As told to Kathleen Guthrie Woods
When Kara first shared her story with us in 2015, I was really impressed by her strength and her candor. In her answer to how LWB had helped her on her journey, she included that it was a safe place where she could vent. Can I just say how incredibly proud I am of all of us that we have created this for each other?
This year I’ve been checking in with some of the past “Our Story” contributors because I want to hear how they’re doing. I’m hopeful that their worlds have gotten a little brighter, their burdens a little lighter. When that isn’t the case, I’m grateful that here we can speak truth and support each other through the dark parts of this journey. But then, someone reports in that things can heal over time, and it gives me hope.
Here’s Kara’s original story, followed by her 2018 update. I hope her sharing the stages of her journey is helpful to you. — KGW
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Kara, 34, was one of those little girls who mothered her baby dolls and younger siblings. “I always knew I was going to be a mom with a lot of kids,” she says, but circumstances led her down a different path. These days she experiences the all-too-familiar cocktail of grief, guilt, and anger, with hints of acceptance, as she and her husband pursue their Plan B. Here’s what she has to share about her journey.
LWB: Are you childfree by choice, chance, or circumstance?
Kara: Childfree by circumstance. After trying for 10 months, my OB/GYN thought it was because my cycle wasn’t regular. After we “fixed” me and I still wasn’t pregnant, my husband was tested. His sperm count came back zero and he was diagnosed with no vas deferens [a congenital condition in which the tubes that carry sperm fail to fully develop].
After doing our own research, we talked our primary care doctor into having my husband tested for Cystic Fibrosis (CF). He was diagnosed with CF, but in what is called a “mild” case. Mild cases are where the mucus builds up somewhere other than the lungs, usually either the sinuses (my husband’s case) or digestive tract. Because of his having CF, I had to be tested before a fertility clinic would see us. I don’t have CF, but I have 5T Polymorphism. For me that means nothing, that is just how my DNA is “strung” together. But 5T doesn’t “play” well with CF, and we would have a 50% chance of having a child with a classic CF case (in the lungs). That was something we didn’t want to do to a child just to be parents. We stopped the journey after only four years, and we already knew adoption wasn’t a calling we felt was for us.
LWB: Where are you on your journey now?
Kara: I still go through the stages of grief, usually skipping denial and spending more time than I should in the angry stage. We’ve moved on to Plan B, but sometimes I feel guilty being there.
LWB: What was the turning point for you?
Kara: After meeting with the fertility doctor and seeing how all they wanted was my money and not caring how the process was difficult for my husband, we just stopped cold. They didn’t care that my husband was the one with the issues. We could get donor sperm and that would make a baby. I didn’t want any baby, I wanted my husband’s baby. After much prayer and talking, we decided it was healthier to stop.
LWB: What’s the hardest part for you about not having children?
Kara: Seeing others mistreat their children. Or parents complaining about their kids for selfish reasons.
LWB: What’s the best part about not having children?
Kara: Being able to do Plan B: travel around the world. Sometimes, when I’m in the angry grief stage and a mom complains to me about my travels, the best part is saying, “You got to multiply and replenish the earth…I get to travel the earth.” (Sometimes being the big B word is mentally healthy for me.)
LWB: How do you answer “Do you have kids?”
Kara: It usually starts with a quick no. How sarcastic my answer is depends on who is asking and what stage of grief I am in that day.
LWB: How has LWB helped you on your journey?
Kara: It gives me a place to read about and to vent to others who know how it feels to go through life without children.
• • •
LWB: Where are you on your journey today?
Kara: Right now I’m embracing Plan B, which for my husband (of almost 13 years) and me is traveling around the world. Since 2015, when my story was posted, we have taken many vacations: Hawaii, Caribbean Cruise, went to St. Maarten, Panama Canal Cruise, been to Jamaica, another Caribbean Cruise, been to Miami and the Florida Keys, a Baltic Sea cruise, a Bahama Cruise, and in a couple months we will be doing a Mediterranean Cruise. We really enjoy cruising, but we also like to go to all-inclusive resorts, especially resorts like Sandals—no one under 18 is allowed.
In the summers I get my child “fix” by tutoring and babysitting. This year I’m really looking forward to school starting so they all go back to school and I can have my quiet time back. Most days I’m doing pretty good. The only time I feel sad about not having children is Christmas. While on vacation, when I’m relaxing having fun doing what we are doing, I notice how exhausted the parents look with dragging their kids around. And most of the time I’m glad that isn’t me. I want to enjoy my vacations.
LWB: What would you like to say to the you of 2015?
Kara: I would say that the pain passes, things get better. I was only on the baby/infertility crazy train for four years. I am a fast mover when it comes to making decisions like this. Four years might seem like a long time to some, but I’ve known people who have been on it for 10 to 15 years. Usually I’m not sad, I’m mad. And not even mad at the situation or God, but at people and how they can be cruel with their unthinking words or even intentionally mean words. Now, at 38, I’m not afraid to speak up and tell people how I feel or to back off, because it is none of their business.
If you’ve been feeling that you’re all alone on this journey, I encourage you to read other members’ stories here. There is a lot of wisdom and support in the stories themselves and in the comments. Then, when you’re ready, I hope you’ll share your story with us. Like Kara, you’ll find a safe place to “vent to others who know how it feels to go through life without children.” Go to the Our Stories page to get more information and the questionnaire.