there’s just no escaping it

The fact that I’m childless, not by choice.

No, there is no escaping this reality — the deep longing, the empty ache of my heart and arms, the silence in our home where a toddler should be playing. There is no forgetting our unfulfilled plans, our failures. There is no suppressing this primal urge, the instinct and desire to parent. There is no end to the lingering anguish over the fact that my baby boy is gone.

And yet, even if by some miracle these feelings were to somehow magically vanish, I could still never escape the painful, cold hard truth that I am childless. That my only real chance at becoming a mother may have died with my son. I cannot avoid the sad reality that we may never become parents, even though I know in my heart it’s what we were meant to do.

The reminders are constant — they are everywhere. Pregnancy announcements by friends and family. Baby showers, blessings, children’s birthdays. Expecting colleagues planning maternity leave. Pregnant strangers in the street. Bellies and strollers everywhere. Mothers and fathers with their children, or just talking about them. It’s a natural part of life, simply unavoidable. And our encounters will only continue as the children in our lives grow and have ever more occasions to celebrate — graduations, weddings, and some day even babies of their own. 

It’s not just the sight of bellies and strollers, or proud parents, or invitations to baby and child-centered events. Though some days that’s enough to put me over the edge. It’s everything we’ve wanted but can’t seem to have. It’s all the effort and failure. It’s every conversation I’ve wanted to join but won’t, every conversation I’ve wanted to run from but can’t. It’s being defined by loss and infertility. It’s being betrayed and defeated by my own body. It’s being the only childless couple in the room. It’s feeling incomplete and hopeless in the most profound way. It’s being left behind alone while life goes on… 

Even beyond the internal turmoil, it’s other things we can’t escape. It’s accommodating everyone else’s schedules because they have kids (of course). It’s being aware that our home is not child-proof when guests come over (why bother?). It’s having to drive because we don’t have a carseat in back (why would we?). It’s being expected to have time for all kinds of things because we don’t have kids (as if we don’t have busy lives already). It’s being told how lucky we are that we don’t have kids (who knew?). It’s being asked “are you sure” by tired parents (are you serious?). It’s being told don’t worry it will happen (by fertiles). It’s listening to women talk about how easy their pregnancies were (best to have your kids by 35!), and how wonderfully fulfilling their lives as mothers are, and about every little thing their children are doing. It’s all this and so much more. 

Yesterday we went for a walk in the hills by our house. It was a gorgeous, clear sunny day, and getting outside was perfect after a day of much-needed spring cleaning. I don’t get out enough, but when I do I enjoy the time to think and connect with nature. The fresh clean air clears my head and lifts my spirits. It’s an escape. As we were climbing to the top of the hill, I began to feel the fresh air reach deep in my lungs, and I paused to inhale the scent of wild sage growing on the hillside. It was so peaceful.

It was then that I saw on a huge rock at the top of the hill sat a young mother with a little girl. No problem, I thought, just offer a smile and hello and move on. As we got to the top, I could see she was also nursing a newborn, and she looked as happy and serene as you can imagine, just enjoying the day and the wonderful view with her beloved babies. Who could blame her? The scene was perfect.

In that moment, I realized once again that I can never escape the constant reminders and impact of infertility. Even in my momentary solitude, away from the everyday thoughts and encounters, I cannot escape reality. 

I can’t imagine how I will spend the rest of my life like this — trying to find ways to avoid the reminders, to escape the void of our childlessness. I know it’s impossible, unavoidable. I honestly don’t know how I will ever come to peace with that which I cannot change, or how I will ultimately cultivate the strength and courage to accept it. Like any life-altering challenge, I imagine that will be a lifelong process. 

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~ by luna on March 11, 2008.

23 Responses to “there’s just no escaping it”

  1. My heart just flip-flopped reading this. I could recognize so much of myself here — yikes. I think there’s something about the approaching spring that awakens these feelings especially.

    Wishing you peace! You are so not alone in your quest to find an oasis from it all.

  2. Thank you for this gut-wrenchingly honest post. I can identify with so much of what you write. As you say, loss, infertility and childlessness aren’t things that you can simply ‘get over’; it will rather require a life-long process of adjustment.

    You are, as ever, in my thoughts.

  3. Amen, sister. On the bad days the loss and feelings of exclusion can be overwhelming. At times I fear I’ll never be “over” this — no matter what my future holds. You are not alone.

  4. Wow. What an incredible post. Just like everyone else above, I can relate to every single thing you wrote. Wish I could’ve been right there with you on that hill. I think you and I could have had a nice big sigh and cry session together. Big HUGS to you, Luna. You’re in my thoughts.

  5. How do you keep coming up with these amazing pieces of writing that sum up my own experiences so perfectly?? ; ) You are so right. People who are fertile have absolutely no idea how all-pervasive pregnancy & children are in our culture, & how much it hurts to be on the outside looking in, noses pressed against the glass. There are days when I can shrug it off, and days when it hurts like hell, but it’s very hard to ignore totally. Thank you for another wonderful post!

  6. I understand. And I’m sorry xx

  7. Yup: I totally relate to your words. You and I were in different locations in the world yesterday, but Mook and I also took a walk and saw many of the same things you did…the heart tugging is so tough.

  8. I love your writing. You somehow manage to just GET IT.

    Take care of you.

  9. A beautifully written post, not just for its eloquence and honesty, but for its accuracy. When we lost the boys, my first thought was “that’s it; we’re going to be childless forever.” While that may or may not be the case, I am still haunted by what you describe, the idea of spending my entire life trying to find ways to escape the reality of infertility and childlessness, to just live my life.

    Thank you for another beautiful post.

