The most difficult part of my infertility struggle wasn’t the miscarriages I endured or the failure to become pregnant each month. Believe it or not, it was accepting an involuntary childless life.
I knew it was time to close the door on trying to conceive when my mental health hit rock bottom. After ten years of non-stop IVF treatments, the medication became more intense, causing severe anxiety – I was at an all-time low. Over the years it felt as though my husband and I had wasted thousands of pounds only to keep getting IVF fails! Deep-down, I knew we were heading towards a childless path when two rounds of banked egg didn’t pass the stress test after thawing. It meant more money down the drain, including our hopes and dreams of becoming parents. How on earth could we justify spending more money on further treatment? Wishing and praying the next time worked, we gave it one last shot. Hooray, the test was positive! Unfortunately, the joy was short-lived and my path to motherhood was permanently over when my final pregnancy ended in early miscarriage. It was the start of a very different life.
These were the main reasons for stopping, but not the only ones. The isolation hit so deep it scared me. For years I’d avoided people for fear of comments such as, “when you having a baby?”. I would dread social spaces because I’d feel like the elephant in the room and I couldn’t bear to be surrounded by those who’d say throw away comments, for instance, “just relax” or “pray harder”- people who didn’t know what living with infertility felt like a day in their life! In these moments I felt so alone and excluded. The final notch on the infertility belt was when the pain of ‘trying’ became harder than the pain of ‘letting go’ – aka, ‘giving up’. I really didn’t like who I was becoming on this journey and concluding that I could no longer live like this: It was infertility or me, and I chose me!
The transition to a childless life was a painful one and I approached my path to healing from many different angles. Therapy, coaching, faith and self-help played a huge part in my recovery. It took an enormous amount of work (as much effort as I ploughed into trying to conceive) to get to a place of contentment. Finally, I began to live a life I enjoy. I no longer feel the need to justify what my ‘plan B’ looks like, a very different attitude to when I first embraced childlessness – growth! I’m often asked if I experience moments of grief. Absolutely, is the truthful answer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t thrive in the life I’ve been given and fortunately, these painful thoughts don’t take up the space they used to. My eureka moment appeared during the healing process, this led me to quite literally quit my day job and begin mindbodyrevival_coach The aim when starting this was to provide 1:1 support to those who’ve been on a similar journey to my own.
If your infertility story is about to end without a baby, I want you to know there is hope and that a life without children can be equally fulfilling. You can search the hashtags #embracingchildless #childlessnotbychoice for community. There are many of us already treading this path, so wherever you find yourself, you’re welcome here.
Aisha is a certified Coach and the founder of mindbodyrevival_coach she also writes and speaks about the impact of being involuntary childless when the journey to parenthood ends without a baby. To find out more go to: www.mindbodyrevivalcoach.com or follow @mindbodybodyrevival_coach on Instagram
15 years ago when I met my husband, I had it all planned out… house, marriage, kids, dog. I never once thought I would have to compromise on one of those things. And yet here we are 15 years later; 7 years trying to conceive and 2 failed IVF cycles later, I’m not sure I have come to terms with being childless, but it’s a decision I knew we had to make.
After the last IVF cycle where yet again, we had no embryos to freeze and just one low quality to transfer, I had convinced myself as we were paying privately, it would work. So, we agreed this would be our last cycle because we couldn’t afford another and mentally it was taking its toll. I agreed because I still had hope, I still thought this cycle would work and I would get 2 in the freezer for later. It’s funny what you agree to when you think it’s something that won’t happen, but the moment we had our negative test and it was confirmed the embryo hadn’t taken, the reality set it.
I knew it was time to move on; I had spent the majority of my 20s and half of my 30s focused on trying to conceive. I was mentally drained and physically bruised; I wanted my life back.
It was only 7 months ago; I feel okay about it, but I still have days where I am angry, frustrated, and feel “why me”. I am slowly learning to live with the decision we’ve made, but I don’t think I’ll ever quite come to terms with it. Why should I? It is a decision I should never have to make; having babies is natural… right?
Over time, I’m getting mentally stronger and learning to cope, knowing I can’t live another 7 years in the same cycle for something that isn’t guaranteed.
Joanne Parry – @joanneclaireparry