To the Childless, Why did you give up?

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of a single tree barren of leaves with the sunset in the background on To the Childless, Why did you give up? on Infertility/Childless Blog on Not So Mommy...

It seems that some, perhaps many, do not believe that we are childless not by choice.  In their minds, if we wanted a baby badly enough, we would have done anything to have one.  There are tons of children, after all, who need loving homes.  So, why didn’t we just adopt?  To them, we are childless by choice because to them, we gave up.

And to this group, I would like to say that letting go is different than giving up.  What others who have never been through our situation don’t understand are the complexities that go along with both the infertility process and the adoption process.  My husband and I did not pursue IVF, so I am not qualified to discuss the intricacies of that procedure.  I can, however, tell you about endometriosis surgery, intrauterine insemination (IUI), and what it looks like to research and consider adoption (although we never formally tried to adopt).

So, we started to try…

For those who are lucky enough that nature works properly, you pee on a stick one time—to see if you are pregnant.  For those like me who are not so lucky, …  Well, I have peed on too many sticks…

I woke up countless mornings to pee on a stick.  I had to monitor my ovulation so that my hubby and I knew exactly when we should try.  There was no romance with a glass of wine.  No “how did this happen” moment.  Quite the contrary.  We knew exactly when I was going to ovulate, and we made sure to take advantage of that moment.  And then, we would wait for two weeks to see if that moment worked…

Why isn’t this working?!

But it never did.  (I lost count of how many months we tried…)  So, the next step was to go to an infertility specialist.  Oh, what fun that is.  Filling out pages upon pages of paperwork that ask ridiculously personal questions.  (Perhaps that is why I can write this post, however.  There are absolutely no secrets for those of us who have suffered infertility.)  And then, the anticipation to find out what’s wrong and what you can do to fix it and how quickly you can start trying to make the baby that you so desperately want…

Menopause first.  Then, the baby…

For me, the making the baby was going to have to wait because the doctor was fairly certain that I had endometriosis.  That meant surgery and six months of medical menopause.  While the surgery (which did indeed find endometriosis wrapped around my ovaries and appendix) wasn’t awful because it was laparoscopic, no one should have to preview menopause.  I didn’t have hot flashes.  I was just hot.  All the time.  I had headaches.  Every single day.  And the mood swings…  Well, I don’t even want to talk about them.  The only thing that helped was chocolate shakes.  Which I craved.  And ate.  Every single day.  Cue weight gain.  I literally cried to my husband the day I was supposed to go get my last shot of Lupron.  I really, really, really did not want to get that last shot.  I was miserable.

But my sweet, rationale, not going through the hormonal turmoil of medical menopause husband encouraged me to finish the meds so that I could get healthy and we could have a baby.  So, I did.  And we moved on to intrauterine insemination…

It takes two.  Or maybe three or four…

Peeing on a stick every morning and timing exactly when my hubby and I were going to try was a fabulous romantic get-away compared to IUI.  It takes two?  Yeah, right.  Try three or four.  Nothing like having a nurse and an infertility doctor present along with you and your hubby while trying to conceive your first child.  The nurse was sweet.  After the procedure (when they tilted the table back to get your feet higher than your head for 15 minutes), she would lower the lights and play soothing music.  Dane and I would hold hands and talk and try to stay relaxed and hopeful, but not so hopeful that our hearts would be crushed in two weeks if this didn’t work…

And it didn’t work.  And it didn’t work.  And it didn’t work.  And then, we decided to take a break.

Until we decided to try again.  And again.  And again.  And again.  And you guessed it.  Four more times, and not one of them worked.

And some research and meetings…

And during our ten year battle, we also researched adoption—domestic, international, through child services, embryo.  We researched new and innovative infertility treatments, like mini-IVF.  We even researched sperm donors…

But nothing felt right for both of us.  If I was comfortable with something, Dane wasn’t.  And if he was okay with it, I just wasn’t sure.  But we kept looking and trying and hoping…

Until he wanted to stop…

Until my hubby decided that he just couldn’t do it anymore, and he told me he wanted to stop trying.

