’t have children and maybe not even sure you’ll ever come to terms? Maybe news of a new treatment, or a friend’s new baby triggers all the old desires and keeps that “what if?” hope alive.

Are you coming-to terms? Have you accepted the idea of being childfree, but just need to figure out how to be okay with that decision? Are you making progress some days, and taking several steps back others? Are you still struggling with other people’s babies and finding your place in your family and community?

Are you moving on? Have you reconciled your loss, accepted your lot in life, and are ready to start a new chapter of your life? Maybe you don’t know what that is yet, but you know (at least most days) that you’re going to be okay not having children?

Please take a second to tell me who you are in the poll below. Let me know in the comments if you think these categories are accurate or if you fit into an entirely different category all together. My goal in doing this is to make sure I post information that covers all the categories, so that this blog is useful, whoever you are.


30 Responses to “Who Are You?”

  1. Valerie Says:

    I voted as other. I call myself a “Maybe Mother” because I live in the state of maybe right now. I’m still not quite to that phase where I’m a 100% sure I won’t have children, but it’s been looking grim for about 5 years. So over the past 5 years I’ve been doing a lot of processing. I’m no longer a newbie who melts at the sight of pregnant celebrities on the cover of magazines or has a breakdown when I get a baby shower invitation. I also made decisions about two years ago, to not let this rule my life or ruin my life and to move on to new pursuits and dreams. But I still feel like I’m not totally past it yet and I sometimes wonder how I will ever let it go. So what category does that put me in? I don’t know.

  2. Nic Says:

    I am still a newbie, even after 3 years of TTC and 3 failed cycles, I am not ready to begin to accept I may have to live child free. I am aware that it might be the case, but every time the thought pops into my head I try to push it as far back as possible. I guess denial is the right word! I have a couple more cycles before I have to consider my next steps.
    You are an inspiration though. I hope I do not have to live child free, but if I do, I really hope that I can accept it and enjoy life like you.

  3. Kate B Says:

    Sadly, I guess I’m still coming to terms. Realistically, I’m going to be 50 in just over a month and the babies aren’t happening. But, last weekend, when I got pictures of BIL’s & SIL’s new baby, I had a good cry. It was the pictures and the comments that came along with them – how does “she has a full head of hair” send a grown women into tears?

  4. DAK Says:

    Your Blog is great. To be honest, I am surprised there aren’t thousands and thousands more who comment.
    I am not sure how to vote either. I have been married 10 yrs. Went through 7 IVFs (forget the measley IUIs and clomid of course). My last iVF was in 2007! Then we broke from every thing for a yeart. Then almost a year later we started the adoption process. A year into that we were matched with a BM for 6 long mos. Then she decided to parent. Then nothing with the Horrible Adoption place we chose to go with (I cannot tell you how much ill will I wish on them!). Just waiting and waiting for more months and more months for someone to choose our profile. Then about 4 mos. ago DH’s job was extremely unstable and I was notified I am losing mine because they are outsourcing (India. Nice, huh). So we had to tell the Horrible Adoption place to pull us out until we can figure out what is going on with our jobs.

    I am 43 (44 this year) and DH is 45. So we had decided this is it. We are so done. We can’t bring a baby home with no job(s) or health insurance and it is so unstable right now. I am out of work this month and his we are still waiting. So we know in our heads this isn’t going to happen. Our hearts, I think, are different….

    So after 10 yrs., countless failed attempts, I still sit here and go “reeeeally? this is It? I am NOT going to have a baby”. Wow. My heart aches. And of course my best friend is 42 currently pg with #2. I love her so much, but damn, it just hurts. We do our thing, we travel, drink, bike rides, misc. hobbies that “parents” can’t do, but again, Damn. Still a heartache and wonder if it will ever go away. Maybe I am just not past it? Even at 43 yrs old and 10 yrs of trying??

  5. loribeth Says:

    I would categorize myself as moving on. Most of the time. ; ) I still have my “coming to terms” days, even at 50 and 10 years after realizing we were done. But I think that’s normal for people in our situation.

