There are two sides to the question “Do you ever get over not having children?” And it really depends on who’s doing the asking.
One is incredibly insulting, as in, “Aren’t you over that yet?!”
Whilst the other is “Will I ever feel good about my life again?”
The fact is that if you were to have had children, and by some tragic event, they had died, nobody would ever expect you to be ‘over it’. Indeed, if you ever were, you’d be considered heartless – that terrible fairytale nasty: a bad mother. Every Christmas or Mother’s Day, people would be sensitive towards how hard those celebrations must be for you. And if they forgot your loss, they’d feel terrible about it. Your loss would be considered life-changing.
Yet if you’ve spent years (decades even!) of your life longing and planning to become a mother, and for a wide variety of reasons, some of them mundane, some of them tragic, you ended up without a family, you’re expected to just ‘get over it.’ But it’s not the flu; it’s not something you ‘get over’. You lost your family! You lost the chance to be a mother, to be a grandmother, to give birth to another life, to be the person that brought your partner’s children into the world, to be a grandmother. To have a hand and say in shaping the next generation. To have the respect of others, a place in the community of mothers and a say in how things are done. So, no biggie, really. We really must all be making a fuss about nothing…
Now, I am not for a moment trying to downplay how awful it must be to lose a child, a family. It must be like having your heart torn out of your body. But the grief of the childless-not-by-choice, whether through infertility or any of the other many reasons it didn’t happen, can be just as disabling, as life-changing.
We cannot grieve what we have not loved because grief, in my view, is part of love. And whether you held your children in your arms or not, if you grieve for them, you loved them. The children that childless women loved were real to them. And the loss of those children is real too. And without mourning those lost children, we will never ‘get over it’.
Not having children broke my heart. Why didn’t I have them? Well, it was a 15-year journey through infertility, denial, codependency and bad luck. (That’s the short version!) But grief healed my heart bigger. I am not the same person as I was before I grieved that loss. Because grief, like love, transforms us. We are never the same person again. What once was an open wound in my heart is now a scar – a tender spot – and it has changed me.
I have not ‘got over’ not having children, but rather my heart has healed around that loss. It is a part of me, a precious, tender part of me that gives me a depth of compassion for others who suffer that was always in me, but which now has fully blossomed in my character.
Loss like ours doesn’t have to ruin our lives – it can transform it:
I have more courage now, because having healed this wound, I trust my resilience.
I have more empathy now for all disenfranchised groups, because I understand what it is to be stigmatised.
I have more patience and tolerance now for awkward and difficult people, because I know that each of us is carrying around invisible wounds, leaking pain from so many ungrieved losses.
I have more faith in my own process (and life) now, because I have understood that grief is the gift of love, not a cruel kicking when I was at my most vulnerable.
But I couldn’t have done this alone. Grief, like love, cannot exist in a vacuum; it needs to be held in the tender heart and understanding of another.
In my experience, the only people who ever understood, really understood what it felt like to not be a mother, were women like us – the childless-not-by-choice. No one else ever understood the depth and breadth of my loss, my future, my identity as a woman, my place in society and amongst my peers. And in that understanding, my grief finally felt heard, held, understood. And so it did what it longed to do – it healed my heart so that I was ready to love life again.
Will you ever feel good about your life again? Yes, once you have done your grief work. But you cannot do it alone. Grief that is not actively grieved is a form of unrequited love, and just as painful. We need to stop demonising grief as some kind of poison trying to deform our lives and instead see it as a form of love that wishes to heal your heart so that you are able to love yourself, your life and others again. You cannot wait grief out, and you cannot repress it (well, you can, but it comes up somewhere else instead…) Grief is patient and strong, like all love, and it will out-wait you. And you will grow ill and weary from the effort of trying to avoid it, out-run it, out-think it.
How to do your grief work? Seek the company of your fellow Gateway Women. Comment on the blogs. Join one of our many Gateway Women Meetup groups around the world (and ask to start one in your area if there isn’t one!) Join the GW+ Private Online Community. Read my book and work through the suggestions at the end of Chapter 4 (on doing your grief work). Read through some of the other blogs I’ve written her about grief. Come to a Gateway Women workshop. Just get out of your head and preferably out of the house!
Not being a mother has left a scar on my heart that will always be there. Always be tender. And can be touched and bring me to tears for surprising reasons.
But I can live with a scar, grow with a scar.
Grief heals. Life goes on. And I am part of the flow again.
JODY DAY is the British founder of Gateway Women, the global friendship and support network for childless women, and the author of 2016’s 'Living the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children'. A founding and board member at AWOC.org (Ageing Without Children), she’s a former Cambridge Judge Business School Fellow in Social Innovation, a TEDx speaker and a trainee integrative psychotherapist. Jody takes great pleasure in helping childless women get their groove back and find their tribe via the Gateway Women workshops, social media communities and live social meetups across the world. www.gateway-women.com
272 Comments on Will I Ever Get Over Not Having Children?
I found out when I was 23 I couldn’t have children. I’m now 29 and it eats me alive everyday. Watching everyone around me have children and families is very depressing. Everyone wants me to be excited for them but it’s hard which makes me push away from all my pregnant friends. I want to be happy for them but it’s so hard I become jealous in a way. Watching all these women have kids who can’t even take care of them or worse, hurt them, I wonder what did I do so bad that makes me not be able to have a family of my own.
Dear Jasmine – it’s so hard when others have what we long for, and appear not to appreciate it. When others struggle to be good parents and we never get the chance to prove that we would have done it better. Unfortunately, life isn’t fair – and not only do bad things happen to good people, but good things happen to bad people too. It’s important not to take your childlessness as some kind of ‘sign’ that you’ve done nothing wrong, even though society might seek to reinforce that belief. It’s a belief, not a truth, like gravity is — even though it might feel like it’s weighing you down in the same way some days. I’d really encourage you (and anyone else reading this) to seek out the company of other conscious childless women creating new thoughts, new beliefs, new lives for themselves through the many ways that Gateway Women and other organisations offer. Join our private online community, read my book and do the exercises along with other members of the online community, attend a Reignite Weekend or attend/start a Gateway Women meetup near you. Your envy of others is normal and it will pass when you have had the support and sisterhood you need to process your deep loss and find a new way to be you. A life without children is a different path that the one you hoped for but it doesn’t have to be a worse one, honest. Hugs, Jody x
I guess I just expected it to happen. I always wanted to be a wife and mother. I never wanted a job or a career and life never really bought me one for all kinds of reason. Which I didn’t mind as I assumed I would get married and start a family. But neither did life bring me love. I have been single and celibate for 22 years now. Not even dating. I never wanted to be a single mother or do the go it alone IVF thing. I wanted a family. Was I wrong? I am now 45 and I don’t know what happened. How to move forward, forgive myself and the men who let me down. How to grieve like you say. I feel so stuck. I can’t explain it to anyone as they all have children and all I get is just do the IVF adopt or foster, or God’s time is best etc. and that was never the point. I am depressed and as much as I love God I don’t know how to come to him with this pain as i feel like I failed. For messing up, for wasting my time and wanting something that was not for me. For not seeing it sooner and maybe doing something else. My friend got pregnant 6 months after a miscarriage. She is not a christian but I prayed for her. She is now moving in with her boyfriend and getting baby ready. I don’t even know how to face her, as happy as I am for her. I just feel like I really messed up my life. Because now I am all alone.
Hi Allyson – I can feel what a really tough place you’re in right now and how this has snuck up on you, despite your desires, hopes, plans and actions. It’s quite normal to find friendships with women who are having babies or have children very challenging whilst we are grieving. I’d really recommend you join our private online community where I, and others, can support you through this difficult life passage. Hugs, Jody x
Wow. I really thought it was just me and my husband. I thought I was over it but reading these comments has made me cry and that hasn’t happened in quite a while. We’re both 49 and fill our life with things we want to do and I’m happy. It’s more difficult when everyone around you always seems to be having children. One after another. Every year. I can totally relate to all these experiences. There’s always someone around who expecting. I hope we all eventually find peace of mind.
I am so grateful to have found this amazing group, gateway women. This has felt like such a lonely, desolate journey, so isolating. Even though I have been sharing my journey with my husband it has felt like we were walking with a wall between us. Just knowing that there are others out there in the same boat who are willing to talk and share has made me feel so much more hopeful for the future and has helped to bridge the gap between my own grief and my husbands.
Just read this. Wow, I think we feel all alone, yet obviously not as I read all the replies.
My response to people is: I was not blessed with children but does not mean I am not blessed. Even though I say that I assume it hides the pain. I am 58 now and thought the pain was gone but now hearing and seeing others with grandkids brings back the pain. Seems like I am so selfish.
But the best way to heal is to love others in need…I guess to understand the scar as you explain will help as well.
Loved this! I, literally moments before, asked myself whether I would ever “get over it” having had a hysterectomy at 30 and now 48, Mother’s day just “picks at the scar left behind”! I really neede to hear that it is ok that the scar is going to be tender, that I won’t just get over it and shouldn’t feel as though I have to. That it is like any other loss. I never realized, until now, how desperately I needed to hear that validation from someone who has gone through the same thing. Thank you for this lively gift. I can see no what I need to do and why I need to join groups and be with people like me. Noone I know is in the same situation. They either adopted or it was by choice. Mine was not by choice. It was health or a family. Thanks again!????
When I was 23, I had a daughter who was born with a neurological disorder. My daughter lived 11 brave months, and was far and away the strongest person I ever met, watching her fight for every breath. I always assumed I’d have another child, that Id become a dad again..it was a dream. I’m 35 now and I will almost certainly never have children. Even now when I think about it I get quite depressed, sad and emotional about it. Closing your eyes, imagining children, holidays, camping trips, it literally breaks my heart, I feel incomplete. I’ve always tried to accept and come to terms that my life will be childless, sadly, I’m not there yet.
Brian, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter, how heartbreaking! I hope and pray peace and healing come to you. It’s difficult to grieve but then to feel as though you you have to do it alone because noone seems to understand that has to be horrific. Here’s hoping the scar gets less tender as time passes.
I don’t have children because I feel like I frittered away that opportunity. I am in a sexless marriage I should have left more than 15 years ago. I don’t know why I didn’t. When I went through menopause a few years ago, that’s when my childlessness really hit me. When I think about it, I feel my mind tumbling through an abyss of grief.
Dear Mg – with time, support and grief work, yes, the pain does lessen. But it doesn’t go away on its own – time does not heal grief; only grieving heals grief. It’s OK, natural and normal to be envious and jealous of your sister’s and friends’ pregnancies – it doesn’t make you a bad person, just a normal, grieving, sad and frustrated one. Be kind to yourself, work to develop a more self-compassionate attitude and take good care. Life is hard and bad things happen to good people (as well as great things happening to shit ones!) so it’s important to learn not to take it personally. Hugs, Jody x
I am 44 years old and for me the pain only gets worse even as the possibility of motherhood becomes more remote with each passing year. I wonder will I still tear up when I am 65 years old every time I see a mom pushing a stroller? I don’t see the pain ever going away, because my desire to be mother never will. I will never be ok with it.
Hi Rachel, I feel your pain. I’m 42 with no children and I lost both of my tubes. It seems like the older I get the worse it gets. I’m depressed and angry. I want to try IVF but I’m 42 and will be 43 next month. What if it doesn’t work? It will crush me even more. It’s hard looking at pregnant mothers and babies. I just want the pain to go away.
As I read more, and more. And find I’m not alone in not being able to have a child of my own. My journey has still led me to find myself helping take care of my husbands two girls. They do not know their mother, in fact just learned her name this past year. But my longing for a child of my own leaves my heart wanting. I cry when I see babies or women that just leave them as the girl’s mother did. My anger and hurt are deep. My heart always feeling not completely whole and the fear of breaking up an losing the girls that have come to call me mommy knots my insides. How do I move on how do I feel like a woman with a purpose again?
I’m dealing with this right now. When I first met my significant other, the option was always there. It was a maybe an open door for the future. Time has passed and feelings have grown and evolved into something incredibly serious. We have had small conversations on his unsureness of having more kids ( he has 1 from a previous marriage) but the door was never fully closed. I just found out yesterday that in less than 24 hours he is going to get the snip. I feel incredibly emotional because this wasnt a decision he made with me, knowing the status of our relationship. I feel like becoming a mother was ripped away from me in such a cruel way and almost selfish. Having babies has always been a sensitive subject due to my female issues like PCOS but I always felt like I’d get the chance to really give it a try. I am so head over heels in love with this man but how do I learn to get passed this, this loss of seeing everyone become a mother but me. How do I deal with seeing him interacting with his child now, knowing that I’m never going to feel that type of connection of my own. I am so lost, I am so emotionally all over the place because it feels like this has been ripped away from me without me having a say in it. Everyone would say to move on, find someone else but it’s not that easy, it’s not something you just do after so much time and love is invested into someone and your future with them. I feel so angry and hurt and grieving over a baby that doesnt exist, that will never exist and this up and down has me being all over the place emotionally to him. How do I learn to deal with this scar, when any baby around me. Any. Holiday and mothers day etc will just feel like some jab, some ha ha joke. Somebody please help me.
I had no idea I was not alone… I never knew others felt this way. I thought there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t be happy for my friends when they got pregnant.
I have always wanted a child. But it has not happened for me. I remember being young and dumb when I was in my early 20s and praying for a period every time I had sex with my boyfriend, being so afraid to be that person who had a child to early and messing up my life…. later 20s…. I was like. I wouldn’t mind, maybe it is time….. early 30s I was praying to get pregnant, praying that the condom wouldn’t work, I was engaged, I was ready, my life was going good, I wanted my baby, wanted my son…. And now I am 37, dating a man that I love with all of my heart. But he is much older and does not want any more children; he already has three that are in their 20s. He has made it clear – no more children. So I am at a crossroad: try and have a baby on my own, alone or continue to be with the man who could well be the love of my life and never have a child. To always feel that hollow empty feeling in the pit of my stomach… to cry behind my smile when another friend or co-worker has a baby. To continue avoiding things and places where children are prevalent. To smile while wanting to curl into a ball and never leave my room.
I am so torn inside it hurts and I am so afraid it will turn into deep resentment for the man I love if I never at least try. I am going to my doctor to discuss fertility and sperm donor options and I feel horrible since I am doing it all behind my boyfriends back (he has had a vasectomy and refuses to reverse it so I would have to use a sperm donor). I feel like I am betraying him. But I want the joy of being a mother while at the same time I am terrified to do it alone. But I feel alone all of the time, I never talk to him about how I feel about wanting children, he knows I do, and we have already discussed how one day this will be what tears us apart. How cruel is it to have to choose between a child and love? I don’t want to be a single mother, this was never the Disney dream that I grew up wanting. I have such strong depressions at times where I wonder what the point is? I have no nephews or niece to leave my belongings to, my family heirlooms will simply be sold at an estate sale one day to pay for a funeral no one will attend. I will leave no legacy, I will never be remembered. How does one accept that? I am a nurse and have spent many hours holding the hands of dying patients who have no one there for them, is that my fate? To die alone? How is that god’s plan for me?
I know there are no answers, and now I know I am not alone. I never dreamed others knew this feeling, and my fears. Maybe one day someone will read this and have a little hope that they are not alone in their own fear and depression.
Dear Angie – I am so very sorry for the pain that you are in and the very difficult situation you find yourself in. You are not the first woman to have to make this excruciating choice between a possible late baby and a possibly happy relationship and you won’t be the last – there are many like you in our private online community – some of whom still in the throes of coming to terms with it, some processing regret and resentment, some out the other side and feeling at peace again. It’s not an easy path to take, but at 37 and in your profession you probably already know that NO decision is ever free of its downsides and that life has hard choice and hard consequences in store for us all – parents or not. It’s not personal, that’s just life! I would encourage you to check out the website “Childless by Marriage” by Sue Lick, a woman in her sixties who’s been through it all and I think you’ll find the comments from other readers of her blog might really help you. It’s clear that you feel quite terrible about seeing a fertility doctor without your partner’s knowledge and I’m wondering if you might find a way to talk to him about it? If he is the guy for you then you giving up on having children to be with him is going to be a part of your relationship forever and if it’s going to survive that, you’re both going to have to be able to be open and honest about every aspect of that. Not easy, I know. But if intimacy and honesty are really two aspects of the same thing, maybe it’s time to look at what’s going on for you that you are choosing to keep this from him? Sending you much love during this tough time, Jody x
I am dealing with this too, I am so torn and so devested because this man is the love of my life and Tuesday he goes and gets his vasectomy and this door closes for good. I am so scared of how I’m going to feel tomorrow. Is the man I’m in love with and see a future with going to become someone I dont want to see. I’m such a emotional wreck and idk who to talk to that would understand this feeling because they are all mothers..they say you’ll meet someone else..its not that simple it’s not that way!
I’m sorry you are going through this, I have some feelings very similar and it’s not easy. Do you think it might be a possibility to have a child with donor sperm but still maintain a relationship with your partner? You both have different needs but may be able to make it work. Families come in so many shapes and sizes now. Many people who both have kids from previous relationships get together, and after the initial first few years it could just feel like that kind of set up, where you both have your own child responsibility’s but share what your life with each other around this. I don’t think you should feel guilty either, it’s tough so be kind to yourself. But being more open with him might build a better foundation no matter what happens.
Hello. I know this article is a few years old now but I have just come across it. I’m 36. My husband died of cancer almost two years ago and we never got to have children. I feel the chance slipping out of reach now as I grieve my husband and the life and children we were supposed to have. It hurts so much sometimes I feel like I can’t take it. I feel like life left me behind. Reading these stories though let’s me know there are other women out there that share this pain. It’s easy to feel so alone. Thank you for this article and thank you for letting me read other stories.
