Cutting The Strings

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This post has been a long time in coming. Truthfully, this should have been written a few months ago. However, between preparations for the audit at work and having just recently had the conversation with Hubby a week ago, the timing just didn’t seem right.

A year ago earlier this month, I was in Chicago interviewing for the position that I now hold. The very same one that has given me much stress and headaches over the past 11 months. The same one that has made me realize exactly how strong I really can be … without the hormonal emotions getting in the way.

I specifically mention the “hormonal emotions” for a reason. That’s because when I look back during those active “baby-trying” years , I can now see how much strength I needed in order to get me through that period.

Except I can honestly say that I never feel that I was strong at all during that time period. I felt as I was living day-to-day, hoping that somehow I would catch a break from all the “hard work” I was putting into starting my family.

Whereas with the “challenges” I faced this past year … well, they didn’t feel like a day-to-day struggle. There was always an end in site for each new challenge I faced. From the very beginning of “Operation: Move to Chicago,” there was a goal in mind that was achievable:

  •  
    • Find an apartment; check.
    • Start new job; check.
    • Survive living alone in new city for three months with seeing Hubby only on the weekends; check.
    • Get through six months at new job without being fired from “My way or the highway” boss; check.
    • Live through high profile work audit with dignity intact; check.

Everything I faced since moving here was (relatively) successful; with that bright light guiding me to the end of a dark tunnel.

Unfortunately that same bright light was never there when facing the darkness that is infertility.  And, in my case, definitely not successful … at least in the way that I defined success.

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There’s this memory I have from back in my high school years. It’s back when Disney began to start re-releasing classic movies on VHS tapes. The idea was so that a person could own these movies before they were put back into the “vault” of classic Disney animation.

My mother totally bought into that smart marketing ploy. In fact, she bought many videos including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and … if I can recall, Sleeping Beauty. AND she wouldn’t even open them; storing them away in her dresser, in her own personal “vault.”

“Not fair,” I remember telling her. Especially since I loved Ariel and Belle. “Couldn’t we just open them up and watch them once?”

“No,” she had told me. She was saving them for her future grandchildren. So that she can sit down and watch these movies with them, whenever they came over to visit.

This memory, as inconsequential as it may seem to others, is one that cuts me incredibly deep. It’s a reminder of how I’ve failed to fulfill my parents’ dream of becoming grandparents.

Never mind that I already felt horribly bad that my body was not able to give my husband a child of his own. This specific memory reminds me that I’ve probably disappointed my parents as well. That I haven’t been able to give them the grandchildren that they’ve always wanted.

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I’ll be honest that one of the many reasons Hubby & I moved to Chicago was start fresh. There had been way too much emotional Infertility baggage that I had been carrying around for years. And although I had been working very hard at purging that baggage, I could never fully put it away … at least into a place within me that could make things manageable.

So putting some physical distance between myself and the baggage (which held waaay too many memories of hurt and disappointment), as well as the physical location where most of these memories occurred, was something I felt I needed to do.

And it’s with the blessing of my very supportive husband that we found ourselves moving out-of-state; away from the only “home” I had ever known.  All this is in effort to be exposed to new people and to be open to new challenges. To have a fresh outlook on where Hubby & I stand in our quest to have a family.

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Next October will be my 20th High School Reunion. Part of me is interested in seeing where everyone is at in this stage of life; to see how far they’ve come since we were teenagers. Then there’s the rebel in me that thinks, “Pshaw … HS Reunions are so ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’! We must break this cycle at once!”

And then there’s the Infertile (with a capital “I”) in me. The one with no children. The one with nothing exciting to show for my life over the past 20 years, other than a degree (only undergrad, to boot!) and a good job. I’ve no kids to brag about; I’ve no incredible 3,000 square foot house to talk about. All I have is a decent walk-up apartment in the city and fur children that shed hair all over the place, including my clothes.

At least I have an incredible husband who I can show off and brag about.

As it is, I’m still debating on whether I want to go or not. However, what I do know is that a bunch of the HS friends that I still keep in touch with, will be planning a more low-key get-together some time next year. That should, at the very least, be a “milestone” something to look forward to next year.

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I’ve had the pleasure of (finally) seeing my new family physician, not once but twice in the past few months. One was the quick one-over, “Hi, nice to meet you” -type of visit. The second was my yearly female parts check-up.

Both times my physician asked me if I was interested in pursuing further treatment for my infertility. And both times, I told my physician I still wasn’t ready to make that decision. I was in the midst of still adjusting to my new job in a new city.

And I needed more time to separate want vs. need, hope for the future vs. more disappointment, treatment vs. acceptance.

Let me say it’s extremely strange to go from living in one State where In vitro Fertilization (IVF) is not covered, to currently living in a State where it now is. To now have that option to choose what course of treatment that Hubby & I would like to pursue in creating our family.