Give up?  What?!  We can’t give up now!

But, after much reflection, I realize that we didn’t give up on anything.  We let go.  I let go.  I had clung to the dream of having a baby so tightly for so many years that I truly did not know any other way to be.  I was trying to conceive.  I was trying to adopt.  I was trying to have a baby.  I was trying.

The opposite of trying…

And the opposite of trying is giving up, right?

Sometimes, but not always.  In our case, to stop trying did not mean to give up.  To stop trying meant to let go.  I had to let go of the dream of having a baby.  And that meant I had to open my heart to the pain and grief and bereavement of allowing this dream to die.  I had to feel the deep and hollow ache, the emptiness, the uncertainty of a life without kids.

Giving up or letting go?

No, I did not give up.  Because when someone gives up, they never really cared in the first place.  Learning a foreign language too hard?  Just give up.  What’s the difference?  Don’t want to play basketball anymore?  Give up.  No big deal.  Don’t want to finish that project?  Give up.  Giving up is easy.

But after ten years of trying, surgery, infertility treatments, adoption meetings, and more, we did not decide that we just didn’t want to have kids.  We didn’t decide that it was just too hard.  We didn’t decide that it wasn’t worth it.  We didn’t give up!

But we did let go.  We opened our eyes and hearts and minds to the possibility of a different life, a childless life.  And it was the hardest decision that we ever made.

 

Letting go does not mean giving up Quote on To the Childless, Why did you give up? Infertility/Childless Blog on Not So Mommy...

Letting go… on Not So Mommy…

 

Featured Photo:  Johannes Plenio on StockSnap.io

 

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29 comments

Aria April 7, 2020 - 12:34 pm

I never got my chance to try, I am 34. My ex-husband made excuses to why we weren’t able to try yet, and my now BF doesn’t want kids. I love my boyfriend. I respect his decision. I search online to find people that got through not trying. It’s just not something I see happening now. It breaks my heart every day.

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Brandi Lytle April 8, 2020 - 1:24 pm

Aria, I am so sorry that you are struggling with accepting being childless by circumstance. I appreciate that you respect your boyfriend’s decision. My husband asked me to let go of our dream of having a little, so I understand what it means to choose the love of your partner. But that does not mean letting go of the dream of having kids isn’t painful. That definitely causes grief and heartbreak. I’m grateful that you are reaching out to those, like me, who understand that pain. I am always here to listen. Plus, there are 70+ links to blogs, closed FB groups, websites and more on the resources page here at Not So Mommy… There is a vibrant, loving childless not by choice community ready to support you on this journey. Sending you hugs…

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Rachel October 16, 2019 - 9:08 am

Thank you for this post. It really hit home. For me, after 12 years of a very similar life, my husband decided he wanted a divorce. It put such a strain on our marriage.

Around the time I got remarried 6 years ago, I started having more issues that I struggled with until a few weeks ago when I ended up having a hysterectomy. During my recovery, I’ve been reflecting on my journey and just as you’ve said, it wasn’t something that I just gave up on. I’ve had to let go. Pregnancy was something that was not meant to be.

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Brandi Lytle October 16, 2019 - 10:14 am

Rachel, I am so sorry for your infertility struggles and the ultimate strain it put on your first marriage. I am grateful that you are with someone now who can, hopefully, help as you heal from your hysterectomy and begin to accept a childless life. Despite the circumstances that brought you here, I am grateful that you are a part of this community. Thank you for trusting us enough to bravely share your story, you heart. So many hugs…

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Rachel Williams October 16, 2019 - 2:34 pm

Thank you Brandi. I wish I would’ve added to my initial comment that my current husband is so supportive and we are in this journey together. I’m so blessed to have him.

