My nephews are in town and I love to watch how awesome my husband is with them. He is so patient and kind and a huge favorite with them. He spent 30 min with one of my nephews today teaching him how electrical circuits worked, it made me a little weak in the knees. There was a time when watching this would have filled me with sadness about how he would have made an amazing father and that I took that away from him with my infertility but these days I honestly can say I’m quite pleased with how things ended up. I may not have given him children but I gave him nephews (his only niece is 26) and because he doesn’t have children it frees up his energy to pour into being a great uncle. He’s happy and the boys are happy… and that makes me happy.
(This post is about my personal path to healing, everybody heals differently and at different paces. Different people want different things with their lives, no judgement is implied. I hope me telling the story of my path to healing and happiness doesn’t offend anybody.)
I’ve reached a whole new level in getting over being infertile. This month we had a pregnancy scare. It all started with our coffee pot finally giving up. I decided that instead of replacing it with a regular coffee pot we needed a espresso maker/coffee pot combo. Jack was pretty excited about our new toy so we had espresso for breakfast and lunch that day just because he wanted to play with it. Now, I love coffee but it isn’t the best for my stomach sometimes, and my beloved husband forgot that little detail and put several shots of espresso in each drink. By the end of the day I was puking my guts out which I attributed it to the coffee but I was nauseated for a couple of days after too.
Then my period was late, almost a week late, which never happens to me and I mean never. Not even when I was on 2 mls of PIO daily. Even when I am having crazy hot flashes and menopause symptoms up the wazoo, my period is on time or early. When the thought occurred to me that I might be pregnant, my first emotions were not joy. I thought “Of course the universe would do this to me right after I started a new job” I refused to test because I made a solemn vow to myself a long time ago to never pee on another stick again and I waited for my period to come.
During those few days I fretted about the possibility, most of me knew I probably wasn’t pregnant, but a small very loud part of me fretted. There are many reasons I fretted, my new job, our desire to start a small business, worry that it would take energy and attention from my nephews and my dogs.. but the main reason I was worried about being pregnant is the simple fact that I no longer wanted to have a child. I used to want to have a child very badly but I couldn’t and so slowly and over time I taught my self to want new things.
It wasn’t easy but Jack and I spent a good part of the last year talking about all the good things that were open to us because we didn’t have kids. Every time we didn’t get enough sleep the night before or my one of my nephews had a colossal meltdown we would say to each other “Imagine if we had kids!” Quietly in my head I came to terms with the fact that I probably lacked the patience to be the kind of mom I wanted to be and I found other outlets for my desire to nurture. I found joy in the extra time I had to devote to my husband, the person in this world I love the most and I relished my ability to be a truly awesome aunt. I embraced the financial freedom that came without having children, I would have never been able to quit my old job if we had had children because the risk would have been to great. If I hadn’t quit my old job, I would have never found my new job, which I love, nor gotten the raise that came with it. I enjoyed my freedom to dream and the many different possibilities the future held. There was and is the occasional sadness but it became easier and easier to move past the sadness and focus again on the joy and excitement.
There was palpable relief in the room when I announced to Jack that I had finally gotten my period. I know that if I had been pregnant we would have adjusted and been happy but we did also start discussing the possibility of Jack getting a vasectomy, just to be sure.
One year ago I had my last negative beta, from my donor cycle. At the time I didn’t know that we would end up walking away from fertility treatments and I would end up on the childfree path. In the months that followed we struggled to find the mental, physical and emotional reserves to jump back on the treatment wagon but it never happened and we began to entertain the thought of moving on from fertility treatment. In April we made it official and I resumed birth control so I could regulate my hormones (I hadn’t had any spontaneous pregnancy hopes for a long time). I realized that I still wanted children but was now unwilling to do what I needed to do to get them.
When we stepped away from fertility treatments I found that the rest of my life was horribly out of balance, I had neglected my career, my finances, my relationships (especially with my mother and nephews), my marriage and sex life, my house and my hobbies. I was now a one dimensional person who only cared about/talked about/read about infertility. I even stopped seeing my friends because infertility was all I could talk about and I assumed they were getting tired of it. With the help of my husband I began to try and rebuild my life but I often found myself feeling adrift and directionless. It was almost as if the person I was prior to my infertility had disappeared. The problem was worsened by the bout of depression I suffered after making our decision official in April.
