I’m not a parent, but I want to be. However, after five years of trying to get pregnant and going in circles about the pros and cons of adoption, my partner and I decided it was best for us to stop trying. We’re not preventing pregnancy, so there is still a chance, but the statistics are not on our side given the amount of time we’ve been trying and our respective ages.
When we began this journey, I was in my mid-30s and my husband was in his mid-40s. He was very clear from the beginning that he wanted children but that when he turned 50, he would be done with the process. I agreed, thinking I’d get pregnant in the first couple of years. Three years of preparing for a child and trying to conceive, and two years of exploring other options that didn’t seem to work left us childless when we hit the deadline. And while I didn’t take it as a strict deadline, it did give me an opportunity to explore every option given to me and it showed me that the chances were slim to none.
It was no longer about my frustration and questioning about why it wasn’t me, now it was a reminder of what I would never have.
Even though I accepted the decision and it felt right for us, I was completely distraught (and hysterical at times) and depressed for months. Pregnancy announcements, which were always difficult, were worse. It was no longer about my frustration and questioning about why it wasn’t me, now it was a reminder of what I would never have. After months of this, I finally decided I couldn’t live the rest of my life mourning what I didn’t have — if I can’t have a kid, then I’d have the kind of life that (I thought) would be hard to have with a child in tow. That was two years ago and things are much better on my psyche. Pregnancy announcements don’t render me bedridden and I’m very happy with where my life is.
While it may not work for everyone, these are the things I did that brought me here…
We evaluated every aspect of our life
We both knew we wanted to stay married and our dog is amazing, but everything else was evaluated with a fine-toothed comb. The question became “What do I need to do to be happy with the life I have now, assuming no children of our own will come?”
What do I need to do to be happy with the life I have now?
Am I staying in my current job because I love it or because it’s stable? If money weren’t an object, is this the job I would have? As it turns out, I love what I do, but was staying with the company because of health benefits and the promise of a flexible schedule if I had children. For most of my adult life, my dream was to be able to stay home and write, which for various reasons, was incredibly difficult to do working full-time at my job. Once I realized this, I immediately started preparing to work as a freelance writer and editor.
Our living arrangements
Did we want to stay living where we were? Did we want to stay in my house? Should we sell the house, buy an RV, and travel the country? We explored every dream we had and decided whether now was the right time to make it happen. The first thing to go was the 2,200 square-foot house we bought thinking we’d have children.
Spending time with kids
We love kids even though we don’t have any of our own, so we’re making it a point to spend time with the kids in our lives. Between us, we have eight nieces and nephews and two great-nieces. We do our best to go to softball and soccer games, to take them to breakfast, to spoil them (within reason), and do fun things with them when we can.
Entertainment and travel
We want to travel more. We want to spend weekends going to conventions and Renaissance Faires and car shows, which all cost money and which we often avoided because of the cost.
We’re now two years post-deadline and we live in a cute (and smaller) house in a place we love, I’m working as a freelance writer, and we’re pondering where our vacation will be this year. Is it the life we envisioned when we got married? No, but it’s still pretty amazing, and that is enough to keep me grateful when I’m reminded there’s not a little one running around our house.
More advice for a life without children