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How to Cope When You Can’t Have a Baby

Not being able to conceive a baby is one of the saddest, most heartbreaking things for a woman. These ideas for coping when you can’t have children are from women who know how you feel. They, too, are living without the babies they longed to have.

“My doctor told me I’ll never be able to have children,” writes Jessie on Do You Resent Your Pregnant Friends? “Just recently two of my friends have become pregnant, my partner’s 18 year old sister just had a baby, and most of my other friends already have children. Only my partner knows I can’t have a baby, as I’m not courageous enough to tell anyone else. A lot of his family expects me to get pregnant, which is really hard to cope with…I just wish I could become pregnant even just once.. I want to be a mother more than anything. How do you cope when you can’t have a baby? It’s so unfair.”

Every woman copes differently, but we’re all facing the same grief: not being having to have children when it seems so easy and natural for other couples.


Most of my friends have kids, and four of my coworkers are pregnant! Tomorrow is yet another baby shower at work. It’s hard, but I don’t resent them. I’m almost 50 and have learned how to be happy even though I’m childless. Still, though…I will always wish I hadn’t missed out on such an exciting, natural, important part of life.

I always thought my husband and I would get pregnant and have at least one child. I really thought that even though my husband doesn’t have any sperm (he has a genetic abnormality called azoospermia), a miracle would happen. I didn’t want to try in vitro fertilization, and we’re not keen on adopting. It took me a long time to accept that we’ll never have children, but eventually I did. I didn’t just learn how to cope, I really did grow into a healthier, happier woman.

It took time…but one benefit of being childless is that you do have more time! 🙂 These tips for coping when you can’t have children are from me and other women.

Coping When You Can’t Have a Baby – Tips From Women

It’s important to remember that husbands need to learn how to cope with infertility, too. My husband wanted six kids (which made it ironic that we were dealing with male factor infertility).

“Men get depressed about infertility, too,” says J. on Overcoming Infertility Depression When You Can’t Conceive. “My wife and I are having a devil of a time getting pregnant, and we’re not getting any younger. Both of us were in our 30′s when we married. So, the clock is ticking. My depression comes and goes in waves. I’m grieving the loss of never being able to participate in the creation of life that birthing a newborn would allow. I’m grieving the loss passing on the family name…I am the only son of six children. I’m grieving the loss of many, many things that comes with bringing your own biological children into this world.”

Accept your life for what it is

Recently I learned that resisting something – or even a toxic person – gives it energy. The more you fight it, the bigger it grows. Learning how other women coped when they couldn’t get pregnant and have children is good…but dwelling in the pain and heartbreak of childlessness will destroy your spirit and soul.

Growing Forward When You Can't Go Back

How do you accept your life for what it is? By embracing and highlight the things you love to do! For example, my husband and I love to travel. We decided to treat ourself to an exciting vacation every year.




I worked with Big Brothers as a Mentoring Coordinator (covering a maternity leave, of all things), then went back to school for my MSW (Master of Social Work). I created and write my “She Blossoms” blogs…and I even wrote Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back.

Nurture and grow the things you love

I think the best “tip” for coping with depression when you can’t have a baby is to create a life that you love. Accept that you’ll always feel a bit sad that you can’t have kids. Find ways to weave it into your life in healthy, peaceful ways.

It really isn’t fair that most women can have kids and some of us can’t. But the thing is, life is unfair in so many ways – some people get cancer, others live poverty in third world countries, others are refugees, others have to work in factories, others lose their children or families, others are abused…and some couples can’t have babies. Life isn’t fair. It’s hard. But life is still a gift – and it can be precious and beautiful even for women who can’t have a baby.

Spend time with women who don’t have children

“If you’ve spent any extended amount of time in ‘trying to conceive’ limbo, you know that it’s not easy to move away from the overpowering biological urge to conceive a baby,” writes Pamela Tsigdinos in Silent Sorority: A Barren Woman Gets Busy, Angry, Lost and Found. “It becomes all but a second job what with monitoring, doctor appointments, more monitoring and still more doctor appointments. As I moved forward in my 30s, I found myself working my way through a slow but progressive set of steps. I started at acknowledgement and ended in my early 40s with acceptance.”

