As told to Kathleen Guthrie Woods
As soon as I finished reading Wendy’s story, I sent her an email: “I understand.” Oh, how I understand. I’ve felt all the anger and bitterness, I’ve raged at how unfair Life has been, and I’ve experienced that same glimmer of hope when I finally realized I was not alone and found the courage to reach out for help.
I hope you’ll share some words of encouragement and compassion to Wendy in the Comments, and please take a moment to acknowledge that the Comments written by other LWBers are meant for you too.
Sending out extra love to all of you today. ♥Kathleen
LWB: Are you childfree by choice, chance, or circumstance?
Wendy: Circumstance. Married at 24, tried three rounds of AIH [artificial insemination by husband] at 27 (what was recommended before you consider trying IVF), found out I had Hodgkin lymphoma at 30. Decided to try adoption, but was told after a few steps in that, because I was in remission from cancer, I couldn’t adopt for seven years. We sold our house and went travelling around Australia for a couple of years. When we came back home, I was feeling unwell, so I went to doctors who thought I might be pregnant. I got excited, then had a test to discover I had fibroid so big I had to have a hysterectomy at 37. I had the hysterectomy and recovered in the maternity ward. (There were no other beds available, even with a request from me.) It was pretty gut-wrenching seeing mothers with babies! I asked the hospital for my womb so I could bury it myself, and they agreed, but my husband was not happy with my decision. From there my marriage broke up, and we divorced when I was 40.
LWB: Where are you on your journey now?
Wendy: I moved interstate at 40, and I am remarried to a man with four teenage children who I feel I keep at arm’s length. I am at a point now, at 53, where I realise I had no counselling or grief support during the whole process for over 25 years. My personality has changed. I get angry and depressed. I get annoyed when people say “You have four stepchildren, you should be happy.” They just don’t get it. Yes, my stepchildren are loving, but they are not mine. They have a mother, and I will never have a mini me. I have come to a point where I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I need to actually grieve and have someone understand. So, thank you for reading this.
LWB: What have you learned about yourself?
Wendy: I thought I could be strong and cope on my own and keep it inside, but I can’t. I am a strong woman, but I was too stubborn. I should have asked for support a long time ago, which makes me wonder how much better I would have felt earlier/now.
LWB: How do you answer “Do you have kids?”
Wendy: I still haven’t worked that one out. It depends on the person asking. If they seem genuine, then I am more genuine with my answer.
LWB: What is the best advice you’d offer someone else like you? (or What advice would you like to give to your younger self?)
Wendy: Get help and support asap. Talk to someone who understands. Don’t wait 25 to 30 years and become bitter, angry, or depressed.
LWB: Who is your personal chero (a heroine who happens to be childfree)?
Wendy: Xena, Princess Warrior.
LWB: How has LWB helped you on your journey?
Wendy: I have been able to express my feelings to others who have been through similar.
LWB: What is your hope for yourself this coming year?
Wendy: I am finally seeking out help to grieve.
I hear again and again from contributors what a healing experience it is to answer these questions and share their stories with other readers who truly get what they’re going through—and who rise up to offer support and encouragement. Won’t you consider sharing your story? Visit the Our Stories page for more information and to download the questionnaire. I hope to hear from you soon.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is so grateful to be part of this community of wise, loving, and brave women.