On Being Childless: An Unexpected Grief Attack . . .

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of a woman's hand holding an empty swing on "On Being Childless: An Unexpected Grief Attack" on Not So Mommy..., a childless blog
SENSITIVE POST WITH POSSIBLE TRIGGERS THROUGHOUT:  Real, honest, raw talk about what might have been…  I shed numerous tears while writing this post.  Please, do not read if you are feeling vulnerable today.

A few weeks ago, while scrolling through social media, I saw a post…  “Our little would be 10 today.”  After fully reading the beautiful tribute this childless warrior wrote about her little, I stopped to think…

My husband and I did our first round of IUI a couple of weeks before my 30th birthday.  In fact, I found out that it didn’t work the day before I turned 30-years-old.  If it had worked, however, we would have had a December baby back in 2007.  While thinking about this, I realized that our little would be 12-years-old.  Upon this realization, an unexpected grief attack overwhelmed me.  An immense wave of sadness completely and totally engulfed my heart.  The pain was so intense that I felt as if I was back in my darkest days, back in the midst of our infertility battle.  Even now, my eyes glisten with tears as I think about the fact that this December 2020–during the crazy Covid year–we’d celebrate our little turning 13.  But back to the unexpected grief attack…

Honestly, the pain was so penetrating that I could not continue to ponder what might have been.  I shook my head and willed myself to think of something else, anything else.  But after allowing myself to step away from my unexpected grief attack for a moment, I did consider why it happened…

I realized that though I say I have accepted my infertility, I really only accepted that I was not able to conceive, that I was not able to have a baby, to have a little.  But I stopped there.  I didn’t know it, but I didn’t really grieve the fact that we’d never have a tween or teenager or college-age kid.  I didn’t move beyond the younger years.  And when I realized that our little–the one we dreamed of–would be entering her teenage years…  Well, it caused (and is causing) an unexpected grief attack.

So, as I sit here typing and sharing, I am crying.  Pain grips my heart.  My vision is blurry through the tears.  And I am not quite sure how to move forward…

I cannot go back to the dark days.  I cannot allow myself to enter that pit again.  But I know I must allow myself at least a moment to grieve what never was, what might have been…

My little…  Well, who wouldn’t be so little anymore…  She grew in my heart.  I was never able to conceive her.  So, I did not suffer the trauma of pregnancy or infant loss.  And so, I wonder…  Perhaps that makes it “easier” for me to grieve, let go, and move forward.  For those who did conceive, who felt life within, and then lost that little…  Well, perhaps it is more difficult for them…

Truly, I am thinking out loud here.  And this is only my individual perspective…  I do not want to minimize anyone’s pain.  Whether your little grew in your heart or your tummy, your grief is valid.  Actually, it is more than that.  Your grief is real.

As for me and my grief…  Well, I’ve been suffering from an endo-flare for over two weeks now.  And allowing myself to think about my little girl, to grieve her…  Well, that dull ache has returned to my back because stress aggravates my endometriosis.

So, while I will love her forever, I must go back (or move forward) to embracing my childless life, redefining momhood as a dog mom and host mom, looking for the bright sides, finding joy despite…

And though this makes me feel a bit selfish, I know she would understand.  Because I know my little would have loved her Mama.  And she’d want me to be happy…

 

Photo of candles on #WaveOfLight, Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, on Not So Mommy..., an infertility & childless blog

If anything I wrote about my unexpected grief attack resonates with you, fabulous one, please tell us about it in the comments.  (You can simply use an initial as your name, if you wish to remain anonymous.)
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Featured Photo: Created by me, using Canva

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13 comments

Liz Williams January 15, 2021 - 12:59 pm

i just recently found your blog after searching for support groups on facebook. I feel so lost sometimes. Yesterday was an especially hard day for me. I have never even had so much as a missed period. For the last 12 years, I have tried unsuccessfully at conceiving. In my younger years, I went through some health issues that should not have stopped me from being able to get pregnant. However, I am here. I have never tried IVF, IUI, or any drug to see what would work because I am so terrified of something going wrong. I fell into a deep, dark depression some time back that took me around 5 years to come out of. I feel in my heart that if treatment was to not work, or if I suffered a miscarriage, that I would go back there and never return. I do not know anyone personally that has gone through anything like this. The women in my family have never had an issue, so they don’t quite understand. I feel like I am stuck in this weird limbo. I get all the questions all the time, have you tried this or that, or what about adoption. But I guess I have just always wanted it to happen naturally for me.

