As I try to accept being childless not by choice, there are moments when I am overcome with small torrents of grief and anger. It usually is precipitated by the thought of someone who is currently pregnant followed by a white hot flash. For a brief moment, I’m rocked by different waves of emotion: there’s longing and sadness (of course), but there’s also a very strong feeling of indignation.
It doesn’t seem to matter who I am thinking about either – it could be a person who has been nothing but horrible to me, someone who has suffered losses like I have, or someone I barely know – the intensity of the feeling, the longing, and the burning is the same.
The indignation confuses me. The very strong sense of “why them and not me?” throws me for a loop. Why the person who has treated me unkindly, the person who already has been blessed, or the person who manipulates and abuses her children? I could float away for days on a sea of anger that arises from such thoughts.
I know that I have the right to feel anger about my situation, but at some point it seems like a futile exercise. It certainly isn’t going to change my situation. It just overtakes me for a minute, leaving me feeling a little more depleted once it passes.
In an attempt to make sense of confusing situations, I like to listen to podcasts while I work. However, there are very few out there that deal with CNBC or pregnancy loss. So one day, I ended up settling on a Christian podcast relating to grief from child loss. The podcast was an interview with singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth. The couple had lost one of their adopted daughters when she was run over in their driveway. It was very hard to listen to them lovingly describe the joy she brought to them and the pain, confusion, and guilt the family dealt with after her death.
At one point, the subject of feeling angry about their loss came up. Did they ever wonder why this happened to them? To which they calmly replied, “Why not us?” I was floored by this response. In it was a level of humility, grace and acceptance that I had never witnessed before.
The question of “Why NOT me?” is an interesting one (and a bit of a difficult one) to consider when unresolved feelings rear their ugly heads. What is it that I possess that enables me to endure this versus someone else? How can I take this and make this something for the better? What does this serve: not only for me, but for others?
I’ve been exploring the idea of the importance of purpose in life. Until recently, I thought that my purpose would be fulfilled in motherhood. Now, I know it must be something different. I think that all this anger, burning, and pain must be used as a catalyst to keep pushing me to explore until my actual purpose is found.
What about you, ladies? How does “Why NOT me?” impact you?
Quasi-Momma is living a childless, but not childfree, life as a stepmom. Her blog, Quasi-Momma, is a collection of her reflections on pregnancy loss, childlessness not by choice, and not-so-blended family life sprinkled with a little gratitude and lot of heart.
Lately I have been thinking quite a bit about this same question, as my husband and I have decided to move on from futile fertility treatments, acupuncture, etc. to concentrate our energies on adopting. Needless to say it’s been a very hard decision to make, but we have realized that becoming Mom and Dad is (dare I say) more important than having a baby that’s genetically ours. When I think of the many blessings that we have: a nice home, good jobs, and so much love to give… why not us? Almost everyday, kiddos who belong to strangers become fixated on us (no, we don’t have a monkey on our face or anything), and just smile at us for as long as they can. Why not us? We have a marriage that’s just as strong and happy as it was nearly five years ago, when we married. Why not us? Most importantly, we share a faith in a loving and loyal Father, who has apparently decided to bless us as parents in a nontraditional way, with a child who will need loving parents and a stable home. Why not us??
I’m beyond the anger and past the why not me phase. I came to realize that the universe isn’t controlled by anything, including me. Bad stuff randomly happens all the time to good and bad people without distinction. To get past the anger and the why me, my mantra for a long time was sh*t happens, and I guess this one is happening to me. I was a big fan of the Soprano’s and there is a line in the show when Furio visits Uncle Junior’s doctor to threaten him he says, “there are worse things that can happen to a person than cancer.” When I would get down or feel very angry, that line would always pop in my head about my infertility. I know it sucks when you are the person on the receiving end of bad stuff. But even the people who try to make us think they are living perfect lives are hiding something about themselves — I’ve found to make other people jealous and feel better about themselves. You know them – the ones that parade their kids around like trophies.
