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A Life

I read a lot of childfree after infertility blogs; some because they’ve become off-blog friends and I’m reading their space just to keep up with their life, and others because they’re interesting.  But in almost all the cases, I started reading because I think childfree after infertility blogs provide something unique that often gets lost on a difficult family building journey: That we have an entire life.

Meaning that as much as certain aspects of life take over our mental space for certain periods of time, all people are so much more than one aspect of their life.  That we all have hobbies we enjoy or ideas we’re contributing to the world.

The kids are a big part of my life, but they’re not the only thing.  There are books to be written and a husband to connect with and video games to be played and comic books to be read.  A whole life.

Sometimes we forget that.  It’s easy to forget that.  Infertility is huge.  It blots out everything else in the landscape.  It takes over your schedule and forces itself to be reckoned with on a daily basis, either through monitoring with treatments or waiting for an agency phone call or navigating a baby-filled world.  Loss is huge.  It makes you feel like you’re drowning.  There is no protocol for grief, no set of steps you can follow to clear up grief like an ear infection.

Each childfree after infertility blogger is at a different stage in their journey, and beyond time as a factor, view the world in different ways.  But I really appreciate the bloggers who write about the world beyond family building.  They point out that, yes, there is grief from time to time — of course there is — but there is also travel and books and relationships and mentoring and craft projects and cooking and… a life.

Their words force the reader to take a look at their own life and check in on whether they’ve let one aspect of life grow too large and overwhelm the rest.  We all need to do this; it’s not unique to family building or parenting or non-parenting.  We all need to look at our life with a critical eye and ask ourselves,

  • Am I doing things that make me happy?
  • Am I spending time with people who make me happy?
  • Am I living the life I want to be living vs. the one I think looks good to the outside world?
  • Have I followed my bliss, or am I living someone else’s expectations?

And if not, why.  Why am I waiting?

Really, why am I waiting?  Because this is it.  This is the only life I’m going to get, and I can either live it apologizing for my likes and dislikes, my interests and wants, my grief and upsets, or I can take the whole of it, even if it’s messy and hard to hold, and throw myself into the things that spark my interest.

So, thank you, childfree after infertility bloggers, for being the voice that reminds us that a life consists of many different interests and important people.  Each life valid and unique.  And rather than try to put someone else’s life down, we should spend our energy nodding at each other’s lives and saying, “Your life looks awesome.  Check out mine, too.  And then once we’re done reading, let’s each go back to enjoying these lives we’ve built.”


1 Peg { 06.29.16 at 8:14 am }

What a great post.

2 Cristy { 06.29.16 at 9:04 am }

Like you, I read and comment on a lot of blogs for those who resolve after infertility by living as a family of two. Early in my time in the trenches, I avoided these blogs out of fear. But what I’ve found is that these women (and men) have taught me so much about life and have really challenged me to do my own self-reflection. I’m honored to consider some of them close friends and I credit them and some of the adoption bloggers for helping me resolve as I faced my grief.

You’re right that our lives are about more than one aspect. Be it parenting or careers or our self-image, what matters most is are we living fully. I believe these bloggers are or are trying to. They are role models.

3 Noemi { 06.29.16 at 9:44 am }

I also read a lot of blogs by women who aren’t parenting after IF and loss. I appreciate their perspective on so many different topics and I always learn a lot from their posts. I am so glad they are a part of this community, and I wish more of us who are parenting after IF/loss read them.

Also, I haven’t been around much, writing or commenting, and I wanted to say congrats on the 500th Round Up, which is something I love and am very thankful you take the time to put up every week. I hope you have a great summer!

4 torthúil { 06.29.16 at 10:50 am }

Yes, absolutely! Very important to read those blogs, wherever you are.

5 loribeth { 06.29.16 at 11:18 am }

Thank YOU, Mel, for your support and for a great post! Such an important message for all of us (and women especially, I think), and not just those of us who didn’t manage to grab the brass ring of parenthood. I have noticed that while the ALI blogosphere has been pretty quiet lately, the number of childless/free blogs is growing steadily — some great new ones lately! — and that’s so encouraging!

6 dubliner in deutschland { 06.29.16 at 11:37 am }

Great post. I also follow quite a few childfree blogs and find it really interesting hearing their perspective on things. When you are in the middle of infertility treatments it can be totally all consuming and easy to let other parts of your life slide.

7 Different Shores { 06.29.16 at 12:01 pm }

There was a horrible meme that went round Facebook recently, it was something like ‘Love your spouse and children more than you love your money, holidays, house and job – those things will never love you back’ (with silhouettes of family, children etc).
OK I get the sentiment, but bleurgh…. There is another world out there. I know there does exist a fear of ‘families of two’ who have survived IF, as if they might infect people with their bad luck, and I hate that. I don’t know whether more speaking out will combat that fear, and make people feel less sorry for us; I hope so. Thanks for the fab blog and support x

8 Stephanie S. { 06.29.16 at 12:24 pm }

Great post! Any recommendations for childfree blogs? I know there are links here on SQ, but many aren’t updated regularly anymore.

