In case no one has ever said this to you, I want you to know –
It’s okay to stop trying. For children. For living children. For more children.
Even if you have never been able to get pregnant. Even if all of your babies died and you don’t have any living children. Even if you’ve never gotten that rainbow. Even if your heart aches for the longing to hold and raise a beautiful living child. Even if all you’ve ever heard from others around you is “Don’t give up! It’ll happen for you! Keep the faith!”
It’s okay to stop.
It’s okay to choose to say, “No more. I can’t do this anymore.” Or, “I’m done. I don’t want to do this anymore.”
If no one else will say this to you, let me:
You don’t have to keep putting your body or your heart through continuing to try if it hurts too much or because you’re “supposed” to keep trying to more babies/have rainbow babies. Deciding to stop doesn’t make you less of a mother. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed.
If you want or need to stop trying, it’s okay to stop.
I’m a mama who has been pregnant 3 times. My first daughter, Grace was stillborn. I had a very early miscarriage about 2 years later. My second daughter, Lily also miscarried.
I am a mama with no living children and I have chosen to stop trying.
I made the choice not long after Lily died to stop. It took another 8 years, for a variety of reasons, to take the step to make the permanent and unalterable decision to end my journey with pregnancy and the possibility of mothering a living child.
Unlike so many others who struggle with infertility, I never had problems getting pregnant. I had problems with birth control actually working and preventing pregnancy. As a result, I had developed massive amounts of anxiety and fear around sex. Pregnancy, even the idea of possibly getting pregnant, had become traumatic and paralyzing. I was terrified that I would accidentally get pregnant again despite the best non-permanent birth control options available. I could not bear the thought of risking yet another loss.
So, the best option for my physical and mental health was to have my fallopian tubes removed.
That is what I chose to do and I can no longer naturally get pregnant.
As the surgery date grew close, I grieved. I grieved for the babies I had lost, for the ones that would never be, and for the mother I didn’t and would never get to be. Motherhood has never looked like what I wanted it to be and it never would.
However, even as I grieved the ending of my motherhood path, I knew it was the right choice. There was grief and there was pain, but there was no doubt. I was ready to take a new path in life.
I had complications after Lily’s death that nearly killed me. While doctors told me there was no reason to think those would happen again, my gut always said another pregnancy would be dangerous.
Even if not physically dangerous, I knew it would be mentally and emotionally dangerous. I unquestionably know that another pregnancy and another loss would have broken me again in a way that I wasn’t willing to risk. I would survive, I’ve experienced enough loss in life to know that I can survive anything – but I don’t think I would have wanted to survive outliving another baby.
I wasn’t willing to live a life of pure survival.
It’s the desire and interest in living that gives life the richness and beauty, the color, that makes it worthwhile. I wasn’t willing to risk losing the color of life, because I’m not sure I’d have been able to recover that yet again.
Those fears weren’t the deciding factor, however. Or, at least, not the only one. I simply knew that my journey with motherhood was done. I had done my best for my babies and that was all I could do.
There would be no living babies for me. I would never be that kind of mother. It was time for a new path.
Sometimes we reach the end of a journey and discover it’s not the ending that we dreamt. It’s not what we worked for or planned for or expected it to be. It’s not what everyone else insisted and reassured us it would be.
As a fellow loss mama friend recently said to me that it takes profound courage to dream a new dream.
It’s not easy to choose another life, another dream.
That’s okay. However difficult, it might be what’s right for you.
I hope you know that it is okay to do just that.
It’s okay to choose to be done, even if that’s a terrifying and heartbreaking choice.
It’s okay to choose another dream and take another path.
I am a proud mama to babies who are dead. They are dead and I am not. I chose another path and another dream for myself. I chose sterilization and forever closing the door on the motherhood I wanted and never got to experience.
I will forever be the mother of dead babies. I will forever grieve for them and the motherhood that could have been.
And my path is different now. I have chosen new dreams to dream.
I am at peace with that.
Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
About the Author: Emily Long is the mama of two daughters gone too soon, a Life Archaeologist, coffee shop writer, consumer of bagels and hot cocoa, endless reader, lover of travel, and occasional hermit. Emily works and speaks nationally advocating for the voice of grieving parents and families. In her downtime, you can usually find her in her hermit house re-reading Harry Potter (again).