Katy (aka Chasing Creation) was a bright light through my 2019! She started her Insta and Blog, “Chasing Creation” in March, where she speaks directly to those of us who are childless not by choice. With her adorable word board, she says the most bold things. She says the things I often think about, but cannot always say.
Things like, “I’M NOT A MOM, BUT I’M A POWERFUL SOURCE OF CREATION”
Or, “I’M CHILDLESS NOT LOVELESS.”
Her way with words, and her charming aesthetic remind me that a life without children is valuable, and that creation can come in many forms.
I loved connecting with Katy. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!
Hi Katy, thank you for chatting with me today! Anotherhood is about turning up the volume of the voices of women who do not have children, can you tell us why you wish to share your story?
I think we need more voices! Right now it doesn’t feel like as much of a community as it could, because there are so many who are childless not by choice but our stories aren’t that visible. The hashtags don’t get used that much, and it’s hard for people to find each other, to connect around their shared experiences.
When I was going through infertility treatments I found it easy to find support and find community, and once I decided I was going to end my journey to parenthood it was really hard to find resources. It felt really lonely. I’m trying to strengthen the community of those who are childless not by choice. And basically help them feel less alone in their experience.
KR (that’s me, Kadi): What was happening in your life when you found out that you could not have children.
KS: Well, it was a process. Throughout my life I’ve always had bad periods, but it never occurred to me that it would affect my ability to have children. Then I went through infertility for about 3.5 years. The final moment when I knew I wasn’t going to have kids was when I had my hysterectomy two years ago.
I had been through three surgeries. I was diagnosed with endometriosis, fibroids, and uterine polyps. I was trying to manage my diagnosis at the same time that I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do about my fertility and treatments. That final end to my journey came with a hysterectomy.
KR: You bring up something interesting. There are really two parts to infertility:
- What do want to do with your life?
- How are you handling your health?
KS: Definitely. I had been having really bad period symptoms for 20 years, and had never been diagnosed. It really was like two separate things. I now all of the sudden had all of this information, but it affected me in different ways. It became a dual track of trying to manage both my health, and my fertility at once, but of course one would affect the other.
KR: What has been your experience in sharing your journey?
KS: I was really lucky to have a supportive family and friends when I started my blog, and created my social media accounts. That was when I really started to heal.
It was one thing to share with the people who were closest to me and who were doing their best to be there for me and really understand it. It was a different experience to then reach out to people who had gone through the same thing, or something very similar.
To have that echo of “Yes, I am not only trying to understand you but I really get it because I’ve been there.”
KR: How do you find the balance between putting yourself out here, and how much you want to share?
KS: I’m a pretty open book in general. Throughout my infertility journey almost everyone I saw on a daily basis knew what was going on. My co-workers knew throughout all of it, my friends, my family.
I understand why people don’t want to share, though. It’s still very taboo, and once you tell people you still have to brace for their reaction and that’s not always going to be how you want them to react. There are a lot of areas of my life that I don’t talk about on Chasing Creation. I value the privacy of my husband and family so you won’t hear me talk much about them or how they’ve processed the experience. I don’t feel like those are my stories to tell.
KR: How do you feel that your infertility journey has impacted the relationship you have with your body?
KS: It’s been really tough. There’s the infertility piece, but it also took being infertile to get the diagnosis that I needed to get.
I’m angry that I could see dozens of doctors and complain about chronic pain over a 20 year period, and I’d be told to go home, and deal with it. But once I started seeing doctors for fertility reasons they were more willing to do diagnostic tests. It was as if because I’m a woman who can’t fulfill my duty of getting pregnant – well NOW we have to figure out what’s wrong!
I’ve had a really difficult time accepting the reality that my body can’t get pregnant. It’s supposed to be one of the most basic biological functions we have. I think when you go through infertility it feels like getting pregnant is the hardest thing in the world to do. Especially when you hear that something like 68% of couples get pregnant within their first 3 months of trying.
In that way, I’m grateful that I went through the process because that helped me get to my diagnosis so I could find treatment and get my quality of life back. Knowing how much illness was in my body and how hard it was fighting without treatment helps me be a little more compassionate with myself and my body. I try to stay there, but it’s hard.
KR: Right! I know I have felt that, too. A little part may be broken, but I’M not broken. That part is not ME, it’s just part of me.
When I first got diagnosed as post-menopausal, the doctors were all clamoring to get me pregnant. The tiny glimmer of fertility that I had at that point sent them down a spiral of wanting to freeze my eggs, or do IVF, or whatever it would take to get pregnant. As if that was the most important thing. But to me, it wasn’t.