9 Ashley { 06.29.16 at 1:00 pm }

Like one of the previous posters, I used to avoid the childfree blogs because it was not something I could consider as an option. I was so focused on motherhood that I could never consider living child free. So I avoided the mere mention of living a life without become a parent. As I have grown in my journey, I have forced myself to face different aspects of myself that I wouldn’t contemplate in the past. Growing up I had an aunt (really, my mom’s best friend) who was never able to have children, even though she wanted them. For YEARS (25+ I think) she worked as a nurse in Labor and Delivery and today she is a nurse in a pediatricians office. When I was old enough to understand, I asked my mom why my aunt didn’t have any children and my mom explained that she couldn’t. Right then and there I decided if I couldn’t have children I would adopt. Never did I ever think that would be what actually happened, but I think that had such an effect on me that it drove my desire to be a mother. Perhaps, not in the best way. Reading the blogs other women have written about their choice to live childfree after infertility, I’ve pondered how healthy it was for me to pursue motherhood in the frenetic and perhaps somewhat obsessive manner that I did. I view their blogs as invaluable in teaching me to see the bigger picture, to learn how to live without getting what you most desire and to live that life to the fullest. Their blogs challenge me to be a better me, to strive for contentment no matter my lot, and to embrace ALL life has given me, even the hardships and losses. And, they have helped me to understand me dear aunt a bit better – she lived childfree but her legacy of mothering lives on in us (my siblings and me) and in all the children she helped to usher into this world. Thank you Mel for writing on this topic and for bringing it to light. And thank you to the bloggers who have helped me in ways they never knew.

10 loribeth { 06.29.16 at 2:55 pm }

@Stephanie (above), my blogroll on my blog also needs some updating, but you can try there, for starters. 😉 Pamela at Silent Sorority and Mali at No Kidding in NZ both have fairly extensive blogrolls that may be a little more up to date than mine.

11 Working mom of 2 { 06.29.16 at 4:15 pm }

I personally do not read those types of blogs. When I was going thru IF and my odds weren’t looking good I read a few and had to stop bc it was jut too horrifying to imagine I’d end up childless. That was MY reality and I mean no offense to those living child free whether by choice or not. Now that I’ve literally hit the jackpot I don’t read them either. I acknowledge their value and their pain but i don’t personally read them just like I don’t read other blog genres that I don’t relate to.

As to the point of the post, eg live your life fully, I’ve been thinking of that more and more, especially since my dad died last year. As in for years I was saving up leave for the hopefully eventual maternity leave, saving money (still) for retirement and college, etc. I’ve finally got some leave on the books built up (except literally too busy at work to use it), finances aren’t dire, and I’m starting to feel less restrained and more relaxed about spending time and money and trying to enjoy life.

12 Mali { 06.29.16 at 7:37 pm }

Thanks Mel. I’m so pleased you wrote this. It is so easy to lose track of everything, and to define ourselves by our infertility. I think that’s why it is, to quote Working Mom of 2 above, “too horrifying to imagine” that it is possible to end up childless. Yet (thankfully) I think your point is that those of us without children don’t just blog about our pain. In fact, many of us rarely blog about that at all, because after a while, it’s just a tiny part of our lives. There’s so much more to us than that.

Also, I love having readers who are parenting after infertility. I think that IRL these people would be good friends.

Your list of questions is really important for all of us, at any time of life, to think about and hopefully to be able to answer. In fact, answering them might lead to a blog post (or two).

13 Lesley Pyne { 06.30.16 at 4:41 am }

Thanks for the reminder Mel. I agree with Mali in that it’s easy to lose track of the rest of our lives. Not having children gives us freedom and flexibility which can be both a blessing and a curse.
I love your questions & completely agree that yes we only have one life. This is it, so why waste it not being happy.
Until now my writing has tended to be fairly narrow & you have inspired me to write more broadly about my life. Thank you.

14 BnB { 06.30.16 at 6:48 am }

Thank you so much for acknowledging our place in and benefit to the community. The women in this community (Mali, Loribeth, Pamela, Klara, Justine, etc.) mean so much to me and I know I’d be in a much worse place if not for them. I think that our voices are so important.

I love your questions! I think that it’s important to ask yourself these questions, whether you are parenting, pregnant, enduring treatment, figuring out what your next steps are, or living without children, are so important to ask yourself on a regular basis!

