Unexpected Sanctuary


infertility ah ha momentNow that the jetlag has lifted I’ve been able to replay scenes from my recent trip with some new clarity. Along with the replay came something of an “ah ha” moment.

The “ah ha” was crystallized by another post about friendship by Deathstar (she is tapping into my subconscious left and right these days!)

So the “ah ha” is this — and there’s a bit of irony, too: when I’m with other infertiles or friends without children I never ever think about infertility.

In fact it’s the most blissful time I ever spend. It’s like gaining access to a very special sanctuary. I’m fully at peace.  There’s no anticipation of baby talk, parenting talk or unexpected pregnancy announcements. There’s no likelihood of little ones tugging on my heart strings running up and planting a big hug or kiss on their mommy or daddy followed by a cuddle and gaze that communicates a deep, deep bond. There’s no awkwardness, no need to be on guard. The conversation flows without the pressing need to change subjects or to sit quietly when the topic goes to a place about preschools, the skyrocketing cost of tuition or the challenge of juggling multiple children’s activities and school commitments.  It just doesn’t enter into the equation.

See also  Some Infertility Symptoms Manifest in Children

My dear friends and family who have crossed into the realm of parenthood (most effortlessly) do their best to keep the topics of conversation relevant when we’re in the mix, and in the same way, I make the effort to talk about our areas of mutual interest. I’m not asking for special treatment nor are they.  Yet it’s inevitable that talk veers to the challenges of parenting and kids. How can it not? It’s a huge, huge part of their existence.

By contrast, during a visit with some German friends (also without children) we filled an entire day with wine tasting, passionately debating politics, strolling happily through the winding streets of a university town, comparing our favorite books and movies in a coffee house, and later over dinner comparing the advantages and disadvantages of living in different places. It was HEAVEN!

It was a little like being a kid again myself — not a care in the world — just living in the moment and reveling in the feeling of being totally understood, and not once did that weird feeling of being an outsider lurk around the edges. I can only imagine that it’s the same feeling for new mothers and fathers who find enjoyment and relief in sharing a different kind of communal experience.

Our day of hanging out was memorable for a whole bunch of reasons, but also for this lesson: our childfree life after infertility today is not better or worse, it’s just different and it can be its own sort of special.

See also  A Fresh Start

A look at some souvenir snapshots of the trip can be found here.


21 Responses

  1. luna

    April 19, 2008 7:02 pm

    sounds wonderful. welcome home. so glad you were able to enjoy some much needed time away…

    and yes, let’s figure out when we can get together for coffee or something amidst our crazy schedules. ~luna

  2. Kami

    April 19, 2008 7:14 pm

    So true! I went to my second prenatal class yesterday and have decided it will be my last. I don’t relate to their world even if I am also expecting. Hearing about their view just makes me feel more isolated and different and reminds me of all the negative stuff we have been through. It took me a couple of hours of “reprogramming” myself to get back to a place of appreciating what I do have.

    I’m glad you had such a great trip and time to notice all the richness in your life.

  3. Alacrity

    April 19, 2008 8:35 pm

    Hi PJ –

    Glad to have you back, and also I am glad that you had such a nice time with those friends.

    I find that I too prefer to hang out with people who aren’t parents, because people with children understandably aren’t able to go very long without talking about them. And it does feel awkward, or marginalizing (is that even a word?) at times.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know too many couples without children. For a long time, I have wished that there was some way to network better with others in our situation. We don’t really fit with the “childfree” organizations, but I don’t see people wanting to join a social club which identifies its members by something as difficult as what we are going through either.

    Anyway, welcome back!

  4. Lori

    April 19, 2008 9:44 pm

    It is such a gift to be understood.

    I’m glad you had a good time. We missed you!

    (Can’t wait to meet you and hang out!)

  5. peesticksandstones

    April 19, 2008 10:33 pm

    Yes, yes, yes! I have been fortunate enough to finally make a few “infertile friends” (though I am sorry we share this misfortune) and it is heaven spending time with them. I feel like my young, sassy self again — once, of course, we’re able to vent about the IF stuff for a while first and have fun.

    Thanks for posting the photo link. Your trip sounds dreamy. We won’t be traveling for a while, so I appreciated the little virtual vacation. Now I need a glass (or 3) of Riesling, of course!

