childfree

Feeling shame for giving up on family building is Perfectionism in disguise

Almost to a fault, once a current plan or goal has been completed, I scheme up the next big thing in my life. I like to know what’s on the horizon, what’s coming next, what I want to tackle.

I’m not a fan of staying stagnant.

Expanding our family was supposed to be one of my greatest accomplishments. After finding stable footing in my career, successfully levering my unique abilities to not only bring home more bacon, but ultimately find myself in the so-called breadwinner role. The next, most logical avenue to me, was children.

So we got to work, navigating, learning, exploring and climbing our way up the mountain of infertility.

Low and behold, the mountain never did have a visible summit for us. I never quite saw up and over the top.

What ended up happening was, much to my initial dismay, instead of up and over, we found our way around the middle and out the other side, essentially in the same place with the same human family members as we started with.

While that may be the cliff notes to a six-year infertility journey that rendered us childless, what most didn’t see was an overwhelming sense of societal guilt I carried after giving up.

As someone who sets goals… lofty goals, nearly impossible goals at times, I do whatever it takes to reach them, conquer them, own them.

Producing biological children? I could not conquer it.

Society was quick to label me as the one who gave up.

And I was quick to label myself as someone whose heart wasn’t in it enough, didn’t want it enough, didn’t desire to be a mom enough, didn’t try hard enough. I figured if I gave myself those labels first, it would shield me from the naysayers.

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That’s why those that walk away childless after struggling with infertility don’t come into the light that often.

We are swept under the rug if we allow it, and quite frankly, its simply easier to give into societal expectations, sometimes, than to keep fighting.

Because, to put it frankly, we fought our reproductive system and lost.

How can we possibly fight MORE with outsiders that haven’t walked the same path as us?

Secrecy becomes an ally, when you’re striving for perfection in an arena you can’t control. I believe a lot of families struggling to find success with pregnancy and beyond tend to withdraw from others until there is “good news” to share because then that news is now perfect enough for others. It’s easy to digest with a pretty photo-shoot, staged baby bump, perfectly coifed announcement. Outsiders wait with baited breathe for this sort of reveal, and who are WE to give others anything less than our perfectly-perfect selves?

I spout these words because I walked them.

When I found (temporary) success carrying my son, the very first thing I did was plan how to tell everyone around me. LOOK! SEE? I’M A NORMAL PREGGO JUST LIKE YOU! CAN I BE IN THE CLUB NOW?

Isn’t my announcement so perfect? With all those perfectly placed needles in a big heart around my ultrasound and embryo photos, with perfect lighting and perfectly written, heartfelt words. Do I stack up yet?

Then I miscarried and all my perfectly planned work for my perfectly planned future vanished in an instant.

As the years ticked by and each IVF cycle ramped up and failed, what started as a platform of open-arms, started to dwindle and close up because I had grown weary of fighting. My story wasn’t one I felt proud of because I was failing.

I was ashamed for wanting to give up but I simply had no fight left in me.

At the time, I couldn’t bear the thought of not finding success in something I worked so hard for. Wallowing in shame and depression, it took quite a lot of time to realize this time was purposeful. I was in a valley of my own emotions, and while I didn’t quite know how to get out, I knew I had been out before, so started to trust I would start feeling something, ANYTHING again.

In the future, I would feel better. I just had to make space for this weird, soulless time I had fallen into now.

The excruciating lessons I learned with infertility gave me much needed perspective with life and my own personal expectations of success, failure and perfection. My life with children did not fall in line in the perfectly planned vision I had for it, and it was a hard pill to swallow knowing I had to come up with something ELSE that felt worthy enough to fill that void I longed for.

It has been a long, twisting mental road to get to a point where I don’t feel pressured by outside expectations and societal perfectionism to create a world I thought I needed to fit into.

Instead, I now know I belong all the same.

XO, Tia


Remember, babe, your seat is waiting at our first Immersion Experience next month.

Claim your seat HERE and we’ll see you in Arizona!


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Our 2020 InfertileAF Summit is launching early bird ticket sales in September!

These $99 tickets are limited in quantity and will only be available to our mailing list subscribers.

Share Your Story - Meet Kristen!

Welcome to the Share Your Story series on InfertileAF, where we feature women and men willing to boldly share their personal insight into their diagnosis or their journey alongside Infertility.


Want to share your story? You can complete your interview HERE!

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Kristen Solari

Instagram Handle:

@kso-inreallife

Age: 44

Location:

Escalon, CA

Give us your quick bio:

I have been married to my hubby for almost 9 years, together 15. We both work demanding, full time jobs & we have a small family cherry farm. I LOVE working out & eating well. We are dog lovers & are big camping people, but we camp in a 35 foot long RV & ride ATV's - the faster the better. I love reading & writing & recently started a peer led infertility support group in our very rural area.

