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The Childless Mother

Dealing with infertility and finding happiness

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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 ?!

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 😂😂😂. 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 🙄🙄. 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 😂😂. 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 🙈🙈😂. 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.”

🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ One day. Who knows. ❤️❤️

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. ……. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️ 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 😁😁. 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.

The Last Stone Blogs: from zero to hero …. or not.

I have never been a fan of exercise. I don’t get the enjoyment that many do, the exception perhaps is jogging. I do not mind this so much.

So now imagine if you will the most sedentary person ever, desk job, drives everywhere, has a gym membership for no reason at all because she never goes. This is me. I had a desk job that I loved, I sold advertising space. I get such a buzz from the chase of a sale and closing that deal is awesome. Since loosing Gavin my cousin however it’s become almost impossible to find that passion. I have plodded to say the least. I needed a change.

It has taken a serious car accident for me to take a good look at my life. To see why I was feeling so desperately unhappy and sadly I concluded this job that I loved was perhaps it. For various reasons I won’t bore you with but I knew I had to change.

We made the decision for me to go into business myself. With the help of my husband who has worked in the blind industry for over 15 years, I have picked up a thing or two. I love interior design. I love to create beautiful spaces it seemed only natural to take my artist skills and put them into our business. To make money for us rather than a large company.

I have gone from a slow moving desk job to a physical manual labour role. As part of our business we fit blinds for commercial outlets. Which means I have to work on building sites regularly. I do this as a labourer. It’s a drastic but welcome change!!

These changes to our life mean we have to question the choice of continuing to try for children right now. Financially it would be crazy now we are down to one wage effectively until my business builds. My brain tells me that’s the sensible choice. My heart does not agree and I am struggling with letting that go right now.

The increase in activity and new routine means I am having a hard time sticking to plan. Finding the balance will be hard and so for the moment I am just looking to protect the loss I have so far. I need to look at nutrition and the best food to fuel my body to cope with the physical work I will now need to do as well as build strength. That will have an impact on my losses.

I will continue to weigh in of cause but I need to accept it might not show me what I want for a little while at least.

Starting a business is terrifying. I don’t know if it will work. I do know I will work harder than anymore to make it stand a good chance. It’s already off to an amazing start.

I just now need to figure out how to go from zero to hero for fitness. Wish me luck. 😂😂😂😂

A Moment For My Husband.

I am an open book.

I share myself because it helps me and I have friends and family all over the world online that support us. My blog started as a diary to help me through the infertility journey, I didn’t expect to reach so many with it.

Some people don’t understand the enthusiasm to share, they are perhaps very private people. I respect that. I am not that person, it didn’t help me to keep it to myself.

I have always been a heart on my sleeve type person. I trust probably too easily even though I have been burnt by that, by people who would choose to use your vulnerability against you. I still won’t change. It started because I just wanted the painful thoughts to go through me and out into the world. I continue because people sharing our pain gain comfort in my words and knowing they aren’t alone. I’m proud of that. I am protective of our community.

My husband supports me no matter what, though he is someone that shares very little. His circle is small and if you are in it you are lucky. He’s incredibly kind hearted, funny, supportive and just my best friend. I know that’s a sappy over used phrase, but it’s the truth. We have been together over 15 years and he still makes my stomach flip.

Those of you on this journey will know it’s hard on your relationship. My husband wasn’t someone who wanted kids desperately, he was happy if it was us two or if we make it to a three (maybe four) well he would be happy too. So I haven’t ever felt pressured massively. I have felt guilt, of cause, because he won’t have a child because I can’t give him that and believe me when I say he would make an amazing father.

Both of us were raised by awesome women, our dads left us young. You would think that would scare him off being a father himself but it doesn’t. The close relationship with his mother moulded him into the wonderful man he is today. He would be a great dad, our kids would be so lucky. He’s kinda cool. Don’t tell him I said that lol.

The focus when couples go through this is often on the woman, perhaps because on the whole we will share how it is effecting us a little more. I found as I have written before, when I miscarried our babies everyone rallied around me I was bearing the physical pain as well as the mental but he felt it too. Maybe even worse because he could only watch helplessly. Comforting someone you love that much, falling apart in front of you is a horrible position to be in. It’s hard to know how to help. People often don’t know what to say to him, maybe they worry he won’t want to talk, maybe they would be right. He will often say “I’m fine!” When I know he’s not.

I always know how lucky I am. I remind myself everyday. We are a team. Together we can face anything. We have had some trying moments, particularly over the last two years. All of that came crashing around me the last month. I feel like he has literally picked me up and put me on his back to keep us going. I can’t ever thank him enough for that. I haven’t felt able to face to world, it feels like he’s protecting me from it, even though the big changes we are experiencing are terrifying. He probably would just like to give me a shake. He hasn’t he has just been there for me.

Infertility can take so much from you. It’s so important to acknowledge and appreciate the good things. Just be thankful for what you do have. Today I wanted show that to him, to just take a moment to say we are a team and I couldn’t be more proud of what we have. Life’s very short, I would feel sad if when I look back at this time all I could think about was the struggle and pain. There has to be more. It might not be the life we imagined but it’s ours and It’s still wonderful. ❤️❤️

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