My husband and I know multiple people who have chosen to not have children. They made the choice, not as a result of infertility, but as a result of knowing what was right for them. They simply made the choice.

I respect and admire anyone who chooses not to have children. I respect and admire anyone who chooses to give their child up for adoption to essentially a stranger. Although completely different, both these circumstances take immense courage. To make either of these decision means you are going directly against societal norms. I see three main ways that people choose not have children:

  1. Choice with good birth control
  2. Abortion
  3. Adoption

I could probably write an entire post on each one of these choices, or at least my perspective on each one of them. There are merits to all of them. There are definitely downsides to all of them.

As for the choice not to have children, society dictates that a couple should have children sometime in their 20’s or early 30’s. To say no to this and consciously choose an alternative life is truly remarkable.   I distinctly remember a very good friend once saying to me “I will have children once there is no joy left in my life.” At the time, years before we were trying to have children, it stunned me – my mind was running with thoughts on how anyone could think this way and how could anyone not want children. But now, I get it. He recognized that he wasn’t prepared to share himself to that level with anyone, so it was best that he didn’t have children. This makes sense. Children are not a part time commitment. Children are not returnable. Children become your life, and if you aren’t willing to share your life and dedicate yourself to your children’s soccer games, learning the alphabet or teaching your child to ride a bike, then its best that you don’t do have children. At that time I naively believed the decision to not have children was made selfishly. I no longer think this is the case. I think people make this choice for hundreds of reasons, some which may appear selfish, but in fact are just about making the right decision for them and for the potential children. Kudos to anyone who knows themselves well enough to know before it’s too late, and to say no to societal pressures.

The second, way to choose not to be a part is through abortion. Now, let me be clear, I am not trying to write a novel on the world’s opinions on abortion – it is and will likely always be a highly contentious subject. I do not respect those who choose abortion as a form of birth control. In fact, I firmly believe the decision not to have children should be made before a child is created (to my knowledge, there are countless excellent birth control methods available that can and do prevent the vast majority of unplanned pregnancies). That said, nothing in life is perfect, I can appreciate that there are a million different reasons people choose abortion. But, I do respect that they have made one of the hardest decisions of their life. Having sat in that waiting room with virtually no choice available to us, I know, I absolutely know, the heart ache that everyone in that room is feeling. The room is full of tears. Couples, mothers and adult daughters, single women, etc., nearly every person in that room is not there because it is there first choice. But, the results of their decision will stay with them forever, and something they will have to live with. I suspect, this decision is something they will think about and reflect on every single day for the rest of their life. And I’m thankful I live in part of the world, where this option is available, because I think it is a women’s right to choose, even if I could never choose to terminate a healthy pregnancy (and I never thought I could have chosen to terminate an unhealthy pregnancy either, until I was in the life or death situation).

Then there is the choice to remain child free, by giving your child up for adoption. I cannot image how hard this decision is for any women to make. The choice to carry a child to term, providing for them and protecting them during such a critical time, when their life literally depends on yours. This is a big deal for anyone, but imagine doing so while knowing that you are contemplating giving the child to someone else. In Canada, when domestic adoptions are chosen, they are almost always open-adoptions where the birth mother is able to choose the family who they entrust to raise their child and the birth parents may have involvement in the life of the child. Yet, there is no certainty about how the child will be raised and live. There is no certainty about what the birth parent relationship will become. As someone contemplating adoption and knowing people who struggle to have children, I know realize just how big of a decision this and I am truly thankful people do turn to adoption when it is right for them. The choice, for whatever reason, that you cannot or do not want to raise this child, gives others the opportunity to be parents and to raise a child in a house filled with love. Yet, I still cannot imagine the negative judgement that birth parents likely receive, and I cannot imagine the struggle of going to the hospital to have a child and then going home without it. In my opinion, these people are truly amazing!

At the end of the day, the one thing I respect about anyone who has chosen not have children, is that they made the choice. I believe the majority of people making the decision not have children, are doing so in the interests of both themselves and the potential child. I do not think people make this decision simply. They decided that children weren’t for them, and therefore recognized that it wasn’t right for the child either. If they weren’t prepared to be parents for any reason, to give everything they have to another human being, then they made the right choice.

Then, there are people like us, where the choice to be childless is not a choice. There is a dichotomy of people like us who are desperate for children, and those who are living without children by choice. Yes, we may eventually have kids for all we know (for all we know our next pregnancy could result in a healthy live baby). And yes the option of adoption is available to us if we eventually decide we are done with RPL before we get a healthy living child. And yes, one day we may choose to not have children because we choose to stop trying and we choose not to adopt. So, I do recognize that living childless would be a choice for us, but I also recognize that in a perfect world, it’s not a choice we would ever make. But, as of today, we are childless while wanting to have children. We have lived 2 years desperately wanting children, and all our efforts have resulted our five babies who never made it. If I add up all the months I have been pregnant, we have actually been pregnant for long enough to have a living child, but each one has died instead. If I add up the time we’ve been trying, we could actually have 2 living children by now if things went right.