What is your personal experience with Infertility?
After multiple rounds of failed IVF, we walked away from family building without children. I have Stage 4 endometriosis, PCOS & otherwise "unexplained" infertility. I had surgeries to remove the endo & a septum. 127 days before my 40th birthday I took the last negative pregnancy test call from my RE & walked away from it all.


At your lowest point, how did Infertility impact you?

I completed isolated myself. I was drowning my marriage. Like many, I told my husband to leave me & find someone else. Someone younger, someone able to procreate. I was on the verge of losing my job for my inability to focus or stay level headed. I lost friends. Worst....I completely lost myself.


What was the turning point in your mindset? What helped you find happiness outside of Infertility?

I don't know what made me join a gym. I hadn't exercised or given a crap about my whole health since we walked away from treatment...having gone from a snow ski instructor & life-long & college softball player to a depressed couch potato. But I did. It was (& still is) an amazing community where I re-found my strength. Suddenly I had the courage to talk about my infertility & to not be ashamed of it. I started sharing and the flood gates opened. People started sending me friend requests on social media saying "me too." I started meeting people for coffee and its led to our monthly group meetings. I now know there was never anything to be ashamed of. That we are stronger together and that there are a LOT of us.


How have you created a fulfilled and content life with Infertility?

I am learning to accept what is. I'm learning to do what I want vs. what society thinks I should be doing and when I should be doing it. I have created fulfillment & my personal contentment by deciding for myself what fulfills me. What makes me feel content.


What actions did you take to help you heal?

The physical movement and strength gain was huge. I also eat better and sleep more. I got back to writing and being earnest in my efforts to let others know they weren't alone. Giving myself permission & grace to have bad days AND to have good days.


What would you tell other people facing an Infertility diagnosis? (in lieu of the phrase "never give up")

I would never say "never give up." Sometimes it's the exact right thing for someone to do. I tell people I may not know exactly what they are feeling, but that I'm available to listen and talk it through. I tell them the choices they make during their walk in infertility are nobody's business. I SHOW them that the grief & pain can be replaced by a purpose, no matter the outcome of their journey.


How do you views align with the InfertileAF Mission?

I believe that ALL people, no matter where they are in their infertility journey, should be seen. They should be respected, their views valued, and their stories should all be shared, even if they don't all look the same.


How has Infertility shaped your future self?

My future self is far more compassionate & able to empathize with others in many walks of life in general - not just infertility. Instead of my infertility & child free life making me feel weak, I feel like a super hero for surviving it & for having the strength I NEVER WOULD HAVE KNOWN I HAD BEFORE IT to reach out to others.


What goals do you have for your future?

My future goals include growing our group of local warriors. There are no in person groups in close proximity and the need is great.

I want to partner and/or strategize with other established groups, learn what's working for them & take advantage of tools to help my local warriors.

I want to attend the Immersion Experience AND a Rachel Hollis Rise X.

I want to write a book.

No big deal, right?


~Thank you, Kristen, for sharing you amazing words with our audience. 

If you would like to be bold and share your perspective, be sure to submit your story HERE!

PS - Want to take your story a step further? Apply to be a SPEAKER at our 2020 Summit HERE!


Don’t forget! $99 Early Bird Ticket Sales start soon for the 2020 InfertileAF Chicago Summit!

The summit will run from NOON on Friday April 17th - 5pm CST Saturday, April 18th.

PLUS! We will also have an extremely limited number of add-on VIP tickets for a private dinner with the InfertileAF founders! This is a highly personal meet and greet opportunity. The cost of the VIP ticket includes your dinner and drinks for the evening. Dinner will be the Friday, April 17th, 2020. The price for each VIP ticket is $120.

Those on our Mailing List will be the ONLY people with access to our Early Bird and VIP ticket sales.

Once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Share Your Story - Meet Rebekah!

Welcome to the Share Your Story series on InfertileAF, where we feature women and men willing to boldly share their personal insight into their diagnosis or their journey alongside Infertility.


Want to share your story? You can complete your interview HERE!

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Rebekah Mabalot

Instagram Handle:

@rebekahreclaimed

Age: 36

Location: Southgate

Give us your quick bio:


My name is Rebekah. I'm 36 years old and the mama of 4 fur babies. I am boldly embracing my childfree after infertility life!  This wasn't my plan A, but I am rocking it anyway and making it up as I go along!

What is your personal experience with Infertility?
PCOS, years of trying to conceive, several medicated cycles, several IUI's, 2 rounds of IVF, a miscarriage, a nervous breakdown, over $30,000 in medical bills and here I am. I survived it and I came out better than  I went in. I wasn't able to grow my family by having a human baby, but life turned out perfectly for me and I'm tougher than I ever imagined I could be due to it.


At your lowest point, how did Infertility impact you?

