Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

What Are You Struggling With? March 30, 2012

Last week, while out on a walk, I watched a little frog make her (I assume) way across a pond. She was a feisty little thing, swimming like crazy as hard as she could, then pausing a while at a clump of pond weed or a log to catch her breath and regroup before swimming off again.

It struck me that her efforts were a good analogy for my own journey with coming-to-terms with not having children. I would battle through one set of emotions, then stop to rest and settle with the new mind-set for a while, only to discover some other trigger or unresolved issue, and off I’d go again to figure that out. Unlike my little froggy friend, my journey wasn’t a straight line across the pond and I often found I’d swum in a circle and needed to revisit an issue I thought I had under control.

Right now, today, I am well into the acceptance stage of my journey. I can be around small children and babies, and I’m not flooded with grief every time I get a pregnancy announcement (although I’m not yet to the point of being thrilled either.) I’m mostly at peace with the idea that motherhood won’t be a chapter in my personal history and I wrestle with some of my thoughts about the future and where I’ll end up.

Right now, I’m struggling with grandchildren. My husband has two grandchildren and it is a daily struggle to keep my emotions in balance. On the one hand, I don’t want to deny him the joy of being a grandfather. He’s good at it for one thing, and his grandchildren are mad for him. On the other hand, I find it very hard to share that joy. On the surface, I want to embrace this new adventure, but it’s hard, and I realize that tucked way down below the surface are some strong and well anchored feelings that I haven’t worked through yet. So, off I go again, swimming for the next patch of dry land.

Do you feel this way, too? Do you feel as if you keep rehashing the same problems, disguised as something else? What are you struggling with in your own journey right now?


23 Responses to “What Are You Struggling With?”

  1. Maria Says:

    Neither my husband or I ever had children so we do not struggle with the issue of grandchildren. However, my brother and his wife had a baby in 2010 and it brought back feelings I also thought I had under control. At that time, I had spent 2 years trying to move on after I accepted the decision I could not have children and was too emotionally spent to pursue adoption. When my brother found out his wife was pregnant, the wife was 41, my brother was 43, it was a complete accident and surprise. Until then, my brother and his wife thought they would never get pregnant and it helped me to feel like he and I were going through this together. I thought I was doing fine and when I got the news, I cried so hard I had to leave work. My brother lives far from me and his wife does not like our family so it was easy to avoid them while she was pregnant. After she had the baby, I was careful about when and where I would see the baby and who would also be present in order to manage my feelings. I should tell you that I have been an auntie since I was 17 and long before I was diagnosed infertile at 35. I’ve always tried to be the stable person in their lives that loves them unconditionally. My brother’s daughter is almost 2 now and she is so happy to see me when I show up and I know that I will also be that person in her life. When you are that person to them, they become closer to you than their own parents — you are the person they turn to for a loving embrace, for understanding when their parents discipline them out of impatience and anger. Right now, I have 7 nephews and 3 nieces – 6 nephews and 2 nieces are adults. They love me unconditionally and 4 of them think of me as their second mom. I guess the reason I am telling you this is that you can have the same from your grandchildren. Don’t be afraid to open your heart to them

  2. Tacomaroamer Says:

    ” What are you struggling with in your own journey right now? ”

    How much space on this reply area do you have ? ;-^)

    -from a just eligible for Medicare Boomer who managed to be childness not by choice *and* always single…quite the ” accomplishment “, eh ?

  3. kris Says:

    Motherhood was such an assumption for so much of my life that I’m now struggling with discovering a new purpose, new passions, and a new acceptance of myself as a valuable woman and member of society. Two and a half years into our unexplained infertility and 6 months into our acknowledgment of proceeding as a family of two (plus one kitty, currently with a cone on her head!), I have more good days than bad. I’m just scared that I won’t be able to figure out the new me before I bung up my relationships and my own health. The first step has been finding this incredible network of kindred spirits!

  4. Stephanie Says:

    I am struggling with whether or not I “tried” hard enough. Should I keep going. I know the threshold is different for everyone, but sometimes I feel like I didn’t do enough or try hard enough. I struggle with finding friends that are more like me – who aren’t tied down by kids, but it wasn’t their first choice. I struggle with telling people my story or being open about my infertility.

    • Maria Says:

      I felt that way for a long time too, especially when I found out my brother’s wife was pregnant by accident at 41. My first thought was if I kept trying, maybe I would have…… Just the word “try” makes me remember my doctor’s receptionist who was a very crass, gossip type of person. Every time she saw me, she would ask if I was pregnant yet, and when I said no, she would say, “well are you trying?” It took all my strength not to burst into tears and yell, “i’m trying as hard as I can!” Just the word “try” implies this is something more that we can do to control the situation. We can’t. And you should not feel guilty if you’ve decided that you can’t put yourself through any more pain from this process.

