Tag Archives: Childless

The Value of those without Children in Society

I’m going to write this piece as politely as possible and my intention is to get everyone to think rather than offend people.  This piece also is not directed at any one person as this is a societal norm.

Until infertility came along I never fully recognized the bias society has towards those with children.  In the work place in families, in the media and everyday life people with children are given a break more so than those without children.  If you have two employees one has kids who can’t stay late because of their kids softball/baseball game and the other doesn’t have kids but has a dinner date with their spouse it’s easy to know which one will have to stay late.  Same goes for families with aging parents where the sibling without kids has to take on the responsibility of taking care of their parents rather than the sibling who has kids.  The idea is the person with kids and their time and life is more valuable than those without children.

The situation when this is at its worst is when someone tragically dies young be it from cancer or some other awful tragedy.  You’ll hear how a person died at the age of 34 and had two young kids and how awful it is.  Yes, it is awful.  Anyone whose life ends so young is an awful situation that is unfair.  However, would it have been less awful if they didn’t have two kids?  Would it have been less awful if it was just a spouse and other relatives that were grieving that person rather than adding on the kids?  I know the intention isn’t to do this but basically our society is saying that those with children have more valuable lives than those without children.  It tells me that my life is less valuable because I’m unable to have children.

Things like this can drive the so called “commodification” of children that opponents of third party reproduction and anti adoption groups talk about.  Though none of them recognize or talk about the bias against those without children nor did any of them have to make the choice that those going through infertility have to.  I’ve always taken them with a grain of salt and recognize their agendas that could care less about those going through infertility.  But they do have a point in this regard, having children has become a status symbol in our society as the difference between the socially acceptable haves and have nots.

I don’t believe that all people with children are like this.  I also don’t think they believe their life has more value than those without children.  But I believe they have the power to think about the message they are sending to their kids and society that people without children are just as important as those with children.  Next time someone tragically dies or faces some unfortunate circumstances I hope they recognize what’s happened to them regardless of whether they have kids. 

Why not a Non-Parents Day?

I’ve written before how I think that Mothers and Fathers Day are bullshit holidays and nothing but hallmark holidays.  It’s not that I am jealous or bitter that I’m not a parent it has more to do with the idea that we shouldn’t need one day a year to show appreciation for our parents.  We should do that everyday.  I wish we would just dump them as holidays but that will never happen because there is too much money to be made off of them.  And to a lesser extent some parents (not all) with egos need these holidays for themselves.

These holidays isolate those adults who are not parents either by circumstance or by choice.  It’s as if these people are second class citizens and lesser people because they lack children.  They are not worthy of their own day to be recognized so the rest of society knows they exist.  They are seen as people who aren’t worthy of being celebrated.  I’ve seen some alternatives such as “Aunt’s Day” where the Monday after Mother’s Day this “holiday” is celebrated.  But you don’t see much about it because it’s on a Monday when people are at work.  It’s a half hearted attempt by the Parent community to do something.  To me there is a better way.

As an alternative I propose Non-Parents Day (The third Sunday in July) to celebrate the contributions and sacrifices that those without children by choice or circumstances make to better society.  The people who pick up the slack in the work place when those who have children are on maternity leave or have to leave early to tend to their children.  They make it possible for those with children to take that time off to tend to their kids without the work place falling a part.  The people who help take care of their friends and families children when their parents are unable to.  The sibling who takes care of their aging parent when their sibling with kids is unable to.  The people who give back to their communities when parents don’t have the resources (time or money) to do so.  These people are just as important to our society and make just as important contributions to society as parents do.  Yet we don’t have a day to recognize or thank them for that.

I think having this new holiday is important not only to recognize those who are childless/free but also to teach the next generation to value those who are childless/free and the sacrifices they make to society.  For those who attend church children should see these people stand up so they are recognized in their community as being valued.  I know for me when I grew up I didn’t look at my Aunts and Uncles who didn’t have children the same way I did my Aunt and Uncle who did have children.  Looking back on it now I realize that it was wrong and I wish it took something other than infertility to help me realize their value to society.  I don’t think I’m alone in how our society teaches kids to devalue those who don’t have children.

