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The Childless Mother

Dealing with infertility and finding happiness

Introduction

For many years I have found writing to be a therapeutic tool. When I tried to process some of the most dark moments of my life putting pen to paper seemed to help in the way a pensieve does in the Harry Potter books. Carefully pulling the threads of dark thoughts and heart break out of my busy head and keeping them safe between the pages of my diaries. Blogging seemed like a natural progression from diary to internet.

I am by no means a professional writer and in truth a lot of what I have done was for me, that was until I started to share the story of our losing our babies. So many other women have since reached out to me that I finally feel like the last 12 years of heart break may have some meaning. I decided to separate my blogs and create one for our journey to become parents.

I hope you will find some comfort from our stories, I will share with you various stages of our journey as well as ways in which I have dealt with those awkward family moments.

To start this site I will give you a summary of who I am. I am 36 and I have been with my husband for nearly 14 years. I have PCOS and we have suffered multiple losses at very early stages of pregnancy. My life over the last 12 years has been consumed with baby making, I have felt broken and useless and totally alone. I have only recently started to pull myself together and acknowledge a future without children.

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The Childless Mother at Christmas

One of my first blogs. Happy 2 year anniversary Childless Mother Blog ❀️

The Childless Mother

I am mother, I am simply a mother without a child. I have all the Mumma bear instincts and skills, I am ready to go, to create a home, to love and protect my family above anything else.

From a very young age I knew I wanted a big family, I loved my dolls, carefully wrapping them in woolen blankets and kissing their little heads goodnight, I imagined what my children would look like. That’s how long I have been preparing to be a mother.

It simply was not meant to be. Sometimes, there are things that no amount of love and hope can cure.

Every year, when the nights draw in and the twinkle lights start to appear in homes like happy little dancing fairies, my thoughts often turn somber and the little ache that has been present over the year, just seems to sting a little more at…

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Sometimes I just get so angry!!

It’s fair to say over the years I have felt the full spectrum of human emotions while trying for children.

As we are 15 years in some of them have mellowed over time others still burn brightly.

I want to say.

“It’s what life has planned for you embrace it and don’t be bitter.”

But then my inner bitch is also screaming like a three year old having a tantrum.

“ITS JUST NOT F-ING FAIR!!!”

I don’t have control over that feeling. It comes out sometimes in random burst of rage. The injustice of not being able to be a mum and the loss of our babies burns bright and bitter.

Sometimes the need to hold just one of our babies hurts so badly I want to scream. My heart aches and while most of the time I can put a smiling front on it, only mainly sharing my pain on these pages and focus on the other wonderful things in my life, I have come to accept that I may always feel this anger too.

I look around me at so many beautiful pictures of new families, of new babies and I feel a warm happiness for them but selfishly long to know what that feels like. To bring home that new baby and experience that happy exhausted moments. To watch as my husband sleeps with our child safely on his chest as our family come to meet the new arrival.

People will say to let anger go that it’s no good, I don’t agree for me sometimes my anger is all that’s got me through a day, because if I didn’t feel that raw white rage then I would feel the alternative which is the very deep sorrow.

I never would have thought I would be a bitter person. I am always glass half full. I am working hard to not let the grief turn my heart to stone just so I don’t feel anything. I wish I was ok with that but I am not. So a compromise is letting the anger out sometimes. Accepting that it’s ok that I feel that way.

If you have anyone in your life that doesn’t understand this then you often have to be a little selfish sometimes. You just have to understand why you feel that way not others.

One thing that sets the anger off is seeing so many people on my pages hurting because they are being pressured to go to family baby events.

I see a lot of messages and comments from our community of people frustrated because family members, friends and sometimes even their partners don’t understand why they are angry or maybe don’t feel like they can face events.

I will repeatedly say it’s not anyone else’s responsibility to make sure we are happy and ok but really is it so bad if your friend/ family member doesn’t come to a baby shower/ event? Because they literally want to crawl into their bed and cry?

