Aug 282009
 

A reader asked how to live with the fact that she’ll never have children; she doesn’t want to feel sad all the time. I know how she feels, because we can’t have kids either.

To learn how she’s coping with infertility, read her comment and question on Accepting a Childfree Life.

And here’s something to think about: “Rigid beliefs make disappointments seem unbearable, whereas realistic beliefs help us to accept disappointment and go on from there.” ~ Eileen Kennedy-Moore.

One way to live a childfree life happily is to learn to cope with disappointment, my friends. Below, I give examples of rigid versus realistic beliefs when it comes to accepting infertility. One of my favorite books about living a full life despite pain, disease, and disappointment is Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen.

Every Drunken Cheerleader: Why Not Me? is an incredibly insightful, helpful book for couples who can’t have children. Don’t take this journey alone; walk alongside women who know how you feel.

And, read on for six suggestions for living without children…

Living With the Fact That You’ll Never Have Children

Learn the difference between rigid and realistic beliefs

Two examples of rigid beliefs are: “parenthood makes people happy” and “my children are my life.” Those beliefs don’t allow for other ways to be happy or other ways to live a fulfilling, happy life! On the other hand, two realistic beliefs are: “parenthood is one way for people to be happy – and there are other ways” and “every person has a different life focus, a different life purpose. Children may or may not be part of a fulfilling, meaningful life.” To cope with infertility, let go of your rigid beliefs.

Avoid idealizing the thought of children

When we can’t have children, we sometimes fall into the trap of focusing on only the good parts of raising kids. We idealize everything about families, and forget the fact that our own children may have brought all sorts of problems! It’s not often that I hear parents say they regret having children, but I have heard it – and I suspect regret is more common than parents admit. To live with the fact that you’ll never have children, be open to the possibility that you weren’t meant to have kids for some reason. Be open to the possibility that you were spared something, and that a childfree life may be better for you.

If you’re depressed about never having children, read Dealing With Depression When You Can’t Get Pregnant.

Reevaluate your reasons for wanting children

A long time ago, I told a friend that I want kids so I’d have someone to take care of me when I’m old. She said that’s not a good reason to want children – you have to want them for them, not so you have someone to take care of you later. Plus, there’s no guarantee that you kids will take care of you when you’re old! When you’re learning to live with the fact that you’ll never have children, take a look at your reasons for wanting them. Maybe you want them because you’ve been conditioned to want them…certainly, some people have kids because they were raised thinking it’s the “right” thing to do.

Spend time with childfree couples

If you spend a lot of time with families or parents who can’t stop talking about how great their kids are, consider limiting those visits. Instead, spend time with couples who chose to be childfree, or who can’t have kids but are okay with it.

Focus on other things that make your life meaningful

My husband and I might never have kids – I’m not thrilled about the idea of in vitro fertilization, and I believe I’d be fine with not having children. I’d rather have kids, but I can see the benefits of a childfree life. Plus, I love my writing and blogging career, and I love inspiring people to achieve their goals! If you’re having trouble living with the fact that you’ll never have kids, try exploring other areas of your life. What warms your heart? What do you love to do?

Get counseling

If your sadness and disappointment is overwhelming, please see a fertility counselor – or any trained therapist. But, talking to someone who specializes in coping with infertility might be make a difference, because she understands the precise issues you’re dealing with.

You might also find When Your Friends Are Pregnant and You Can’t Conceive or Overcoming Depression When You Can’t Get Pregnant helpful.

I know how disappointing and sad it is to cope with infertility. But, I also believe that we be sad about infertility and still live a happy, fulfilling, meaningful life! Having children is one part of life…not the whole meaning of our existence.

If you have any thoughts on how to live with never having have children, I welcome your comments below.

living without children

We can never have children…but we can find ways to live and be happy. (image by quinn.anya, via flickr)

And for more tips for couples coping with a childfree life, read Ways to be Happy After Infertility. 

quips tips coping infertilityI'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Kienlen; I've been married almost a decade. My husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I'd love to hear from you below - but I can't give health advice or counseling.

  14 Responses to “How to Live With the Fact That You’ll Never Have Children”

  1. Dear Net,

    Thank you for being here. I think we’ll always be sad at some level that we can’t have children, even after we make peace with it. I feel whole, but I would’ve loved to experienced pregnancy and childbirth! Sometimes I still can’t believe I never got to have kids. Other times, I’m perfectly fine with it.

    We didn’t try fertility treatments, for both the reasons you listed (expense and big risk).

    I guess the only solution is to get used to the feeling of not being whole — and accept that there will always be days of sadness and pain.

  2. I have been trying to get pregnant for 15 years now I was once but it was tubal. I did adopt but I still feel this void in my heart. I want it so bad I get upset every month when I see my period, I have stopped talking to my husband about it because there is nothing he can do about it, The fertility treatments are so expensive and at the same time such a big risk. I just feel as if I am not whole!

  3. Dear Sissy,

    We’ve been living with the fact that we’ll never have children for 2 years, and it doesn’t really get easier. Some days are fine; others are painful.

    My worst day was about a month ago, when my friend told me that she’s pregnant. They were trying for 2 years, and she was getting desperate. I’m so happy that she’s finally having a baby….but so hurt and disappointed, because I feel more alone now.

    So, I think the pain of not having children never fully goes away. I think it comes and goes, depending on who is around us and how we feel.

    What has helped me the most is finding my passion, which is blogging. I love writing and creating blogs! And, I’m getting my MSW at UBC. I love being in school, learning how to be a counselor, and participating in interesting class discussions.