Hi Tina – I’m so very sorry for your loss – of both your husband and the very real possibility that you may not have children. Are you aware of Megan Devine’s book “It’s OK You’re Not OK”? It’s the very best book on dealing with bereavement that I know. Hugs, Jody x
My husband also died only in a car accident at 28 we had been married 8 years but never had children we wanted them but had too much fun living our life together… I’m only 30 and have found love again,fell in love with a wonderful man who has had a vasectomy unfortunately… Reversal isn’t an option and we could do sperm aspiration and then IVF but his daughter from a previous marriage is 17 and he just doesn’t want to start over and he feels too old he’s 45. I understand what he is saying but losing my husband so suddenly was grief that was unbearable at that point I thought I’d never have a family then I get a second chance at love and the man just doesn’t want one and he has said that he would for me but I don’t want to force him into it my heart is broken and although a different grief than before it feels like it’s all flooding back…..
All I ever wanted was to be a mom. Married young and finally at 27 got pregnant .. The joy was like nothing else.. but cruelly short lived ..this happened 9 more times in 11 years. By the third time. I knew something was wrong. The infertility treatments , fear, ( silent jealousy), and longing to be a mom destroyed my marriage. I became reckless, loose..began drinking..turned into a sad case of heartbreak. I am 48 now , sober, remarried with a good career( workaholic) and now I feel the sting of grandchildren coming. I am great on the outside…but the pain will always gnaw at my heart. I will never understand “why” I wasn’t suited for motherhood. Why wasn’t I good enough to do something every other woman could. I doubt my femininity and worth deep inside. I have my work and my pets…I am moderately content. God knows I couldn’t have accepted this outcome 20 yrs ago. Time helps…but time takes TIME.
Searching for help to heal the pain that just keeps getting worse. This is what brings me to this site 10 years after I had to stop trying. After 4 miscarriages in my early 40’s I settled on “God has another plan for me” and everyday I ask, “why me?” Why do I read about drug addicts killing their babies? Why did they get to have them? Why do I read about innocent children being abused? I hate Mother’s Day and graduation time, the first day of school…..so many milestones that I will never experience. The joy you would have in your heart at these times, but never will. Let’s not talk about FB! I do enjoy it to keep up with friends and family, but it makes sad sometimes. Trying to enjoy their kids then it feels like a knife in my heart and a constant reminder that I will not experience and feel the joy they have. We were going to adopt, then I was laid off from my job. I did not have $30,000.00 to pull out of a hat for adoption and we just purchased our home and had to make the mortgage pmt. Everything was always against us and today I still cry and have given in to just living with a broken heart. I am so sad it hurts and noone knows what to say or do, so I say nothing. I feel like it gets worse as I get older. I tell others to enjoy life it’s too short……and I do, but always with the thought of how much I missed. What makes everyone else so deserving and special? Any other time I can usually get by with, “thank God for my health” and I do thank Him for my blessings, but that does not take away the pain I carry ever day.
Hi Lisa – I feel your pain and your rage against the unfairness of it – I hear you sister! What made the difference for me (and many others) was finding my tribe and doing my grief work. You can find your tribe via our online community and/or our meetup groups. And with their help, you can move through your grief. The grief sadly, will not ‘fade’ as you age because time does not heal grief, only grieving heals grief. And you can’t grieve alone, in your head, in your room – you need empathic others who COMPLETELY GET IT to accompany you on the journey. You’ll find more about that in my book too my book a great resource too as I shared the steps I and many others have taken to recover from childlessness. Hugs, Jody x
I will be turning 40 in a few months. I cry about not having a child since I turned 39. Before that it seemed possible. Yes I was jealous of all the mothers in the world and hurting for almost 10 years, but I had hope. I always knew one day one way or another I will become a mother. I got into one relationship that should have ended the day the man said I wouldn’t be a good mother for the first time, but it took years. Then in another relationship, it was better, but soon I was already too depressed, mainly because of professional problems, I was not feeling able to go to the work I had and could not find another one. I could not take on a responsibility of having a child. At 38 I got the best job I could imagine, but in a wrong place. I thought I’d manage, I’d freeze eggs, I’d travel, but I’ll have everything. And yes, the job, not a career, just the things I do, people I work with, it all made me feel like a person who is worthy, who can live. But it’s suddenly too late, I lost what I thought was the most important part of life while chasing everything. I was going to be an SMBC by 34 and then by 37, but stayed in the relationships, cared for my professional life and ended up not having anything. I cry almost everynight for 9 months now. I still have glimpses of hope every now and then when I see an older mother. But I am mainly just parallyzed and terrified of what comes next, of turning 40 and and then 41 etc and being childless. Of losing my own mother, the only connection I have with the world. I don’t know how I will survive in later years, so far it’s only getting more and more difficult.
Dear Lilly – I’m so sorry for how hard you’re fining things right now. Turning 40 childless not by choice is HARD! I do hope that you find the support here helpful and I’d REALLY recommend joining our private online community where you will find many women like yourself working their way through this heartbreak and into new lives. It’s not easy, but it is possible. Hugs, Jody x
I had to have a hysterectomy suddenly, it was scheduled for a week later. I didn’t want this, but my uterus was filled with fibroids and I was bleeding to death. I fought and fought, and was in denial. My heart hurts so much to this day, it’s been 3 years. I don’t feel like a woman anymore, I am single, and I wonder if a man will be ok with this. I get angry. I never thought to reach out for support. I need it.
I think it’s so hard to move on from being childless not by choice because we are constantly reminded of what we don’t have (by the media, friends, and co-workers about baby bumps, how the offspring resembles the parents/ grandparents, the stories of what they did/ will be doing, photos on FB). It never ends! The scab just keeps getting ripped off over and over again!!
And the injustice of it all: the abusive neglectful parents who keep popping out kids no problem, the pity, the contempt, the accusations that we should have made better choices, the fact that not all of us have money and/ or family to help raise a child on our own. And through it all, we’re supposed to grin and bear it?? I’m just starting this journey at 46 and can’t imagine years and decades of this torture!!!
I lost my kids in my divorce but nobody ever sees my grief as real. Its been 10 years and I have not been able to express it. I get judgement from childless women for losing my kids in divorce and massive judgement from single moms and my third husband even judges me that’s I’m on the verge of divorce for the last time and will stay alone forever. I feel my soul ripped out of my body. Its so hard to believe in god with this type of pain. I just wanted to be a mother my whole life but i chose the wrong men. Men who would not support me, men who overpowered me and men who used me. I hate this life but I’m glad I found this group….maybe it can help me? I hope I finally can be included in something special that will not be torn out of my arms.
Dear Lucy, there’s so much pain in your comment, it breaks my heart too. Losing contact with stepchildren is yet another form of disenfranchised grief that our society does not recognise. I would really recommend that you join our private online community where we can support you empathically and practically as you work your way through all this. Hugs, Jody x https://gateway2012.wpengine.com/community
Does it make sense when science is continually showing evidence that earth is OVERPOPULATED. I do grieve that I won’t ever give birth to any children but I pride myself on my small carbon footprint and my accomplishments and strength. My job as a teacher is riddled with foolish coworkers who act and say things that are ignorant. It’s completely selfish to have a bunch of children, especially if you care about the planet. We need to depopulate now and I want financial incentives for people who don’t have children rather than tax deductions for people who have them.
Hi, I’m 46, married for 6 years, we tried fertility treatments and it didn’t work. I have spent the better part of 15 years helping raise my niece and nephews, as they live with my parents. The kids do not appreciate what I have done for them. I am heart broken I have wasted my life on others and didn’t think of having my own because I was too busy. I feel angry at myself for not thinking of having children earlier in life .
I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am to have found y’all!
I am 48 with the DoubleWhammy…never-been-married and childless-not-by-choice. There are times that I’m fine with it and other times when it just plain sucks.
I have heard this notion of mourning children you will never have spoken of by Catholic priests. While they are in seminary, they are encouraged, like Jephthah’s daughter, to take the time to mourn the children they will never have (Judges 11:30-39). When I first heard this, I was 26 and the thought brought me to tears.
Aaaaand here I sit.
If I may, I have perhaps a tad bit of a TripleWhammy…six younger sisters. All but one of them are married. Two have children, two are not not trying, the baby is currently pregnant.
Yeah…my baby sister, who is 21 years younger than I am, is expecting her first and doing all the fun stuff like decorating the nursery looking cute with her little pooch of a belly. I can’t begin to tell you how guilty I feel to be jealous of my baby sister for getting to do the one thing I know I never will.
Want more Whammys? Try this one.
My oldest younger sister, is also past 40, single and childless-not-by-choice. But she is out there conquering the world…literally…she’s in charge of a floating missionary bookstore that stops at different ports of call taking the Good News. I mean, if you’re going to be a person in my position, shouldn’t you do something like that? Instead I’m struggling to pay bills with a dead-end job that I don’t really like.
How about one more Whammy?
My mother, who is a force of nature in her own right, helped blaze the trail for single motherhood by refusing to give me up for adoption back in the late 1960s, when most every other girl was forced to.
So with all of this in my pedigree, what right do I have to be the pathetic loser I feel like I am sometimes?
So yeah…I’m glad I found y’all so I can start working through my feelings about this and, with God’s help, come out better (as opposed to bitter) on the other side.
Hope this didn’t sound too preachy…thanks a bunch!
Rachel, my heart aches for you as much as it does for me.
Just visited my 45 yr old very wealthy soon to be single cousin who just surprised me that she implanted another frozen embryo and is due any day.
Sometimes there is a whammy every day.
You’re never alone in this.
Hi I’m 38 yrs old with no children and been with my man for 10yrs. I just had a fibroid tumor removed a week ago and ended up being cancerous. Now I need a hysterectomy. I still don’t know the stage of my cancer. Crazy thing is I don’t care about the cancer part. I am not thinking about I may die. The only thing I been crying about is the fact I will never be able to bare children. I’m so heartbroken. I feel a part of me has died. I am trying to be positive but it is so hard. I told my man I will understand if he leaves me due not ever having a child with him. He said he doesn’t care. I feel useless as a woman and broken. ????
Hi Melissa – I’m so sorry to hear about your shocking diagnosis and that you are scheduled for a hysterectomy. There is a finality about a hysterectomy that is so very shocking that I can quite understand how devastated you are. When cancer meets childlessness is a hard place to be and you are not alone in it – I know of many other women who have become childless this way. You may find that the oncologists don’t support this emotional aspect of your experience as well as you might expect so please do consider joining our private online community as we have many members who are supporting each other to come to terms with their childlessness, quite a few after hysterectomy. Hugs, Jody x
I’m 42 yrs old with no children. I had miscarriages ,two eptopic pregnancies and lost both my tubes. I struggle everyday with the heartbreak and disappointment of not having children or a child. My husband has a daughter in her 20’s and a grand daughter. I’m praying for some peace in my heart. Some days the depression is so bad I no longer want to be here.
I’m 41 years old and haven’t been in a relationship in 15 years. I’ve always wanted a family but just can’t seem to find a partner. I’ve been sad about it but always felt there was a fleeting chance to have a family until this year. My biggest struggle is to try and keep from feeling out of place and unwanted. Now comes the added grief of the very real possibility that I may never meet someone while also grieving children I will never have. I don’t know that there is anything anyone can say that makes this better; I think I’m going to have to just walk through this and see what else life may bring.
Hi Heather – I’m so sorry to hear that you have crossed the threshold into your 40s without a partner or the children you longed for. It’s such a hard place to be – I think the years of being still ‘vaguely hopeful’ whilst also allowing for the possibility that things aren’t going to work out – are some of the hardest years of this experience. You are right, there is nothing anyone can say to you at this point that will make it better but I hope that knowing that others have walked this path before you and have survived, and even thrived, offers you some meagre comfort. Your grief is real and even if society won’t acknowledge it, I do. Hugs, Jody x
I’m almost 36, and I feel motherhood slipping through my fingers. I have a wonderful boyfriend of 4.5+ years. any time I bring up having children he makes a joke out of it. It’s beginning to wear on me and I’m starting to think that I’m not worthy of being a wife or motherhood.
I feel like I need to have kids or just get on with it.
Dear Christine – Perhaps your boyfriend is unaware of the true nature of female fertility (so many of us are) and does not realise the potential consequences of waiting any longer? Perhaps he does not want children with you, or at all? Either way, it’s time for a very serious and sober discussion about this. This is not a joke for you. And regardless of what he does/doesn’t want, at the minimum, being able to discuss something of such importance to you without making it a joke feels extremely important. A website and blog that deals with the issue of being ‘childless by relationship’ (which is something that many women have experienced or, like yourself, fear may be happening) is Childless By Marriage. I would suggest you explore that for support around what’s happening for you. Hugs, Jody x
I am 34 years old. I have schizoaffective disorder, diabetes, and arthritis. I always want a child but now I can’t have a child because of medical reason and lack of money. I am on disability. I have a wonderful boyfriend who has a son in high school. I used to envy him and his ex because they have a child together. My boyfriend doesn’t want another child. I was so sad and angry at myself that when I was manic I cheated on him 3 or 4 times with different guys. I regretted it everyday. I also used to envy my friends because they have a child. I got depressed on Mother’s Day to the point I thought my life was useless. I have got better but it is still sadness at time on me. I talked to my boyfriend about it. It was helpful. I finally admitted to him about my cheating, and how I felt about not having a child. He has his reason and I am not mad. He doesn’t have much money and he is also disabled. He said that he will understand if I leave him. I am not going to leave him. I love him. We will work it out. I hope I will get better each day while I am still going through the grieving process.
Dear Shamona – I can feel how hard this is for you, and how unfair life is. I’m glad that your boyfriend feels able to move past your infidelities when you were in a manic phase. Even though with all the things life has stacked against you and your partner with regard to having a child together, I get that it still doesn’t make the pain of that longing go away. I hope that with the love that you have for each other, and through working through your grief, you will find some peace around this. Hugs, Jody x
Thank you so much for your comfort reply. I am getting better with it. My boyfriend is such a sweetheart. He said if he has some money, he would love to have a child with me. He would hire someone to help me with the child if he has the money. He said if we have a child, he would be in a financial hardship. I am on disability so I don’t have the money either. I’m getting better with time. Our relationship is growing now which is good. Thanks again for your reply!
I don’t share much about my personal feelings on fb, but feel the need to share this since I am going through immense grief on never having the opportunity to bear a child and ever give birth. It is well with my soul and will be done. God is good all the time, and His plan is perfect for each of us when we put our full trust and obedience in Him. Unfortunately, circumstances occur in life that we don’t understand or doesn’t seem fair, but God is at work weaving His perfect plan. I never had the opportunity to bear a child in my womb, but I have the opportunity to raise a child no one else could. She’s God’s beautiful angel God is allowing me to raise which soothes the emptiness and sadness inside of me. I always dreamed of what my children would look like,etc if I had any of my own. I tried for nearly a decade, but I never could conceive. So I adopted a child from birth to put a band aid on my broken heart. I thought I came to terms with not bearing any children until I just recently found out I’m going through menopause. I’m closing a chapter of my life and opening a new one. God has blessed me with a wonderful make shift family. Going through this change in life is a difficult pill for me to swallow. I pray for God to comfort the deep sadness I have and heal my heart. Thank you God in advance for hearing me. I thought I would share since I know there are many women who have been through this.
I am 41 years old and married for the first time at 38. My husband is divorce and has a child. Never in my twenties or early thirties would I have thought I could not conceive. After my husband and I tried for a year we went to a fertility clinic. At our first consultation I was told I do not have enough eggs to conceive naturally and I was not an IVF but we tried artificial incemenation which was unsuccessful. The clinic said I can carry a baby to term and told me to think about egg donors. My husband wanted to do whatever we could. I of course would want my sisters eggs so the baby would have my family traits. When my sister said no for her own reasons I gave up hope. Since then I don’t want to get out of bed, I cry all the time and feel like my heart has stopped. People always say at least you have a stepdaughter but that comes with a complicated relationship. I have nieces and nephews that I love to pieces which is wonderful. I feel like I have died inside and want to be happy once again.
Heather, you sound like me. at 36 started with low ovarian reserve, failed 3 cycles IVF and now menopausal at 37. Husband desperate for a child. Elderly parents I adore who break inside to see me like this. perimeopause has added in low mood, loss libido, problems with my memory hair loss and night sweats for years now. I terminated a preg 10years ago with another partner who wouldn’t marry after 8.5yrs of us being together. I terminated that pregnancy at 9weeks and now am awash with regret. I grieve for my childlessness but at least Donor eggs are available. In my case DE is tough as I won’t be able to get a match as my ethnicity is rare in this hemisphere. The menopause is taking from me my life 13 years to early. I’m with you.
I am 46 years old and have to come to terms with not ever having children. I have nieces, nephews and Godchildren that I adore and spoil. Everyone says I would make a great mother, and that just saddens me. Ironically my last serious relationship, I broke up with him because he didn’t want kids and that was a deal breaker for me. That was 10 years ago, I was 36, thought had entry of time. Then add nights of depression, one or two on again/off again boyfriends…and here I am 46 yeaty old and in tears tonight. I have looked into adoption, but don’t have energy to be single parent. Just sad tonight. Glad i found this blog. I am worried am heading into another episode of depression
I’m 42. Married. We went through IVF in 2008. 1 round because that’s all the local nhs offered and we couldn’t afford to have more. 1 viable egg implanted. Failed. Drs couldn’t find anything wrong with either of us so we were labelled with that bloody useless diagnosis of unexplained infertility. We decided we didn’t want to adopt. I have felt recently that despite being periodically sad I have got to a place where I can focus on what I’ve got and not too much on what I haven’t. Then out of the blue on Sunday I was talking about a friend who adopted and my mum asked me whether I wish I’d done things differently back then. Suddenly I was right back to the 2008 and feeling devastated. Was blown away by how easy it was to strip everything away and lay me bare. So the work begins again.