I don’t expect this blog piece to generate anything that leads to a Non Parents Day to being created. At best I would only expect the half hearted “Aunt’s” and “Uncle’s” days to be put out there.  But I hope it hits home to people with kids to value their childless/free friends and family members more than they might on the surface.  Our world wouldn’t be what it is today without the contributions that those without children have made and continue to make.  Those people deserve to be celebrated and thanked for their contributions and sacrifices.

Giving Up on a Legacy

There are many things infertility robs couples of that couples who don’t experience it would never understand.   Even those people who are able to eventually have a child are forever changed.  For those of us who aren’t able to ever have kids who don’t move forward with adoption or third party reproduction there are many things we have to come to terms with.

One of those things I have talked about on this blog is my concern about not having kids and the fear that I will leave no legacy behind when I pass.  Now that it was confirmed last month that there is no chance of me being able to have biological children I’ve gone back to thinking about living life without ever becoming a parent.  I’ve thought about what that life could be like.  I’ve thought about how best to make the most of the worst case scenario and whether I could leave a legacy.  I’ve gone through the things I “thought” could leave a legacy.  Rather than dream which has just led to disappointment the last two and a half years, I was realistic.

The reality is it will be near impossible to ever leave a legacy without becoming a parent.  Sure I’m a Big Brother volunteer but it’s doubtful my little will remember me as he gets older.  And asking him to do so is unfair to him.  That’s not the reason I volunteered in the first place.  I don’t come from a big family and who knows whether my brother will get married and whether he would have kids.  It’s also doubtful even if he had kids that they would care about their weird Uncle with no kids.  Beyond this there really aren’t any opportunities nor will there be unless something drastically changes in my life without being a parent that will leave a legacy.

Rather than get my hopes hope and work hard for something that is near impossible I’m giving up on the idea that I can or would leave a legacy behind.  I’ve gotten my hopes up too many times over the last two and a half years that things would change and worked hard only to be disappointed.  I don’t want the rest of my life to be full of wasted hard work.  I need to set the bar lower and have lower expectations for what I’m able to do with my life.

Last Sunday I turned 35 and reflecting back on my life where I’m at right now and what’s likely ahead of me I am trying to accept that my best days are behind me.  My life peaked at 30 and it’s going to continue to go downhill or at best stay level.  In not having kids I have accepted and given up on the idea of leaving behind a legacy.  My bloodline will end with me, my impact on society and others will stay with just me and not passed down.  It’s really hard to accept and to give up.  I don’t give up or quit easily but if infertility has fought me anything is that hard work will never overcome the impossible or near impossible.

  

How life would be different if not for Infertility

Anytime a life altering event happens it’s natural for us to wonder what would our lives be like without that event. Infertility is no different no matter how our journey ends it changes us forever. Life will never be like it would have been had infertility not entered our life.

Prior to deciding to re-investigate pursuing infertility treatments this past weekend I had done a lot of research on living a childless/free life after infertility. I connected with many great bloggers and people in Twitter land who had lived the experience. One of them was a fairly recent connection who has a blog “No Kidding in NZ“. The woman behind the blog is a great person who has lived life and has helped others along the way. Her blog is a must read for anyone in the infertility community. Her latest blog post “Hersey” discussed appreciating the life we have and the things not having children has brought us.

The post got me thinking about the things I have done and the things in my life with K that infertility and not having children has brought us. The first thing that came to mind was my 2014 weight loss and getting back into running. Though I’m currently sidelined going through physical therapy due to injuries sustained from running, it is something that has brought joy to me.

But if there is one thing that infertility and not having children allowed K and I to do was adopt the joy in our everyday life in the form of our Greyhound Lila. We had started to try to have kids midway through 2011. In the summer of 2012 after a year of trying with no success still unaware there were any issues K & I looked into bringing a dog into our home. Retired racing Greyhounds seemed like a great fit as they are lazy dogs and with K & I working full time and not being home during the day.