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Brandi Lytle January 18, 2021 - 11:09 am

Liz, first, let me say that despite the circumstances, I am so grateful that you are here. Thank you for trusting me and this community enough to share your heart! That takes true courage and strength.

Second, I am so, so sorry that you are struggling through the pain and grief of childlessness. It is a very difficult road and can definitely cause depression. Personally, I believe you are very strong to realize that trying treatments that are not guaranteed to work could cause you to fall back into depression and therefore, have decided getting “p” needs to happen naturally for you. That is part of the reason my husband and I decided not to adopt. He was afraid that if we were matched, only to have the little taken away, that neither of us would be able to handle such devastation. It takes true strength to know your limits.

Another warrior shared her CNBC story, in which she discusses depression, mental illnesses, and more. I think it might resonate with you, allowing you to read about someone else who understands the struggle. Here’s a link to her story, in case you’d like to read – http://notsomommy.com/fellow-warrior-cnbc-story/

Also, I have many childless resources–other blogs, podcasts, closed Facebook groups, books, and more–linked here at Not So Mommy… There truly is a vibrant childless community ready to offer you love, support, and encouragement. Here’s a link to those resources, in case you’d like to check some of them out – http://notsomommy.com/childless-resources/

Finally, I am always here to offering a listening ear. I never want anyone to feel alone on this journey. Please, do not hesitate to comment, email, or send a private message via social media. Not So Mommy… is on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, & YouTube.

Sending you so many hugs, fellow warrior…

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Porscha Moody December 21, 2020 - 5:06 am

God bless you all, I can relate to each and every one of you. I am 35 years of age and my husband is 34 years of age. I just had a hysterectomy September 21, 2020. I had to because of the endometriosis and fibroids they were everywhere. But I never got to have children either which was truly a desire of my husband and I. I got pregnant once when we first got married 5 years ago but miscarriage at going on 3 months my husband took it way harder than I did because I was used to not dealing with grief and not acknowledging what happened it was a coping mechanism if you will for me but it resurfaced in my mind about a year later and I lossed it I just cried and cried because reality set in that one we didn’t even think we could conceive let alone naturally because of how bad the endometriosis and fibroids but then to know we did and thinking finally it’s our turn after watching tons of family have child after child and then ours taken away. We honestly felt tormented as if it was a harsh joke on us as if we’re being punished. But now we discovered it wasn’t. God isn’t punishing us or any of you. Why? We may never know until we’re no longer on this earth, but to be able to come together and share with others who have exact or similar stories such as all of ours is remarkable to finally fit in in our community. Thank you Brandi for starting this because I always felt where do I belong where can I fit in, and now I can joyfully say I’ve found it , it feels like home 😇 and I hope this encourages all who read this and look how Jesus turned our sorrow into joy and what looked a mess into a masterpiece. Be well everyone Jesus Christ does love you all he is close to the broken hearted 💖

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Brandi Lytle December 21, 2020 - 5:50 pm

Despite the circumstances that brought you here, I am so grateful you are part of this community, Porscha! THANK YOU for trusting us enough to share your truth. I am so sorry that you, too, have had to struggle with endometriosis and childlessness. I pray you are recovering well from your hysterectomy and am so grateful that you know Jesus loves you. Sending you so many HUGS…

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Porscha Moody December 23, 2020 - 5:20 am

Thank you so much Brandi sending hugs right back to you 😄

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Shona Jamadi-Jabang October 14, 2020 - 7:57 am

