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The Childless Mother

Dealing with infertility and finding happiness

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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.

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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.

Childless at Christmas ….. Iā€™m broken.

I try really hard to carry on and don’t let the scars show but sometimes it’s hard.

I always find Christmas difficult although I absolutely love this time of year it’s bitter sweet. The reality of dealing with infertility has meant for me that I have built and armour around my heart. I tell myself I’m ok and to not think too much about the what ifs.

I do well at this normally.

Just now I’m failing miserably.

As my husband and I sat in our cosy little living room the other night, he was watching the tea time game shows he loves so much and shouting the answers (mainly right) at the TV like the contestant might hear him and I sat doing a 5D diamond art, I felt an over whelming sense of grief and loss. I don’t know what sparked it or why it flooded me with sadness but it did.

My mind wandered to what we may be doing as a family with children, certainly not what we were actually doing. Perhaps we would be doing homework or bath time and stories. Perhaps we would be colouring in with them or praying for a moments peace to be doing exactly what we were actually were doing having “me time” while they ran rampaged around the house. Maybe we would be watching a christmas movie together as we hung the decorations. ……. I can’t even continue to finish this line of thought in blog form. It hurts too much.

I bury those thoughts so deep that when they escape and I let my self wonder, I feel the crack in my amour and I cling on so tight to the tears that threaten. Not just the silent tears I have so often cried but the body wracking sobs that I hold in. I hold them so tight my head and throat ache from them.

It was made worse by reading a news article of a little baby around a month old murdered by his mother and step father while they were high. I’m completely broken by that little boy. The life he could have had if he was only born to someone like us that would have protected him, kept him safe, loved him. I don’t understand how the world is so cruel.

People often say that they can’t imagine how it feels to be going though what we and others like us have. I think the feeling is a simple one. To step back just for a few moments of your busy life, to look at your beautiful children doing what they are doing good and maybe the tear your hair out moments too. Now imagine what your life would be if they were never there.

I know some may glamourise our life, that we don’t know tired. We don’t know worry. We can just do what we want when we want but the fact is I would do anything to have my life turned upside down. No ones life is perfect. I know if we had kids we wouldn’t find it easy. It’s bloody hard. But nothing worth having is easy. I want so badly to know.

To hold a child that’s a little of me and my crazy family and part my husband and his family. It’s so sad that we may never know.

I know I’ll be ok. I will find a way of pulling my amour back into place and continue, after so long it becomes the norm for me. Still, every now and then, I do wonder just how it would feel to be complete. To have this hole in my heart repaired. I think that would be a relief.

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 šŸ˜‚šŸ˜‚. 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!

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 šŸ˜‚šŸ˜‚šŸ˜‚. Lol.

Childfree in a sea of parents.

I don’t think I ever felt like I was “normal” who is right? What even is normal nowadays? I don’t really even like the word!!

Dealing with infertility and PCOS has just increased this feeling of not really fitting in. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I don’t mind being slightly different. Having said that there are times that as a couple in our thirties and childfree, I feel we stick out like sore thumbs. It can catch me quite off guard at times too. Then I get angry at myself to allowing the self pity back in.

On Friday we had some time to kill between work appointments. We decided to go to the cinema and the only thing that happened to fit with our schedule was “Christopher Robin” – loved it, deffo worth a watch. Pooh Bear is so cute!! – but of cause it was filled with families.

Here we were. In our work clothes (looking like we just came off a building site) no children and watching a Disney movie. I didn’t think much about it at first until the cinema filled up and I realised we were in fact the only childfree people in there. Including a mum with her toddler and beautiful baby bump that walked right past inches from my face to sit next to us. ……. šŸ¤¦šŸ»ā€ā™€ļøšŸ¤¦šŸ»ā€ā™€ļøšŸ¤¦šŸ»ā€ā™€ļø awesome!

I suddenly thought ” What must people think about us?!”

The fact is we are both big kids, we love a good Disney movie and the reality was probably no one even noticed we were childless but my damaged brain repeated hurtful things to me. You don’t belong here, you shouldn’t even be here, what must people think, why would you be here without children….. imagine what it would be like if you had a child here to share this with.

I’ve never been self conscious about this sort of thing before. This is new. I think maybe because the older we get we are the only couple now that doesn’t have children in our circle of friends, it feels like we are alone. That being said, we don’t need to have children to enjoy childish things.

I feel distant sometimes from our friends for this reason too. There is a certain connection that parents share from knowing what it’s like to be going through parenthood. A comradery almost (well until they are trying to out do each other with costumes and PTA bullshit then they are straight up enemies!) Still there are things that we can’t share. Birthing stories, Shared activities, children’s parties, clubs, education, trends etc. It feels sometimes like Im a spectator watching a game I can never play and I don’t understand the rules I just sit quietly at the side lines. I can do nothing about it. That’s what hurts the most.

