Monday, 19 February 2018

No Kidding Living – Childlessness is Always Present

A post this morning about being reminded about infertility at a doctor's appointment surprised me a little. It surprised me because it reminded me that those who come through infertility with children can forget about it for periods of time. We see a lot of writing (and commenting) from compassionate, thoughtful women who have children after infertility, and remember their journey. But I'm not sure I ever realised that they might be able to think, "oh yes, infertility," as if they have forgotten for a while they were infertile, as if it is now irrelevant to their lives.

Those of us who didn't come out of it with children don't need to be reminded about infertility, because the inevitable and inseparable outcome of childlessness is always with us. It doesn't really pop up and remind us, as it would be as unusual for me to think, "oh yes, I have no kids" any more than people with children might think, "oh yes, I have kids." We live with our realities every day.

But I wanted too, to remind you that this isn’t necessarily a painful state, as I noted in my post from a few years ago, in Getting Over It.

11 comments:

  1. Oh, I think it's always present, but unless someone brings it up, I don't have to face it. It's like being a vegetarian. I never forget that I'm a vegetarian, but I also never think about it unless I'm out and have to navigate a new menu and consider what is vegetarian on it. When I'm with my friends, they know I'm a vegetarian so they always have a vegetarian option, but I have to think about it when I go over to have dinner with someone new. I think about infertility in my home when I see a baby announcement on Facebook or get a coupon to a baby store in the mail. But it's a rare situation where I have to talk about being infertile at this point. I can choose not to talk about infertility in my day to day. THAT to me is the bigger difference; that I get a choice because no one knows otherwise unless I choose to correct what they think about the way we built our family.

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    1. Of course infertility is always present for you, and of course you couldn't forget it, but the fact that you don't think about it until you have to is where the difference lies. Or perhaps it is just that we have to think about it so much more often.

      I agree that you get the choice about whether to talk about it. On that issue, you've given me more food for thought.

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  2. I am 'over it' in the sense you describe in your excellent post which you link to: I remember but no longer relive, I don't hurt every minute or even every day; I've learnt from my experience, and I've moved on with my life. I hope I'm stronger & wiser; I don't know if I'm more compassionate, but anyway: I feel 'over it'. Except that, as you say, "the inevitable and inseparable outcome of childlessness is always with us", in contrast with those who come away with children. I too would never think, with surprise, "Oh yeah, I don't have kids!" because that part - the outcome - I'm reminded of all the time: when my family post kid photos daily on the group thread (I'm the only one sans offspring, now); when colleagues, daily, casually mention their kids; all the time, really... It doesn't bother me, but I can never forget that I'm different. So yes I can forget the infertility experience as it recedes into the past, but the result of it is kind of constantly with you when you're in your 40s working in the burbs... The thing that bothers me least is probably being asked 'how many pregnancies?'. I even say 'none', because I forget I had a short-lived one... I suppose I'm saying that the day-to-day reality is the significant thing with me, not the sad and shadowy medical failures and disappointments of 8 years ago. Whereas for those who came through infertility with a child or two, is it the actual infertility experience itself that lingers with them? I'd love to know, actually. Interesting.

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    1. Good question! I hope someone responds.

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    2. For me, infertility changed so many things in my life. It was the catalyst for some fundamental changes within myself and that whole transformation has stayed with me. So it is different as I could blend in with the masses and pretend it didn’t happen, but I don’t because the scars needed to be addressed.

      But now you’ve got me thinking more about this process and infertility amnesia.

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    3. I'm a silent reader of your blog. Unlurking to comment on this thread. After dealing with infertility and a difficult pregnancy I feel like I have post-traumatic stress disorder! There is no way I can ever forget about it. It would be nice to not live under the near constant fear that something is going to go wrong but infertility has robbed me of that. Maybe this is a measure of how difficult the journey to parenthood is (Just postulating).
      On a side note Mali I really enjoy reading your blog. It seems you really think about what you have to say and say it beautifully.

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    4. Thank you so much for your lovely words on my blog. And thanks for commenting. This is why I love blogging and my readers. We can all learn from each other. And you've given me some food for thought for a future post.

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  3. Mel and Different Shores said it all for me. Infertility is still there, but the pain isn’t all consuming.

    It seems that for some, infertility is something they would prefer to forget. They work hard to push all that away and, hence, fail to empathize with others. I’ve begun to realize that when you don’t acknowledge your own pain and work towards healing, which I think is quite common, then you’re likely to be insensitive to others.

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  4. I loved your "Getting Over It" post, thanks for reposting! And, yeah. I can't exactly forget how quiet my house is, how pristine the light colored couches, how I sit here typing in a little room that used to be a nursery but is now an office space with a basket of board books in the corner and the remaining lovebird decals the only hints at what it once was. Kind of hard to not be smacked with that daily. I am very, very aware that infertility changed my life, changed the direction I thought it was going to go, changed my mental processes and coping mechanisms and made me a totally different person. I love your thought on getting over it as being able to live with those changes, to embrace (at least most of) that new reality, to be able to think on what happened and not be totally gutted by it. At least not all the time. Love this post!

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  5. Infertility certainly isn't something at the forefront of my mind, but it often rears it's head when least expected - I had a job interview today and I was asked if I had children (which threw me a bit if I'm honest, as I felt it was out of context - but I recovered rapidly and simply said 'no' and continued on with the interview).

    I think for me it's the 'what my life could have been like' I tend to think about now, given most of my friends are now grandparents. That's what goes around my head a lot; but it's not grief or sadness or even anger - it's just pondering on life in general.

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  6. After 20 years, I don't think there is (still!) ever a day when stillbirth, infertility &/or childlessness aren't in my thoughts, if only briefly. And, as Bamberlamb noted above, it can still rear its ugly head & sting me badly when least expected. But those incidents are, thankfully, fewer & further apart these days.

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