Childless before/during Infertility vs Childless After Infertility 

Dealing with infertility is a process.  How we feel during different stages of infertility varies.  There are highs lows and overall our perspective changes.  One misunderstanding that members of the infertility community have is that those who have gone onto become parents may feel they know what it’s like to be childless and infertile similar to those who are childless after infertility feel.  While that may seem possible on the surface the reality is very different.

From my personal experience I will say that how I felt when I was first diagnosed with being infertile and when we exhausted all of our options are very different.  When I was first diagnosed in 2013 I was in shock.  I was down but with options still on the table I still believed we’d become parents some way.  I felt that I just needed to be patient look into options and we would go down a path to parenthood.  Sure I was mourning the loss of biological parenthood which was hard but I still had hope on the parenthood front.

Last year when our pursuit of parenthood ended (by circumstance not choice) I became depressed and it nearly destroyed my life.  The hope I had was gone.  I had to accept the fact that we would not be parents in any capacity for any child.  There would be nothing for no one that we would leave behind in this world.  It’s a helpless feeling that no hard work could ever change.  It was very different than my feelings/experience was in 2013.

I’m saying this not to guilt those who become parents after infertility but to explain to them that their experience is different.  I’m not saying this to show that being childless or my experience is more difficult but rather that it’s different.  Neither experience is easy.  I can’t imagine how difficult it is for those who go through RPL even if it ends in them becoming parents.  Honestly I am not sure I could have handled that.

The best thing we can do is recognize that our experiences are our own.  We can’t compare experiences and think we know what it’s like cause we can’t.  But we can listen to each other and learn from each other.  That’s the way we can narrow the divide amongst each other. 

16 thoughts on “Childless before/during Infertility vs Childless After Infertility 

  1. lauracharlie1988

    Totally agree. I think there are too many people in the blogging world who try to speak for others, when really they should only speak for themselves.
    Everyone’s experience is different, and I’m not sure how anyone could imply that infertility ending without a child is the same as it ending with. Two totally different outcomes.

    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      I think what they are sometimes saying that because they’ve been on both sides they know what it’s like to be childless after infertility. I don’t think they mean to be hurtful but they aren’t helping either.

  2. Courtney

    Someone who’s been through infertility and ended up with a child saying that they understand what it’s like NOT ending up as a parent, well….. That’s equivalent to someone who tried getting pregnant for 6 months with success (no treatments or drugs involved) saying they understand what it’s like trying for a year, years, etc with a lot of scientific intervention. Not at all comparable. I am one of the few out there who will say that “all pain is equal” is a load of crap. Yes, we have our own experiences, but some (many) are harder than others. I have no shame saying that.

    Many people who have been through any level of IF think they can relate to the most difficult cases, and they can’t. You can usually only relate to the situations similar to your own or earlier in the treatment cycle (trying on own, clomid, IUI, IVF, adoption, childless/childfree). It’s nice to think that we can relate to and understand it all, but it’s impossible unless you’ve really, REALLY been there. My opinion on this is never a popular one, but I’m not afraid to say it. I truly think most of us feel it deep down and just don’t want to admit it in writing.

    I appreciate your candid posts. You’re very real in how you present your ideas.


    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      Thank you for not taking offense. The one comment I have is on the idea that “all pain is equal”. I hate the pain Olympics but I think that the idea that pain is different based upon the person and situation. So I don’t think it’s equal but don’t think one is tougher than the other. If that makes sense.

    2. expecting to be expecting

      I agree. The only way to really know it is to live it. And as you say, someone needing 6 months to get pregnant comparing the,selves to someone who required IVF, is immature and thoughtless.

      I faced the likelihood of not having children, and just facing it after 5+ years of my IF/RPL journey was difficult. But as it turned out, I didn’t end up living it. And that’s a HUGE distinction and I’d be disappointed in myself if I ever tried to tell someone who ultimately didn’t end up having children that I know exactly how they feel. I know how I felt staring down at it, but I didn’t actually live it in the permanent sense. I can only imagine that it’s yet another journey, a whole new process.

  3. Mali

    I absolutely agree with this. I’ve often said about my own experience that it gets harder before it gets better. That tiny bit of hope that we hang on to during our infertility makes a huge difference. We certainly notice it when it is gone.

    The worst is when people who have never faced infertility think they know what our lives are like because they didn’t have children in their 20s either. As if not having children in your 20s is any way comparable to not having children after infertility (at any stage), or in your 30s, or 50s, or 70s. That just makes me want to scream!

  4. differentshoresblog

    I totally agree. I can’t get on board with people who end up with kids still making a big thing of of being ‘infertility survivors’ and saying the pain never goes away etc. Maybe I’m being brutal but for me the two processes and outcomes are objectively very different. They hardly have to go through the aftermath of failing, and the weirdness of then fitting into a world full of parents.

  5. clwalchevill

    I think this is universally true. Those who have a different outcome for a situation cannot speak for the other side. I’ll add that even within a group where the outcome is similar, there will be differences in opinion and insight. And that this also changes over time.

    Some of the wisest people I know are masters at listening and empathizing. They make a point of sharing their experience, but also knowing that the road will be different just as we are all different as individuals.

  6. kiftsgate

    Excellent post. I definitely agree. Every story is different but in particular I agree that being childless after infertility is different from being a parent after infertility, no matter how hard your infertility journey was. Infertility leaves scars and there are lots of reminders which make it different from “normal parenthood”. But by no means that is comparable to being childless by circumstance. I don’t know what’s better and what’s worse. I guess that depends on lots of things. One of the happiest and most beautiful couples I have met were childless by circumstance but I’m sure that took work and that its not the same for everyone..

  7. Nara

    I completely agree. In fact the hardest I find is friends who think we have a similar experience because it took them a little longer to get pregnant – with no intervention – compared with us (currently: pregnancy after loss and infertility and IVF, and still worried I will lose it). I also can’t compare my experience of miscarriage with people who have carried almost to term or had still births. I can’t even imagine the grief involved. And right now I still have hope. I think it is completely different to close off hope and have to accept you will never have a biological child. That is something that people with hope, or people who have children even after infertility or loss cannot relate to.

  8. dreamseggsandsperm

    I just wanted to say that I think you are really brave to share your feelings and thoughts the way you do. And I completely agree with you. No matter how many infertility treatments anyone has gone through there are of course a whole world between the feelings you have if you in the end will become a parent compared to if you will not. There are as you describe it shock and “raw feelings”, disbelief and depression. Then I assume there is the challenge of finding new ways of taking on life. Your future. To start to get to know yourself again. Redefine. Of not giving up. I can not even imagine and I would never ever claim I would know how that would feel. I don’t think anyone can relate to that more than they can relate to losing a loved one to death. It is all different for everyone. No matter if we have been through it or not. And if we have not experienced it at all, well then there is no way in hell we would be able to relate even the slightest.


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