Becoming Me

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Around birthdays and anniversaries I find myself drawn into a makeshift “this is your life” review.

Dim the lights and cue the music because … that’s right Pamela Jeanne….THIS IS YOUR LIFE. (I must have caught the reruns as a kid because I just learned I was born several years after the show stopped taping.)

So, with my 45th birthday waiting for me at the end of this week I’ve been busy pulling out journals and photo albums and looking at what I was doing XX years ago. This now being the digital age I’ve also been giving my laptop a workout pulling up photo slide shows and re-reading older blog posts. I don’t know about you, but there are times when going down memory lane that I feel like a documentary producer looking at someone else’s life.  For example, this post excerpt from March 2007. The words seem strangely unfamiliar, yet they’re on my blog so they were indeed my thoughts…

“Who among us likes to showcase what we don’t do well?
Heck, even the lowest life forms on the Discovery channel reproduce
flawlessly. They taunt us with how prolific they are.

And us? Our bodies failed us. That’s extremely hard to accept. Many
of us compound that failure effect by torturing ourselves with thoughts
that maybe, just maybe we managed to contribute to our conception
failure by our actions or thoughts. Did caffeine play a role? How about
that hiking trip at altitude? Should we not have used the hot tub on
vacation? Boxers or briefs? Maybe I need to lose a few pounds? I need
to stress less and relax more…the what ifs are endless.

These thoughts and more came flooding back into my mind yesterday as
I sat trapped in a conference room directly across from a woman who
kept stoking her very pregnant belly throughout the entire meeting. Her
action tormented me. It took incredible effort to keep the noise in my
head down long enough to focus on the business at hand. “Why her and
not me?” was the steady mantra. I walked away feeling ashamed because
instead of feeling happy for her, I was angry and envious.”

And then there was this post written in the same time frame reminiscing on my 30s: Please Hold For the Children. It led me, in turn, to thumb through a photo album.Pam I wanted to see what I looked like just days ahead of starting our ICSI IVF protocol (with assisted hatching).

This is what infertility looks like (see photo, right).

Yes, when this photo was taken we were in the queue for one of the most advanced fertility treatments at one of the leading research hospitals on the planet. We were there because the doctors at this Silicon Valley institution told us there was virtually no way we would ever conceive using any less high-tech involvement. (Our earlier attempts with the junior varsity surgeries and fertility treatments had clearly proven that).

While I was toasting a birthday, I was secretly thinking that by my next birthday I’d be holding not a glass of wine, but a baby.

What a time it was. Hopeful, innocent (and blonde then) I had no idea how attached I would get to the images on the ultrasound print-out that came midway through our cycle. The embryologist made me more hopeful still telling me our embryos looked like those of a women 10 years younger. They were, according to her, “gorgeous.”

How many dreams I would associate with them. How hard it was to come so close to motherhood — passing all the medically-assisted conception tests with flying colors but flunking the final exam. I went into serious denial in the years that followed. I was still young enough to conceive spontaneously, and I wasn’t above believing in miracles — being raised Catholic and all.  I just couldn’t let go of the idea that we had come so close to actually creating our children. Surely it would happen…

It has only been in the past 18 months that I decided it was time to finally let go of the hope, bury the dream and grieve it properly. Since then I have felt in a visceral way the painful emotions that I had securely locked away. It’s been difficult. I never knew such deep sadness was possible but it’s had time to build. It’s been a dozen years since I first envisioned what it would be like to conceive, to be pregnant, and then to see my husband’s eyes or my mother’s smile or my father’s wit live on in my child. Now I am closing that chapter of my life.

It’s time to look forward, not back. I will continue writing because this is new territory in blog land. I know only a handful of women who write about remapping their lives without children as a result of infertility. If there are others out there plotting a new course I’d love to hear from you. And for those still trying to conceive I hope you see that whether you succeed or not, you can pick up the pieces.

Now I’m going to get to work on the mosaic I first wrote about here.

104 comments

  • PJ, thank you so much for sharing your life with us. You are such a huge gift to me, and no doubt to many, many others. Your words do exactly what you say – help me understand that no matter what happens, I’ll be ok. And that is so much more hopeful to me than a thousand stories of people getting pregnant.

    Your mosaic is already stunningly beautiful, and I can’t wait to see how it changes and builds and grows in the weeks and months and years ahead. May you be blessed with peace of heart in equal measure to your amazing brilliance. And happy early birthday!

  • I am sorry. This all must be terribly hard. Looking at that picture, you look so hopeful (and so elegant)… It must be a hard picture to look at.

  • PJ – this post could not come at a better time for me – I hope that it will help me to refocus, as I have been wallowing a bit this weekend.

    Loved your Humpty Dumpty post – and the mosaic is an incredibly apt description of the situation we find ourselves in. I will come back to that post again, as well as the one you wrote today.

  • Brandygirl

    I’ve just finished reading this post with heaviness in my heart. In about a month and a half time, it could possibly be my first journey with IVF. I’m Catholic as well and I always pray that I would someday be a mum. But lately, my prayers have changed. I pray for a resolution. I don’t pray for a baby anymore. I pray for a resolution – with or without a baby.

    Hugs and I love this post.

  • Happy birthday, PJ!! I’m glad you are continuing to write. I always look forward to your posts. And I can’t wait to see how that mosaic turns out. ; )

  • “Many of us compound that failure effect by torturing ourselves with thoughts that maybe, just maybe we managed to contribute to our conception failure by our actions or thoughts. Did caffeine play a role? How about that hiking trip at altitude? Should we not have used the hot tub on vacation? Boxers or briefs? Maybe I need to lose a few pounds? I need to stress less and relax more…the what ifs are endless.”

    “And for those still trying to conceive I hope you see that whether you succeed or not, you can pick up the pieces.”

    For those two sets of words, I say Thank You, PJ.

  • DC

    The “what if” game is so heartbreaking. And I miss my naive, pre-IVF self. *hugs*

  • You totally don’t look how I thought you would, but lady, you’re hot. And I look forward to whatever you do with this blog and whatever you write about.

  • Happy birthday!

    You’ve come a long way in the past 18 months and you’ve helped me a lot along the way too.

  • Geohde

    PJ, I’m always intrigued to put a face to the writing. Even if the picture is from the middle of a different time for you.

    Always impressed with your ability to look forward,

    J

  • hi PJ
    I’m here from NaComLeavCom.
    I am in awe of your honesty and how far you have come.
    I saw your youtube video the other night.
    Good luck writing your book – I can’t clearly articulate how my heart grabs when I read of stories like yours.
    You are amazing to continue to help others on the journey too.
    http://mylittledrummerboys.blogspot.com/ My Little Drummer boys
    warm regards, Trish

  • Dianne

    PJ – I thank you for your words on this blog. They bring me comfort and make me think. For those to reasons and for many more – thank you.