  6. Pepper

    April 20, 2008 1:23 am

    I couldn’t agree more! There’s a level of relaxation you can reach with your childfree friends that you can’t necessarily reach when you’re around friends who have children.

    Your pictures are beautiful, btw.

  7. Deathstar

    April 20, 2008 2:10 am

    I’m so excited – we’re going to Europe in the summer and we have 2 days in Paris. So your pictures gave me a sneak preview of the Eiffel Tower and the Palace Versailles.

  8. Bea

    April 20, 2008 3:56 am

    It’s true! When you’re with people who don’t have children, you just don’t think about it as much. It’s like the problem shows up more clearly in relief.

    Can’t wait to see the trip photos!


  9. luna

    April 20, 2008 7:33 am

    love the photos! germany looks beautiful. and I know those cafes in paris — we stayed around the corner in st. germain des pres when we were there in 2006. so glad you were able to squeeze so much in to a wonderful trip. thanks for sharing your pix.

    btw, your avatar looks like you!

  10. Lydia

    April 20, 2008 8:32 am

    What a beautifully-expressed post. Really lovely. The photos were fun to look at and made me long for the opportunity for that kind of a trip.

  11. loribeth

    April 20, 2008 3:53 pm

    “Our childfree life today is not better or worse, it’s just different and it can be its own sort of special.” So true!! Thank you for that, & for sharing those great photos (I agree, you look like your avie! lol). Glad you had such a good time. It’s so nice to be with people you can relate to so well.

  12. Ellen K

    April 21, 2008 1:13 pm

    Great pictures! You and your black coat look very chic in Paris. Welcome back!

    Traveling is excellent for getting back in touch with yourself. D. and I found similar relief on last fall’s trip to Seattle & Victoria. On no less than 3 occasions did we find ourselves in the company of happy, easygoing retired couples who were very blunt about parenting not being the huge joy and comfort it is commonly assumed to be.

  13. foreverhopeful

    April 21, 2008 10:31 pm

    I agree, its so much easier to be with friends with infertility or without children. Its like the hardest part of Infertility is being reminded of what you don’t have but if there no reminders.. somehow life isn’t that bad. Glad that you are enjoying life and sounds like you had an icredible trip. Welcome Back and thanks for sharing your beautiful pics!

  14. Gabrielle

    April 21, 2008 11:45 pm

    Welcome home, and thank you for this:

    “our childfree life today is not better or worse, it’s just different and it can be its own sort of special.”

    I couldn’t agree more. In fact, most days, I LOVE my life and scheme and plan about how to keep many aspects of it should we cross over to the other side. The ONLY time I feel left-out, on the fringe and generally awful, is when I realize how many of our friends are at such different places in their child-full lives.

  15. Freyja

    April 22, 2008 12:18 am

    Yup. No kids = no IF in my Universe too.

    The pics of your trip to Europe make me envious! Very, very cool!

  16. May

    April 22, 2008 8:38 am

    Ahh, yes. I too have a couple of childless friends, in whose presence I can relax and just be May, talking about Things That May Likes.

    I also have some childless friends who are planning for babies ‘some time in the next couple of years’ and they drive me nuts.

    And I have a couple of friends with babies whose company I also can relax in, because they are such thoughtful, intelligent people that they can discuss their families and my infertility without making me feel left out or freakish or sad and envious. Also, they don’t let the baby-talk dominate, a noble art more parents could do with learning, at least in the presence of the childless.

    I’m glad you had such a good time. Excellent!

  17. Ms Heathen

    April 23, 2008 11:18 am

    Welcome home, Pamela Jeanne! I’m so glad that you had such a good holiday.

    And hurrah for interesting conversations which don’t revolve around children!

  18. Rachel

    April 25, 2008 4:50 am

    “it’s just different and it can be its own sort of special” – to be able to say this is a big step on your road to dealing with this… I bet it was fun to do all that child-free.

    I can relate to what you’re saying about only surrounding yourself with certain people… there are certain issues (yes, I’m being mysterious again, but one day, over a glass of wine or two, I promise I’ll spill all) which I long to share more with others who can only understand if they have walked the path I’ve walked. I think you might consider holding on to the idea of making sure there are always at least a few people who have lived what you’ve lived. There is much to be said for being truly understood.

    Going to go look at your pics now…

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