IVF failed three times and I’m ok: who else has accepted an unplanned Child-Free lifestyle?

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I have had three failed IVF treatements and been on the super emotional roller coaster. After a bit of time I’m kind of OK/relieved (at least for now), and accepting the Child-Free lifestyle that has been foisted upon us. I seem to be the only person on the interwebz who has this attitude — every infertility message board I visit is only full of sad women (or so The Google wants me to believe). Everything comes up as, “Ok, IVF failed, now I’m [insert adoption process, or, at worst, complete despair here].”

I’m wondering: any resource recommendations for those of us who have experienced infertility and are ok with being Child-Free? — DD

Comments on IVF failed three times and I’m ok: who else has accepted an unplanned Child-Free lifestyle?

  1. To me, there are several reasons a person is childfree- life style, personality, biology, and just IS. Can I maybe make a suggestion- you are not infertile and you won’t find the support there. You are childfree, and you will find your support within the childfree community.

  2. You’re not the only one. It can be draining to read all the sadness, loss, and clinging to a dream that may not happen. And hard to find those who are able to come to terms and accept the situation (not necessarily like it, mind you).

    There are some discussions in “infertile” communities that focus on child-free living after failed IVF attempts – some are better and more positive than others.

  3. I’ve often wondered if I’ll be like this if we cannot get pregnant when the time comes. Right now, at 27, I’m kind of “meh” on having children. I don’t get all gooey when I see other women pregnant or with babies, and I don’t look forward to pregnancy. I keep thinking that, in a couple of years when we’re ready to have kids, if I don’t get pregnant I won’t be devastated. Of course…that’s my thinking now. Maybe in two years my biological clock will start screaming and I’ll feel different. But for now, I think I’d feel like the letter writer: child-free is OK.

  4. I second Melissa Ford’s insightful and balanced book, Navigating the Land of IF. It describes infertility as an island of sorts, with various ways off of the island–treatments, donor gametes, adoption, surrogacy, resolving to live child-free, etc. It’s a quick and supportive read…

    I pause at the suggestion that you won’t find support in the IF community. Mel Ford also blogs at Stirrup Queens, where she has organized an impressively extensive blogroll of infertility bloggers, including those ultimately resolving to live child-free, which you can find here: http://www.stirrup-queens.com/a-whole-lot-of-blogging-brought-to-you-sorted-and-filed/living-child-free-room/

  5. I was happily child-free for years until the instant that biological clock became a timebomb. We went through 4 years of infertility and 3 miscarriages before my son is born and I asked myself many times why I wanted to go through it. My answer actually surprised me. I wanted to pass along knowledge more than anything. I wanted to pass along all the tips and tricks I’ve learned and share my passion. I didn’t need children to do that. I had decided that if children didn’t happen I could be ok with becoming a Big Sister or a Girl Guide/Boy Scout Leader or something else where I could mentor children and share my interests with them. That was the main part of the experience that I wanted and I could still have that even without birthing or raising a child.

  6. Wow, thank you for this!

    My partner and I are discussing marriage, and when the idea of kids came up, we are in agreement that we’d both like kids. But since the earliest we’d start trying for kids is when I’ll be 36 or 37, it was really important to me to find out how he would feel if for some reason we were not able to have kids.

    His response? “We’ll put the house on a 15 year mortgage, and then just GO. We’ll travel anywhere we want.” For me, that was the PERFECT response. It was an acknowledgement of what I had been feeling. Would I love to have a child? Absolutely. But we have decided that even if we never have children, that our life together will still be filled with adventure, wonderful things, and love.

    And when you think about it, that is a pretty amazing thing. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

  7. When my husband and I first got married, we had talked about having children but we knew that we didn’t want to spend a lot of money (or hope) trying. After multiple miscarriages, we realized that it just wasn’t in the cards for us. We did some basic infertility counseling and realized that the likelihood of us having our own children naturally (without loads of IVF, fertility drugs or the like) was slim-to-none. I had an offer from a friend to act as a surrogate, but we decided against it.

