This week I have a guest blog for you from Lisa Manterfield, the creator of LifeWithoutBaby.com
I really enjoyed reading Lisa’s new book ‘Life Without Baby: Surviving and Thriving When Motherhood Doesn’t Happen‘ here’s my review followed by a blog by Lisa on letting Go of the Dream of Motherhood..
As soon as I started reading I felt that Lisa was right there with me, leading me gently by the hand and giving me permission to feel anything. She acknowledges how messy it will be, gives practical ways to get through, and lots of assurance that it will get better.
The book takes readers from ‘How to Let Go of the Dream of Motherhood’ through to ‘Thriving in a New Happily Ever After’ via the twists and turns of grief and ‘Dealing with Day- to-Day Challenges’. It includes some helpful ‘Dear Diary’ exercises and techniques and Lisa uses her own honest story as an example of what she did and didn’t do.
In addition to how to help yourself, there are other practical sections such as how to deal with your parents, how the man in your life will grieve differently and dealing with other people’s children.
For me, the grief section is particularly helpful; it’s the first time I’ve seen childless grief described in such an empathic and compassionate way.
I would recommend Lisa’s book to all those on the path to coming to terms with a life without children and for their loved ones.
Over to Lisa,
Letting go of your plans and dreams for motherhood may be one of the most difficult things you ever do. This decision has the potential to change everything you believed about your life, your identity, and your plans for the future.
If you’ve been longing for a child for some time, especially if you’ve been through fertility treatments or been searching for the right relationship or situation to start a family, it’s easy to lose sight of the initial reasons for wanting children as other emotional factors come into play. When I first set out to be a mother, I wanted children because it felt like the ultimate expression of the love I shared with my husband. I wanted to have babies of my own to love unconditionally. I wanted to know how it felt to be pregnant. I even wanted the experience of giving birth. I wanted the challenge of being an outstanding mother, of teaching and nurturing, and of sharing the world with small human beings. Not only did I want this, but I could picture my future as a mother in great detail. I could see the faces and smiles of the children I imagined would be mine.
But after five years of trudging from fertility specialists to labs to adoption seminars and back around again, always searching for the next “miracle”, I realized how drastically my reasons for wanting a baby had changed. I didn’t want to accept failure, but at the same time, I no longer wanted to keep chasing after something my body didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to be beaten by something that should have come naturally to me, to acknowledge that my body was incapable of reproducing. I didn’t want to tell people I couldn’t have children and see them squirm with discomfort. I didn’t want to admit I’d given up, that I couldn’t even hack it through adoption. I was used to accomplishing things I determinedly put my mind to, and I didn’t want to lose at this.
Eventually, I knew we couldn’t keep pursuing motherhood. My health had begun to suffer and I’d gained weight through stress eating and fear of excessive exercise in case I was pregnant. Hairline cracks had begun to form in my marriage, and I knew that if I kept forging ahead, our relationship would suffer.
The problem was, I couldn’t let go of my dream of motherhood.
Logically, I knew I had to stop and I made several attempts to get off the Crazy Train and find happiness as a family of two, but each time I tried, some ember of hope would flicker back to life for me and I’d have to read one more book, try one more miracle treatment, or explore one more new avenue. Every time I pulled a wishbone or blew out birthday candles I hoped for a baby, but making a wish and hoping for it to come true wasn’t enough to jolt my ovaries back into production.
Sometimes we’re prodded towards the decision to let go of motherhood because we have no other viable options, but in many cases we’re faced with choosing between a dream and our sanity. We know we need to move on, but we’re just not ready to call it quits. The trouble is, an absolute ending may never come, so we’re left in limbo, struggling with this constant question of “What if?”
But holding on to that hope of a miracle can stop you from ever moving on and healing.
At some point, you have to draw a line and say, “This is it. This is where it ends.”
Only then can you begin the task of learning to live with that decision and making peace with a life without children. It won’t be an easy decision and the road ahead, I’m afraid to report, will not be smooth. But once you let go and decide to move forward, you can put down that burden of hope and open yourself up to the possibility of a future you might never have imagined.
More about Lisa Manterfield
Lisa is the creator of LifeWithoutBaby.com, the online community that provides resources, community, compassion, and support to women facing a life without children. She is the author of Life Without Baby: Surviving and Thriving When Motherhood Doesn’t Happen and the award-winning memoir I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood. She lives in Southern California, with her wonderful husband (“Mr. Fab”) and overindulged cat, where she is working on her latest novel.
How did this resonate with you?
Did you face a similar struggle to Lisa in deciding when to let go of your dream of motherhood? Please add your comment below (you don’t have to use your real name) or maybe you’ve already read ‘… Surviving and Thriving…’ if so please share your thoughts.