Pamela accepted that she is an “infertility survivor” – and her purpose is to help other women cope with childlessness. Spend time with happy, healthy woman who understand the pain of infertility. Learn from women who transcended the pain and are living fulfilled, meaningful lives.

Talk about infertility – it is nothing to be ashamed of

One of the reasons Tsigdinos called her book SILENT Sorority was because women don’t talk about their infertility. Jessie is not alone in her reluctance to tell her family that she can’t have a baby! But, the more you talk about it, the better you’ll feel. Trust me, it gets easier with time.

Coping When You Can’t Have a Baby – Tips From Women

Infreakinfertility: How to Survive When Getting Pregnant Gets Hard by Melanie Dale is a fantastic resource for women who are dealing with infertility – and who have a sense of humor!

This is the funnest book you’ll ever read about the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. Each chapter covers a different challenge with infertility and is broken into sections, a little of Melanie’s story and concerns. She includes blurbs from her husband, Alex, as well as practical tips on how to cope when you can’t have a baby.

Tip from a reader: avoid pregnant women

“It might sound a bit cruel but my strategy is to stay away from pregnant friends and relatives (and there seem to be a lot of them) if I’m having a bad day,” Sarah on How to Stay Positive When You Can’t Get Pregnant. “I’ve been trying to conceive for two years and have good days and bad days – some days I just know it’s not the right time to be around pregnant women or small children and I just arrange to be out of that situation. Other times I feel fine and make sure I show how happy I am for those people.” ~ Saralucy.

Be grateful for the love you have

“I know it’s gotta be tough being married and trying to conceive, but try being single and not even having a partner on the horizon!,” says Kath on Living With Infertility? 5 Tips for Women Over 40. “That said, we can ALL find reasons to feel sorry for ourselves. The trick is to let yourself feel the sadness without becoming bitter, I think.”

Before you go, read through the comments below. You are not alone. Feel free to share your experience – you may find that writing about how you’re coping with not having a baby will help heal your heart. And, know that your story will help other women survive their own pain.

With love,

Laurie

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8 thoughts on “How to Cope When You Can’t Have a Baby”

  1. I was trying to conceive for years with my husband. Then he was diagnosed with renal cancer and our hopes of having a baby were completely dashed with chemotherapy. The treatment didn’t work and he passed away soon after that. That was 8 years ago.
    I’ve been with current partner for 3 years now. We knew very early on that we’ll be together till death do us part and wanted a family. So, we were trying for a baby after around 6 months together. Every month I kept hoping I’m pregnant. I took lots of expensive supplements to help with conceiving, nothing worked. We even considered IVF but because he is a smoker they said he’ll have to quit. This has been very difficult although he is still trying. I suggested adoption but partner says no, I understand to a certain extent why but I also want to be a mum so badly. I have a cat who is my baby…sad but true. It’s my cat who follows me everywhere and makes me laugh.
    Toughest thing for me is my job. I work with mothers and babies whom I dote on. Unfortunately, I have to give advice and guide these mum’s on baby care. Often they would ask if I have children of my own, some in a polite way, others in a not so polite way. I can’t say to these women that I desperately want to conceive, every month I wish my period didn’t come and I was pregnant. I’ll be 40 soon , not much hope for me to get pregnant anymore. My clock has ticked away….