I could allow myself to be consumed with anger and the “why us” of it all. I try not to. I embrace the life we have. It’s not the one I imagined but it’s a good one. My marriage is so good. We have fun and laugh more than we cry. He still makes my stomach flip after 16 years. That doesn’t mean we don’t mourn the life we imagined, the little boy or girl that would have completed us, but we aren’t just surviving. We are happy.

The song “This is Me” from the movie The Greatest Showman is so completely perfect for me, I cry almost every time I hear it. I feel the words passionately. I am broken and bruised. My scars may not all be visible but they are there and I wear them proudly. For every baby that lived however briefly inside of me. I feel like shouting THIS IS ME!

We almost apologise for being as we are, like we feel an obligation to make others around us feel less uncomfortable with our infertility. Often passing off events or moments as no big deal when secretly we are screaming inside. I don’t do this anymore. I make no apologies, we didn’t ask for this it’s no ones fault, we all just do the best we can. It’s not my responsibility to make others feel ok about it and it’s not theirs to make us feel better. We are coping the best we can.

So no, I may never be living the “normal” life I imagined as a child but I am living the absolute best life. Not a constellation prize type deal. It’s an actual good life. I’m just a little brokenis all.

Am I strong?

I talk about us being warriors a lot. I believe that 100%. How else do we get through the day like it’s all ok. When some days it just isn’t.

I do however think it’s ok to admit when you can’t be strong. So many people will say that, how brave, how strong we are and I appreciate those words so much. They give me actual strength. It doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t fall apart.

That’s ok too.

In the first few days after my last miscarriage it felt like I was sitting watching the world happen. Like I was removed from everything around me. Every time I tried to grasp what was happening I would feel the ache and loose control.

People talk about broken hearts. They use it to describe break ups and hardships. I have done this. Nothing compares to that pain, it’s not a metaphorical pain. It’s a physical one.

All the cliques feel true. It is a unique pain. Loosing a child you desperately long for. Going from a lifetime of possibilities of plans, to nothing. Worse than that for me, because I have lost our babies so early there is no record of them ever existing. No one would ever know their little hearts did beat at one time. Now mine beats slightly off, it is missing the beats of our children.

To survive I have built a shell almost, so that I don’t feel the pregnancy announcements, I don’t feel the words misspoken and I don’t feel the loss of the unlived life with our children. That’s by day.

Then by night, when it’s quiet and my thoughts are my only company my shell cracks. Often in the middle of the night I can be found silent tears falling onto my pillow. The bathroom is another place my shell crumbles.

Grief is a strange experience. I have heard it described as waves. I can relate to this. One moment I can be perfectly fine and then a wave hits me and I fall apart spectacularly. I’m not ashamed of these moments. I’m human.

I absolutely believe that we are warriors, but it’s ok for us to feel the pain we need to to move forward. I don’t want to forget that I was ever pregnant and only look forward, I can’t always be looking back either of cause but I owe it to my babies to not forget them.

I don’t have them in my arms. I never will. My nursery may always be empty. My arms may never know the joy of holding our children. It then becomes about how we survive it.

It’s really simple for me. I am able to continue. I am able to keep the strength to share to help others because I may be a broken warrior, but I’m a warrior all the same. I get most of my strength from my husband, we are a team. Life may not be going how we planned but even with what we have been through, we laugh far more than we cry.

I’m always going to fight to keep going, but it’s ok to allow a little sadness out. It’s perfectly acceptable to mourn what we have lost. I don’t need to be strong all of the time. I’m ok with that too.

Baby clothes ….a weird hope.

I don’t know if I’m alone in this, I suspect I am not but I’m going to share anyway in case there are others like me feeling the same.

After all these years I have a huge urge to shop for nursery equipment and baby clothes. There! I said it. It’s out there.

I always imagined the months and weeks leading up to a birth, the excitement and preparation of the new arrival would be so wonderful. Part of that imagined scenario is the nursery and baby clothes.

In the early days I would look around these sections when I shopped alone and imagine being able to just buy anything remotely baby related to make up for all the time yearning.

When we did get pregnant and the few occasions that bean was a strong one and made it further into the pregnancy. I even went as far as buying a couple of football related items to give to my husband. They sat in a bottom draw for years until we moved house the last time and I had to let them go for my sanity. The bottom draw became a shrine and that didn’t feel good. I was tormented by them.

It’s hard to let go of these items when you see the moment clearly. A happy moment I would have shared with my husband. Handing him a Newcastle United onesie with Phillips on it. Telling him we finally were going to be parents.

I’m often surprised by the way some things affect me and then others that I would brace myself for turn out to be not too bad. For example the other day we were doing some work on a maternity ward, a couple were signing in to give their baby as I waited to see if we could carry the work out. The ache I carry everyday burned so badly at that moment. I will never experience this. I braced myself for the whole way to the job and actually it wasn’t too bad, once the initial pain passed I was ok.

I was a little jealous looking at all those baby bumps and going into the delivery suite thinking I have no clue what it’s like to be here and I want to be here so badly. The little units with the little knitted hats waiting for a beautiful head to cover. But I left feeling a little sad, but ok.