    By the way, you are gorgeous! Yes, I know that photo must bring heart ache, but it is also beautiful.

    Wishing you well.

  • Thank you for coming by and leaving kind words on my blog.

    Yours is a voice that needs to be heard and you write so eloquently. Glad to hear you intend to continue blogging.

    Good wishes.

  • Yours is such an important and thought-provoking voice in the IF community. It would be a huge loss if you stopped blogging so I’m glad to hear that you will continue to share your experiences with us.

  • May

    I admire you hugely, not just for your own grace and courage in coming to terms with your childlessness, but also for your ability to support others, including those of us still fighting madly away in the trenches.

  • Happy Birthday!

    Thanks for continuing to share your thoughts and your journey. Yours is a voice that needs to be heard.

  • Happy Birthday, PJ!

    Always looking forward to everything you write — definitely a much-needed voice out there. Although I’ve technically still got my body firmly planted in IF treatment hell, my mind needs to know it will be okay if I do not get pregnant in the end. No one really prepares you for that. The assumption seems to be if we all try enough, it WILL. But does it have to for everything to be okay? Surely no.

    Anyway, thanks for all the inspiration — and for blazing brave new trails for all of us.

  • I heart you SO SO much. This was such a stunning look back.

    Man, it just made me think about all the times in my baby making hell that I have either told myself or been told, “just think- this time next year you won’t be able to do/eat/wear/go because you will be knocked-up/holding a baby.”
    It fucks up your head a bit…sigh.

    My birthday is on the eve of a big holiday and so I think that eves are special. So happy eve of the eve of the eve (was there one more?).
    I am so glad to know you.
    xo

  • Barb

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAMMY!!!

    Great New York Times article and you look fantastic in your photo.

    Love,
    Barb

  • Just to let you know, that I am so grateful that you were there to encourage me to start my own blog. What a healing it has been for me! I never thought I’d go on past a few months and yet here I am, with more than 100 posts. What a journey! Thank you!

  • Ryta

    Dear Pam,
    I, too, always wanted children. I tried for many years to conceive, knowing that I’d be a really wonderful, loving mother, & that my husband would be a terrific dad (he already was one: he had 2 children from a previous marriage). I had uterine fibroids that kept me from conceiving, so I underwent several surgeries to correct that. For 12 years nothing happened, & at 41, I decided it was time to quit. I realized that I had a very happy, rich & fulfilling life, & that children of my own were not to be. Yes, I was very sad, yes, I mourned this loss, but today I can honestly say I am so happy that I do NOT have a 13 or 14 year old teenager running around the house (or sitting at a computer for hours) 😉
    Several years ago, I bemoaned my childlessness to a very intuitive friend, & she said: “This life is about your personal growth. If you had had children, you would’ve poured yourself into them & would never have had a true life of your own in which to learn about who Ryta really is.” Boy, was she right! I also realized that when I watched my friends’ children grow up, that you never own your kids: they are like a rental apartment that you can renovate but can’t take with you when you move. Children become their own people, with their own thoughts & ways of living. You must never expect them to be a certain way just because you want them to be. My female friends all complain that “boys go to their wive’s family,” and that it seems they’ve raised them for another family. It seems that we must all find our way in this life. Sometimes children come along, sometimes they don’t. Do I become furious to tears when I learn about abused children? Of course I do! I know I could never do that to a child & how dare those horrible parents be able to give birth & I wasn’t. But my life is what it is, & I’ve made the best of it & can now truly say that I am not sorry that I never had a child. Ladies, think about it: aren’t we all really mothers deep down inside? We care for our husbands, boyfriends, significant others, our co-workers, friends, neighbors, a stranger on the street who needs directions. It is, for most of us, our nature to nurture. We cannot define ourselves by our lack of children: we must take care of our inner children, the little girls inside who grew up to be strong, magnificent women & reassure them that we love them & that we are our own loving mothers. If you have a really happy, loving, solid marriage, then nurture it. Delight in it! I haven’t heard of an unhappy marriage yet that stayed together “for the sake for the children.” My husband & I have grown together in ways that I suspect would not have happened if I had children. I know I would’ve lived for those kids 24/7 & I’m not sure how much time I could have to devoted to the two of us before exhaustion took over (a real problem for the older mom). Celebrate yourself, DON’T define yourself by lack of birth children. You’re not less than–EVER! Love & peace!

    • Sharon

      During the time I went through infertility treatments, I spoke with a therapist who told me that having children wasn’t really all that great. At the time, I was outraged that she could say something so insensitive. However, two kids and 20 years later, I can see that she was in fact telling me the truth.

      Although this is probably not the politically correct thing to say, babies are wonderful, children are not. And when you have gone through years of torture to have them or to adopt them and they are ungrateful, defiant, feel entitled to everything, you really do wonder why you went through it all.

  • cmk1000

    I identified with every word, as hubby and I tried everything 20 years ago, and could not conceive. Lucky to have a Dr. who came up with a plan with an end. Childlessness was not an option FOR US – but infants were scarce back then. Over 7 years we adopted 3 infants who were thought to have issues (figured we had infertility issues, so it was perfect) but have turned out great – now have 3 teenagers and rarely remember infertility. For us, the major problem of infertility was that it denied us ability to be parents. Adopting fixed that. I no longer even get a twinge looking at a pregnant belly. Adopting fixed that, too.

    Best of luck.

  • Nancy Shatto

    I just discovered your blog. I am a Nurse Practitioner in Integrative Medicine in Delaware. I am just wondering; have not seen it mentioned whether you were saliva tested and treated for bio-identical hormone replacement in your work to become pregnant. This is a part of my natural medicine practice, and I know it would be beneficial for increasing fertility. Most doctors have no experience with it, only holistic or “antiaging” practices, its rather new. Thank you (I also struggled with different but very difficult pregnancy issues in my child-bearing years.)

  • Karen Paul

    I just found your site today through an online article in the NYTimes. So glad I found it. I spent most of my 30s trying to have a baby. We had discussed adoption, but by I felt like I needed to resolve my feelings about not being able to get pregnant first. I didn’t think it would be fair to a child to be “second choice.” But when I started to really grieve over my own inability to have a child, I found i needed to do that whole heartedly.. and when I came up for air I just needed to find a way to be happy again.. just me and my husband together.. the two of us.. so we resolved to live childfree. it was a very difficult decision.. and I spent two solid years of my life soul searching and grieving my lost motherhood, his lost fatherhood.. and so many other things..

