Today I’m pleased to share Isa’s story with you. Isa is German and she introduces us to a new word ‘Kinderwunschweg’ which she describes as ‘trying to have children’ and I don’t know about you but I like having one word to sum up those times.
When you read Isa’s story you’ll see that, having stopped ‘Kinderwunschweg’ and starting to heal, she had the challenge of questioning whether to start again. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been.
There’s so much wisdom in Isa’s words about how she healed it’s hard to pick out highlights, for me, this advice really resonates. ‘It’s your story. They are your emotions, your feelings and your reactions. And whatever they are it is okay. Totally okay! And I know it may not always seem like this, but yes it is.
It’s fair to say that we’ve had some challenges in the translation; I know you’ll enjoy it.
Over to Isa,
1. Where are you on your journey now?/How are you different now (who are you now)?
Happy and at peace again
I now accept the years of striving to have children and all the experiences during that time as a very important part of my life; they are part of what makes me who I am.
They are fundamentally part of me and of us as a couple. I have made my peace with the road we have taken, with the unfathomable losses that I had to experience during those years and also with the fact that I have not become the mother of a living child.
Nobody leaves the years of Kinderwunschweg (trying to have children) the same person as when they began, I think. This time is so intense, so emotionally charged, so rich in heightened emotions – positive and negative – that it does something to you.
In German we say not only “times change” but also “times change you”. I believe that’s never truer than with the experience of the unfulfilled wish for children.
I am NOT willing any longer to accept any compromise if I don’t really want it for me and my life AND I am now able to stand unclear situations. I am much more able to deal with them. I also no longer try to plan everything in complete detail and I much more often simply let life flow, but in a laid-back way – without being fatalistic.
I’ve always loved life, with all its twists and turns. What I experienced has not broken my “yes” to life but strengthened it. I say yes. Always. A yes to life. A yes to myself.
My lust for life and confidence in life have carried me through the years I actively desired children, and afterwards. This lust for life and self-belief have carried me through the years of Kinderwunschweg and later also through the time of saying goodbye to having children.
The very special moments and gifts of Kinderwunschweg, bittersweet, are stored in the deepest depths of my soul, for eternity. I have no cause to look back; there is little point in doing that today without a specific reason.
During Kinderwunschweg a lot of my feelings and thoughts were based on the future and today I am living in the present moment; in the NOW.
This does not mean that I did not have goals or dreams.
On The Contrary.
2. What is your story?
We never found the medical cause for our childlessness. After 3 years of unsuccessful ART treatments I became pregnant naturally 3 times including an extra uterine pregnancy which resulted in a life-threatening situation and emergency operations. I never discovered why I lost our baby girl, my first pregnancy the end of the first trimester. Our son (my third and final pregnancy) we lost because of a chromosome disorder.
We have always been aware and open-minded. We have taken our time, repeatedly paused and asked ourselves again and again, is this still our way? Do we really want this?
I always knew that we could end without a child, but I wasn´t prepared in any way for the pain that came over us after losing each of our children.
The main reason for our decision to leave Kinderwunschweg was because we were told that we had to deal with an ‘alleged’ medical condition that could end up with bad consequences for our child to be. We didn´t want to take that risk for any of our children so it was a more mature decision to end now. Other couples sometimes aren´t able to leave the way because they want to leave at this moment but they have to leave at this moment. Reasons for other “MUST LEAVE SITUATIONS” can be financial resources and so on.
We could have continued with sperm donation but that was never an option for us. So after 5 years we reached our personal limit.
Some months ago we found out that there was NO concrete evidence for that alleged “medical reasons” on which we based our decision to leave Kinderwunschweg. We found out that the medical school lied to us 2 years ago because they wanted us to join a scientific genetic screening study. This means that we could go back now and try again to have children because there is no danger at for our unborn children.
The reason to leave that way was no reason.
So we had to make the decision to try again having children or to give up a second time.
To find out all that was very painful for me.
For us there is no way back. We stepped off the road in autumn 2013. Farewell to Kinderwunschweg. Much has happened since then.
There are no more reasons to return to the fertility business and many against.
3. What helped you to heal/how did you deal with your grief ?
It was very hard for me that the grief over the loss of our son mixed with the grief for letting go of a lifetime´s dream. There was only a very short period of time between my miscarriage and the decision to leave the kinderwunschweg that we HAD to make. It was a kind of double whammy to end the way parallel with a miscarriage. This is what I felt and what I think.
You have different kinds of grief to go through at the same time.
In the first few weeks I felt so much pain, grief and anger, I felt incomprehensible rage and sometimes just complete emptiness. And from the outset in the background I also felt a great inner peace; a feeling of being safe and secure.