People will say … “can’t they just be happy for us? It’s not our fault they can’t have kids!” – actually a comment someone made to one of our community.

Here’s the thing, no, no it’s not your fault but by saying this you are suggesting it’s theirs. IT ISN’T. From the moment you announced your pregnancy that person would be very happy for you but equally sad for themselves and wondering how they will make it through the next 9 months and beyond trying to be a good friend to you while dealing with the crippling grief of wanting so badly what you have.

They will fake it a good deal of the time. Why would you want someone to force them self into a situation where the event is literally all about the very thing they can not have and to do that for you to make you feel more comfortable and happy. Yes you may only have one baby shower etc but I guarantee you most of the other people in your life are running and jumping for joy at your new arrival. It’s a wonderful and happy time for you and those close to you. Enjoy it. That one couple loves you and your baby but they are struggling.

I didn’t want anyone to feel bad for me although I understand why they did, I want them to enjoy their happy time. It sucks that sometimes I can’t embrace it completely with them but neither side should feel bad and for that. No one has made a choice for us to not be able to have kids, it’s medical. We are all just dealing with it the best we can.

A rather crude analogy someone said to me recently

– you wouldn’t expect a diabetic to eat a chocolate Birthday cake to show they celebrated your Birthday – so why do we ask couples with a medical condition that’s ripping their hearts out to endure events baby centred so that they don’t make the new parents feel bad.

We can be happy for you and support you in other ways that don’t involve me playing party games and changing a nappy on a doll blind folded while everyone talks baby’s. Can you understand how awful that is for us to sit through? In reverse I wouldn’t want anyone to do that for me if it hurt them so badly. Your friend that just lost her baby, that just had a failed round of IVF, that has been trying and trying with no result, she is basically trying to hold her shit together and not let the hurt and grief and anger out. I don’t think it’s so much to understand that pain and say,

“I know you love me and my baby, but it’s ok for you not to do this! I understand!”

Give them a choice.

It’s a lonely label to be under and yes hard sometimes to understand if you haven’t been there. People are awkward and don’t know how to talk about it. It’s actually ok to admit that.

I’m lucky I am surrounded by people that do get it and are hurting for me. I think if we ever do get pregnant and progress to having a child it will be celebrated as a king or queen. Somehow that knowledge makes the rage build πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. Lol.

Or maybe I’m just an angry person now. My battle scars leak rage. I’ll accept that for my sanity.

Am I a Real Woman?

I read an article today about women who are childless or childfree whatever your preferred term. Some by choice, some like me that can’t have children.

A repeated theme through the article was that they were made to feel like they were defective, less than, not as important even selfish.

Some of the comments on the news feed directed to those who are childless by choice seemed to be as harsh. It really upset me.

Being a mother, while a wonderful thing to be, it does not define you as a woman. I would like to think that if we had children I would still keep my identity, keep some of myself that I would share with my offspring.

It feels like some of the people on the feed suggested that those couples are selfish. REALLY? Why does having a solid belief that you are not meant to be a parent make you selfish? Surely having a child you don’t want, just to fit in with what others think you should be doing is more crazy?!

Others stated that they “felt sorry” for those people missing out on that sort of love, like our lives are so empty without it. Don’t get me wrong. I feel emptiness from the losses of our babies and I can imagine the happy feeling of holding our child but is my life empty? No it’s not.

When you have time to mull over the choice for starting a family you do question why do I want this? Why did I want a baby so badly so young?

You all know from previous blogs I wanted this from a young age. I can’t ever remember not wanting to be a mum. I wanted it so badly. But I look back now and I do wonder how much of that is by suggestion. It’s what people did. They get married. They have kids. That’s just what you do, it’s the plan most follow.