    I had just about come back up and was seeing light and feeling good again, when my brother’s only child Christopher was killed at age 16 by a hit and run driver. Chris is my parents’ only grandchild since I have none and it just broke my heart to lose him.. he was OUR future.. OUR child.. I love him with all my heart.. and as bad as my grief over my own infertility was.. it pales in comparison to the grief I have seen my brother go through from losing Christopher..

    I thank you for your site.. and I will be back to read more and so glad to hear from other women in this situation.. after so long a void.

    Bless you,
    Karen

    • Anita Triplett

      Dear Karen,

      After losing our only child when he was 14, I started on a very painful journey of grief. Even though I have suffered for many years because of my loss, I also became more sensitive to other people’s losses, such as the type of loss that is discussed on this blog. I have also learned not to tell other bereaved people how long they should grieve or how they should feel about anything. We own our emotions and our feelings should be respected.

      I also want to tell you, Karen, that I very much identify with your brother. Losing your child is about the worst thing that can happen to a person. Both my husband and I feel as though we lost our future, besides losing our dear wonderful son (he took his own life).

      I wish all people who are grieving a loss, much comfort and an ability to find their way.

      • Karen Paul

        Anita – I’m so sorry to hear about your son. When Christopher first died I questioned all the decisions I had made to not pursue adoption, to live childfree, all of it. It is silly really, as one child could never take the place of another of course.. I think it was instinct.. the need for our family to have a future, something we have lost with Chris’ death.

        There were some things that came up for my brother after Chris died that were familiar to me – the feeling of lost future – the feeling of who am I? Who am I if I’m not a mom? My brother is still a father of course, he will always be Chris’ dad, but the active part of parenting has been wrenched away far too soon.

        I found a site called webhealing – which has forums for different types of grief – I have been able to share my loss of my nephew there – but not my loss of the child I never conceived.

        But I found that a lot of the feelings expressed by the bereaved parents I spoke to were in some form things I had felt on my own journey – times of total emptiness, not caring about anything, feeling stuck and unable to move forward, all those parts of grief that are familiar – though the details are much different.

        Sorry – I’m rambling – thinking a lot about it all lately. Tomorrow night my brother and his ex-wife will award Chris’ memorial scholarship at the high school for the 5th time. And we are all still so empty….

        luv and hugs, Karen

        • Anita Triplett

          I understand what you are saying here, Karen, because I am living it too. The emptiness, the feeling of no future, yes, I understand these emotions.

          You mention that your brother awards memorial scholarships at Chris’s high school……….among other things, bereaved parents are desperate to keep their child’s memory alive. I, too, tried to give a memorial scholarship the year Danny was supposed to graduate high school (the year 2000). At first the school was receptive to the idea, and then I got a letter from the principal who was instructed to take back his approval, and told me that they don’t memorialize kids who make bad decisions (meaning the decision to take his life–like it was a simple choice he made, rather than an action which resulted from the illness of severe depression). Well, there I go rambling. Sorry. Many hugs to you. Anita

          • Karen Paul

            Anita – I am horrified by your story about the school, what a terrible thing for them to do, I’ve never heard of such a thing happening! I’m so sorry- it seems on top of unbearable grief there are so many ways that people hurt bereaved parents!

            If you’d like to chat sometime, you can find my email address on Christopher’s memorial website at http://home.nycap.rr.com/chrismemory

            hugs, Karen

  • Helen

    Congratulations on the NY Times article, and thank you for shedding light on this common problem. I find it difficult to believe that only 10 percent of women are affected thus.

  • It'sovernow

    Saw your article in the NYT. Even though I adopted three children, the monthly sadness of my infertility has haunted my life. I kept the vigil every 28 days, always hopeful, alway disappointed. As I begin the menopause phase,at 47, I feel such loss… it’s final- I will never conceive. As if this isn’t enough pain for a lifetime, every news article that lists never giving birth as a risk factor for cancer is a stab in the heart. I didn’t do anything to deserve this and now I face cancer? Painful 25years later and possibly fatal. It’s too much, I’m afraid the sadness will never end for me.

    • Ryta

      Oh, my dear, it saddens me so to think you’ve lived your life in such emotional pain because you didn’t give birth. But you’re a MOTHER! You adopted 3 children whose birth mother(s) gave them away. What greater gift could you have given yourself & those babies than to love them as your very own? Forget the cancer stuff—there are new studies all the time & how many women do you know who gave birth got cancer anyway? When Willard Scott sends birthday congratulations to all those 100+ year old ladies, the vast majority were never married or mothers! Relax. Think about it in a more positive way: you’re living the life of a mother, you love your children (& they are YOURS). They were given to you by sparing you the nausea of morning sickness, sleepless nights of not being comfortable, swollen fingers & legs, the pain &/or surgery of childbirth. Just because your birth canal was not the vehicle doesn’t mean you’re not their mother. Do you think you’d love a child you birthed more than the ones you have? I doubt it. You strike me as a loving woman who feels cheated, but turn this around for yourself: you were given the gift of 3 unwanted children to love, nurture, teach, guide and make ready for a world in which they have all the chances for a good life, because you are their mom. BRAVA! Please don’t be sad anymore—you & your children are the lucky ones. Just think what could’ve been their future without you in it, and vice versa. P.S.: entering menopause is a new facet to life. Enjoy this phase: it offers new wisdom & understanding, a freedom to your body that you didn’t realize you’d have, and you’re still a luscious, ripe, sexy woman no matter that your periods will become a thing of the past (hallelujah to that! 😉
      I wish you all the best!

      • Fiona

        itsvernow, you have every right to grieve your loss, even though you are a mother. I will remember you in my prayers.

        Ryta–How dare you! This woman has feelings, and a loss to grieve. Please respect others’ feelings when you share your story. Don’t tell people they are “lucky” if they have something to deal with.

        By the way, birth mothers don’t “give away” their children, they make adoption plans for them. I am a mother by adoption. I try to honor my children’s birth mothers’ decisions.

      • It'sovernow

        Thank you for your kind words. Please don’t misunderstand, I adore my children and I couldn’t love them more if they were birth children. I am forever grateful for them. I can still mourn the loss of a dream-pregnancy and the natural course of the human experience. I am grateful to have my children and I was blessed to be a mother but, none of that changes the loss associated with being denied the opportunity to be pregnant, give birth and see the reflection of your family history in the faces of people who share your genes.There is loss on both sides with adoption. There is also great pain in the inevitable moments your adopted children mention, usually in anger, that you are not their real mother. You understand their pain, you know you ARE their real ‘mother’ day in day out, you wish it all away and you move past…but the sadness and longing remain.

