As told to Kathleen Guthrie Woods
“I’m so glad that I found Life Without Baby,” Darla wrote when she sent in her story for this column. “I have felt so alone in my pain for far too long, and it’s good to know that there are others like me and we have a place to share our stories.”
Yes! That’s why we do this, so that we can heal ourselves through the sharing of our experiences and support each other as we grieve our losses and find inspiration for moving forward with new life plans.
Darla was diagnosed in her mid-thirties with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the cause of her infertility. Now 53, she is still working through the grief of being childfree, although she feels she’s reached a turning point.
After you read about Darla, I hope you’ll add your words of commiseration and encouragement in the Comments. Then, won’t you please share your story with us? Information on how to submit your answers to the “Our Stories” questionnaire appear below.
LWB: Describe your dream of motherhood.
Darla: When I was sixteen I embroidered two little baby shirts (I still have them). I knew at that young age that I wanted to be a mother. I made no career plans, didn’t plan for higher education, I just wanted to be somebody’s Mom.
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)
Darla: ALL OF THE ABOVE!!!!!!!
LWB: What was the turning point for you?
Darla: The turning point is now. I have suffered from insomnia and anxiety for many years, and I think there is a connection with the grief I’ve been suppressing for so long. It’s time to seek help, connect with others who know what I’m feeling, and move on and find joy in other adventures.
LWB: What’s the hardest part for you about not having children?
Darla: Christmastime is hard for me. When I hear the lyric “Every mother’s child is gonna spy…,” it brings tears to my eyes because I will never know that joy. I have no one to pass my traditions on to. No one will be heir to the things I love.
LWB: What’s the best advice you’ve received?
Darla: Your loss is very real. Seek help and let yourself grieve.
LWB: What’s one thing you want other people to know about your being childfree?
Darla: If you have children, don’t tell me how wonderful it is and how much I’m missing; I’m well aware of what I’m missing. Also, don’t tell me you understand my pain—you can’t know. My mother actually told me that she understands what it feels like to be childless. Really? She has three children. I know she is just trying to empathize, but she can’t know the pain I feel.
LWB: What do you look forward to now?
Darla: I’m hoping to travel. There is so much I still want to see, so many new places to discover. There’s more time behind than ahead, and I want to make the best of it.
LWB: What is your hope for yourself this coming year?
Darla: I’ve waited too long to grieve my loss. I hope to heal the pain and move on. It’s time.
Where are you on your journey? Are your wounds raw? Have you made some progress toward accepting a life without children? 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.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status.