Chapter 31

Child-free Living - Life without children

Choosing not to have children at all is an option which you can select to live child-free. Remember, childfree living is a choice you can make i.e., choosing not to have children isn't the same as having childlessness thrust upon you.

You may find that coming to terms with your childlessness gives you the ability to take control of your own life again. Infertility often means living in a state of suspended animation - waiting and waiting forever through tests and treatments for a baby. If you choose to live child-free, you can get on with living again. Plans can be made to explore the endless possibilities of career, travel, recreation, hobbies and togetherness as a couple when previously all the uncertainty made this impossible. When you are chasing the dream of a baby, it is easy to forget that life has the potential for many other dreams and fulfillments.

It is crucial, however, for both partners, should they choose the child-free alternative, to feel they can happily fill their lives with work and other interests. If the husband has a successful career but the wife has little to replace the parenting function, unhappy consequences are likely.

One of the biggest fears people express when considering a child-free life is that they will regret this decision in their older years and end up being lonely and miserable. In India, children are often a form of social security for old age. However, remember that children are not an insurance policy against loneliness in old age - they can also create problems for their parents! People also worry that when they die, they will have nothing to leave behind. The truth is that children are not the only ones who remember you, nor are they the only means of establishing everlasting memory.

Remember, there can be real advantages to life without children: more personal freedom, more time to spend on your own interests, and more emotional energy to invest in your emotional relationships. Start enjoying your time with your spouse more - remember the early heady days of your marriage before you were striving for a child? Try to recapture those magic moments again.

A new lifestyle may be difficult to think about and many people advise that you try to do many things that interest you to give yourself a chance to spend some of your pent-up needs - the need to be needed and the need to do something. It's a matter of balance. The answer to wanting one thing exclusively is to be involved in many things - to spread yourself around. Taking a holiday to mark the end of treatment and the beginning of a new lifestyle can be very helpful and allows time to relax and assess the situation.

Acceptance or resolution of infertility doesn't mean putting all desire to have children into the past and forgetting about it. Infertility, your experiences and thoughts will always be a part of you and will be remembered with mixed emotions, including sadness, regret and frustration, over the years. Acceptance is more an acknowledgement that your hopes weren't to be and that you have to make some readjustments. It is not something you can do suddenly. You gradually come to this point, maybe over the course of your infertility tests and treatments or maybe only when treatment has finished.

Credits: How to Have a Baby: Overcoming Infertility