Choosing childlessness after infertility was both challenging and easy. I felt peace yet, at the same time, anxiety. There was confidence in my decision as well as uncertainty. And perhaps the biggest whammy was the unrelenting guilt. Like I’d let everyone down. That I wasn’t giving everyone the storybook ending that was expected. Especially after battling endometriosis and infertility for so long. My one ovary and I weren’t going to prove everyone wrong. No, instead of fighting to pursue parenthood, I chose myself instead. When I was courageous enough to lay aside my pride. And to challenge my misplaced sense of duty and responsibility. Not only was I able to come to terms with my infertility and journey to choosing childlessness. I was able to find healing and reconnect with myself in a new way.
Once Upon A Time, I Was Choosing Childlessness By Choice
Motherhood was never on my radar. When I got married (even before I got married), I wasn’t planning to start a family. But, to be honest, pregnancy and motherhood freaked me out. The concept of sharing my body with another being unnerved me. And, shocker, I didn’t like babies.
Additionally, I felt uncomfortable and awkward around tiny humans. Hence why I was content being childless and never having children. I liked the idea of not being responsible for another’s well-being.
And, while I was vocal about my decision and choice to be childless. I don’t think anyone took me seriously. I was told that I’d change my mind for the most part. That I was too young to know what I wanted. It was too selfish of a decision, reckless, irresponsible. And, I didn’t want to live a life without purpose, empty, alone with no one to care for me when I was old. There are many things wrong with saying these phrases to women choosing childlessness and shaming them for deciding what to do with their lives. However, that is a whole other can of worms.
And I Eventually Stopped Choosing Childlessness
But, somewhere along the way, I began to feel the pressure after settling down and getting married. And, baby fever struck. Maybe it was my “biological clock” ticking. Or, perhaps everyone was right; I was too young and wild to make such a decision. But wasn’t it a silly decision anyway? I may not like babies and children but, it would all change when I had my own child, right? Then, I would see them and instantly fall in love. Nothing else would matter.
And, of course, society, family, and friends encouraged me. Beautiful depictions of pregnancy. The joys of life growing inside of you. And the instant bond between mother and child. Birthing a human and sharing your life, wisdom, and dreams. Someone to leave your legacy with. This vision of happiness and completeness fueled an insatiable need to procreate.
Yes, I needed to become a mother; it was a rite of passage. I wouldn’t be complete until I had a child. Perhaps I needed to have two or three, maybe even four. Then, I could implant my dreams and desires into them. Generations and generations would be birthed from my womb.
Furthermore, I would be loved and accepted when I became a mother. I wouldn’t lose friends anymore. I would finally be invited into the club and could be a part of something bigger than myself. Playdates, swapping advice about the best way to breastfeed. And the latest fad in the mommy circle. My life would finally have a purpose. I’d stay home and raise my child. Perhaps I’d homeschool so we’d be together always. The perfect stay-at-home mom.
Next Came Infertility
Enter the whirlwind of trying to conceive. Stopping birth control. Moving to be closer to family. When I was finally pregnant, I could share the experience with them. Learning all about fertility and the best way to get knocked up. Starting fertility diets that guaranteed pregnancy. The negative pregnancy tests. Being told to visualize my pregnancy, to see my future child. More negative pregnancy tests. Having late periods and looking for signs, clues that I was pregnant. Then more negative pregnancy tests. Created a Pinterest board with all the things I would get my baby. Talking with my husband about names.
Watching everyone else around me getting pregnant and telling me that my time would come. All while I remained childless, not pregnant, stagnant. Then the countless speeches about never giving up. Finally, being told I needed to do IVF because it worked for this one couple. Looking into it, seeing the expense, then freaking out.
Then having someone tell me to foster or adopt because so many kids out there need a home. Then, googling the process and cost of adoption and fostering. Then, seeing the time and expense, it took and freaking out. Then, having people share sexual positions, I should try. And all the other wacky (and creepy) advice. But, whatever I did, I wasn’t supposed to give up or stop trying. Just keep fighting; my rainbow baby would come.
Then Endometriosis Took Over
And, for a while, I fought until I couldn’t. Until endometriosis took over and claimed my body. Stealing my fertility and any hopes for starting a family. Then, being told that I had two large chocolate cysts on both my ovaries. I discovered I may need to have a hysterectomy because I could have ovarian cancer. Crying and scared about my future. Pleading with my surgeon to leave at least one ovary if possible.
Learning that even with one ovary, my fertility odds would be reduced. That I had an increased risk of early-onset menopause and primary ovarian insufficiency. I would possibly remain infertile, barren, and unable to become pregnant. Or, maybe just maybe, I would become lucky. However, in the pit of my gut, I knew that no generations would come from my womb. Instead, I was left with only emptiness.
And Grief Swallowed Me
To say that I was ashamed, bitter, and frustrated was an understatement. I saw countless others become pregnant and would cry. But I can’t give up hope, right? I needed to get serious about fertility treatments and IVF. I needed to find a way to make it happen. Start a Go Fund Me. Convince myself that I could give myself shots. Screw my absolute fear of needles. I hungered for a happy ending. Two to become three.
