Child-Free Infertility

Bad Blogger

IMG_1479Well hello there strangers. I know … it’s been a while and I sincerely hope everyone is doing well in the Land of IF, cities in Between and points Beyond.

There is no excuse for not writing on this blog very much. The truth is, I haven’t had much to say in regards to living child-free (NOT by choice). And anything I’ve had to say about things has really been small snippets on my Facebook page about articles I’ve shared.

You see, unlike 15 years ago when I first started this infertility journey (well, actually, it’s been closer to 20 years, now that I think about it … yikes!), there is a lot more media surrounding IF. Seriously … where was all this support when I needed it?!

Social media aside, I’m just truly grateful that it was through the blogosphere that I met many wonderful people going through this infertility journey with me. Most of us have now resolved our infertility journeys; some managed to have biological children of their own either naturally or by way of IVF (one of them had TWINS!), some of them became adoptive parents, and some even became step-parents. And some of them … well, some sort of combination of all of the above!

As for me, I have pretty much resolved the fact that I will never have biological children of my own for these facts:

  • I am over 40 years old
  • I’m pretty sure I’m going into early menopause
  • Adoption for us is way beyond our financial means
  • I am way too exhausted to think of parenting at my age
  • Being over 40, I cannot fathom having to raise a child now and be close to (or even over) 60 by the time they graduate from high school

 

Unfortunately, these facts don’t stop some well-meaning family members from thinking I’m going to have some sort of miraculous conception. (We won’t even go into our recent trip to the Philippines.)

Monasterio de Santa Clara

Monasterio de Santa Clara (click on picture)

 

So what brings me out of my semi-retirement? A damn movie.

But first let me clarify something. While we may have reached the end of our IF journey, this doesn’t mean that some things can slap us in the face and make us fully aware that we are not the norm … that we are quite different than the rest of everyday society.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned to accept that Hubby & I are on a unique path of our own (just like every other person / couple / family is). I’ve gotten used to answering “No” to when new friends, acquaintances, or other professionals ask us if we have any children. And I’m certainly used to and am very comfortable in explaining why we don’t either. I can stand on my own (without crying, to boot!) when discussing infertility and the emotions that a person goes through while traveling on that journey. I can be rational about debating why adoption isn’t for us. I can even easily ask and converse with others about their children without feeling inferior.

But every once in a while, there’s something that happens that can have me contemplating why we chose this Child-Free-Not-By-Choice life. Or has me feeling, once again, that I’m alone in the world of other adults that are parents … and that I can’t possibly know what it’s like to be one of them.

This time it’s a movie … particularly one that is specifically aimed towards motherhood and all the horrible things that occur during parenting a child.

Okay, I get it. Yes … motherhood isn’t always glamorous. In fact, I’d say the only time everyday parenting looks glamorous is on Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram … or any other social media outlet out there. And that’s only after 5 GAZILLION retakes to make it “just perfect.”

IMG_2318But it’s still something that I can’t fully understand.

Because, for being “over-worked, over-committed and exhausted to the point that [these moms are] about to snap” (directly from the plot summary, BTW)? I will never know what it’s like to feel that way. As a Mom, anyway.

And yet … Well, here’s something for all those moms out there:

Those feelings – while not as “ongoing on a daily basis”-type of way – are what those who have experienced / are experiencing infertility go through on a month-to-month basis.

Nothing hits you straight in the gut with a pregnancy test that doesn’t have that second line … and knowing you’ll have to go through the same treatments (-ie- shots, pills, holistic treatments, all of the above) for yet another month.

I know that I will eventually see this movie in the future (because – C’MON! The same writers as “The Hangover”?!). But next weekend, I’ll likely just chill with my Hubby and our four-legged child.

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PS. If you want know where “I’ve” been in social media lately, check out this Instagram account.

IMG_3547

Mixed Feelings

Hubby: “You make sure you wake me up before you take the test, okay?”
Me: “Okay, I’ll tell you when I have to go.”
Hubby: “No. Wake me up and tell me you’re going to take the test.”

So that’s what I did this morning at 6:30 am. Woke Hubby up to tell him I couldn’t hold it any longer. That I had to take the test now.

2 minutes later it was all over. We hugged each other and then crawled back into bed.

