Untangling my fears of childlessness

June 26, 2009

I want to warn anyone feeling fragile about infertility that this post might be a bit strong. I’m going to talk about some beliefs I am trying to untangle, but I just hope it does not tangle anybody else’s thoughts.

I saw my therapist today and we talked about my plan. I told him something I’ve been scared to admit to myself, I am so scared to start the plan. I’m frightened to take Clomid, to do IUIs, etc. Why? Because I’m afraid they won’t work. I’m scared to explore my options because if the doors close I dont know what to do with myself. He told me I sound like someone whose given up before I’ve begun. I told him I’m trying really hard to make peace with the possibility of never having children and then promptly burst into tears. He asked me what made me so afraid of the prospect of never having children:

1. Did you watch Sesame Street? I remember when Maria and Luis got married and found out they were having a child they sang a song about now becoming a family. At four, I remember feeling confused. Weren’t they already a family? I asked my mom who responded, No, once they have a baby, then they are family. This seems to be a common perception to this day. I see people announce pregnancies on twitter with X and Y are becoming a family! So that means that Jack and I alone, we’re just two people, we’re a couple. We are not a family.

2. When we eat dinner together, or watch TV, or sleep in, or go for a bike ride, I think of my friends who remind me oh you’re lucky to go on vacation . . . we have kids and can’t do that! Ha! you’re so lucky you can sleep in, we’re lucky if we can get four hours of sleep. I COULD have worked the corporate lifestyle but I have kids and they are my priority. I can’t speak for all infertiles, but for me, these comments and attitudes make me feel they are better than me by virtue of having a working womb and children to show for it. They are doing important stuff. They can’t sleep! They can’t relax on vaca! Sometimes I feel like they are really doing the important job while  I’m sitting here in never never land flying like Peter Pan.

3. I’m afraid of  ending up alone. I haven’t seen the movie “UP” (and if you haven’t seen it be warned a spoiler is to follow): from what I’ve heard the movie touches on infertility. A husband and wife suffer a pregnancy loss and then never have children. One scene shows the husband old and alone attending his wife’s funeral. I haven’t seen the movie, but that movie touches on a huge raw fear of mine.

4. I know people who are older and never had children and I hear what people I know say about them. The looks of pity. The whispers that they waited too long to start trying. They tsk tsks as they sigh and watch them, who do they have to live for? Their legacy their name ends with them. I already know for a fact certain people do this with me. My mom told me once I got pregnant, I didn’t want to tell you before, but your aunts would always call and say they were so worried and praying for you. My other aunt blatantly told me You are really tired due to pregnancy because you waited too long. Thank God you got pregnant. Now that I’ve miscarried these word haunt me. I am one of those people you look at and tsk.

5. The obvious, I want to be a mother, and even though I am not a mother, it is part of my identity and because I do not have that status yet, I’m in an identity crisis. I never thought it would be this hard to become a mother and I know I would be a good mother. I want the opportunity to try.  I want to feel her kicks in my womb. I want to push through labor. I want to throw her a huge first birthday, and cry as she goes off to Kindergarten.There is a part of the need to be a mother that is a raw human urge that defies logic or human rationale.

I don’t know if I should try to accept that I might never be a mother and thus sit down and tackle all the issues I listed, or if I need to block them all out and try to make myself hope focused and not consider failure as an option. I dont know which is the healthier  perspective. I’ve heard that if you prepare and accept the possibility of the worst you can be at peace and then be pleasantly overjoyed when the worst does not happen. I’ve also read studies that positive thought and visualization can go a long way to helping your dreams come true. I don’t know which way to go. I need to think about it because being in limbo is not an option for me anymore. The biggest issue I am trying to answer is: If I am to not become a mother, who am I? Who will I be?



  1. I couldn’t have written this post any better myself.

    Everything you’re thinking and feeling is VALID and normal.

    I often times lay awake at night, panicking at the thought of never having a “family.” (Like you said, I guess us + our DHs don’t count) Personally, I think a huge part of the human experience is enjoying a family. I’m angry that during this one life I’ve been given, a “family” may not be in the cards. I feel very, very cheated.

    But I will not give up hope! I’m still very skeptical as to whether or not I’ll actually have a bio baby at some point in my life…but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my DH and I WILL be parents, somehow, some way. I agree with the school of positive visualization. I think it can do wonders for our drive and spirit.

  2. Excellent analysis! Way to really lay it out there! #3 and #4 really hit home with me. I think you have done a great job of finding your purpose and courage to keep going!

  3. These are indeed all my thoughts too – and I’ve been through IVF unsuccesfully. These questions still haunt me and I wonder how far to push this quest…all the way into donor eggs? I just don’t know. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these questions and the question of identity. This post will link to my craft blog but my infertility blog is http://afertilemind.wordpress.com
    Just mentioning so you don’t think this comment is from a weirdo!

  4. First of all I want to give you huge ((HUGS))!!!!!

    So true…. 1 & 5 hit home the most with me!!

    J – http://autoimmunelife.wordpress.com

  5. yeah those are all very real fears for all of us. my family is very close and i love it, if i don’t have children i feel like i will eventually lose that.

  6. I think fears are soul-sucking. And I also think that people can be so thoughtless in their commentary– as if somehow we chose the hard way on purpose.

    In response to your sweet comment, I was lucky with my cycle– I ovulated 3 weeks after my D&C (so said my CM and my temp jump) and I had a period at 5 weeks. My hCG was not down below 5 until the week after that. But at least it did go down. I am lucky and I know it. Hang in there, your cycle will re-equilibrate and you have a plan. But I think it is absolutely worth a consult with an RE–no strings attached, just information gathering– I think you will feel better with good options to chose from. This sucks rocks, waiting rots, but, this will move forward again. Take care of yourself, your Self, your soul, your heart.


  7. 2 things:

    1: on the hope vs. preparing for the worst issue – it’s a tough call. I know in my heart my husband and I will have a child someday. I have to keep that in my heart to keep myself going and trying. However, we go in to test on Monday to see if the IUI worked, and I’ve already told myself in my brain that it did not. There are many reasons I think this, but one is that I just can’t let myself think that it did to prepare for the worst. It is a weird balance we IFers try to keep between hope and preparation. I don’t think the answer is one or the other, I think it is both.

    2: A comment on something you said – “5. The obvious, I want to be a mother, and even though I am not a mother, it is part of my identity and because I do not have that status yet, I’m in an identity crisis.”
    The BEST thing that someone said to me after my miscarriage was from my best friend. All of us who have lost a child hear the same crap from people (not the right time, something was wrong, you can try again, etc…) we vary rarely hear the exact right thing. What she said to me was this: “You are a mother now. You always will be.” I had a child, for however short a time. My child was never born, but that does not mean I didn’t hope and dream for and of my child. It dosen’t mean I didn’t love my child, and that I don’t grieve my child. I am a mother and so are you. You always will be now. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

  8. Thank you all for echoing my thoughts and helping me feel less alone. I really thought what I was feeling was just me (really, silly, I know!)but it helps to know I’m not alone.

  9. I think this is a struggle many of us have. Every time I allow myself to feel hopeful, I get the BFN and then I’m mad at myself for allowing any hope in. Then if I prepare for the worst, I feel as though my negativity will result in a BFN. I’m not sure there is any right answer. Choose the perspective that makes you feel the best, and you’re on the right track.

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