Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Leaving Behind the Old Life October 8, 2012

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy, for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves;

we must die to one life before we can enter another.”

~ Anatole France

I saw this quote recently in a book about writing, but it struck a chord with me. It relates to so many things in life, including making peace with a life with out children.

One of the hardest stretches of my journey was the space between realizing that our options for building a family were running out, and the point where we made the decision to stop trying. I knew there were options still open, but they were beyond the scope of what Mr. Fab and I were willing to do. At some point we had to make a decision that we would not have children and that we would find a way to be okay with that. It was one of the hardest (and perhaps longest) decisions I’ve ever had to make.

I’m sure you’ve found yourself in this kind of situation in other areas of life, too. You know that you have to take a new direction, that ultimately it will be the right decision, but as France says, in order to do that, we have to leave a part of ourselves behind. Sometime the hardest part is listening to ourselves and not being afraid to make the wrong choice.

My first career was in engineering. I’ve made several career changes since then, trying to find the place in the world where I’d be happy. I’ve found it in writing, but it took me a long time to get here.

Many people can’t understand why, after all those years of college and graduate school, I would abandon a perfectly good and respectable career. I’ll be the first to admit that if I’d just stuck to engineering, I would probably have been more “successful” and definitely would be making more money, maybe own a home and live comfortably, but I know I wouldn’t have been happy. I might have been successful by the conventional definition, but the cost of sticking to a career that didn’t make me happy, just because it’s what was expected of me, didn’t make any sense. But it wasn’t easy to let go of that life and take a risk of finding happiness in another life.

Part of finding happiness is letting go of that which doesn’t make us happy. Although I believed that having children would make me happy, I was miserably unhappy running in circles trying to produce a baby that my body had no interest in creating. I could have gone on trying forever, but the cost to my mental and physical wellbeing would have been enormous. Letting go of that part of my life enabled me to find peace with my new life, even if it’s a life I wasn’t sure I wanted.


P.S. Letting go of the dream and the imagined life with children is the first topic we cover in the Finding Peace program. There are still some places available in the new session, which begins tomorrow. You can find all the details here.


9 Responses to “Leaving Behind the Old Life”

  1. Michelle Says:

    I really needed to read this! I’m currently sitting in a waiting room, waiting for my first counseling appointment to address this very issue. Your words provide such comfort. Thank you!!!

  2. michellemgd Says:

    I really needed to read this! I’m currently sitting in a waiting room, waiting for my first counseling appointment to address this very issue. Your words provide such comfort. Thank you!!!

  3. Andrea Says:

    It’s so funny that you mention your career change. I began my college education pursuing Computer Science, then after three years in that major I switched to Architecture. I absolutely loved studying Architecture, which was great because it took me a total of ten years in college to get ONE Bachelor’s degree. After four years in the Architecture field though (the last year dealing with infertility), I was burned out and decided to quit my way-more-than-40-hrs-a-week job. So now I work as an engineering drafter at a local firm. My grandparents still struggle to understand why I made such a decision, especially when it took me so long to finally graduate. But, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. I was so distraught by my inability to give my husband children that something had to change. I have not looked back once since I made this decision.

  4. KT Says:

    Wow ladies – are we all on the same wavelength today.

    Children: After miscarriage, and then failed international adoption, and failed domestic adoption…it took us years to accept out decision of living without children.

    Career: Just last week, after 14 years in architecture…plus time in architecture school…I am leaving the profession for a generic “financial assitant” job at a public facility – with a full benefit package – and peanuts for compensation. Like Andrea – I am getting out of the way-more-than-40-hrs-a-week job. I almost think making the decision about children has given me the courage to make this decision about career. I don’t want to keep doing what I am doing if my heart is not in it (not to mention getting taken advantage of by almost every employer I have worked for…)

    • Andrea Says:

      Wow KT–you must be quite strong; I can definitely see how failed adoptions knocked the wind out of you. We’re beginning the adoption process (domestic); may I ask what problems you ran into?

      That’s exactly what happened with me and Architecture–I would work many more hours than what I was supposed to, and had to fight with contractors every single day… my days became very dreadful, I never looked forward to being at work. I’m also getting paid peanuts, but being in a peaceful environment where I work 8am to 5pm every day solid, and forgetting about work when I get home… nothing compares to it. It was hard enough getting out after four years in Architecture; GO YOU for making that decision after 14 years..!

  5. SparklingRain Says:

    Your post and the replies all resonate with me 🙂
    I am trying to make peace with the life without a child, and am currently re-thinking about my career.
    Surprise surprise: Lisa, KT, Andrea: I am also in engineering!

    It’s not architecture though. I am a lecturer in electrical engineering and I spent so many years studying, finished my phd when I was 36.

    Growing up I always thought I wanted to teach & research, but now I’m itching to find something else. I have found out that although I enjoy my students so much, the academia life isn’t really for me. I am now longing to be able to write full time, like Lisa 🙂

    Still need time to ponder whether I’ll really leave this job, or take a part time teaching position, while making peace with my childlessness bit by bit.

    Thank you for the inspiring post, and the inspiring replies.

    • IrisD Says:

      Also an academic, that doesn’t particularly relish the publish and perish pressure of tenure track posts… I like teaching and if I could make a living (enough to cover the student loans that got me a PhD late in life) I would love to write for a living (just not on only on my area of expertise)!! Would love to be able to chat with all of you contemplating career changes and options. 🙂

  6. Jen Says:

    I also made a job change from a 40 hour or more week to a more flexible job in an educational environment. I am still doing fundraising, just not in the same environment. I made this decision about 8 months after our last miscarriage when I knew that we were most likely facing a life without a child. I didn’t want the added stress anymore, I had been thru enough already and it did make me realize that there is more to life than “busting your butt” in a job where you aren’t happy. It took me a year to land my current job, but I am so much happier now. My hubs also tried to made a change career wise these past 2 years by going back to school, but in the end he is now much happier doing what he has always done. Yes, he would have made more $$$ and had a degree in Computer Sciences in the end, but in his heart he wouldn’t have been truly happy.

  7. bubli Says:

    Now that we are likely to be childless, my husband and I are looking to change jobs. We don’t need the money for adoption anymore, want more time to enjoy ourselves, and I want some time to grieve the loss.

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