Tag Archives: childless

If at first you don’t succeed

Try, and try again.

Then give up and don’t look back.

I have been meaning to revisit the IVF story for some time, since that was this blog’s main theme, back in the day. But as you know, I am a bit slack on the old blog posts these days.

It’s been just over 12 months since my last attempt at IVF. More than 12 months since I last stuck a needle in myself. 12 months since I lay, legs splayed, with a doctor inserting fertilised embryos – that were half made of me and half of a stranger – into my uterus. Squirted hormone cream up my lady bits, wondered what every twinge in my belly and boobs was, and agonisingly waited in the limbo that is the two-week wait.

So how does it feel to get to the other side of three rounds of IVF without the prize at the end?

It feels ok. I feel ok. Most of the time (oh, except for now, when I start to write a blog post about it). Sometimes I’m grateful it didn’t succeed. Sometimes not.

Does it seem ungrateful to feel grateful I didn’t succeed? Something I put so much emotion, time, heart ache, longing into? So much wishing and hoping and thinking and praying. Planning and dreaming (thanks Dusty). Not to mention money.

But sometimes I do feel grateful, and perhaps that’s some kind of survival instinct, or self-preservation instinct, or that it just gets exhausting after a while to feel sad. I’m generally a glass-half-full kinda gal.

It helps to think of all the hardships success would have brought. Doing it all by myself. Being really, really poor for quite a while. Being housebound. Being exhausted, all the time. Being lonely. It might have been really hard on my body, given my age (have I mentioned I hate that word?). And it would have wrecked my boobs, which I’m quite fond of, despite the major cyst/minor cancer scare incident.

But then, I missed out on so much as well. Of course. Being pregnant, which would have been amazing. Birth, which would have been, probably really fucking awful actually, but incredible for it. Being a mother.

I went to a friend’s annual Christmas gathering in December. The place was over-run with small children. There were, as far as I could tell, four childless women there – me, two lesbians and another friend.

I have to admit that sometimes I shuddered at all those children, and thought – phew. Lucky escape. And there was that part of me who couldn’t be bothered moving out of the circle of childless lesbians to talk to the others gathered there, because what did I have in common with them?

I couldn’t be bothered with the expectation from strangers that my child would be somewhere in that garden, playing with the others. Then me having to say, oh no, no child. And them looking quizzically at me, wondering.

Sometimes it’s difficult, and sometimes I’m sad.

But generally I’m ok with it.

The pic is of some butterflies that fluttered around my head for ages a while back, on the pathway just down the road from my house. Such a magical thing to happen. We’ve got to be  grateful for what we’re given, don’t we?


Oh, isn’t this lovely:


My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

– Mary Oliver


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Re-imagining your life

My new bud vase with "Stop Thinking" artwork

Recently I was reading Sarah Wilson’s blog and there were comments about how to recast your life without children. I’m not at that stage yet of course, because I’ve got this go and another one under my belt before I can think about calling it quits and working out what course my life should take.

I was reminded of it again when I watched Julie and Julia (again. such a gorgeous film) the other night. There’s a scene where Julia Child finds out her sister is pregnant. Of course she’s happy for her, but she lets out a sob that shows all her own yearnings for and inability to have a child. Oh Meryl , you do that contained anguish so beautifully. Julia Child of course threw herself into French food and teaching America to cook

Anyway, it got me thinking about what to do if it doesn’t happen, and all the ways I beat myself up about my situation in life. I’m sure the way I beat myself up is similar to the ways others beat themselves up, so I thought it would be worth sharing.

Here are some things I feel about being childless and 46. Defective. A failure. Less. Left out. Unfulfilled. Like I am missing out on the most beautiful feeling you could ever experience as a woman.

Being around a bunch of people with kids – at a bbq for instance – is challenging. What do I have in common with them? Especially when they are all talking about their kids’ development, or what school they are thinking of sending them to. With close friends this is fine – I’m interested in their kids, but acquaintances? And a whole bunch of them? I have nothing to contribute, no experience, no advice to share. And I feel I have no right to be offering an opinion.

The world is geared towards families. Watch tv, even – or particularly – the ads, especially at this time of the year, coming up to Christmas. It’s all about families at different stages. Of course I have a family, but it’s somewhat fractured so I want my own, one that I have made, one where I have developed my own rituals and family traditions. There is a part of the world out there that is geared to singles, but I’m not in that demographic any more – I don’t want to be going to pubs and clubs.

How does the world view childless women? Harshly in general. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s childless, single status  continues to be commented on in the Australian press. Who knows if a single, childless man holding the same office would garner the same attention. Mark Latham (a former candidate for PM for those of you outside of Oz) even commented that she lacked empathy because she had chosen not to have children! Mind you, he is a nut job, and a jealous and angry man to boot.

Do you lose an essential part of being a woman by not having a child? Bearing a child is so often seen as the defining moment of a woman’s life, and childbirth a peak experience. Many women say they didn’t know what love really felt like till they had a child or that they didn’t know what life was all about until then. If you aren’t interested in having kids, this isn’t a problem, but if you do want them, it can feel like a huge loss.

A friend of mine commented on a mutual friend once, saying – oh such and such says she’s sooo busy all the time, but (scoff) how can she be? She doesn’t have kids.

Yeah, sometimes those people can be rather condescending.

How, then, does a woman define herself without children?

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Filed under ART, childless, IVF