Childlessness: A Roller Coaster of Emotions

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of a roller coaster on Childlessness: A Roller Coaster of Emotions on Infertility Blog on Not So Mommy...

Trigger Warning:  Mention of Pregnancy

Many people love roller coasters.  Me?  Absolutely not.  I am NOT a roller coaster gal!  The nerve-wracking anticipation of getting to the top only to swoop down at lightning speed, turn from side to side, go upside down, sometimes backwards, all while screaming…  I truly do not understand the appeal!

Despite this, I rode the Harry Potter ride when we were at Universal.  The lady said it wasn’t a roller coaster.  She lied.

As we walked through the castle, I was content with my decision.  I enjoyed looking around, chatting with my family, and the anticipation of what was to come next.  But once I actually boarded, I was fairly certain that I had made a mistake.  And only a few short moments in, I knew with 100% certainty that I was not going to like what was coming.  I screamed, I cried, I worried my poor husband to death.  He held my hand the entire time, told me everything was going to be okay, and promised it would be over soon.  As we exited (me wiping my tear-streaked face), I was never so grateful to be done with something in my life!  And I will never get back on that ride.  I’ll stick to merry-go-rounds and the log ride (although neither of those are all that fun, either….)

I tell you all of this because when I say childlessness is a roller coaster of emotions, I mean it is an experience with anticipation, highs and lows, twists and turns, ups and downs, tears and screaming–an experience that you just want to be over…

And even worse than that, childlessness is a broken and poorly designed roller coaster.  There are moments when you feel that you are going too fast and too slow at the same time.  You are up and down all at once, forward and backward…  You have no earthly idea how you got on this ride and you really, really, really want it to be over!

But unfortunately, childlessness not by choice is a ride that never fully ends…

Five years into embracing my infertility and accepting my childless life, I thought that I had left the roller coaster.  I look at the bright sides, focus on good things, and love my roles as wife, dog mom, aunt, & host mom.  My childless life is pretty darned amazing, if I do say so myself!  But then…

I recently wrote that I had a wobble over Christmas.  It was a bit shocking to be back on the roller coaster because I thought I had finally left that nightmare ride far behind.  But when I found out my step-sister was expecting, …  Well, I was happy and sad all at once, feeling anticipation but also wondering how the bottom dropped out from underneath me so quickly.

How is it even possible to be happy and sad at the exact same moment?!  Jessica Hepburn, author of “The Pursuit of Motherhood” calls it “melanjoy.”  In other words, you have mixed emotions, being happy for someone else but sad for yourself.

“Mealnjoy” is really hard to understand.  We childless have difficulty fully grasping the whirlwind of emotions swirling inside us.  It is no wonder that the non-childless often don’t get it.

The good news?

One, the ride doesn’t last as long anymore.  Now, I simply have a wobble.  It’s like the log ride—one big rush of emotion and we’re done.  It is no longer the petrifying not-a-roller-coaster-but-is-a-roller-coaster Harry Potter ride that seems to go on forever.  So, please don’t fear.  There is an end.

Two, a vast majority of my friends and family are trying to be sensitive to my emotions over infertility and childlessness.  I truly believe this is because I have talked and continue to talk about my journey and my struggles.  How can they possibly understand something they have not experienced if I do not try to explain what childlessness is all about?  I encourage you to share your journey.  For me, writing really helped in the healing process.  I’d love it if you would inspire others and share your story with the Not So Mommy… Community.

Three, I’m on this ride with you.  Even though I did not enjoy the Harry Potter ride, my hubby was with me, and he made it bearable.  Even though I would not have chosen to be childless, it has allowed me to connect with incredible people, like you.  Don’t try to take this ride alone.  Join the community, find a support group, grab hold of someone’s hand!

And fabulous one, don’t you ever ever forget–you are childless, but you are not less! 
You.  Are.  Amazing!

"I am childless, but I am not less than anyone else" on Not So Mommy...

Featured Photo:  Jay Mantri on

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Rhonda Toothaker January 23, 2018 - 1:41 pm

For so long I thought I was alone in this struggle. It has been 20 something years for me and just when I think it’s better something like this happens and I feel myself starting to wobble. When I am in a group of ladies and the only thing they have to talk about is their children and grandchildren and even greats! I feel myself retreating from the conversation and eventually leaving the room. But, I also choose to have joy in the midst of the wobbles. Thank you so much for all of your encouragement.

Brandi Lytle January 23, 2018 - 1:49 pm

I am so grateful that my blogs are a source of encouragement for you, Rhonda. And you are strong indeed to find joy in the midst of the wobbles. Sending lots of hugs to you!

Sherry January 19, 2018 - 6:05 pm

I had never heard the story about the ride at Harry Potter World. Sure glad Dane was there to keep you from having a complete breakdown! Makes me remember when your very young brother talked your daddy into Mighty Mouse at Bell’s. All I could hear from your brother was “I don’t think I can do this !” as the car flew by. ??


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