Monday, 13 February 2017

Coping with children in our lives

Saying “it gets better” may at times feel meaningless to a grieving childless person, because it is so vague, not specifying how, or when, it will happen. So I’m going to try to articulate something that I realised today, after reading two different blog posts about spending time with children.

When we’re infertile, and going through the initial grief of childlessness, every child and every pregnant belly we see are reminders of the children we wanted, the children we have lost, the children we will never have, and the parents we will never be. They feel so close, such an intimately painful part of us that has been wrenched away, that having them around us is at times unbearable. We’re acutely aware they are not our children, the children we wanted, but yet … in ways … all children are the children we wanted, our children. 

As we heal, I think we manage to put a distance between ourselves and our wounded hearts, and other people’s children, recognising that there’s a difference between the children we wanted to have, and the children who are there in front of us. That separation in my heart and my mind certainly got easier over time, as children who were babies at the time we were pregnant (or trying to get pregnant) grew and developed their own unique personalities and bodies that didn’t and couldn’t have come from us, even in our imaginations.

These children are not the precious, unformed beings we had hoped to have and had already loved with all our hearts, but I now see that this is a good thing, as it gives me a freedom to love and appreciate these children for who they are, untainted by my ideas of who I wanted them to be, and without the awful yearning for them as my children.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Banishing intrusive thoughts

Life Without Baby recently had a lovely post and thread about getting to the stage of acceptance where we can appreciate and enjoy our lives without children, but I ached for one of the commenters, who said, “ … but I would give it all up for just one.”

I could feel her pain, and her unwillingness to freely admit, without qualification, that life without children has many advantages. It’s that feeling we have, so many of us (all of us?) that if we admit that we enjoy life (or at least many aspects of our life) without children, maybe what we’re really saying is that we didn’t want children enough or worse, that we didn’t deserve children enough. It’s as if we feel we are admitting something that is a betrayal, that is heretic, almost sinful; something that is certainly anathema to the prevailing belief elsewhere in the ALI blogging community, and in wider society, that parenthood is everything.

I will admit, from time to time I still experience a flicker of guilt, of a “what if this means I didn’t want them enough?” thought that appears to torment me. But now I am soon able to despatch that thought, knowing that the thought is in itself a betrayal, heresy to my staunch belief that we can truly enjoy our lives without children, even though at one stage we genuinely and deeply wanted to have them.

This way of thinking is a betrayal of of the decisions I made and the decisions and situation that were forced on us, of the pain I’ve been through to get where I am, and of the babies we lost on the way, and mostly it is a betrayal of me, my life now, and my life with my husband, my family and my friends.

On the bright side, I think that we all work through this stage eventually – or I sincerely hope so – and even though the negative thoughts may come, I know now that we can choose to listen to them and let them linger, or shoo them off with a confident, and knowing, flourish.