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How to Be Happy Even Though You’re Childless

Coping with childlessness is like grieving the loss of a loved one: you never “get over” the pain. But you can be childless and still have a happy, fulfilled, and even joyful life. My husband and I first started dealing with infertility 10 years ago. Grieving was a process that took a long time and we’ve accepted the idea that we’ll be childless forever…but it still hurts.

On 5 Practical Ways to Cope With Childlessness a reader said she wasn’t comforted by my advice because she’s not married. “How can I be happy as a single childless woman?” she asks. She feels that single women have different problems. I agree. Married woman who can’t have children may have a built-in source of comfort in their husbands…but husbands can also be a source of pain, disappointment, and loneliness. I wrote the first five tips in this article for married childless couples. The final five tips are for single women who can’t have kids.

Whether you’re single or married, it’s important to be an emotionally healthy woman in all your relationships.  Infertility and childlessness is difficult for most women; staying strong and stable is more important than you may realize.

Infertility and childlessness is a major loss in life. It’s the end of a dream, a goal, and a hope for a family. The only way to cope with it is to go through the grieving process (as opposed to avoiding the pain of grief).

The bad news is that the sting and heartbreak of childlessness doesn’t ever fully go away. You will always experience the pain of infertility and childlessness when you see a baby or pregnant woman. But there is good news: some childless women are happy, healthy, and whole! They love life and have a never-ending source of peace, love, joy, and healing.

It’s important to grieve childlessness – whether you’re single or married, young or old, Christian or atheist. Infertility is heartbreaking and needs to be processed before anyone can learn how to be happy.

5 Ways to Be Happy in a Childless Marriage

Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you feel emotionally supported or spiritually connected. In fact, experiencing emotional disconnection in marriage can be far lonelier than being single. When you’re a single woman without children, you expect to be lonely and sad. When you’re married you may expect to your husband to be there for you the way you need – but this isn’t always possible.

Which leads me to my first tip on how to be happy as a married childless woman…

1. Don’t expect your husband to give you all the emotional support you need

how to accept childlessness blossom tips“We were diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility’, which sounds good in one respect,” says Cindy Margolis, actress, model, and spokesperson for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. “On the other hand, you almost want something wrong, so there’s a problem that you can fix.”

Men have the reputation of wanting to fix emotional and practical problems for their wives. Infertility is a problem that can’t be fixed; childlessness is a grief that never fully lifts its shadow. This may lead to relationship problems that become worse than the struggle  of “just” learning how to be happy as a childless couple. Many infertile couples fall into the emotional traps of blaming, confusion, and unmet expectations. Some childless women expect their husbands to support them emotionally and spiritually; some childless men don’t know how to give their wives that emotional support.

Whether you’re coping with male-factor infertility, female fertility problems, or unexplained infertility, the fact is that you and your husband may not be able to support each other the way you need. You may have to find other sources of comfort and healing – especially if one or both of you aren’t able to accept the idea of being childless forever.

2. Be prepared for the effect of childlessness on your marriage

I don’t know the statistics of divorce after infertility, but I do know that childlessness can negatively impact a marriage. Some couples get a divorce after infertility or even during fertility treatments because it’s a stressful, difficult time.

Part of learning how to be happy as a childless woman is to be prepared for anything in your relationship with your husband. After you grieve infertility, you need to be aware that your marriage may look very different in a year from now. Maybe your relationship will be stronger; maybe it’ll be weaker. Maybe you’ll have learned joy and peace; maybe your husband will have sunk deeper into pain and depression.

Don’t expect anything in particular, but be prepared for anything.

3. Learn the freedom of acceptance and surrender

My husband and I spent three years trying to have children before we realized that our infertility was insurmountable. Yes, we’re Christians – and yes, we believed with all our hearts, minds, and souls that God would give us children! In fact, I even believed I had a promise from God. I’d read a Psalm that said “God settles the barren woman in her home and makes her the happy mother of children,” a decade before we got married; I really, really believed God intended me to have biological children.

