Living with infertility requires grit and grace — especially for women over 40 who believed they’d have children one day. What do you need to enter the second half of life as an infertile woman? How do you live happily with infertility when you always planned to have a family?
I celebrated my 40th birthday several years ago; I’ve been living with infertility for almost 10 years. I remember asking “How do I live with infertility as a woman over 40?” Only recently did I discover the five questions below, which represent the “core needs” that we all have. They’re great questions, especially if you’re coping with depression because you can’t get pregnant. This may be exactly what you need to enter the second half of your life with fresh hope and joy. These questions are especially important for women over 40 living with infertility because they have the power to change how you see yourself — and your life.
I’m not going to tell you to look on the bright side of being childless as a woman over 40, or that all you need is love to live with infertility. I won’t tell you that one day you’ll forget the grief and pain of not having children. Nor will I give you a list of ways to stop feeling sorry for yourself even if your marriage failed because of infertility. You’ve already searched for infertility help, tips and counseling on how to live with infertility as a woman over 40. You’ve already received enough advice from your family and friends! Instead, these five questions will help you find what you need to live — happily — with infertility. Your answers will change how you think and feel about yourself as a woman over 40. And that, in turn, will help you heal and move forward into a bright, fresh new season of life.
I found these five core needs in a women’s magazine. The article was written by a Christian psychologist whose goal was to help parents raise strong, confident children. Ironic, isn’t it, that I’m using them to help women find what they need to live with infertility? But as soon as I saw those core needs I realized they were exactly what we — childless women whose hearts have been bruised and even broken — need to live happily ever after.
Yes, living happily ever after is possible! Depending, of course, how you define “happily ever after.”
5 Tips for Living With Infertility
These five questions are based on your core needs in the second half of life. As a woman over 40, you’re facing a unique set of challenges and opportunities. These questions can help heal your heart and lift your spirits by motivating you to really think and dream about recreating your life as a childless woman. It may be painful or even scary to face certain truths about yourself — especially since you’re wounded because your dreams are shattered— but if you take time to consider my questions you will grow forward.
When you’re considering these questions, don’t underestimate the importance of writing. Expressing your thoughts and emotions in writing will help you recreate yourself and process how you feel about living with infertility as a woman over 40. Writing forces you to slow down and catch up with your thoughts. Most of the time you don’t even know what you think or how you feel until you write it down! So, I encourage you to answer these questions by hand writing on a piece of paper. You’re also welcome to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
1. You need self-identity — who are you?
Figuring out who you are can be tough after an infertility diagnosis — especially if you always wanted to have children and didn’t prepare for the possibility of a childless life. You may have lost yourself in your marriage and family plans. Now, you need time and energy to recreate your self-identity. Focusing on rebuilding yourself and rediscovering your passions will help you find what you need to live with infertility as a 40 year old woman. If you don’t have a strong sense of self-identity you’ll fall into a sad, hopeless second half of life.
Who were you before you started trying to get pregnant? How did the infertility diagnosis affect your self-identity? If that seems too long ago, think back to the last time you knew who you were. Living with infertility isn’t just about starting over as a childless woman over 40; rather, it’s about rediscovering who God created you to be. And that means digging into your past hopes, dreams, passions and purpose…which all point back to your self-identity. And that’s what you need to move forward.
2. You need security — who can you trust?
This core need isn’t just about living with infertility. Rather, it’s about nurturing trusting relationships with friends and family members for all seasons of your life. Learning who you can trust is especially important when you’re emotionally or physically wounded. An infertility diagnosis is traumatic, and changes your life forever. Who you need to live happily as a childless woman over 40 depends on your personality, social needs, and spiritual life.
Who do you depend on? Can you trust your friends or family to listen and support you? Are you honest with them; do you share what you really think and feel? Who was there when you needed to adjust to the infertility diagnosis? If you’re a childless woman over 40 who feels alone and abandoned, you may need to learn how to trust again.
3. You need belonging — who accepts you?
Feeling like you belong is especially important for childless women over 40. I know how hard it is not to have children when it seems like everyone else does. Going to church highlights my childlessness because it seems like everyone is part of a big family! I had to learn how to be happy even though I’m childless. I found what I needed to live with joy and acceptance as a woman over 40 who will never have children.
You need to know that people believe in you and accept you for you are. After an infertility diagnosis, you’re especially vulnerable and sad. This is when you really need to rely on your friends and family to accept you no matter what. This doesn’t mean they’ll support every choice you make or let you self-destruct instead of getting the help you need! Your true friends and family will be honest with you. They’ll help you see the reality of your life — including the fact that you’re struggling to accept life as a childless woman over 40. If you need different friends, now is the time to explore new possibilities.
4. You need aptitude — what are you good at?
Accepting a diagnosis of infertility can be easier for women over 40 who have a life outside marriage and family. I love writing; my She Blossoms blogs were my focus long before I discovered I’ll never have children. I even wrote a book called Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back. I’m not saying all women need to have a job or outside interests to be happy after infertility…but life is more interesting and fulfilling when it’s not all about having a baby.
How will you live with infertility as a woman over 40? Your answer will be different than mine. Perhaps you’re good at your job, passionate about your hobbies, or happily working with your strengths in the community. What do you do well? Just as importantly, how are you using your strengths to improve your little pocket of the world? If you need help dealing with the infertility diagnosis, how are you caring for yourself? Maybe your self-esteem or self-image took a blow. Maybe you even feel like you’re not good enough as a woman. This is the time to start exploring what you’re good at and how you can contribute to the beauty and healing of the world.
5. You need purpose — why are you alive?
Ah, my favorite questions: what are we doing here, why were we created, who are we, and where are we going? I used to struggle with these questions a lot. I still do, but much less because my self-identity is built on Jesus Christ. I not only believe in God, I follow Jesus and try to spend every day in the presence of the Holy Spirit. God gives my life meaning…and more and more I realize the world needs me to empty myself into my writing. I can’t solve problems or heal wounds, but I can write articles to help women over 40 live with infertility. And that’s enough.
What is your purpose in life? Thinking about this might help you find what you need to live happily with infertility. As a woman over 40, you may have to start completely fresh — especially if you really believed you’d have children one day. Childlessness never crossed your mind! And it may have destroyed your sense of self. If you no longer know what you think or believe about yourself, now is the time to re-evaluate your life. Living with infertility and recreating your life as a woman over 40 may be one of the most painful experiences you’ll ever face…but it doesn’t have to destroy you.
In fact, learning how to take care of your needs as a childless woman over 40 can help you grow bigger, bolder, and more beautiful in every way. You’ll never be totally over the grief of not having children, but your life can still be good. Rich. Deep. Fulfilling. How you live with infertility depends on how you choose to move forward…and who you invite to walk with you. Look up and meet the gaze of God. He’ll show you the way home.
What do you think, how do you feel? Your big and little comments are welcome below.
With His love,
P.S. Are you yearning for a deeper, more fulfilling relationship with God? Read 3 Ways to Stop Struggling and Start Trusting God.