I just turned 34, after ten years of being unable to leave my bedroom do to crippling social anxiety I met someone who stood by me and gave me the strength to take the steps I needed to make amazing progress. We have been together for eight years now. I am able to handle social situations in small doses and even leave the house on my own. This man saved my life and I love him more then anything. At the age of 2 my partner had cancer and went through chemo and radiation therapy, the doctors told his parents he would not make it past 16, he is 32 now. All we both ever wanted was a family. Since I am still not able to work do to my anxiety and due to his cancer my partner is blind and has been finding it hard to find work, we are both on disability and are unable to marry, we still had hope we could be a family and have a child together, I have wanted to be a mother since I was 22 and he has always dreamed of being a father, but sadly we have just learned he has no sperm(probably do to chemo) and I have a condition that prevents me from ovulating regularly or at all. My partners parents have offered to help with fertility treatment as we would never be able to afford it. At first I was so happy I didn’t even stop to think about the cost to them. Overtime I have realized that with his father about to retire and thier only daughter getting married I could see the strain that kind of commitment was going to put on them financially and I can’t bring myself to put them through that. I am utterly devastated as I can’t work, can’t get married and now will never have a child, but have decided it is for the best, and will grieve for my lose. I have fought harder then I ever have in the past 8 years to find reasons to smile, laugh and find happiness. I have pushed so hard to find hope and I just hope my strength can continue to get me through this as well.
My heart goes out to all the women out there young and old who, have felt, or will ever have to feel the pain and emptiness something like this can bring.
Hi DB – thank you so much for your comment. I’m so glad you’ve found us and I just wanted to say how very sorry I am that life has put so many obstacles in the way of your dream of having a family. I’d really encourage you to join our private online community as being childless due to chronic illness is something many other members will be able to relate to as well. You’d also be welcome to an ongoing free membership after the first month too, should finances be an issue for you. You are a rare and gentle soul to be thinking of other’s pain at this time, when you own pain is so raw. Hugs, Jody x
I’m 43, currently in a relationship and coming to the conclusion that in my journey to find a husband, time ticked by and now it would be too irresponsible of me to consider a pregnancy because it would be for selfish reasons. I made a promise to myself that I would not bring a child into this world as a single parent. Life is hard enough, I wanted to raise my baby. All the what ifs out way the positives but man it still aches to the core to know I will never carry a life into this world. So hard to come to terms with. Easier to tuck away those feelings because some are just too painful and hard to touch.
Dear Heather – the realisation you are coming too is achingly painful and I’m so very sorry. I’m glad you’ve found us. I think you’d find joining our online community incredibly supportive. Hugs, Jody x
Your comment touched me in such a way it brought me to tears. At 45 I truly understand how you are feeling. I have gone back and forth so many times because I do want a child but do not want to have one the wrong way. It is so hard to want something so bad it hurts. You don’t want to go below your standards but you begin to second guess yourself and what you stand for. I wish I can say it gets better…it does at times but you will have those moments where your heart breaks. At those times lean on those you see as your strength.
I am 44. I have been married, miscarried a child, and divorced. The loss of the marriage and child (at about the same time) was devastating. I grieved the losses for a long time and had accepted that I wouldn’t have kids.
I am now dating a man I think I will marry and with whom I would love to have children. I just looked up my chances of getting pregnant at my age and they are 4 or 5 %. Success rates are next to none.
I am shocked to find I am grieving all over again. It seems so cruel to have met a man that wants kids (he and his ex-wife miscarried, too) and he’d be wonderful and we can’t.
I know we could adopt, but I am grieving OUR kids. Pregnancy. Birth. A child that is ours. 🙁
I ruined my life by not wanting kids when I was younger. Married at 26, wanted to wait til we were 30s (or maybe not at all – I really wasn’t sure then) Anyway by the time I turned 30, I was thinking about kids but relationship was kinda rocky, and I stupidly thought moving to a new town would be a positive fresh start for us. Stupid. I got depressed missing friends and family. He wasn’t supportive and mad that I wasn’t adjusting. Long slow breakdown, now at 34 we are divorcing and I have to figure out where to move and start over knowing I’ll never have a family and it’s my own fault. I chose this. I did this to myself. Now I am heartbroken. Gutted. So depressed I don’t want to live. Don’t feel strong enough to face the divorce or start over. I have nowhere to live, no job yet, don’t even know where I’ll move. I can’t afford to go back to where we used to live solo. Even though I was very happy when I lived there before. I have to start over somewhere new with no support system. And I know I’ll never have a family. Why didn’t I see the importance of starting a family when I was younger? I’m going to be alone and regretful for the rest of my life. Im sure it would have made a positive difference in our marriage too. I’ll never forgive myself. How do I move on? I am so depressed I feel like there is no point to life and I will never be happy again. I was a happy person for many years and though I didn’t feel ready when I was younger I always thought I would have kids someday. But I wasn’t purposeful about it and stayed in a relationship that wasn’t right for too long. Plus I never expected to fall into this depression. Maybe things would have been salvageable if I hadn’t. How will I ever forgive myself? I can’t see a future for myself but I know I must go on living. I just don’t know how. My heart is broken and I feel hopeless.
Such a heart breaking life changing event is going on with you at the moment. You do need help. You need support. You might need counselling to help you. Is there any way of getting help?
Gateway is a great start. There are so many of us with life changing stories and we are childless.
Also you are not too late yet to have children are you? You are in your 30s. That does not mean you can not have children.
Stay in touch with us.
Thank you for responding. I had forgotten where I posted this. I feel that I’m a different person now. That I’m broken and somewhat cynical now. And I’m so tired. I used to be light and happy and fun. I used to be so busy and full of life. Now I see I would have been a great mom in that phase of my life. I wasted my youthful energy and enthusiasm on building a life that I subsequently threw away and a man that I could never please no matter how hard I tried. I’m really kicking myself. It feels like such a waste of a life. It is heartbreaking. And I don’t know how to forgive myself. I’ll have to live with these what ifs every day.
I am getting some professional help, so doing a little bit better mentally, but I feel like I’m staring down a long lonely bleak future. It’s like I can already see the endgame. Everything still feels pointless.
Meanwhile my ex will surely remarry and have a family. I used all my savings to help us move for him to have his dream career and location. Then I was of no use to him anymore. He is very very happy with his life. I try not to begrudge him that but it is hard to see. Especially when i gave up everything to get him there. There seems to be a really clear winner and loser here.
My younger sister also just had a sweet baby and she and her husband are so happy. Love them, but it’s hard to see. I don’t really have any friends left anywhere without kids at this point. I really feel like an outsider. I think it would be easier to be childless if it didn’t seem like people will question/judge/exclude/pity me for the rest of my life because everyone has children and I don’t. If you don’t, I’m realizing, you’re kind of a social outcast. I feel like this stigma makes it more unbearable. 🙁
At least now I think I can survive, but I feel almost certain I will never be happy again. It doesn’t really ever get better, does it?
Long story short, my heart is still broken. Thank you again for the support. <3
Gosh Mer I hear you, I’ve got the husband but at 37 have failed IVF and just today told menopausal. I was with someone for 8.5yrs in my 20’s & conceived only to terminate as he was non-commital & i circumstances meant i could’t look after a child alone at the time, the relationship was over. Now i have a husband who wants a child almost as much as i do but i feel like a failure. My elderly parents are heartbroken. The infertility is putting a lot of strain on our relationship, emotionally, financially. The premature menopause is making me feel less of a woman and a failure. I hate my body at 37. If you looked at me I look 30. It’s a lie. Have lead a totally healthy lifestyle & never been a bad person so why, i ask?!. I bet my ex has settled and has a family. I have/had so many friends – all settled and even the ones who didnt want kids are having them , the ones who had no periods for years are falling pregnant. I have to socially isolate myself from all of my friends because I cannot cannot cope and don’t want to constantly be the the bearer of sad news, the ‘poor,sad’ one, the one who needs others’ compassion as they sit there cradling their 2nd child. Why must my husband stick around – all i bring is negativity. Only us girls can understand each other. no one else. (oh my elderly mum understands – if not for my parents, i’d not be here).
Dear Mer – what a huge and horrible transition you’re going through. I too lost my marriage, home and the caboodle in my late thirties and it was incredibly hard. You are heartbroken and grieving and it’s natural to be full of regrets and ‘what ifs’. It’s really hardly surprising your feeling depressed with all that’s going on. Please remember that it takes two to make a marriage work and it sounded like you tried really hard to create a good base to bring children into. You don’t know if having children would have saved your marriage – plenty of couples divorce when their children are infants too. It’s time to grieve and mourn and only then will you find the energy and desire to know what’s next for you. Be gentle with yourself. I really recommend seeking out the the work of Kristin Neff and her book ‘Self Compassion’. Learn the language of self kindness and you’ll come through this with an easier heart dear one. With hugs, Jody x
Hi Jody, thanks for your response and support. I replied further above. Realizing the enormity of the impact of my poor decisions on the rest of my life. Forever kicking myself. Appreciate the support!
Mer/Jody, it isn’t just for women. Men feel it too. 🙁 I’m 43 yo male without children. I too have waited and after a bad relationship in my late 30s I feel into depression. It took me until about 6 months ago to come out of it an realize that I may have wasted lots of good time. I am healthy and know as a man I may be able to conceive children for some time but also realize that the odds are falling every day and the likelihood of having children is very low. Thanks for this article and post. I know I will be fine either way but I am grieving not pursuing my relationships further while I was younger.
Hi GCM – thank you for your comment and I’m sorry that you are struggling with this too. I am aware that it can be an issue for men too and so I do include a list of resources for you to explore for support on this website here: https://gateway2012.wpengine.com/resources/resources-for-men/ I can imagine that because you theoretically ‘have time’ you may get little understanding from others, which must be hard. Hugs, Jody x
I am so glad I found this. I can’t believe time ran out for me while I kept dating the wrong people. I teach art at an elementary school and I try to give my students the love I would’ve given my children, but it hurts so much. I see parents that won’t show up for their kids – how come they get the life I want and now they’re wasting it?
Completely understand. Everyday is a struggle. This organisation helps me when I am really low. I am reassured that I am not the only one although I wish happiness to everyone going through these tough times. I hope that the tough times subside and that we can smile again.
I hate that I’m virtually incapable of being happy for others when they’re pregnant. I feel so guilty on top of feeling bitter and jaded. That’s not the person I used to be. I have no idea who I have become and I don’t like her.
I understand completely but the bitterness only hurts yourself. I started on this envious journey. I suppose some people have a clearcut plan and it works… Meet man, marry perhaps but ultimately the people I know fell pregnant…. And they seem OK. Me I tried my best looked after my elderly parents and still do but moved away after meeting a lovely man. I had convinced myself I was passed it and there you go I hoped I would get pregnant but didn’t. I still looked after my parents and tried to make a home for ourselves and keep a job going…. But I came to IVF too late. Even then it was problem after problem…. Just didn’t happen. So now I think… I will have to grow old alone. Hang onto your friends and enjoy what you have. This group is great. There is a huge contingency of childless women and we are bloody great. Hold your heads up and steamroll ahead.
Thank you. Your words couldn’t have come at a better time. I work with special needs children and am always told what a great mom I would be from well-intentioned people but they have no idea how much their kind words actually hurt. I don’t blame them, how could they know? I’ve even been given mother’s day gifts from families for being like a mother to their children. So bittersweet.
I’ve never joined a support group, but I think you’re right – this does seem like a great group of women and I do take comfort from your kind words. Thank you for helping me feel like I’m not alone. Thank you! ????
Hi Meg – those gifts! – oh so bittersweet indeed. I remember being given flowers on mother’s day by one of my nieces and I was so touched by her thoughtfulness but it was bittersweet too. Hugs, Jody x
Stay in touch Meg with all of us. We aren’t alone. We need to connect with each other and even meet. We are our own support system. Jody had the courage to keep going and look what she has created. I hope it helps us all. I am hoping to go to one of the meet ups. I will have to save but I think it’s important.
I know exactly how you feel. Many of my friends and family have children and I react in much the same fashion. As happy as I am for them I am also hurt amd empty inside for myself.
I find im struggling more as i get older. I look at all my friends and work coleagues and sit listening to them going on about their kids. I feel so isolated, i dont know whst my role is in life. I try to be positive, i dont normally wallow in self pity but its really hard; especially this time of year.
Hi Tracey – thanks for taking the time to comment and I’m sorry to hear that you’re finding things hard. This is an exceptionally hard time of the year to be childless not by choice. I hear you that it can be harder as we get older – I’m not sure what age you are, but I think once we’re ‘obviously’ past childbearing age (although as we all know, that varies greatly for each of us), our ‘difference’ becomes more painfully visible… And then you add ageism to the mix and it’s not pretty! The best way that I know to feel less alone is to join our private online community and/or start attending your local Gateway Women meetup. If there isn’t a meetup in your area, we can help you get one going. You might also like to search this website for articles that I’ve written about coping with Christmas.
You’re not alone in this, but I do understand how it feels that way. And I don’t see you as ‘wallowing in self pity’, that seems awfully harsh – but rather that you are grieving the loss of the life you dreamed of. It sounds like it’s time you had more empathetic company around you! Hugs, Jody x
Very hard for you Tracey. Am going through same thing. Not sure I cope well but I keep up exercising and try and eat healthily. I try to be lighthearted and I call on my counsellor when I really need to talk. You need a support system of some sort. A good friend is important but granted those with children have no time really, indeed siblings with children i have found are less caring and can not cope with a sister who is struggling.
I keep up the socialising when it’s there. Even if you don’t feel like it, make that effort. I live in a remote area so it’s not easy. Join a walking club that has helped for me.
I’m glad I happened upon this post. You’ve captured many of my feelings about being childless by circumstance and not by choice. I’ll be 42 soon and it seems as though I’m aging out of fertility and I don’t have any prospects for a long-term partner. I often question why it has been so challenging for me to meet someone who desires to have a child and share their life with me. Within the last year, I started referring to it as grief, because I felt like I needed to grieve the loss (or what never was) in order to be able to go on with life and not live in a bitter place. Thank you for this community! I look forward to joining. I have been afraid to either start or join an existing community because I didn’t want to be further bogged down with sadness. I want to be able to rise up from this despairing feeling and enjoy the options I do have in life.
Silly things. Like collecting parcels tonight and the assistant saying ‘Is that you getting the weans ready for going back to school’. Totally innocent but tears through your heart all the same. Or.. your still going to festivals and partying? Is it not time you settled down? Settled down to what. It’s an alienating feeling as everyone around you moves into motherhood and a new circles that centre around kids. I don’t get invited to kids parties but criticise because o still lead a full on lifestyle. Just trying to make the most of my life x
This is a brilliant article, and although it made me cry, it absolutely hit many nails on the head. I lost my mum in a tragic accident when I was 20 and then my dad, again in an accident nine years later. I am now 37, met the man of my dreams 4 years ago, and we made the decision to get on with trying to have children quickly, due to my age. My sister had fertility problems, underwent IVF which failed and subsequently broke up her marriage, therefore I guess I never thought it could be the same for both of us. However, I am now in the same boat, having recently undergone IVF that has also failed. We are both devastated, but what is making it so hard is that my partner has a son who is 9 years old. It sounds awful but I think it would be so much easier if he didn’t, if we were in it together. I’m finding it so hard to accept that I will never know how it feels to be a mother, and can’t believe that he will ever truly understand how it feels for me. I need to learn how to deal with this before I become bitter about it. Therefore I will now look into joining a group of others who understand how it feels, as I’m sure this will help me.
Hi everyone and especially Jody- I just wanted to say how grateful I am for this article and for everyone’s comments. I am 55 years old and I have not gotten over not being able to have children. I keep it to myself because people don’t understand. They tell me to be grateful for the good things I do have in my life, and I am grateful for those things. They tell me God still has a good plan for my life, and I believe that. But nothing takes away the pain of not having kids. I think I’ve pretty much learned to just bury that pain and carry on, but it’s still there, I just try really hard not to think about it. But everywhere I go there is and always will be reminders that I don’t have children. Every time I see a family, every time my friends talk about their children or grandchildren, every time I talk to my brother (he has 3 children), there is that unavoidable void that is in my life. Today I googled “do people ever get over not having kids” and this article came up. I started crying when I read this, first because it just uncovered all that pain that I work so hard to keep down/hidden, and second because I am so glad to finally have my feelings validated and know that I am not alone, and that feeling this way does not mean I am crazy, or ungrateful, or self-pitying. And also to read in the article that I can grieve this very real loss, and it will never be okay, I will never “get over it”, but in community with others I can do my grief work and one day I will be okay, and my life can be okay. Thank you all so much! Love and hugs to everyone!
Mother’s Day is a day of sadness, for me. After a decade-plus journey through infertility, I conceived….and miscarried two months later. That was the same year I became a survivor of breast cancer…and divorced, not long after. By then, I had crossed the threshold into midlife, and
accepted that riding the shiny bike of motherhood, was never going to happen. The searing grief of the lost pregnancy took years to temper. The depth of it surprises me, still. It’s one thing, to yearn for something you never had….but to lose your only & last chance to have a child
through miscarriage, is a firewalk that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. So, when Mother’s Day rolls around, I just don’t want to be around it. It’s a reminder of loss, every time.
Just like so many of us very good innocent men out there now that really had hoped to have met the right good woman for us but never did happen so far since the women of today have really changed from the past that made it very extremely difficult for us now. Many of us men really wanted a family as well and to find ourselves all alone now is certainly not fair at all when even God said that man should never be alone. And even though i was married at one time which i was a very good husband to my wife and loved her very much which i had a lot of respect for her as well as being very committed to her which it still wasn’t good enough for her at all since she cheated on me which ended my marriage. And i didn’t have any children either especially when i really did want that which i guess the way that she turned out to be since it worked out that i didn’t since she started to sleep around with so many different men all the time that i never knew. Now i find myself all alone at the age of 62 and it is no fun at all since i do hope that i could really meet a good woman to have a steady relationship again.
