My “why” is the reason I do what I do – why I’m passionate about improving the lives of women who are childless not by choice. The bottom line is that I am a life coach for selfish reasons. Because it helps other women and that gives me a huge sense of satisfaction.
First I need to explain where I’m coming from though. For those who don’t know me, I’m here to introduce myself. For those who do know me I’d like to reintroduce myself and tell a bit more of my story.
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t plan on being a mom. As far back as I can remember I knew I wanted to be a mom and I had it all planned out in detail. I knew how many children I wanted, when I would have them and what their names would be. I had envisioned every single milestone in their lives.
I also imagined the details of the pregnancy and deliveries. You see, I’m a Maternal-Fetal Medicine physician (an OB who takes care of women with high-risk pregnancies). Yes, I’ve been told a few times that it’s ironic that this is my specialty.
With each move for medical school, residency, fellowship and jobs I’d figure out which Obstetrician I would go to. I knew which nurses on labor & delivery would take care of us during labor. I also picked out which Anesthesiologist I wanted for my epidural. Yes, I wanted children – but I didn’t want the pain of labor.
Along with those details I had imagined the perfect partner by my side.
Things Didn’t Go As Planned
Things didn’t go as planned though. I didn’t have the perfect partner. I had imperfect partners…painfully imperfect. I had fertility issues. Over time I realized having a child with a partner wouldn’t happen. So I planned to have a baby on my own. But I let personal situations get in the way of my decision-making when it came to that.
I had one parent who would consider me dead if I was single and pregnant. I had a boss who would fire me for the same reason. I didn’t trust myself to be without my family – despite it being dysfunctional (a story for another time). At that point in my life, I was lacking in the confidence to be myself or stand up for what I wanted for myself. I also didn’t think that I could survive being fired.
Changing my life circumstances didn’t help. I thought that changing jobs would at least get rid of one obstacle – moving on from a boss who would fire a single pregnant woman.
So I changed jobs. That didn’t help. The hours I worked (over 100 hours in a week) made it impossible to even schedule a single doctor’s appointment, much less all the ones I needed for IVF.
Over time I accepted that I would be childless. I thought I had accepted it.
Then later in life, I met the right person and we got married. He had 3 kids and together we had 5 dogs. I thought I had accepted that I wasn’t going to have a child – that I had gotten over it like so many people had told me I should. But marriage seemed to be a switch for me – the switch got flipped on & the yearnings resurfaced fiercely.
We had never talked about having children of our own because I thought I had accepted being childless. So we had the conversation. But my husband had already been through having children, the sleepless nights, the terrible two’s and the even more terrible teens. He didn’t want more. Plus I’d have to go through IVF which really had no chance of being successful as my fertility issues only got worse with age.
My Path to Acceptance
With that came a profound sadness. I felt broken, incomplete & less than. I wondered about my purpose in life.
I also internalized society’s messages – things like “the most important role in life is being a mom”. If I couldn’t fulfill that role then I wondered what that said about me.
Then there were the wrong and hurtful assumptions others made about my being childless. Add to that the comments to “get over it”. Who hasn’t been told to “get over it? It’s as if people think having feelings about being childless makes you weak.
Then in my email one day was a “look back at this day” message. It was a collection of photos from that day a few years before. When I looked through the photos, one popped out to me. It was a photo of me and I looked so happy in it that I didn’t recognize myself. It dawned on me that the photo was taken before I realized that I was never going to become a mom.
That’s when I understood that I had to do something to find that same happiness again. But I knew I couldn’t just find happiness and all would be well. I also didn’t want to forget the loss of my dream of motherhood.
The work to heal from this didn’t happen overnight. It took time to reach acceptance & understand that, by accepting my situation, I wasn’t saying that I didn’t want children or that I was ok with being childless. Acceptance didn’t mean I was being disloyal to the children I dreamed of. It didn’t mean I was betraying my desires.
Accepting simply meant that I was able to face my reality. Though reaching a point of accepting this isn’t simple.
I worked through the grief & how to manage triggers.
I’ve learned that I’m not broken, I’m whole & worthy. I learned to live a fulfilling life while honoring my loss. Embracing joy in my life didn’t mean that I never felt sad.
I came to understand that my sadness over childlessness can live alongside my happiness…and that I can come through the times when I’m triggered.
I learned to deal with the insensitive things people say. Not to mention the horrible, negative assumptions they make about someone who is childless.
One More Hurdle
But I had another hurdle to overcome.
I had to overcome my fears about telling my story. I was afraid of others using my pain point as a weapon. It was scary to me because that actually happened – it happened a lot but one time really stood out.
A family birthday dinner for my 35th birthday turned a happy occasion into a searing pain for me that I endured silently.
This kind of situation may sound all too familiar for some of you – maybe there’s someone in your life who enjoys taking another person’s emotional pain point and using it to cause even more hurt. That’s what happened at my birthday dinner.
On my 35th birthday, a family member ridiculed me with “haha, you’re getting old and you’ll never have kids” and was laughing at me. It didn’t stop there. They got their kids to join in on the ridicule.
I knew if I showed my pain, the ridicule would be amped up and it would be neverending. So I kept silent and acted as though it didn’t bother me.
I suffered in silence. Doing everything I could not to cry and stir up even more meanness. Long before that I had learned to stay silent to avoid “poking the bear” – because that wasn’t the only time I dealt with this hurtful behavior.
LIFE COACHING HELPED ME
BUT thankfully I found a fabulous group of supportive women. Women who showed me that not all women operate like that. I also learned about life coaching.
Through all of this, I learned how to accept my childlessness AND live a fulfilling life. It also taught me that other people’s behavior speaks about them, not me. With that AHA I realized I could share my story and ignore anyone who might try to hurt me.
That lightbulb moment is also when I knew I NEEDED to share my story to help other women realize there is life and happiness alongside the pain of being childless not by choice.
I became passionate about helping other women as well. I made the conscious decision to become a life coach specifically to help other women who are childless not by choice. Having the chance to do so is an honor.
Life coaching isn’t about not feeling pain from being childless, or never getting triggered. That’s just not possible. I’d be lying if I said I never feel sad about my childlessness, never get triggered or cry about it. Being childless when you don’t want to be is a loss. We don’t “get over” a loss like this.
But I also wouldn’t be honest if I said I don’t have a wonderful life. It’s different than what I had planned, different than what I wanted but it’s wonderful in spite of that. I’m able to manage triggers, honor the loss of my dream of motherhood AND embrace the joy that I do have in my life.
It is possible to reach that point in your childless journey. To get to a place of acknowledging the pain of your loss and living a fulfilling life.
Let’s chat about what a coaching partnership might look like for you so that you can live a fulfilling life despite being childless. Let’s talk and figure out if we’re a good fit. Click the here to schedule a time.