Tomorrow I will have lunch with some new girlfriends. We've all only known each other for a little over a year. We are different ages, live in different areas, and have very different jobs. I have never met their families, been to their houses or even know their birthdays. But we have one thing in common that ties us together and shapes our lives. We each wanted children but couldn't have them.
We found each other through the magic of the internet, realized we lived in the same metro area, and had a desire to meet other women like ourselves. We get together once a month and talk, laugh, and sometimes a few tears are shed. But mostly, we just enjoy that we can be ourselves, support one another and simply share some common experiences.
Being part of this group is something that I think we each appreciate, but we never wanted to be a member of this group. In fact, all of us spent lots of time and money trying to avoid it. We each endured the pain and heartache of our childlessness before we met each other. We found each other 'after the fact' and now we share our stories of suffering and trials but also of recovery and healing.
When we're together we don't have to worry about having to answer stupid or hurtful questions. (ie Do you have kids? Why don't you just adopt?) We aren't afraid to talk to each other about our pain, our fears, our feelings. We don't have to defend our decisions or our emotions to each other. We just accept one another as a member of a unique club that none of us ever wanted to join. I'm thankful for these women and look forward to our time together. They give me something that other people in my life aren't always able to give me despite their best intentions; understanding.
Like many people who are childless, not by choice, there were several factors that lead me to be without children. I can’t really say I wasn’t able to have children because of one simple but sad reason. Looking back, I can see it was a series of reasons why I didn’t have children.
I met my dear husband when I was 33 years old. So, my ‘biological clock’ as they say, had already been ticking for awhile. 3 months after we married, my husband received a cancer diagnosis & was very ill the first year of our marriage. Later, after he had healed and we had both recovered from that difficult year, we tried to get pregnant, but couldn’t. We sought out different doctors, all of whom were encouraging, but didn’t provide any clear answers as to why we weren’t successful in starting a family. As time went on, I feared that as an old woman I would still wonder why I couldn’t have a baby. Finally, I heard about a doctor who specialized in fertility issues and traveled out of state for a consultation. At 42 years of age, I was told for the first time specifically what health issues I had that were making it difficult to for me to get pregnant. I received treatment for these issues, but still wasn’t able to have a child.
My story spans 10 years. Through it all there were medical specialists, failed infertility treatments, 4 surgeries, thousands of dollars towards medical bills, unfulfilled hopes of adopting a child, many tears, & countless prayers. There were people who loved me & supported me & witnessed my suffering. And there were those who didn’t. There were many social events where I wanted to scream when someone asked me “how many children do you have?”(that still happens sometimes!) There were, and still are, days when I visit an elderly family member and wonder who is going to spend time with me in my old age?
But, my story doesn’t end there. Over time, I healed from my grief of not having children. I can’t identify one thing that defined my recovery, it was a process that occurred one day at a time. I remember the dark days that were part of my past and I don’t want my life to be defined by my suffering. I want and I have created a different ending for my story. Today, I can honestly say that I am happy in my childless life. Do I wish I had children, grandchildren & great-grandchildren? Absolutely I do! But, I have only this life, and I am choosing to live it as best I know how. I spend time with people that I love. I have a job that challenges and fulfills me. I enjoy traveling, cooking, gardening, taking drives in the country, and watching movies with happy endings.
Some moments are still hard, but they are moments and no longer months or years.
After healing and working through the grief of being childless, I just knew in my own childless heart that I wanted to help others who were walking the same path I had endured in the past. I didn’t want anyone else to feel alone and that there was no one else who understood their feelings, their pain.