      • If they had to turn off the cameras for a former President because he was blind sided by a question about his child he lost 50 years ago, believe me, the grief of the loss of a baby, or pregnancy, or beautiful embryos can also be very difficult to overcome, if at all possible.

        Think Leo Buscaglia and his hug therapy. The reporters turned the cameras off, and they didn’t tell the former president to focus on good stuff. Grief is underlying life and the former President is coping, just as well as the women who survive fertility treatment and miscarriages.

  • ptf

    I found your blog via the NYT article–I’ve been looking for something like it for years! Thank you for giving IF and childfree-not-by-choice a face. We turned to adoption and, initially, China when we couldn’t face more treatment…two years later, we’re no closer to a resolution. We signed up with a domestic agency last year, but that doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere, either (and has involved more losses and disappointments). We’re beginning the process of letting go, but I’m terrified of the grieving we’re going to have to go through. I’m grateful to you for bearing witness to this pain.

    • Karen Paul

      I’m so sorry to hear your story. We went through 7 yrs of infertility treatments and I wanted to do IVF but my husband didn’t – he had already moved on by then – we were in different places. That hurt beyond belief and there were a couple of years where we had a hard time talking about it at all. I considered adoption, my brother was adopted before I was born and I have no issues with adoption – but I found for me that I needed to resolve my feelings about not being able to have a biological child first.. it took me a good solid 2 yrs of really grieving to start to accept that I would not be a biological mother and to try to answer all those questions that need answering (why do I want a child, what do I do if I’m not a mom, what will our future be like, who am i with or without children).. I found that when the light finally shone on me again I needed to find a way to move on and find happiness in my life as it is with my husband – and decided not to pursue adoption. Letting go of all those hopes and dreams and the identity of parenthood so glorified in our society is such a hard thing to do.. take your time.. it is a loss and requires proper grieving.. but there is a light on the other side.. you are that light.. I believe in you..

      luv and hugs, Karen

      • stepping up

        thanks for your words, Karen-

        I’ve resolved the fact that we are happy as a couple. We are. Have you gotten over the daily ‘obstacle course’ the world hands you out there?

        That’s where I’m still struggling. I’m so happy at home, but just when I get comfortable, the world throws me a reminder. Any advice that worked for you?

  • sherylhs

    I’m one of those who is moving on – trying to ‘remap’ my life. I found letting go, ironically, the easiest part of the struggle. Don’t get me wrong – it’s been an incredibly difficult journey, but having an answer – knowing that my husband and I will remain a family of 2 – feels somehow more reassuring than everything being so undecided. I just got too tired of disappointments; one part of me is tremendously relieved to know that I won’t have to face the crushing blows of disappointment again. Thank you for writing your story – this is my first time visiting this site, and I’m thrilled to read your story – you’re in my same shoes – moving forward. Best wishes to all out there. You are not alone.

  • I was really glad to see the Times article this morning – I think the more coverage of infertility the better. I waited far too long before starting treatment, because I didn’t know any better. Argh.

  • Happy birthday, Pamela Jeanne, and thank you for describing your journey with such honesty and integrity. You have been such an inspiration to me over the past few months – not only through your kind messages of support on my own blog, but also through your words here. You’ve made me realise that it is possible to find a path through infertility, even if that positive pregnancy test never comes.

  • lynn

    I too have been searching for a blog like this … Thank you. Its been a few years since we gave up trying after five years of IVF, IUI, other treatments, miscarriages and heartache. I think we have moved on. Some days we have positively moved on … other days not so much. I hate Mother’s Day. But then again, I do not have to take vacation during Christmas time when the kids are off from school. I love my life and my husband and my sisters and my nieces and nephews. I remember the person I was when I was going through all that stuff and I do not want to be her again. But sometimes I wonder if I made a huge mistake by not continuing to try.

    • So has anyone told you about Fertility Blend and the Stanford University study?
      Success rate is 30%.

      Doctors and pharmacists won’t tell you. They can’t make money from it.

      • Pamela Jeanne

        Know all about ’em. I was on Fertility Blend (along with my husband) seven years ago for more than a year … took those very large capsules religiously. We’re in the 70% part of the study as they didn’t make a difference …

      • Tania

        I can’t find the words to comment this!!!! (english is not my first language…) Anybody thinks that someone who take the step to give up treatments doesn’t already try EVERYTHING in their ands???????? STOP giving advices!!!!!! We don’t need them!!!! (sorry dear PJ, I have to explode…)

  • Just saw the article in the NYTimes, and HAD to come over & give you a BIG {{{HUG}}}!

    And, Happy Birthday!

  • Danielle

    Thank you for the courage, humor, and honesty that you so openly share with other women on your blog. I learned about your blog from the NYT and immediately went to the site. I went to it for other reasons than infertility though.

    A best girlfriend of mine – we’ve known each other since we were 13 – was going through a lot trying to get pregnant. When her trials started, she distanced herself from her friends. She has always been a private person, so I suspected that she was going through a lot and I didn’t want to pry and wanted to respect her privacy. However, I wanted to be a good friend and remain open enough, hoping that she would open up to me one day, on her terms, with her comfort level. But she never even said the word “boo” about trying to conceive – good, bad, or ugly. When I became pregnant (rather quickly, despite many doctors telling me otherwise) our friendship virtually vanished. I felt guilty and sad, but I could not hide my “fertile” self.

    I’ve wanted to be able to understand what she was going through, to help shoulder some worry. To know how to act, to understand her sensitivities, but there was a big wall there, so I couldn’t. Your blog has helped me understand a little better. So you are not only helping women and couples who are infertile, but friendships among women too. Thank you. All the best to you.

  • Valerie N

    Thank you so much for writing and sharing. I also saw the article in the NYTimes. The following line really grabbed my attention: “It’s not a binary — you either have a child or adopt. It’s not that simple.”

    After 2 miscarriages and numerous health issues, my husband and I have decided to move on with our lives. I’m finally healthy, and honestly, I don’t want to go through the turmoil that pregnancy will put on my body – I do not want to be sick again. I don’t want to adopt either. No one around me seems to really understand why I don’t want to adopt, but I just don’t. Your words help make that okay.

    I’m 38, and suddenly this year, maybe because I’m healthier, I find myself dealing with a lot of grief, that really isn’t socially acceptable. Grief for 2 children that didn’t make it here, even though I know they are waiting for me in heaven. Grief for not becoming a mother, even though I know that is a choice, because I could try again, or I could adopt.

    Reading your blog today has given me something new – a rare feeling of social acceptance. Thank you.

    • ptf

      “A rare feeling of social acceptance.” Yes. Thank you, Valerie N, for putting it into words. That’s it.

