I hope your 2018 has started off well and you were able to find some joy & peace over the holidays. Ours was good. It was a quiet one but a nice one. Dave and I embraced the holidays and made the conscious decision to release more of our grief. We did this by talking and letting go of what could have been and focused instead on what we have. We started our own holiday family traditions. It was fun, freeing, and healing. It felt special that Dave and I were able to process some of our grief together.
On another note, I had some women reach out to ask for my thoughts on the survey results which I sent out last time. I guess I really didn’t think too much about them because my intention in sending out the survey was really simple – I wanted to know where you were on your fertility path and how you felt about that path. Also, I was curious to know how many women have made the same difficult decision I made, which was to live childfree. After being asked for my opinion on the survey the results, I decided to review those results again.
When I looked deeper look into the question, “How do you feel about your fertility path?”this is what I found:
- 67% of the women that responded to feeling at peace, alone or confused have made the decision to live childfree or are thinking of living childfree
- 100% of the women that responded to feeling grateful had children, either naturally or through adoption
- 100% of the women that responded to feeling stressed, stuck, or lost were from the group of women that were still actively trying, for either their first or second child
- 0% of women responded to feeling confident about their fertility path
These responses didn’t surprise me too much, although I was a little surprised none of the women that made the decision to live childfree felt grateful. When I really thought about this though, it became clear – it has taken me a long time to get to a place of feeling grateful for my infertility struggle. I’m not going to lie, the first time I said it out loud, it kind of freaked me out. I used to get angry if anyone ever mentioned the words grateful and infertility to me, in the same sentence.
When reviewing the responses to the question, “Where are you on your fertility path?” I was surprised to see that 59% of the responses were from women that were either actively trying or on a break but plan on trying again. I thought I would get a much lower response from this population. Since I write about my experiences of having made the decision to live childfree, I figured that those would be the only women interested. I thought women who are still trying and women that already had children would not be interested or be connected with what I share.
This got me thinking, “Why would you be interested in what I share if you were still trying or already had children?” Here are my thoughts:
- You are actively trying, but doubts are creeping in which may be conscious or unconscious, that you may also have to think about the idea of living a life without children and reading about someone that has made that decision is intriguing.
- You are actively trying and are interested in what I have to say because you want to avoid having to make that decision to live childfree. (This would be cool. I would love, love to connect with women who are in the earlier stages of their journey. I would love to share the lessons I’ve learned, the things I wish I would have known when I experienced my miscarriage when I started to let infertility consume my every waking thought and action.)
- You can relate to my struggle(s) because you also struggle with something. Maybe you have experienced a miscarriage(s) and have not processed the grief around that? Maybe you don’t feel like you are allowed to because, you have a child, in the end, you got what you wanted, so you “should” just be happy?
- You have not fully grieved, processed your infertility struggle. You have a child, but still remember, think about all the months, years that you struggled, you wonder why you are not “just happy” now that you have the (family) child that you worked so hard to get.
- You have your family through adoption, but you still wonder what it would be like to have a biological child. You feel guilty that you are not “just happy” that you have children.
- Maybe you have moved through your infertility struggle, you have a child, but now you are struggling with your marriage, your friendships, your career, your health. Even though infertility is no longer your struggle, you may have just transferred that to another area of your life, because living in struggle has become so familiar to you.
Most of these are just my thoughts, but some of them are based on comments I’ve heard from women that I’ve worked with. I would love to hear if any of them resonate with you or if you would like to share your own personal thoughts. It would be great to hear from you.
I know from personal experience that everyone feels and processes their grief on different timelines and in different ways. It doesn’t have to be scary, it can be freeing and healing. When you are ready . . .