  6. Ficelle Says:

    I’m smack right in the middle of figuring out what I’m going to do & who I am going to be now that it’s clearer I can’t be a mother. Like what my husband said, I will never come to terms of not being able to be a mother because there will always be something to remind me of that everyday as long as I live.

  7. Keke B Says:

    Definitely a newbie… I know I need to come to terms, but I still have hope. Hope that maybe the doctors were wrong, hope that my husband will decide that we should get more aggressive and try some sort of treatment at all (he came to terms long before the doctors confirmed things, because he just had a feeling), hope… Too many of my friends are in the baby-making phase and seeing pictures / holding their kids breaks my heart. I do go days without thinking of it, and then something just triggers me and makes me sad again.

  8. Julie Says:

    I’m proud to have made it to the “moving on” stage. Not only am I attending a baby shower in less than a month, but I am throwing it. I never thought I’d see the day that would happen. Of course, I cried a little over the cute baby invitations, but then seeing how little stuff $25 bought off of the registry, and the abundance of crying babies everywhere I go makes living without children a little easier to accept.

  9. Jen Says:

    We are coming to terms after 2 miscarriages (one in 2004 and another last March) and at 44 years of age and DH is 46, we know that age is definitely against us. We never could financially (without insurance help) afford IVF or etc and I wasn’t really thrilled with the whole medical intervention part of IVF…I wanted it the old fashion way. After the last miscarriage which we truly thought was going to be our miracle baby after almost 4 year of TTC, it was such a letdown to us (I experienced depression for months) and no real answers to why it happened either (not enough tissue to analyze). We still at times ask ourselves why us and talk about how it makes us sad to know we are heading down the road of being a childless couple. We are trying to focus on positive aspects of being a childless couple versus the disappointments. Luckily for us we aren’t surround by friends and family with lots of pregnancy announcements or births so that does help.

    Lisa, I read your book over the weekend and I absoluitely I loved it. Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. DAK Says:

    I think maybe Ficelle husband is right.

  11. illanare Says:

    I’m coming-to-terms but very, very slowly…

  12. Re DuVernay Says:

    I put myself as “Other” because I’m child-free by choice, with a fence-sitting husband. He seems to be in the process of coming to terms with the fact that choosing me as his wife means he chose not to be a daddy.

  13. drebelle Says:

    I am happy to have found your blog and I look forward to reading your posts. I am a newbie and it is a struggle every day. I am trying to be positive, but I still have my moments. Denial is my word of choice as of late.

  14. Charlotte Says:

    I am a newbie after just finishing what I think is my last IVF cycle. I crashed big time before the negative blood test as I was terrified that it was going to be that way. I was/am so anxious about going back to IVF but then the thought of “this is it then I am not going to have a baby” absolutely terrified me. I kept waking up saying to my husband, “no, this can’t be it”, “I can’t do it”. I am feeling less panicked now and am taking some medication to help me get through this crisis time.
    I started looking on the internet this week for sites like this as I just had to know there were women out there like me who had tried to have babies and not succeeded and were facing moving on without children. I am finding it hard getting credibility form others about my grief over not ever having a baby due to my age. I am 34 but have been trying for 5 years and been through about 9 IVF cycles. I have severe endo. Everyone seems to think I am jumping the gun by “accepting” childlessness. My husband and I feel though that for both of our mental health we need to accept that living without children is okay (and in fact can be great eventually). I cannot keep living in limbo. I read a research article which said that we need to transition from the mindset of “not yet pregnant” to “not ever to be pregnant”. This will take me some time.
    I am a newbie and am taking it one day at a time. Thanks to each of you for sharing with me so I can feel hopeful moving on.

    • Julie Says:

      I feel your pain, Charlotte. When my husband and I were about to do IVF for the one and only time (we had agreed beforehand to do it only once), I told my closest friend about how we had discussed our “back-up plan” in case it didn’t work. Knowing IVF was our last ditch effort, we talked about what our life would be like if it didn’t work: traveling, sleeping in on weekends, etc. My friend told me she didn’t think I was at the “back-up plan” stage yet. No one REALLY gets it unless they’ve been there themselves. It does get easier, I promise!