I would have done it young too if I had been able to. Then I reflect on the things we have done over the last 15 years that we would perhaps not been able to do with children and I wonder if that would have been the right choice. I don’t think it would have been. Now as I look back, I am so pleased that we have had time together to build our team and while the heartbreak of the losses I wouldn’t ever want to relive that, I do feel grateful that we didn’t get pregnant within the first two years of our relationship at 23. I feel like now that would have been the wrong choice for us. I wasn’t mentally old enough for that. I would have done it and managed like so many do but I wouldn’t have done it as well as other do.

Like my best friend in the world for example, she has four Beauties and her first when she was 20. She was instantly a wonderful mum, like a switch flipped. She wanted her babies they were planned. Her life has been wonderful in different ways to mine, and I’m blessed that I share with her some of the moments with her kids. I don’t think I would have been as good as her. I love those kids though and my other nieces from my husbands brother very much. They are all perfect.

This journey has a nasty and surprising side effect. Bitterness. It eats at you and I have to work really hard to not let it take over my heart. I can imagine it would if I let it. Resentful of anyone that announces a pregnancy. I feel jealousy of cause, I let myself feel that but I try to recount the blessings to keep the bitterness out.

My husband. Our marriage. Our team. Team Phillips. Our travels. Our love.

The worlds full of beautiful different family units now. There is no one size fits all. I don’t need to have carried a child to affirm my womanhood. We aren’t less than. Our opinions matter, we don’t have to have given birth to know right from wrong or to understand parenting. One of the most hurtful things you can say to me would be “you don’t know because you haven’t had kids”

It’s not rocket science. I know myself well enough to know what sort of parent I would be. Do I know how hard it is? Not fully no, how could I? But I’m not clueless. Like many childless couples we probably think we know more than we do until we actually had children and it all goes out the window. But I see all around me how people are with their kids. My opinions still matter.

We feel sometimes out of place, like we don’t quite fit in any box anymore. We are the last couple of our friends that don’t have children. I think sometimes that people can push couples like us away because we don’t fit in anymore. I have come to terms with this over the years of trying to fake the parties and events with kids and other parents, the awkward silence or uncomfortable comments when you say at 38 you don’t have kids.

Sometimes you have to be a little selfish. I hold my hands up to that. But you know what, when you have experienced the losses we have and felt the pain we have, I think you would understand we deserve to be that sometimes. We have often comforted others through our infertility making them feel bad, I don’t do that anymore. That’s not our responsibility just as it isn’t theirs either. It is what it is. People either understand or they don’t.

Fifteen years in and I know for sure. I’m just as much of a woman as any mother, I’m not defective. This is something I’m learning to live with. It’s not what we planned but it’s not all doom and gloom!

Handling Random Bursts of Sadness

This morning, for no reason, I woke crying. It’s possible that I dreamt about something that I don’t remember I don’t know but I think it is just a random burst of sadness.

I call it this because I do so well making an effort to be happy that sometimes the sad bubbles up and leaks out. I don’t know why it does that either.

Those blissful moments between awake and asleep usually protect me from how I’m really feeling. I forget we lost Gavin, I forget it’s nearly his 30th Birthday and how angry I am he’s not here thanks to cancer, I forget I’m not a mum and how hard we have been trying. In those blissful seconds I’m just content.

Most mornings that’s ok. I get up and the bad stuff slips in a little at a time. In manageable lumps in time I am used to.

This morning random burst of sadness before I’d even opened my eyes. Brick load dumped on me.

My monthly’s on the way so hormones are all over the place but really. I am not able to have kids so why am I being tortured every month with that?! Not fair!!

I had such a lovely day yesterday and the day before for my birthday and then with our nieces and family. Maybe it’s Birthday Blues πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ.

I wonder how many of us cry the silent tears I do while everyone else sleeps? By the time it gets light I will have pulled myself together like this didn’t happen. But for now I’m sharing it with you so I’m not alone. ❀️

Mental health day

So it’s World Mental Health Day. I didn’t want to let it pass without acknowledging the pain I know a lot of us are in and the battle we fight that perhaps no one knows about in our “real life” and maybe we don’t even know the effects that it can have on our mental health.

