I imagine you’re sitting here reading this article because this question has popped into your mind and you’d like to know what it feels like to go through the actual process of stopping. To be honest, it’s not an easy decision to make and with it comes a real mish-mash of emotions. And it’s not just heart-break either, because there is actually a huge dose of relief as well.
As I say, there was a relief, as I was finally able to jump off the relentless cycle of hope, disappointment and desperation every month. When I look back to the time prior to the decision to stop, it’s a blur of time, effort and money that, knowing what I know now, could’ve been better spent. So, it was a relief to bin all of the ovulation and pregnancy testing kits, because really when I got to this point, I had nothing left in the mental, emotional or physical tank to carry on trying. So, yeah relief was a big emotion.
But, other emotions followed that relief – disappointment and I’m not going to lie here, the very real grief of facing a reality without children. There were times I wondered whether I could actually live a happy and fulfilling life without children (yes you can, but it takes time). There were times when I had to face up to the fact my body had failed me in a very epic way. And, let’s face it, grief is complicated at the best of times, but when it’s facing up to not having children, it can be challenging to say the least. It means a lot of soul searching and questioning, which is why I would recommend looking at counselling to help you through the process.
But the one thing I took solace in was that the decision to stop wasn’t one I made overnight, nor did we make it lightly. In fact, there were many conversations with my husband in terms of what we could and couldn’t face when it came to continuing to try. There were lots of tears shed and lots of circumstances to weigh up carefully, including everything we’d been through on the fertility journey.
It meant a careful weighing up of the pressures we’d already placed on ourselves, my body (because it was my infertility), our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing in terms of whether our marriage could last more turmoil around trying for children. That was all weighed up against the reality of not being able to have children and living a happy and fulfilling life without them. And that is a HUGE burden to carry, mull over and then decide on. Which means only you, and your partner if you have one, get to decide on this important issue – it’s not for others to wade in and start dictating.
But, facing up to the decision to stop can feel lonely, isolating and like a huge burden as you consider your options and what the impact will be on your life. But, having been through it, I can say the one thing I would’ve loved is support and guidance in coming to terms with the decision to stop the relentless cycle of hope and disappointment. I would’ve loved to have known that I wasn’t the only one out there having to make this difficult decision, nor that I was the only one facing a future without the children I wanted. For me, it would’ve helped cope with the enormity of the decision to know it was going to be OK, that I was going to be OK once I stopped.
So, while I can’t make the decision for you, nor can I protect you from the emotions that it will cause, I am able to offer that small glimmer of light in the darkness for you because I can say there are masses of support out there if you decide that your life won’t have children. And I’m not just talking about me here either, because there’s a whole community out there when you’re ready. The childless-not-by-choice community is starting to find its voice and if you do end up making the difficult decision to stop, then we’re out there waiting for you to come and find us. We have podcasts, books, websites, blogs…all there to support each other and help our community cope with the enormity of the decision to stop trying. So, when you’re ready, come and find us.
YOUR COMMENTS ON THIS ISSUE WOULD BE MOST WELCOME.