    • Kelly Says:

      I’m in the ‘coming to terms’ category. And I can tell you how freeing it is to not be in limbo anymore. My husband and I didn’t have any choice, it wasn’t going to happen for us (even after 4 IVF/ICSI cycles), but it took me close to 2 years to begin to grasp that fact. Being in limbo for so long was tormenting.
      Now, once in awhile, I feel excited about the future again, whatever it may bring, even though I know it won’t include children. I’m glad this site exists so I can explore what kind of life I can look forward to. The main question in my head now is “what’s next? If I don’t have children then what do I do with my life now?” – and I’m finding some answers that fit me.

  15. Lori Zimbelman Says:

    I consider myself coming to terms, but so want to be moving on………
    I have been married for 15 years, with TTCing on and off for 13 of those years. We did our last procedure in Oct 2009 then began to came to the realization that we won’t have children.
    I enjoy my life with my wonderful understanding husband, my furbaby, and I get to spend as much time as I want with my little nephews. I still yearn and wonder what it would be like, but I am beginning to see the good side of it more and more, such as when we are in a restaurant and are seated quietly in the back….or…when we are at the grocery store and there is a screaming toddler on the next isle.
    I know it will get easier, I just want it to come…Now!

  16. Mali Says:

    I’m moving on. Definitely. It’s been eight years now. Of course, it doesn’t mean I don’t have “ouch” moments or days even. But I’ve definitely moved on.

  17. Kelley Says:

    I guess I would be in the looking for a way to move on category. I spent my twenties as a divorcee taking care of my dying mother and then getting over the grief of having to let her go. I got remarried in my early thirties and 4 months after the wedding we found out my husband had cancer. Chemo kills chances for baby sometimes. That and my endo pretty much ended our dreams of becoming parents. We did the infertility treatments even though the docs gave us little hope. We didn’t beat the odds. I’ve gone through the crazy want to be mom phase. I think I’m just now coming out of it, though I have my relapse days (this may be one of them). How do you get to the point where it’s OK to let go of that dream?

  18. Christy Says:

    I voted other: between newbie and coming to terms.

    I’d like to be coming to terms, but my husband still thinks there’s hope. (There just isn’t. And I don’t know how to get him to accept that. I’m just waiting it out.) I’m so sick of the details of our struggle that I can’t be bothered writing them. Suffice it to say we were told years ago that there was almost no chance… and that “almost” has kept us going…and going.

    In December, we took a one month break from Clomid that has turned into eight months. At 41, I’d say that’s a wildly waving white flag. It’s been such a relief. Lately, I’ve even been enjoying sex. Imagine: sex for its own sake. Love making, not baby making? It can be done.

    On the other hand, I fell into a puddle of tears recently when I overheard a friend say “my daughter” and I threw away my cousin’s baby announcement after merely glancing at the picture…so you know…it’s hit or miss.

    We’re going to get a kitten. I know how obvious it is that this little creature will be a child substitute and for that I’m a bit embarrassed. I feel like everyone I tell will be overly excited for us — in a weird sympathetic, yet condescending way. But I don’t care. I can’t help needing somebody to mother and we won’t be the first to find solace in a pet.

  19. Angela Says:

    Thank God, I am moving on. I told my husband that I just can’t live like this, I’ll go crazy if every month I freak out and go into a depression because I’m not pg. This has to stop or else I would have to be put in the mental ward! He agreed that our relationship with each other was more important, and to keep beating our heads against a brick wall was useless and damaging to both of us. I focus on counting the unique blessings that not being “tied down” with children brings. We have 12 nieces and nephews, with probably at least six more to come eventually, as my husband has a large family who are VERY prolific. While we were TTC, two of his sisters popped out three babies and my brother’s wife had one, so long ago I learned to steel myself. At least we spend time with the kids in our family, and then send ’em home so we have a nice quiet house again. There is a lot that we contribute to and teach them, so we still feel useful, though not burdened with the 24/7/365 responsibility. We are finding ourselves pretty satisfied with our situation, but it did take time to get here.

