Childless or Childfree?

Today’s topic may be a trigger for any of you who might be or have in the past been through the journey to conceive. I will be discussing my journey and my thoughts about the communities that we unintentionally become a part of.

For those of you who are new here, let me do a quick recap of my journey. In 2014, I married my husband. In 2015, we decided I would stop taking birth control a few months prior to our “start trying” month that we had decided upon so I could regulate my cycle after being on birth control for over 15 years. In the middle of 2015 and after months of extreme pain, I had a laparoscopy with excision for endometriosis. Once I was cleared to resume intercourse, we officially entered the “we are trying to get pregnant” mode of our lives. In late 2016, we started getting tested and at the beginning of 2017, we did our first medicated cycle. Throughout 2017 we would do multiple medicated cycles, IUI, and IVF. I never got pregnant. The only positive pregnancy test was the one during IVF that was caused by the hormonal shots. At the end of 2017, we decided to take a break from fertility treatments so I could try to regain who I am. That break never ended.

Over the past couple of years, we decided that we would let what happens happen because the stress of trying to get pregnant was more than we wanted to go through again. Then I had back surgery. After about a year of recovery from my back surgery and getting to a place where we realized that I had put my back and hips through so much over the years and couldn’t comfortably lift our nieces or nephews, among other physical reasons, we decided we would be shutting the door on having our own children. So we did shut that door this year and my husband got a vasectomy. 

For the past few years, I have been part of a Facebook group for people without children. Not too long ago I saw a question pop-up in there about someone asking about childless versus childfree. This question frustrated me at the time and then stayed on my mind.

Why do we have to have a differentiation? Why do we have to be put into a specific bucket? I am childless and I am childfree. We are not having children. Who cares?

Apparently, some people do. I saw comments that told those of us who have not been able to have children but wanted them at one point that we are childless, not childfree. Apparently, the definition of childfree is only for those who choose not to have children and have never tried. And if you are a person who tried to have children but cannot, then you are childless. What the fuck? 

Why do people who couldn’t have children but who are embracing life without children have to be bucketed to remind them that they couldn’t produce children? This is demoralizing and depressing. Why must we remind people that their reproductive organs were not functioning properly? Why must we tell these people that even though they are trying to embrace life differently than they planned, they have to be in a specific community of people? I mean, there is nothing wrong with that community other than the name by which it is referred to.

To me, living childfree is a lifestyle that anybody could live. It is not some exclusive group of people. Yes, there are people who just don’t want kids and never even considered trying to have them. But why do we have to separate those people from those of us who wanted but can’t have children? I really don’t understand the thought process behind this. 

I am childless and I am childfree. I tried to have my own children and considered adopting, but decided not to. My body would not allow us to have the children we had planned on so we are embracing life without children. Both of these so-called groups of people describe me.

When I hear the term childless, I am reminded of what wouldn’t work. I am reminded that my body will not grow a human. I am reminded that I tried and could not succeed at what nature gave me organs to do. I am reminded of the physical and emotional pain that my journey gave me.

When I hear childfree, I simply hear “we do not have kids”.

I am childless and I am childfree. I embrace not having children every single day while still wishing I had had the opportunity to carry my own baby to term, feeling all of the movements while in utero, and watching all of the milestones as they grew. I wish I could see Eddie being the awesome dad that he would have been but I enjoy both of us being able to do whatever we want with our days.

To all of you who are reading this and have been through this journey, do not let random people tell you how to define yourself. If there is someone telling you that since you tried to have children, you can’t be technically called childfree, do not stand for it. Yes, you might be childless, but you can enjoy being childfree at the same time.

To all of you who are childfree and chose to not have children, please stop putting those of us who came to life without children through a different path into some bucket just because we tried. The result is the same, we don’t have children and we are either trying to or are enjoying our lives and the benefits that we get from not having them. We don’t have to be different just because we got to this point from a different path.

To all of our friends who have children, thank you for keeping us close and letting us share in the special moments that you have. We may be embracing not having children, but having a small part of those special moments is rewarding and fills a small part of a big hole in our hearts. 

Being childfree doesn’t mean someone never wanted kids. It simply means that person doesn’t have kids right now. Being childless doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our lives without kids. 

I am childless and wish I had special moments with a child of my own. I am childfree and I have a lot of fun not having kids running around my house and dictating my schedule or where I spend money. I am me and I am living my best life with the hand I’ve been dealt. I am me and that’s who I’ll be.

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