For those that don’t know, infertility treatments are sometimes not covered by health insurance in certain States. There may be some aspects of treatments that are covered (such as the work-up and, at times, the medications), but for the most part infertility treatments — and specifically IVF is not.

The Infertile RN in me thinks it’s utterly cruel to allow coverage for the work-up of the infertility diagnosis and then turn around and not cover the treatment for it. Even though IVF is not a “guarantee” that one would be successful in starting a family, there’s still that little bit of chance that it becomes successful in “curing” that person’s infertility.

I relate it to treatment for cancer. Much like chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy is considered standard treatment for a person with such a condition … it’s never a “100% guarantee” that the cancer would be “cured” or go into remission.

It’s that double-standard in treatment of a health condition that bothers me the most about the lack of coverage in IVF treatments. Because, quite frankly … the RN Case Manager in me (the one who works for a health insurance company) strongly believes that people have the right to choose how they would like to pursue treatment and have the Health Insurance that I pay for assist in coverage for that treatment.

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This January, it will be a year since I’ve lived in Chicago. And April will mark the official date that Hubby & I will have lived together in this bright new city (well, new to us anyway).

During this past year, Hubby & I have had a chance to open our hearts and minds to different possibilities. We’ve had the opportunity to accept where we’re at when it came to reassessing our options in creating our family.

We’ve talked about IVF and the impact it may have emotionally for me … Both if it wasn’t successful and if it actually was. But even though we know the option of IVF is available to us in the fine State of Illinois, both of us have decided not to pursue that route.

We’ve also had the opportunity to discuss adoption more in depth. To decide if this was the right path for us to take. And the more we thought about it, the more we decided that this was also something we wouldn’t be a 100% comfortable with. (Okay, I admit it. It’s me. I’m the one who fears that I’ll just end up being disappointed again. And I fear that I’d get stuck down that rabbit hole of darkness once again.)

So what does this all mean? Well, readers. It means that Hubby & I have accepted that having children at this moment is not in our best interest. It means, that we have accepted the fact that we may never have children. (Okay, maybe it’s more like *I* accepted this fact, because Hubby was light years ahead of me in this thought.)

This means that we’ve consciously and deliberately have made the choice to begin living life child-free.

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It’s taken me more than 12 years, but I think I’ve finally reached some closure in my infertility journey.

Yet even as one door has closed in my life, I’m still learning to live with the reality of this decision. My infertility is no longer a daily struggle, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have those “moments.”

And those “moments” are the reason I choose to continue writing on this blog. Except now, instead of this blog being about the longing to have a children, it will be about trying to let go of this longing. About learning to look forward to my new future with Hubby. The new journey we’ll be taking together.

It’s about trying to break free from these Apron Strings.

32 Replies to “Cutting The Strings”

  1. I think making a conscious decision is so important. it’s a huge step on the road to healing, to your future. may it be filled with joy and wonder all the same.

  2. Fabulous post sweetie. I find myself identifying with you in lots of ways. While my parents were fine if we decided to live child-free due to our issues, his were decidedly NOT (is that a Filipino thing?) so we got a lot of pressure from them. (A lot of it kind of blaming me for not “trying hard enough” whatever that means)

    We also both decided IVF was definitely not for us… b/c of the cost but also very heavily b/c of the emotional and physical effects of it. I knew I couldn’t hack it and come back the whole person I wanted to be. Hub didn’t want to go through it either.

    And we had the ambivalence about adoption too, but mainly on Hub’s side, though that was our next step (and still may be in the future).

    We even had the same, “Hub could decide to live child free, but I couldn’t” issue.

    You say you have those moments even making a decision and of course you do! But I’m so glad you are feeling so in charge and stable. God that’s a good feeling after all the shit huh?

  3. I am proud of you. That is a hard thing to admit and then say out loud. We finally adopted. I know the pain, the struggle, the feeling of failure.

  4. What a profound and beautiful post Emily. You’ve been on such a long, winding, difficult journey and I’m happy that you are finding closure and peace in your decision/circumstances. You and your hubby make one amazing team that is for sure! Best wishes deciding whether to attend your 20th or not. I went to mine and wasn’t even married yet, but fortunately I was engaged and Tarzan was there with me, so I felt okay. Not too many people asked me if I had kids, because they knew I had never been married.

  5. (((Emily))) Eight years in, I still have lots of those “moments” & probably always will. May they become further & fewer in between for you as you & your dh move on in your new life together.

  6. Beautiful post. I don’t think the yearning for what should have been will ever go away, but hopefully it will be less painful. I’m 5 years in myself. it’s hard not to think I’ll be writing this post one day.

  7. Here from LFCA. I think you were the first person to comment on my blog back when I started it! I’m really proud of you for putting this post out there- it is beautifully written and it is a great solace to those of us who are still looking for some light at the end of the tunnel.
    T.