  • Just read the article featuring you in NYTimes! I just wanted to say I’m so happy you were interviewed for this article, you did a great job of conveying what we feel. Thank you!

  • The stats are much worse than in the article. The March of Dimes states 1/2 of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. That covers more than 10% of our population struggling to have children. Doctors and pharmacists don’t mention the Stanford U. study on Fertility Blend for men and women, and the Barbara Hansen study on when childbearing naturally ends. What I wrote about in my book, about being blindsided, isn’t something that goes away with a little therapy and acceptance, but is always a potential for someone who is living while coping. Counting the blessings helps. Giving up can happen, but then you meet someone who had a baby over 50 by accident. I think that is why some people actually sterilize themselves so there won’t be that surprise to cope with.

  • I just read the article too. I hope it brings you good comments and support, and shows how important it was you did this – cuz it was.

  • KENTAKE

    I was blessed by being able to adopt two wonderful children who are now 35 and 32 years of age – one was adopted at 3 months and the other at 7 months. I realized years later, after divorce, that I really wanted to be a Mother more than to be pregnant. Also, I realized that I really didn’t want to be a wife – all I really wanted to be was a Mother. Thanks to the adoption agencies, my dreams came true. I now really enjoy my grandchildren. God is good!!

  • Eve

    Pamela, thanks for writing “Heck, even the lowest life forms on the Discovery channel reproduce flawlessly.” That’s always been one of the things that keeps the sting of infertility painful for me. For a few years I couldn’t even stand gardening — and I still won’t grow any plants from seed. It’s just my private way of expressing my anger, I guess. But in reality, animals do have infertility too. Scientists just don’t tend to focus on that when they study animals, unless the population is endangered.

    Some of the above comments mention wanting to have children (i.e., be a mother) more than wanting to be pregnant. I have to confess, my deep desire has always been the opposite: to be pregnant. I’m 55 now. If I could conceive and stand a reasonable chance of carrying to term and delivering a healthy baby, would I do it? Absolutely. But it is not to be. And after years of saying it is NOT OK, I can finally say now that it IS OK, I actually have a joyful, fulfilled life even though I will never have that extra fabulous experience of conceiving and carrying a baby.

  • Joy

    Congrats on the NYTimes article today. You do a lot of good for a lot of people.

  • Congratulations on the long-awaited article, PJ!! What a great birthday present!

  • I am so glad to have just read about you in the NYT. I very clearly recall the time in my life when I imagined that I would be the mistress of just such a blog (except that was before blogs…) You are doing this life thing so well and writing about it so clearly and poignantly. I look forward to reading more and will make sure others hear you as well.

  • I saw reference to this blog in an article in New York Times. This is after starting writing my own blog just a few days ago. (http://fertileconcept.blogspot.com)

    I am still in the hoping phase. Only time will tell the result. Meanwhile thank you for sharing with people who are trying to come to terms.

  • Wow! Look at all the comments!

    We all think you are so great, PJ! Please keep writing about your life in progress!

  • Sophia

    Great blog, THANKS!!

    My 47 year old sister decided to stop
    fertility treatments this year.
    She must be hurting a lot but
    I don’t know how to comfort her,
    what to tell her, and most importantly
    what I should NEVER tell her.

    I am a single mom of a 5 year old…totally in love with my daughter.
    My sister loves both of us and I am
    sure has no envy…but I can’t help
    wondering if such a constant reminder
    is not hurting her even more.

    Can someone share some insight?
    THANK YOU

    • missed the bus

      I’m 50 and childless. The more I see my nieces and nephews, the more I love them. I have 8 of them. For the last 2, my sister had let me see them everyday because I lived next door. Now that I bought a house and am 30 minutes away, she is usually too busy and they are usually busy. They are getting older and less interested. It has broken my heart. The “constant reminder” isn’t if your childless sister is anything like me. Being around her isn’t reminding your sister of what she doesn’t have, it reminds her of what she has. Family. Treasure your sister, the aunt of your children and be kind.

    • Valerie N

      When we made the decision to stop trying to have our own child, every child in our lives became more special. I love to spend time with my nephews and niece, and with their parents. I am part of a family, and that sense of belonging is everything to me.

    • Laurie

      20 years ago, I was infertile for 2+ years. After invasive treatments and meds, I had two daughters. During my infertility, my sister and my best friend each conceived and when each one told me she was pregnant, she said “I was dreading telling you because you might take it badly since you’re trying so hard.” I remember being hurt that they could think that I’d resent their pregnancies. Those were their babies; I wanted MINE which had nothing to do with their having children at all. This is just one person’s story, but I can say that if I’d never had children I’d have continued to be happy for my sister and my BF. Hopefully your sister feels the same way. Try to avoid the temptation to complain about the downside of motherhood around her – when I was infertile I could see right through that and didn’t appreciate it.

    • ptf

      You could ask your sister how she feels–let her know that you can’t imagine what she’s going through and that you’re sorry for her loss. That’s what a lot of this is about. Loss of something most organisms take for granted. Loss of a dreamed about future. Just today at work someone was complaining to me that because her daughter is going to a local college, she (the mother) was denied the dream of driving her child to college. I try to be understanding because that’s what I wish others were about my situation (and they rarely are), but a statement like that is a dagger straight into my heart. And no one knows.

      I wish my siblings cared enough to ask me. Or at least cared enough to listen when I’ve tried to tell them how it feels. Maybe you could share the NYT article and/or this blog with your sister, and that could start a conversation. And ask her if there are things she’d prefer you not say. And let her change her mind about those things. Let her be inconsistent and irrational about it. Everyone is different. (For me: do NOT tell me to look into surrogacy. Just stop it.)

      • sherylhs

        “I wish my siblings cared enough to ask me. Or at least cared enough to listen when I’ve tried to tell them how it feels.” “For me: do NOT tell me to look into surrogacy. Just stop it.” Do we have the same siblings?:-) My sister’s response to my telling her about my situation for the first time was “I know how you feel.” HUH?? She has 3 beautiful children, and never had a moment’s trouble conceiving. Know how I feel?? Guess it’s just a stock phrase that got stuck in her head. Because she has such an ‘easy’ time getting pregnant, she offered to be surrogate for us. For me, as with for you, this is not an option. My sister carrying my husband’s child would be TOO weird. Not to mention the fact that she hadn’t thought about all of the issues – how would she feel after delivering HER child (my ovaries decided to stop producing eggs – without my permission). Maybe this is okay for some people, but it wasn’t for me. So now she acts like she gave me my shot and I didn’t want it. The hardest thing about infertility for me is dealing with the fact no one seems to understand your pain – nor do they seem to care.