I’d like advice from someone with your experience and feelings. Almost daily, even before I was lucky enough to conceive and have a baby, I mourn for my aunt. she will be 70 soon, and she lives her life as happily as she can, but the pain of being childless haunts her…and our family. She is a loving, wonderful, amazing human being…why she never could have children has made our family question life too many times. I feel it extra for her today and am looking for what someone in her shoes would like to hear or not hear on Mother’s Day- what I believe is the hardest holiday or time or year for her. Are aunt cards appreciated? Should we Skype with the baby (which when usually loves)? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I came across your articles after trying to Google for advice- and there is little to advise on the matter.
As an childless aunt of 5 nephews and 2 nieces, an aunt card would most certainly be appreciated. Being told how awesome of an aunt I am would help me get through the day. Personally I would not want to skype with baby on Mother’s Day. Any other day of the year I would love it, but not on that day. Everyone is different though so maybe your aunt would love it. It would mean a lot to me to have someone; especially from my family, to even recognize how hard Mother’s Day is for me. To let her know you acknowledge her grief and tell her you love her is a wonderful thing. Kudos to you for being aware of her feelings.
I am childless not by choice and 49 years old. The one thing I don’t want on mother’s day is to be told”happy mother’s day”. Definitely Skype with her and your baby. Her relationship to your baby is a real blood relationship and that makes it special. It does for me. I feel like I can give a lot of love and attention to my nice and nephews. An aunt card is fine but about one that says happy mother’s day. I received one that just thanked me for being a positive influence. I liked that.
Thank you for seeking out advice. This is a pain that no one wants to hear about. But it is real. Give your aunt a hug, tell her you love her and find a little time to spend with her.
I’m 55 yrs. old , been married almost 32 years to a wonderful man and I am an Aunt to many nieces and nephews. And to some kids who aren’t even related to us, they call us their Aunt and Uncle. =) I never have much cared for Mother’s Day, so for your Aunt you could give her a nice Thinking of You card, maybe put a special memory you have together with her, a nice plant for her to plant later or to have ?? Ask her in a nice friendly way how she never did have a baby, I tell people when they ask. Alot of them are shocked and surprised by what all we went thru and it never did work out for us. No one asks in my family or in my husbands family why we never had a baby, I’d love to share it with them. I feel like they think it’s taboo.
I know you wrote this a while ago–but YES!!! Aunt cards are very much appreciated. A lot of us women without children take great pride in our contribution to our neices’ and nephews’ lives. I feel very proud of them despite them not being my own. No matter who you are in relation, it feels nice to be loved and appreciated.
I am a single man who will be 44 is just 4 days. My heart’s greatest desire is still after many years and probably will be for a long time is to be a father and husband. I have wanted a son of my own for so long and no matter what I just seem to get older with no prospects of my wish every becoming a reality. A wise person told me years ago that God gives us our desires, which I strongly believe, and that if we seek Him and His will for our lives first then it will happen in His time, again which I strongly believe. Nothing but failed relationships and attempts at such, though. I’m lonelier now more than ever and I’m not the kind of person that can just accept the possibility of lonelong singleness or just get over it. I see families of 2 or more all the time everywhere I go and it just makes me miserable. How can I want something so badly and not have it??? I don’t understand. My friends, tmthe few true ones that I have try to say things to make me feel better, but it never does. I want can wife and son (or more than one) so badly I don’t know how much longer I can tarry on. Any other single men feel this way??? I’m not ashamed to express my emotions. Single ladies feel free to chime in, too. Erik B., High Point, NC
Hi Erik – thanks for commenting and I’m so sorry to read and feel how much you are in pain over your longing for fatherhood. There is very little recognition of the male experience of involuntary childlessness. I wondered if you were aware that there is a private Facebook group for childless men, started by Kelly @ Dovecote? If you wanted to check it out, you’ll find it listed here, on the Gateway Women resources page: https://gateway2012.wpengine.com/resources/resources-for-men/
Hugs, Jody x
And what about many of us very good single men out there that really wanted a good wife and family that we never had? And i never expected at all to be a single man since so many others were given that gift of life to meet the RIGHT GOOD WOMAN for them that i never met which makes me more very sad and depressed altogether since there are only men and women in this world since a straight good man like me would’ve certainly wanted the very same thing as well. But i know a couple of friends that are going through the very same thing which i really know for a fact that i am not alone having this problem as well since they really feel as bad as me. The real problem is that we keep meeting the very pathetic low life loser women all the time instead of one good one to make us very happy.
To be without motherhood is absolutely heartbreaking????????????It never leaves you xxxI send you the most best hugs and heartfelt similar feelings ❤️✨❤️✨I often wondered if anyone else was out there feeling hurt xIt maybe just walking into a room and seeing a child and just wishing you had that opportunity in life.I think if you have those yearnings inside you ,you are a true mother lost within her feelings ✨✨✨I also believe that you can give that feeling of love to so many other people and although it not the same it better than nothing ✨❤️I have friends with children who share their pressures of life and invite me to all their special birthdays and family times although it not the same xxxI totally understandxxxhow they are trying to involve me but deep down the sadness will never leave us we just have to deal with it the best way we know how✨✨✨????
This article really struck a chord with me, even though I’m a man. I know it may seem odd to some that I can relate to a lot of these feelings, but I understand and empathize.
My husband & I tried to have a baby with the help of an egg donor and a surrogate mother.
After three failed IVF transfers we were both mentally, physically and financially drained.
The process was difficult on us, but also difficult for the incredible woman who put their own lives on hold in the hopes to help my husband and I to grow our family with a child.
Years before we had even though about IVF we had applied to become adoptive parents, but we quickly learned after years of waiting it would most likely not happen for us.
I’ve always believed in fate and that everything happens for a reason, but after going through something like this, it’s so easy to question….
Often I do feel alone in my grief and it’s a journey, but time does help.
I try and tell myself….”Never say never” as I don’t know what may happen someday.
For anyone who took the time to read this thank you, and for all the woman and men who may struggle with not having that child or children you dreamed of my heart goes out to you.
Hi Will, I’m having a sad day, full of grief again (though I always feel sad about my childlessness, there are are some days when I feel more philosophical than others, but not today!) and so I clicked onto the Gateway site to feel some kinship. I just read your comment, and was very touched by it.
All us childless-by-circumstance people have such different stories, as to how we got to where we are, and probably no two stories are identical; but many of the emotions we all feel are the same or similar. The Why? question is always with me. I used to be CERTAIN I was singled out for motherhood, and tragically didn’t have any alternative life plan. I definitely feel shocked that I’ve got to my current age without having born children.
I also often feel alone in my grief, as most of my friends/family either have children, or chose to be childfree. I am one of very few in my close circle who are childless-by-circumstance.
I also cling to the ‘never say Never’ thoughts. I’m still vaguely hoping, even though I’m getting ridiculously ancient, in reproductive terms! I don’t think I’ll be able to draw the line till after menopause. But my hope is fading more & more.
You would be surprised…. I lost my one and only fullterm at birth 3 years ago. I’m 43 and have had 3 other miscarriages. Everyone, expects me to move on without my son and without motherhood like it just is what it is. I don’t get mothers day cards or special “treatment” around the holidays. It really sucks
Hi my sister (yes, sister) kicked the side of my pelvis/lower abdomen a few months ago. Since then I’ve felt a dull ache and it looks inflamed, it sticks out a bit on the side. There’s no marks on the skin though. There was never any bruising but I also have IBS. Do you think this is caused by her kicking me or IBS? I’m really worried.
Hi Kayla – this sounds serious and not something anyone other than a medical professional is qualified to comment on. Please go to your doctor and have the lump examined. I’m so sorry to hear the reason – how very distressing. Hugs, Jody x
Thank you for this article. I was recently told by a friend that it is not a loss I feel in not being able to have a child, but a longing to have a child. I’ve always felt alone with how I feel and this is something I do not talk about. I had no idea there are groups I can talk to. Thank you.
Hi. I have just come across this website while looking to see if there was anything on the internet like this. Looking to see if there was other people who feel like i do.
I am unable to have children and evrn though the reasons o am unable to are not my fault I still feel some guilt over the fact that i am unable to have children.
I was pregnant once, a long time ago. My boyfriend at that time when he found out i was pregnant flew into a rage and caused me to loose my baby by kicking me in the stomach and then stamping on it. I had been through a very dificult time becsuse i had been raped 3 months earlier. When i told my boyfriend he did not believe me. He thought i had just had a one night stand. So when i discovered i was pregnant i could not be sure who the baby belonged to. My boyfriends reaction however terrified me. I was beaten up so badly i not only lost the baby but learnt i was unable to have anymore because of the damage caused internally.
I feel guilty however because when i found out i was pregnant i had anic attacks because i imagined looking down into my babys face and see my rapist looking bavk at me. So i did have thoughts of wishing it was not there. In that respect i feel guilty for having these feelings and thought i deserved to end up not being able to have children. I went though a mountain of emotion as well as the guilt. Afterwards i felt so empty. Abnormal. Angry. Lost. Feeling a part of me was missing.
I still many years down the line feel emotional about my inability to have children. It makes me so angry when i see on the news yet anoyher story of abuse towards a helpless child. I boil inside about the unfairness of life. That thoses people who do not deserve to have children manage to have them. While i feel i would offer a child a loving happy home but am not able to.
I still have lots of emotions run around in my head about all this. Not all the time but even after all this time i hear or see simething that triggers all my feelings again. It is something i feel i will never be able to come to terms with and it sometimes eats away. I feel like a bit of me is eaten away each time i feel like this.
I recently had a hysterectomy at the age of 35, I have wanted children for a really low time. I had a miscarriage 10 years ago. I had a DNC and I was told then that I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). So I knew it would be extremely hard for me to get pregnant again. I went through several different ways of trying to get pregnant with no success. I would have done anything to be able to have children but now that opportunity is gone forever and it hurts so much. I thought it was just something completely wrong with the way I have been feeling but I am so glad to know that I am not the only one feeling the way I am. I am sorry that anyone has to go through the pain of not being able to have children when they really want and deserve children. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone dealing with the same thing I am going through.
I am not sure it is this easy. I am not a bold outspoken woman. I am quiet and content to be at home with a few children. But I have none and I don’t have any other dreams. I am educated but still feel out of place everywhere. Christmas is approaching and i am about to give up although I don’t want to die so probably won’t do anything. I really don’t see other options. Feeling like this forever is going to be torment.
I do not want to be someone who becomes a cat woman and is made fun of for only having pets. Pets are great but if you are single with pets you are labelled strange.
I’m afraid of so much, especially my feelings right now.
I find myself searching for adoptive children, volunteer opportunities…. but I never do anything with it because it’s just a distraction. I wanted children. I wanted a child with my husband. I feel I have let him down. Yes, Christmas is coming, children and presents everywhere. The anniversary of my nephew’s birth and my brother’s death… and me, here with no children. I don’t want to be around all the cheerful people. I don’t want to act happy. I don’t want to put on the show any more. I go on, I don’t want to die, like you, I don’t want to die, I just didn’t want to live like this. So I search for something I will never have. My sisters have children, yes they do. I don’t. I never will. I’ll never hand my husband his child.
Jody, I’d like to thank you so much for this article. I’ve read it previously and thought on several occasions to join a group and gain the support that I needed but opt’d out. At times I think I’m doing pretty well dealing with being childless at 42 , and then there are times when I can’t get a hold of my tears and I’m a balled up mess. I’ve been in a pretty steady relationship here recently and he’s even talked marriage with me. Being that my medical history has prevented me from having children (mainly the medication) we’ve spoken on adoption or surrogacy. Both of which are not inexpensive. He’s younger than myself and already has a child [son] , but it really makes me feel worthless not being able to have a complete family with him once we are married.
Surrogacy is my number one choice because it would have both of our DNA. I don’t have anything against adoption and very well know there are plenty of children that need a home, but having a child with my own DNA is something I’ve been longing for for quite some time. I know if it’s unsafe for me to carry it to term then someone else can. Again, these things aren’t cheap and when we’re discussing it I just end up breaking down and resenting myself.
Then there are the moments I think about when I get even older and I wonder who’s going to take care of us. No children. No grandchildren. It just hurts to even think about it.
I cant get pregnant due primary amenorrhea and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism / primary hypogonadism. I can go several months without thinking about it but whenever I start thinking about it hits me hard, I start drinking and crying, feeling less of a woman, since I was a little girl I have been told that when I am old enough I am gonna have children and be a mother, since I can’t i feel like I have disappointed the society bc I can’t become pregnant. I hate Facebook bc it looks like all my friends are either pregnant or expecting every one I have talked to is telling me that I can adopt or be a forster parent but thats not the point. Even if I spend hundred of thousand of money on a child the feeling isn’t gonna go away, the feeling of being less than a woman. The feeling of being different or that something is wrong with me.
Sorry I have been looking for a place to vent, to people who understands this subject.
this is great to know that I am not the only one but what about the anger and bitterness . I feel so much shame and tend to isolate myself for fear of being ridiculed and looked at differently because i have no children. I was doing a search on that when I found your article.
I don’t want to be a witch for the rest of my life but right now I get so angry at anyone with babies or that is pregnant
Nobody understands the pain. It make it difficult to cope. I am supposed to be so proud of everyone else but I feel devastated.
There is nothing in life that will make this better.
I don’t want to become a stereotyped cat woman so I live alone and that part hurts too.
*deep breath*…. This is the first time I will have posted in a forum that wasn’t about my ridiculous garden! So, I have been childless, largely out of choice and circumstance, until now. And I’ve been more than OK with that. I am now in a wonderful relationship with a man I adore, who has 2 lovely girls of his own (and doesn’t want any more). We’ve been together over 2 years and children have not been something I’ve thought about, until now. When I was younger I think I assumed that one day it might happen but if it didn’t it wouldn’t be a problem. However, for the last few months, I have been asking myself a lot of questions. I don’t have that maternal yearning for a child but I’m looking at mothers and children in a way I never have before and every day, I have felt a real tugging sadness that I just don’t know what to do with. My partner is a great father and very paternal and every time he sees a cute kid he coos over them and I feel a little choked inside. And so I blurted out to my partner all of my confused thoughts and ramblings last night. It went as well as you might expect. He tried to be supportive but to me, came across as a bit cold. I hate confrontation and don’t articulate well when I feel backed into a corner, so I drove to the next town and walked along the cliff tops (not with “those” thoughts in mind) at midnight just so I could breathe, and try to figure out just what it is I want. And I know now I feel grief for something I have never known. I miss something I will never have and I don’t quite know how to process that. I still don’t know whether I want kids, especially at this age, but I’m terrified that the answer to why I feel this way is because somewhere, deep down, I might. I know I will make the choice not to have them, irrelevant of my feelings because I think that it will be the right decision for me. But I can’t shake this feeling of loss and fear, and right now, I don’t think I have ever felt so alone. It would be easier to understand, I think, if I wanted nothing more than to be a mother, but I have never felt that way. Which is why I’m struggling to know what to do with myself. And I feel terrible for feeling angry that I think that my partner should have a bit more sensitivity when it comes to other children. If I don’t want them and he doesn’t either then why gush over every sweet chubby little face you see and look at me with that “awwww” expression, and if I do and he doesn’t, then why gush over every sweet chubby little face and still look at me with that “awwww” expression. I’m so sorry for the rant but I feel so confused and today, my head and heart hurt with all of this. Is this forum the right place to be? I feel like a bit of a fraud amongst genuine grief to be honest. Hey ho… Thank you for reading
I am 46 and at age 40 I was told I am unable to have children due to severe PCOS. I had only been married a year, and after being told this devastating new, my husband distanced away from me. He says he’s never blamed me, but the guilt I feel is enormous. We have not been intimate since then, and I have to ask for kisses or hugs. I am not the sort to cheat, but just want to feel wanted and loved by someone. How can we ever get that back? And how do I manage to live without a longed for child?
Hi Josie – your situation sounds very difficult indeed and I’m sorry to hear how hard this has impacted your intimate married life too. It’s not unusual, and it may be that your husband is grieving, and may not be able to access intimacy right now. My recommendation is that you join our private online community where you can share frankly and confidentially with other childless women going through similar (and other) relationship issues and get some support and understanding. Hugs, Jody x http://www.gateway-women.com/community
Hi… Thank you so much for your post! My name is Cherish I am 31. I had cancer from the age of 10-16… I had a full hysterectomy at the age of 16. I was never given the choice to keep my womb as it was decided when I was on the operating table. It wasn’t until I turned 28 that I started to really feel the sadness. Now I’m a mess everything I see a newborn or see a pregnant woman. I never heard the term “grieving for your unborn child” an it’s giving me hope knowing other woman experience the same thing. I really hope one day that womb transplant will be up and running and successful! Thanks again For you post.
Finding this site has been a Blessed accident for me. I recently turned 44. Although everyone I love made my day a great one, I felt sad. Having a family of my own has always been something I’ve always known I’d have. Sadly it did not happen for me. I know I am so Blessed but I feel guity to have so much and still hurting because I so not have kids. Several years ago I was preparing my heart and home for a baby girl, through adoption. At the last minute the mom changed her mind. Not having her still pains me to this day. I am so glad I found this site. I love knowing others feel much the same way I do. I take comfort in knowing what I feel is real and others get me. I can have my feelings ans not be judged or told to get over it.