Having lost 5 pregnancies between the ages of 17 and 43 – yes miscarriages (I am 59 now) – I will just say my littles would have been 42, , 40, 39, 18, 15 – approximately – I may be off by a few months. The last two pregnancies happened when I had accepted being childless – so losing them as well when I thought they were my miracles felt like a cruel God joke. I have suffered from severe endometriosis since I was 15. I had a hysterectomy at 49 due to a fibroid which had taken over my uterus and due to the endo. and was told I would never have been able to carry any of those pregnancies to term because my cervix was paper thin. It made me feel a little better because I stopped thinking there was something I could have done. However, I still have sever grief moments even now as I see my friends become yummy granmummies and even great grand mummies. Because I look so much younger, people are always asking me if I am ever going to have kids (they think I am mid-forties or early 40’s depending on how much rest I have had lol). I have younger friends in their 40’s who are having late life kids.

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Brandi Lytle October 14, 2020 - 1:56 pm

Shona, first, let me say that I am so sorry for your losses. Hearing the ages your littles would be… Well, it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for trusting this community enough to share your story and your heart. Despite the circumstances, I am grateful you are here. I hope you find some validation knowing others have gone through (and are going through) similar struggles and have similar feelings. Sending you so many hugs…

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Mali October 12, 2020 - 5:08 pm

Yes, it hits you every so often. I had a moment the last week or so that hit me harder than anything has for a long time. But I am glad you said this – “So, while I will love her forever, I must go back (or move forward) to embracing my childless life, redefining momhood as a dog mom and host mom, looking for the bright sides, finding joy despite…” Because what other option is there? Two lives (hers AND yours) lost? That’s unthinkable. You’re being a survivor, not selfish. She would be proud.

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Brandi Lytle October 13, 2020 - 12:20 pm

Mali, thank you so much for your kind, kind words. They brought tears to my eyes… I have never thought of it that way–losing two lives (hers AND mine). You are right–“that’s unthinkable.” THANK YOU for reminding me that I am a survivor. Hugs, my fellow warrior…

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Natascha October 12, 2020 - 3:14 pm

I am so sorry about your grief and sadness. I had a similar yet very different experience: when I got married one of my bridesmaids had just found out that she was pregnant. She’s my husband’s cousin and we were often together on weekends. For the first few years of our marriage (we ttc right away), we often spent time with her family, eventually 2 little boys. We moved away when the eldest was 5 and then we met again 8 years later. When I saw her, her husband and her 2 boys and how they had grown, I was shocked and stunned by the grief. We actually spent a whole weekend together and I was crying all the time, blaming my red eyes and stuffy nose on “terrible allergies”. It was such a reality check on how time had passed and opportunities lost. I had a very difficult time recovering from that “holiday weekend”. Sending you much love and healing vibes.

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Brandi Lytle October 13, 2020 - 12:23 pm

Natascha, thank you for bravely sharing your heart. I am so sorry you suffered such a grief attack. My heart aches with you. “Opportunities lost…” What an eloquent way to poignantly capture the pain. Sending love and healing vibes back to you, my fellow warrior…

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Sherry October 12, 2020 - 2:33 pm

I am shedding tears as I read your blog and comment. I would have loved another child to be mammo to, and I shed tears for you, Dane and myself as well. It was not to be so you gave me Bruna. That brings intense joy. Thank you Lord for leading Brandi through her grief journey to where she is. Please bring her peace and calm her endo pain. 😘❤💚💜😘

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Brandi Lytle October 13, 2020 - 12:28 pm

I’ve been thinking about this grief attack a lot–what I lost and what I have. I’ve realized that grieving my “heart baby” (as a Not So Mommy… fabulous one so eloquently put it) does not diminish the love I have for the kids in my life–for my nieces, nephews, fur babies, and Bruna. Because just as Maddie can never replace Valentine or Prancer, Bruna can never replace our little that was not to be…

So, yes, we shed tears. And once we allow ourselves to grieve, we embrace the joy in our lives.

Thank you for the prayer. Sending love to the BEST Mammo ever…

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