  • Freyja

    The new chapter you speak of is, more than anything else, why I read your blog. Even within the IF blogosphere, so many are just chasing the elusive BFP, their happiness hinging on that singular event. While I am here trying to figure out how to find happiness without it. Not that I don’t want it (because I OBVIOUSLY do). And not that I’m not pursuing it, because we do still DTD on cue, like lab rats. But at this point in my life, having my happiness be contingent upon that success is pretty masochistic. So, I have to figure out how to find happiness within my life despite not having it. It’s CERTAINLY not the same as you, and I don’t mean to insinuate that. But there are similarities. So I come here to learn from your experience and to steal a few bits of your wisdom when ever I can. Thank you.

  • Happy Birthday and thanks so much for participating in the article. You are such a wonderful and inspiring figure for this community. Thank you.

  • I read your courageous article in the New York Times. I want to congratulate you on bringing this issue into the light. You are a role model for many women.

    I totally identify with your analogy of accepting your loss as I have had to learn to live with two very different loses around the similar issues: motherhood.

    I was one of thousands of women who lost a child to adoption. Like many of the “Girls Who Went Away” (see book by Ann Fessler) many women then and still today – experience this loss NOT BY CHOICE but because of lack of options and choices. Our choices are taken from us not by physical circumstances, but social mores, others’ concerns, poverty, etc.

    Like you, we deal with the pain of our loss daily and it is especially acute on birthdays, anniversaries, Mothers’ Day etc.

    Like you – we deal with shame, grief, loss and pain that is often NOT understood. In fact, we are often confronted with very negative, cruel, judgmental comments. I’ve actually heard “any dog can give birth”! We are made to feel like societal lepers.

    The only solution I have and others have found is to face and channel the anger constructively, like the mothers who turned their loss into MADD! Working to help others deal with their loss, “being there” hand-holding…AND, like you, enlightening the public and trying to change social attitudes!

    Adoption is NOT a solution for infertility. All to often it is seen as just the “next step” in infertility “treatments” as if taking someone else’s child and causing them pain and loss will somehow cure yours. That is most unfair to children who are made to feel like “replacements.”

    Continue to speak out!

    One goal could b to see to it that infertility is discussed as part of health classes, as many of the causes of infertility are preventable – being caused by STDS, delaying childbirth, abortion, obesity, smoking, etc. If you can help just one women avoid the suffering you have experienced, you will be doing a great service. Young women need to know the truth that they cannot put of trying forever (not that you did!) and expect mother nature to work!

    They also need to know that adoption is NOT a “simple” “win-win” solution…it’s really about trading one set of issues for others.

    Mirah Riben author
    The Stork Market: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry

  • zhl

    Way to go, PJ. You did a great job! I hope you have a wonderful birthday. (And on perhaps a completely shallow note, I like your porch/sunroom.

  • AB

    Hi Pamela,

    Thanks for your blog – I appreciate what you are doing on behalf of all of us who are infertile. My husband and I will try our third (and last) IVF in several months. I can relate to everything I have read on your blog! Thanks for publicizing our struggles.

  • By the way…losing a child to adoption causes afar higher rate of secondary infertility than the general population.

    Women considering placing a child to adoption need to be informed that it might be the only the child they will ever have. Sadly, they often told the opposite: “You can always have another when you are ready.”

  • Jas

    I too saw the NYT article and had to visit your blog. I never tried fertility treatments, but gave up trying to have a child after five miscarriages and one forced medical termination… I can conceive but not carry. I think about those babies every day of my life. I name them and dress them and teach them things. I put up with all the remarks from friends about how I’m “better off”, and also the left out feeling when they all go on with their delivery room stories… which is why I was curious about your blog. This is something I just don’t talk about. And to Sophia, about your sister, I have 2 sisters and 1 brother and 13 nieces and nephews!! I adore them all and don’t begrudge my sibs one bit their gorgeous kids… I see myself in some of them, they see themselves in me… I think just use your own instincts about what to say/not say. I know one time my sister and I had an argument and she brought it up (oh what do YOU know) and that really really hurt. People think because you haven’t had kids of your own you don’t know the first thing about them. That can be hurtful, that sort of patronizing “only a mother would understand” thing. Maybe it’s true but it’s insensitive as hell. Anyway, good to know you guys are out there. HBD, xxx

  • On New Year’s Eve of the year I finally did what you’ve done, I was at a party having Tarot cards read by a woman who was a friend of the hostess. She spread the cards out, and in the middle was an inverted Empress – the major arcana card that can signify motherhood and fertility (among other things). The reader gazed pensively at the spread and said, “This year you are going to resolve mother issues that have been troubling you for a long time. The thing is, while you may not be a mother yourself, these are telling you there are other ways to be a mother.”

    She was right. That year my husband and I came to some tough decisions – that we wanted to give up on fertility treatments, that my husband could not handle an adoption (we tried, even as far as going almost three-fourths through the process) – and it was probably the hardest year of our marriage.

    But in an odd way, these decisions did set me free. I was finally able to see other people and their children without rancor or envy, and I pursued my own career and interests wholeheartedly. Maybe that sounds selfish, but it was really self-preservation.

    A few years later, my youngest sister became a single mother and she needed my help to take care of her son. He’s not mine, but he’s the love of my life and the greatest blessing I’ve ever received. This was wholly unlooked for, but it proved to me that the Tarot reader was right: there are other ways to be a mother. Some will fall in your lap; some you’ll have to look for. But there *are* other ways.

    All blessings to you on your new journey.

    • Sue B

      We finally did adopt, but my husband had to be convinced a bit. His first reaction was, “We have a good thing going. Why mess with it?”

      As to your nephew–God (or the Divine or however you think of Her/Him) has a way of providing children. We have to take them where we find them.

  • zhl

    Just had to write again to let you know that when I refreshed my browser, there you were front and center on the NYT site! So proud of you. I listened to all of the ladies’ interviews, and it’s hard to hear how much IF still hurts, in your voice and in others.

  • By the way — at the moment, your photo is splashed on the home page of the NY Times website! — it’s like being on the cover of the print edition. Woohoo!!

  • npc10202001

    Pamela,

    I read the NY Times article today and found it so very moving. Having gone through several failed infertility treatments myself, I could certainly relate. I went straight to your blog after reading it.

    My question is, did you rule out ovum donation? I didn’t see it mentioned in your blog entries, but I may have missed it. Was this ever an option when you were doing IVF?

    Best of luck to you, and thank you for sharing your experience.

    Nancy

  • congratulations on a wonderful article in the NYT, and a well deserved outpouring of birthday wishes and love from the blogosphere. We are so enriched by your presence. Happy Birthday, and all best wishes for the journey you’re on.