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Brandi Lytle October 16, 2019 - 2:40 pm

That is so wonderful, Rachel! Having a supportive husband is a true blessing. Dane is a major reason that I was able to accept our childless life and find joy in our story…

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Carol October 14, 2020 - 7:43 pm

Can I ask how old were you when you had your hysterectomy? I’m facing the possibility of having one with no children as well.

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Rachel October 15, 2020 - 3:57 pm

Hi, I was 38 years old. It’s been a year and I feel so much better after having it. I 2ish you the best.

Shivani June 9, 2019 - 5:33 pm

Thank you for this! My husband and I recently “stopped trying”. We were just talking today that while I know this is the best decision for us, the hard part is the grief of “letting the dream die” and since I’m a planner, the figuring out what is next. This post speaks to where we are in this journey we call life. Thank you.

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Brandi Lytle June 10, 2019 - 9:51 am

Shivani, despite the circumstances that brought you here, I’m so glad that you are a part of this community. And I am very grateful that this post resonated with you. Letting go is difficult… Yet, there is also relief and freedom, which allow us to “figur[e] out what is next.” So many hugs…

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Barbara January 2, 2019 - 10:51 pm

It’s like you are in my head. I want to print your blogs and hand them out like fliers when I get asked for the millionth time about adopting or someone says, “Don’t give up. I just know you’ll be a mom.” It’s not just other people judging me, I’ve been wondering for the past couple years if I’m not as good or strong a person as I thought I was bc I’m not sure how much longer I can try and I don’t want to do IVF or adopt for both financial and personal reasons. Your words help to ease my inner struggle just a little.

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Brandi Lytle January 3, 2019 - 11:57 am

Barbara, I am so grateful that my words resonated with you and helped “ease your inner struggle,” as you said. I started this blog in the hopes of helping others not feel so alone on this journey. Thank you for taking the time to let me know that it has done just that.

Also, let me say that I am quite certain you are a good and strong person. Deciding to let go and move forward with the what is… Well, that’s one of the strongest things a person can do. So many hugs to you!

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Karen January 28, 2018 - 8:10 am

As always, you speak to my soul! I am so grateful I found your blog. Every time you post, it is like YES!!!!!!!!!
This blog was so spot on. My pet peeve (well, one of my many) is when I hear people talking about infertility and saying they are not quitters. There is no guarantee of a baby, no matter what means your try. Choosing to live without children was the hardest choice we made. I think that is what is hard for other people to understand. It’s not like you get one negative pregnancy test and are like “oh well, I am done, I will not have kids”. It is so much deeper. We didn’t QUIT. We CHOSE what worked best for our family.
THANK YOU!!!

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Brandi Lytle January 28, 2018 - 9:17 pm

You are so welcome! And I am so grateful that there are others who understand (although I truly wish they didn’t have to….)

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Caylie October 23, 2019 - 1:14 am

Thank you for sharing this. I’m terrified of letting go of this dream. I’m young, and realistically, we don’t have to get pregnant now. But I’ve wanted a baby ever since I can remember, and just after we got married, I miscarried and things haven’t been the same since. No, we haven’t been married long (three years), but no one ever prepared me for the possibility of being infertile. I’ve watched my sisters struggle, but both of them now have beautiful children. I just feel so hopeless and lost. I love my husband and I know we’re going to be fine if children aren’t in our future. But it’s getting to that “fine” point is what is being hard. Hearing that people try for 10+ years only to be unsuccessful–I’m almost scared to keep trying because what if? What if it just breaks my heart more and more? I don’t know if I can take that. I can barely handle it now. I just want to know how to keep going, no matter what ends up happening.

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Brandi Lytle October 23, 2019 - 9:55 am

Caylie, first, let me say that I am so sorry for your loss. And I am so sorry that you are feeling “hopeless and lost.” Infertility is a grueling journey and definitely takes its toll on emotions and relationships. As someone who struggled to have a baby for ten years, only to end up living a childless not by choice life, I get it… And I am sorry you are having to go through this battle.

