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The Childless Mother

Dealing with infertility and finding happiness

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New Year, New beginnings.

I love NYE it brings with it a potential to wash the previous months away. A fresh start.

Every year as we desperately tried for our family, a new year would provide a new hope. An opportunity to say, “This is our year, next year we will stand here holding our baby or bump”

As more time passed, that New Years wish made on the stroke of midnight became more of a plea – Please let this be the last year I am childless.

As we move into almost the 16th year of trying there will be no wish this year. As the hope has now gone. I move forward with only the wish that my heart can heal. I no longer want to feel this hurt.

2019 has been a successful one in so many ways. There is so much to be thankful for in my life but yet this still eats away at me. It’s something I have no control over. It is what it is.

I hope that 2020, the start of this new decade, I hope that it can bring with it peace. A moment of happiness that is no longer tainted by the longing that can never be. An ache that won’t ever leave. If I could feel that peace I would be content.

My empty arms may always mourn the children I never got to hold, but I’m trying to not let this define the rest of my life. Finding a way forward is hard. But with a brand new year just around the corner. I’m going to do my best to try!

The loss of my fur baby.

It’s been a while since I wrote an actual blog, we have had a lot going on so it’s been hard to find something I could write about without spewing anger everywhere.

My goal for so long has been to get pregnant, to have our baby. It’s been intense for so long that I don’t know how I let it go. But I want to, very badly.

A month ago, just over. We sat with our fur baby as she took her last breaths.

I remember thinking when we lost my cousin a couple of years ago, as we stood around the room as he was taking his last breaths …. nothing can hurt as much as this. It felt like I couldn’t breath from the grief. I was wrong.

We had poured so much love into Tara, she had been there through all our losses. Sat with me as I cried and cried over them. Licked my tears, cuddled me, was there and loyal and beautiful all those 16 years. To make the decision to let her go was a awful one. Even though I knew it was the right one. To hold her beautiful perfect head in my hands as she went to sleep was crushing.

It feels like now I’m reliving all of the grief. All of it. My cousin. My miscarriages. Only this time I don’t have my beautiful old girl here to offer comfort. I do have my crazy collie, but even he’s suffering he misses his big sister. My husbands heart broken. We are struggling.

I know some people can’t understand the loss. I’m sure there have been many conversations of her being a dog and having a long life. It’s true she did. But I poured so much of my mothering instincts that I couldn’t use on children, I poured them into my old girl. She was the centre of our world for all that time. We loved her completely and she loved us more than that probably. And I feel my already broken hearts just smashed.

It’s made me release that I have to let go. I keep saying it. I keep saying that I want to move on, but really my heart just won’t let me. Even when I look at the good we have in our lives, so much good. Even when I know the financial nightmare it would be now having just started my own business. Knowing all of that it’s still hard.

I don’t want to still be feeling like this in another ten years, or worse that when my friends start having grand children that I relive this all again.

Enough already.

ENOUGH!!

I feel change coming, in small ways but I visualise almost waking from this nightmare anew, like a butterfly 🦋. Leaving all the hurt an negativity in that cocoon that’s held me so tight for all these years. Breaking free of the grief. Feeling content. I just don’t want to feel incomplete any more.

I know its strange to say having just wrote the above, but I do feel happiness. Even with this background of grief, it’s like you learn to live with it. It creeps out regularly but I can feel happy in between. My husband and I just celebrated 10 years married and 16 years together and we still happy. I’m grateful for that. That’s what I’m most proud of because I wouldn’t change that for the world. I don’t know what I would do with out him.

I know it takes time. Although hearing that doesn’t help. I can only get up each day and put my game face on like and old costume piece and get on with it and hope that one day I won’t have to act brave, one day I will actually just be OK.

How wonderful would that be?

Stop asking THE question.

Ok so maybe this isn’t something that people who have had their families quite easily think about as a problem. But it is for some of us who can’t have kids.

If there is one thing other than just making couples feel less alone I want to achieve out of this blog, it’s to stop this question.

“So, when are you going to have kids?”

Especially when it’s followed with,

“You’re not getting any younger you know!”

The possibility of this question is what adds the anxiety of family and friends social events, especially if there is a new baby or pregnant woman attending. That regularly would lead to this question to anyone married or in a long relationship and still child free.