Having problems getting the family we crave can take its toll. The “this is our month” can only go so far when you are repeatedly slapped down each month. Accepting there is a problem at all takes courage to then continue and find a way to keep going or worse to decide to call it a day and accept life childfree is hard when having a child has been your dream.

I tried for years to put my brave face on and keep going but it did get to the point where I couldn’t hold on to it any longer and it seeped out. Anger was the emotion of choice for me. I was raging at everything and then I crashed and was so low. What was my purpose now? How did I live the life happening around me when I dreamed and wanted a different version so badly.

I wouldn’t ever say I had suffered from depression or anxiety before. I have people close to me that do so I know how it can take over your life, but not me I thought I had it all under control. Lol.

I did not. And admitting that was difficult for me. I was always the glass half full type of person. I would be the one pulling people around me up, motivating who I could. I didn’t realise just how badly I was dealing with everything.

There is nothing wrong with admitting you need help. It might be that those people close to you in your life don’t know you are struggling, but believe me they would want to if you could find the words. Even if you can’t do that, maybe find support through your doctors. Don’t try to do it alone. The little voices that are telling us we are defective and in my case worthless. They are wrong .

I’m doing a lot better now after some drastic changes in my life. I am not saying we all need to do that but it started with me being kinder to myself. To admit that it’s a pretty shitty hand we have been dealt and it’s ok to feel angry about that. I’m not OK all the time. I still feel sad. But I no longer feel like I’m worthless. That’s got to be progress right?

Birthday Blues …. getting older and still no baby!

On the 19th of this month it’s my 38th birthday.

Well …..FUCK!!!

Birthdays after 30 have been mentally difficult for me because the world tells you your fertility decreases rapidly after this time. Now here I am nearly 40 and still no baby and honestly I just want to not give a shit anymore.

Sorry this ones a bit sweary lol. Just the way I’m feeling.

I wanted to make a big deal of this birthday to take my mind off all the ones before it I had tried to ignore. The passing of time is painful.

I was fine, but then the last couple of days I just feel that anxiety again. That feeling of being on the verge of tears constantly. I’m fighting the urge to take to my bed and not get back up. I won’t of cause. If I start to do that then it will only get worse.

I’m going to try really hard to celebrate it. As we all should. Not everyone is afforded the luxury of another year, each year you grow older is a blessing.

It may seem silly. What’s the difference one day to the next. It’s not like in reality my eggs just suddenly dry up a little more the next day another year passes. Even sillier is that mine aren’t that great in the first place so age is only one factor.

I’m so close to acceptance. No children for us. I can feel it. But then something will happen to knock me back.

A random middle of the night thought of what will my later years look like. If I’m lucky enough to reach old age, will we be lonely? Who will come to visit us at Christmas and random Sundays? My brain is a torture device I’m sure of it.

So instead of enjoying the moments and the now of it all. Here I am worrying about a future I don’t even know will happen. I frustrate myself!!

So this year. I will take the weekend. Because it’s a Friday this year so of cause you get the whole weekend to celebrate!! I’m going to hope as always the Birthday Fairy knocks me up or leaves enough money so we can keep trying πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ.

Bloody 38!!! How did that happen ?!

I hate you pregnancy test!!!

I would think that over the last 15 years I am at this point keeping these pregnancy and OPK test companies in business.

It starts with the excited buy in the early stages of trying. The optimist in me would buy the expensive brands and in bulk. They would sit proudly on my bathroom cabinets like a promise of the future we wanted. I couldn’t wait to test.

With each passing month the affection for these tests and that promised future, they started to take on a cruel light. As the fertility testing starts and the scheduled sex, the waiting to take the next test is torturous.

Then you get within a few days of aunt flows arrival and try it early because you never know and I can’t wait any longer …..

Flashing ….. flashing…… flashing…….

Listening to my heartbeat in my ears from anticipation.

Waiting….. waiting……. waiting…….

Hands and feet cold with fear. And then…..

