Monday, October 1, 2012


First off, thank you all for your thought-filled comments. It's given me a lot to think about in the past week. Particularly on the end of relationships, forgiveness and even human nature.

Let's pick up with human nature.

Since 2009, I've been following The Daily Coyote. For those of you unfamiliar with the blog, it features daily photographs of a coyote who was rescued by a photographer. Shreve Stockton has written a book about her life with Charlie, describing a decision that was not made lightly. As a spin-off of this blog, she started another blog detailing her life in Wyoming.

From very early on, Shreve has written about her decision to live childfree. And she's done so unapologetically, filling her life instead with adventure, love and her farmily. Her decision to live her life this way, nonetheless, still comes under fire. And when it does, it's usually an interesting exercise about how our culture views children and parenthood.

Last week, during a Q&A session, a reader asked Shreve "how do you make the decision to not have children?" Shreve response to the question, which you can find here, was one I expected from her. What was unexpected was the 124 comments that have emerged surrounding this topic, ranging from those who also didn't want to have children to those who pity those who don't have children. Needless to say, it's been interesting to read everyones' thoughts and views on the topic. Equally interesting and sad are the comments from women who, though they love their children, openly express that they wish they had never ventured down the road of motherhood.

All of this has had me reflecting on the work Grey and I have been doing with David and Dee. 3 years ago, when we made the decision to starting TTCing, our reasons for having children were very similar to those around us: to experience parenthood, to have a bit of legacy, to meet life milestones and even to part of the crowd as many of our friends were starting families. Then infertility hit. Suddenly we found ourselves looking on the outside in. While others announced their pregnancies and prepared nurseries, we were making appointments to see the RE and staring at BFNs. When others celebrated birthdays, christenings and first moments, we faced miscarriages and failed cycles. While others complained about the loss of freedom and the increased pressures of family life, we mourned the loss of our biological family.

But, through all the grief and pain, Grey and I have gained something invaluable: we've been forced to really analyze why we want children, to determine what their role will be if/when they come into our lives. What we've found is that we've redefined what children mean to us and what our role as parents will be.

There's a poem by Kahlil Gibran that summarizes this well:
Your children are not your children. 
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. 
They come through you but not from you, 
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. 
You may give them your love but not your thoughts. 
For they have their own thoughts. 
You may house their bodies but not their souls, 
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. 
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. 
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. 
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. 
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. 
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; 
Though my heart is still heavy from the loss of my biological children, I no longer have a child-shaped hole. It's not to say that my arms don't ache to hold our babies, but I no longer see children as a means for making me whole. As I work hard to heal childhood trauma, I've learned that this burden of filling a parent should never be a child's to bear. Instead, I see children as an enhancement of my life, an added joy. After all, each child is a unique being with their own story, their own purpose.

Reading Shreve's comment section really brought this realization to fruition. Too often, people have children because this is what they are suppose to do. Equally often, that decision can be met with regret and pining for a life-lost or the days of freedom. And despite what these parents think, the knowledge of this unhappiness is not lost on their children.

I've said before, I would never wish the pain of infertility and loss on anyone. But, part of me wonders if the one gain of all of this is that general knowledge that by going down this road, and making the choice to fight for one's family, leads to a better generation of parents. I'm not completely naive to assume that this assumption is universally true, as I've met my fair share of excellent parents who barely had to try to expand their families as well as infertile couples who abuse and use their children for their own selfish means. But I also wonder if there isn't some blessings from this process. Is there some method to this madness?


  1. Great post ... Very thought provoking. I have been forced to question the "why do I want to be a parent" question many, many times and with our home study coming up, we'll have to dig pretty deep into this. I think that truly wanting something and having experienced years of loss undoubtedly makes us more conscious parents. We know what it's like on the other side and have worked so hard to reach our parenting goal. This, in my humble opinion, can do nothing less than make us truly thankful for our children.

    1. I think this is the scariest part of the whole homestudy process. A stranger comes in and, based on how you answer questions about your motivations to parent, your beliefs about children, etc, can determine whether or not you will be a parent. Yet I really think our world would benefit from everyone going through a similar exercise, sitting down and really asking "why do this?" with honest answers. To see the few comments with women confessing that they are counting the days until their children leave home because then they would be free tore my heart apart. How can I child not sense this attitude from it's mother? What damage has been done because of it?

      Fingers crossed for a smooth homestudy, Alicia.

  2. Shreve's website is beautiful--thanks for the link. I'm sad to hear about some of the comments to her childfree post.

    Yes to everything you said about having had this extra time to re-evaluate why you want kids. I feel the same way. I used to feel like I couldn't be whole until I had a baby, and more and more I'm realizing a baby is more like a...bonus, a beautiful addition to my already full and happy life.

  3. As much as I used to scoff when my mom told me that although I was hurting and the process was painful- I was was becoming a stronger and more compassionate person through it. Maybe scoff isn't a strong enough word. However, from where I sit now, I am in fact able to look at myself and know that I will be a much better mother because of it. Like you said, I don't wish infertility on anyone- but it's not without its silver lining either.

