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.

 

Everything happens for a reason August 4, 2011

I read this article in the New York Times this week. It’s the story of a neuroscientist whose daughter was born with Down Syndrome. Dr. Costa did what any of us would have done facing a diagnosis of a loved one; he threw himself into research. The difference is he is now close to finding an effective treatment for Down Syndrome.

In a quote pulled from the article, Dr. Costa said, “Things happen for a reason…” implying that he would have not moved into this field of research at all had he not had a personal reason.

Now the whole “things happen for a reason” thing usually rubs me the wrong way. It’s right up there with “it’s all in God’s plan.” My own personal belief system doesn’t go along with the idea that my life has been mapped out for me, and that being unable to have children is all part of some grand scheme for me to do something else instead. Just as I don’t believe that Dr. Costa’s daughter was born with Down Syndrome so that he could be the one to find a cure.

However…

My life is different because I don’t have children. Opportunities will come along and I’ll be able to take them because I don’t have the responsibility of parenthood. And, while it’s unlikely that I’ll be the one to find a cure for infertility because of my own diagnosis, I do believe that, like Dr. Costa, I will someday look back on my life and see that something good happened to me because I was infertile.

Just don’t know what that is yet, but I’m looking.

 

 

P.S. On a personal note, my friend Sarah is a vocal Down Syndrome advocate for her beautiful three-year-old son, Gideon. She’s currently promoting a fundraising drive for Down Syndrome Research and Treatment. Information here, if you’re interested.