Apologies in advance for a long answer to a big question “Do you ever get over not having children.” Wish I could say to my younger sisters “yes”, but can’t. I fist found Gateway Women in 2012, aged 40. I had run off to Spain, in the hope of finding some swarthy baby daddy, and having the much wanted late baby. I met my swarthy younger man within days of arriving in Spain, and I suspect there may have been a pregnancy but it didn’t go beyond being a very early late period/early miscarriage. Rather than giving myself more time in Spain (boyfriend turned out to be unreliable to say the least) and giving it another year, I stupidly came back my hometown London, where for most of my adult life I really hadn’t met the potential father of my kids. I am now 44. My Spanish lover turned up on my doorstep over here when I was 41 and 3!4, and I suspect we almost had a baby again. At 43 I met a delicious and fertile man, himself a dad of 3, and we have just broken up after a year in which I also suspect I had another couple of early losses. Devastated at not only reaching the end of my fertility but also the end of a relationship which I had put a lot of faith in. I thought I had “gotten over” not being able to be a mum at 40, 41, 42, when an NHS expert finally did all the tests and brutally told me my chances of successful conception were highly unlikely, even with IVF. Where there’s life, there’s hope is an old adage. If one good thing has come out of my recent heartbreak it is that that adage isn’t true. I am 44 and 4 months, but I now know I won’t be able to get pregnant and sustain a pregnancy. I also know that I will probably never “get over it”. Being with a man who was able to have kids with another woman just adds to the pain
Hi Claire, my name is Carol and I just read your post. I’m sorry your life is this way now. There are so many ways I went the wrong way in my life that it’s hard for me to believe! I COULD of had children with my present husband of 35 years, married for the third time. I did have one child with my ex but my son doesn’t talk to me. It was so difficult when I had him, physically and emotionally that I decided I would NEVER go through that pain again. Well I am now 63 and I realize that I could of and SHOULD of had children with Robert. It’s to late now and I don’t know how I will ever really get over not having children. I work at a bank and I do grieve every day when women come in who are pregnant or those who have children and seem so happy. Maybe I’m dreaming, I tend to idealize things. I do have 2 dogs, and 1 horse. my life is busy but I always think I’d be so much happier with children, maybe, maybe not? If only we women could all get together and live on the same block, or town, we’d have each other all the time. Well, that’s my story, there is a lot more but just know you’re not alone for sure. I’m right there with you. I know it’s silly but I still have hope. Also I volunteer at the daycare at church and it seems each time I get a baby who won’t stop crying! All the time, right in my ear. It seems God saying, here ya go, have at it! But I keep doing it! Take care girlfriend, in hope, Carol
Hi, My search online for support groups, lead me twice to this website. So here goes nothing…
I was feeling rather sad lately when I realized that this week makes a year since my full hysterectomy. I was diagnosed last year with endometrial cancer at age 35. As a little girl I dreamed of having a family of my own and imagined the kind of mother that I would’ve been. Unfortunately, fate took a nasty turn. People say things happen for a reason and you should be grateful that you are alive today. I am . I guess I’m still trying to figure out the reason why. I am my trying to heal. I have taken to prayer and counseling but find myself at times still getting sad and teary-eyed. I know that time heals and that this will not be a overnight process but I sure hope to someday feel less…. heartbreak.
Hi, My name is Janet, like you my search online for support got me here. I will be having hysterectomy August 1st the realization that I will never have children has crashed my soul. I cry every day, the pain is real and unbearable.
Today is the week anniversary of my hysterectomy. I am 40 and we discovered pre-cancerous cells as part of a polypectomy we did before starting IVF (irony). So we tried treatments for the precancer but essentially we kept watch until it turned to cancer and I had to have my hysterectomy. I am so raw and sad and my doctors are confused because we found the early! And it’s taken care of! It’s great news! They don’t understand that to me it feels like the end of my life.
Having read this really did help I to am unable to have children and it feels like it just gets harder and harder every day.I get asked by my oldest sister why I don’t have children and my response is always I don’t need children to be happy besides I can always adopt.But not long ago we got in to an argument and one comment let to another AND HER response was WELL AT LEAST I CAN HAVE KIDS… the pain in my heart and my soul devastating. I JUST TURNED AROUND AND WALKED AWAY :'( How could she, but she did and didn’t care. And I just deal with that pain everyday. My fiance and I both feel sad because of this as he knows what I’ve been through but reading all this is helping me understand what I feel a bit better.Sorry but it’s just something NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT IN MY FAMILY or FRIENDS I FEEL EMBARRASSED ASHAMED AND LOW.
Hi Yaya – I’m so sorry that you and your sister had such a difficult exchange. It’s often those closest to us who find it the hardest to understand or support us it seems. Our pain is often too much for them to witness. I really recommend joining our online community where you can experience more empathic connections – especially as you are not sharing this with other family or friends right now. The shame keeps us silent, and thus the pain gets locked in. Hugs, Jody x https://gateway2012.wpengine.com/community
After trying for chidren for years with polycystic ovaries, I’d never lost hope that it would happen someday. That is, until recently I feel as if my emotions have begun the grieving process without me even knowing it. Then I read this article and it started making sense. I don’t want to ‘give up’ but perhaps this (and not a baby) is what I need in order to grow as a person. I don’t know, but this past Mother’s Day was the worst and well meaning people keep posting things about my ‘fur-baby’ (my dog) and I just do not know how to respond without going off on them, so I guess I’m doing it on here instead. So thank you for the forum because this is the first time I’ve ever said any of this to anyone.
Hi CJ – I’m glad you found us – Mother’s Day is SO hard whilst we’re still grieving (I’ve been absolutely OK with it the last couple of years, and now feel more focused on the many ways I ‘mother’ as a verb in my life, and my own dear Mother). The whole ‘furbaby’ thing can be very distressing as people (mostly) mean well by it and can’t imagine that such a comment could be painful to us. There was quite a big chat going on about in our private online community – you might want to come and join us! Hugs, Jody x http://www.gateway-women.com/community
I identify fully with much of the pain described here. But does anyone also feel like they are scorned by others? I know we shouldn’t care but I feel like this, genuinely. I find it very humiliating when people squirm awkwardly when they can’t fit you into a convenient box. When they find out you are childless/unmmarried/without a glittering career as an alternative and you know full well you are gossip fodder for later. You can see/feel how perplexed people can be and see the flashes of pity at best, superiority and sometimes contempt the rest of the time. The hardest thing too is when people start agreeing that you don’t have any more time and the ol’ adoption suggestion rears its head (was anyone else reassured all through their 30s that they ‘still have plenty of time’?). I just wish we didn’t always have to classify ourselves by whether or not we have borne children! Sorry, just having a hard morning. I don’t have a husband or much in the way of financial prospects and I am lonely. I have been called ‘washed up’ and ‘a crazy cat lady’ (I don’t even have those!), both in jest but we all know people mean it. My older siblings (who are much wealthier than me) have partners but no children and it hurts me my mum will never be a grandma. I feel all I have to look forward to is the loss of my parents, old age and financial struggle. 🙁 Sorry for being so depressing.
Ling I can sympathize with how your feel. At 51, childless, and now jobless I too find that people look at me with pity/contempt. Even though I have contributed to society by working as an engineer and volunteering in my community they don’t count me as equal. I don’t have any advice other than to be kind to yourself. Don’t be afraid to express sad feelings. To bottle them up inside is to slowly die a little every day. The people that will be your friend even when you are honest about how your feel are your TRUE FRIENDS. And having true friends is priceless.
Julie I like what you said, yes we must be good to ourselves. The other day a lady asked me if I had any children, I said yes, which I do, but my son does not speak to anyone in our family including me, which I told her. She has many children and grandchildren so I said well I do have children and they are my animals 2 dogs and 1 horse, and when I see their faces I feel happy and that I do have a reason to live another day, for them and for me. I have a deep hurt inside for not having children. I say I’m childless and I have deep grief but one day only at a time is all I can handle. In heaven we’ll have many children. For sure!
Thanks Julie, you should be congratulated for what you have contributed in your career and your spare time. It is amazing. I wish I had a career with the kudos and standing of engineer but maybe it makes little difference when we feel truly sad. One thing I do believe is that things do balance themselves. Yes we do not have children, but we are also spared the stress and sadness this sometimes brings. We have time (and money?) for ourselves and our pets and – as you so rightly point out – our friends. But it is an ache that won’t be filled exactly – but something to learn to live with. My biggest dread is losing my parents and having nothing else to focus on though and their not having grandchildren. Thinking of you.
Yes, I relate to what you’re saying about people not being able to put you into a convenient box.
I’m not career-minded in the least. My identity for years was ‘future mother’. Now at aged 42 I’m accepting it probably won’t happen (long story as to how I reached the here & now). Also not married, so my only identity now is, well, me! Just me.
I try to pour my maternal instinct into animals (I’m a huge animal lover) and to my niece & nephew, and friends children etc.
I’m having to re-think life, grieve my losses, and try to do as much good for the world as I can. I went on a demo to ban lion hunting last Saturday, which was v.important; and I’m wondering if my love of wildlife coupled with my maternal instinct may be leading me to more conservation volunteering.
But some people will always seem awkward at my answer if they ask me about husband and kids. It’s making me grow stronger, and I’m having to work at not being offended by people’s reactions, as I know the truth of ‘me’ which they can’t.
I’m very aware now how incredibly unfair life is. Things often don’t turn out as we plan, and it’s so hard to come to terms with.
Yes, we must be kind to ourselves and to each other.
Take care, and know that you are not alone xx
Thanks Katie, your post is so encouraging. I also have a passion for wildlife and often think this is where the future lies for me 🙂 In fact, we really are not alone. There are more women in this situation than before, as I understand it. There are undeniable advantages to being in our situation too. I am inspired by your attitude – that is everything. X
Thank you Ling. Really appreciate your reply. Good to know there are fellow wildlife lovers on here too 🙂
Take care x
I really like your view that coming up with responses has made you stronger. Before, when asked about children, I would always just smile and say ‘one day,’ but now it’s getting harder. One thing I realized though, and you may have too, is that if I open up a little and am honest about how hard it is, I have found kindness in the most unlikely places. Also, by you sharing here it has helped me know there are women going through the same thing and I just want you to know that I am glad you are Just You, because there is no other. 🙂
Thank you Cj, it’s so encouraging to read about the unexpected kindness you’ve received. You’re right, people are often far less judgemental than we expect. I’m careful who I reveal my vulnerabilities to, but when I do, I usually see the best of people in response.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
Take care x
When someone asks how many children I have, I usually respond that we were unable to have them. But sometimes I ignore the questions and change the subject. I have given myself permission to keep somethings private at times. So if I’m having a bad day or talking to someone I barely know, I keep my privacy.
I feel isolated when in a room with other women. They all seem to be in”the club”. One on one is easier than group settings.
My best friend has 4 grown children and 11 grandchildren. I finally stopped sharing my infertility heartaches with her. All she could ever say to me was that she didn’t know what to tell me. I would have preferred a hug and for her to cry with me. But women with children tend to want us to get over it, be happy for them.
I have made and purchased so many baby shower, birthday, graduation, wedding gifts for my friends children over the years. I always thought the gifts would be reciprocated when I had children. I now feel that there is a “gift deficit” that will never be balanced. Sounds petty, I know. But you are expected to give gift after gift, especially since you are”rich” since you have no children. Yes, I have actually had people tell me that! Sometimes I’d like’ my friends to just give me a little something.
I’m 19 and when i was 16 i found out that i had a problem with my ovaries and that they didn’t produce eggs. Therefore I can’t have kids. I know I’m young and i was young when i found out but nevertheless it killed me. For as long as i can remember the one thing that i wanted when i grow up is have kids. But that was taken away from me at a young age and it destroyed me. It also kills me when i talk about it with my mum and see sadness in her eyes because i can never give her a grandchild.
Even for us Good single men out there that were very unlucky in love which we always had hoped that we would’ve eventually meet a good woman to settle down with to have a family which most of us are Not single by choice which makes it very sad for us too.
it is mothers day today in the UK, 6th March 2016 and I don’t, as usual, go out today. Anyone you meet in a restaurant/out walking etc, will smile at you, as a woman and sometimes ask if you’re being taken out by children etc or at least tell you about their plans for today. I have just had my 62nd birthday, I am fit and well and love my husband to bits, but we lost 3 babies in our early thirties after years of treatments. Two were twins as a result of IVF, the last one was a pregnancy not as a result of treatments, out of the blue, after we had stopped, which made it even more painful. I was told “this one would be alright” as it was conceived naturally, but it was not. No heartbeat on the scan at 16 weeks and an immediate operation to remove to prevent septicemia, I was 37 and knew I would never be pregnant again, two years later I started menopause. Do you ever get over? Well no, its not the first thing I think of every morning on waking, as it used to be. One day in my fifties, I just realized I no longer did that. But then friends and some work colleagues were expecting grandchildren around that time – lots of comments about it being the best thing ever to be a grandparent etc, and the pain started again in a different way. We are a very small family, I don’t have any nieces or nephews or god children (ironically my only brother and his partner and my husband only sister and her husband were all childless by choice). I had wanted children since being a toddler myself and also felt that I let down my parents and parents in law (all now dead) as all their hopes for continuing genes on both sides of family, rested on me alone. But when I look around now, so many women on my age group seem to be divorced or separated or widowed in their sixties and their children just use them as unpaid baby sitters, and never see them otherwise, that I think I have a better quality of life. Not everyone is going to agree with me here, but although I don’t go to church or anything, I do have deeply spiritual beliefs (which are the same as before I even married, not due to whats happened) and I honestly believe that on my death I will be reunited with those three children who are just as much mine, even though they have gone before me.
Hi, I am new here and I guess right at the beginning of the journey. I just found out this week that I won’t be able to have kids. Given my financial situation I don’t adoption will ever be on the cards either. I knew things weren’t quite right but I wasn’t ready for that. I’ve just been trying to find some comfort and calm and came across this website. I am 32, single and have literally no one else to talk too so I hope you don’t mind me posting here.
At the moment I’m drowning a bit in panic but its good to hear stories where others have got past this. It’s just it’s its pretty much the only thing I’ve ever wanted in life and even more I know I’d be flippin brilliant at it. I feel I have been isolated and alone for so long that this feels even more I unfair. I tried speaking to my mum but she is fatalistic and just says ‘it’ll be the way its going to be’. She’s the only family i have but i know she finds it tricky when I’m really struggling and hurting. I’m just baffled as to what life is all about at the moment.
Hi Sunbeam – I’m so glad you’ve found us and I’m so sorry to hear the devastating news that brought you here. Indeed, adoption isn’t an option for a lot of us single women, but you’ll get a lot of people suggesting it for the next few decades! I’m sorry that your Mum hasn’t been able to be a support – it’s often the case that our mothers aren’t able to empathise with us over this issue and it’s something I write about in my book. You might find that joining our online community is a great way to get some support. You’re definitely not on your own with this hon. Hugs, Jody x
Today is a WONDERFUL and simultaneously painful day for me. I was dressing for work and received a phone call from my mother. “We are going to have a baby today!” she exclaimed. I had genuine excitement and anxiously asked for details. She said my niece had just gone in for an OB appointment this morning and her water broke during the examination. We have all been waiting for this news. I felt excitement and wanted to share it with someone so I texted my husband. Then out of the blue I felt so sorry for myself. I also felt shameful of the envious thoughts that crept into my mind. I should be able to handle these things by now. Goodness knows there have been so many babies in our family ever since I can remember. I come from a large family. My parents just celebrated their 65th anniversary. I have three brothers, all older than I, each with large families of their own that include children and grandchildren. I am the only female sibling. I am 46. I am married to a wonderful man. He is also from a large family and he turned 50 last year. We will share our 25th wedding anniversary in August. We always wanted to create a family together. Because we have not done this it sometimes feels like we are still treated like kids without responsibilities. We feel like we failed sometimes. We feel like the family doesn’t get it. That they don’t always seem sensitive to the emptiness that comes with wanting a family and not being able to create one together. I have been told so many times that we should just adopt instead of waste time and money on trying to having a baby…as if it is the sole responsibility of infertile couples to adopt when actually everyone should consider adoption…not just infertile couples. But I love my huge family and I am familiar with exciting news of pregnancies, births and all the “firsts” that come along with an extremely prolific family…first words, first steps, first haircuts, first communions…and I have enjoyed them all. I have been blessed to be a “Godmother” to many of my brothers’ children, to be an important and available component in many of their lives to date. But I find myself shying away from these milestones, these events and conversations more and more. I feel like an outsider. I have a tendency to be emotional and that can be a “downer” and I don’t want to be that person. But I always had hope that a treatment would work, the missed period would be because I was pregnant, that we always have next month, etc… I would cry when I got my cycle. I would feel worthless. Tell myself I was being punished and wonder why my husband was being punished too. He is such a good person why was he saddled with a woman that can’t give him children. People tell us God has “other” plans for us and that we aren’t listening to his plan. I guess that is sinful in itself. But the months and years kept passing by. And now it is too late. A complete hysterectomy last year saw to that. So even though I try to act like I am over it (I have actually heard myself tell people “I don’t think I would have been a good mother anyway”, “I was too old to have children anyway”, “I don’t have the patience for babies or kids anymore”) privately, I would and still do cry, sometimes feel like I need to stay to myself because my emotions can be raw and that isn’t fair to anyone else. I have waken from dreams where I am pregnant or have a family. It seems so unfair to have that this creep into my sleep too. I should be at peace while sleeping don’t you think? I laugh off inconsiderate and insensitive input like “well having kids isn’t all it is cracked up to be anyway”, “you are so lucky, you can take a nap anytime you want to”, “you can come get my kids anytime you are feeling maternal and you will get over it fast”, “I can’t see you changing diapers anyway”, but it stings. I displace my maternal part of me. I have a close and “apron string” tight relationship with my parents. They are in their 80’s and live down the street. So I devote time and effort with them. It gives me pleasure to have such a good relationship with them. My husband’s parents aren’t well. His mother is living in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s chipping away at her memory and his father spends every day with her then goes home to an empty house at night so we devote time and effort with them too. They are wonderful people. We have cats. we treat them like babies. They ARE our babies even though my husband says he prefers dogs. lol Boy we are messed up!
On a happier note. My husband and I share a beautiful relationship. We are both healthy. We have good jobs. We have many of the same interests. I think our struggle has fused us together instead pushing us apart. I don’t know if that is the norm but it is ours. We are a great team and I know in time we will find peace. We are re-direct our energy toward planning the next phase of our lives together. I can totally see us living out our elder years in a “happening” retirement village in Florida. Life is pretty good all things considered!
By the Way…Ruby was born a little while ago this morning and she weighs 7 lbs 14 oz and is 21″ long. Both mama and Ruby are doing well!