  2. Hello Everyone,
    I’m not sure if anyone will read this because I noticed a lot of the comments and stories are from years ago but I’ve been fighting infertility for many years now. I’m 32 years old and have been going to fertility treatments since I was about 28. I never thought that I would have trouble having children. I’m really the only one in my family that has been unsuccessful in having kids so it is definitely hard to talk to my family and have them truly understand. I found out through the fertility process that I have Endometriosis; though very disheartening the doctor gave me hope and said he saw no reason that I shouldn’t be able to get pregnant because of all my other tests that came back more than optimal. However, 11 fertility treatments and a surgery later – still no pregnancy. I haven’t ever been pregnant, not once. Not that I would ever want to miscarry and I feel so much sympathy for anyone who has had this happen; it would be nice to just have a sign that I could get pregnant. This topic has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever faced. I’ve never had so many ups and downs, feelings of depression, physical as well as emotional pain, and crying at the drop of a hat whenever I think/speak about the topic. As I now approach the end of the road of fertility (there’s just not much left that can be done for me that I can afford – have 2 tries left) I’M FINALLY ON THE ROAD OF ACCEPTANCE AND YOU CAN TOO IF YOU ARE GOING THROUGH THIS. This might sound negative to some but I realized that I was putting children/the idea of having children on a pedestal. I think it is something that most people do if they really want something that is out of reach. It becomes a “the grass IS greener on the other side ” kind of situation. Those of us feel like having kids is going to be great and it’s the most important thing in life. But I thought about it more and realized how the rosey picture I painted my life to be with kids was not realistic. When I took off my metaphorical rose colored glasses and looked at mothers I personally know I saw that most don’t seem that happy even though they got the children they wanted. Some of them go as far as to say “Hey, you can have my kids for awhile – take them off my hands “. Of course I can see why these mothers might need a break and I know their kids are handfuls but I realized I see that more and more and hear those kind of statements all the time. Of course some of the explanation for some of these moms is that it was so easy for them to have kids they take it for granted. Though I will never take having kids for granted because of the hardships I’ve been through; I realize that maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and that there are positives on both sides (having kids or not having kids). I also realized that having kids doesn’t mean you will have a great relationship with them as they age. I took a hard look at my immediate and extended family and people on both sides are far from perfect and relationships between parents and adult children are VERY far from perfect. I know that not all families out there are like mine, but there are even family members of mine who don’t really have much of a relationship with at least one of their parents. So the idea of your kids loving you, you getting along with your kids, and you growing older and never being alone because you have kids are not really true statements. Yes, having kids COULD be great you COULD get along really well and you COULD have an amazing relationship with them as they get older but there are no guarantees just because you have kids. I’m not saying that it’s easy to change your mind about wanting kids and for most this can never happen. But it is important to realize that kids shouldn’t define you and keep you from living your life. I think I just got tired of feeling so bad all the time about something I have no control over. I’m tired of beating a dead horse so to speak. I’ve let having a baby control my life mentally and physically. I feel like it has kept me from having success in every other aspect of my life. I lost a new job because of all the appointments I go to (it was the highest paying job I had to date), I’ve lost interest in things that I once really enjoyed, and I have let myself get to a place physically that makes me unhappy (which of course is not helpful). I want/need my life back!!! One of the few things I really have in life is my amazing husband who has been very supportive through it all. But even with his support we have had a very rocky year and 1/2 mostly stemming from all the fertility issues.
    I probably will still have bad days when it comes to the topic of having kids and I’m sure there will be times that I won’t be able to help but feel horrible about the fact I don’t have them. I now know however that kids may add to your life but they don’t fix it. You have to find some happiness on your own within yourself. A kid might give you happiness and a feeling of fulfillment in some ways but being a parent has its own hardships and struggles. Because I’m slowly changing my outlook on things I feel more free to think about and see what else is in store for my life and what is down the road for me including more things that I might be able to do that I’d never be able to do if I had a kid. As I’ve typed this very long msg I actually recieved a phone call from my doctor confirming once again that my current treatment has failed (which I was pretty confident about and already included in the tally of treatments listed earlier in this msg even though I didn’t technically know 100% yet) and guess what…..FIRST TIME I HAVEN’T CRIED MY EYES OUT. I actually feel ok. Maybe I have no more tears left that I can shed over this? Maybe I’m just used to constant bad news?….Maybe, I am just slowly feeling better and I’m very grateful for it. We all deserve some happiness and I wish everyone luck out there and I hope for the best for everyone. And if nothing good comes out of my struggle and my more positive feelings I currently feel are short lived and fleeting I hope that my msg at least helped someone out there feel at least a little bit better even for a moment.