It hasn’t been easy crawling out of the hole I managed to dig myself during treatment but I am doing it and making progress every day. Even when I have wondered what the point of it all was, I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. The last few months especially things have been getting easier and I have felt the old me waking up. Most days I really appreciate my life just the way it is. If you had asked me what childfree life was like a year ago I would have told you it was full of sadness and longing, that you would never be able to be truly happy and that you would just be going through the motions until you died. THANK GOD I was wrong. Now that the grieving is winding down I am full of excitement for the future. I cant wait to see what the next year brings.
So today I entered that room for the first time in almost a year. We needed a place to store the countertops we bought today since we’ve begun gathering materials for the kitchen remodel. That room was the only place we could put them but that room had become storage for anything and everything baby related from nursery decorations to stuff we were saving to pass on to our future children (with a dash of extra needles and fertility supplements included). We had to move some boxes to make room and while looking at the stuff in the boxes I was overwhelmed with grief. The stuff in the boxes felt like it had belonged to someone who had died rather than someone who had never existed. Just being in the room, looking at the room and remembering how I used to look at the room (planning where to put a crib, etc) was hard. When the work was finished we talked briefly about our feelings associated with being in that room and, instead of crawling into bed and spending a week there feeling sorry for myself, I went to the gym. And that, my friends, is progress. And I am thankful for it.
P.S. I told Jack we should pay my sister 50 bucks to clean the room out and throw that stuff away, while we went away for the weekend, but he insisted we do it ourselves and deal with our demons. I think my way sounded more fun 😦
Both my husband and I agree that we ought to have kick ass careers to fill the void left by not parenting. But we have no idea how to arrive at that point. The problem is neither of us particularly like our current careers. My husband just fell into his (commercial audio visual and building integration) and spent his youth as a work-aholic. As a result he got many promotions and progressed to mid level in his career. Then he met me and his career progress stalled. Making it any further would require him traveling all the time and he isn’t willing to do that anymore because he wants to see me sometimes. Also the upper management at his current employer can’t make up their minds about what they want from his department-to grow or not to grow.
I sort of fell into my career too, I wasn’t my first choice career but I chose it for purely pragmatic reasons. It paid decent money, jobs were readily available and stable, and I liked working with people. I went in to the job with the work to live mentality not that nursing would be my life. The problem is that nursing takes over your life and its almost impossible to not take your work home with you. Its a really demanding field and it is plagued by the motto of of all jobs in the 21st century “Do more with less”. All jobs say that I know, but in my job the stakes are higher (human life) and its really stressful to not be given the resources you need to do your job.
Needless to say neither of our current employment situations are long term career options. I am currently exploring the Nurse Educator option by getting my masters degree but I am not sure this is really the answer for me. Its kind of my last ditch effort to stay in the nursing profession. Jack has ideas of careers he’d like to get into but they all involve starting at the bottom again and taking huge pay cuts. We can’t really afford this right now since we have his student loan to pay off (its a big one too) and our IVF 401 K loan to pay back (or face the wrath of the IRS). Not to mention the complete draining of our savings thanks to IVF and all the money we dumped into our second house just to sell it.
It seems like our only options right now are to just suck it up and keep going in our lackluster jobs for the next few years until we can financially recover but I don’t want to. Life is short people! I don’t want to start a new awesome career too late and I honestly feel like if I can’t have kids I ought to have some kind of fulfillment in life. I know there are no guarantees or entitlements in life but I really don’t think it too much to ask from the universe.
Thanks for the support given during Willows latest episode of illness. She is doing much better and is finally done pooping old blood. Whew, hopefully things stay good for awhile.
I’ve debated the direction I want to go with the blog. I like the idea of offering support to women who are choosing to live child free or considering it as an option to resolve their infertility. I have also toyed with the idea of getting involved in the extremely small “living child free after infertility and loss” blog community. The problem is that it kind of feels like I am continuing to dwell on my infertility if I do. On the other hand I probably shouldn’t completely ignore/repress that aspect of my life because it is a part of who I am, whether I like it or not. Part of me (most of me)wants to be perceived as a carefree childless woman who never feels any heartache because of her circumstances, but that’s not really true. I did and still do experience heartache because of all this. As much as I wish I could erase my whole infertility history I am still dealing with the ramifications from that relatively brief but intense part of my life. So in interest of total honesty I will occasionally include a post on the realities of living a child free life after infertility. But I refuse to have this be the focus of my blog.
I also really need to expand the focus of my blog reading from infertility/parenting to include other areas. If anyone has any recommendations I would welcome them. I am interested in baking blogs, gardening blogs, green living blogs, travel and adventure blogs, dog parenting blogs, etc. Let me know if anyone has any suggestions.