Hubby: “You okay?”
Me: (pauses) “Yes.”
Hubby: “You sure?”
Me: (pauses again) “Sure.”

But really I wasn’t. Eventually,  I told Hubby the truth. And the truth was that I had mixed feelings about the pregnancy test that I took this morning. 

It was negative. And I had mixed feelings about it being negative.

I was sad, that’s for sure. You see, I’m late with my period by over two weeks and there’s the part of me that was hopeful for a positive test after all these years. 

I won’t lie … I was already planning ahead; thinking about setting up a doctor’s appointment if the test came back positive. I had in my mind when the “maybe baby” would be due. And was deciding if Hubby and I would want to know the sex of the “maybe baby” or let it be a surprise. 

I was feeling hopeful.

Now that we know for sure that I’m not pregnant, I’m disappointed … but on the other hand, I’m also relieved. 

Relieved because I know that I’m 40 and I don’t know if I have the capacity to be a good “older” parent. Let’s face it, we’d be closer to 60 by the time our child would graduate from high school. If we were lucky, in our 70’s by the time our child married. And if we were really lucky, we’d have time to enjoy grandchildren. 

Oh, I know it’s no longer uncommon for women to get pregnant in their 40’s. However, 40 wasn’t the age I was planning to have children. I wanted them more than 15 years ago.

Besides, I’ve been coming to terms with living child-free after infertility. I’ve started to think of Hubby & me living our lives as a Family of Two. What would having a child now do to this new path in life?

I’m feeling other emotions (like good old Catholic guilt), but sadness and relief are the predominant ones. I’m sure that these feelings will fade with time, as everything eventually does. But for now, since it’s still fresh … I’m just going to let me feel what I feel. 

 

Life … As I Know It

I’m sitting at a coffee house listening to one of the many playlists that Hubby has made from our digital library of music. It’s a chill mix; one I like to listen to when contemplating life.

It’s been a long time since Hubby & I just hung out at a coffee house, sipping warm lattes and surfing the web. For me, it provides the downtime I need in order to focus on writing something … anything.

Life. I might as well talk about what life has been for me lately. It seems it’s all about work during the weekdays; especially since I work about an average of 45-50 hours a week. By the time I get home on the weekdays, I’ve got little energy to do more than eat dinner and watch some TV with Hubby.

Weekends are different. I take my weekends seriously, in the fact that I like to relax and do things I like. Like sleep in. Read. Catch up on recorded TV shows. Go to the movies. I’m hoping to add writing back on that list, as I want to continue on with this blog.

I know I’m lucky to have the time to do these things on the weekend because most of my counterparts don’t have the same luxury. Facebook friends talk about how their weekends are filled with kid-related activities; things I know they’re proud of sharing (rightly so!).

However, after almost three years (has it been that long?!) of accepting a child-free life and speaking openly about it, I’ve now begun to hear the phrase “You’re so lucky” more often. As in, “You’re so lucky you don’t have kids to wake you up on weekends.” Or, “You’re so lucky that your lives don’t revolve around your kids’ schedules.”

I don’t know how to take that. On one hand, it’s true … all of it. Yet the other hand holds those small pieces of my broken heart that still mourns the fact that I don’t have any children.

Then I think, “Do they really feel that way? Or are they just saying that to make me feel better?” I once had someone told me that I look so much younger than I do because I don’t have kids. It’s statements like that, that have me doubting the sincerity of some people.

I know it shouldn’t matter; that I should just let the words roll off my shoulder. And for the most part, they do. It should … it’s been just about three years, right? It’s just once in a while I still feel those small bits of my heart that long to have children.

So that’s my life these days. Work during the weekdays. Play during the weekends. And every so often, contemplate what my life would be like if I did have kids.

Thirty Day of Thanks, Day Seventeen

You know what I like? Going to the movies. So today Hubby & I took the afternoon off to catch a film.

Originally, we were supposed to see Lincoln, but was surprised to find out it was all sold out. So instead, we went to see Breaking Dawn. 

Yes, I know … but what can I say? I enjoyed reading the Twilight books, so I had to see the movies. And since this was the last movie of the series, I just had to wrap it up. That, and see Taylor Lautner’s abs for one last time.

But I digress.

