Apparently, it’s National Infertility Awareness Week (or it was last week when I wrote this). I know this because of social media. I am totally cool with normalizing fertility issues. The miscarriages I have had are the result of conceiving via medical intervention. Natural conception didn’t work for us. I’ll talk about this stuff openly + honestly all day long, but I can’t help but feel that there is a sector of people who fall under the category of “infertile” who don’t have a voice.
Based on my quick scan* of social media and its hashtags, there seem to be two groups of people: Those who end up with babies by whatever means necessary and those who are in the middle of the battle. I feel for all those people. We’ve been there. We rode the hope and devastation train for almost 4 years. Life was a series of fits and starts, it impacted social life, work life, daily existence. To write about it feels like I’m writing about somebody else. Another couple. Someone else’s life. But it’s our life, it’s just in the rearview mirror, thankfully.
When we started this blog it was about van life and opened with an explanation about a very difficult handful of years that lead us to our decision to go live in the van. Among other things, our difficulties with starting a family were on the list of bad things that happened. The literal physical van came from a conscious decision to put money towards moving on (literally purchasing the van) rather than another round of IVF. And thus the rarely discussed category of the infertile is identified: those who moved on and are happy with life. Those who’s heartbreak is a distant memory. Those who are not crushed every second of every day by the lack of a child in their life. Those who are not convinced that other moms (the new moms, middle moms + seasoned moms) truly believe them when they say how happy they are without children. Those who accepted the hand they were dealt and are smiling when they think about their life.
I guess I could end it there, but I’ll elaborate. There are women/couples who decide they don’t ever want kids. From day one, they knew that was their path. Those women are identified and are known. Then there are those who thought they wanted kids, tried really hard, decided to stop trying and are completely okay with it. No one talks about us and I think that’s too bad. There are options not to suffer and it’s not a failure. Women/couples can change their minds. We’re not faking it. It’s ok. It’s the way it should be for us. We’re not settling. In fact, once Jon and I decided to get a van rather than doing more science experiments in the hope of a baby, we fully embraced our shift. We didn’t leave it to chance that maybe, just maybe, if we took our foot off the gas, we’d end up with a baby. We completely embraced our decision and put systems in place to secure our future.
I once heard a family member describe Jon and me as “not being able to have children” and I took note of that. It’s not that we “couldn’t”, it’s that we consciously decided to stop trying. Odds probably say that if we kept going w IVF, it would eventually have worked. I prefer to say that we decided we didn’t want kids so we decided to stop trying, not that we “couldn’t have them”. It’s a subtle difference but I think it matters. “Couldn’t” sounds sad and like we should feel sad about our fate. “Deciding” is a lot more empowering and better reflects our outlook.
Even as I write this I feel like mothers are shaking their heads and thinking, oh she’s so brave, but I know what she’s missing, she has no idea. To that I say, sure I don’t know but also, you don’t know. You don’t know life without kids. It’s pretty magical too. So let’s believe each other. There is no loss from where we sit. There is a history of heartbreak on this topic, but it’s not a recurring emotion. Not having children is no longer a bad thing that happened to us. To anyone else out there, feel free to change your mind and let the suffering go. It’s ok. To those whose suffering is deep and ongoing and you choose to keep going- hugs, go get your baby.
And to be clear, Penny is our child. If I could have borne her myself I would have. Yea – that’s weird but that’s a dog mom for ya 😉
This is my blog and my perception based on what my eyeballs see. Facts have not been checked 😉