Living without having children doesn’t have to be sad, depressing, or futile. Here are seven ways to be happy after infertility, inspired by my own experience of living childfree (though I do think of myself as “childless”).
If you’re struggling with the idea of living childfree or childless, read Complete Without Kids: An Insider’s Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance. Ellen Walker guides readers through the positive and negative aspects of childfree living, taking into consideration the different issues faced by men or women, couples or singles. As a woman who is childfree by choice, Walker draws upon her personal experience while also offering the reader numerous interviews with other childfree adults, revealing behind-the-scenes factors that influenced their personal journeys.
Have you grieved the end of your dreams of having children. If not, read How to Survive the Grieving Process. It’s important to go through the grieving process, regardless of why you can’t have kids. “We were diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility’, which sounds good in one respect,” says Cindy Margolis, actress, model, and spokesperson for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. “On the other hand, you almost want something wrong, so there’s a problem, so you can fix it.”
Whether you’re coping with male, female, or unexplained infertility, adjusting to the thought of not having kids can be difficult. What I find most helpful is being grateful for what I do have. I love my husband, dog, cat, friends, Quips and Tips blogs, and life in general. Some days I have to force myself to choose to look on the bright side, and other days it’s easy! You can’t be depressed or bitter when you’re grateful.
A Childfree Life After Infertility – 7 Ways to be Happy
“Don’t let the muggles get you down.”
Focus on the benefits of not having children — there are some!
“Most studies have shown that psychological well-being tends to decline when people have kids,” says sociologist Amy Pienta, from the University of Michigan. “In mid-life, being married or having a partner has a greater impact on a woman’s well-being than whether or not she has children.”
Enjoying life after infertility involves focusing on the emotional and financial freedom that a childless existence can offer. You will always feel the heartache of not having a baby, but it’s much easier to bear when you focus on the good parts of your life.
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Find infertility and childfree living support groups
If you’ve recently discovered that you or your partner have fertility issues, you may want to investigate infertility treatments. Many treatment centers have support groups – and connecting with other couples coping with infertility is a great way to both research possible treatments and build a happy life even when you’re childless.
I find it helpful to spend time with other women who don’t have kids, or with women whose children are grown.
Support other couples coping with infertility
Cindy Margolis is an actress and model who faced “unexplained infertility issues” – and is now the spokesperson for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. You don’t have to be famous to get involved with an infertility treatment center or support group! Life after infertility – or any disappointment, serious illness, or major life change – can involve reaching out to others with the same struggles.
Be prepared for the effect of infertility on your marriage
I don’t know the statistics of divorce after infertility, but not being able to have children can negatively impact marriages and committed relationships. Some couples get a divorce after infertility or even during infertility treatments – it’s a stressful, difficult time. To be happy with a childless life, be aware that your marriage may look very different in a year or more…for better or worse. If your marriage is shaky, read Keeping Your Marriage Strong in Infertility.
Think outside the box
Our infertility issues can’t be fixed with surgery; we’re considering a second round of sperm donor “treatments” (intrauterine insemination), but it sure gets expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining! If my husband and I don’t have children, I hope to take extended vacations every year, focus on building a strong writing career, and accept a childless life.
Get involved with other people’s kids
To be happy after infertility, consider being a Big Sister or Big Brother, volunteering at a hospital for sick kids, or getting seriously involved in your nephews’ or nieces’ lives. There are kids all over our communities who are lonely and desperate for adult attention…and if your childfree life may benefit other people’s kids in deep, meaningful ways.
Consider options for infertile couples
Talk to couples who have adopted, fostered, or had children in unconventional ways. Enjoying – not just tolerating – life after infertility involves opening your mind to possibilities other than traditional childbirth (or traditional infertility treatments). To find these possibilities after infertility, ask your friends and family for examples of people who have built their families in untraditional ways. You’ll be surprised at what bubbles to the surface.
I wrote another post about living childfree, in response to some of the comments to this post. Read How to be Happy When You Can’t Have Kids to learn more.
If you have any thoughts or questions on a childfree life after infertility, please comment below…I can’t offer advice, bu you rmay find it helpful to share your experience.