  10. To be honest, I simply can’t face the possibility of not raising a child. I think that if I didn’t have adoption as Plan B (or more accurately, Plan E, F, or G), I would just crumble away at the sadness. As it is, the sense that I am missing the very heart of life, society, and human nature is sometimes debilitating. All I want out of life is a little chaos and a reason to exist. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    Women DO get over this. Even ones that have always wanted children, always expected to have them, couldn’t imagine life without them. Somehow they survive and live fulfilling, meaningful lives. But I honestly don’t know how.

    I’m scared to ask–is your FET over? Are you at the end of the road? I’m thinking about you, Luna.

  11. There are no words. Please just know that I am thinking of you.

  12. Luna,

    I just read your comment, posted a few days ago, on peesticksandstones blog about your brutal choice between IVF or adoption, and now I’m feeling like I just threw my ability to have the adoption Plan B in your face. The more I read other women’s blogs, the more I realize that J and I are very lucky–we have three partially-insured cycles, and even after that we think we will qualify for shared risk, so we can take the Plan B option (with a second mortgage) if we have to. It’ll be a huge financial burden, but it should leave us enough money to adopt if it all goes wrong.

    I don’t know what we would have decided if we had to decide between IVF and adoption. Given everything else you’ve been through, it burns me that you (and so many other women) have had to make that impossible choice. My heart is aching for you.

  13. babychaser, my comment to peesticks is part of a much longer story of course. you know, all of us on this journey have our own unique circumstances. often I wish ours were different, but it is what it is. I’m glad you recognize how fortunate you are. that’s a tough thing to do after everything we’ve been through. thanks for your comments. ~luna

  14. I so hear you.

    It isn’t fair. I wish you didn’t have to do this. You shouldn’t have to……. you had a little boy. You should be enjoying the sunset with him.

    The pain is almost unbearable, and so unrelenting. Where is the ticket out of this hell?

    Thank you for voicing this longing. I wish it were different.

  15. Luna- yet again you have written what could have been my day, my life- while I will never be able to go through IVF or IUI for health and financial reasons and because of financial and my mental background adoption is out of the question- our infertility treatments were limited to clomid and then trying on our own before coming to the realization that we will most likely be childless- not by choice- and the reminders are around us every where everyday- relax and you’ll get pregnant- try this diet and it will solve all your problems- do this and do that, try this and try that- all the while friends and family are having families- I am now just waiting for the next round of babies to start coming which I imagine will be anytime- a cousin just got married last summer and another will be married this summer- Dh and I are quickly becoming the childless couple in the corner, the ones being whispered about- getting the sad looks- ‘they’ve been married for 10 years now- when are they going to start having baby’s?’

  16. “It’s being left behind alone while life goes on…” Out of the many powerful words you’ve shared this one clubbed me over the head the hardest. For some unknown reason I’ve been hearing that phrase in my own head — a lot — lately. It is a lifelong process to get accustomed to that idea. I do my best to summon strength but I do ache with you on this one, dear Luna.

  17. I know it’s so hard to deal with the constant reminders. It’s torture and yet we all somehow tolerate it. I tolerate it because I have hope it will end. Either I will have my own child, or I will do an alternative method- DE or adoption, or maybe I’ll be so exhausted by this experience that if I hit the end of the road than it’s a life changing decision that will force me to accept these unpleasant terms. But it still doesn’t make it easy and no doubt creates an isolation in my life that I wish I didn’t have. There are no clear answers on how to deal with this and I just hope you find your way too.

  18. Luna, Thank you so much for writing this post. As I read it and you were describing your hike, I kept thinking “don’t see a baby or a pregnant person, please.” And you did. It happens all the time, and even when it doesn’t, the fact that you might have been anticipating it happening is there, anyways. I loved the last part of your post about finding the or the strength and courage to accept what you cannot change. When the time is right, I am sure that will come to you- but that does not mean the time is now. It sounds to me like your fight is not over yet. Thinking of you, Dot

  19. Luna, I have read this post several times. I don’t have any insight or advice. Just lots of love.

  20. Here from Bridges…
    What a marvelous post which rings so true. The first few years I started TTC, even after RE interventions and M/C #1, the world didn’t seem the way you describe, because I was in my 20s and few people we knew had children (no one our age). We fit right in with the childless crowd, even though we were secretly TTC. Since 30, the world has changed around me, and it has gotten more and more to be exactly what you describe. One of our “solutions” has been to foster friendships with single friends and to make new friends in their 20s. That strategy buys us some time, until they all start catching up too.

  21. [from Bridges]
    deb said…
    Thank you. This post really spoke to me and where I am at in my journey. We just reached 5 years birth control free this weekend and well, I tried to hold it together and focus on moving forward, it didn’t work so well. I really needed to hear today that I am not alone in not being able to face a childless future. It is a really hard road when it is not the road that you want to take. I know some very brave women who have made that choice but somehow, that choice is not one that I have been able to make peace with over the past year.

    So, thank you.

    September 2, 2008 8:04 PM

  22. It gets easier – and it doesn’t. 5 years after B and I hit the “end of the road” it seems like just when I think it doesn’t hurt anymore WHAM something hiots me from left field. Last week it was a client mistakenly telling another client that my kids had been sick and asking how they were…

    This is a GREAT post – I’ve sent it to my Mum who finds it hard to empathise with our situation sometimes. Thanks for sharing.

  23. [from Bridges]

    seastar said…
    Luna, your brave honest post bridges a connection for me with a sister-in-law who has not been able to have children and who I have seen struggling with the presence of many children in the family, including my daughters and grandchildren. She loves them, and is hurt, I think, by their presence at times. I feel more empathy after reading your post.

    September 2, 2008 11:31 PM

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