Hi Andria – thank you for sharing the complexity that comes with being childlessness – the mixture of joy for others and sadness for ourselves – of peace and joy in our situation and days when it all feels wrong! Women without children are outsiders in our culture and on some days that really hurts me, and other days I feel liberated and free. Depends on how much sleep I’ve had and, in particular, how much mainstream media I consume… We are reluctant pioneers, and we are changing the world for the generations of childless / childfree women who will come after us; just not our own daughters. Hugs, Jody xxx
I am not having a good day today…. put on social media that I hate not being a mum…and hate the emptiness. …. should not do that but sometimes I do these random things ….. usual comments from mothers …’have u thought about fostering or adoption’ …… I would really love to answer in a really sarcastic way..’really… I have known I can’t have my own children for 14 years and I had not even thought about those options’!!!!!!!! Feeling like ripping my hair out!!!!
Hi Adelle – I’m not sure where you live, but in the UK there are about 7000 children available for adoption yet 1.5 million childless women aged 40 and 50. And fostering is a full-time paid job, which means you can’t also work outside the home. Perhaps you might like to offer some of this info to the mothers and others who imagine that it’s a really ‘easy’ option next time! Hugs, Jody x
I am happy to have found you. I need more of this. I feel so very sad I am at the edge. Not sure how else to describe it. Children were all I ever wanted and now at 43 it didn’t happen. Tried on my own but with no partner it isn’t easy to keep trying and finances don’t help. I have no family whatsoever so alone forever. Lost and still hurting. Will it ever end? I love children but seeing them now just hurts. All I feel lately is hurt. I am tired of comments saying it just didn’t happen and to move on. I am tired and hurting.
Hi Lina – I’m afraid that those ‘get over it’ comments can only come from those who’ve never had to try – and have no idea what depth of feeling and loss you are experiencing. I REALLY recommend you join our private online community ASAP – there you will find the solace, compassion and generosity of spirit that will greatly more helpful to you! Hugs, Jody x
Thankyou so much for writing this. I didn’t know I wasn’t alone with this terrrible grief and never talked to other women in the same situation as me. It’s new for me to be allowed to grieve for this and to know of your gateway women webpage which I’ve only just found. I can not tell you how much it means to be able to read your article and to let this terrible loss of what was once my hope and dreams be recognised for what it is.
Dear Kim – I’m so glad you’ve found us too! When I was in the depths of my own despair, 7 years ago, there was NOTHING out there, even on the internet that spoke back to me of the pain I was experiencing. When I wrote my first blog and women starting writing back in the comments, I cried with relief, with recognition. To know that I wasn’t alone was the most profound relief. I am so very happy that I have provided that relief for you in turn. Jody x
I’ll be 45 this year, my darling partner will be 71.
We got through my cervical cancer and hysterectomy relatively easily when I was 30! There was the relief that the poor prognosis was followed by survival. We had been together for less than a year and my partner had made it clear from the start that he didn’t want children….I loved him, so that was fine! Just like that!
Throughout the last 15 years I keep expecting to reach a point where I have “got over” or at least “come to terms” with being unable to have children, although to be honest, I never wanted them more since that the precious choice was taken from me. It’s almost ridiculous how the smallest thing can trigger the loss and despair of this void left by someone who never existed..tonight it was a movie where a desperate childless woman adopts thus making her life complete and happy! Yesterday it was when I was making decisions regarding my childless Aunt’s affairs (as her power of attorney) and realising how lucky she is at least to have me…..my parents and partner are in their 70’s, I lost a beloved sister this year aged 40 to ill health and my remaining sister (a childless divorcee who has adopted her two foster children) may not be around when I am in my Aunt’s situation. Selfishly I ask, who will be there for me, who will take care of my affairs, who will arrange my funeral, who do I leave anything to…? Depressing for someone only 45, what will I be like in my 70’s I wonder.
You’re words have really touched me, your writing is beautiful and you’ve opened my eyes to looking at childlessness from another angle. Grief? Yes, I do grieve, but in the quiet of the night, and alone….I really don’t feel anyone is going to understand me grieving something I have never had. Right now I am staring across the table and imagining the child I never had looking up from their drawing…..
I used to visit this site called Childfreedom Don’t Worry, Be Happy
every time I felt down about trying to get over not having a baby, it helped me and just like you wrote It really isn’t always a ‘better’ life than ours, just a different one. parents who regret having kids.
I suppose this makes a person feel better if they are on a certain wave length. …Unfortunately I read some and thought ‘ungrateful bitches they have no idea!!!’ But this is me being honest at my own level x
I thought I moved on and was done with all this. I’ve made so many changes trying to do things for myself to make my life happy again. It’s been several years since my last IVF when we decided to stop trying and almost two years since I had a hysterectomy. Will I ever be that happy, confident woman I once was?
Hi Josie – it sounds like you’re really fed up with not feeling you’re through this, and boy, I do understand! My experience, and that of the many women I’ve worked with, is that making ‘changes’ doesn’t really do much, unless you’ve done your grief work. And to do that, we need the support of other women like us. You might like to read Chapter 4 in my new book (out Feb 25), or in the old version if you have it. I’d also recommend reading the ‘How to do your grief work’ I wrote and perhaps consider joining our private online community? Grief can hang around for a lifetime if we don’t actively ‘grieve’, and seeing as our loss is one that is not culturally recognised or supported, finding ways to ‘grieve’ has to be created by us. Hope this helps, hugs, Jody x
Hi Adelle – yes, I remember that feeling. I’m not sure I would have believed anyone who told me I would ever feel whole again and, if anything, even more at peace with my life that I was before the nightmare. You’ve found us, you’re in the right place. Hugs, Jody x
Sometimes I think it’s all been just a horrible nightmare, and sometime I’ll wake up with my husband and children around me, and my kids will say “Mommy, don’t cry! We love you so much!” And we’ll all have a laugh at my silly dream. But that will never happen. Of all the crappy things God could have planned to befall me in this life, I think I could have managed anything else better than this. I’ll never get over it. It hurts so much to be around babies, or pregnant women. Sometimes I don’t know how I’ll live the rest of my life. I know you’ll say to join your community, and I know you would mean it kindly but it would just be another reminder. Better to just distract myself as best as I can. Thanks for listening.
Hi Kathy – I’m so sorry to hear how hard it is for you right now. I’m so glad you’ve found us and we’re here when you need us. Distractions are great, when they work! And when they don’t any more, you know what I’d say, and perhaps I’ll see you there one day. Or maybe you’d like to join a free local Gateway Women meetup group in your area? Having other friends around us who ‘get’ what we’re going through can make a HUGE difference! http://www.gateway-women.com/meetup Jody x
I felt the same to be around baby’s and the mother’s, I felt bitter and jealous
and that is perfectly ok to be that way, its just going through the motions to be able to cope and then as Jody said to grieve, it is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. what helped me was to stay away for awhile from the crowd and be around people that didn’t have children. I found different things to keep me busy and also with the help of my animals to love and spoil and knowing I’m blessed with a wonderful husband. and knowing there is someone all way’s worse of than me. I hope in the end you find peace of mind. take care <3
Hi Kathy, read your message and I want you to know I understand how you feel. I feel that way to. I work at a bank and people come in all the time with little babies, pregnant, twins, etc. and there is no escape from it. I HAD a chance to have a baby with my husband and I was to afraid now it’s to late. I pray every day about it and every day I try to figure out what to do with myself about it. Keep praying and the door will be opened to us, one door, or many. There are many children out there that need love but I’m working now. I want to hold suffering babies. That’s my desire. Something will open up don’t know when or how. My heart hurts every day. There’s a huge empty place. I pray but live one day at a time. I couldn’t wait till today, my day off so I could type this to you,. You and I are women in pain together. love, Carol
Wow! This site is amazing… I don’t feel so alone,being without children… It just never happened for us, and I started my menopause way earlier than the “norm”. I have a niece and nephew as well, but it is and never will be the same as having your own… Adoption,maybe… but I work split shifts, so it wouldn’t be fair to a child. At almost 47, it’s tough… I can relate to each and every comment on here – thank you for being here!
Hi Debby – great that you don’t feel so alone any more! I found that one of the hardest aspects of coming to terms with my own childlessness – the sense of utter isolation. Unlike some women, I didn’t know (or know of) a single other women amongst my friends, families, peers, colleagues, media, etc, who’d wanted to be a mother and it hadn’t worked out. I knew women who wanted to remain childfree, women who had (successful) fertility treatment, women who conceived after many years of trying against the odds – but no-one who had to come to terms with an unchosen childless life. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have started this blog and all that’s come from it! Hugs, Jody x
At 19 years old I had a ectopic pregnancy. I married at 21 and for years me and my ex-husband tried to have children. my sister had 2 girls and would pick on me and they all would laugh in my face how I couldn’t have kids that used to destroy me inside. He had a low count and I was infertile, at around 27 my husband then was never with me he had a free life I was always on my own. I knew he was having affairs but at that stage I didn’t care, I ended up having a affair myself.
After 8 months into the affair I feel pregnant, it was such a shock I never get pregnant and this might be my only chance, I wanted to keep the baby so badly. But I didn’t know how to tell my husband and how to leave and how he would feel as man that he couldn’t have a baby and someone else did it. I cried all day knowing I had to do the right thing and abort. it still kills me inside when I think about it. After I aborted I told my husband I did not love him anymore and I had a affair. he was willing to forgive me, but I knew he just wanted someone to pay half the bills and cook and clean for him. I left him but I never told him about falling pregnant after 12 months I got with a lovely man he had 2 girls. I told him everything no secrets he said what I did in my past is non of his business. I had a overactive thyroid that didn’t show till I was 32 and that was making me infertile.
I’m now 42 I have been married to this man now for 14 years. I have never fell pregnant, I have had some overdue moments. I now feel I do not want kids at this age, I can still get IVF if I really wanted to but I’m over it I have come to terms with it, and I just feel I couldn’t be bothered to look after a child at this age my husband is 13 years older than me and I want him to enjoy his golden years without all the hassles, my parents had me when my dad was 63 and my mum 45 and I couldn’t do that to a child, I had a wonderful dad but he died when I was 11 years old and I never got over that.
I have a wonderful marriage and love being with my husband and I feel complete and I’m happy just to have him and do not feel the need for children
I do have 6 sisters they all have kids and they are grown up and the troubles they have had with them. one of my sister daughters has had 4 kids and is a ice addict and my sister has got them little ones all under the age of 4 years – my sister is so exhausted she said to me. I bought up my kids already, I feel sorry for her, she is too old and in bad health. And my other sister that used to laugh at me. well one of her daughters is having the same fertility problem as me. I really love my niece and hope she does have a beautiful child in the end.
Hello JustMe – I’m so sorry for your pain and thank you for being open about your abortion. I had an abortion at 20 and it was the right thing to do (I wouldn’t have been a good mother at that age) but it added another layer to my childless grief later. Abortion is part of the story for so many of us, yet such is the shame/guilt that still very few of us are able to open up about it. I’m so happy you found a good man and I’m sorry for the struggles and sadnesses that your sisters are experiencing with motherhood. It really isn’t always a ‘better’ life than ours, just a different one. When we can begin to see that, it helps a lot. And I hope your niece who wants to be a mother can make it happen for her. Hugs to all of you and your big heart for being empathetic to their pain, when it doesn’t sound like they’ve returned the kindness! Hugs, Jody x
all of you! reading all of your comments helps me a lot. I am 62 and I don’t know when the light went on that I didn’t have children, maybe 10 years ago but I am still grieving. You know what it’s like seeing pregnant women, smiling, rubbing their tummies, growing a life that will grow more life. Maybe, one never knows. I still ache to hold a baby, not theirs, MINE! SO, I have 2 dogs, and1 horse that I hug and hug! my dogs are my babies too. I still dream of a future with children. One never knows. Foster children, not sure. Still my heart hurts and aches like something is missing in my life but I read your comments, hug my animals, hug my husband, and keep my ears open for anything to do with children. Maybe I’ll have a dozen in heaven! thank all of you for being real and open and there, for me
I don’t think I will ever get over it. I am reading your words and trying to gather strength. My thoughts go so low that I am afraid sometimes of the result. I don’t know how to live in a world where I don’t have children. It is all I ever wanted in life and something I am drawn to, the natural mother. I now have difficulty being around children at all whether it be when out for groceries or driving past a school. My heart is broken in so many pieces.
thank you for writing this. You don’t know me but I appreciate it so very much. I am single and no children. It’s all I ever wanted in life and it’s not happening. I have tried and lost them in the process. My losses are my own and nobody understands. I am 43 and my heart is broken. I have no family to fill the void. I too am told I would have made a great mother but this means what? I’m not one. And then I am reminded about situations when people say that I couldn’t understand because I don’t have kids. It’s painful. I don’t know how to stop the hurt and I don’t know how to live anymore. It was my only dream.
Hi Jenn, I’m so glad that you found this post and that it spoke to you. I know that heartbroken place so very, very well. The ‘helpful’ things that people say can be so very hurtful too. I would really recommend that you join our private online community – there are so many of us there helping each through the pain of unchosen childlessness and onto whatever turns out to be our next ‘dream’. There’s no need to no what that is; first you must grieve the heartbreaking losing of the dream of motherhood. And get support for it because it can hurt like hell. Hugs, Jody x https://gateway2012.wpengine.com/community
Hi Jenn, I just read your post and I just wrote one of my own. I am 62 and without children. I feel your pain. Looking back that was my dream too. I don’t know how I go on but I try and live only one day at a time but I think, not sure, but think I will grieve all my life. If we lived close you and I could open a daycare together and have a lot of fun. you aren’t alone I grieve with you. Caroline
Thanks for saying this. I’m in North America. Are you close? We’ll figure it out! 🙂 It sucks doesn’t it? I don’t know sometimes if I will make it through this. I want my own baby to hold to love..no holds barred…
Hi Jenn, just got your reply, this is Carol. I know just how you feel! I don’t think I will ever get over not having a baby to hold of my own. I pray and pray and search and keep knocking on God’s door about this. I live in California. It is so beautiful here. I do love that part of my life., I wish you were here. Where are you? Where is north America? You and I aren’t alone with these feelings. I am very comforted to hear from you. My heart aches with yours! Thank God for Jody Day! and this website.
HI Carol & Jenn
I have your email addresses if you’d like me to e-introduce to each other without publishing your address here on the website?
Hugs, Jody x
Jody, you are truly amazing! and very thoughtful. that would be nice I think you mentioned giving Jenn and my email addresses, that would be fine.How caring of you to think to do that. I love your site. As you know it is hard without children and grandchildren too. But we do have each other. God’s blessings to you always.Carol
Carol – I will be in California to run 2 Gateway Women workshops next summer – hope to meet you then maybe? Make sure you’re on my mailing list so that you’ll get all the details when the bookings open. I think they’ll fill up fast! http://eepurl.com/kKC7v
Hi Jody, you are an angel! Thank you for everything you have done! And thank you for putting me in touch with Jenn! I just emailed her. I am interested in when you are going to be in CA so please send me the info when you know. THANK YOU for your courage and care!,
I feel your pain… I am just 44. Single and get so angry about my deep empty hole xx
As I reach my 44th birthday, I have to accept fact I will never have children. I am in tears as I write this. This article so describes my situation. I am lucky as I have nieces and nephew, which I love deeply and see every week. I also am fortunate to have been chosen to be a godmother to 5 children. It hurts when people tell me I would make a great mother. I know they say it as a compliment. I know things happen for a reason, and life goes on. Circumstances were just not in my favour. I have thought of adopting, but being single it seems like such a daunting task.
Hi Rita – I am so very sorry how things have worked out for you. Yes, it does hurt when people tell us we would have been a good mother, because it seems that’s not a criteria for having children! You’d get a lot of comfort being part of our online community – 44 is a tough age; I was 44 when I accepted (cognitively) I wan’t going to be a mother – but the process of accepting that emotionally took a few years more and a powerful grieving process. I’m in a good place now; it is possible, with support. Hugs to you, Jody xxxx
Dearest Barbie – I’m so sorry that it hasn’t worked out for you. Accepting the fact ‘logically’ and accepting the fact ’emotionally’ are two different things, and the second is required in order to move on. I would really recommend joining our online community to get the support you need. Hugs, Jody x
I am glad to have found this site. Thanks jody. I am 38 now .. but I wanted to be a mother all my life. I love kids and would take up every little chance to baby sit my friends kids or my cousins..or neighbours. I always imagined the sounds of my little one calling out to me. But after years of trying n yearning I finally came to terms with it. It was hard but I have to live on.
It hurts the most when my own sister would shut me down and would say stop feeling sorry for yourself and that I didn’t do enough to get pregnant or probably I don’t deserve to be a mom. I was so depressed at a point that I questioned my purpose to live. Luckily by gods grace my husband has been a blessing. he stood by me in all times and let me grieve. And this process of grieving for me transformed me. It took a few months and now i have moved on.
To find women who understand my pain , feels to be normal amongst them and not an outcast.
Thanks again Jody.
Hi Priya – thanks for your comment and I’m so glad you found us. Sometimes the harsh and unempathetic comments of family and friends can be the hardest to cope with. It’s also very, very, common… You might want to check out our fabulous private online community full of great women like us – a bunch of brave, funny, kind, understanding ‘outcasts’ supporting each other to find our way again in a world that often views our pain as trivial and self-indulgent. If only it was! Hugs, Jody x
Such a relief to come across this article and these posts – I have been feeling like the only person in the world to have the feelings that I’ve been having, but now I find a community. I have been reflecting recently on the challenges of being a single, childless woman. For so many other ‘minority groups’ there is so much support. It feels like for ‘our’ minority group, there is very little. It has made me feel like we don’t deserve the support 🙁 I am grateful to have come across this community and to have watched your video Jody – you’re my new role model! Thanks x
Hi Patrice – and welcome! It is indeed the case, that at this time in our society’s development, the needs and experiences of single, childless women are indeed not recognised, but rather are ridiculed collectively and shamed individually. It will change, but it’ll take a generation, and it’ll take women like us to realise that we are no longer prepared to accept this! Welcome to your Tribe. Hugs, Jody x
New to this site….am 52 with 2 stepchildren in their 30s and 2 grandchildren 4 yrs & 17 months. I’ve always been very maternal but ny husband didn’t want any more children after his divorce. I thought i had accepted this situation in my 40s but everything has come back to bite me over the last couple of years. Catalyst is definitely the grandchildren but combined with the menopause and losing a close friend to cancer. The whole thing of time funning out is making me panic, plus feeling very isolated in my childlessness, i don’t know anyone in the same circumstances as me. I see my stepdaughter as a mother now and its even clearer what i’ve missed. I’m finding the hardest part forgiving myself for the decisions i’ve made, i don’t blame my husband for not wanting more children but i know now i was wrong to agree with it, i was wrong to to the right thing for everyone else and the wrong thing for me as a person and as a woman, its a hard place to be.