But it wasn’t to be. Now, after 12 years of marriage, I have learned how to be happy even though I’ll be childless forever. My happiness doesn’t come from my husband Bruce or from our dogs. In fact I’m not even just happy – I’m full of joy, enthusiasm, positive energy, love, and courage.

My joy comes from acceptance and surrender. I haven’t allowed myself to sink into the belief that childless women are any less worthy or valuable than women who are mothers, and I don’t believe God is withholding something from me. I trust Him with a childlike spirit, and I love Him with all my heart.

I live in acceptance and surrender to His will for my life, and I have never been happier. If you’re not ready to surrender your dream of having biological children, you may find How to Pray a Powerful Prayer for Healing helpful.

4. Be with other childless couples who have learned how to be happy

If you’ve recently discovered that you or your partner are infertile, you may want to research various infertility support groups or couples counselors. Many treatment centers have monthly support groups led by experienced therapists. Connecting with other couples coping with infertility is a great way to learn how to be happy even if you’ll be childless forever, and even to investigate alternative ways to have a family.

When I was going through the worst of my grieving process, I didn’t want to be around new moms, babies, or pregnant women. Childlessness was very painful and I didn’t know how to be happy as a woman without children. I encourage you to be aware of your grief process and the “triggers” that make your world come crashing down. While you’re going through the worst of your grief, avoid those triggers. As you start to heal and grow stronger, you will find yourself able to be with new moms, babies, and expectant mothers. You will learn how to be happy without having to be surrounded by childless women all the time! Trust me. You will heal.

5. Explore different ways to invite children into your life

I’m a Big Sister with the Big Sisters/Big Brothers mentoring organization. My husband was a Big Brother. I didn’t find this to be a painful reminder of our childlessness; in fact, volunteering with a child (who is now a 15 year old teenage girl with all sorts of emotions and hormones running through her veins) helped me embrace our childlessness.

How else can you incorporate childishness into your life as a couple? Consider volunteering at a hospital for sick kids, or getting seriously involved in your nephews’ or nieces’ lives. There are kids all over our communities who are lonely and desperate for adult attention…and if your childless life may benefit other people’s kids in deep, meaningful ways.

If you believe you’ll never learn how to be happy because you’re a childless woman, talk to couples who have adopted, fostered, or had children in non-biological ways. Enjoying – not just tolerating – life after infertility involves opening your mind to possibilities other than traditional childbirth (or traditional fertility treatments). Ask your friends and family for examples of people who have built their families in untraditional ways. You’ll be surprised at what bubbles to the surface!

A Childfree Life After InfertilityIf you’re struggling with the idea of living childless forever, read Complete Without Kids: An Insider’s Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance. Ellen Walker guides readers through the positive and negative aspects of childfree living, taking into consideration the different issues faced by men or women, couples or singles.

As a woman who is childfree by choice, Walker draws upon her personal experience while also offering the reader numerous interviews with other childfree adults, revealing behind-the-scenes factors that influenced their personal journeys.

5 Tips for Single Women Who Are Childless

These tips aren’t just for never-married women – they’re for women whose marriages failed because of the pain of infertility, and for divorced women who never had their own children.

1. Find healthy ways to grieve your childlessness

“I’ve never been married and now that I’m 49, I believe I’ll be a childless single woman for the rest of my life,” says Elsa in response to Words of Comfort When Your Heart is Broken. “I’m an only child and have no siblings, I’m truly the last of my line and it depresses me that it will all end with me. There is an ‘immortality’ about having kids that I’ll never have.”

She adds that she’s dealing with depression that childless women often face. “I know in my heart I need therapy, but I live out here in the boonies where there aren’t any counselors or support groups, so that’s not an option,” she says. “I write copiously.I have always written, both professionally and privately, have kept journals since the age of 5 (I literally have trunks of them…). It’s saved me from ‘losing it’ more than once. Writing enables me to get my thoughts clearly formed and to think things through. My diary is my ‘therapist.’ I used to write in little notebooks, which I illustrated, but now I do it on the computer and the laptop when I travel.”

