I was so thrilled to interview Emily! Her blog She Doesn’t Have Kids and her insta @shedoesnthavekids have been great resources for me and my tribe. We had such a fun, and lively conversation, and I’m so glad to call Emily a new friend!
Hi Emily! I was so excited when I found you and found your blog. There’s not much out there for young women who learn about infertility before they’re trying to conceive.
I know. I was in my late 20’s. It was shocking to me that there wasn’t a built in support system for young women.
People don’t seem to believe you when you say, “I was given this news, that I won’t be able to have kids.” They say things like, “Oh, it’s ok, you’ll see. Miracles can happen!” or “Don’t say that, just believe it can happen.”
You want to believe them, but at the same time you have to navigate all of your thoughts about parenthood to begin with.
There are many paths, and when one is taken away, you think “No, wait! I want all of the options.”
How old were you when you found out that you couldn’t have kids?
I was around 27/28. I went to donate my eggs. I wasn’t using them, and I had some bills to pay off. My aunt had adopted a child, and I had some friends who also went down that road, and the idea of helping someone conceive felt really good to me.
I also thought I wouldn’t need my eggs for a decade! I had no idea.
I got through all the tests – so many tests – when I got a phone call saying, “I’m sorry you don’t have enough eggs now. And if we do this you may only produce 4.”
I thought, “Isn’t that a lot?”
The doctor told me not to worry, and that when I’m ready to have kids, she’d see me back in her clinic!
Since I wasn’t in my late 20’s, she told me that by the time I was 32 that I would have zero eggs. It felt like a death sentence. It started me down a very tight timeline.
I met my husband when I was 31, and I had to let him know biological kids weren’t going to happen. We both come from families with adoption so we were both ok exploring that option.
We spoke to so many adoption agencies, and lawyers. There was so much money, and so much time, at stake. There were so many people who needed to do background checks, home inspections, etc. It felt like an invasion of our personal life, which of course it should be. But there can still be so much disappointment along the way. It’s a complicated process.
After a while into the process, we both had “the feels” and decided that we couldn’t do it anymore. We were approaching our late 30’s and realized that we like our life. We have two awesome dogs, a bunch of friends, and the freedom to travel as much as we want.
There are a lot of pluses to not having kids. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think about the other path once in a while. There’s still that grief that comes with choosing, but not choosing.
Finding people with similar stories is so valuable. I’ve found that in “coming out” of the childfree closet, I’m finding other women who are walking similar paths.
The hardest part has always been the isolation, feeling like I’m the weird one and that I’m the only one going through this.
Most days I’ll be completely fine, but then every now and then something will happen that reminds me that I’m grieving something I never really had.
When I got tested to see if I would be a good candidate for IVF, the doctors told me that it wasn’t likely to work.
I had an embolization and an operation to remove a fibroid that created so much scar tissue doctors said that implantation most likely wouldn’t happen. So I had to come to terms with all the biological stuff that comes with being childfree.
What made you decide to “come out”?
My birthday is May 13th, so it always falls around Mother’s Day, and last year it was on the same day.
My husband and I had just moved to a new state, and I was trying to figure out the next steps for my life once we decided to get off the adoption track.
Before we moved, I had a small group of friends who had all bonded over the fact that we all wanted kids but couldn’t. It was this little secret that none of us really wanted to share with other people, but it came up and we were able to support each other through all the things that go along with infertility. After the move, my support system was gone.
So Mother’s Day of 2019, I felt like it was time to reach out and find a tribe of people. I knew there had to be more women out there who feel just like I do, and also need that support.
Starting my insta account has been a great tool to connect. It’s helping to normalize my world.
It’s so cool to see everyone from all over the place. We may not be in each other’s backyards, but we’re out there.
What were some of the reactions from the people in your life when you shared your choice to not have children.
When I began to share, I would get a lot of “I’m praying for you,” or “You need to pray a little harder. Or “Don’t give up!” or “Why didn’t you try IVF or IUI?”
It’s all with good intention, but the responses I get aren’t usually that of compassion.
They’re from people who want to “fix it” and get me on a path to motherhood. The people who are the most helpful are the people who have been through it, and who know what not to say.
I’ve had a hugely positive reaction from friends who are childfree by choice. They think it’s great!
How has making the decision to not have kids impact your relationship with your body?
I love this question. I want to talk about Sex & Periods!
Every month when I have my period I’m reminded that I’m not going to have children. I find that I get kind of angry with my own body, and a little bit sad. And I hope to one day be completely free of the feeling.
I have an irregular cycle anyway, yet sometimes if it’s a bit late, I sometimes get a weird false hope. It feels cruel. I know if my fibroid gets worse I will have to have a hysterectomy, and that will stop it all together, so that will be another part of the journey.
As for sex – we all know that there are a few ways to go about it. Sometimes the purpose of sex is to get pregnant, and sometimes it’s for fun (well, let’s hope it’s always fun). But when I found out that I was officially not going to be able to get pregnant, I felt a little bit like, “What’s the point?”
I know it sounds dark, but when the option of pregnancy is taken away from you, those thoughts can pop into your head. It took a little while to get back to the place where I wasn’t associating sex and pregnancy.
As women, many of us have such a mental and physical connection with sex. We’re all encompassing and complicated. If we’re hurting in our hearts and in our heads, it’s a lot harder to open up and feel pleasure. So getting through those dark spots and healing helps get through to the other side.
I’m also learning to be amazed by my body. I think it’s magical that it’s healing itself!
I had a procedure to help my fibroid shrink to a grapefruit size, which was good, but my body rebelled and the fibroid came back. And I found that to be fascinating. It fought so hard to regrow that fibroid!
I’ve been able to connect to my body more through meditation and yoga. Meditation has helped a lot to get through the harder days and focus on my Plan B and move forward.
What have been some of the more challenging aspects in making the choice to remain childfree?
At first I got stuck in the bargaining phase of the grief.
When I met my husband he asked me, “Why do you want kids?” and I said, “Well because that’s what you do!” But he got me to really think about what that meant.
I could have come up with a million reasons, but at the end of it, I’m just not sure that having kids would make our lives better.
The hardest part was giving up the vision of my life that I’d had in my head for 35 years, thinking that my life was going to look like this. It was like giving up a dream. I had never imagined that it wouldn’t happen.
It’s so hard to switch that gear.
What are some of the positive aspects?
I get to sleep in as late as I want! I love that I can do what I want, go where I want, travel.
I can be lazy and spend a whole day binge watching a show, or go and write for hours on end and not be interrupted. My husband can play video games all day if he wants.
I’m planning on doing some volunteering with groups that support local youth, and that’s exciting.
No running around to play dates and doctor’s appointments. We don’t get sick very often!
What sort of things do you write?
I write young adult novels, and I’m an editor and literary agent for young adult novels and picture books. I’m also a freelance blogger and copywriter.
Do you think creativity plays a bigger role in your life because you cannot biologically have children?
Definitely. I think women who are infertile do tend to delve into the creative aspects of life. You have to have some way to work through the pain, and whether it’s writing or knitting or drawing, there has to be some outlet.
What are some things that are helping you get through the day lately?
Working out, and being physical helps me feel ownership over my body. Getting stronger just makes me feel better.
I love a good bath. Disconnecting from technology is important. But also I appreciate going onto social media and connecting with people.
I took up a lot of side hustles. My favorite one is my job as a dog sitter. I just love animals.
I love hanging out with my girlfriends, and sharing my experience with people who have had journeys. I feel so grateful for those friendships and those connections.