I had to defeat endometriosis and prove my body and the world wrong. It couldn’t take me out. I had to be the hope and inspiration for others and myself. T say that I overcame, I won.
I Experienced A Change of Heart
But, something began to slowly shift in my heart post-surgery. I didn’t have chronic pain anymore. My quality of life had suddenly improved, and I didn’t struggle with flare-ups. But, this strange new body was alien to me, and I had to adjust. Furthermore, I didn’t feel this rush to start trying again. I wasn’t ready to jump on the TTC bandwagon. After all, I’d been through, couldn’t I just enjoy my body for a little while? Take the time to enjoy a body that wasn’t held hostage to pain and dysfunction.
I told myself I just needed a year, and indeed I’d be ready by then, right? But, once the year passed, I still didn’t feel ready. It still didn’t feel right. I was just now starting to enjoy my life. My life felt complete. I had my husband, pups, and a passion for writing and creating. I was happy. I was content. I wasn’t as lonely and broken as before. I didn’t feel empty, barren, and desolate. Quite the opposite, I felt motivated, inspired, strong, sure of myself, and balanced. I didn’t need a baby to complete me anymore. I didn’t need motherhood to create a successful life. It wasn’t a benchmark I felt the hunger to pursue and accomplish.
And, I Started to Transition Back to Choosing Childlessness
Eventually, I had to accept that I just didn’t want to pursue motherhood anymore. My mindset and the desires of my heart changed instead of marveling over the joy and beauty of pregnancy. I realized that I would have to share my body with another living being for nine months. Then I’d have to birth a baby, and my body would become theirs in a sense. After that, I would have to share my body with something other once again. Yes, I find the joys and wonders of creating life, pregnancy, and motherhood beautiful. Ho ever, due to my season battling a chronic illness and fighting for my mental sanity, it didn’t seem like a beautiful experience for me. All I saw was oppression and imprisonment. And, after years of endometriosis holding my body captive, tortured, and beaten. I knew that mentally I wasn’t up to the challenge anymore.
I didn’t want to put my life on pause again either. In addition to my struggle with endometriosis, I’ve also battled with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Li ing in depressive episodes for prolonged periods stole a good chunk of my life. Furthermore, the pain of endometriosis stole even more of my life. This is why the prospect of having to halt my life for pregnancy and parenthood became less and less appealing. I was revisiting the same feelings and emotions I’d had about parenting in my early 20s. And, I was coming to the realization that I wasn’t willing to fight for this. I wanted peace, healing, and restoration. To let go and enjoy life. And so, I let go. I stepped off the ride and walked away from the circus.
And, Then The Guilt Came
But, with this freedom came guilt. I felt guilty for every little thing. First, I felt guilty for not seriously pursuing IVF. I opted to stay away from the hormones, needles, expense, and lack of guarantees. Then I felt guilty because I didn’t want to experience pregnancy. Living in pain both mentally and physically has made me selfish. And, I’m not interested in sharing my body or my life with anything else again. And I feel guilty that I’m letting others down. Because they wanted it more than I did. The often subtle expectation others had that I’d do whatever it took. Yet, the reality was I didn’t want to do whatever it took.
Lastly, there’s the guilt that there is a small possibility that I have a small, slight shot at motherhood. Yet, I’m opting to turn away from it. I never tried to conceive post-surgery. I didn’t seek to determine how fertile or not fertile I was or am. And, I think that’s the worst. The fact is, despite the potential possibility, my decision is still the same. And, I don’t want to go through the hurt, the disappointment, and the loss all over again. I don’t want to pursue something that my heart is no longer thirsting for. And I won’t risk my health to accomplish motherhood at all costs.
Moving Towards Peace
Isn’t ironic? Do ‘t you think? That all these years later, I came full circle. And at the end of it all, I chose childlessness. Don’t misunderstand; there was a season in my life I wanted to be a mother. I wanted children. Ma be have two little rambunctious, obnoxious boys. Ho ever, at the end of the day, it just wasn’t suitable for me. My body tried but couldn’t overcome endometriosis and infertility. And my heart lost interest and pursued other things.
However, I don’t regret the years that I tried to conceive. Additionally, I don’t regret wanting to become pregnant or desiring to share my life with children. Even though it brought me so much heartache, grief, and confusion. I believe it’s a natural desire. Everyone wants to immortalize themself and see their face and life reflected back at them. We all want to leave a legacy in the form of a human. The idea that our bloodline will carry on from generation to generation is a novel aspiration.
However, I found an alternative happily ever after. Whi e it didn’t end with some miracle pregnancy. I’m ok that it didn’t. Contrary to what some people think, choosing childlessness isn’t some big scary void of brokenness and bitterness. I’m not wailing and bemoaning my fate. I m an I grieved absolutely. But I moved forward. I healed, sought peace, achieved restoration, and found freedom. Not all infertility journeys end with a baby. Whi e some find a baby at the end of their rainbow. Oth rs, find peace, happiness, and a new identity. But something I’ve learned is that not all happy endings are the same. And that my rainbow ending isn’t any less worthy or unique.