Editor’s Note: A new year brings new beginnings, something we particularly relish here at A Fresh Start. One of the silver linings that accompanies infertility is the ability to redefine life on our own terms. As a result of our unrequited efforts we also learn to practice patience, accept ambiguity, and develop a keen sense of what makes us unique in a society that often overlooks those whose lives don’t conform. We develop and contribute our talents, gifts and contributions without mainstream adulation. Along the way, we also find that life holds many happy surprises — something our latest guest blog contributor, Wendy, 39, makes abundantly clear.
I found Silent Sorority when I needed it most — a few years ago when I struggled with my diagnosis of Premature Ovarian Failure/Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POF/POI). I kept the book at my bedside for over six months before I read it. When I did, there were all my thoughts and feelings — once a mash-up in my brain — in black and white in Pamela’s book. I kept thinking, how did she sneak into my brain??? I had always wanted a child, always imagined myself as a mother. I couldn’t get past the feelings of brokenness, emptiness, and inadequacy. Yet her words validated everything I had been struggling with, and showed me that there is life after infertility…
Fast forward three years to December 2011, and I found myself immersed in the “waiting game”. Oh, it was so agonizing! My future could change depending on the answer. My daily routine, relationships with family and friends, my definition of self, could all be impacted in ways I could not envision. I was an answer away from knowing if one of my life’s goals might be achieved. The waiting was driving me crazy, and I felt almost immobilized – how could I commit to anything else, or even make plans, if I didn’t know the answer? My husband’s fate would also be determined by the answer; would he get what he’s wanted? Would he be 100% supportive, or worried at how this might change our lives? All this waiting, the months of doing all I can, then to have no success, only to try again. How did it get to this?
Then, I got the answer I’ve been dreaming of for the past seven months – YES!!!! I feel such success! I feel validated! I can finally put all those years of experience as a child development specialist to use. There is so much to do, so many things to prepare. All my work, all my sacrifice, it is paying off…. CONGRATULATIONS TO US!!!!
No, we are not having a child.
Funny how this is everyone’s first or second thought when someone announces they have good news to share, or they just found out something exciting, etc.
No, my husband and I have made the shift from seeing ourselves as childless, to childless by circumstance, to childfree by circumstance. I cannot say we are childfree by choice as we feel there was no choice to make. If we could have chosen, we would be parents, but fate intervened. We learned to accept fate.
Why do I say childfree vs. childless? Because childless implies I am incomplete, missing something, “less than” compared to others. Circumstance led us to be childfree — without our own children living under our roof –– free to focus on who we are and what we want to do (for ourselves, for others) without the complications and responsibility a child might bring
This was NOT an easy journey. It was full of emotional potholes, with people along the way who tried to sabotage our journey to peace, with complications both real and brought to us by imaginary insecurities. I read Two Is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice by Laura S. Scott to learn more about those who made the choice to be childfree. I sought out people who were supportive. I found new friends in the childfree by choice community who helped us see the positives of changing our expectations of the future.
Over the past four years, I channeled my energies away from mourning my infertility into another love of mine – international education development, and traveling. Rather than taking on the responsibilities of specific children under my own roof, I decided to take on the responsibilities of improving access to and quality of education for any and all children.
I have been able to work in five countries in the past four years as a consultant, often leaving with a few weeks’ notice, without being encumbered by school schedules, dance lessons, sports games, etc.
So what has me so excited now? I know this coming year I will have a positive impact on countless children and their parents. I reached my goal and won a staff position with an international education organization. The waiting game led to the offer. It is a one year position, but it is another step upward in the right direction for me. My husband is thrilled, and can’t wait to go with me. Are we nervous about the insecurity a year from now? Yes, but it is lessened since we have fewer responsibilities than parents.
My message is this: it may take longer to get to your destination, but as long you continue in the direction you want to go, you will get there.
p.s. If, like Wendy, you have you a story you’d like to share here on A Fresh Start, email Pamela ptsigdinos(@)yahoo (dot) com.