A Man’s View #9 – The First Steps to Living a Life Without Children

Re-purposing our lives once we have accepted that we are not going to have children is in some ways the hardest part of the infertility journey.  Particularly as for a number of years we have been doing everything possible to have children, stopping that train dead is like losing part of oneself.  When do we decide that we are going to stop trying to have children?  This is governed by a number of factors and the knock on effects can be troublesome.  A man’s view on all of the above may be very different to a woman’s, so let’s look at some of the issues as far as I can see them.

A Man’s View on How Many Cycles/Treatments do you have?

a man's vievOk so we have found out we have fertility issues and need some help to conceive.  Having started going through the varying phases of treatment we need to decide when to stop. We personally know a couple who have a child who then went through 11 cycles of IVF, to conceive a second, without success. A man’s view on this is how many is too many?  This is not easy as all the focus is on trying to conceive and there is always one more cycle or different treatment that can help you to become pregnant (according to all the fertility specialists).  How long do you keep trying one treatment before you go on to the next?  If you are just within the range expected of the current treatment how long do you keep going before moving on to the next treatment?  A man’s view on this can be very different to a woman’s and if it is the man who is infertile then the options/procedures are also considerably reduced.  Also being mercenary about this it also depends on how much money you have as to when you stop.

A Man’s View of Adoption

So we have exhausted the fertility treatments, do you now go for adoption?  Nicci is going to do a whole blog on this subject: in the meantime, here’s a man’s view on just a few of the issues.  The following is based on the situation in the UK a few years ago so it may have changed.  It may also be different in other countries or when using a private adoption agency.

  • There can only be a gap of 40 years between the eldest parent and the adopted child.
  • You have to remain in the country for 2 years after adoption. So no foreign holidays.
  • The adoption services go back to all your ex partners to get an assessment of your character (so hopefully you haven’t pissed one-off).
  • Most of the questions feel as though they are designed to catch you out. A couple we knew was asked “would you want their child to go to university?” To which they replied “yes”.  They were rejected because this was taken to be elitism and they would have responded badly if the child hadn’t wanted to go to university or hadn’t got the necessary academic grades.

These are just a few examples of the myriad of issues that face people thinking about adopting.

A Man’s View of The need to grieve

We have covered grieving and bereavement in other blogs as a process but we have to realise that we need to grieve before we can go through process.  Nicci has only really understood that she needs to grieve since she has been blogging about infertility.  She suddenly understood that she had been holding it in check because she didn’t realise that it was a bereavement.  I’m not sure how we know or even realise when it is time to grieve.

As infertile people do we grieve a little bit every time we don’t become pregnant?  As a man who has had a child my outlook is different and I deal with things in my own way.  Having lost a child and a wife I’m a bit of a fatalist and have a “what will be will be” attitude so don’t take my opinion on this as normal.

How we live our lives now that we are not having children

So we have gone through the treatments, decided adoption was not for us (or that was decided by the agency) and had a good cry about life.  We’ve got to the stage of needing to move on yet how do we do that?  Obviously there is no one solution fits all to this question: there are only options on what you could do differently.  The old adage that marriage doesn’t change your life but having children does is very true: however, for the infertile I think that there should be an add-on of, trying to have children does too.  The time, money, effort and routines taken up to attempting to become pregnant is immense and now that it is “all over” what do we do?

There are a number of factor that come into this that will affect the answer.  How much have we let our infertility take over our lives?  Have we got a vision which is robust enough that it works with or without children?  If not, then we have a lot of work to do to readjust.

I think looking at parents whose children have grown up and left home can give us an idea of what happens next?  So what do they do and can/should we emulate them?  Again it’s a case of yes and no obviously: isn’t that always the way!

A Man’s View on Living a purposeful life with or without children

a man's viewOk so we’ve accepted that we are not going to have children and we have grieved, what next?  Well having a vision of what you want your life to be without children is the first step.  I wrote about this in a previous blog but it is worth re-emphasising here as it is the most important thing you can do to help you live as purposeful and happy a life as possible.  Actually it is not just the infertile that this applies to but anybody in a relationship.  If you don’t have a shared vision, then how can you have a good relationship?

The problem for the infertile is that our vision has been to have children and all the aspirations that go with them.  Now we have to reassess everything to mould our lives into something that we hadn’t planned for.  I know that trying to become pregnant is an all-consuming task when you still have hope/money to continue.  Perhaps we need to educate those at the beginning of the journey that they need to plan for the worst outcome to prevent a total collapse when pregnancy doesn’t happen.  I know this doesn’t help with those of us who have reached that point already.  We have to have the hard discussions about what we now want out of our lives.  This may be easy for some but I expect it will very difficult for others.  Also don’t take this vision to be set in stone, Nicci’s and my vision has changed quite considerably since we have accepted that we are not going to have children but the basic premise is still there.  We did go through a time when we were not living a purposeful life but because we had our vision we were able to try things that would lead to one without, the arguments about whether it is just one half’s outlook.

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