Dear Polly you are not alone! I am 52 as well and have 2 step children 31 and 29 with two grandchildren 4 and 7. this is my second husband and he too didn’t want kids. I did. as time went on I thought I would get pregnant. anyway but that didn’t happen and I was never able to conceive. at 38 I had to have a partial hest. All hope gone. I gave all my love to the step children and in return have been hurt over and over again. They didn’t trusting me with their children because I never had my own .Not because I was a bad person but because I never had any baby’s. The other major problem was their mother always saying she’s not your mother and she’s not their real grand mother.
Now there has been a big rift between father and daughter and I’m being blamed ( I had nothing to do about this, Really!).
anyway what I am trying to learn and understand is that being childless is not a bad thing and that my husband loves me. the holidays are the hardest and my birthday. that’s because I want to have children and not be consider an afterthought.
I’m learning (trying)to believe that there is more to this life then what has been given.
Just found out 5 days ago that my possibility of having children is almost none….i can get pregnant but not for a healthy, all my embryos have defects that are not sustainable with life….
That was a huge blow to me….
I cry every time i think about it, i feel i stop breathing, or cannot breath… I cannot believe whats happening to me…
All started as a child sexual abuse from a family member, other emotional and some minor physical abuse in my life . Some health issues that resolved. I made it
Now i am above 40, have been trying to have kids for 2 years which all my dreams crushed.
I want to try again, what did i do to deserve that….?
Just don’t kill yourself. You’ll get through this. Join this community. Go for therapy. Cry a lot. Grieve. Be a mess. Just don’t harm yourself. I thought I was going to DIE because I couldn’t have children ten years ago. Now I have a life I love, and that I never DREAMED I’d have, and I feel at peace.
The main thing is, don’t do anything to harm your health, like starting drinking, or taking drugs, or smoking, or eating badly. Your good health is vital. Change your job if you hate it, study, read self-help books, pray, work on your trauma issues, teach English abroad, ANYTHING, but never surrender.
Thankyou for writing your post. It gives me the opportunity to vent my hurt confusion and frustration out loud to try and make sense of why I feel the way I do. I have yet to meet the right partner yet. And im surrounded my friends with children,;going on and on about their eating bathing habits, the stories make me smile and I feel happy for them but my heart is crying out in total despair no words can describe the agony im in while I see my sister and her first born. I have dreamt of being a mother since young girl. I am in pain im 35 but I feel time is ticking away. The yearning is so intense for a child. Seeing pregnant women fills me with a bitterness and anger that has got worse and worse. How can I be understood. I so lonely it hurts like hell but feel like I carry the grief alone just me and god.
Thank you for writing this article. I’m 30 and have been married for almost six years. my marriage has been hard and my husband is far from what he vowed to be. Because of this awful marriage I have not had kids. I can’t bring them into this situation, yet want them so badly. I just found out my little sisters (seven years younger and married for under a year) is pregnant. I’ve wept solidly for four hours. Its not jealousy, honestly, its more the understand that I won’t have that and its more like grieving a loss of all my dreams, desires and hopes. both my brothers have kids and now I’m that random 30 year old in the family with no kids planning my 10th baby shower behind a plastered on smile. I do think I would be a great mother and have SO much love to give, yet because I choose to stay married I will never have that joy 🙁
Just found your post. Was looking for comfort and I found it. I am in a committed relationship with my boyfriend who is near fifty years of age. I am in my early thirties. We have mutually decided not to have children, although I dreamt of having children my whole life. I always thought I would, always saw myself with kids. He has scheduled a vasectomy and as it is nearing, I find myself in tears every time I think about that door shutting forever. I can’t even look my boyfriend in the eyes when he brings it up. I too feel like I am in mourning although I am certain of my decision. I worry that I will go into deep depression afterwards. It’s like everything you said, all your words, were all my thoughts that I could not put into words myself.
It is a source of comfort to know that I’m not alone in feeling grief over not being a mother myself.Sadly due to a longterm illness,it has ‘robbed’ me the chance of being a mother.Coupled with the fact that the right partner never came along for me .
Whilst in my 20’s and 30’s,family members and friends started having their own families.I found it heartbraking that being a mother wasn’t going to happen for me.Knowing that I would never be called ‘mum’ and I was missing out on something so precious at times is difficult and heartbraking.
I put on a ‘brave face’ and try to be strong.I’ve come to the conclusion that it just wasn’t meant to be,and probably just ‘fate’.I believe that everything in life is often ‘mapped’ out however hard this sometimes is to deal with.
My thoughts go out to all those in a similar position.
I found out a few weeks ago that I can’t have kids. I had suspected before, and avoided seeing a doctor about it because I didn’t think I could handle it if it was true.
I know that it’s sad, and probably sets feminism back a ton, but all I ever wanted from my life was marriage and kids. I got married, that blew up in my face.. but I thought there was still hope for kids. And I was wrong.
Finding out for sure, ripped my heart out. I feel like my soul died. I lost everything I ever wanted, and this is going to sound bad too, but I don’t feel like I just can’t get pregnant.. I feel like there was already a child there, and she’s gone. I say she, because I used to have dreams, about the same little girl and she was mine. I protected her, and I loved her. I’d wake up crying because I wanted so badly to get to meet her in real life. And now she’s gone. I’m 26. I have so much time left (probably, ugh)… and all my hope is gone. I feel so empty. I can’t even see someone else’s kids or even a pregnant woman without bursting into tears. I don’t know what to do with myself now. I had hoped, the timing just wasn’t right before, maybe nothing was really wrong it was just a timing issue. Now I wish I hadn’t found out, because I feel like I have nothing left.
I loved this article. Mostly because it felt… relate able. It isn’t just me who feels totally destroyed. But I still feel alone, simply because no one around me seems to get it. My friends with kids are incredibly insensitive. Talking about how they have baby fever, even though they have 4 kids already. I just, can’t deal with that. I’m sorry you want another one and you can’t because you got fixed… but at least you have the ones you have. I can’t even have one. It feels selfish to me, that I would feel that way, I just do. It isn’t fair. There are people who should NEVER have had kids, people who don’t even want them, who are cruel to them.. and then there are people who want them so badly, who would be good parents, but will never be. It’s unfair. I don’t understand. My life, has always been really hard. Really horrible bad things have happened to me, as they have to so many other people… and now I’ve lost this too. How much can I be expected to handle? When will it stop? It’s just one thing after another and it has been since I was a child.. and now this? I’m so tired of everyone always telling me that things get better… they might, but they don’t for me.
I don’t know what to do now. I feel so broken and empty and completely hopeless.
Thanks so much for your comment on the website and I’m sorry you’re feeling so sad right now. This is hard.
A great way to connect with other women who ‘get’ our situation is in the Gateway Women Private Online Community – it’s a safe and friendly space where you can share the daily reality of being a childless-by-circumstance woman. All applications are carefully vetted by me and I’m doing my best to make it a safe place for us in a world that is currently pretty hostile or dismissive to our experience. Go to http://www.gateway-women.com/community to find out more and apply for free membership.
Wow you sound exactly like me as if i even wrote that for you. Except i dont know yet whether or not i can have children and i too suspect something may be wrong with me and i am scared to see the doctor. I believe i may have had a miscarriage several months back. Im emotional about that and it lingers in the back of my mind. My current love of two years who i desperately would love to mother a child for already has a 5yr old daughter. It sounds selfish maybe it is i dont know but i tend to feel like im on the back burner because im not the biological mom. I want the mom control and some respect and say. To be the woman of the family taking care of everyone. Momma goose! I try very hard to express how deeply sad and hurt i feel on the issue and am treated like “too bad get over it”. Its easy for him to be hard on that issue because he already has a beautiful child and other family for support. I have nothing and everyday is emotionally painful for me the longer i go without my own family. Should i wait along time til he can finally give me a family or move on to someone who may be more supportive?? Im not sure…. Its a very deep damaging awfully painful hurt thats all i know.
Sorry for your loss. By loss I mean the loss u feel not having the little girl you have always dreamt of. I understand how you feel more than you know. I’m 35 (now). I never just “got” pregnant. We went to a infertility Dr and after d&cs and drugs finally got pregnant but we lost it after 2 mts. Then they said I had precancer n another d&c . Again after drugs I was finally able to get pregnant but again we lost her. I felt it was a girl. This past November, the same mth my baby would h born , I had to have a hysterectomy BC my chances of cancer were so high(50%) n the dr said that even if I was to have invetro I would have almost no chance of carrying it past a few MTS bc my uterus was bad. Now all hopes are lost. I can’t tell you things will ever get better because I don’t feel they will but I’m sure that they can always get worse. The pain u feel is soooo real and ppl are so insensitive maybe even unaware of our feelings. All I can say is that u will find ways to cope. Even if all do is hide behind a fake smile And cut yourself off from the world
I am at that age of “time running out”. It is extremely stressful to have always believed in love and fate then due to circumstances of no relationship working out to feel rushed to settle when settling with whomever “will do” was never an option to me. I feel so naive. I had an abortion for reasons of a sociopath father, no personal family or funds to support it. Since then I have never before wanted a child as much as I do now. But time is running out. If it’s not already too late. I am completely depressed because of this reality. and yes I feel very shunned and looked down upon by all my friends who were blessed with stable mates, helpful family’s, funds and free time. I feel I have so much love to give. The peace with my abortion at the time not too long ago was to save the child from a life of poverty and dysfunction due to the father and my lack of funds. I felt very incapable of providing the child a healthy life. Today I feel so conflicted by the same reality. I want a child but can I really raise one alone as I am in this world? Time is running out. there is no man in sight and it’s just me working to make ends meet. I smile and go out with the few friends I have. Whom are all mostly 10 years younger then me. Being friends my age are tending their children. Thank you for your site. I’ve had moments of planning my 40th birthday to be the day I end my life. I really thought I would be a wonderful mother in this lifetime. But I guess it’s not my “fate”.
I want to say a few things. I lost my son to a stillbirth at 38.5 weeks but I have a vibrant 8 year old daughter. I also have had 2 miscarriages. I consider myself lucky to have that one child despite the intense grief I have gone through. I now have a different perspective on life that I never would have had. So many of my friends who have children just don’t “get” that. I have thought about what it might be like to be motherless (for after an event like the loss of my son, one is petrified of losing the other child). I have thought about all the motherless people out there and wondered how they survived such devastation…for it is indeed that…when you want something so badly but cannot have it. I look up to these people for they have a perspective all mothers do not. I think you all should revel in that fact. You have lived through and survived despite such difficulties. The ones who have lost children at any stage of pregnancy and still have no living child, yes! yes! you are a mother! You held that child inside you – you loved that child from the moment of conception! You are a mother! And for those who have not had that experience, it takes incredible courage and strength to readily admit that life has been cruel but do not give up! Take all the wonderfulness that you are and give to the community, give to life for we only have one life to live and it is short. Spend your life happy and not regretful! You deserve it! Yes, I will never get over the loss of my son but I will enjoy my life regardless if I have another child or not!
Cried my whole way through your article. I am not coping at all and slowly destroying both mine and my husbands lives. Went to the Dr but they tried to send me to relate! Just sad all the time and life is colourless.
Thanks for your comment and I’m so sorry to hear you’re having such a tough time right now.
I’d really like to encourage you to join our GW+ Community – it’s a safe and friendly space where you can share the daily reality of being a childless-by-circumstance woman. All applications are carefully vetted by me and I’m doing my best to make it a safe place for us in a world that is currently pretty hostile or dismissive to our experience.
Our situation gets so much easier when we have supportive, intelligent, empathic women around us who don’t think we’re weird for finding our situation challenging, and don’t close us down with endless miracle baby stories when we try to discuss it!
This is how i am starting to feel i am 25. All i long for is a child and to start a family. Getting up everyday just to support myself got old years ago. I need to have that void filled or life does not seem worth it. Its especially difficult when your significant other doesnt understand how bad this makes one feel and how deep it goes.
Ashley, I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time. I hear all the time at my Childless by Marriage about husbands/partners who don’t seem to understand how the woman feels when she wants children and can’t have them. They toss it off as no big deal, and we know it is a big deal. I hope someday soon your man really gets it.
Loved the article on whether you ever get over not having children. At present, I am thinking I will never get over it completely. There will always be reminders. I hate the loneliness I feel. I don’t even like to admit I am lonely. Saying that, I am someone who likes space – I always have, even as a child according to my mother. I need space to be able to re-centre myself. Not having children, I have sort of lost my friends and my sister to marriage and children (which I get). I also don’t want to be reminded all the time of what I don’t have. Like everyone I want to be loved. To be hugged. Someone to care for me. I know it should start with me but at times I feel like the child who thinks that there is something wrong with them, that I am unloveable. I want to stop wasting my life, move forwards (what ever that means) and make the most of the time I have left. I am stuck. How to grieve without falling apart.
I just read this blog having posted “Do you ever get over not having children” and i’m so glad I found it! Thank you, Jody.
I googled that because I had just spent some time with a friend who is really struggling to come to terms with it, as I have also struggled to come to terms with it.
It wasn’t infertility that caused this situation for me, but circumstance – too involved to write about here.
At 40 when I realised I probably was never going to have children, I fell into a blur of misery and addiction. I could not cope with the amount of grief I felt, combined with the often thoughtless comments or assumptions of others. My heart was physically hurting, I really didn’t think I would live through it. But I did.
I am addiction free now (10 years later) and the wound is more of a scar now, but the pain can still come alive again if I’m with the wrong people or the wrong situation. Thankfully that is not often now as I am a lot more careful about who I associate with. As a result I feel blessed with the friendships I have around me.
I work in the welfare field now because I too strongly identify with the disenfranchised people of the world and all my pain comes in handy these days because empathy comes naturally to me, and it helps me to think it wasn’t all for nothing because I really can help – not all the time, but often.
I do get angry at the way women who don’t have children are treated by the world, but maybe I don’t regret what I’ve learned because my life is meaningful now in a way I didn’t expect it to be, and I have a respect for myself for surviving all that pain.
Not many understand, and I don’t expect them to, but it’s really nice to read this.
May we all find happiness and healing in whatever ways we can xxx
Many people think that if you are childless it is for a medical reason or lifestyle choice. For me it is neither. I spent 9 years in an abusive, manipulative relationship with someone I later found out had NPD and my life was one of trying to escape and survive.There was no way I could inflict such a life on another human being. I was then on my own for years. Living in a village it wasn’t easy to meet people. Then I met and fell in love with a wonderful man, but he didn’t want any more children. I totally understood why. He had married at 19 and took on a 2 year old as his own. He then had 2 more children. They split up and he remarried, but his 2nd wife died and he also brought up her three children on his own. When we met they were in their early teens. He was looking forward to a bit of me time and why shouldn’t he. His whole adult life had been spent bring up children, mainly other peoples. I stayed with him because I loved him and loved being with him. It really hit home when I was diagnosed with fibroids. I was very aware that my operation could result in hysterectomy, but I was so ill I had to go through with it. I was in turmoil. I had to attend the same department as all the expectant mums. It was my vision of hell.I wanted my body clock to say it was too late, not an operation. It went well but they came back. I have now had 3 operations which all went well and was told i could still technically have children if i had a cesarean. 3 years ago i was diagnosed with 6 more tumors, but the aren’t causing me too many problems so I have left them. Although I am no longer in a relationship with this wonderful guy, we are still best friends. I am single again at 46 years old. Although I can potentially still have children I am fully aware that it is highly improbable. I never chose to be childless; to not have a family. People make many assumptions about me and none of them are ever correct. Christmas used to be difficult, but i learnt to live with it and now it has become easy to just ignore it. I live over the road to a primary school and when i here the 5 year olds playing i realize my heart still brakes and i also remember that when i was 5 i thought i would grow up to be like everybody else. But like many other people, i bury my feelings deep inside and ignore them as best i can and try to concentrate on what is positive in my life and what i do have rather than what i don;t have. This is the first time i have ever shared this with anyone. I know there will be other women and i dare say men who will relate to this. It is a pain that goes unseen, but is very real indeed.
My father was a psychopath. My amazing Mum protected us both, but there were some difficult times. He nearly killed me once when I was just a few months old, he was in a rage and swung the bassinet too fast when coming in the front door. I was catapulted across the room, bounced off the wall and fell onto the floor. There were other times when I wasn’t properly supervised and nearly drowned. My Mum put up with him for 10 years, leaving him when I was 4. I’m now 36 and we only recently figured out that he fits the classic psychopath/narcissist profile.
He was never able to empathise with me as a child, and our relationship was non-existent by the time I was 15. I spent a long time in counselling trying to understand why he was constantly rejecting me and why I was making such bad relationship choices.
Your ex sounds more violent than my father was, and I’m guessing he would never have been able to bond with his child and would at least have caused irreparable psychological damage. What happened to you was awful and it angers me that women’s friends and family don’t step in to save them from these men. I am so sorry that this man robbed you of the chance to have children. You had no choice at the time, any kindhearted woman would have done the same.