On August 12, 2012 a few weeks after submitting an adoption application and being approved, we attended an adoption day. A few days prior I emailed the adoption agency about a dog we saw on the website that K & I liked. We were informed that the dog would not be at the event but there would be other dogs there. We went into it thinking we would just look at dogs that day but not come home with one. We first walked two dogs that were younger that seemed to have a lot of energy. They were cute dogs but didn’t seem like a good fit we figured we would look at one other. The third dog we walked was 5 years old, very pretty but a bit more reserved than the others. I would later learn that in the middle of walking her the dog leaned on K (which sold K). We asked for some background on her and was told that a few weeks prior this dog was adopted by another family but returned because she always looked sad and was always hungry (the latter is true). With hearing that along with the lean K & I were sold that this was the one for us.

Our lives changed for the better that day. The first few months with Lila were rough. She had separation anxiety when we left for work each day and it took a good six months for us to work through that. It took her a full year before she started to open up to us and show us her personality. K & I both had to have extreme patience with Lila. Almost two and a half years later Lila has become a happy part of our everyday lives. She has become a very friendly dog that loves people. My favorite part of each day is when K comes home from work and Lila gets extremely excited wagging her tail and hopping around.

If it had not been for infertility K & I would have had a two year old toddler running around the house. I likely would be 20+lbs heavier never getting back into running. And most importantly Lila would not be a member of our family. I have no idea what Lila’s life would have been like if she would have gone from home to home until someone with enough patience gave her a chance to show the world what a sweet loving dog she is. It makes me sad to think about the life she might have had if not for infertility. At the same time I am grateful for being a part of Lila’s life and that we’ve given her the home she deserves. I’m grateful for the life she’s given us.

I’ve said in previous posts that I would trade anything not involving the health of my family to not ever have dealt with infertility. I would trade all accomplishments and material items in exchange for parenthood. But the thing is Lila is a part of my family that likely wouldn’t have been w/out infertility. I wish she could have been anyway but I doubt she would have been.

I have no idea what the future holds as K & I begin to have conversations about re-investigating pursuing infertility treatments. As I said in my previous post I hope it brings closure to our infertility journey one way or another so we can move forward together. Regardless of the end result I’m confident that new doors to new opportunities will open up to our lives. I’m sure they won’t be easy to adjust to but they will be things I’ll be grateful for.

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What Lies Beneath

As part of my New Year’s Resolution of challenging myself I thought I would explore a deep topic that I have probably touched upon in a number of posts but never put it all together in one post.  My other recent piece asking whether there is a place in the infertility community for those that are childless/free generated a lot of great feedback that I loved.  One of the great responses I received suggested I explore the feelings that have come with infertility and why they exist in me:

That said, I also think there’s a difference between being resolved and not parenting vs. either beginning your journey to resolution or even simply being on hold. And I can certainly empathize how difficult the holding pattern can be, especially with surprise pregnancy announcements. What I would encourage instead of leaving this community, though, is reaching out and exploring why these feelings exist. There the obvious, but there’s usually the underlying too. Regardless, know there is a place for you, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

I thought this was a great suggestion to not only explain to others how someone who is infertile who never goes onto parent feels but to also do some reflecting myself.

The title of this piece comes from the Harrison Ford Michelle Pfeiffer 2000 movie “What Lies Beneath“.  For those of you who haven’t seen the movie it’s probably the only movie you’ll ever see where Harrison Ford plays a bad guy.  At the time when I saw it in the theater with K just a few months after we started dating it was kinda weird to see Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Richard Kimble and President James Marshall actually play a bad guy.  It’s a spooky movie that will freak a person out.  While this piece isn’t going to be spooky but rather raw, honest and deep I thought the title fit where I am going.

Infertility has not made me a better person.  There is no silver lining in all of this.  It’s brought out the worst in me as a person.  In a few weeks it will mark the second year anniversary of when I began a seven month stretch of weekly therapy sessions.  Most of what I discovered infertility has done to me and touched upon in my life was discovered in those sessions.  The rest I have slowly discovered since then as part of the process of working through the aftermath of my infertility.

The most difficult part of this all is that infertility has done a number on my self confidence.  Growing up as a kid with ADD when I was told that I would never function in a classroom I’ve always run into self confidence issues and feelings of inadequacy that I was never good enough to do certain things.  Hard work in school, encouragement and support from my parents as well as getting involved in sports such as swimming and running helped me gain some of that self confidence I lacked.  I always wanted to be treated the same as everyone else.  Not that I thought I was special but I just wanted to be able to do things other kids could do such as not have to go to a separate classroom and not need extra time to finish tests.  By the time I got to High School I didn’t need those things anymore but I still needed to work harder and things took me longer to complete than other kids.  Even now as an adult in the work place or functioning in everyday life it’s a struggle where I need to do things differently.