2. Learn how other single women found happiness

I believe that it’s impossible to go through the challenge of infertility and not be changed by the process,” says entrepreneur Lesley Pyne How to Be Happy Without Kids. “I’ve used those changes to create meaning in my life. There’s no doubt that I’m different now. I’m stronger than I thought, I know myself a lot better and I’m a lot more empathic. I’ve learned so many new skills and have reclaimed my creativity.”

Lesley also says that time will only partially heal the pain of infertility for single childless women. She encourages women to take positive action to heal the grief and sadness. “It is hard to do this on your own,” says Lesley. “Working with someone who has been where you are and knows the way out makes the journey so much easier.”

3. Own and rewrite your story

You don’t get the life you planned. You never thought you’d have to cope with the idea of being childless forever.

How to Be Happy as a Childless Woman Single or Married

How to Be Happy as a Childless Woman – Single or Married

It’s heartbreaking, and I’m sorry for your loss. I’m sorry for my loss, and my heart goes out to all the childless women who are in deep pain because they will never have their own biological children.

But I refuse to let my childlessness and infertility be the end of my story.

Author Brené Brown says this about owning your story: “When you deny your story, it defines you. When you own your story, you get to write a brave new ending. You get to say it was horrible and I was in lots of pain …… and then I got help and this is how the story ends.”

Learning how to be happy even if you’re childless forever doesn’t have to involve figuring out what your purpose is or what you’re passionate about! I know more women who don’t know what their purpose is than women who know why they’re here and what their “mission” is.

4. Focus on your emotional and spiritual health

Connect with God, or whatever makes you feel fully alive and energized. Explore activities that you haven’t yet tried. Talk to people you’ve never met. Take a risk, for you are dying. We are all dying, whether we’re childless women or single or married or the mother of quintuplets or a grandma of a one.

You know that feeling of abundant joy, peace, and freedom? Like you’re walking on clouds and in love with the Universe? That’s God. He is speaking to you all the time, wanting to fill you with peace, joy, love, healing, and grace. Accept what He offers, for no child or husband or activity will give you God’s spirit.

5. Be willing to accept your life as it is – without ‘winning’ or ‘losing’

how can I be happy childless womenKitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal is one of my favorite books because it’s all about accepting both the bitter and the sweet parts of life. Dr Rachel Naomi Remen is an oncologist who never had children. She struggled with Crohn’s Disease for most her life, and when she was in her 20s had surgery to remove most of her intestines. Dr Remen is one of those childless women who knows failure and heartache – and I think she was single when she wrote Kitchen Table Wisdom. Maybe she’s still single, I don’t know. It doesn’t even matter! She teaches people how to bounce back from pain, loss, depression, and suffering to live full, passionate lives.

“The willingness to win OR lose moves us out of an adversarial relationship to life and into a powerful kind of openness,” writes Dr. Remen in Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal. “From such a position, we can make a greater commitment to life.”

Learning how to be happy as a single childless woman will involve being grateful for the benefits of your life. You can’t be happy without gratitude. When you feel grateful, you have no room in your heart, spirit, or soul for depression, angst, anxiety, or pain. Live in gratitude. Learn how to be happy with what you have, where you are, and who you are becoming. You will always feel the heartache of not having a baby, but it’s much easier to bear when you focus on the good parts of your life.

How do you feel? How are you coping with the idea of being childless forever? I welcome your big and little thoughts below. Feel free to share your story, or a little comment.


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53 thoughts on “How to Be Happy Even Though You’re Childless”

  1. I’m 37 & a 1/2 not married but have been with my boyfriend for 19 & a 1/2 years now and we both want children so bad and are in the process of getting doctors help to get pregnant I’ve known since I was a teenager that I couldn’t get pregnant but hoped that doctors help would work but so far of 2 years and months of Clomid and 1 round of stomach injections and an IUI and a 2nd new doctor for the past 6 months and nothing but waiting to hear back for surgery then estrogen and 4 months of egg retrieval to try IVF before it’s too late but something is telling me I can’t have children and I know if I can’t my boyfriend will leave and I have already had depression from a young age. I don’t don’t see a purpose here for me other then God wanting me for last 7 & a 1/2 years working with the elderly as a HHA. If I am not meant to have a husband or baby then what am I meant to be a nun or something that’s if I can go on without my boyfriend in my life.