After my first round of IVF ended in miscarriage, my husband and I waited 6 months before we decided to do another round. After that round failed, I kinda just went into this, "I'm ok and everything is fine," mode. Everything definitely was not fine.  That led to me having what I call a, "mental break." I began having panic attacks almost daily. I wasn't able to function at all. It's like my body was there but my brain wasn't. I was lucky enough to have an amazing therapist who did very intensive work to help me through this time. My husband and I decided to take a year off completely from treatments after that.


What was the turning point in your mindset? What helped you find happiness outside of Infertility?

My therapist said something that really changed my perspective on what my life should look like. She said, "imagine you spend months and months planning a trip to Bali. You read all the books on Bali, you've bought the perfect clothes, your itinerary is planned, etc. Bali is the only thing your heart is set on and no one can tell you that any other place would be just as amazing. Now, let's say your plane has to make an emergency stop in Alaska. Due to the weather conditions there, you cannot get out for at least 1-2 weeks. This is definitely not Bali. You didn't read the books on Alaska!  You didn't pack for Alaska!  Frantically, you have to decide. Do you make this the adventure of a life time or do you waste that precious time and only think about Bali?"    Perhaps it's because I'm so in love with travel, I don't know, but this analogy hit home for me. My husband and I were so disconnected. Our relationship was so strained. I was constantly on hormones, constantly obsessed with what I was putting in my body or what I wasn't. I was stressed from getting from one appointment to the next on top of working and being exhausted and not sleeping well, when all he had to do was jizz in a cup a few times. I was full of anxiety, I was angry, I felt slighted. He became only a means to a baby to me and I took a lot of that out on him. So taking some time off and reconnecting gave me the chance to see that I already had all that I ever needed. I have the best husband ever, family and friends who love me, the ability to travel and read and do volunteer work. That is all something I'll never take for granted again because I feel like I came very close to potentially losing it all.


How have you created a fulfilled and content life with Infertility?

My husband and I live life on our own terms and I think we are able to really hone in on aspects of our marriage and ourselves that we want to work on. We plan to do a lot more travel and a many more updates to our historic home. I am singing again, which I've done most of my life, and I did not have time to do that, which I am so passionate about, when I was going through treatments. I am not sure I would have the time and energy to do a lot of the things I do and plan to do if I had had children.  I truly love my life the way it is and I don't feel like anything is missing the way that I once did.


What actions did you take to help you heal?

Therapy, time, love, kindness and grace with myself. I really started to just envision life in a different way that I ever had before, which helped me settle into it. I started to live in a way that wasn't focused around something that wasn't happening and it was such sweet freedom. A year of therapy, travel, and finding myself and my husband again was really what made me able to see that I already have everything I need.


What would you tell other people facing an Infertility diagnosis? (in lieu of the phrase "never give up")

You can absolutely have an amazing and fulfilling life after infertility, EVEN if that journey doesn't end with a baby in your arms. It's scary because it looks different. It's scary because it can feel lonely. It's scary because society puts a whole lot of shit on you that you didn't ask for. But motherhood is scary and lonely too. We don't always get to choose which path life takes us, but we do get to choose whether or not we want to rock it and make it the best it can be. I choose to boldly rock this new life and just keep making me the best me that I can. I hope somewhere along the way I can help someone see that this choice is a real choice, and can be a very beautiful and meaningful one, as well.


How do you views align with the InfertileAF Mission?

I believe that ALL people, no matter where they are in their infertility journey, should be seen. They should be respected, their views valued, and their stories should all be shared, even if they don't all look the same.


How has Infertility shaped your future self?

I look at my life in a completely different way than I ever thought was possible. Sometimes I think that, as women, we were just always told we would be mothers, so that's what we always thought. For some of us, that might have put a limit on our potential. Or at least it may have put a limit on our ability to think bigger and have different dreams than the ones society provided us.


What goals do you have for your future?

I plan to keep moving forward in my career, do more community involvement, especially in helping kids whose schools no longer have music programs. I've been to 13 countries so far and want to get to them all. My husband and I are going to keep thriving and enjoying our lives, each other, and our 3 cats and new puppy. Life is to be fully embraced and I'm so glad I can clearly see that now.


~Thank you, Rebekah, for sharing you amazing words with our audience. 

If you would like to be bold and share your perspective, be sure to submit your story HERE!

PS - Want to take your story a step further? Apply to be a SPEAKER at our 2020 Summit HERE!


Don’t forget! $99 Early Bird Ticket Sales start soon for the 2020 InfertileAF Chicago Summit!

The summit will run from NOON on Friday April 17th - 5pm CST Saturday, April 18th.

PLUS! We will also have an extremely limited number of add-on VIP tickets for a private dinner with the InfertileAF founders! This is a highly personal meet and greet opportunity. The cost of the VIP ticket includes your dinner and drinks for the evening. Dinner will be the Friday, April 17th, 2020. The price for each VIP ticket is $120.

Those on our Mailing List will be the ONLY people with access to our Early Bird and VIP ticket sales.

Once they’re gone, they’re gone!