    After my dad passed in December, I realized I didn’t want to raise children that he would never meet. I know this is different for everyone, but I am having a hard enough time living in a new city that he’ll never visit, let alone starting a family. We made the decision that we won’t try to have kids and we will just be an awesome Aunt and Uncle and spoil our nieces, nephews and cats rotten.

    It’s not the easiest answer, and sometimes I get major baby fever and wish things could be different. Then there are other times where I’m glad we made this choice. It wasn’t the choice I wanted but it’s the choice I’m making after looking seriously at our situation, needs and lifestyle.

  8. I am 36, single and a large part of of me dose not want children. I have aspergers syndrome and the noisy, messy, chaos of children is not my cup of tea. I love having the freedom to do things like to see bands and meet friends whenever I like.

    Don’t get me wrong I like kids (especially my nieces, nephews and kids friends) but in small doses and all always feel relived when they go home.

    I don’t really feel the pressure of my biological clock and there is a small part of me that wonders if I will regret not having kids but I don’t want to have a child for the sake of having a child.

  9. With all the comments on just pushing through having a child, I’m left to wonder if anyone thought about adopting a child when their attempts at having a child biologically failed? I mean, you can still have children and never give birth. While it’s how most people do it, there are many, many children in the foster care systems in any country who could still benefit from not only your love, but your desire to have children.

    • While I appreciate that your comment probably comes from a place of genuine questioning and not judgement, it isn’t always such a straightforward “adopt instead!” scenario for all families.

      Adoption is a wonderful way to add to your family for many people. But even domestic adoption isn’t without its fair share of expense and/or heartbreak, so I would never judge someone who after introspection decided that it was not right for their family.

      We all have our own roads in life, our decisions in life are as wonderfully varied (and valid) as we are!

      • You’re right in that it wasn’t intended to be judgmental — I just am not sure how to put the question in a way which doesn’t seem dismissive to others’ life choices when struggling with become parents and the spaces and the vocabularies involved in it.

        I just have noticed the pattern where the option doesn’t appear to be discussed as a viable option to becoming a parent to a child or children.

        The OP may have considered that option, and there’s no way for me to know, but I feel like sometimes adoption is the secret option between biological children and child-free living. All choices are equally valid, but I crave, I suppose, more discussion about alternatives to biological children because it seems to often be ignored or neglected.

        It may not be the best option for the OP, or anyone else, in her situation and I would never IMPOSE adoption onto her or anyone else. I just wish there was more discussion about adoption as a valid and viable means of building a family.

        • I want to jump in on this before it goes too far — first, we’re very pro-adoption as a valid means of building a family at Offbeat Mama.

          Having said that, this post is not the place to discuss what family now looks like to DD. Trying to conceive, adoption, and living Child-free are all very personal topics and decisions, and this post is NOT the place to dissect why one decision has been made but not another.

          I think it would be wise to step back and respect that DD doesn’t owe anyone an explanation.

          • Thanks, Stephanie. You are right–I want to know more about how people are living childFREE after biological disasters in a positive, I’m-ok-with-this kind of way. I will certainly be looking at the links in above comments!

      • Like, in my case, I’m pregnant and going to have a baby. But if i’d had trouble conceiving there is no way I would be able to adapt, given my partner and I’s low income, and our political beliefs. Our parents had less money when they raised us, but the adaption system is set up for upper middle class people and we would never be able to access it. I knew other couples who couldn’t adapt because one of the parents had a disability or something. (they ended up raising their nephew after his parents died though, so got to be parents anyway) So adaption isn’t always an option.

  10. This is such an interesting topic for me. I never had any other dream than to be a mother. I have no career training, i met my husband and we decided to wait tilli could quit my factory job to start trying. its a decision i wonder if i actually regret, now that i sit at home every day thinking about what i dont have. I have done counseling and i have picked up a camera and used it to keep me close to children, and babies and mamas. I spoil my neices and nephews, and its just.. not the same… I still have longings that will never go away.. I still dont know what i want to do with my life..

    For now ill just continue taking care of life here, and take care of my dogs/cats and husband, we have one more chance at fertility treatment this spring but after that, we are done for good.

    We started this process six years ago, and its changed me mentally. I am weak and in pain, but will push through somehow.

