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.
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Well, my mission is to recognize and speak to the broken hearts of childless not by choice women, and men, around the world. I am spreading the great news that we can live a joyful, relevant, and fulfilled life, although we could not, did not, have the children we so wanted.
As I conducted the research for this episode, I got to thinking, you know, the decision to adopt is like just about any other decision that you make with forethought, common sense, and planning.
I mean what to have for lunch does not take much planning at least for the most part unless you are planning a special lunch.
Planning what route to take to get to a special event may take some research and then some planning, but it should be figured out quickly.
Then decisions can become gradually more difficult. Where to live, should you buy or rent, date this person, marry that person. Those take much more research and planning. At least they should.
But bringing a child into your life via adoption, how much thought should you put into that?
Did you think about the child during the process, the child’s personality, the child’s racial or ethnic background; or were you thinking about getting the funding together to complete the adoption?
Did you think about whether you would tell the child he or she was adopted if he or she was the same race as you?
What if you ended up having a biological baby, would you still love the adopted child the same way?
How would your family treat the adopted child?
Did you think about behavioral issues as the child matured?
Would you feel guilt over regretting that you adopted the child?
When you think about it, it’s much like getting engaged and planning a wedding right? Yeah, I know, I’ve never been married, but indulge me. Allow me to exercise common sense and the marriages I witness daily.
If you are married, did you do any soul-searching, marriage counseling, therapy-seeking, talking to couples who have been married for a million years before you said, ‘I do’? Or did you jump in feet first because it was time?
And in either case, soul-searching or jumping in feet first, did the marriage still have rocky roads, speed bumps, and brick walls, or was it smooth sailing?
Hint: whether you did the pre-marital things or not, there will still be rocky roads, speed bumps, and brick walls. But hopefully, you married someone who is all in, like you. Are you all in for the adoption?
OK, I will let you think about those questions. back to adopting a child. (pause) Well, wait. (pause) Did you consider the child? (pause)
Or did you just consider your feelings, the ones that emanate from within as well as the ones society put upon you? You know, like I mentioned earlier, it is just time and since you can’t have one of your own, you will just adopt.
I know, by now some of you are probably mad at me, calling me a hater because I did not have a child. You know, that one child, that little boy I always talk about. Yes, I thought I would have a little boy. I even had a name picked out for him.
But I will tell you that I also attempted to adopt on two different occasions. So, you may think me a hater. But I will tell you I never considered any of the above questions I mentioned above. I just felt it was time, husband or not, it was time to have a child—of my own or by adoption. Society and my thoughts were weighing on me continually.
There was a battlefield going on in my mind constantly! ‘You know you’re the only one who doesn’t have a child don’t you?’ ‘People are watching you, and the wonder what is wrong with you’. One of my worst thought battles was ‘people feel sorry for you, they are pitying you’. But there were good thoughts too, I really wanted to nurture and train up a child. I wanted to pour into a child so badly. I wanted to read bedtime stories, teach my child how to read especially since I started reading at an early age. I wanted to teach my child how to live in and be able to interact with anyone anywhere. I wanted to teach my child class because we all know you can’t buy class. I wanted to teach him or her that love of family was important, and love of God was foremost.
But none of that happened, because I never had the child, and I never got to adopt.
I only thought about my need to nurture a child. I only thought about how society must have viewed me, and probably still does. Husbandless, childless, weird, non-conformist, anti-establishment. You know the establishment. Get married, have children and ‘settle down’ like normal people.
And when I attempted to explain that I just never met the right man, I would be told to just settle. Just take what I can get and get into alignment with society’s norms. Then I realized I do not owe anyone an explanation.
I am not asking you not to adopt. There are a lot of beautiful children around the world who need love, nurturing, and guidance. I am simply asking you to think about the reasons for your decision to adopt. Consider all aspects of the adoption.
Consider the child.
And then consider this:
What would adopting a child do for you?
What would you do if you were not allowed to adopt—i.e., turned down by an agency, not enough money, not enough income, etc.?
What are your alternatives if you were turned down?
There is a saying here in the US, ‘check your heart’. What is your heart saying about adopting? Really.
Notes and corrections:
The exam was 250 questions with eight hours to finish, not 125 questions.
The verse I was trying to remember: “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”—Luke [6:45]
Content mentioned in the episode:
Links/sites used for research:
Articles of interest:
My contact information:
Pinterest: Civilla M. Morgan, MSM (https://www.pinterest.com/Civilla1/)
LinkedIn: Civilla Morgan, MSM
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Click the link below for details on living with Endometriosis.
http://Be sure it is indeed Endometriosis. Get a second opinion as it has sometimes been diagnosed as IBS—irritable bowel syndrome, among other things.
