Monday, April 22, 2024

Well Received

I am happy to share that the research I presented last month was well received. It was a great opportunity to conduct the research in the first place, and it is just as important to disseminate the information. I plan to share the information at future conferences. I will also write an article about the study and submit it for publication to an academic journal. I want to get the information in the hands of people who will use it.

Which is everyone. Nobody is untouched by infertility and living childless not-by-choice. Everyone has a family member dealing with it. Or a co-worker that you don't know about. Or a client. Or an acquaintance. Or a friend. Whether we know they're going through it or not, odds are we all know someone, at least peripherally.

In order to develop effective support programs to help people transitioning to involuntary childlessness, we need to understand the lived experience. We need to know: what are the common experiences, factors, and needs among this growing population? Research exploring this phenomenon can help get the ball rolling for future program development.

So, back to it being well received... It was! I wish you could have been there. It's not like a ton of people stopped by my little spot, but if just one person stopped by and asked me a question, the trip would be worth it. And it was worth it. Everyone was interested in the research results for different reasons. People were interested in everything from the methodology to sharing they were going (or went through) the experience to asking how to support loved ones who are going through it. Connections were made and many meaningful conversations were had. 

And then I crashed. I slept so hard that night. I don't know why I didn't think to anticipate it, but talking about infertility and involuntary childlessness was exhausting. 

It was also awesome. I'm so grateful for the opportunity. It's priceless to feel so well received.

On the opposite of that, I have received some unsupportive comments on this blog in the last several months. I don't know why someone would want to read what I write unless they're trying to cope with their worst nightmare. I definitely don't mean to sound like I'm judging fertile people. I'm just working through my own anguish. But, I also have learned I don't need to explain myself.

So I'll be stepping away from this space for a while. I've made some really good friends here, and I encourage anyone reading to reach out and build a community for yourself. There are other people out there who will understand. 

You are allowed to grieve. You can heal. You deserve to enjoy your life.

I will leave my posts up for now. Maybe I'll take them down eventually or maybe they can hang out in the ether forever. I don't know yet.

Thank you all. Thank you for saving my will to live. I love my life, and I don't take that for granted.

Above is the March Hare with his spilled tea for The Mad Quilt Party at Art East Quilting Co.
I've had a lot of fun doing this sew along with the monthly mystery block since September.
It ends next month and I'm looking forward to learning what the next sew along will be.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Underlying Assumptions Get Old

Experiencing infertility and being childless not-by-choice changed me in too many ways to count. After living my whole life with my own personal problems (depression and anxiety) but pretty damn good and lucky circumstances (loving family, stable housing, etc.), going through infertility and involuntary childlessness gave me the experience of being part of a marginalized, even invisible, population. It made me more aware of society's assumptions and more sensitive to some of the struggles other people experience (though I would never claim someone else's hardships and lessons as my own). 

But now I know how little I know. 

And I am grateful to know what I do know.


Here is a very small thing that is another example of the pronatalist assumptions in our society. 

(By the way, in the draft of this post, the word "pronatalist" was underlined in red, so I just added it to my blogging dictionary of recognized words.) 

I was at a work training. It was just me, a co-worker, and our manager who was leading the training. The topic was skin integrity and the different products we have at our facility. Our manager was describing under what circumstances you would use each product. For one of the products, she said you would use it when the patient's skin "looked like diaper rash." 

During our break, I turned to my co-worker. Our jobs do not involve working with babies. I asked her if she had ever seen diaper rash. She said no. I said neither had I. I asked my co-worker, "Why would she reference diaper rash if she is training two women who don't have children?"

Pronatalism strikes again. Not all women are mothers.

I suppose it's sexist too, assuming that all women have taken care of babies at some point...


It's not the small, individual comments that hurt or even annoy me anymore, not at this stage of my healing. It's the overall onslaught of all of them. It's all of the underlying assumptions. It's the constant feeling of having my existence invalidated in a way that I can't explain to people who don't experience it themselves.

And that gives me some insight as to how much I don't understand other groups' marginalization.

I want to use what I've learned and experienced to try to better see and connect with others.

Picture found on an unrelated article here:

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Knowing I Won't Have Kids

I will never have children. This was an unfathomable nightmare/reality for me to face at first, but it has gotten easier with time. For 35 years I thought I'd be a mom and I planned my life around it, including the career I chose, the man I married, and the house we bought. It makes sense that I could not change my lifelong thinking overnight. 