  11. Perfect timing on this post- I was just two days ago having this exact conversation with my mother. The whole, “I don’t really want to talk about my fertility issues with the women I know who have gone through it, because for them it was this Huge Devastating Thing and they were going to be parents no matter what (via IVF or adoption or what have you) but for me it’s more of a, “Sometimes these things don’t happen” wistful thing” conversation. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who sees acceptance as a viable option (as my husband likes to say, “If we can’t have kids we’ll just be rich instead.”)

  12. We have drawn a line in the sand about how far down the infertility vortex we’re willing to go down. It’s not very far (3-6 drug-free IUIs).

    I would not actively make the choice to not have a child, but I have also never quite felt really ready for kids (and I’m 40!) The main factors driving our efforts right now are: age, fear of regret later,all of our similarly aged friends popping out kids and of course, family pressure. These aren’t my dream criteria for decision making but I’m old, man.

    Some days I can envision us really enjoying being parents and being a happy little family full of joyful Kodak moments. Other days having kids just seems like a major hassle.

    If we don’t have kids, there will be a grieving process and a part of me will ALWAYS wonder ‘what if’. But, I can also envision – and even embrace – a rich, happy, life without kids.

    One thing that has helped is knowing older couples I like who have no kids and seeing how they’ve lived their lives. If you can find a couple of real-life examples that appeal to you it is a powerful reminder that there are many ways to live your life.

  13. My partner and I had our rounds of IUI and IVF and they didn’t work. We mourned. We grieved. We cried and we talked. Our life together was great. Now that we were childless (child free is a choice, in my opinion, and childless is one with wound or a scar), what would life look like?
    We talked and planned and dreamed and then did some of those things. We loved each other. Acceptance came. It took time. But we got there.
    There were rough times and the ache never went away. But we are happy together – the two of us.

    I also found less support for this path out there. I found many people willing to mourn with me, but few who accepted the new plan. Or at least then talked about it.

  14. My husband and I have lived a similar situation. Ridiculous amounts of time, effort, hopes, dreams, and money wasted on unsuccessful fertility treatments with exactly 0 children to show for it all. We sat down and had a heart to heart one day about if adoption was the next route or if the next route was to just be happy. We decided that for us, we couldn’t handle the emotional roller-coaster of more treatments or of waiting for our “new-to-us” child. We focused on the awesome parts of living child free (want to have a date night RIGHT NOW? Go for it!) and combined it with the awesome parts of helping raise our friends’ children. I’m an only child and his two siblings are both very single and highly uninterested in children (at least for now) so it seemed that being a biological aunt/uncle was out for now too. We informed my best friend that we were officially aunt/uncle to her two kids and that she should anticipate us to be taking a more active roll is being best friends with her kids. She was down for it.

    All of that said, there are still days that I cry and wonder if I’ve done the right thing by “giving up” or if I should have kept going. I think those days will become fewer and further between as more time passes. One thing that has helped has been reimaging our end goals. Before, retirement looked like grandkids playing in the front yard while we rocked on our porch swing. Now, we’ve decided that once our parents are gone and we don’t have much tying us to Canada any longer, we will retire abroad in a tiny little French town with a vow and make our own cheese and grow our own veggies and just live simply and enjoy our lives. This has also given me something to put my energy towards. Instead of hours pouring over fertility blogs and trying to figure out exactly how many pineapple cores to eat and setting alarms for meds and going to Dr appointments, I have downloaded Duolingo and am learning French. I’ve been looking up cheese recipes and will eventually learn how to milk a damn cow. The end vision may change, but having a goal that mostly hinges on NOT having kids makes it feel less like something is missing. Get excited about your future rather than just playing the hand you’re dealt.

  15. We are nearing the end of fertility treatments and nothing has worked. We’ve talked about adoption but since both of us weren’t 100% on board we scrapped that idea. At this point I have accepted I won’t have my own kids and that’s fine. We have wonderful nieces and get to see them regularly. We can enjoy their exuberance and watching them grow. But we also have freedom to travel or go out late and not worry about naptimes or school schedules. I think it’s a good happy middle ground.

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