As told to Kathleen Guthrie Woods
Gwen*, now 44, has endured a rough journey of loss and infertility treatments, but she still hopes for a miracle. Like many of us, she dances around the pros and cons of being childfree as she considers what her Plan B might look like. Do you see yourself in her story? If so, take a moment to reach out to her in the Comments.
LWB: Please briefly describe your dream of motherhood.
Gwen: I told myself that if it didn’t happen by 36 I would not pursue it. It wasn’t until I was 39 and reconnected with an old flame—who I eventually married—that I wanted to try for a family. My husband had been a victim of parental alienation for over a decade, has had no connection with his own children for over eight years, and it was very important for me to be able give him a child we could raise together in a very loving family.
LWB: Are you childfree by choice, chance, or circumstance?
Gwen: It was by choice until the age of 39. Then, after three years of trying and having over a dozen conceptions/zero pregnancies/one early miscarriage, I sought infertility treatment. Two failed IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycles into two failed IUI (intrauterine insemination) converts; the doctors could do nothing for me. We can’t afford and are not morally on board with egg donorship. We are too old to adopt a young child, and I do not to want to put myself or my husband through the grueling process of rejection through adoption.
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, all of the above.)
Gwen: All of the above. I still hope every month, still time intercourse for a possible miracle while fully knowing the eggs are bad and the outcome will most likely never change. Just this month we had a conception that failed. I now joke that my uterus is made of Teflon.
LWB: What’s the hardest part for you about not having children?
Gwen: Feeling like a social outcast. I just cannot get past that one. I’ve never followed the status quo my entire life, was a “late bloomer” with all things social growing up, and became a statistic as a child of divorce and divorced twice over myself. So giving up the battle and becoming yet another statistic is the hardest part for me. “Everyone else can have a child, why not me?” is what goes through my head every day.
LWB: What’s the best part about not having children?
Gwen: Not having to dedicate the next 18 years to being responsible for another human being. I can continue to “do my thing”, come and go as I please, work on my crafts whenever I want, enjoy life on my terms, and not lie in wait for what my offspring needs right now. Oh, and being able to get a full night’s sleep every night. That’s a biggie.
LWB: What’s your Plan B?
Gwen: As I am just coming to terms with being childfree forever, I guess it is wait and see. After three years of marriage we could apply to be a licensed foster home and hope to find an older child who will fit into our life. But that is another year waiting, and my thoughts on adoption might change by then. I’ll leave that in God’s hands.
*To protect respondents’ privacy, we allow each to choose a name for her profile. It may or may not be fictitious.
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Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status.