So, we are stuck living in this place of trying to make the most of what we have; knowing what we may never have; grieving for what we have lost; and watching everyone else around us achieve what we cannot.

It’s a hard place to live. It’s a damn hard place to live.

So, for now, we are making a conscious effort to make the most of what we have and to find joy in what we can. We work to accept our situation as it is out of our control. And, we hold on to hope. Hope is our driving force right now. We hope that our storm eventually ends and the skies clear. We hope for our rainbow at the end of the storm. We hope that whatever happens, we can come to a point of acceptance and live a meaningful life with the cards we were dealt and the decisions we in turn made.

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Recently, The Common Ostrich made a comment on one of my posts that really got me thinking. She commented about my resilience for surviving all the crap that we have faced in the last few years – her exact words were “the fact that you’ve been through all this crap and are still a functioning human is a testament to your resilience”. And, at nearly the same time Infertility U Suck wrote a post entitled Recurrent Pregnancy Loss AKA RPL and in that post, she talked about why some of us keep trying.

So thanks to these two ladies, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why we keep trying and is our desire to keep trying the result of being resilient or being slightly insane?

So, today I’m attempting to put my thoughts down for anyone to read, should anyone feel so inclined.

…………………….

So, here are the basics about recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). It is defined as more than 2 consecutive miscarriage. This happens to less than 1% of couples. Within that, 1%, 90% of couples will be diagnosed with some sort of medical cause. Some are curable, and some are not. 10% will be diagnosed with unexplained RPL, where no medical cause can be determined. My husband and I are in that 10%. Not exactly a club that any sane person wants to be a part of.

In our circumstance we have been told we have about a 50% chance of success with a future pregnancy (keep in mind that normal pregnancy have an 80% success rate). And, there will be no “safe” time for us. By this I mean that in a normal pregnancy, the chances of losing a baby after the first trimester drop drastically. This will not be the case for us. We could make it all the way to week 25, 35 or 39 and the baby could die. (I have no idea how the doctors can tell us this considering they have no idea what causes our babies to die, but we’ve asked for the statistics and they are just telling us what the statistics say. And, I love statistics so I would rather have them then not).

So, once we became part of this horrible club, why do we keep trying again? What drives us to put our physical and emotional health on the line? What drives us to be willing to risk losing another baby to miscarriage or potentially a still-birth at some point later on during a pregnancy? What drive us to put ourselves and our marriage through such excoriating agony?

Just as, Infertility U Suck wrote – all it takes is one. So, for us, everything is all about the next try in hopes that it’s the one results in a healthy baby. One good one, and we will get out very own little baby to raise and encourage for the rest of our lives. How could we turn your back on this type of hope? At this point, we cannot, so we put our hearts on the line and we roll the dice, one more time.

I know that if the losses keep adding up, at some point there will be a time where we cannot continue to risk everything and roll the dice. At some point, I know we will cash in and walk away with whatever is left. But, both my husband and I know for certain that we have not reach that point just yet. So as we look forward into our immediate future, we know we are trying one more time and we are focusing on our next one and making it the healthiest try possible. And, all I know right now, is that we will hope that the next one works, and if we have to we will hold onto hope until there is none left. We also both realize that we must get through the next one before we even begin to think too much beyond it.

So, for now, we focus on try number 6 and we choose to focus on hope.

But, does this experience make us resilient? Does the very fact that we’ve survived 5 loses, and we are signing up to try again, does that make us resilient? Or does it really just make us insane/crazy?

So, being me, I decided to dig into the actual definition of resilience:

I see two very distinct components of the definition. The first, about becoming strong, healthy or successful after something bad happens. So, I guess for us, this is very true for the most part. To me, surviving our somethings bad (i.e. 5 miscarriages), and moving into a recovery mode means that there have been bad days, and there are likely to be more, but for the most part we are becoming strong and through this. You could even say I am successful in that we have survived and grown as in ways I never thought possible (the very fact that I can see success in this situation, in a very different light then I have ever defined success, is a very substantial change from just last week).

And, then I think about the second part of the definition. I find the graphic visualization of being pulled, stretched, pressed, and bent almost funny because they are great words for the emotional side of going through RPL. I would also add the words poked, prodded and scraped to describe my physical life as a lab rat both while the doctors have tried to figure out the cause of our miscarriages and while the doctors have had to remove pregnancy products from my uterus. But the only thing I won’t agree with in this definition is the idea of returning back to my original shape. I will never be the same person as I was before we lost our first baby and even more so now that we’ve survived losing 5. I have changed, I have scares on my soul that I will carry with me forever. This experience, and how I choose to live with it and the outcome will shape the rest of my life. I also know that I will continue to change as I continue to heal.

So, I guess for us to go through RPL, means that I have been resilient. To survive dying and dead babies, has required me to work on recovery (physical and emotional) and continue on with living. I think anyone who has lost a child to miscarriage, regardless of the number, has to be resilient to survive and to be willing to try again. I think we have to be. Even if we chose to stop trying one day, we will still be resilient for surviving all the emotional bending, pulling, stretching and all the physical poking and prodding.

If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to myperfectbreakdown.com to follow my journey.

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