As told to Kathleen Guthrie Woods
I’ve been revisiting some of our early posts, and as I re-read some of the Our Stories columns, I found myself wondering, “How is she doing today?” So I asked.
Following is Kellie’s story, which first appeared in April of 2014. At the end, she shares where she is now. Whether you’re new to the Life Without Baby community or in the midst of your journey and still struggling, I hope this update will renew your hope for your future.
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Kellie was 19 years old when she got married for the first time, and although she always knew she wanted children, starting a family was never discussed in 14 years of marriage. “I never felt the desire to have his children,” she says. A few years after her divorce, she met her current husband, who, like her, was waiting for the “right one to come along.” Although the odds were stacked against them (Kellie was 39 when they got married), they decided to try for the family they both wanted.
LWB: Are you childfree by choice, chance, or circumstance?
Kellie: After six months of trying the old-fashioned way, we were told that I had premature ovarian failure. We moved on to IVF, then to using donor eggs, which we attempted three times. We finally decided it was time to get off the roller coaster, work on our marriage (as infertility can definitely take a toll on that), and figure out what Plan B looks like for us.
LWB: Where are you on your journey now?
Kellie: I feel like I am somewhere in the acceptance stage, but at times, even at 45 years old, I still hope for a miracle. I am officially in menopause and know this is completely unrealistic, but I still get moments of “What if?” Maybe that would be a bit of denial as well.
LWB: What was the turning point for you?
Kellie: The turning point for me was after I read Lisa’s book (I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home). Up until then, I felt like I was the only one going through this; I was so alone. I would get on the Internet and look for blogs, forums, really anything or anyone that I could relate to or who could relate to me, but what I usually found were topics and discussions on ways to “help you get pregnant”, whether it’s eating this or that, stop stressing, etc., and there were always the success stories that went along with this. I just couldn’t relate. There would be no success story for me, no miracle pregnancy, and I felt so hopeless, a complete failure, and at times suicidal. Somewhere along the way Lisa’s book popped up. I read it, realized I wasn’t alone in this hell, and a peace came over me that I just can’t explain. I joined her blog and have never looked back. I no longer feel shame, and I am no longer embarrassed to tell my story if someone asks.
LWB: What’s the hardest part for you about not having children?
Kellie: Not being able to give my husband a child. I often thought I should leave him to give him the chance to find someone younger and fertile.
LWB: What’s the best part about not having children?
Kellie: The freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want. We are also not nearly as financially strapped as we would be if we had children.
LWB: What have you learned about yourself?
Kellie: While on three years of hormone injections, I learned I can be a real bitch! Just ask my husband. J Actually, I am stronger emotionally and mentally then I ever thought I was.
LWB: What is the best advice you’d offer someone else like you?
Kellie: First and foremost, be true to yourself. People who have children will never truly understand what it’s like to be infertile. This includes family as well. I lost a very good friend over this because she just couldn’t understand what I was going through and only offered criticism and judgment about the way I was handling our loss. Furthermore, if you are invited to baby showers, birthday parties, etc., and you really don’t want to go, DON’T GO! Do not ever let anyone make you feel bad for your decision. In time, these events will become easier, but until then, do not force yourself to do anything that makes you sad or uncomfortable. And please do not feel guilty for putting yourself first.
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LWB: Where are you on your journey today?
Kellie 2018: I am embracing Plan B. There are still moments when I get sad, usually around the holidays, but these feelings don’t last for very long anymore. When we realized that children were not in our future, we knew that a lot of traveling would be. We have held true to that by taking at least two long vacations per year plus many long weekends. I have a very full and happy life. Every so often, my husband and I talk about being childless; like myself, he gets sad at times about not having a child. But last night we were discussing the latest school shooting in Florida, and we just couldn’t imagine being those parents who were wondering if it was their child that didn’t make it out alive. I am grateful that we don’t have that worry! Overall, we both love where we are in life and look forward to many more adventures as a family of two!
LWB: What would you like to say to the you of 2014?
Kellie 2018: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! That was one of the hardest things for me, as I felt no one understood what I was going through. LWB was the biggest help getting me through the depression of not having children. Knowing there were others who were going through what I was going through, or had gone through it, gave me hope that I could get through it too. My best advice is to find a way to get your feelings out by talking to someone who you don’t feel judged by or by writing what you are feeling. I kept my feelings inside until I read Lisa’s book (I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home), then I started writing a blog just so I could get my feeling out among others in my tribe. It was very rewarding as I was able to help others while others were helping me.
Be kind to yourself. I struggled with feeling like I was being judged by others as I couldn’t give my husband a child and our parents a grandchild. Over time, I realized I was mostly judging myself. It took time to not blame myself and to not feel like I failed as a woman, but in time and with the support of others and an amazing husband, I was able to move through this. Stop the negative self talk and remind yourself that this is not your fault.
Do not feel guilty for your feelings and step back when you need to. If you don’t feel you can be around celebrations such as birthday parties and baby showers (I’m still not a fan of baby showers, so I rarely go), then don’t put yourself into those situations. It’s okay to give yourself permission not to attend. You are not being selfish, you are taking care of YOU!
Won’t you share your story with us? Go to the Our Stories page to get more information and the questionnaire.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is feeling so very grateful for this community of brave and wise women.