Coping with the sense of loss
I’m forty years old. In my late twenties and early thirties, not having a child wasn’t a big deal. I was intent on completing my PhD and discovering who I was. For four and a half years, I could bluntly say that my thesis was my child. And it was.
Having an offspring while in education didn’t seem important. And even today, a part of me doesn’t feel that my genes are that special that they must be passed on. And yet, nearly four years since the death of my mother, I feel acutely that I am an orphan and have no siblings. Christmas and holidays are especially hard. I want a large family, one that’s noisy and bustling and chaotic. I yearn for flesh of my own. It is a strange thing. I’d love to have someone be a reflection of me and my husband, a living continuum of our love, our choices and ourselves.
But I am forty, and I’ve never been pregnant. There’s nothing wrong with me or my husband or so the doctors say. Normal conception should be possible, should have been possible. IVF is not something I can consider really given my age and the vast amounts of weight they expect me to lose. I’d have to halve myself to be light enough to be on their appropriate weight scale. And for all of my modernity, I don’t really like the thought of doctors messing with my hormones in that way.
Why am I talking about this deep sense of loss and pain? Because I know I am not alone in this. For whatever reason, and the reasons are too many to count, many, many women are unable to have children, and somehow, society still sees it as a fault or a lack in the woman. They assume it is our own selfishness that’s stopped us having children or that we are callus or haven’t found the right man. The crude jokes from men who ask if I “Need any help”, or women who have children who somehow in their smug superiority ask, “No children yet?” dig deep furrows on my soul.
Choice is important. Being child-free or childless are very different states of being. As are being able to change you mind, your choice at any point. We are strangers to our future selves for we are constantly growing, changing, transforming. The opinions you have today, don’t have to be the same as those you held yesterday or those that will be your clarion call tomorrow.
But talking about the pain of being childless is important. We as women so often bury our grief and hide our pain. This article, this sharing of pain is to tell you, you are not alone.
Are you feeling a similar sense of loss and pain? Would you like to talk about it in confidence with someone who totally understands? Do you want to find ways in which to cope, to find solace and see the silver lining? If you do, please get in touch.