    The best way to live with the fact you’ll never have kids is to find other aspects of life that make you feel happy and alive. You have to focus on what you’re grateful for, or you’ll feel sad all the time. That’s no way to live!

    I hope this helps, and welcome your thoughts.

    Laurie

  4. Hi, I’m 30yrs old and I’ve been trying to get pregnant for 12 yrs now. I became pregnant in 99 & had a miscarriage, my husband & I really want kids but I think its time to let go of the parenthood dream. How do I cope with this? Pregnancy is always on my mind & I get mad when I see a “child” in school, not married, living with parents pregnant

  5. im 25 alomost 26 married to the love of my life i never wanted kids till i met him and after 10 years and 1 ectopic preg i still am unable to accept the fact that ill never have kids its like 2 sides of me one side is ooo im glad we dont have kids because we can get up and do what ever we please if we want to go on vaction we can if we want to drink all night no problem then the other side is what kind of person am i if i cant give my husband a child? what am i going to do? i cry everytime a friend annouces a pregnancy and half the time they are dissopointed i watch shows where women have kids and dont even know who the father is and they dump them in garbages beat them kill them i think why would god bless them with a child they dont deserve it i cry alot about it but i am still hopeful one day it will happen but then again what if it doesnt will i be ok or will i continue to be depressed for the rest of my life?? either way i think it could be worst and this is gods plan for me whatever happens is in his hands

  6. Hi Chrissy:

    I am in a similar situation to you. My husband, who is also older by 10 years, does not really want anymore children for various reasons. He is a great father to his children now, but also due to divorce, etc., he just doesn’t know if it’s in the cards for him to have one more child. I am 36 years old and I definitely feel my clock ticking from time to time. It is very hard sometimes for me because I’d love to share this experience with him and experience the joys that he does now. However, I also realize that if this does not ever happen (and it looks that way), that I have a lot to be thankful for. You can always try to look on the bright side that you married a man that you totally love and can do other things like travel, etc. without having to worry about children. Sometimes I really resent people who are like, “Oh my gosh, my kids are my life… blah blah blah…” And yes, sometimes it’s hard to be around, however, I just have to trust that this was not in the cards for me and that I have to embrace the positive that I do have in life. :) It’s good to know I’m not the only person with this situation though. I hope this helped.

  7. My name is chrissy and i was wondering how to cope with the fact that i wont have kids, i have been married for 5yrs. And my husband is 20yrs. Older than me and he has three kids. The two boys are older and from his first marriage that ended after 15yrs. And the third boy is 13 and that marriage ended after 5yrs. And now i have married to this man who i really love alot but the only thing is, he does not want anymore children because of his two failed marriages. I really understand why he does not want anymore but it still really hurts everday for me , knowing that i will never have kids of my own. How does one get over this.

  8. Hi David,

    Isn’t that one of the worst parts of being gay — lack of natural procreation? That’s really hard to deal with, especially if you want to have kids.

    Our neighbors are a lesbian couple, and they have two little kids. While I haven’t asked how they “got” their children, I suspect they had fertility treatments. One of them gave birth to the children. Admittedly, this is easier for women than men (to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization!)…but I think a gay man can enlist the services of a surrogate mother. So, there’s your first option!

    And our other neighbors, a few houses away, are a gay couple. They’re in their 60s, and spend quite a bit of time and money on “adopting” kids from different countries. That is, they pay for the kids to come to Canada, learn English, and transition to a college or university either in Canada or their home country. They’ve helped almost a dozen kids this way, and feel like parents to those children.

    In When You Can’t Have Kids – Options for Infertile Couples, I describe a few possibilities. Not all will work for you, but they’ll give you something to think about…because most of the things that infertile couples face are the same as what a gay couple will face.

    I hope this helps!

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  9. Hi Laurie, as a gay man, I sometimes worry that I will not be able to have kids of my own, that it will be too difficult. I do not want to adopt, so I’m wondering what my options are for the future down the road.

  10. Dear Tiffany,

    I’m sorry to hear you can’t have children, but glad that you’ve accepted it. We can’t have kids, and I’m not interested in adoption or sperm donors either.

    I agree that you should tell a new partner fairly early — but it really depends on your relationship and the guy. I have so many tips for you, I had to write an article!

    Here’s what I think….

    I Can’t Have Children – How Do I Tell My Partner?

    I hope it helps, and invite you to let me know what you think about what I think :-)

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  11. I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t have kids and I’m not interested in adoption or surrogacy. I decided that I didn’t want kids before I found out that I was not able to have them. The problem is that I am a young single girl with a stomach covered in scars from all the surgeries. They’re hard to hide so if I become intimate with someone, the scars are unavoidable. How and when do I tell a new person that I am infertile? I tend to think that I should tell a new person early on about my condition. I’m an honest person and do not want to trick anyone or make them feel lied to. What can I do?

  12. Hi again Jen,

    Your comment gave me so much to think about, I had to write an article about it. Here’s the link; if you have any further comments or questions, I’d love to hear from you.

    Living Without Children in a World of Families

    Best wishes,
    Laurie

  13. Hi Jen,

    I don’t think we can escape our mammocentric society. Rather, we have to learn to live happily amongst families, women trying to get pregnant, and sad couples who can’t cope with infertility.

    Similarly, it’s hard to teach body image acceptance in our (North American) society, which is so heavily laden with skinny beautiful models and movie stars!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts — I appreciate your feedback.

    Laurie

  14. If learning to live without becoming a parent is so lovely, why are all of the adds on this page geared toward helping one have children? How does one escape our mamocentric society?

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