What I’m thankful for today is that Hubby & I get the opportunity to watch movies when we want to. That’s one thing I know that most families with kids can’t typically do on a whim.

Guess that’s another bonus for living child-free.

Thirty Days of Thanks, Day Twelve

Great Italian Food

Dinner (mostly) by candlelight

Wonderful conversation

Thankful for a romantic dinner with Hubby

And thankful we can do this “spur of the moment.”

Forty

I’m turning 40 tomorrow.

Yep, it’s a milestone birthday; one that makes you ponder what I’ve done for the past decade. And while I might not have done everything I thought I would in the past 10 years (you know get pregnant and start our family and all …), I know that I’ve done enough to make my 30’s a memorable decade.

Turning 40 seems like I should be turning over a new leaf. I should eat better, exercise more, be more financially responsible. It’s like New Year’s Resolutions, except in July. And I don’t know about you … but I tend to fall off the “Resolutions wagon” midway into the second month.

At least I get a whole decade to turn over this leaf.

Seriously though, I hope that my 40’s is a lot less drama and a lot more fun. I hope that Hubby and I continue to find new and exciting ways to live our child-free lives fully and not in the shadow of living childless. (I see travel in our near future!) So that’ll be what I aim for over the next 10 years.

Here’s to jumping feet first into my 40’s!

 

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

The irony doesn’t escape me. It’s 5:15 am and –thanks to our dog — who refuses to sleep, I’m wide awake.

It’s not as if I’ve had a difficult time falling asleep … it’s more that I can’t seem to stay asleep. If anything, all I want to do is climb under the covers and fall into a deep, deep sleep. Depression can obviously do that.

And with me, depression can cause waves and waves of anxiety, which only add fuel to the insomnia-fire.

Recently Hubby and I had one of our long discussions (one of many we’ve been having lately). This one happened to start off with an innocent comment our 15-year old nephew had said last Sunday when we met them for lunch.

“Auntie,” he told me, “you look sad” . And I couldn’t tell him any differently, other than to say that I’d been tired a lot lately.

My husband brought that up during our discussion as a means to show me how even a 15-year old could see my depression. And if he could see it, how many other people would see it as well?

All I know is that over the years, I have changed. Oh … I think the heart of me — my center — will never change, but the way I’ve looked at things or approach things have definitely been altered from my life experiences.

I know these thoughts are no different than any other person in their late 30’s/early 40’s. After all, isn’t this when we begin to look back at our lives to where we were and compare them to where we are now? Isn’t this where we reflect back on those dreams we had in our early 20’s and think about whether we’ve achieved them or not?

You see, as I approach 40 this year, this is one of the anxiety-ridden things I think about frequently. I think about our early post-college years where then-fiance and I would dream about our future together. We’d dream about our married life together; of kids and the large house in the suburbs. We’d talk about how our kids would be into sports or some sort of activities where we would be the proud parents who’d show up with video cams in hand to record such moments. We talked about vacations as families.

And, of course, I also had my dream of wanting to be a Stay-At-Home-Mom for a spell, while waiting for our four (yes, four) kids to all be old enough to go to school. I also dreamt about making friends with other Mom’s; friends of our kids, where we could hang out and commiserate about daily life with kids. I dreamed of arranging playdates and birthday parties and all these wonderful things I could do when I became a mother.

But we all know where those dreams went. Our best laid plans … right down the potty.

While making the decision to live child-free has lessened the “blow” to my need to maternalize (is that even a word?), it hasn’t taken away the fact that I have had to face the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” when coming to terms with my infertility.

In other words, in order to figure out what our next step in child-rearing would be … Hubby & I had to walk that “boulevard” alone. Together, yes definitely … but alone.

So now that the we’ve passed that boulevard … and even though it’s been almost two years now … what do we do now? What’s our next step? What’s our goal? I know that children aren’t in our future, but so what is our new future?

It’s all of those worries that keep me from having a full night’s sleep. It’s what causes me anxiety in the middle of the night.

Which direction in life do we need to be heading? What we can do with our lives now that we’re closing in on 40 … the decade where we should feel more “settled” in our lives?

It has all the makings of a dreamless night. A night where I’m not sure what our new dream is going to be.

