Living Child Free: Dare We Let Ourselves Go There?
Amongst the myriad conflicting emotions that we feel on the fertility + adoption journey, the one I always found most troubling is the juxtaposition of “it will happen” optimism and the sobering voice of “what if it doesn’t?” On more than a few occasions, I found myself imbibing a blinding cocktail of superstition and fear that kept me from taking the latter’s inquiry to it’s logical conclusion. I refused to go there. While, I was sure that I would be “ok” no matter what happened on my journey, I preferred to stay cautiously clear of that rabbit hole. What if my momentary departure from milk and honey optimism was rewarded with an epic jinx? Ridiculous I know, but real nonetheless.
While many rejoice in living child free (and rightfully so), the calculus, for those of us who want a family of our own, is quite different. For us, the decision to live child free is one that you come to after perhaps years of enduring cripplingly expensive fertility treatments and failed attempts to adopt. It is a place you go only after you have exhausted all of your options, or your spirit has just had enough. While there is comfort in knowing you fought the good fight, there is undeniable grief in resigning to the fact that we had a dream that didn’t come true. While intellectually I knew that people absolutely go on to live wildly joyful and fulfilling lives after making that choice, I had no idea what that might look like. Then, I met Lynn Newman.
Fertility Planit, Los Angeles. As a survivor and coach, I attended, expecting to get the latest and greatest in fertility treatments and technology, as well as thoughtful discussions on lifestyle and coping. What I wasn’t quite prepared for was coming face to face with the raw emotion of a reality, I had been carefully and quietly avoiding. Beautiful, authentic, and a lovely embodiment of feminine strength, Lynn Newman rocked my world. With neither bitterness, nor any contrived attempt to make light of the subject, Lynn created a space of safety where this thorny subject could be discussed no holds barred. From the moment she started speaking, I knew that if there was to be a voice of bravery, light, and love for those choosing to live child free after a long bout in the ring of infertility, Lynn Newman’s needed to be put on blast.
There Is Life On The Other Side…It’s Your Own
I had the good fortune of talking with Lynn again and I asked her to share more of her wisdom and what she had learned on her journey. In describing her path and what it had meant to her she said:
“In trying to give birth to a baby, I gave birth to myself.”
More than just a lovely turn of phrase, it is a reality. Who among us has not been transformed in some way by this journey? With the right tools, the transformation can be deeply positive. Lynn generously shared some of the gems that were pivotal in her navigation of this part of her journey, so here they are:
1) “If My Journey Comes To A Close, What Do I Fill The Space With?”
Terrifying question. What’s next after spending years chasing a dream? Gently turn the lens towards yourself rather than needing, wanting or yearning for something outside of you that nature perhaps, is not offering. We cannot control nature, but we can fill our lives with other life-affirming dreams and passions. Lynn shared that she chose to fill up that space with creativity. In the months after making her choice, she wrote her memoir, freed herself through her painting, and validated herself and the journey in the process. Her art became more alive! She learned to care more for herself by building up her emotional and physical strength and applied self-loving. In what ways could you love yourself more or engage your passions in this process?
2) Be Honest About Taking An Exit From The Journey
This is a decision that will start– even if painfully at first –from your intuition, but, as scary as it may be, share these feelings with your partner. Chances are, your partner might already be sensing the change in you, and it may be frightening to them. Speak your truth as it reveals itself to you, and have courage to reveal your deeper feelings.
3) Give Time And Space To Heal And Grieve
The transition in coming to accept this decision can be a rough ride. You may think the decision is made, only to question it again. Give yourself time and space to make peace with the decision making process, and as best as you can, lovingly embrace the grief. Lynn made a point of checking in with herself through meditation and journaling. The key is to accept yourself and the loss with compassion. Be in touch with the thoughts and feelings you have, the good, the bad, and the ugly. In doing so, what no longer serves you can have a healthy release. Take a walk, connect with nature, start a calm yoga practice, reach out for support, and step into your post baby-making journey life with mindfulness. By connecting to yourself, you will connect to other greater purposes in your life.
4) Talk About Where You Are
Whether in therapy or with family and friends, talk about it when the time is right for you. This is part of the trauma and grief work. As Lynn said, for many of us, it’s easy to just buckle down and bear it, which may cause the letting-go process to take longer. Lynn shared that for her, talking about it gave her an opportunity to hear herself, learn from what she was feeling, and consciously observe the emotions that were coming up for her. It is from this self-awareness that she found peace. You don’t have to do this alone.
5) Allow Life To Happen
Letting go of our expectations, conditionings, dreams, and pictures of how we thought our life was supposed to unfold, is in essence how we discover our personal freedom and happiness. There are few things we can control on this journey. How we embrace (rather than resist) our life challenges and doing so with an open hand to receive our greatest life-callings, will define how we come out on the other side–baby or no baby. According to Lynn, in letting go, we allow life to happen. In time, the clouds part and the rhythm of our lives pick up again. We have a choice to make peace with our journey, grow from it, and go on to lead a fulfilling and joyous life filled with unlimited possibilities.
When making the decision to bring the journey to building a family to a close, there really is no way around the healing and inner growth work that Lynn strongly encourages. If we are willing to embrace our new path fully, we can take what we learned from our pain and loss and come to know ourselves on a whole new level– ultimately, creating the brilliant and beautiful life that we really want.
You can learn more about Lynn Newman at her site, www.lynnnewman.com. Not only is Lynn a powerful voice for living child free, she is a speaker, author, artist, and creator of The Game of You.
Join In The Conversation. Leave A Comment!
Do you have any advice to share?
*Did you love this? Think it might help someone else? Share a link to this post like crazy!*
With Love + Respect,
© 2014 Rosanne Austin, From Maybe To Baby