Negative. Negative. NOT PREGNANT.

Feeling nothing for a few moments, almost a resigned “I knew it would be negative” followed by overwhelming sadness. Another month gone and no baby. Sitting cradling the cruel test, hoping the answer would change. Maybe it was too early??

The following few days until aunt flow arrives a small glimmer of hope remains symptom watching and googling “early signs of pregnancy” like a crazy person. Convincing my cray-cray brain that I am indeed peeing more (I Wasnt) or that my boobs did indeed hurt (they did but they do every month) that those cramps must be implanting cramps (they were not. They were period cramps.) That usually ends with me in a bathroom somewhere silently crying after another failed month.

It takes strength to pull yourself up and dust yourself down and go in for another round. Hopes a cruel bitch.

At this point it feels like the only option is IVF for us. In recent years I haven’t bought any tests. One, because I hate them and two because if I get pregnant then I will know at some point! What’s the point of the repeated torture.

In some ways I am probably delaying the last little bit of weight I have to loose because if we do the IVF then there is a chance I have to look at another negative pregnancy test. I know most people won’t understand that but anyone in our shoes will.

It may seem slightly kooky but I would like a ceremonial burning of everyone I have ever had to take along with the OPKs.

I imagine how it would have been to have simply gotten pregnant and not needing all these tests.

To not know what the anxiety of the two week wait feels like.

To have not experienced the crushing disappointment of each passing month, or worst of all those rare tests that were in fact positive but then ended in bitter loss all the same.

Can you imagine that. All those years waiting. To finally see that PREGNANT only to feel that life leave you. That dream leave. My heart to just break.

So yep. I hate those damn tests. I will avoid that aisle at the supermarket, but if one day on the news you hear of a woman smashing up the pregnancy test alley at a North East supermarket. You can bet your arse it’s me. Harley Quinning the shit out of those smug blue boxes.

I’m not bitter of cause. Not at all πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. Lol.

Waking from grief.

If I think too hard back over the last ten years I get an ache in my throat. Tears often threaten. Life’s a wonderful gift, but sometimes it’s an evil bitch.

I have had some of the best moments, marrying my husband, my best friend. Cheesy but very true. New travels, new experiences. But it’s also brought with it some terrible lows. Especially the last three years.

Every miscarriage I have experienced has layered more and more sadness on my heart. It’s chipped away at it’s normally very optimistic exterior. After all, how could I not be optimistic, I found Ben.

When my cousin fell ill and then sadly died I felt a bit of me go with him. Again cliche to say that, but it’s the best way to describe how I felt. I just am not the same person I was before. We dealt with what had to be done at the time as a family then we disappeared back into our own worlds to try and process the loss.

It felt like every day I was screaming in pain silently. My exterior often smiled but then in the quiet places when I was alone, my tears fell freely. It felt like dealing with the loss of my babies and Gavin all together. It twisted and wrapped itself up in one big lump of pain that’s just with me all the time.

They often say times a healer. I don’t find that true. What I do believe is time gives you an opportunity to learn to deal with the pain you are feeling. It becomes the new normal.

I retreated from everything. I barely saw my friends even my family. I was happiest in my house not having to do anything or see anyone.

Then earlier this year I had a car accident. A really bad one and my cheese well and truly slipped off my cracker. All that time to stay still, all those hours alone. It wasn’t pretty. My world literally felt like it fell apart.

I made some big changes. I left my job. I stared my own business an extension of my husbands already successful company. We sell and fit blinds commercially and domestically. We spend A LOT of time together. I love it.

Just recently I have started to notice a change, like a fog lifting. I don’t feel so heavy all the time. I don’t feel the need to hide away as much. My smile is no longer forced, my laugh is genuine.

Don’t get me wrong there are some days the fog slips back and I feel the loss completely again, but it’s less frequent.

I can think of Gavin without feeling the urge to brake something.

