Sunday, August 25, 2013

shaking hands with the elephant

I was looking into advice and help coping with the BIG DECISION top stop treatment last week and stumbled upon this podcast about living child-free.

While adoption is still very much an option for us, we're both pretty damn broken right now. We don't feel ready to start on another massively difficult undertaking and we have no illusions that adoption, while it may well be wonderful in the end and is very likely going to be our route to parenthood, will not be a massively difficult undertaking.

Anyway, I was mostly looking for a "how to" guide for getting through these first few days of figuring out life now that I'm not actively trying to get knocked up anymore. This podcast is way more than that, and definitely worth giving a listen.

It made me realize that prior to this I was among the many infertile people who refused to acknowledge a pretty big elephant in the room: those of us who walked away from treatment without a baby.

Those people always seemed so sad to me. Like they'd given up, weren't strong enough, or that their circumstances forced them to no longer to be able to keep fighting to conceive. I was so tempted by thought that we could stop, but also so scared by it. It felt like it was the "weak" decision.

The reality of it is, now that I've made it, walking away from treatment is one of the bravest decisions I have ever made in my life.


  1. The way that clinic treated you was unbelievably awful. It is indeed very brave to walk away from this, and utterly justified.

    Adoption, if and when you decide to go that route, is certainly another journey, but you can start the process whenever you're ready. There's no ticking clock there.

    My landlords decided to adopt after a devastating miscarriage (from what I understand) and I think it was a very principled choice based on not wanting to put themselves through that again and wanting to provide a good home for a child who might not otherwise get one.

    Maybe as you get to know the elephant, it'll turn out to be friendly.

  2. Here from the Stirrup Queen's Friday roundup. As one of the participants in that Bitter Infertiles podcast, I was thrilled to read that you listened in & took something significant away from it. Even if you ultimately decide that childfree living is not for you, it's heartening for me to feel that one more person has gained some new understanding & empathy for those of us on this path. :) Thanks!

  3. Here from Mel's Roundup. Those of us who have no kids after IF know that the rest of the community judge us. But like you have discovered, we know that often, the easy route is to stay on the treadmill, keep denying what is happening to us, and the hardest thing is to turn aside and embrace our new life. Figuring out how to do that can be confusing and painful - I've recently blogged on finding the gifts of my life without kids, and how I managed that (ten years ago now) as a response to some of my readers. You might find it useful?

    Even if you don't read my blog, I do have on it a list of other blogs from women who are living life without children, and I can tell you that they are wise and inspirational, and you might find reading them helpful. (Pamela and Loribeth were both in the podcast you referenced, if I recall correctly).

    I wish you the very best.

  4. It is incredibly brave to walk away. It really is a giant elephant in the room, but like you when we get to the cross road I don't think I will be able to adopt either. Not yet anyway. It also so personal to know when enough is enough. My heart goes out to you.

  5. Here from Mel's round up... making the decision to walk away is incredibly brave. I got lucky, and managed to have one child, but walked away from treatment while TTC #2. It was hard. I am sad. And much of our decision was dictated by circumstance- primarily, that we're just too old. But walking away from a dream in order to preserve the good things you do have in life is very brave and wise. Congratulations of having that kind of courage. Whatever the future brings, I wish you nothing but peace and contentment... but I know all too well that you will have many moments of doubt and uncertainty. Wishing you much strength through the tough times that will inevitably follow...

  6. Here from the round up. I think you are brave too. When we were in the treatment trenches, I don't think I could have ever thought about walking away or that doing so would be considered brave. In some ways, we were fortunate because our diagnoses meant that we had few treatment options available to us: surrogacy or adoption. It forced us to face those limitations and what we were willing to do. We all have a limit, and I think it's brave to figure out what that is as soon as possible and to acknowledge the truth that treatment does not equal baby as much as we wish it did.

    Wishing you nothing but peace no matter what you decide.

  7. You're so right about the elephant. It's an idea that I keep coming across lately, weirdly. My support group leader passed this along to me: A lot of the speakers at the forum are focused on bringing that very issue to light. And someone on RESOLVE posted this the other day:

    And you're right to give yourself time to heal. It's hard to navigate the path ahead when you're dazed from grief and exhaustion. XO

  8. My husband and I have been dancing with this elephant for months. We're not "actively trying/receiving treatment" but we haven't agreed to stop treatment either. I keep calling it a break...but in my heart of hearts I really know what this is. Every time I think we've decided to either jump back in or back out, I am overcome with feelings of guilt, "not wanting it enough", failure...etc. Like I haven't tried I commend you for this decision because I know, first hand, it is TOUGH! Best of luck to you in the future!

    1. Hey Rach,

      Thanks :) It really is so hard, and I think a lot about the culture of infertility treatment pushes us to go forward. We can't help but feel like failures if we don't succeed. Everyone wants it so badly they can't bear to look at the people who walked away without it and the doctors are rarely, if ever, going to tell you to stop.

      I was saying to someone the other day, it's like we're all running around carrying torches that are burning our arms off.

      Let me know if you ever want to talk more about it.
      <3 knoelle