  5. Jenny Says:

    We only recently stepped off the ttc roller coaster so I am still struggling just to come to a place of acceptance. I find it hard to believe I’m not to be a mom and still find myself wishing for some sort of unexpected miracle like I’ve seen happen to some of my infertile turned mommy friends. I also struggle with forgiveness. We were dealt some hefty blows by an adoption agency and later on by a doctor: both of whom we thought to be reputable. I know I can’t really take those personal, but I do; and I deal with a lot of anger directed at those individuals. I was raised in the periphery of the “full quiver movement” – the religious group the Duggar family is a part of. I’ve since rejected that part of my past but I was brought up under the notion that a woman’s only purpose in life is to reproduce and on a grand scale. Growing up I never saw myself doing anything else. I planned for and dreamed constantly of the children I would raise. Now that that isn’t going to happen, I’m struggling to redefine who I am. While that has been very painful, I see it as a blessing in disguise and look to that as my silver lining.

  6. Kellie Says:

    I too, agree with Maria, and maybe you should try and open your heart to your husbands grandchildren. I have nieces and nephews from my brothers and also my husbands sisters and brothers. When I was first told that I was infertile, I kind of closed myself off from mine and my husbands siblings and their families….mainly as I felt alot of shame and guilt about myself. Just in the last month or so, I have tried to embrace them more and more, and I am finding that I enjoy having these children around me, having tea parties and playing with dolls and making forts out of pillows, but at the end of the day, I get to go home and have a wonderful, quiet and relaxing evening with my husband. It’s actually kinda nice!!!

    As far as what I struggle with on a daily basis is being powerless over my infertility. I have a personality that when I want something, I do whatever it takes to get it…not necessarily a good quality, I might add. So this has been a real doozie as there is nothing I can do about it. Believe me, I tried and tried, and after so many treatments and so much money spent, it was time to just stop and admit that I can’t make this happen. I have a friend who lives by the 12 step program and I mentioned this to her the other day and she said the 1st step in her program is to admit we were powerless over (fill in the blank) — and that our lives had become unmanageable. I have to say that this kinda hit me between the eyes. It’s only been 10 months since our final go at getting pregnant and I just haven’t been able to come to terms with it. Since talking to her a few days ago and having a wonderful talk with my husband, I feel like I am now at the beginning of my journey of acceptance and a new beginning as a family of two…and you know…..I am excited to what the future holds!

  7. CiCi Says:

    Right now I’m struggling with guilt to be a superhero…filling my days with volunteering and helping others. Not that I don’t thoroughly enjoy serving others, I do, always have. But these days, I enjoy it less simply because I feel like it’s something I have to do rather than want to do. It’s like I feel that if I don’t become a super-volunteer-hero, that I’ll not have fulfilled some reason why I’m here…childless. And I feel a bit guilted by other mothers who look at my life as being selfish if I’m not helping more “since I have no kids”, as I was told this week.

    I’ll be over it soon though…that’s the plus side. We know that this a work in progress. We know that we can, for the most part, work through these issues and keep swimming upstream! 🙂

  8. Quasi-Momma Says:

    I, like Kris, always assumed motherhood was going to be a fact of life. Moving beyond that expectation is incredibly difficult. It doesn’t help that I have very little understanding and support. No one really seems to “get” what I am going through. As a result, I feel myself closing off to people. I don’t want this, so am fighting against it, but it is extremely difficult.

    • rantywoman Says:

      I started a blog–– because of that same feeling that I had no one left to talk to about being childless over forty (and single to boot). I understand that feeling well.

  9. Lara Says:

    I have 3 stepdaughters, early twenties, they have 3 grandmothers because their mother had divorced parents. It took me a while to figure out which was which, they seem to like the “step” grandmother better, kept close ties even after the bio grandfather died and that they were not blood related didn’t seem to bother them the least. The “step” grandmother never had children of her own, and I have always been terrified by the idea of becoming a grandmother early and like that, so I can only understand your struggle… But from the grandchildren viewpoint: pretty awesome to have you as a grandmother!