  8. Great post. It is really hard to come to a decision rather than just drift through life having decisions made for you by chance or circumstance. It takes courage.

  9. Every decision we make, whether to pursue treatment or to walk away, is hard — but the act of making the decision makes it our own. I’m not sure that “congratulations” is the right response, but that’s kind of how I feel; happy that you have a path that you’re comfortable with walking.

  10. I’m also here from LFCA and I just wanted to offer my support. This was a very incredibly moving post and I want to wish you all the best in your new journey.

  11. Em–
    I’m so happysad for you. I know that working through to come to this decision has been so hard for you. And I know that being infertile will never be easy, and the decision to live child-free was an incredibly difficult one, and one that you will think about for the rest of your life.

    But, that said, I know what an incredible peace it must bring to you to have come to that place where you feel that a decision could be made. So, I’m sad for your loss, but so happy that you’ve found a way off of this infertility merry-go-round that works for you and your super-husband.

    I’m wishing you continued peace and healing as you move forward in this next phase of life.
    -kate

  12. To be honest, I am not sure what to say, because I have a child and anything could come across incorrectly.

    Let me just try this (and hope that I don’t offend): Congratulations on taking a step forward to living your life again. Congratulations to breaking free of the endless cycle of cycles. I will be thinking of you and praying for you while you move into this next phase.

  13. While I am now pregnant, we were three cycles away from calling it quits. What helped me decide our stopping point and feel ok with it was to embrace all the things possible when you are child free. I designed my dream car online, I made travel plans, I thought about glass filled apartments in the city. So much of my life was on hold for so long, that telling myself all the good things we could experience really helped. I don’t know if that will help you, but it helped me.

  14. This is a very powerful post. I remember when we decided enough with IVF and ART. It was so draining. I hope you can find peace with your decision. It is a big step.

  15. Beautifully said. Heartbreaking. You know I am here to listen at any time, without judgement, just love for a long-lost and refound friend.

    ps We most likely will not go to the 20th. Various reasons as well. Hope to meet up for our Rebel thang, but having reconnected with several of you is all my soul needs.

  16. I don’t think saying I’m “happy” for you is the right choice of wording, but I’m proud of you and love your strength and courage. We’ve not made the decision to live child-free and truthfully we’re not there yet. But I can see that option now where even a year ago I couldn’t. Some days I worry that it means I’m giving up, but I don’t think it does.

  17. I am so proud of you ! You made it through this year as hard as it was and met it all head on. And in the midst of it all …you have begun to heal.
    Love and Miss you…

  18. I too am proud of you for making that decision. I know it was a hard decision and one not considered lightly. I wish and hope that you will find much peace for the years to come with this decision. Good for you!

  19. That is a very profound post! I applaud the courage it took to come to this discision. I can’t imagine everything you have been though but I just wanted to tell you this was very moving!! Thank you for sharing. And good luck in the future!

  20. Your decision to lead a child-free life (I deliberately use the word “free” rather than “less” because your life is yours to choose freely and doesn’t have to be “less.”) is a very brave one. You have taken back control over your life and found your inner core of strength. I don’t think I could have made the same decision with such a clear vision that it would all be okay. Knowing myself, I may have made the decision but remained conflicted and torn up inside. You deserve a lot of credit. It’s wonderful that the decision was made with your partner.

    I hope you don’t mind that I copy part of your post here so that I can respond to it.
    “This specific memory reminds me that I’ve probably disappointed my parents as well. That I haven’t been able to give them the grandchildren that they’ve always wanted”

    I hope that these thoughts have gone now. I understand them coming to you, but I want to erase them from your mind. I know that parents have an expectation that their children will provide them with grandchildren. However, I don’t believe that any loving mother would fail to see that the hole is so much bigger and emptier in your life than in hers. Parents don’t want to see their children suffer and that’s what pains them about infertility.

    You have also made me aware that I have already begun the talk about having grandchildren some day with a daughter who is still a young girl. I put away a few token pieces of her clothing and stuffed animals for “her children.” As a woman who struggled and fought to have children myself, I can hardly believe that I was heaping my expectations upon her. I will be more careful from now on, so that I don’t invade her subconscious with this message.

    Lisa

  21. Dropping by from A Fresh Start – love your writing and your post. I’ve just started my IF blog and I just want to say hi. Cheers for your new journey…may you have plenty of wonderful moments with hubby. 🙂

  22. Oh my goodness, how I wish blogging had been around when I was deciding to go childfree. It’s so nice to have the sense of community and that there are others out there. Of course, I’m so sorry that you had to make the decision to go child-free, but I applaud your strength and conviction. Like you we decided not to IVF and like you, adoption ended up not being part of the equation.

    As I relapse into “one of those moments” it’s nice to be able to find others that have also wrestled with the decision and have come out the other side.

    Thanks so much for the blog – I’m a newfound reader and happy to be here.

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