I don’t feel like all of a sudden I’m over the losses we have experienced, I know there will be bad moments to come. Like when I see something I desperately want to tell him about and I still go to message him, for those wonderful few moments he’s with us, then I remember he’s gone.

It’s the small steps that are helping. The little glimpses of the old me.

Finding where we fit in a world that the “norm” is having kids is sometimes hard. I discovered this week that those of us many years into trying but still not lost hope completely, apparently we don’t fit in with those who defiantly can’t. The fact we still have hope however small separates us. Was a little upsetting as I have always taken comfort in anyone on this journey. Even if some have had children. We still bare scars from the journey.

So my circle now is even smaller it would seem. I’m 37. I have lost my babies, I am trying to learn how to get my head around the fact we will likely never be parents. Yes I still have a small glimmer of hope, but that is dimming with every passing year.

The grief I feel from the label “Childless”. One day I hope it’s a label I can wear without causing me pain. I feel like it might happen. Now the fogs lifting.

Happily Ever After …

As a child I loved fairytales. I completely bought into the Prince Charming saving the princess and living happily ever after. I believed in wishes coming true. I believed the Disney version of life. I knew one day I would get married and have kids just like the stories told me I would. Because that’s what being happy looks like.

Princess meets prince who saves her and they get married and have a family πŸ™„πŸ™„. Now how much those expectations have changed and I feel cheated. Over time, that picture I built fades and as I move further away from it I try to see something different.

If I had been granted wishes as a kid no doubt I would have used them for superficial things. How I looked probably. To be beautiful. As I grow older those wishes change.

Now as an adult I would simply have one wish. To be a mother. Well actually, that’s not true. I would take two wishes, one to bring Gavin back and for him to have never been ill or felt one moment of pain and then I want to be a mother. Would I want to go back and erase all of my bad experiences to get my wish? No I don’t think I would. That pain, as hard as it has been, it has shaped me. It’s made me stronger. It’s made me appreciate my husband so much and the life we have.

I feel like these stories have set me up for a massive fall. There is only ever one version of a happy ending and it’s not the one I am living. Childless in your late thirties character’s would probably only make it as the evil spinster or witch in the Disney version. No one really ever thinks to write about the happy ever after for the childless couple. Perhaps it’s hard to imagine.

Am I happy? Absolutely. I may be a little broken and of cause I’m still grieving but I don’t want that to stop me from living in the now.

I think that there are probably pros and cons of both versions, with or without children. I’m sure some of our friends with children may envy some of our lifestyle, as we do theirs. It’s human to wonder what it’s like to have different things but that doesn’t mean that I’m not happy. I at least got my Prince Charming ….. well in truth he’s more of a grumpy character but he’s mine all the same πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. I am no princess either. I most definitely do not need saving.

I hope as time moves on the happy ending tales perhaps include alternative endings. Time is already starting to change that. Some people may not understand why that needs to happen, I would say to those people. Be thankful that you haven’t ever felt like the outsider. That your story has probably been told over and over again as the ‘normal’. Maybe those new versions need to be told to offer hope and strength to those who just want to feel less alone.

The differences in all our stories are what make us so wonderfully human. I would wish one day that no one would ever experience infertility. ……See I’m getting greedy with the wishes now πŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚. That couples would never have to experience the heartbreak and sheer devastation of losing a pregnancy or a child.

Adapting to the new version of our story has taken some time. Yes sometimes I feel like I have wasted time always looking forward, it’s hard not too when you are always thinking that you may be pregnant this time next year or have a new baby. The more years that pass and it doesn’t happen it has taken its toll on my optimism. It’s also forced me to look at a different future. That alternate ending for us. For me that looks like many more years happy with my husband, appreciating how lucky we are to have each other. I hope to be traveling as much as we can.

Maybe one day I will be writing something like this….

“and her heart was no longer hurting, she no longer felt her arms ache from the burned of emptiness. She found contentment in just being the two of them, no longer wondering what if. They lived happily ever after. The End.”

πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ One day. Who knows. ❀️❀️

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