  3. My sad story began when i was 20 and i had the right to have children taken away from me by a very bad person ho adopted me when I was 4 yrs old and had a learning disability and she had me sterilized because of my learning disability. I’m not like other people who were born with this. :(. I think every day why did this happen to me.. I thought I was going in to get my tubes tide and when I woke up I found out that I my tubes were severly severed and burnt to the point they could not be fixed. I even thought about getting a truly real doll that breathes and feels like a real baby, but my friends say that is too weird any advise on how to deal with this mental heart breaking day today dealing with this I would greatly appreciate some help.

  4. I myself unfortunately got pregnant when I was 15 …My mother by way of my grandmother’s shaming me and her forced an abortion (as they said, “I was still a baby myself and they weren’t going to raise another child!”)
    Needless to say…years down the road I developed Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and wound up losing a tube and ovary to 2 large grapefruit size cycts at which time doctors told me I had less than 20% of conceiving…2 years later I had the other tube removed to the same condition.

    I grieved then…and still do…as the one child I did conceive and did want…was taken from me through no choice of my own. (Our province did not allow teens under 18 to make abortion decisions at the time.)
    Now I read of 8 years old being forced to deliver babies they don’t want from rape situations …and mother’s drowning/killing their children…and teenage girls popping out kids like they are accessories…and I have to submit a 20 page essay of why I am deserving of being able to adopt a child who wasn’t wanted…then told me (and my then husband) are not qualified.

    God forbid I post any of these feelings on my FB wall… or I’d get a tirade of, “You need to pray harder or accept God’s will, or try and look on the bright side of things.” type sentiments…
    It all makes me want to just and just scream, “Why is life all so slanted towards the unjust/unworthy?”

  5. This is great for those who are so blessed (I actually cringe and shrink every time I hear people say that…as if to indicate that the rest of us are not blessed to be able to conceive… for whatever the multitude of reasons…be it financial, or other circumstance/s) to have had their wombs graced by life and the ability to fulfill their life long family dream via perseverance or sheer miracle.
    But… tell me…where do the rest of us who are not so graced or blessed by miracles or determination/money (who are well over the child bearing years) go for emotional support? Many of us struggle (sometimes daily) to keep our chins and attitudes up to be supportive in our communities when babies come along and women become pregnant…

    I have found nothing for the rest of us… where is the support for us?

    I resent being told God has a greater plan for me… or that I need to pray harder…or to be thankful for having no children.
    How can people be so thoughtless heartless and callous?

    It would be nice to find groups online (Facebook or other forums) for women who are permanently barren and/or who have not adopted/or are fostering for whatever their reason/circumstance – financial or otherwise?

    While I try to be grateful for the many things that not having children affords me at my age, I still struggle a lot on and off at times when faced with either people pushing their photos of their kids or newborns in my FB newsfeed, or I read about the horrendous things that people do to their children.
    Please help
    Lost & alone in Western Canada

  6. Thanks for writting this I’ve been feeling so miserable because of my situation not being able to have my own baby but for some reason everyone around me are pregnant and I can’t really talk about my feelings with my partner or other family cause to then its you’ll be k I cry myself to sleep sometimes because they don’t understand where im coming from they think its easy just forget about it my partner is k with cause he has a child already but it hurts me and he doesn’t understand me.

  7. It seems like everyone around me is having babies. And somedays are harder than others. My husband had a vasectomy before we got married and he has two children of his own. I don’t think he really understands how I feel. Im so happy I found this site, and books on here that I’m going to read that will make me feel better.

  8. Thankyou so much for writing this, for some reason i feel it is easier to talk to strangers about this than people i actually know. I found out another friend of mine is now pregnant last night, and when i went for a shower later i just sat in there and cried :'(. My sad story began when i was 17 and i had the right to have children taken away from me by a very bad person. I’m not like other people who were born with this. :(. I think every day why did this happen to me.. I shouldn’t have gone to that party and all other thoughts that go through my head. But i have to learn to live with and deal with everyone having kids cos whether i like it or not thats what is going to happen 🙁