I also feel annoyed at men who have children and think it’s ok to start a relationship with a younger woman and make her choose between the relationship and her ambitions of motherhood. This puts a woman who is in love, in an impossible situation. Relationships don’t always last, but the grief of not having children stays with you forever. This may sound unfair, but I have a friend in Australia in this situation and it makes me very angry that men do this.
Thank you for your understanding Tya. (Regarding the first guy I mentioned) Don’t be too hard on people who don’t help in these situations as they aren’t always aware of what is happening to their friend or family member. I’m also sorry to hear about your friend. I myself have never been in the position where I have been pressured into making that choice between a relationship and children; for me it was just bad timing and this isn’t the reason why I’m no longer in relationship with the second guy who had children. I also think that men have just as much right to choice as women. Unless there has been deliberate deceit then it is sad but unfortunately sometimes we do have to make upsetting choices in life. I think honesty about wanting, not wanting, can’t have, should be dealt with in a sincere and sensitive manner from the start from both parties really.
My house is full of the sounds of my neighbours raising their child. There was an advert for a children’s clothes sale on the doormat when I got home. I have one of those counter things that tell you how much electricity you’re using and it’s next to nothing but the momentary feeling of smugness doesn’t make me feel any better. There was nothing special about today, it was a day just like every other day and there is absolutely nowhere to go to forget. There’s always someone with a pregnancy or a pushchair or a whining teenager. Every person in the street has a mother. It’s so easy and yet so f….g impossible to live with if it doesn’t work. It would be better to come here and say it’ll be all right, I suppose, because that’s what everyone does. But it isn’t all right, it’s ongoing agony. Thank you for letting me say that x
I lost a triplet pregnancy last year, at 19 weeks gestation. My grief has been far from easy to understand. Am I a mother? Did I ‘know’ my children enough to grieve for them? Were they even real people or just a cluster of cells with the potential to become real? Am I a bad person because I know I’d be even more devastated if one of my babies had been a girl, instead of 3 boys? I didn’t expect the confusion, and I didn’t expect to be SO ANGRY with the whole world.
Only 2 friends asked to see me after the miscarriage. Many sent short messages, but no-one knocked on my door. Very few people recognised my experience as a real loss, except my ex-colleagues who sent me a big bunch of flowers. This recognition made me feel better, at least for a day or two. Most people treat miscarriage as if your distant cousin had died (your’e allowed to be sad for a day or two but you didn’t know them well enough to grieve, and therefore a one sentence email is all you need from them in the way of support). Or they simply treat you like a leper.
My partner’s sister committed suicide when she was 19. My partner’s mother has treated my loss as the loss of a child. She told me “losing a child is losing a child”. She also told me people would cross the street when they saw her, for fear of being confronted with her grief. People just don’t know what to say, and they don’t realise that saying nothing is worse than saying the ‘wrong’ thing.
I believe the loss of a child is painful whether or not that child has been conceived, and whether or not that child was brought to term. I have 4 children through 2 miscarried pregnancies. I never met any of them, but I felt them grow inside me and I will always love them. I’m still hopeful of another pregnancy, and I already love the child I hope I will one day hold, and I know it will be painful as hell if this child is never conceived.
The grief we feel is unique to each of us. But we have one thing in common – the lack of a living child. And it hurts.
I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your babies. I lost my daughter at 37 weeks of gestation. She to date is my only child, but like you I still hope for one that I can take home. It is so hurtful when people don’t acknowledge the loss and expect you to move on and return to normal “as if it hadn’t happened” when this is just not possible. My daughter would be 14 now and I have never forgotten her though over the years it has become easier to bear. I do consider myself to be a mother, but sadly not a parent. Sometimes it can feel very lonely. Sending you a big hug over cyberspace.
This sounds very much like my experience 30 years ago when I miscarried. I thought I was going mad for a year afterwards – and the lack of sympathy (never mind empathy!) was just extraordinary! Even from my own family. And I have lost many friends whose lives moved on with their children. I have now come to the conclusion that I am no longer interested in other people’s children and have very little in common with people who have them!!!
I am now 65 years old and have been experiencing everything that is described on these pages since my 30’s having never found a partner to live with, whilst experiencing redundancies, unemployment and simply surviving. Since retiring (my working life eventually settled down) I have been trying very hard to ensure that I bring interest and joy into my life, but the loneliness sometimes can be unbearable. I am in therapy to try and help me deal with everything that has happened and ensure that I do not end up completely embittered.
I know I found this site at just the right time.. I thought I was doing well with the fact that my husband and I do not have children. As a teacher, I have worked with many, many children over the years and somehow I thought that was helping me deal with my life, etc.,
Today at church I was in a small group of women, all are great people and one is a close friend,… however, when they start sharing pictures and talking about their children I feel like they are making me invisible and I had this roller coaster of emotions, that I wanted to be mad and then remind them that no one should idolize their child…this was of course all going on inside my head… The odd thing is one friend is in a terrible situation with an abusive husband and I know that I am truly blessed to have a dear husband. Will I ever handle this exclusion of “lets talk about out children” and I am on the outside?
I have a friend who had a baby that died six hours after birth, she told me once that she didn’t know what to say when people asked her if she had children. I told her to tell them “yes I had a daughter, but she died”. I felt it was important to allow herself to acknowledge her child and to express her loss, since they asked. I have been struggling with infertility issues and have been unable to conceive since a miscarraige over three years ago. I once burst into tears at work when a client asked me when I was going to have children. I felt guilty for my emotional outpouring, but I also think people deserve a personal answer when they ask a personal question. I have been told this is selfish, but I feel we should speak honestly about our experiences so others will understand the debth of the questions they are asking. There is so much fluff surrounding the childbearing/birthing process, and we mostly hear athe good news about happy healthy babies. In reality there are so many women who experience loss through miscarriage, death, or the inability to conceive. I think that by talking about these real life experiences we raise awareness and create compassion for those whose lives may not have turned out as they had hoped. I thank you for creating this space for sharing, as the world is there are far too resources for women struggling with the childless by choice/chance delimma.
Oh Jody, you’ve done it again. To be honest, I didn’t want to think about this today. When I started reading, I thought, oh no, I can’t handle this, but then as I read on, I felt the healing that you describe. With the multiple losses in my life, not only children, but my husband and my mother, too, I have grieved hard but also gained strength and understanding. I can’t wait to share this post with my Childless by Marriage readers.
I was crying reading this post. I am 45 and first found out that it would be extremely difficult for us to ever have children when I was 34. One of the first things that I did to try to cope was to read as many different books on the subject as possible. I congratulated myself on how well I was handling things. The women in the books talked about never completely getting over the many losses of infertility. I thought that seemed odd. Don’t all feelings of pain & loss lessen over time? Well, unfortunately for me, I think the opposite is true. Every time I think that I am in a good place and have moved on – wham it all comes at me again. Trying to get through the grieving process but it feels never ending.
“The fact is that if you were to have had children, and by some tragic event, they had died, nobody would ever expect you to be ‘over it’. Indeed, if you ever were, you’d be considered heartless – that terrible fairytale nasty: a bad mother. Every Christmas or Mother’s Day, people would be sensitive towards how hard those celebrations must be for you. And if they forgot your loss, they’d feel terrible about it. Your loss would be considered life-changing.”
I read this part, as a woman who lost a baby half an hour after his birth, and thought “No. That’s not even close to what happens. People are not sensitive about your loss, they do not feel terrible when they forget it. That’s not even close to what happens.”
I have been told that I could just have another one – as if one baby is replaced by another as simply as buying a new pair of socks. I have been told “well, at least you didn’t take him home and get used to him.” Friends who have lost older children were told “well, at least you got a chance to know them”.
I have learned that as a race, a people, a kin we are simply bad at confronting the “other”. We do not manage well when someone has a different experience, when someone doesn’t match up to the way we expect the world to be. The unfortunate reality is that we ask others to “simply get over it” because we are uncomfortable about their situation, their loss, their circumstances. We are unable to handle their sorrow, it makes us uncomfortable.
Asking someone to find closure and become happy, just like us, is nothing more than our inability to manage sorrow and tragedy in any coherent or collective sense. It says much about them and virtually nothing about us.
And so we find communities where we can be who we really are – moments of happiness and pockets of sorrow. We find places that accept us, affirm our journeys and show us the multitude of ways we will find happiness on our different paths, and people who will stay with us in the moments of sadness.
This post broke my heart, a little bit. As a woman who was unable to have more children after the death of my son, I belong here. I am a childless woman. And yet, it separated those of us who in some sense ought to be natural allies. It broken a small group into smaller groups – it made me feel like my road wasn’t as difficult as someone else, rather than simply saying my road was different, and different is not less.
We are such a small community, those of us who wanted children and didn’t have them. It seems to me that we are better served by drawing the circle wider and asking careful questions of our erstwhile companions, seeking to understand all of our collective experiences and bearing witness to each other’s sorrow and pain, regardless of how we found ourselves here.
I have found more comfort in those who, for whatever reason, did not find themselves living the lives they expected to, planned to, hoped for, dreamed of. All of them have taught me and continue to teach me how to make peace and sense of this world I live in. And I am thankful for all of them – the woman who was widowed at 30 and gave up a life of long marriage and happiness, the mother who lost her daughter when that girl was 20, the man who had the stroke at the age of 40. All of them have spoken words to help me reconcile the life I have with the life I wanted, have whispered truth and helped me heal.
All of them were there and willing to help, when I simply listened to what it was like to be them, without insisting that my own journey was more painful and more difficult than theirs.
Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and moving response to my article. Reading your comment also broke my heart a little. I am so sorry that, in my ignorance, I made you feel like an outsider from our little community. I totally agree with you that I too find comfort with others who do “not find themselves living the lives expected”. There is a humility to those who have had their hearts broken by life – and I can hear it in the tone of your comment too. Thank you for caring enough to write.
I am one women, attempting to speaking on behalf of many. Sometimes I don’t get it quite right, but each time I learn a little more. And I grow a little more too.
I too do not believe there are ‘levels’ of loss – and I certainly do not wish to divide us from each other. I think your point of asking “questions” is absolutely valid, and I hope that you can perhaps see this post as a kind of “question” and your response as a kind of “answer”. I believe that greif is a dialogue, but I coming to understand that it doesn’t mean it’s always going to be a comfortable one!
I am so sorry for your loss; for all our losses. And in that, I trust there is more in common than can divide us. My work is a drop in the ocean of compassion that the world needs to help us understand our own, and each other’s pain. My dream is that Gateway Women will become a community and network of healing and understanding to support us all, contain us all. I do hope that you will continue to feel included in that.
Once again, many thanks for taking the time to share your point of view and experience with me, with us.
I’m a 39 year old woman and am currently in the inbetween stage. I do not know for sure if I can’t have children, so do not feel appropiate to move on. We have explored adoption but we have to to be free from all infertility issues first before out Local Authority will allow us to go forward. In fact at a recent meeting we were told we had to wait six months after we had completed our fertility journey and this is because we would have grieved then and enough time has passed.
I’ve pondered this the last week or so and wondered if a woman can go through the ‘normal’ grieving process, when you have not lost an actual being. There is no face to remember, no familular smell to recall etc.. So how can you move on?
This group means so much to me, when I am completely lost and it is always reassuring and warming that you are not alone.
I am just at the very start of what feels like the next phase of my life – accepting and coming to terms with a life without children. There was a point a few months ago when I came to realise that it was the end of that particular road for me as and I am slowly beginning to think of my future without children (something that I wouldn’t have even considered for many years). Over the past few weeks I have been struggling with a question that has been doing a merry dance round and round my head – “this grieving thing – how do I do it?”. So, I have come to realise I will not be a mum. Now I was an expert in all things to do with trying to conceive (although not successfully so I guess there is some room for debate), ask me any question related to trying to have a child and I reckon I could win Mastermind. But not being a mother, trying to work out what I’m meant to do now, grieving…….no idea…… After reading this post though it seems I am making an okay start. Finding this group, taking part in the webinar and going to the talk last month has been hugely beneficial. It has shown me there are so many of us in similar circumstances who have all found ourselves in this place for varying reasons. I am so grateful to have found this group and although I don’t really feel like I know what I am doing and I’m only at the beginning of walking out of this tunnel I am determined to feel good about my life again.
I’m sure that so many can identify with you “this grieving this – how do I do it?” point! I guess, we don’t “do” grief – it “does” us! But we need to create a space for it, and find others who can help us hold that space. And you’re doing both. If you accept my idea that grief is a form of love, perhaps you can see that grief is something you “do” but something you “experience” or “are in”. It will unfold within and without, and not to a timetable that we can set, or which is convenient or predictable.
We live in a culture that does not understand or accept grief and loss, so we’re going against the grain here. But if my experience is anything to go by, the gift of grief is a healing that makes the past acceptable, the present available and the future possible again.
Thoughtful article Jody, thanks. I’m sorry to say that I find myself disagreeing quite strongly with your sentence: “The fact is that if you were to have had children, and by some tragic event, they had died, nobody would ever expect you to be ‘over it’ “. I know parents in this situation and after a while they are expected to get over it. I’m sorry because I wish it wasn’t like that, I wish we were all much more compassionate to one another (me included!) I think it points to a problem in our society of a lack of acknowledging and having meaningful rites of passage for all sorts of grief and losses. We’re so caught up in our own lives, stories, busyness that I do think we expect people to get other the most difficult of things. What a shame. Great that your work is bringing about greater empathy and sharing of lives.
Thanks so much for commenting and I really appreciate you disagreeing with me! I cannot learn and grow in understanding unless others care enough to reach out and share their wisdom with me when I’m missing the point. However, much I appreciate those who let me know when my work ‘hits the spot’ for them, I also value deeply knowing when I’ve missed it too.
Yours is one of a few comments today from women who have told me that the simplistic mother-vs-nomo (not mother) divide I described does NOT create the empathy and understanding from others that I imagined. I am so sad to think that even giving birth to a child and losing it is still not enough to create the space and understanding that grief deserves. I did understand that losing a child in miscarriage or still birth gets little sympathy, but I presumed (erroneously it seems) that losing a child would be different. I am so sad that this is often not the case.
I’m absolutely with you that, as a culture, we have lost so many of the rituals and acknowledgements that would create and hold the space for transitioning through such losses. I believe that apart fromt the rituals of marriage, parenthood and death there’s really very little else. Even a ‘coming of age’ party (at 18 or 21) seems to be more about getting drunk than acknowledging the passage to adulthood. I believe that we are a much poorer society because of the loss of our rituals to help us make manifest our internal transitions.
Thank you for commenting, and for supporting my work. And thank you for illuminating me further on how a loss which I have not experienced is often experienced by those that have.
Are you a mother if you have gone through labour and delivered a dead baby? Or had a late miscarriage? I was called a mother both times by the obstetrician dealing with me. I lost a few friends after both incidents. I don’t tell people now. I consider myself a mother without children. I am often asked why I don’t have children and I just say I wasn’t lucky enough.
Thank you for your comment. What you have been through is heartbreaking, and I’m so sorry that you also lost friends. I’m sad that you can’t share your experiences with people either. From the comments I’ve received on this blog today, I can see that my simplistic either/or breakdown of mothers/not-mothers is far from the full story. I hope that my ignorance about this, as compared to your experience, has not given you further pain.
Cate, have you consulted any groups for support, like Compassionate Friends (www.compassionatefriends.org)? I know that most bereaved parents feel that only another bereaved parent can truly “understand” their pain (and even then, sometimes). We as childless women feel pain too, but it really isn’t acknowledged. I know that for a bereaved parent, they don’t always find the sensitivity that you need, either, though, and I can’t imagine your pain. I guess you can’t understand ours necessarily either, through your own. I am so sorry that you lost friends and that you feel that you cannot tell people. I say, tell people, your pain is valid.
What you have been through is so absolutely awful, and makes me so very sad. Having been called ‘a mother’ and lost both of your babies… I can only imagine the pain and sadness you must carry in your heart. And then to lose friends too, and to feel that you have to ‘not’ tell people.
I wanted to let you know about some very important work being done by http://www.sayinggoodbye.org they are organising services of remembrance for lost babies at Cathedrals around Britain, and this year, they hope to do so in the US as well. I went to the service in St Paul’s Cathedral last November and it was one of the most beautiful and healing things I have experienced. To be amongst other women (and couples) who have lost babies (at all stages of pregnancy) in birth and in infancy was very special indeed.
In my experience, until I had done my grief work around my childlessness, it wasn’t really possible for me to find a way to talk about with others that didn’t make them uncomforable. I say this because it may not ALWAYS be the case that you feel you can’t say the truth of your experience – but it may be that to get to that place, you may need to find women who you can talk to freely. And that’s women like us here on Gateway Women.
We have a wonderful Private Gateway Women Community over on G+ where a lot of support and understanding is being given and received. Do please come and join us:
To join the Private Gateway Women Community on G+
1. Join G+ (Google Plus) using your Gmail address (other email addresses won’t work, so you might need to set up a Gmail email address first – go to http://www.gmail.com).
2. Search the “Communities” tab (on the vertical bar on the left hand side of the screen) for “Gateway Women”
3. Request an invite.
Hi Jody, thanks for the article which I feel resonates with what am going through. Am a believer who has prayed for a Godly husband since I was 19. I just turned 40 with no answer from God. My feelings are all over the place. Am angry and disappointed with God for making me wait this long especially as I watch my fertile years pass by helplessly. I have been sad & depressed for sometime without understanding what is going on with me. I even stopped praying – what’s the use? Feels like my prayers are not important.
I have began to understand that the sadness & depression I have been feeling is grieving. Grieving for I will never be a young mother & my life will never be as I thought it would. Grieving for being single @ my age & completely alone as most of my friends or pple my age are married. I just don’t fit in anywhere. Grieving as I face the reality that I may never be a mother.
Yesterday I had my annual health check up & the gynecologist scolded me for being childless at my age. She thinks am reckless. She advised me to hurry up & have a child before fibroids take over my uterus. I have always wanted to have children in the confines of a Godly marriage. I didn’t share my beliefs with her as she may not understand. I don’t know what to do. Kindly advice