  4. Another great post, Cristy.

    As awful as infertility is - easily the worst thing I've ever been through - I wouldn't change it if I could. I've learned a lot about myself on this journey and, although it sometimes feels as if there's still a huge void in me, I know that I've also gained a great deal; understanding, compassion, empathy, and a path to truly finding myself.

  5. Hmmmm. Very interesting topic. I read the answer and some of the comments. It seems most of the child-free women always wanted it that way. I can completely understand that....I think it is the wanting it and not achieving it; as in the case of infertility, that causes all the angst and pain. Had I never really wanted children....being infertile would have been no big deal. But I was faced with this situation several years before I ever even tried to have chilren. I was married and divorced young so spent my late 20's and most of my 30's single. I had friends with kids and friends without kids...some just hadn't gotten to it yet, others never wanted them. I had one couple friend who kind of reverse descriminated on me because it was very well known that I wanted to have children and was planning to do it alone if Mr. Right did not show up on time. I never questioned their decision to not have kids (she got her tubes tied at 25...had to fight like mad and go thru rediculous counseling to get it approved)....but they almost seemed disdainful toward people who had children or wanted them. I watched them drop friend after friend who would have kids. They just didn't want to be a part of it..didn't even want to be an auntie or uncle. That I found to be odd. And after awhile, even though I had not had my kids yet...I just got tired of being berated by them about how selfish it was to WANT children when the world is sooo overpopulated (A total myth by the the research). So I dropped them as friends. It is such a divider...this kids/no kids thing. But it shouldn't be...I agree each person should make his or her own decision about it. I was very clear to my suitors that my goal was marriage and children and if that was not their goal too (even if not with me)...we should not date. Same should go for those who would prefer to stay child free. Yes...this is the hardest job I have ever done (motherhood) exhausts me, I don't have time for friends like in the past, my body is different and I often long for some "me" time. BUT....I wanted it, I have never regretted it and I went to great lengths to get my two babies. I didn't do it so they would take care of me in old age (we specifically have it set up so they won't) was never a DECISION....just like was just something in me that is part of my cellular make up and I cannot change it. So for the haves (kids) and the have nots (no kids)...just stop all judging and live your own life. There is joy in all your choices...and what you want may not be what others want. I wish people could just do that on all fronts...religion, politics etc...if we were all the same and did things all the same what a freaking boring world this would be!

  6. I too think that children are an enhancement, a blessing. I look with wonder on those that are newly born and think of the promises they bring with them and hope that their parents don't try to make them a clone of who they are. Let them be their own person. I did copy the poem with the author's name attached to my fb. Lovely poem. A friend of mine shared it with me years ago too.

    My parents were the "we are expected to have children". Believe it or not Cristy they adopted my brother because they were told they couldn't have children. Male factor infertility. Talking to my mom the other again she confirmed I was an unwanted accident. They were using foam and condom because they wanted to adopt again but not right away. They were told they needed to have children by their was their duty. UGH!

  7. Yes, I do think that IF has changed how I view family and for the better. It slowed us down and consume our lives, and it's too much to go through without really examining why you're doing it. It's a silver lining, I guess :)

  8. Yes yes and yes. Love this post. The vast majority of the world has babies because they are supposed to and I'm not surprised to see that some regret that decision. I am glad that IF has given me the opportunity to examine my life, my marriage, how they come together, etc etc.

    And I totally sang a setting of that poem once and it's now been stuck in my head all day! :)

  9. Yes, yes, yes from me too. So many people (too many people) leap into parenthood because "it's what you do" without asking themselves why they want to be a parent, if they're really ready to take on this responsibility. (Not to mention those who just find themselves pregnant unexpectedly...!) Of course, you can overthink the whole "when will we be ready?" thing too (speaking from experience). ; ) Somewhere, there must be a happy medium...!

  10. I just had this conversation with my friend who also has a child through lots of IVF treatments. I whole-heartedly believe that our journies to parenthood make us better parents. I just do. I have the patience of Job - and I never had that before IF. I laugh at my son's outbursts after he's calmed down - something I never thought I'd do. I talk calmly, I keep a level head, and I've never lost my temper with him. All of these things are gifts I got from IF.

  11. I think it boils down, again, to what people take for granted. We all have the benefit of not being able to do that, of having months or years to consider why it is we're putting ourselves through hell just to have a baby. I definitely think most parents would benefit from similar soul-searching before they ever have kids.

  12. Yes, yes, yes! If IF gave us anything, it was reflection. At each step along the way, we had to consider our motives, what we could handle and what we really wanted, and I think that has impacted how we parent.

  13. What a wonderful and thoughtful post. I agree with so many points and am glad you are really thinking about the question of 'why'. Every once in a while I wonder this myself. Why do I want this so much? What if I changed my view on parenthood? What if being a mother isn't what I envision? It scares me sometimes to think I could be in this for the wrong reasons.
    I like the idea that children can be an enhancement and not a reason for being or the end-all. Maybe if we infertiles changed this idea, we could accept living child free or the idea of an only child a bit more smoothly.

    Just a great post.


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