The difference with infertility is that hard work and doing things differently will not allow us (K & I) to be able to have children like other people.  It’s left me feeling like less of a person (not a man) that I am not good enough to have children that there is something wrong with me.  I feel like my body has failed us as a couple.  I feel like I did as a kid when I didn’t think I was smart enough and good enough to be like other kids and accomplish what they do.

The fact that we did not pursue treatments because it didn’t make sense to, that we passed on third party reproduction for different reasons and that we won’t be pursuing adoption I feel like we haven’t even tried to have kids.  I feel like we were given a road block to becoming parents and didn’t do anything about it.  Other couples take infertility and either go through treatments, attempt third party reproduction or pursue adoption.  When I see other couples going through infertility and becoming parents through one of those ways, it reminds me that we didn’t even try to have kids.  It brings up the It’s the complete opposite of what I have done my whole life with my ADD.  Granted this is a bit different because it’s not only my feelings that matter in this.  There is another person who is part of this that means more to me than anything in the world.  I feel like I have lost the ability to work through things to get an alternative of a somewhat normal adult married life with children as I always felt I was.

I always wanted to be who my dad is who was able to pass on so many great valuable lessons of how to treat other people and be there for them.  I wanted to marry a woman that I would spend the rest of my life with and raise children with her just as my dad did.  I wanted a simple life that I enjoyed with others rather than focus on material things or individual accomplishments that only brought short term joy but leave a person with feeling empty inside.  That’s not the life I will live out and it’s frustrated me that it’s out of my control.

Another aspect of what infertility has done to me and my confidence is my outlook on the future.  Because I have always been able to achieve things through doing things differently, I always felt that in the end things would work out one way or another.  No, I didn’t go to Harvard as I always dreamed of as a kid but I went to a pretty good college and have established a successful career.  Now, with infertility I’m not so sure of that.  I’ve learned that there are some major life things that will be out of my control that I can do nothing about.  Instead I’ll have to live life differently rather than live the life I want to live.  It’s left me frustrated and hopeless for the future.  When I see other couples with their children it’s a reminder of a life that K & I will never have and there is nothing I can do about it.

I’m no longer looking forward to aging.  I’m not looking forward to both of our parents dying off leaving us with no family as we get older.  We don’t currently have a large circle of friends.  I’m fearful of being lonely with K and not having anyone else to share our lives with and be a part of others lives.  This probably stems back to me being socially awkward and never having many friends dating back to when I was a kid.  I just see us becoming even more isolated down the road.

Along the same lines as this, there will be no one who will remember us when we pass.  There will be no children that we will have parented that will pass down pieces of us be it nature or nurture.  It ties back to the whole feelings of inadequacy that we are not good enough for that to happen.  I don’t see my Big Brother volunteer work doing that.  Though I am hoping it will help my little, I don’t think he’ll ever remember me when he grows up.  I think we’ll be forgotten even before we pass and once we’re gone we’ll be gone there will be no trace that we ever existed.  It’s made me hopeless that no matter what I do, I’ll never live a fulfilling life that will live on through other people.

It’s been impossible for me to let any of this go.  I think my ADD has contributed to it as people with ADD lock into something they are focussed on that they want to accomplish and nothing else matters.  Letting go of that thing we lock into becomes extremely difficult.  While I don’t think about this every minute of every day and it doesn’t consume me as much as it did two years ago, I still think about it at times.  I am more aware of what brings up these feelings every time I see a pregnancy announcement inside or outside the infertility community.  It has nothing to do with them and everything to do with it being a reminder for me of what isn’t.  While I will congratulate them and wish them those people the best, while I will smile in my everyday life what lies beneath that is a deep dark bottomless pit of negative emotions that I am continuing to work through and probably will the rest of my life.

2015 Resolution: I Choose to be Challenged

Well it’s that time of year…..it’s the beginning of a new year thus it’s time for people to come up with resolutions on how they can better themselves. A lot of people go with the traditional weight loss resolution. Others choose other ways to improve their lives. For me my 2015 resolution is to challenge myself.