KS: I got to that point when I was trying to make the decision of whether or not to do a second IVF cycle or have the hysterectomy. The doctor kept insisting that I continue to try to get pregnant. I felt so unsupported. Even after seeing my surgical photos and seeing how much pain I was in, and how much disease was in my body, the focus was still on getting me to parenthood.
KR: What are some of the less obvious challenges that you’ve had to overcome on this journey?
KS: I’m proud of the resiliency I’ve developed during this process, and how I have chosen to face the grief that has come along. I’m certainly still grieving, and will probably always have aspects of that.
I’ve heard that how you handle grief in one aspect of your life is a pretty good indication of how you’ll handle it in other areas. Grieving is a skill that we’re not taught. I know that I will have other tragedies in the future, and have prior to this too. So I appreciate that it has allowed me to understand grief better. And how to live with it, and work through it.
Going through infertility was the first time in my life that I wasn’t able to get the level of support that I needed from other people. The people in my life were doing the best that they could, but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t getting what I needed, and that was a really weird experience for me.
I had to learn to trust myself to make the best decisions for me, even if the people around me didn’t agree or understand. I knew if I had the hysterectomy it would be something that I had to deal with in my own body, and no one else’s. The way that I had to learn to process inwardly and tap into my self-trust, and strength that I didn’t know I had before. It’s added depth to who I am.
KR: What would you change about how infertility is perceived?
KS: The thing that I hate the most is the toxic positivity that comes with infertility, and also with chronic illness – which often go hand in hand. So much of the feedback and advice that I got through the 4 years that I was going through infertility, and even now after the hysterectomy is empty in meaning and totally unhelpful.
The instant reaction is “Never give up!” or “Just say positive!” or “If you want it enough it’s gonna happen!” or “You can’t stop!”
Even crazy advice like, “You’re probably too tense. Go on a holiday and get drunk! Have a glass of wine.” There’s a whole thing about being “too tense” which is not at all what you want to hear when you’re already stressed out. That on top of the ‘miracle baby’ stories.
It’s very rare that you can find someone who can sit with you in what you’re going through and not try to fix it or make it better.
KR: The one I get all the time is the miracle doctor in Canada. I’ve heard from so many women that they read an article about a doctor in Canada who blah blah blah…” It’s not true and it’s not helpful.
KS: Right! Even after my hysterectomy I get people telling me to try surrogacy, or to somehow keep going. Or the adoption thing. “Just adopt!”
Most people don’t understand how complicated adoption is. The ethical issues that come along with it. The time it takes.
KR: And the uncertainty. You can go through it for years and still not end up with a baby.
KS: I wish there was more education about how complicated and expensive adoption is. Because that’s the go-to for people who want to suggest how to make it better.
My number one reason that I didn’t want to pursue the adoption option was that I felt like my life had already been on hold for four years, and I wanted a little more control over what my life looked like. I also knew that my heart and mental health could not survive more of the hope/despair cycle.
KR: So what has helped you embrace a childfree life?
KS: Well it’s not like, “It’s done! On to something else.” I’ve done a lot to work on actively processing it. Therapy has been absolutely necessary.
During my infertility, my partner and I put a lot of dreams and options on hold because if we had a kid, certain things wouldn’t be practical. We can revisit those as options now that we know we’ll be childfree long-term. It’s also given me the space to get back into hobbies and passions that I haven’t had emotional space for in a long time.
I’ve also been working to build up a support system of friends who don’t have kids. I’m using Bumble BFF, which is the friend version of the Bumble dating app.
One of the profile questions is whether or not you have kids, so that has been a really fun way to meet women who don’t have kids in my area. It’s been so important to build that community.
My husband and I had this vision of what our lives would look like, and now it’s going to look different. There’s a blank slate now. Now we get to re-imagine what our lives will look like.
It’s a hard process to go through, because it involves loss, but it opens up a lot of possibilities that wouldn’t have been available if we had a kid.
KR: We love that you are Chasing Creation. I think that building creation into your life when you’re someone who can’t create a life is really important. So, what are you working on at the moment? Anything creative that’s simmering right now??
KS: Yes! My blog and my social media accounts have been a really fun way to connect and create this meeting space, and also work on my writing skills. I just started a webinar series and have some other ideas for things that I plan to launch next year. That’s been really fun to explore.
I also love remodeling projects. I love taking a room that looks a certain way and creating a vision for what it could be – then putting the time and energy and skills into watching a room transform. The result is that I have a living space that is a reflection of my aesthetic and my taste.
It can feel really defeating or discouraging to know that you can’t create a life – which is a basic human biological function – so it’s been important to take on projects where I control the outcome a little. It’s important to create.
Katy’s next webinar is called Embracing a Life Without Kids: How to Know If You’re Ready. Join her mailing list to get all the details here!
You can find Katy here!