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The Undeniable Grief of Not Having a Child

Grief and loss are accepted in our society when it concerns the death of a loved one.  In my opinion the loss of miscarriage is better understood and accepted than it ever was before. However, there is an undeniable grief that occurs when having a child does not happen naturally… or unnaturally for that matter.

I equate this feeling like telling a diabetic they can’t have sweet dessert or a smoker they must quit smoking cigarettes. However the pain is deeper, much deeper.  It’s like having your heart set on something, and then having someone say, “just kidding” or “never mind.”

The difficult part of this is the grief is not observable to the laypersons eye. “How could you possibly miss something you never had?” others may ask.  However, I disagree with this lack of sentiment. To have this kind of undeniable grief means this longing may have there all along. There comes a certain part in your life when it’s beyond the status quo. This point your life for you really want to show and give your love to something, anything, and hope that it will love you back. The most innate form of this would be a child.

We all have that friend or perhaps aunt, that has never wanted children. They have fun, drink, go on amazing vacations. This isn’t necessarily what you want and it will not fill your void. Others are absolute with this conviction that they never wanted children. This is their choice. They took actions to ensure this did not happen. On the other hand, what happens to so many women is that this given choice not to have a child taken away from them without their permission. It’s not a choice any longer. It’s opportunity gone. This woman has tried to have a child and it hasn’t worked.

Quite often, this woman we are speaking of has done everything right in life (to a certain extent anyway). She’s educated, has a career, a great man, house, a dog, and the finally, the patience to even raise a child. She decided to try naturally and it hasn’t happened. Then she sees a professional who says, “I don’t know why it’s not happening. Your labs look fine,” or the doctor gives her less than 1% chance of ever naturally conceiving. Perhaps she’s even gone the scientific route and gone through multiple IVf and IUI cycles only to receive negative pregnancy tests. This woman has taken a thousand dollars’ worth of vitamins or more, spent thousands on medications, sought out local acupuncturist and herbalist, maybe even spoken to her therapist. She is ready. And, then it doesn’t happen. Where is she left then left at that point? She is grieving.

I’m going to digress a bit and tell you that were also talking about myself. I always thought I was going to get pregnant and be a mother. It’s never happened. Partially by choice, partially by chance. I was kind of late bloomer in general. But I finally got my sh*t together, had an amazing career, had an amazing condo, great car, super guy, was thinking about the dog and of course the next step the baby.  For me, conception didn’t happen right away. I’m okay with that. “I’m in the business,” I told myself. I’m a little older (advanced maternal age). I’m type A. It takes longer for us to get pregnant.  If it takes a few tries over the next year or so, I’m fine with that also because I understand that that what it takes to have a healthy pregnancy. I do this for a living. It will either happen, or I will see a doctor…but it will get done.

The universe, on the other hand, stepped in and let me know that it wasn’t going to happen on my terms. My body was doing an amazing job of making sure I didn’t conceive because, (drumroll) unbeknownst to me I had stage IV cancer. My hormone levels were off. My natural killer cells were high and my body was working super hard to make sure nothing inside of me was trying to grow too fast, baby, cancer etc. My amazing body was even trying to stop ovulation until I got through this stressful time. It was going to take down anything that grew faster than a normal cell. Thank God for that. However, when the IVF doctor informed me I had no eggs to freeze (I think I started to cry for one second).  My oncologist asked me if I really wanted to have a child. He asked if I knew the risk involved. I was in shock and disbelief. “Of course, I want to have a baby. Do you know what I do for a living?”, I chirped. Were they actually trying to tell me I couldn’t have a baby, or I shouldn’t have a baby?  Much like the diagnosis itself,  it just didn’t register in my brain. You could not make me  believe I wasn’t going to be a mother. It’s my female human right. Cancer or no cancer, I am in I thought. I will be a mother.

The undeniable grief of not being a mother set heavily in my lap for quite some time. I feel it. I feel with each and every one of you-and that’s no lie. If your pregnancy test comes back negative or you have a miscarriage I guarantee you I am there grieving with you 100%. There is nothing like the grief of what could have been and was so close to being.

“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”-Oprah Winfrey

My advice to you, as well as myself, is don’t give up. We have 1001 resources we never had before. We have access to research, lab tests, progressive lab tests, medications, physicians, nurses, holistic health practitioners, supplements, medications, amazing modalities like hypno-fertility and immune therapy…and there’s even a protocol endorsed by the Pope I’ve seen do amazing things. We can try naturally, get a donated egg or sperm, or adopt an embryo or adopt a baby.  For heaven’s sake, we can even get on an airplane and go see a doctor and another country if we think what he or she does resonates with us (I’ve explored this option). We now have more opportunities than we’ve ever had before, and we’re only going to get more in the future.

I want to tell you:

Your grief is real.

Your pain is real.

Your hope is real.

Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. It’s okay to get down. It’s okay to give up. You can go on vacations and focus on your new yoga body.  But I don’t think you have to give up on motherhood unless you choose to do so.  You’re already a mother in my eyes. We just need to make sure you see yourself as a mother in your eyes also. So, if you promise not to let this undeniable grief get you too down then I’ll promise not to let this undeniable grief get me too down also. After all, this is what I do.  We will be mother’s one way or another. Don’t give up, and I will not either.


with great love,

Dr. Lorri


This article was posted in Acupuncture, cancer, Fertility, grief, Hypnotherapy, Infertility, motherhood, Psychotherapy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are closed.
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