After all that’s gone on recently in the infertility and childless/childfree community and people either choosing to engage or walk away from difficult conversations it’s got me thinking about the idea of protecting oneself and going to safe places. I am going to make it a point to not protect myself or go to safe places. I am choosing to challenge myself to not block or unfollow someone who is pregnant or has kids. I am choosing not to walk away from difficult discussions that open up old wounds. I am choosing to expose myself to difficult situations that I can learn from. I am choosing to be honest with myself and others.

For those of you who follow this blog or follow me on Twitter I ask that you challenge me as well. Be honest with me, don’t worry about being nice. If you disagree with me or come from a different perspective challenge me to recognize your perspective. If you think there is something I am not considering challenge me to consider it.

My plan is to tackle some difficult topics this year but to also have some fun with it so it’s not all doom and gloom. General male infertility topics I’m going to post to Infertile Men. Everything else from a personal standpoint I’m going to post here.

I wish you all the best in 2015 on your journeys. Oh and if you’re looking for ideas on New Years Resolutions, I highly recommend reading this piece via “The Unpregnant Chick“.

Is there a place for the Childless/Childfree in the Infertility Community?

Ok, so originally this post was going to be about me walking away from the infertility community but since I never give up easily on anything that I have a passion for I’m going to stick around. I’m going to address something that I know is an extremely sensitive topic in the infertility community. I’m taking a risk that some people on both sides may take offense to some things discussed in this post but I think it’s worth it if it engages a useful dialogue.

From time to time there will be members of the infertility community who will get pregnant leaving others to feel isolated. If you are someone still trying to have children it hurts but if you’re someone who has moved on it can open the wounds left by infertility. It’s an unfortunate situation of people being hurt not necessarily because of others but because of things out of everyone’s control.

Recently a good friend of mine became unexpectantly pregnant. She is an outspoken advocate for all in the infertility community and has an amazing heart. If anyone deserves something like this it’s her, her husband and their son. I am extremely happy for her and her family. However, though I was happy for her and her family there was a part of me that was hurt. It’s not that I was hurt by her or her announcement. It was that I knew that what they were able to achieve is something that K and I will never be able to. That isn’t her fault or her husband’s fault nor is it mine.

Though I didn’t lash out at her there were others who are childless/childfree who were. They felt that the timing of it being announced around the holidays and how it was announced was done w/out regard for how others would feel. That couldn’t be further from the truth because I know she would do everything in her power to take away their pain. Sitting back and watching the dialogue on Twitter was awful. I felt awful for my friend and felt awful for others who were obviously hurting. They weren’t bitter like some people accused them of being they were flat out hurting. It was a shitty situation all around. But I’m not sure if it’s something that can ever be avoided.

The people who do go on to get pregnant and have their happy ending fall into three groups when it comes to their views on those who end up childless/childfree. There are those people who are empathetic who understand (my friend falls into this category). There are those who don’t quite get it but try their best to understand. I love these people because they are open minded ask questions and truly want to help. They have amazing hearts and are amazing people. They’ll always be your friend and there to support others. Then there are those who will never get it who are closed minded who just see the childless/Childfree as bitter people who need to suck it up and that they gave up. Yes, we are bitter at times but the reason for it is not because “they have what we want” (as some woman put it on Twitter recently) it’s because it triggers our most painful wounds from infertility that will NEVER fully heal. I’ve had people in this group unfollow me on Twitter in some cases it’s because I lashed out out them unfairly in other cases it’s because they wanted to distance themselves from something they don’t want to go back to or frankly I don’t think they care about now that they have their happy ending.

This all has me wondering whether there is a place for those who are childless/childfree in the infertility community. While I do think all voices are important with the majority of people in the infertility community moving onto become parents of kids they conceived there are always going to be pregnancies that trigger bad memories for those who move onto become childless/childfree. Some say that the answer is that those who are triggered should just mute or unfollow those who are pregnant or have kids. Others say that those people who are pregnant or use hash tags should watch how they say things. But are these solutions or just band aids to a issue that cannot ever be resolved? What good is a community where people have to be muted or watch their language? Is that a community that is inclusive of all voices?

