When I sought out an online support group to help me with my emotions, I had been dealing with them a very long time. It was long overdue, and I had not been honest with myself about how I truly felt inside. Here is a bit of my story.
At the start of my adulthood, I spent 10 years with a very good man. We were together from the ages of 20 to 30. We were both very career oriented, had great social lives, and were not thinking about children. When I graduated from University, I wanted to invest in my work and my future. I felt if I had children young, it could interfere. In a way, it was a good decision, because after 10 years the relationship ended. It was not an easy time, but it was the right choice. When a couple grows up together, sometimes their paths diverge. We parted ways.
After the split, I spent several years alone before I met my husband who has two sons to whom I am a step-mother. I have a good relationship with them thankfully, of course with normal family ups and downs. They love me and accept me as family. At the end of the day, however, I am not their mom and I will never expect to cultivate that type of attachment with them. I am grateful that they are in my life, and I will always love them.
Despite having my husband’s sons in my life, my husband and I tried to have a child together. It was a difficult decision for him as his kids were older, but he knew how important this was for me, and so he agreed.
I could take you through a long story of miscarriages, an ectopic pregnancy, and emergency surgery. For those who find themselves interested in this content, you have probably gone through these experiences yourselves, but for the reader who has not had to deal with childlessness, l will spare you the difficult details.
At first, I was very pragmatic about it all. The body has a way of eliminating pregnancies that have complications. I rationalized it. Miscarriage was nature’s way of fixing things. I could intellectualize and accept these facts, so we kept trying. After all, miscarriages are common, even if women do not seem to talk about them much. I have a great OB/GYN who was very supportive and encouraging. As time went on, however, and as my age advanced, it became clear that perhaps this wasn’t in the cards for us.
After the final loss, which came with middle of the night life-saving surgery, I made the decision that I was done trying. Between my age, health, and emotional response, it was time to accept things and move forward. It was not a hard decision. It was the right one for me as it came easily because I knew it was time to stop trying. At least I told myself that I was good and forged ahead with life.
What I did not realize was that in my bid to be strong, positive, and constructive with my life – as my own mother had always taught me to be through strife – a grief sat inside me that I ignored. I had feelings of fear, envy, disappointment, and sometimes anger. I pushed that all down inside. I would not accept self-pity. I have a wonderful husband, a fabulous career doing what I love, friends and family around me…there was NO reason for me to dwell. While I told myself I was moving forward, those emotions stood still inside me, like an airplane in a holding pattern waiting to land.
Eventually, those emotions started to make themselves known more easily. If I saw a commercial for baby food or diapers, I would start to cry, sometimes even sob. Commercials about healthy eating and being role models to children would make me change the channel immediately. Anything that had to do with parenting suddenly brought those emotions to the surface and they were intense. Because I ignored them for so long, the emotions were almost explosive. I was alone at home one night watching a movie about a woman who had a miscarriage. I broke down and realized, the feelings weren’t going away. As hard as I tried to accept and to be strong, I had to give these feelings their space and to deal with them.
That’s when I started to look for a support group.
I needed to connect with others in order validate that this was not just me dwelling on things or feeling sorry for myself. As I began my search for people sharing similar experiences of childlessness, I quickly found Childless not by Choice with Civilla Morgan. Immediately, I realized how many women go through this very challenging life outcome. I read story after story of women feeling EXACTLY like I did! I was not alone, and I had felt completely alone for so long – by my own doing I might add, as I refused to even discuss my journey with anyone. Reading the posts of other women as they shared the very emotions that I was struggling with was incredibly impactful. It lightened the burden somehow.
These emotions, the loss, the mourning, it’s all very personal. But that does not mean that there isn’t a group out there that cannot at least share, even if indirectly, with your pain. That is the point of this very short blog. If you are reading this, and continue to keep those emotions to yourself, being strong, being an Island…stop. Reach out, even if just to read about others, and to support them too. Helping others helps us heal, and others want to do the same by supporting us. There are no circumstances in the world that are so unique that someone isn’t there to share or want you to share and empathize.
If you have ever flown on a plane, the flight attendants always say that if the oxygen mask comes down out of the panel above you, that you should always put your mask on first, before helping others. This is true when it comes to problems in life. You cannot help others if you do not help yourself first. I’ve learned that now, and I am so much better for it. Still sad, and some days still struggle, but never again alone.