  • MR

    Seeing all of you and reading your interviews in the NYT makes me feel like I’m not alone in my struggle and I applaud everyone for their honesty and integrity in sharing something so personal. I almost feel silly for saying that I am 36 and have been trying to conceive for almost two years. That feeling stems from others who say, “Oh, two years, that’s nothing – keep trying!!”, as though I am not deserving of the heartache of each passing month. Like most women, I’ve done the Clomid, the IUI, uterine surgery and short of IVF (which I am not comfortable doing), I feel like I have failed. My husband tries to be understanding even though I know it’s difficult for him, as well. Thank you for being an inspiration to me….I feel like I’ve been by myself in this for too long.

  • pam pollack

    Ok- I was there 22 years ago. I had 7 years of fertility treatments. Infertility governed my life. It totally defined me. I saw a therapist and she gave me this advice. Pregnancy lasts 9 months-motherhood lasts a lifetime. Am I willing to give up the lifetime I want so desperately because I can’t have the nine months. It was a big mental shift but it did prepare me for motherhood in unexpected ways.Part of being a mother is learning to go with the flow and realizing when you can control a situation and when you can’t. I ended up adopting my daughters from Korea. My older daughter is 22 and just graduated from an Ivy league college and my younger daughter is almost 20 and entering her junior year. At this point I can’t even imagine ever having wanted biological children. I know that sounds hard to believe but my kids are so much better than we could have produced biologically produced.My infertility prepared me in a zillion ways to be the parent I’ve been to my daughters. They knew how much we wanted them and how hard we fought to be parents. They also learned what it is to have a dream and go after it and explore every option. I learned that my children were unique and not just little me’s and for that i appreciated them even more. I know its natural to want your children to reflect you but I sometimes look at biological parenting as a vanity project. My life is so full now. I no longer define myself as infertile. I define myself by the choices I’ve made and by the decision I made to be a mother. Making that decision was empowering and I no longer felt the victim to some horrible injustice. I’m proud of my life and my family. I’ve never looked back.

    • missed the bus

      Pam,
      You sound like an incredible human being. I am 50, divorced from a man I did 2 rounds of fertility treatments with. You are so lucky to have found a man who wanted to adopt. It’s the vanity project you talked about that hit home. I’m living with and engaged indefinitely to a man who doesn’t want to adopt. Donated eggs are fine but he only wants to father with his own DNA. Surprising and disappointing. How did you get your children, how long did you have to wait, how much did it cost, I would love to be where you are now.
      missed the bus

      • pam pollack

        Thanks so much for the compliments. I got my girls through New Beginnings. It was 22 yrs ago so things might have changed. We waited less than 9 months and it cost about $18,000. They have many more adoption choices now than they did when we adopted – many more countries and different requirements. Here is the website for new beginnings…http://www.new-beginnings.org/. I wish you all happiness in the world. Try to look on this as a new journey. Good Luck.

      • pam pollack

        By the way – the thing that made my husband want to adopt was visiting a couple who had recently adopted a little girl from Korea. They put the baby onto his lap and that was it. She was warm and adorable and he was sold! It was a physical connection to an infant that he no longer had to imagine-he could feel what it would be like. Even though are children are grown now – we still have the urge to pick up every Asian baby we see!

  • mark mastroianni

    my wife an i tried for 15 years and saw 4 specialists. we never tried not to have kids — we tried from day one. we were told it was impossible for many years. we eventually went to Nova IVF in Palo Alto to do egg donation, but they gave us a chance at ivf we so desperately wanted. we failed terribly the first time. we begged to try one more time. nobody wanted our $. we were told we should consider saving our $ for adoption (we are not wealthy people and paid for the cycles ourselves). but that second time worked. we had 9 embryos and tried 2 the first time. we had our first son. we tried another two. we tried two more (frozen) and they failed. we tried two more and now have twin girls. we have 3 remaining and will be back in the bay area soon for one more (we’re going one at a time now — the twin pregnancy was very dangerous for my wife).

    i don’t know what to say except that i hope you’ve contacted Dr. Schmidt at Nova. if i told you the whole story, you would also be convinced that what took place was a miracle.

    i am 46 now. i so badly feel every ounce of your anguish and wish you every joy possible in this life. i adore my kids. but you surely have a purpose beyond all of this, and that is what the miracle taught me most.

    much love and peace — mm

  • Alicia

    I experienced premature ovarian failure when I was 32 and was faced with the reality that I couldn’t have my own children. While my husband and I have opted to use donor eggs to conceive (we have a 2 and 1/2 year daughter and are currently awaiting the arrival of an addition this winter), I too had to, and still go through, the grieving process that comes with infertility. Learning to let go of that dream is extremely difficult and painful. Acceptance of the reality of the situation really forces one to live in the present and be happy with life just as it is now, that looking for greater happiness in the future and get caught up on the would have been, will keep you from loving and enjoying what is happening right now! My loss still brings tears to my eyes, in the end I have to realize that it is not something I can change and it doesn’t define me. I applaud your openness.

  • Sue B

    Yes, we are a Silent Sorority. I always quietly console and bond with women who have gone through the infertility ordeal. I have never felt such a failure as I did each month when I knew I was not pregnant. I hated myself and felt that I deserved any other bad thing that happened to me.

    A stroke of coincidence caused my husband and me to be able to adopt. It was as easy as my husband walking to the parking garage with another lawyer who included private adoptions in his practice.

    Our son has been a great joy. I am so very glad we have him. (And I never did get pregnant in spite of all the stories you hear.)

    I know that there are many reasons for couples NOT to adopt, but we are glad that we did. I always rush to tell my adoption stories to anyone who adopts or is adopted.

    Finally, let me say that not everything in life turns out as we hoped and planned. This idea of “if you try hard enough, you can do anything” is a bunch of rubbish. I wish the media would stop telling young people this lie.

  • Congratulations on the article… probably one of the nicer things you never wanted to happen, like you said… but it’s an important achievement. Thank you for speaking up and out – hope you’ll always continue.

  • Yes, I am probably going to become a member of the club…I am not yet ready to pay the membership dues, but I am getting there. I have two more IVFs before I have to really let go of the dream. Thank you so much for everything you do. You are such a strong pillar of support to so many of us.

  • Kerry

    Thank you so much for this blog. Most of the time, I feel like I suffer alone. My husband has a child from a previous marriage and doesn’t understand the pain I feel.