I lean towards the solution that those who have moved onto living childless/childfree don’t belong in the infertility community. That’s not anyone’s fault I just think it’s what’s best. People who go onto have their happy endings shouldn’t have to walk on egg shells. On the other hand people who have moved onto living childless/childfree deserve a safe place where there are no fears of seeing surprise pregnancies and have the Happy Ending they were never able to achieve. I don’t think it’s possible for these two groups to exist in the same community w/out there being people who are vulnerable get hurt.

People who get pregnant or become parents after infertility need support and so do those who move onto childless/childfree lives. Because of the nature of what infertility does to us by bringing out the worst in us (topic for another blog piece) I don’t think it’s possible for both groups to support one another fully the way they need to be. But maybe things can never be perfect and this is just the best it’s going to be. Maybe the childless/childfree walking away doesn’t do anyone any good. Maybe we all just need to hear things that make us feel uncomfortable on both sides.

I’m interested to hear/read everyone’s feedback no matter if you’re pregnant, a parent, going through treatments or childless/childfree. All opinions, thoughts and ideas are welcome.

Two Years Later…..Who Am I?

We all have certain dates that stick with us be it personal or historical events that change us forever. For me with infertility it’s December 26th, 2012. It is the day that I gave my first sperm sample test a few days after our first RE appointment. Three hours after I gave the sample I received a call on my cell phone at work from the doctor informing me that my results came back negative (meaning I have a zero sperm count). In the following weeks I gave another sperm sample test, blood tests and urologist appointments confirming my Y Chromosome Microdeletion (Non Obstructive Azoospermia ) diagnosis and I haven’t been the same person since.

Most of 2013 I spent in therapy processing exactly what this meant to me. I sank into as deep a depression as I ever had. I put on 15lbs getting as heavy as I ever had been. I didn’t care if it ended up messing up my long term health because I felt I had little to look forward to later in life. I became almost obsessed with pursuing alternative ways of becoming a parent putting everything on my life on hold.

In 2014, I decided I was going to make some changes to my life as I needed to set out to work towards something within my control. In early January I decided I was going to attempt to get back into a workout routine and moderate what I was eating to try to lose the weight I had put on in 2013. I bought a fitbit and added the Myfitnesspal app to my phone to track it all. It became my new obsession. In April after dropping 25 lbs I decided to start some light running to see if I could get back into it. In late June on a whim I decided to sign up to run a 10K on the 4th of July. With minimal training I finished the race in a decent time. A few weeks later I signed up for a half marathon to be run in November.

I took the half marathon training the way I do anything I set out to do with complete focus. Despite having to adjust my training schedule due to Achilles tendinitis I trained as well as I could have hoped for. The hard worked paid off and on November 2nd I ran as well as I could ever imagined. I had gained a piece of myself back but still all was not well.

The last few weeks have been a struggle. The big news is that unless something changes K & I will not be looking into adoption thus lifelong childlessness is upon us. It’s something I wasn’t prepared for and something I don’t know how I will face. It’s not like we’ve been going through treatments or waiting to be chosen to adopt a child. Our lives at least this year have not been put on hold. We’ve been living. I’d say I’m not sure what’s next but this feels like what’s next.

The what’s next is not fulfilling at all. Sure I may smile on the outside. Sure I am grateful for a wonderful wife and dog. Sure my running has given me something to work for. Sure volunteering for Big Brother has been an eye opening experience. But beneath that smile is hurt and something is missing and likely will always be missing. I don’t know who I am because I never saw my life without being a parent with K.

So here I am two years later much different than I was two years ago and different than I was a year ago. Not knowing who I am is numbing and leaving me hopeless that things will ever change for the better.

Amazing Accomplishment and Being Forever Grateful

This past Sunday on a cold windy morning I ran my first race that I trained for in almost 17 years. The days leading up to the race were sort of anti climatic as I had been working and training hard for the previous three months that it was hard to believe the race was finally here. Though I will say that as always the case before a big race/competition I did experience anxiety, something I’ve had my whole life.