Some people decide not to have children. That’s ok. If that’s the choice then no one has the right to challenge that or tell them they are “missing out”. Or selfish. What you choose for your own life isn’t what someone else might want, even if you don’t understand it. You don’t have to. It’s no one else’s business.

Some people can’t have children and they don’t want to talk about it. They want this painful journey to be private. By asking the question you are putting them in a position where they have to lie or hide their hurt.

Some of us are ok talking about it but perhaps don’t want to go into a lot of detail of invasive and upsetting treatments in a room full of people.

Some people can’t have kids because of horrific events that have scared their bodies. They no more want to talk about the events that caused the problems than they do want to explain why they do not have children yet!

The solution is a simple one. If someone is trying for kids or pregnant you will know soon enough. They will perhaps want to share that news with you, or you would know by the small human that will appear in time. It’s an easy fix to prevent so much upset, hurt and frankly awkward conversations by just minding your own business.

I understand completely no one ever asks this question with malice in their hearts, in fact I would suspect for many it’s from a place of love They don’t know it’s a cause of pain for someone if they don’t know the story, but here’s the thing. We don’t need to know every detail about everyone’s life if they don’t want to share it.

I am an open book. I always have been. I have shared our story because I know it has helped those people who can’t find the words to express the depth of their grief and pain. Words have never been a problem for me and it actually helps me to share. But I hope by me sharing what can be upsetting, it can just prevent those awkward moments and save some people from hurt.

I know people will say “you can’t do anything nowadays without offending or hurting someone’s feelings” and that may appear to be true! I don’t know about you but I constantly try to work on myself. I’m not perfect. I’m sure I have said or done things to offend someone so if I knew I had, I would work hard to not do that again. If you know something is upsetting why would you continue to do it?

Also sometimes I do think there is an element of auto conversation. Someone following the lines of small talk, without realising what a loaded and hurtful question that can be.

That person that’s looking you in the eyes and smiling, telling you that “no we don’t want kids just yet, we are too busy travelling, too selfish, loving the lay ins too much, happy being just the two of us” but inside they are already planning how soon they can politely leave and the ache in their throats is so bad they struggle to get those words out. They will most likely find a quiet place after and cry. They will sob for the injustice of having to answer these questions again and again when they are trying so hard. They will wonder for the millionth time “why me, what did I do wrong”

Imagine the slap in the face it would be to then hear “you’re being selfish!” This happens to people regularly. It’s cruel and unnecessary!!

You won’t know anything about this because S/he has become a pro at hiding their pain.

The question I have for you is …. should they have to? Wouldn’t it just be easier if you didn’t ask THAT question of a couple, if you don’t know what their plans are or what they have been through. There are many, many questions you can ask that keep conversation going.

“When are you having kids?” Or “are you trying for kids?” doesn’t need to be one of them.

Reintroduction

As we are approaching the 10k followed mark on the Facebook and blog, I thought I would do another little introduction for those who have just arrived.

👋👋

Hello. Welcome. Pleased you found my little page.

I started to write a journal some years ago, it vented my inner most fears and frustrations in the early stages of us trying for children. I never shared much online because it seemed like it would be wrong, like it was a dirty secret.

As the years passed I was slowly feeling like I was being left behind. As more and more of our friends and family had children, I started to worry this may never happen for us. I don’t think I had ever thought about it to seriously until that time. Then the scary question that all couples struggling to have kids are too scared to out loud. What if this never happens for us. What if we can’t have a baby.

I started to change. Small little withdrawals I think at first and now some 15 and half years in, now I feel like there is a gaping wide hole between me and the rest of the world. I got angry. The break came when we lost a pregnancy at the same time my cousin, who was like my little brother was battling and ultimately died of cancer. My world completely fell apart and what little of the old me I clung on to completely crumbled. I got white hot mad. I was sick of feeling like it was a dirty thing to be discussing, I started by sharing a blog on another one of my projects. I wrote from a place of pure pain and grief and the amount of reaction and support I got was overwhelming. Suddenly I knew what good could come from all this heart ache. The Childless Mother was born.

It proved that while it might be an uncomfortable subject for some to read, the people who need to feel supported are the reason I do this. The ones like me who are the only ones in their “circle” that are childless and feel completely alone. If I make one person feel a little better and less lonely I’m happy.