  • I love your blog, and I read the NY Times article you are featured in. I’m glad you are writing about this because too much of our society is focused on “fulfilling” your life through having children. I’m considering a “childless” life myself. I do have two stepchildren, so I have had some of my mothering fulfilled through them. IVF was a nightmare for me, and although I grieved for my loss, I also saw how much in my life I am grateful for. It’s hard to imagine a life without children when I’ve identified with having a family for so long, but there is so much in my life that I do enjoy now.

  • niobe, dear sweet niobe sent me over, and I’m thrilled that she did. You write magnificently and your outlook is amazing. I’m glad to have virtually met you.

  • philo

    I also went through infertility (High FSH and zero sperm because of chemo for my husband’s cancer).
    At first, i thought i could live “childfree”, but gradually it became clear i needed to be a mommy more than we needed complete genetic ties. but we also weren’t prepared to adopt. we already felt battered by infertility, and now we were going to be at the mercy of adoption agencies, and birth mothers and other issues? In the end, we used a donor to become parents. Was it hard? you bet. but at least we could control the environment the children were gestating in and NO ONE could take them away from us.

    In the end, i just don’t know what i was waiting for. I barely remember being infertile, the kids are GREAT and living in San Francisco, there are at least 3 other “donor Children” in my daughter’s preschool class of 16!!!

    the kids all know about their conception, and i have never ever been happier. Pregnancy was truly awful for me (no glow, all vomit and spontaneous bleeding), but worth it. I gave birth at 41, and in my daughter’s preschool class, a mom gave birth at 54 and 47 respectively. It isn’t a cure, but it is something to consider!

  • Hi PJ – congratulations on the NY Times article. I admire your courage in speaking out on our behalf!

  • Kate

    My heart goes out to you, and although I’ve never been in your situation, I think it’s helpful for everyone to read about your experiences, because it can make others more empathetic.

  • Louise

    Dear Pamela,
    I read with interest your most recent blog entry. I’m putting a toe in slowly before reading more. I know the pain you feel is shared by many. I for one! Except for a few essential details the story’s end is in the heartache of childlessness in a child focused culture. When we tried to conceive I was nearly 40 years old. The world of IVF was itself being born. And, much to my shock, my husband was sterile. Another developmental snafu along the way reared its ugly head a few years ago. I’m almost 62 and “supposed” to be a grandmother! That’s what most people assume. I am not a mother. I am not a grandmother. Does it count that I’m a fabulous Aunt, Great Aunt, and God Mother? Sometimes I can answer that question with a resounding yes. But not everyone agrees. Surely not the Hallmark folks who celebrate the special days reserved for everyone except Aunts and God Mothers. Certainly not the young lady who waited on my husband and me on Mother’s Day who did not think I deserved, in fact refused my husband’s request for — a rose! We were celebrating an anniversary my husband informed her. But, alas, I am not a mother. Not good enough for a rose.
    I am interested in your book, your story, and connecting to other women who share the heartache of childlessness.
    Thanks for listening!
    Louise

  • bookworm

    I saw the NYT article & had to read your blog. Thank you for speaking out. Infertility can be very lonely. I can’t say I “understand”, as I did end up being successful with IVF, but I do recognize how difficult it can be to deal with the “fertile” world when you are desperately trying to conceive & no one seems to know how to deal with you.

  • Bea

    Happy birthday, P. Congrats on the article – loved it, though not what everyone wants as their claim to fame, certainly.

    Bea

  • DC

    Just wanted to stop by and say thank you for your contribution to today’s NY Times article. I love the attention that’s being brought to this very real (and emotionally wrenching) medical condition. And I heart your blog. 🙂

  • Ann

    I’m 55 and I gave up infertility treatment in my mid-40s. During my long marriage, endometriosis was discovered, necessitating 3 surgeries and at 39, my husband eventually divorced me, I believe because he was convinced I would never be able to conceive. I continued to take Clomid and use donor sperm for about 5 years before I decided that I did not believe I would ever get pregnant and that I needed to move ahead in my life
    instead of living in a “suspended” state. (Ironically, a year after our divorce, my former husband found out, after a biopsy, that he has congenital sterility. He married a divorcee with 2 young children).

    I had several years of piercing sadness and feeling that I had been cheated, not only of having children but also out of my marriage because it was childless. At 49 I was diagnosed with a disabling auto immune disease and then had to give up my profession and go on disability, so I then lost the rest of my identity, me as a professional person. Incredible triple blow to be divorced, childless and careerless/jobless, living on Social Security with my aged mother. But I cantell you that there are, at 55, many things I treasure in life.

    It obviously has not turned out as I had imagined and hoped it would, that day when I was 25 and got married right out of graduate school. But I’ve found many ways to make contributions to the world. They aren’t what I would have imagined, but they do matter. I’m a very very good friend to my friends. I know I’ve helped many strangers. I now think that all adults are responsible for all the world’s children, so I don’t feel cut off from that anymore. I also feel that all of us are responsible for the welfare of our neighbors on this earth.

    So perhaps I have learned something about reaching farther outside of myself in the world, instead of winding up
    focused just on myself, my spouse, my children, the people in my house. I feel very connected, through study and travel and my life experiences to the whole world. Infertility is sad, but one of the ways I accepted it was to do things so that I felt connected to other people, I contributed to the welfare of those around me, and then reached out farther and have tried to be connected to, and responsible for, making this a better planet to live on. I no longer feel pain over being childless. I have had many opportunities these past years to help children, some I know and some I will never see. So here I am, doing what I can for children, any children I am able to help, because I love children very much. And finally, this not only stopped the hurt but it nourished me, I feel whole and I feel satisfied. I would never have believed 20 years ago in all that pain in my flawed infertile body in a hurting
    marriage that I would wind up where I have. Much less that it would be peaceful and seem now positive and good.
    But I do. We never know who we are going to turn out to be, or feel. But I feel good today. Bless you.

  • Carolyn

    I am so happy to have learned about your blog from the NYT. My husband and I both have health problems and it would be difficult for us to adopt. I am learning to cope by making children’s clothes (baby and toddler, knitting and sewing.) After a few years of practice I can make things better than what they could find in stores! I think we are here to help each other and I can still help the many parents I know, who are stressed and overwhelmed.

    OH. One more thing, be careful about using pets to fill the hole in the heart. Pets can ease the pain but they only live a few years. Then when the pet dies, you are grieving the loss of the pet who eased your pain at childlessness, AND you are also grieving the children you never had. It is a double grief that no one, no one understands, they think you are crazy to mourn for a dog like that. Therefore there is the pain of being misunderstood too. Watch out for that!!

  • Mel

    Happy birthday, sweetie.

  • Happy Birthday . . . you are beautiful then and now . . . !

  • wishing you a very happy birthday, pj! I hope this year brings you great joy and the time to enjoy it. I said it before, but you are an inspiration to us all!