Knowing I am not going to have children is easier than trying to get pregnant. Living my life knowing that I won't have kids is easier than coping with the initial years after the realization. My life is not easy, but it's a whole lot easier than it was.

I still get sad. Moments come and go throughout the week. Several days ago I saw an acquaintance with her two little kids. They made a cute picture, the three of them walking off into the sunset. I felt nostalgic for something I've never had. 

Then last night I cried. I had a moment where I was very sad about not having children and so I cried for a couple of minutes. It came after a fun night out with friends. With food, drinks, music, conversation, and a late night, I think I was overstimulated and that's what triggered it. I'm just so dang sensitive. Oh well. 

But I feel happy too. There are things I look forward to. I feel joyful, enthusiastic, and grateful. Not all the time of course. That would be weird. But it's nice to feel positive feelings when all I felt for many years were negative feelings and emptiness. It's no small feat to enjoy the life we're living.

I will never have children, but now that I know that, it frees me to live the life that I do have. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

My 9th Survivor Anniversary

Wow. Nine years already? It's so true: the days are long, but the years are short. 

My first IVF failure was definitely the worst of all of my failed treatments, but my three IUIs and second IVF sucked too. You just put so much into the process. Time, money, hope. Driving to appointments. Bloodwork. Ultrasounds. Facing your fears and giving yourself injections. Facing your worst nightmare and not knowing how to get through it.

And for what?

To feel more empty and broken than before? 

I was completely lost nine years ago. For 35 years, I knew I would be a mother. I'd get pregnant and have kids. If that didn't happen, there was IVF or adoption. Something would work out.

I was wrong.

Being childless not-by-choice shattered my beliefs. It interrupted and completely derailed my life. It destroyed the perfectly reasonable future that I had planned.

Now what. 

How was I going to deal with this and what the fuck was I going to do with the rest of my life?

I didn't know.

And now, nine years later, I know: I'm gonna change careers, get divorced, move a bunch, and buy a house. I'm gonna discover a new hobby I love, love the spot where I live, appreciate the jobs that I have, and start to feel the peace and contentment I deserve.

But back then I didn't know. I was devastated, depleted, lost, sad, lonely, isolated, and clueless.

I'm not even saying anything in this post really. I'm just reflecting on my 9th survivor anniversary and how I felt back then and now. And my 9th anniversary means next year will be my 10th anniversary. A whole decade. What feels like many lifetimes. 

Back then it was year 2015. Think about that. How much has changed in the last nine years. How much the world has changed, society has changed, and we have changed. It's been so nearly insurmountably difficult. All of it. But daaang the resilience. That I have. That we have. 

I am so proud of us.

Photo retrieved from

Friday, March 15, 2024

Finally Resting

I am getting so excited. I get to share my research about involuntary childlessness later this month. I'm nervous too, but mostly excited. If just one person stops by my poster to ask about my research, I will be so happy. My presentation handout has been submitted, and I have my poster printed and ready to go. One of my professors recommended getting a fabric poster, and I'm so glad she did. It will be easier to carry on the plane. I'll share next month how it goes!

That's pretty much all that is on my mind. 

Other than that, I'll be honest, I am enjoying living alone so far. It gives me the space for the rest that I desperately need. I'm going to work, paying the bills, doing the dishes and laundry, cooking a little bit, eating delicious leftovers, and doing something social every week. I will figure out how to add housecleaning and exercising to my routine as well.

Other than that, I am resting. 

Radically resting. 

Profoundly resting. 

When my last round of IVF did not result in pregnancy, I felt an extreme urgency to figure something else out for my life. I had planned on being a mother for 35 years, but then I had to completely switch gears, think of something else, and make it happen. And I felt this strange urge to start THEN. Not wait until I felt better. Not wait a minute longer. 

And I never stopped. I just kept going. 

And now I am resting. I'm equally tired and grateful. I have my home. I get along with my family and see them several times a year. I like where I live and what I do for work. I've got hobbies and interests. I've even made some new friends over the last year. I'm part of a professional association and a monthly social group. And I'm not making any more commitments than that. 

My life is so full. 

But for so long, my life felt so empty...
It began with empty arms and spread to my very existence.

I am glad to be on this side of things now. Eternally grateful.
There is always the other side to things... Keep moving through it.

And be sure to rest.

For me, resting looks like this: giving myself permission to do less, making warm tasty food at home, taking baths, taking naps, sewing, reading a book or magazine, looking out the window, taking slow deep breaths, relaxing my shoulders, and telling myself that I'm proud of myself. 