Preparation for the race began the day prior. I started to think about the race and what my goal time would be. Initially when I signed up for the race I thought that I could do it under 2 hours. When I ran the course two weeks ago I ran it in 1:57 at an easy pace. I thought about setting a goal time of going under 1:50 but when I realized I would have to average 8:20 per mile I didn’t think it was possible. Eventually I settled on anywhere between 1:50 and 1:55 I would be happy with. In the afternoon I set out my cold weather gear as it was going to be in the high 30’s with a wind chill around freezing. I set out my energy goos, Ben Gay for my calf’s and the sneakers I’d ride for 13.1 miles. I made sure to go to bed early as with a 7:00 start time I wanted to get up at 4:15 to have enough time to eat breakfast and for it to settle before the race. Surprisingly I had no trouble sleeping the night before giving me the sleep I needed for the race.

At 4:15 the day of the race I woke up had my breakfast which consisted of an English Muffin with Peanut Butter, a banana and some glasses of water. I left my house at 5:45 to get to the race by 6. Surprisingly the hour before the race went by fast. When I got to the start line I lined up in the back of the 8 minute mile group and located the 1:55 pace runner (these runners who wore tags and carried sticks with the times they would pace themselves to run) who I would try to stay with.

At exactly 7:00 the start horn went off as I hit the start timer on my GPS watch that I would also use to pace myself. The first two miles were around 8:12-8:20, which were faster than I had wanted to run to start the race. I knew I had to take it back a notch if I wanted to have enough left in the tank for the rest of the race. It was towards the end of mile 3 when I first realized that I felt good and could pick up the pace. Little did realize that third mile that I thought I was taking it slower I would run it in under 7:50. By mile 4 I was in a groove. It was then that I realized what I was doing and remembered how much I loved running races. Not once throughout the race did I even think about my infertility or anything else that K & I went through in the last two years. For that race my running was the only thing that mattered.

In the middle of mile five realizing that my last two miles were under 8 minutes I started to think that maybe I could hit under 1:50. It was then that I took my first of two energy goos preparing for the first of two parts of the course that were up hill. About mid way up that first hill the wind gusts would start to pick up. Despite the hill and wind that mile was barely over 8 minutes. In the back of my mind I was afraid that K and my in laws wouldn’t be at the finish line because they weren’t expecting me until 1:50-1:55 to finish the race. It wouldn’t have been the same if she wasn’t there.

It was in the middle of mile 7 when I came up on the 1:45 pace runner. That was the moment when I knew that not only was running under 1:50 realistic but maybe hitting around 1:45 could happen. I kept pushing as I approached the second hill part of the course. Despite not being as steep as the first part this hill would last the next 1.5-2 miles. Two weeks prior it has hit me hard and I prepared that it would hit me hard again. In the middle of that hill 9.5 miles in I took my last energy goo to give me my last boost to finish the race.

As I approached the top of the hill at mile 10 I started to hit a wall. I thought about stopping and not because my calf was tight or my Achilles was sore but because I doubted whether I had enough left. But looking over and seeing the 1:45 pace runner kept me going. All I had was a 5K left, just 3 miles. Getting through that mile was tough but when I did I knew with 2 miles left and almost 1:30 in that barring me collapsing that I was going to finish under 1:50 with an outside shot at finishing under 1:45.

The last mile I wanted to really push it. Despite literally running on fumes I pushed it as hard as I could heading into the final turn towards the finish line. As I approached the finish line I started to look to see if I saw K & my in laws as I was worried they would miss me. But sure enough right by the finish line I saw them. I smiled at K knowing how well I was about to finish. She has been amazing in her support of me and I couldn’t have done this w/out her. The last 100 meters I went into a hard kick as I saw the race clock approaching 1:45. Crossing the finish line at 1:44.59 (below is the picture of me crossing the finish line), I realized that I just did something that the day prior I would have thought would be impossible for me to accomplish. I had just run a half marathon in under 1:45 averaging 8 minute miles something I had not done for any of my long runs in training even the long runs that were half that distance. Adding in the cold and wind it was amazing that I did it.

A few minutes after crossing the finish line I caught up with K & my in laws. Apparently my father in law thought that I would finish in 1:45 despite K telling him that I told her I’d likely finish 1:50-1:55. I was in a state of euphoric tiredness that is hard to describe. Eventually I started to feel the tightness and soreness in my lower body as an indication of how hard I pushed my body.