I have PCOS, my husband is fine. He could have children but he chooses me. He’s never been bothered too much one way or another. In some ways that’s good, but I still feel guilt as I know he would be an amazing dad. It’s so sad.

Well, in summary that’s me. I’m late 30’s now and our only chance is IVF. We are loosing weight and it’s going well but slowly.

I hope this page helps a little. Even if it’s just a place to find others that can truly appreciate the pain.

The old familiar ache

The longer I have gone without successfully getting the children I so desperately want, the more familiar I am with the pain that goes with that longing.

It’s not that I ever have gotten over it, more like I just have found a way to deal with it. Having the pain just becomes part of who I am. There are however still moments. Today was one of them.

As you may remember I changed my job last year I am working with my husband now and part of the services we offer is to hospitals. We install cubicle tracks etc.

Today we did a large job, at the maternity ward. YAY.

It was a tough job so most of my attention was on what we were doing, but the longer I was there seeing the pregnant bellies come in for their scans, hearing the heart beats from the scanning room. Oh my. My heart just ached.

Being in the rooms , the little baby cribs set up for their next patient. Hearing some of those little ones crying.

At one point I was pretty obsessed with maternity and baby programmes. I would watch them enviously wishing that one day I would be going through this, excitedly cradling my big belly, probably terrified of what was to come but equally excited to meet my baby. Today as I was wheeling one of the little cribs out of our way I suddenly thought;

“I’m never going to experience this”

That thought was like a kick to my stomach. And the ache that’s been dormant for at least a little while is back.

I was looking at the thank you cards pinned proudly to the wall, wondering what I would have done. If we had managed it, I would probably be sending most of the thank you cards online.

Such simple things that anyone that’s not struggled to have children perhaps would never understand.

I have to go back tomorrow. And I will do it because we often have to do things that hurt us. Seems like we have to just accept that as part of a childfree life. A pain I don’t think will ever go.

Just wonderful. Sigh.

We are a team. Thank you to my husband.

When we start to look for the positives and life plan b of it all the one thing I remain so thankful for is my husband.

Sometimes I think this infertility thing is harder on him, especially the pregnancies we have lost. The physical pain is with me, so that meant people asked me how I was doing not many really did Ben. He didn’t know how to deal with the loss of our babies any more than I did but somehow I think a lot of people expected him to just get on with it.

I think feeling helpless to make things any better for me. To not know what to do and then process how he was feeling himself is a lot. He couldn’t fix any of it, but him being there was enough for me.

He’s held my hand through my very lowest moments. He has pretty much held the pieces of me together when I have completely fallen apart. We have rebuilt together, often he says nothing about his own struggle.

There’s a lot of focus on mental health now and not using such terms as “Man up!” I am so incredibly pleased these conversations happen. It’s important for people to know they aren’t alone and it’s not a weakness to need help. You wouldn’t ask someone to mend a broken leg by “smiling more!”

Perhaps the infertility issues is still a delicate one to talk about between anyone but it seems especially so for men, certainly the idea of masculinity being linked to sperm count seems ridiculers to me but I get it. I myself have questioned my womanhood being linked to giving birth to a child.

There are probably men out there not sure how to deal with this journey and perhaps thinking they are saying the wrong thing at times. Frustrated that they can’t do more.

I’ve heard conversations of “that poor girl” after a miscarriage but rarely do I hear “that poor man”.

I’m so thankful that we have a good marriage, we are a team. He’s my best friend. At times we want to kill each other but who doesn’t after 15 years together?! After every set back and heartache we dust ourselves down and get back up. We try again.

My single biggest regret from all of this isn’t that I won’t be a mother. That makes me sad of cause, but it’s that he won’t be a father. He doubts if it’s for him even now, but I know for sure he would be the best dad.

He has such a big heart, he’s so kind. He’s a hard worker, we both have worked so hard for the things we have. Mainly because we want to travel 😂😂. I wouldn’t choose a different life even if I could, if it meant doing it with out him, no thank you.

I will always look forward to a future with him, no matter what it brings. Life doesn’t always go to plan. But we are finding a way of making the plan work for us and that’s a a start right?

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!

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 😂😂🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️.

Bloody 38!!! How did that happen ?!

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.

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