  10. Elena Says:

    basically what it comes down to is I’m still struggling with the transition from one state into the other.
    state nr 1 was being in the middle (ok nearer the end ;-)) of my 30ies, professionally successful, loved by my partner, looking forward/waiting for to become a mother, the future looked great.
    state nr 2 is I will turn 40 this year, still professionally successful but also bored and stuck because i lack any kind of vision for my career now, childless and alone and often “lonely” ( Just to remind you: that’s what “single” means when you’re my age).
    I’m not saying all is black in state no2 and I’m aware of “all those possibilities”. But it’s not so easy to grasp them and just enjoy, because that transition is a difficult one.

    • rantywoman Says:

      Yes, loneliness is a big part of being childless and single at 40 or over. I am starting to feel okay now because I am filling my time with activities that fulfill me intellectually and honestly have given up on having much of a social life. It sounds sad, and maybe it is, but I’ve become quite buoyed by some of my hobbies, including writing about these issues–

  11. jeopardygirl Says:

    I am mostly okay with it, truly, and my family has been remarkably supportive. However, what I struggle with is my anger. I am sometimes on a hair trigger with my temper when I run up against the outside world. I can’t watch Dr. Phil anymore, because I get mad when I see terrible parenting. We took parenting classes and read books while TTC, because I was sure I would be a Mom. When I see parents failing to do the right things by their kids, I become livid. And I get really, really pissed off at politicians who promote the “family values” platform, while only considering one representation of what “family” means. To them, it’s the never-divorced, nuclear family, with working father, stay-at-home, or partly employed mother, and at least two kids. Most families these days do not look like this, and it offends my intelligence when they say it is the norm. It also upsets me when, by default, they dismiss me and my family because we don’t fit the paradigm, as if we don’t matter. People who don’t have kids still vote, pay taxes, and have the right to be considered.

  12. loribeth Says:

    My biggest sticking point is sort of a variation of CiCi’s. Sometimes I feel like my life should be more “exciting” than it is. It’s like if you’re childless, people think you should be constantly travelling to exotic places — or feeding starving children in Africa — or giving up your job to run away & live on a beach in the south Pacific — because you don’t have kids to think about or send to college. When really, I am, for the most part, perfectly happy spending a quiet Saturday night at home with dh and a good book or my laptop. : )

  13. Kate B Says:

    I still struggle with the unfairness of it – or at least my perceived unfairness of it. I read too often about babies left for dead, abandoned or worse – murdered by their mothers or fathers. Why did those people get to be parents and my husband and I did not? I know that life is not fair, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be pissed about it.

  14. kim Says:

    I realize that most of you guys are childless-not-by-choice because of infertility. But, I struggle with wanting a family, but not willing to do it on my own. I envy your happy relationships and husbands. I think this is the responsible thing to do – not just go off and make a “mistake” with someone I’m not in love with. It’s hard to see so many young young women having kids without being married, just because. It’s hard because I don’t have the courage to do that.

    The New York Times says that 50% of women under 30 are having kids out of wedlock. I am over 30, and tired of waiting for love to come around.

    • Elena Says:

      Hi Kim, i totally get you. I’m childless after i split up with my ex and i will turn 40 this year. People have recommended all sorts of “remedies” like online dating or the sperm bank or just sleeping around etc. There doesn’t seem to be any respect out there for my wish to have just what they have too: The father of their children around as a loving and caring father and husband who takes his share of the responsibility and work.

      • kim Says:

        Thanks, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one.

      • IrisD Says:

        Although my husband and I knew each other and were involved for a long time, it took us many years to finally commit to each other (not because of uncertainty on my part, but his, we come from different cultural and religious backgrounds). We have a lovely relationship now… but after all that waiting, it turns out that we couldn’t have kids. For the longest time I was miserable because I loved someone, but didn’t have any security whatsoever that this relationship would be one that I could count on to be lasting. During that time almost all of my friends married and some married pretty much because they wanted children, not necessarily because they loved their spouses. I probably could have married someone else and had kids, but it was more important for me to be with someone I really wanted to share my life with. My aunt used to tease me and tell me that she would support me if I became a single mother… I can completely relate to the idea of having a solid relationship first and then a child. Doing otherwise would go against my very nature, I don’t think I could go through with it either.

  15. Paulette Says:

    I struggle immensly with the unfairness of it all, even have been angry at God for a long long time. I can’t seem to “get over” the loss of so many dreams. Why do so many incapable people get babies and so many of us have broken hearts forever…..

  16. […] week, loribeth left a comment that struck a chord with me. She […]

  17. […] The recovery is non-linear.  Fellow (life after infertility) blogger, Lisa, described (and later wrote about) watching a frog swim valiantly and hard across a pond before resting and regrouping, and […]

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