Which, again. The irony doesn’t escape me.

How Winter Kills

Like the snow in Metro Detroit, I’ve been in and out of everyday life. And like the snow, my mind should be ever present during this particular month, since it’s supposed to be the month of new beginnings; of making resolutions to change things.

But like the snow, I’ve only surfaced in bits in pieces whenever life seems to be most inconvenient.

This depression sucks.

No. I mean literally. It sucks the life and energy out of me. And throw in a (un)healthy dose of anxiety with it … well it just makes life all the more interesting.

I’m trying my best to move past this depression; doing all that I can physically and clinically do, but the weight of this sadness seems to be omnipresent.

Thank God for an understanding Husband; one who has stood by me through thick and thin. He’s been there through the low-hanging, non-anxiety moments and all the way through the high-octane drama-fueled moments. Sometimes I wonder – scratch that – I always wonder how I’ve managed to find my soulmate and my best friend who still loves me despite all the baggage I carry.

If anything, Hubby (and the furkids – although the fur-dog has been on my last nerve lately … ) is the reason why I keep getting out of bed every morning.

Even though I’ve written the occasional post about the grief I’ve been experiencing, I know I’m not usually so outright with my depression. But it has been suggested to me that I start writing more about it, because this seems to be the only outlet where I can openly talk about my struggles.

And although this blog is (and always will be) about living child-free after infertility, I thought that this was my little corner of the universe where I can tell you about my life, both good and bad. So here’s where I lay it out on the line:

  • I’m still grieving over the death of my father. Between my two parents, it’s become apparent to me over the past year and a half that I truly was a “Daddy’s Girl.” I thrived in the moments when my Dad would play around with me and tease me. And there were the silly jokes the two of us would play on each other that only the two of us would get. And I miss those things horribly.

 

  • In the same aspect, I realize how much different my relationship with my Mom has always been; particularly now that my Dad had passed. I’ve always known that we never had that “Mother-Daughter” bond that is constantly seen in movies and TV shows; we’re just two very different people. And without Dad being there as a buffer, this relationship has only intensified … and not always in a positive way.

 

  • Even though it’s been over a year since deciding to move back to Detroit, not a day goes by that I don’t miss living in Chicago. I miss the city and the atmosphere. I miss the late night trips to Dim Sum or Korean BBQ with my cousins. I miss walking.

 

  • But what I miss the most is that Chicago represented a new life for me. A life where Hubby & I carved out a place for ourselves; where the two of us really started focusing on us as a “Family of Two.” And while I love my hometown and take pride in telling people that I’m from Detroit, I miss that part of our lives where we were just far enough from “home” where Hubby & I could be our own family.

 

  • And finally … even though Hubby & I have decided that child-free living after infertility is our life, there are still those days where I worry about our future and what other things in our lives we can contribute to the greater good of our world. Will all I have to show at the end of my life is that I’ve worked hard for a living? That I loved my family and friends to the best capacity that I could? What about my legacy? What will I leave behind? And will I have made a difference in someone’s life? I know now that having kids won’t necessarily “satisfy” or provide answers to all of those questions, but having lost my Dad … and knowing the person he was … this is something that weighs heavily on mind.

 

I could probably go on with more “issues” that seem to run endlessly through my anxiety-ridden head, but these are the ones that are constantly in my stream of consciousness. These are the things that keep me from doing the things I would normally enjoy doing.

Like reading.

Or knitting.

Or taking pictures.

Or writing.

Or simply watching TV.

But I’m trying … at least I’ll try to work on the writing bit.

And maybe Mother Nature will be kind enough to work on a mild winter for the rest of us.

Up and Away …

Purpose

 

Hugo: Did you ever notice that all machines are made for some reason? They are built to make you laugh, or tell the time, or to fill you with wonder. Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn’t able to do what it was meant to do.

Maybe it’s the same with people. If you lose your purpose … it’s like you’re broken.

Isabelle: Like Papa Georges?

Hugo: Maybe … maybe we can fix him.

Isabelle: So is that your purpose? Fixing things?

Hugo: I don’t know. Maybe.

Isabelle: Then what’s my purpose?

Hugo: I don’t know.

Hugo: I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and type of parts they need.

So I figure if the entire world is big machine, I have to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.

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