Kate B says
I”m not totally there yet. That surprises me, but not completely. Recently, I found out that someone I know that already has two children is now pregnant with twins. My reaction – why not me. She gets to have four and I couldn’t have one. I had a different reaction last night when I found out that a friend, I’ll call her M, is expecting her first. M had often said that she didn’t really want kids. Her husband (P) has custody of his son from his first marriage and she was cool with him, but didn’t really want any of her own. Last night, as we were out walking, my husband says to me “P & M are having a girl.” My thoughts were not of jealous, but of sadness. I thought that M would be my childless friend through life. Now, she’s having a baby and we won’t have that in common. She’ll have more in common with our other mutual friends. They’ll be doing all the baby talk and I’ll be on the outside. And I’m just sad.
I’m sorry about that; I know this feeling exactly. While I’m beginning to accept that adoption will be the way to parenthood for us, I still very much feel isolated from my best friend at work, and my sister in law. They both were supposed to have “problems” becoming pregnant, yet it took them no time in becoming with child. Likewise, within our own family three of us had “problems”. Two are pregnant, and I’m not one of them. *sigh*. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but I truly feel your loneliness.
Thank you for sharing your stories, this has been a private battle for me and I think its time I dealt with all of my feelings. Your stories had such an impact on me, thank you.
T Summers says
Sadly, I am so new to all of this that that I am still one of those bitter ones, but I am starting to look outside of myself and realize it is very unproductive for so so many reasons. My niece, all of 19 yrs old at the time text me to tell me she was pregnant. This was after one of my sisters told the other that they needed to tread carefully with this news with me… nice! At the time I just had my 2nd ectopic and was starting the IVF journey. I love my niece very much, but have really distanced myself from her and the new baby as I am not ready to be involved with that part of the family. Thankfully I live in the US, my family are all in Australia but regardless of this, it still feels very close to me. I know that nothing I can do will fix this situation, IVF did not and will not work and I now know that I have been dealt a bad hand in life and I need to move on and find the my purpose on this earth. It will take a while, I am lost at the moment and hunting very eagerly for this new path. If you find it, please send it my way……
j thorne says
In the last two years, I have been surrounded by pregnant friends, family, co-workers. It seems like when I begin to get past the anger, I hear someone else’s “good news”. And what is good news to them is really hard to hear sometimes. What was one of our last “couple” friends announced their good news to us over dinner one night. I had to fight back tears and smile through the rest of dinner. It is in those moments (and many others)that I say to myself, why them and not us? But then in my calmer moments, I think of all of the things that I do have and how being childless doesn’t have to define me. So then I understand the insightful “why not us” – things in life are just not always fair. I think it is a gradual acceptance that I am working on.
I head a cancer survivor say “why not me?” years ago. And it resonated. It’s now pretty much my mantra. I wrote something about the whole “why me?” bit here. http://nokiddinginnz.blogspot.co.nz/2011/02/why.html
I loved your article. Thank you for sharing it.
After a year of struggle, I have finally found some peace for the moment in my childfree status. I was reading a book about conflict (The Way of Conflict by D. Combs), and was struck by a motto which is keeping me in high spirits. The story goes something like a Chinese man in a village suffers misfortune, then fortune, then misfortune, etc… and to each responds “Maybe it is (mis)fortune, maybe it isn’t”. It really doesn’t matter.
I often feel like by choosing this road that is very much not traveled as much, it is demanded of me to forge a new road. Sometimes this just seems impossible, but other times it really feels like an opportunity to put all this energy into projects that have the potential to help many.
I love this “why me” or “why not me” way of looking at things. thanks for the post.
Powerful post! What a wonderful new perspective on our situation. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us. God bless you!
Thanks for sharing-I had a stressful week, in which I had repeatedly thought “why me? why me?” and finding this post, certainly is making me think- it’s too soon to say, but something for me to address later on… wow, just more than five months since surgery- yet I would like to think I’m getting better compared to last month, the month before- ( I hope) thanks for the new concept! 🙂
Punam J R says
This is so beautifully inspiring – Why not me? Maybe just maybbe that’s the way to deal with pain – I can bear it, that’s why it’s me… an iota of courage flows inside me.. an iota is enough..! Thanks for this, QM.