As for getting to that “fine” point… That is different for everyone. For some (like me), it took ten years of trying before I was ready to even consider letting go. For others, it takes three years or two or five or eight… There is no “right” amount of time. My husband knew that if we continued TTC or trying to adopt, it would “break my heart more and more,” as you said. He knew that we had to let go and move forward with what is… It was the best decision we ever made. If you’d like to talk more, please feel free to email me at notsomommy.com@gmail.com

Despite the circumstances, I am glad you are here. And I am so grateful that you trust this community enough to share your heart. Sending you so many hugs…

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Jessica January 27, 2018 - 11:36 am

Exactly. The pain each spouse feels when they aren’t comfortable with an avenue and the other is, the conversations for years about “are we doing more damage than good?” Everything in your life being measure in 2 week chunks for years and years. The trauma of an unsuccessful attempt. The hardest part was letting go and moving on. Changing the way we saw our lives. New future, new roles, and where to find all the pieces of ourselves that scattered through the process to put us back together. There’s nothing easy about deciding it’s time to move on.

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Brandi Lytle January 27, 2018 - 2:01 pm

You are right, Jessica. And you made a very good point that we do become “scattered” and have to put ourselves back together again. Infertility and childlessness are not for the weak! You are strong and amazing, my friend! 🙂

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Jessica January 27, 2018 - 2:32 pm

Thank you. ? There’s a special kind of strong that is the product of Infertility. We all have it. ❤️

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April January 26, 2018 - 5:35 pm

This is beautifully written, so many people feel like my husband and I gave up after infertility, multiple miscarriages, and then being told due to a medical condition that we should not pursue future pregnancies….we didn’t give up…we let go! And like you said it was one of the hardest most difficult decisions we’ve ever had to make! We are learning to accept life as God has it planned for us not as we planned! You and your blog are such an inspiration!

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Brandi Lytle January 26, 2018 - 6:38 pm

Thank you for your kind words, April. Like you, I had to trust that God has a plan, but it looks quite different from the one I expected! I am so grateful for this childless community. Our support of one another is inspiring!

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Sherry January 26, 2018 - 5:07 pm

My heart ached for you every day of those 10 years. I am deeply grateful for the strength you and Dane found to come out whole on the other side of infertility, and to be able to use your story to help others. My admiration knows no bounds.

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Brandi Lytle January 26, 2018 - 6:40 pm

Your support and acceptance of our non-traditional family–fur babies, exchange students–is absolutely amazing. I am blessed indeed…

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April January 26, 2018 - 10:56 am

So true! It is hard for me to fight this gremlin in my own head let alone hear it from the outside world. Letting go has been extremely scary, painful, and freeing at the same time.

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Brandi Lytle January 26, 2018 - 11:08 am

“Scary, painful, and freeing” – I LOVE this! You describe letting go perfectly, April. And you are so right that we are already battling in our own mind, so we don’t need the opinions of others.

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Aimee January 26, 2018 - 9:13 am

It’s so difficult when the people around you say “no, no don’t give up” as though all you need is encouragement. This isn’t a foreign language course or something for which we need motivation or positive thoughts to make it happen. The hardest thing I have ever done is “let it go”.

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Brandi Lytle January 26, 2018 - 10:33 am

You are so right, Aimee! We don’t need encouragement to keep trying. We need support with this very difficult decision of letting go.

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Debbie January 26, 2018 - 7:23 am

Thanks for this. I agree there are many who think that if you wanted it bad enough you would find a way to be a mother but is it really that simple? Maybe for some it is but for me it is not. I enjoy your blog. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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Brandi Lytle January 26, 2018 - 8:48 am

Debbie, it was not that simple for me either. Honestly, the longer I live, the more I realize that the world is rarely black and white. And we never really understand a situation until with go through it. Even then, our perspective is unique to us…

Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I’m so glad that you enjoy the blog. I sure do enjoy writing it!

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