As told to Kathleen Guthrie Woods
“I am on the swim up, but I haven’t broken the surface yet,” Lynn* says, in answer to where she is on her journey. “At the same time, I feel scared to break free of it, to let it go. I feel stuck; I’m scared to turn the corner.”
Now 41, she’s been on the infertility/ran out of time rollercoaster for several years. Although she’s starting to make peace with her path, she continues to wrestle with the heartbreaking losses of the dream of holding her newborn and looking into familiar eyes in a new face, the memories that will never be made, and “all of the love that I have to give to that child that will never be given.”
Yet she continues to look for hope. “Some people come out the other end of this situation and say that they now know how strong they are, and that they can get through anything,” she says. “What I am learning is that I can survive, and that it’s okay to feel all of it. It’s even okay to be weak sometimes.”
After reading her story, I hope you’ll reach out to her in the comments. Perhaps you can share with her your own answer to the last question.
LWB: Describe your dream of motherhood.
Lynn: I can’t honestly say that I spent my younger years yearning to be a mom like so many women do. I did want children, but it always seemed like a goal for the next phase of my life: when I was a little older, when I had a better job, when I had a husband, etc. I had a long-term boyfriend in my early 20s, and I wanted to get married and start a family, but he was not interested. I did finally leave him and spent the next 10 years being very single. By the time I was in my mid-30s, I was overwhelmed by the desire to be a mom. I had spent so many years concentrating on my job and dating, but I felt no purpose in my life. Most of the men I dated were a mess, and I started to doubt that I would ever find something real. I met my husband when I was 38, and he was definitely worth the wait. We started trying to get pregnant even before we got married, then quickly learned it was not going to be an easy road for us. We did all of the drugs, intrauterine insemination (IUI), and then in vitro fertilization (IVF).
LWB: Where are you on your journey now? (for example: still in denial, angry, hoping for a miracle, depressed, crawling toward acceptance, embracing Plan B)
Lynn: Can I be all of these things at once? (LOL) I guess I am crawling toward acceptance, but still struggling with a little bit of depression. And I would be lying if I said that I didn’t harbor a secret hope for a miracle way down deep inside of me.
LWB: What was the turning point for you?
Lynn: Not sure I have totally hit that yet, but we did a round of IVF a little over a year ago. They were only able to harvest one egg, and although it looked good at first, it didn’t end up taking. We have thought about using an egg donor, but my husband is not willing to put us in $25,000 worth of debt to do it. At our age, we wouldn’t have that paid off until retirement (if we were lucky enough to pay it off at all).
I had an early miscarriage a few months ago. It was the first time in my entire life I had ever been pregnant. It came and went quickly, and it has been awful. I had just started down the road to acceptance, and then it happened. After fighting the anger, depression, and heartache of not being able to have a child, there is a part of me that wants to come up out of the depths of all of this and see what the next part of my life is going to look like.
LWB: What’s the best advice you’ve received?
Lynn: My husband and I are seeing a counselor, and she told me that I am grieving and that it’s so important to try to channel the emotions I have into something healthy and constructive. I have been journaling a lot, and it seems to be helping.
LWB: What advice would you like to give to your younger self?
Lynn: Be aware of your fertility and be proactive about it at an earlier age. Don’t just assume that you have forever to make it happen or that because celebrities have children in their 50s or your aunt’s cousin’s mother got pregnant when she was 47 that you can too. It’s harder than you think, and much harder than we are led to believe by our culture and media.
LWB: How has LWB helped you on your journey?
Lynn: The honesty and empathy shown here is everything. When I read women’s stories and read your posts, I don’t feel alone. Thank you for that.
LWB: What is your hope for yourself this coming year?
Lynn: That I could reach past the survival phase and reach a place where I can thrive. I want to find myself again. I feel like my personality, my “mojo,” has been lost through all of this. I hope my husband and I can start to embrace our lives and celebrate that we found each other. I want us to fully enjoy the rest of our lives together.
LWB: What’s your Plan B?
Lynn: I don’t have one. However, I am in the market for one if you know where I can find one. 🙂
*We allow each contributor to choose another name, if she wishes, to protect her privacy.
What is your Plan B? Or are your wounds so raw that you can’t even imagine a happy future? We can all benefit from hearing about your experiences, plus we’d like to support you. Please visit the Our Stories page to get more information and the questionnaire, and consider sharing your story with women who truly understand what you’re going through.
Did you know Kathleen Guthrie Woods is getting ready to tell her own story? The Mother of All Dilemmas follows her journey of pursuing being a single mother then embracing a life without children, and explores the reasons our society still presumes to calculate a woman’s worth based on whether or not she’s a mother. Keep an eye on LifeWithoutBaby.com for announcements about the book’s release.