During my 20s there were more interesting things to do than settle down and have children, but I always expected that I’d end up having a family. As I reached age 30 the desire grew stronger. I remember the exact moment when my husband-to-be and I both voiced the desire to have a child, and six months later we started trying. I was just 34 years old.
I’m now 41. There is no apparent reason for us to have not conceived. I am fit, healthy and I really wanted it to happen. Over the first few years we tried nutritional therapy, acupuncture, yoga, Ayurveda, shamanism, had loads of medical tests and investigations and eventually underwent one cycle of IVF. That was the only time I ever got pregnant, and it lasted just 7 weeks.
I have been filled with what seemed like an endless pool of grief at being denied what is perhaps one of the deepest rooted desires a woman can have – to be a mother. I’ve cried so many tears, felt much bitterness and resentment and felt incredibly sorry for myself.
But over time I also began to see that I was using not being able to get pregnant to reinforce long-held and deeply critical views of my worthiness – how crazy is that?
And I also began to realise that I was no longer really participating in my life. Instead I was living almost completely dominated by a future dream that I was starting to realise I had very little power to manifest. And, as friends around me had baby after baby, I started to see that this dream of mine bore little resemblance to the messy, sleepless reality of parenthood.
And finally I saw that IVF, precisely because of its toxicity to my body, precisely because the hormones changed my personality (for the worse) for months, and precisely because I went through the painful process of a miscarriage, was a gift. It was the point where both my husband and I realised that there was a limit to how much pain we were prepared to put ourselves in the present to try and grasp a dream of happiness in the future. And so at this point our only choice was to accept things as they are.
It hasn’t been an easy or quick process, acceptance. But along the way it has given me something of immense value – to see that my happiness is not dependent on getting what I want. There is a relief and simple delight when we can accept what is before us, welcome what life brings our way. It is incredibly empowering to know that you can find contentment in each moment, whether things go ‘your’ way or not.
And I can now honestly say that today I’m completely ok about not having children. I participate in – and enjoy – my life to a far deeper level today, and I enjoy the freedom being childless has given me. It wasn’t what I expected or would have planned, but I am really happy with my life –so much so that getting pregnant right now would significantly mess up my plans!
Letting go of even the most deeply rooted desires and dreams is possible, and opens up the possibility of new things you might not even have been able to dream of to come into your life. We might believe that we’ll be happy if or when our dreams come true, but the implication of this is that we can’t then be fully happy right now. What if we can? Acceptance turns this on its head, and can be a faster route to contentment. What a blessing that is!
So… to what areas of your life could you bring more acceptance?
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