I am posting the following links so that you can do additional research if you would like. These links can also be found in the show notes of Episode 59—Endometriosis:
Civilla M. Morgan
Podcast: Childless not by Choice
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What does crisis mode mean to you? I believe it means something bad has happened or is about to happen to an individual or group of people.
I Googled the word Crisis, and this is what I found:
That last point is intense. ‘…indicating either recovery or death.’ Death is not always literal. Do you think a woman who finds out she will never have a child could go into crisis mode? Do you think she could die without dying, just checking out of the rest of her life?
I asked that question on Reddit, ‘could finding out you will not be able to have children send you into crisis mode?’ I got one response: ‘humbly, no.’
I respect that opinion. But I believe we are all guilty of the fact that we do not think deeply enough about most issues or most questions we are asked. To be fair, I did not ask this on Reddit, but what if the woman’s marriage, livelihood, even her safety, depends on whether she had a child or not? Could it be a crisis then?
Consider this: A landslide in a faraway land killing hundreds of people is sad. We feel bad for the survivors who lost loved ones and now must rebuild. But unless we were in the middle of that landslide, feeling bad about the situation is about all we can do. Jumping on a plane and going to help any way we could, might be a bit much and most likely unaffordable for most of us. Besides, isn’t that what organizations like The Red Cross is for?
If we think about all the very sad and scary situations going on in the world right now, we could become overwhelmed, maybe even immobilized or depressed, right? Don’t we have enough to deal with in our own lives?
By now you are probably asking ‘what does she want me to do about any of the world’s situations, or about the woman who cannot have children? Good question, because really, what can you do. It is her problem. We can feel sorry for her, but that would be about all we could do. And besides, how is a woman in danger because she cannot have children, why would she be in danger just from being childless?
Most of us do not realize that in 2017, it could be dangerous for a woman to not be able to bear a child. Living in the Western world, a childless woman can, for the most part, go through life unscathed by the shame, fear, and stigma of being childless. She would most likely not be beaten by her husband, divorced, or shamed by her husband’s family.
Sometimes we miss what is going on in the rest of the world because we are just too busy with our own lives. And to be fair, that is a worldwide phenomenon. We think the rest of the world operates like our world, our country. And honestly, most times we just cannot be concerned with an issue that does not resonate with us. That may be viewed as selfish, but I do not think that is the case. Life is short, and we just cannot pick up the sword for every cause.
But may I suggest that though we cannot pay attention to every issue, every cause, that we can at least be aware. We can put ourselves in that person’s shoes even as we go about our day and about our lives. We could at least empathize. I believe awareness and empathy make us more human. And being more human makes us less mean, less hateful, and even less scornful.
Scorn. Not a word we hear very often. But it tends to happen when we look down on someone who does not could not have the thing or things we have, with contempt. The thing about contempt is that life has a way of taking turns. We could end up in the very situation for which we had contempt.
May I suggest that as we make our way through life, let us remember to be kind, empathetic, and aware.
How could I possibly be two years into building a platform created to help women who are childless not by choice feel better about themselves? Feel better about their lives? Many of you know, my byline: ‘Living a joyful and relevant life although childless not by choice.’
It all started a few days before Mother’s Day. It always does. I thought I had gotten over the feelings of loss enough to make it through Mother’s Day without feeling like a second-class citizen when the pastor asked all the mothers to stand, as I remained seated. It’s a feeling only childless not by choice women could understand. At least the ones who are not over the pain. Because I hear tell there are childless not by choice women who are ‘over it’.
My brother said, ‘maybe one day you will realize how many people you have helped.’ He just could not understand how I could feel this way after telling him how the platform was finally taking a hold and growing.
My good friend said ‘you are not a fraud. Your primary audience is the women who feel the way you do. How could you talk to them if you did not understand how they feel?’ Then she recounted the multiple organizations and platforms that were created out of someone’s grief. I understood what she was saying. I understood what they both were saying. But will there ever come a Mother’s Day when my heart will be OK with remaining seated while all around me mothers stand up and accept their due recognition?
How could I possibly encourage childless not by choice people when my heart still breaks on Mother’s Day. It’s not too bad the other 364 days of the year. And I do not want to dim the light of recognition for mothers. After all, I have a mother. And every day I am thankful for her. But the fact is, the way God answered my prayers, my begging, my deal-making, was to not answer. Healing did not come. The adoption did not come. Honestly, I would have been more than OK with never marrying if I had had the child. But to hit a brick wall every turn I took was hard.
How am I supposed to convince other women that we can live relevant and joyful lives when I still battle sadness and a broken heart? How could I not be a fraud? But I am not. I am not because I battle those feelings and I help the childless not by choice anyway demographic anyway. When I battle and help, I am being transparent. And there is no such thing as a transparent fraud.