A few hours later we went to a shopping centre to buy some new clothes for our holiday next week. We are going to Prague šŸ˜šŸ˜. The fitting room of cause had to be in the middle of the baby clothes. There was a little tiny pair of skinny jeans. They were for 0-3 months and were the cutest thing I have ever seen. They fit in my hand.

As I waiting for my husband to try his clothes on, I watched as families browsed the clothing and selected items and I felt such a huge wave of grief. Grief for a life I am not getting to live.

It’s like that movie sliding doors, in an alternative world I didn’t loose our babies and my husband and I are going through all these normal life experiences and my heart isn’t broken. We cradled my huge bumps while our little one kicked away and grew safe and strong protected by my body, we argued over furniture and colours for the nursery we spent time creating for them, we were able to buy the beautiful clothes for our children. That version of us doesn’t feel like a fraud for even picking up those little jeans. That version on me might have bought them in the right size for our children. You would feel the overwhelming love in our home. Love of our family.

There is a lot of love anyway. In the real version of our lives I am so happily married. I’m so completely in love with my husband fifteen years on. We get to travel a lot. We have nice things. We are happy. We have a lot to be thankful for. We just have this one part that hurts every day, it’s become part of our lives. Some days it’s just like white noise irritating but I can ignore it. Some days my grief screams so loudly that my chest aches. Those are the days I wish we didn’t have to experience it. I wish I could find a way to let go and be ok with it and that small things didn’t eat away at me , like perfect little jeans for a perfect baby we might never have.

Plan B ….

For as long as I have been aware, having a family was something I always wanted.

No one really tells you it’s not something you are guaranteed. Growing up I heard a lot of;

“When you get married and have kids of your own”

You don’t question it. It’s life’s plan. It’s what’s done.

Here’s my issue with that. What if it’s not? Why does it have to be? Someone choosing not to have children is no less valuable to society than someone that has had a car full of babies. Yet we are often made to feel less than, I even read an article claiming that professional woman are selfish for this decision.

Are you kidding me?! Apart from the fact you never know why that person hasn’t had a family if by choice or by circumstance or like for us there is an issue. It’s none of anyone else’s business.

Also you say selfish ….Who is it that covers holidays and sickness of those needing the extra days for their children?? I’m not ever bothered about doing this, or wasn’t before I was self employed. In fact I more than once offered to cover holidays etc because I know how important it is to be at home with your kids, but don’t call me selfish for it!! Don’t tell me I’m not contributing to society doing that takes more than reproducing.

One Christmas Eve some years ago when we had a working day as you do in media advertising. They announced they would be letting those with children leave early. Sitting there post failed fertility treatment, already slightly upset about Christmas I was so angry. Did my time with my husband mean less because we didn’t have children? Ironically it took one of my friends with children to point out how unfair and insensitive that was. I know it wasn’t done intentionally to hurt me or others like me, but the fact they didn’t think about that was infuriating.

Another really irritating example is the romantic movie industry. Hard nose business woman who puts her career first realised she should have married that high school boyfriend and had a family instead, because being a business woman is so horrible…. really? It’s a repeated message told over and over. Some people are happy to be single. Not everyone needs to find their prince or princess charming. Some people love their careers – what’s wrong with that?!

I could list a hundred examples of ways in which I was made to feel less than, less important, not in the “know” because I don’t have children, like there’s some secret language you get access to when you have a child.

Having a family is important to me, but it doesn’t define me. I know that’s funny because of the time I dedicate to writing about it but I feel like we need to point this out. I am able to function in society. I just feel like we should talk about plan b a little more.

We are 14 years into the whole trying for a family thing and as times gone on, so with it has grown a feeling of aimlessness. To find out where I fit in. While my friends and family around me are taking kids to nursery’s, school, children’s parties, events for children, we kind of sit on the sidelines not really fitting in. No one really talks about what next if it doesn’t work.

I get that this is such a personal journey so some people are more ok with it sooner than others. For me I never really have given up. I try. Then I will see a baby and I’m right back to yearning desperation.

I feel like certainly the last three years I have plodded along. Just waiting in case. I had renewed hope when I started to loose weight. Here I am 61lbs down and still no baby. I know we are heading for IVF weight but I have lost my focus. It feels like it’s not helped.

As anyone that reads my blogs regularly knows, I had a car accident that sent me into a spiral. I left my job and the industry I have worked in for the last 15 years. I needed a change. I needed a plan B and to find my way without the baby plan.

I’m tired of feeling aimless and less than. This change and starting my own business has given me new purpose. I don’t know if it’s going to work out. I know I have smashed my first months target that I projected for myself. But it’s early days. Maybe my business will be my baby. Who knows.

It’s important to think about what next if it doesn’t happen. I know how hard it is to think about it, but it’s time I did. I have to try to heal. I don’t think I will ever get to a point of giving up completely but having a new focus is helping. There are so many successful women out there killing it child free and happy.

I just want to not feel so upset when I think about our future. I want to enjoy the now instead.

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