15 JustHeather { 06.30.16 at 8:13 am }

Love this post! I too read blogs from different life perspectives than my own (still in the trenches, childfree, adoption, twins, more kids than I have, etc) . And I truly enjoy each of their blogs and posts they share. I know I learn something from every perspective.

16 Jess { 06.30.16 at 11:13 am }

I love this post for so many reasons. I started my blogging life in a very narrow way — I only really wanted to hear perspectives of people who were somewhat similar to me, because I found that comforting. I didn’t want to hear of other alternatives to getting pregnant from IVF. But then as people got pregnant and parented and I felt more and more isolated, I found you and a whole world of other experiences. And at that point, I really felt like I had found community — people who were just starting out that I could help maybe in some way, people who were parenting, people who had suffered recent losses, people pursuing adoption, people who lived childfree. It made everything richer to read perspectives and get a window into all the ways to live through infertility. I enjoy the perspective of childfree after infertility because it is a an option that so many see as terrifying, as the worst-case scenario, when in actuality I have seen perspectives that show the work to get to a place that’s at peace and full and has as many positives as the fears you can have for that option. I am not naive, I know that although I hope that my child will come to me through adoption that living childfree is not something completely off the radar. I also worry that as a parent after infertility, that there is a very real danger that I could make that child the center of everything (which as a teacher I see parents doing all the time), and that is healthy for no one. I love this concept of who you are OUTSIDE of parenthood or trying to be a parent or resolving not being a parent. It’s made me think. Thank you for a lovely post.

17 Ana { 06.30.16 at 11:35 am }

This is such a great & thought-provoking topic. It definitely is something I try to keep in perspective…that this time in my life is but one part of the whole, and that I should make sure not to be too focused on any one aspect. I also really appreciate reading blogs by women living child-free, parenting after adoption, single mothers (by choice & not), single & child-free—its actually comforting to me to see the many different ways people make a happy & fulfilling life. As a human, a woman, a friend/daughter/sister, etc… I find a lot to relate to in others’ stories, regardless of the differences in our family life.

18 Sharon { 06.30.16 at 1:12 pm }

Infertility was so pervasive and constant when I was going through it, and since my twins were born in January 2012, they have consumed the majority of my time and focus (and my money, LOL) outside work. Part of this is my choice — I had children because I wanted to spend time with them — and part of this is necessity, as my children are still young.

It can be hard to maintain perspective and remember that we are more than one part of our lives when we are going through something that seems all-consuming.

I don’t regularly read any blogs about living childfree after infertility, but my BFF in real life is living what I think of as my alternate reality: we are the same age and used to be in the same profession, but she has never married or had children. Despite this, she is very happy with her life. In addition to enjoying the time I spend with her for its own sake (because she is one of my favorite people), it is good in helping me to keep that perspective and think about “the road not taken.”

19 Kathleen Guthrie Woods { 06.30.16 at 2:52 pm }

Great post, Mel! Thank you for reminding me to ask myself these questions again and again. Cheers!

20 Lara { 07.01.16 at 5:24 am }

That’s an awesome post! It’s great seeing that I am not the only infertile parent that keeps reading childfree after infertility blogs. I found some incredibly inspiring gems in the ones I read regularly.

I discovered childfree after infertility blogs well into my infertility journey, and as opposed to many of my infertile companions, I started compulsively reading all of them. It gave me a completely new strength and feeling of happiness: knowing that if I would come out of the journey childfree didn’t mean that I’d be disappearing into a blackhole “too horrifying to imagine” was liberating. I could start thinking about my future self again. I re-became a woman with a future, and not only an “if” future. I could picture myself being as cool as I imagine Klara, Kathleen, Mali, Pamela, Lisa and many others are, and I the picture I was seeing made my infertility journey so much more bearable.

A few years and two children later, this hasn’t changed that much, I still need to imagine my future self, and still use them as inspiration.

21 Silver { 07.01.16 at 3:29 pm }

I started to read CNBC blogs when it looked like no amount of fertility treatment was going to work for me. I felt enormously encouraged by them – I read about women (and their partners) acknowledging what they had lost and would not have but also acknowledging what they DID have and living their lives. They pulled me out of a dark place. I did go on to have child through donor eggs but I still read some CNBC blogs and they help to remind me that a) not everyone who does not have children chose to be that way and b) EVERYONE’s life has meaning regardless of whether they have kids or not – some of these people are doing more for the world than some with kids ever will.

22 Ruby { 07.01.16 at 8:42 pm }

I just wrote a post (on the same day as you wrote this one, Mel) with a similar topic. Being burned after pouring yourself into something like trying to get pregnant against all odds, coupled with feeling like you are a bit of a pariah when it fails, really encourages questioning how you want to spend your precious time. And that, I believe, is a bit of a silver lining in the whole harrowing experience.

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