Childfree and Loving It

You may be wondering at this point why we didn’t try for adoption, and the answer is that I don’t know. We had discussed adoption early on in our relationship, and neither one of us was opposed to it. However, after everything that had happened, it sort of felt like having a baby was like winning the 25,000 Dollar Pyramid and adopting one was like getting the year’s supply of Rice-a-Roni. I think we might have come around the idea of adopting eventually, but after the IVF didn’t work, we just weren’t ready to think about it.

W we probably should have had some sort of counseling, but instead we opted to just ignore everything and just hope that our lives would get better. They did not. Lisa concentrated on school and drinking too much at parties, and I concentrated on watching a lot of horror movies, but what we should have concentrated on was our relationship. And instead, we just sort of ignored it. I felt like our marriage was crumbling, but I was just too tired to care anymore.

We coasted along like that for about a year, until one night Lisa drank so much at a party that she nearly got alcohol poisoning. I spent a few hours cleaning vomit out of the car and making sure she didn’t die. After that scare, we started growing closer again, but even though it seemed like our relationship was slowly getting better, I wasn’t getting any happier.

I never really believed I would be any good as a dad, and when the IVF didn’t work, part of me figured it was just as well that there wasn’t going to be a kid around for me to screw up. What I wasn’t prepared for was how painful it was going to be not to have a child.

I started feeling like I had lost at life, and now I was just counting down the days until I died. Everything I owned would just get tossed out in the garbage when I was gone. I would die alone and unmourned. I knew that my friends with children were happier than I was, and I knew that I could never have that kind of happiness. I don’t know if what I had could be categorized as depression, but I can’t think of a time when I felt more lost and alone.

I think I hit rock bottom when I read the book All Joy and No Fun. The first part of the book made it seem like parenthood was such an enormous burden, and I was starting feel a little better about not being a parent. But by the end of the book, I was sobbing. There was a passage in the book about how parenthood is a pathway back to childhood, and perhaps it was just because I knew I would be turning 40 in a couple of years, but I wanted more than anything to play hide and seek or have a snowball fight just one more time. Knowing that would never happen was one of the most painful things I’ve ever felt. After I finished the book, I felt numb.

Lisa had seen me reading the book, and she asked me about it. And with that, we finally started talking about what we’d been through We cried a lot.  Once we were done, we finally admitted out loud that we would never be parents, and we had talked ourselves into the idea that would have been OK.

We were getting older, and only crazy people would try to have a baby at our age, especially with the risks of miscarriage and premature birth we would have been facing. Besides, our house was kind of small, and there was no room in the back yard for a swing set, and let’s face it, we probably weren’t cut out to be parents anyway.

Lisa was going to be done with graduate school in a few months. We’d just travel and enjoy our lives, and everything would be just fine. I wouldn’t say were happy, but it was really good to have finally cleared the air. We would never have kids, but at least we’d have each other.  This wasn’t what we wanted, but we didn’t have much choice but to try to make the best of what we had.

Soon after, we were going to visit one of Lisa’s childhood friends, who was just about to give birth to a little boy. We got the onesie Lisa had bought so many years ago and took it with us to give to her. And with that, we closed the door on parenthood forever.

A few weeks later we found out Lisa was pregnant.

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