How do you rest?

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

It Doesn't Always Hurt

There's a lot going on in the world right now. A lot of it is really bad. I've started to just be completely honest in my conversations with my friends. This time period of my life is a bit of a struggle. Life is hard, and I need more good news in general. And when I share how I'm feeling with my friends, they share with me. They are feeling the same way too. Tired and overwhelmed. 

We are not alone. Keep reaching out.

So amidst lots of terrible things, I have a tiny piece of good news from my life that I'd like to share.

I got caught off guard with another baby picture this week. This one was over text from a new co-worker who knows nothing about me personally. (Yet! Haha. She'll probably learn in time. These days I'm pretty open about being childless not-by-choice. I figure if I've reached a place where I can talk about it, then my talking about it will help raise awareness and reduce stigma and assumptions.) Anyway, I was texting about work with a co-worker when she sent me a picture of what she was doing at the moment--feeding her baby at home in her living room.

And... It didn't hurt.

I can't really tell you why sometimes these unsolicited baby pictures hurt and why sometimes they don't. I think, like most things, it's a combination of factors. Who the parent is, who the baby is, how I'm feeling that day...

This co-worker is new, and I am very grateful she joined our team. I will learn a lot from her. I think she is only a couple of years younger than me, based off of the year she graduated. 

And... Well... Quite honestly, I don't want a baby anymore. 

My kids would be anywhere between 8 and 12 by now. Way past the baby stage. No longer a toddler. Not even a little kid anymore. Those warm baby snuggles would be long gone, and my new way of demonstrating love for my kids would be driving them all over town to school, appointments, and activities. 

So yeah... 

It doesn't always hurt. 

I just wanted to share that. 💜

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Doing Things Differently

The past couple of weeks since my last post have been a bit of a whirlwind. 

I spent my first full week alone at home, although I stayed in communication with my ex.

I went out on Valentine's Day with a friend. She and I celebrated a belated Galentine's Day by splitting an amazing charcuterie board at a cute little wine bar. I don't like wine and had a cocktail. My friend ordered a non-alcoholic beer. We had so much fun.  

I worked a lot. I worked probably more than I should have considering the energetic demands of the last couple of months but work needed me and I needed work, so that's how that went.

I saw my ex-boyfriend when he came by to pick up something he needed.

And I got covid for the first time.


I don't know if I caught covid while working, playing, or seeing my ex. But after two years of quarantining, a third year of masking, and a fourth year of staying up to date on booster shots and overcoming the mental blocks I developed over the aforementioned three years... I was pissed I got covid. I hate being sick. I did so much for so long to avoid it.

My ex-boyfriend stayed and took care of me. I'm really grateful. He kept me on a regimen of food, fluids, and over the counter medicine. He didn't feel well either but never tested and didn't get as sick as me. We assume he had it too. I didn't get terribly sick, but I didn't feel well for four days. As of this evening, I'm starting to feel a little better. We are still isolating though. There's not much information, but the CDC still recommends a five-day isolation period. So we're doing that.

This too shall pass.

I didn't do anything for the first three days, and it felt weird. I just ate food, drank fluids, took ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and tried to sleep as much as I could. 

I thought about how if I had kids, I would still have to take care of them even when I'm sick. But I don't have kids, so I don't have to take care of anyone else when I'm sick. Different lives, different problems. Different advantages and disadvantages.

I thought about facing my fears. How you think you could never deal with something but then you're forced to deal with it. You don't have a choice. I really didn't want to get covid and spent four years trying to avoid it. Now I have it. In the bigger picture of my life, I really didn't want to be childless. But here I am. 

I thought about how there's so much I want to do, and I don't take my enthusiasm for granted. There's so much I want to learn. Changing careers mid-life is challenging. I knew my old job extremely well. I had a lot of knowledge and experience. But with a new career, well, I am new. I have a lot of knowledge and experience to gain. Plus, I love what I do. I want to know more. 

I thought about quilts. There are so many quilts I want to make. I know of three quilts I definitely want to finish this year. There are two more on the forefront of my mind that I look forward to starting. And then there's all the rest of my fabric and patterns to keep me entertained, haha.

But I digress... Those were just some thoughts I had. I got sick and couldn't do anything, but I had some time to think about things. And things have been different.

I didn't have a post in mind. I just wanted to write something and check in. The last couple of weeks have been out of the ordinary. But other than being sick, things have been pretty good. Well, different. And even though I'm a creature of habit, different can be good.

Artwork by Pink Shark Scales