Infertility can affect your marriage, your job, your self-esteem – in short, your whole life.
The key is not to let it take over.
“Do not let it control your life,” says Susan. “You can become a happy, whole person without children.”
It is natural to go through a period of grieving after finding out your infertility is permanent. It will probably last quite awhile. But if it goes on longer than you expected it would, or if you find yourself seriously battling depression, seek professional help immediately. Susan agrees. “Attend counseling whenever you can.”
“Expect a whole range of emotions,” says Sarah. “The woman and the man will have different emotional experiences and reactions. Another’s way of responding is not wrong, just different.”
Sarah also suggests having someone besides your spouse to confide in. “Join support groups, especially online ones where you can ‘vent.’ The internet is such a blessing. During my struggling years, this technology wasn’t available. I felt alone in my secret struggle.”
Confiding too much in a friend may or may not be a good idea. “It can backfire,” says Sarah, “and can also put a strain on the friendship. But do let your friends know you appreciate their concern. If someone keeps asking, just stop interacting with them for as long as you need to. True friends will eventually reconnect.”
Dawn advises women to “know your limits and not be afraid to make whatever choice is best for you. Being a mother is not the only purpose you have in life, and you can be fulfilled without delivering a baby.”
“Being a mother is just one avenue for women,” says Donna. “Unfortunately, most ladies don’t understand that there are many paths upon which we can walk and still maintain a level of femininity. Those paths include being a daughter, a friend, a wife, a professional, a lover, a leader, and a volunteer – whatever!
“And although we may not follow the yellow brick road to the delivery room, we still give birth to other things – creativity, love, personal development, small businesses, passion, and an infinite world of other things and ideas. In fact, I truly believe that those of us who are not mothers tend to have more fulfilling lives -- we do not live our lives vicariously through the lives of our kids but rather, develop our own identity based on the plethora of interests and abilities that make us unique.”
Donna’s final thoughts are a fitting way to conclude this four part series on infertility:
“When most of us were growing up, we were EXPECTED to be moms. There’s such social pressure to reproduce. As non-parents, we are not included in many social arenas, and are treated like outcasts from the human race. And that’s just not fair and reasonable. It's up to us to set the example that motherhood is only ONE option for young women. We need to prove to people that we CAN and DO live fulfilled and satisfied lives as childless women. I try to encourage other CNBC (Childfree Not By Choice) women to step up to the plate and choose to be happy with what we can do, rather than what we can’t have. Being childless doesn’t mean settling on an empty life.”
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This concludes my four part series on infertility at Married No Kids. Although this topic was not relevant to the majority of visitors here at MNK, it was an important one to tackle nonetheless. It is difficult for many women struggling with permanent infertility to find support, since most sites on the topic focus more on overcoming it than dealing with the finality of it. I am glad to have gotten to know the women quoted in these articles, and am happy to share their stories with you.