Learning To Love Myself Again In My Childfree Life After Infertility

Monday, June 29, 2020

BY MISSY DESIREE

The holiday season is a time of joy, laughter, and the gathering of family and friends. It's a time to be thankful for all that you have and will receive in the coming year.

Yet in the year of 2017 in between all those wonderful things I was a mess of sadness, tears, and anger as I grappled with the reality that I may never be able to have children of my own. 

As the doctor slid the test results over and gently explained my diagnosis, I sat in stunned silence surrounded by the feeling of utter isolation.

Here I sat at 32 years old, and my eggs were all but gone. Depleted. Vanished.

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I felt betrayed and, in that moment, as if my mind and body were in two different times. I sat there still, as the feeling of guilt settled into my bones as if we were old friends and my mind raced with questions.

My husband Christian and I had been married for 10 wonderful filled years. However, we were determined together to wait until we were a hundred percent ready to have children. We bought a house, paid off all our debt, and had amazing adventures and travels all over the world.

Then at 32 and him 36 we finally were ready to start a family. Yet as soon as those dreams came up, they came crashing down around us.

Infertility is a loss.

It's the loss of a dream.

A loss of an assumed future.

I've always wanted to be a mom. It was in my plans for the future and I believed that I had a choice as to when I would make that happen.

I believed that all I would have to do is decide.

But, that's not how it happens for everyone and that's not how it was happening to me.

Infertility is an all-encompassing feeling that isn't easy to understand unless you've experienced it.

I can't properly explain the feelings of loss, sadness, anger, and guilt. The feelings of grappling with your faith and wondering if you're somehow being punished or abandoned by God.

The feelings of being so naive to think that it would just happen when we were ready.

coping-with-infertility

I can't explain the feeling of the loss of a child that never existed. Never getting to know their eye color or what attributes they would have ultimately inherited from either of us and never getting to see who they would become.

For a year it felt like my Infertility was a never-ending cycle of doctors’ visits, blood work, tests, hope, and heartache.

From the end of 2017 to 2018 we visited Infertility doctors and specialists who kept telling me that despite my diagnosis and PCOS I had a chance to conceive with treatment.

They laid out plans before us that could potentially get us to our dream of having our own child. We heavily discussed, agonized, and weighed the options that were given to us. However, at the end of it all, we came to the soul-crushing realization through doctors that, given my earlier diagnosis of Chiari Malformation, it would be dangerous for me to give birth to a child. So ultimately, we were left with two options; to adopt or remain childless.

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It must be said that adoption does not take away the grief of infertility. Nor should it be considered a back-up plan. I have always told Christian from the beginning that I wanted to have a child of our own and then one day adopt another.

So, we sat down, read books, articles, attended a course, and learned more about the options and process. However, what we came to find is that with the reality of adoption right now— the process and the costs—we were simply overwhelmed, and at the time it didn’t feel like something we wanted to pursue. I was adamant that if we were going to adopt, we were only going to go into it with a hundred percent mental and emotional commitment.

At this point, the grief had taken on a new form and I started to not be able to recognize who I was. I felt like my choices had been stripped from me and I had no control or power.

I felt like the equivalent of a lab rat constantly being poked and prodded to come to the same conclusions. I was missing time at work, spending money on unanswered questions. I was tired of doctors trying to stop my heavy menstrual cycle with birth control or start a skipped period with synthetic hormones, and my husband was tired of seeing me struggle. He was tired of having to see the side effects and scared of the potential hazards that would be required of me for us to have a child.

My thoughts and actions were so focused on becoming a mother that I didn’t have time to work on and process through the grief.

I wanted to get back to who I was, and in order to do that I had to ask for help. I had to finally realize and come to terms with one simple thing. “Infertility is not my fault.”

coping-with-life-after-infertility

It was after this that I had to take a step back. We sat down and had at length conversations where we both came to the same conclusions that we married each other for our life together. Everything else we had or will have was a bonus. Our path now needed to be focused on continuing to put each other first. My life was more important than an invisible child.

For most, having a child is as easy as sexual encounter, but for those of us on the infertility journey, the lengths and costs we must go through to have a chance at a child can feel never-ending and all-encompassing. This can induce a feeling of resentment and anger for those pregnancy photos or announcements that we encounter on a daily basis and a society that celebrates motherhood. But with time, I've learned to view these moments with a deeper understanding and happiness. I have learned to sit in the feelings they may or not bring and find peace.

I just wanted to live life and not in this cycle of hope and grief. I was tired of getting lost in the dark, and the fear of never becoming a mother outweighed the fear of living without children.

I heard someone once say that you've always been childless so embrace who you've always been and begin to love and live that life. Others will have a hard time accepting your life and your decisions, but remember that it is your path. 

Every person has their own stopping point whether that be right after you find out, or after treatments, etc. Your journey and path are unique to you and when you get there, you will know. There is no one answer to how to live a fulfilling life. A fulfilling life doesn't just look like a life with children.

It's usually an awkward conversation with others we first meet who don't yet know our story, but we have decided at this time to step back, take back my power, and seek new adventures as we live a childfree life. Now we are taking the time for travel, self-growth, a deeper purpose, a new identity, and spreading love to family, friends, and their children.

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There have been so many moments in my life that tried to break me. Infertility was one of them. It was oftentimes a soul-crushing and dark journey. I felt like my body was betraying me and there was nothing I could do about it.

During that time, I made medical and choices for my health that I thought would result in a child. It left me feeling guilty that money was being spent to try and fix my brokenness—money we often didn’t have. Ultimately, I felt lost.

But when we finally made the choice to step back and focus on the now everything changed. I finally had a moment to breathe, to find peace with my body and my infertility, and to find myself again.  It hasn’t been an easy journey but one that I’m glad happened because if it hadn’t I wouldn’t have found a strength within me I didn’t know existed. I wouldn’t have learned so much about my body. I wouldn’t have met so many amazing women in this tribe. And, I would have never found the person I was meant to be and my purpose.

I never thought I could say I love my infertility, but I do because I need to in order to love myself, to love my story, and to be proud of my story.

life-after-infertility

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