  20. Sue Says:

    I’d like to think I am at the “moving on” stage. I don’t cry anymore, I’ve stopped naming or imagining what our little guy or girl might look like, and seeing babies and pregnant women no longer makes me a green-eyed monster. Sadness does occasionally still sneak in, but it doesn’t linger long (thank goodness!). I’ll never be 100% over my inability to have children, but the future looks just fine now.

  21. I responded other- between newbie and coming to terms. I have been married 6 years and had 2 miscarriages (leading to the well-intentioned but amazingly horrid- “at least you know you can get pregnant” comment). We tried clomid and daily shots (you all know- 5 a day in the belly) to no avail. We just couldn’t afford to keep trying. This has led to the “we should adopt” guilt- and my husband’s “I’m getting to old” commentary. I still react when I hear a friends miracle (acupuncture/progesterone cream/bowel cleanse 🙂 I’m almost 39 and I know it’s time to move on- but every month I’m late I start the insanity- when would they be due? Boy or girl? Names? Who would they look like me or husband?
    It’s so hard for me to believe I won’t be a mother- who am I? I said recently- it’s like trying to swallow the moon- I can only take in a little bite at a time. I know I will be living a child free life BUT I am still dreaming of an alternate reality where things are fair and children come to those who pray hard enough.

    • Kelly Says:

      “…I am still dreaming of an alternate reality where things are fair and children come to those who pray hard enough.” – Well said. I’m moving on, but my alternate reality is a haven sometimes.

      • Kelley Says:

        I’m so glad I’m not the only one who does that. Sometimes I have the most realistic dreams of what my kids would be like. Sometimes I have thoughts of the “alternate dimension” where cancer has never existed in our lives and they do.

  22. A fan Says:

    I read about you and your book on another blog. I think you should never apologize for your choice. You can give a lot more to the world if you don’t have your own children.

    I also think that many of us grow up assuming we’ll have kids and never really thinking about why. And many people get to have them easily without ever questioning it – and I think they are lucky. But it’s not something everyone has to do, and a childfree life should be viewed as a fine alternative in society.

    However, for those who really don’t want to give up the dream, I encourage them to find every avenue to have a kid. There’s a point when (maybe at age 60? not sure) it really is too late, so you really have to decide if you will have deep regrets or not. For me, giving up was simply not an option. Whatever crazy kind of adoption it would have taken, I would have done it.

    So I enjoy and applaud you and anyone who finds fulfillment in not having children – because you really can do a lot. But I also encourage people to not give up if they are unable to come to terms with a childfree life.

  23. A fan Says:

    I should add that my husband can be pretty mean sometimes. So living without children would not have been worth it for me. Those of you who have supportie husbands may find enough fulfiliment that way. I could not. We’re in teh process of adoption because he knows he’d lose me if we don’t.

    • Kelly Says:

      My husband is very supportive, yes, and we would make great parents. But he’s not really on-board with the whole adoption idea, and even though I could probably convince him to go for it, I fear what that might do to the adopted child; wouldn’t the child sense that they are somewhat unwanted? Children are so observant. After the trauma of needing an adoptive family, the last thing that child needs is to be brought into a potentially unhappy family, (especially if my husband was ‘pretty mean sometimes’). And then of course there’s the possibility that my husband might decide he’s not comfortable with the adopted child, with our new family unit, and I could end up raising the child on my own – and again how does that trauma effect the child? It still kills me to say it, but I think in my situation I’m better off living a child-free life. And you’re right, it should be viewed as a fine alternative in society! 🙂 Good luck.

  24. lmanterfield Says:

    Ladies, I am making a giant pot of tea and mixing up a batch of coconut macaroons. I would love for you all to come over to my house so we can sit and talk.

    I have to say that I sit here, tapping away at my keyboard, waffling on about whatever’s in my head, wondering who’s out there reading, then WHAM, I get a flurry of responses like this and I feel this surge of unity with all of you. It make me want to have everyone over to just sit and talk, knowing that everyone would leave with at least one new friend.

    OK, enough kumbayah for one day. Had to get it out, though. 😉

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