Make no mistake about it that race was hard. Training for the race was hard. Though I had began seriously running in early July, I had begun getting back into serious shape in mid January. Basically all of 2014 I had been preparing for this. Though when I began to get back into shape I didn’t think I would be signing up to run a half marathon in November. Heck if I knew the end result of getting back into shape would have been me signing up to run a 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving in a decent time I would have been thrilled. Never ever did I think I would even entertain the idea of running a half marathon let alone finishing one in under 1:45.

Five days later I still can’t believe what I accomplished. The tightness and soreness has eased up. It’s been hard to not exercise or run at all but I know my body and especially my legs need the rest. I want to be able to train better for the next big race which is likely to be next May with some smaller races in between.

I can’t begin to thank those of you in the infertility community for your amazing support. On Twitter I thanked you all and told you that I love you all but I really do mean it. There is more to life than having children and when we support each other and celebrate non child related accomplishments it shows the world that we are there for each other always. It is truly humbling to receive the support I have. I am forever grateful to have connected with you all and don’t believe I could ever repay the kindness you have shown me.

I know this post isn’t really infertility related and posting it on this blog may seem out of place. The reason I am writing this post is that I think it’s important for those going through the journey to realize there is more to life than having kids. Though those other things in life do not replace the loss of the ability to have kids. The hurt is still there. The empty bedroom still exists in my house. The holidays will still be childless this year and likely the remainder of our lives. But my running has regained some of the self confidence and belief in myself that I lost with my infertile diagnosis. I believe in myself again and my ability to work through adversity and accomplish things that seem impossible.

While I don’t think that becoming a distance runner is something every infertile couple should do, I believe that we all need to find something in our life to work towards that doesn’t involve having children. It will help those who never become parents to get through the rest of their lives.

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Accepting that I was never meant to be a Parent

The last six weeks have been rough. It first started with my birthday as a reminder that age 34 I am in the exact same situation living the exact same lifestyle as I was when I was 30 and will be when I turn 40. Then Father’s Day hit as another reminder of what isn’t and what will never be. You add in the other random triggers that have gotten me down that I’ve written about and the depression that defined my 2013 has returned. Though this depression is more a sad numbing than bitter anxiety.

This sad numbing is me coming to the hard realization that K and I will never become parents. The hope I’ve held onto is gone. I’ve been patient but I think that after 18 months of trying to figure out what our next step is it’s clear that there is no next step this is what it is and will always will be. If we were going to pursue adoption, we would have at least taken steps in that direction by now. We did talk about researching it together last summer but that never happened. One year later we are in the exact same position with no plans to pursue it at any point.

For all of the hard work we’ve put in it’s led us on a road to no where on making a decision as to what’s next. On my end I’ve make life changes that I thought would help me believe that I could live a childless life and be happy. I worked on coping skills last year during the 7 months of therapy. I’ve focused on weight loss, biking, running and volunteer work. Though they are enjoyable activities it still hasn’t changed anything in my everyday life. My lifestyle is the same routine day in a and day out.

The events of the last 18 months (or 3 years when we started to try to have a child) has made me believe that this is what my life was supposed to be. I was never supposed to be a parent with K. Maybe it’s because I wouldn’t have been a good parent and this is natures way of weeding out a weak link. Maybe it’s because it is my destiny to grow old miserable and isolated with no family. Maybe it’s because I am going to get sick and not live a long life (if that’s the case I wish it would happen sooner rather than later). Maybe it’s because it’s for the “greater good” that I don’t become a parent.

On edit

I say “greater good” because recently I had a conversation with a group of people where varying opinions sparked a heated debate on a political issue. The argument that was made was that people should support things that are for the “greater good” not because they stand to benefit. The conversation stuck with me that maybe I’m not a parent for the “greater good” of society today and future generations.

Whatever the reason it’s pretty clear to me that this life is the life I was supposed to live. The life I would like to live would be possible if it was meant to be and if it was for the “greater good”. I just wasn’t meant to become a parent. The difficulty is accepting that and living out a life that was, is and always will be. A life that to me has no purpose or direction except what it’s been for however long it’s supposed to be.