I was never stuck in any feeling for long, they came and went like waves and I just followed them. With feelings, it’s like being in a swirl, if you fight it, then you are more likely to drown. You are most likely to escape the swirl closest to the ground because it loses its strength and spits you out again. Sorrow and pain are similar, if you fight against them, they will take all your remaining energy. And it’s a fight you cannot win.
I initially withdrew into silence whenever possible. During the day I was working and evenings and weekends I needed to be on my own. Later, when I had needed to talk, I talked with my parents, with Belle my girlfriend and blog partner and with another good friend that I met when we were going through treatment. My husband and I had a lot of silent time together. We were always close – even without many words. There was a lot of silent consent. We have done things together which were fun for us both.
I spent a lot of time out in nature, with our dogs, I’ve done a lot of sports and I have written, these are things I have always done. Writing was therapeutic for me in the past so I returned to what worked for me and what I do well.
At one stage I put myself deliberately in the past. I surrounded myself with memorabilia, sorted it out and threw out everything that had to do with the desire to have children; books, food supplements, medicines and syringes, treatment plans, etc. For every child we created a treasure chest, with ultrasound images and a piece of cotton, which was from the one in which they were buried. We visited the grave sites on the Sternenkinder (a German word for children that died during pregnancy, it means ‘star child’) cemetery again. It’s nice to have such a place, it’s very peaceful there but we do not need it. For us, our children are where we are. No matter where in the world that is.
The grief for my lost children was tangible, concrete. And I knew instinctively what worked well for me and what did not.
Letting go of a life with children was much more abstract. Such a loss is an ambiguous loss. With a concrete loss someday love turns grief into grateful memories, even if the time together was perhaps only very limited, with this loss there’s no concrete strategy of healing.
So how can you get rid of a dream? How can you mourn a life not lived? Initially that was for me the big question.
When you’ve made the decision to say goodbye to your desire to have children, then it’s all about giving the desire no more energy. And this is the real secret of letting go!
Actually, letting go and clinging on are also only an idea which cannot readily be explained. How does it work….to let go? Yeah, well, how does it work to hold on? I do not know anyone who could really answer that. We can only describe what actually happens to each of us:
In principle we know only two scenarios: either we give energy to something or we take it. If you stop giving energy, the situation gradually resolves itself. If there still is something to heal, it will heal. Then and exactly then. Healing happens the moment we let it happen!
But I will also warn: don´t fall into blind activism as a countermovement if you begin to stop giving energy to the Kinderwunschweg… Because this is also an impasse.
I stumbled into this trap after some time – like many others probably.
On the one hand I wanted to be in my new life as soon as possible and had enough of being in an intermediate state. On the other hand, I had so many ideas in my head that I would have liked to put them all into place at once. I also had some dreams I had put on hold for many years.
So I forged ahead which was a beginner’s mistake. As a professional coach I knew better but it didn’t stop me. Also, I was obsessed with quickly finding meaningful alternatives. I was looking for external justification for my childless life. It’s logical to look for compensation, but not necessarily the best thing to do.
During that time I fortunately discovered yoga and meditation which were crucial to my healing process because both helped me to defocus and quiet my thoughts. The silence returned just as it had in the beginning when I was mourning our son.
Now both, yoga and meditation helped me to come back to now and to stay in the moment.
In this way the energy that was for years focused on the desire to have children and then later on circling round the question of letting go of the desire to have children, dispersed
Once I’d discharged the old dream I learned that I didn’t need to refill the space it left, I learned to enjoy the space it created.
There are certainly many more things that have helped me and these were the main ones.
4. What advice would you give to women who are not as far down the road as you are?
What we have learned during Kinderwunschweg is essential for coming to terms with life afterwards.
“Do not compare yourself and your experience with others, it is not good for you and it’s not helpful.” It’s your story. They are your emotions, your feelings and your reactions. And whatever they are it is okay. Totally okay! So many different factors affect your experience. Although you may find some similarities with others, everyone’s experience of grief is individual.
Or too slow.
You do not grieve too much.
Or too little.
You will not be completely thrown back to zero if you suddenly get a flashback after a happy “phase”.
They exist; the triggers, that’s the way it is.
And sometimes they come from nowhere.
It can be helpful to imagine the feelings of grief as waves that come and go.
This way is more helpful that speaking of “relapses”.
The good news is that the sad waves of negative emotions and feelings are gentle,
and over time they will come less frequent and be smaller.
They are only waves.
They. Are. Only. Waves.
5. What’s your 6 word memoir?
Believe in Life and Love. Always.
You can read Isa’s blog in German here
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