  2. I’d like to learn how to deal with childlessness too. The activities of running, exercise dancing are just temporary distractions for me. I’ll soon be 69 & it still haunts me!!! Women my age talk a lot about their children & grandchildren. Some even have great grandchildren. Sometines it really hurts to be around them. My husband has a son from a previous marriage that we did not get to see much while he was growing up. 20 years ago his 3 year old daughter & wife were killed in a car accident. So, it really is painful to hear stories & see pictures of these other women.
    Last week I was watching a movie about a guy that saw his son on a bicycle killed by a car. Later in his life, he’d become close to little girls next door, foster children. One day the younger one ran out into street from behind a car to catch a dog. So he relived his son’s death. I went crazy. Crying & screaming. My poor puppies panicked. Jumped all over me. Comforting me I quess. That was the very first time I have cried about my childless life & losses. I must have alot pent up. I have been cleared to volunteer at a school as a volunteer. I have not gathered enough nerve to even call the school. I’m afraid I will get too attached & they are not MY children. I long for MY children.
    Anyway, this problem never goes away for me.

    1. I’m 48 and don’t have kids. I stop menstruating about a year ago.
      I’ve never been the woman to “long for” and “dream about” having babies. I just assumed it would happen one day.
      My sister (who has 3) tells me they are over rated lol… and I’ve noticed my friends grown up kids moving overseas or interstate leaving parents behind.
      The world is extremely over populated right now. I don’t agree with IVF.
      I don’t believe that having kids is the “be all and end all”.
      There are so many children in need of love, so many unwanted children. I’ve thought that if I’m ever pining over not having kids I can reach out to those children in need.
      The ONLY real concern I have about not having kids is the awkwardness surrounding the subject. Recently, during a chat with new colleagues I was asked “Do you have kids?”, I answered “No” and there was a long and awkward pause… “oh, oh, that’s ok” was the response. Everyone looked awkward and embarrassed and then I felt it was MY job to make them feel better, so I said “yeah, I’m ok with it, I have a parrot I love and nieces and nephews, it’s all good”.
      Personally I dont ask other women about kids. If they have them, sooner or later it will come up in conversation.
      I wonder what will happen when I’m old, but if aged care is the reason to have kids, no thanks!
      I never imagined that I wouldn’t have kids, it’s just the way it has panned out. I’d rather be childless than struggling to give a child a good life alone or with the wrong partner.

  3. I am married for the last 12 yrs and I am childless. Underwent two IVF with 3 FETs.., unfortunately didnt work. I am a gynaecologist by peofession, deal with infertile couples, guide them, counsel them. And a lot of them do get pregnant after the counselling. Its overwhelming.
    I do feel blessed at times as I am in this unique situation wherein I could impact other’s lives. Nevertheless it gets very tough to cope with childlessness, but I have found the myriad activities like running , aerobics, dancing which go a long way in dealing with this.
    I would love to hear from you regarding ways to cope up. Waiting in anticipation,

  4. I am almost 69. After over 10 yrs of infertility workups, txts & surgeries I realized I would never have my own biological children. In 2000 we started searching for a birth mother for an open independent adoption. I thought my husband was in agreement. We paid $8500 non-refundable fee to begin the process. We had to write autobiographies. During that writing my husband left me for a much younger woman. He came back 10 months later, after that woman started talking about having babies. We never talked about children again.
    I have been treated for chronic depression because of all this. As I get older, each day has been harder to bare. I feel totally lost & worthless. Trying to make friends but all I find are mothers & grandmothers. So painful to listen to their family stories.
    I am at the point I force myself to do things, trying new things but so very difficult to even leave the house. My heart & spirit are broken. I live in a rural area. What do I need to do? My therapist retired & my insurance does not cover it. Is there something I could read besides books for childless single women? Has anything been written for women similar to my experience?

    1. Kathleen, you sure have been through a lot! It sounds like you tried so hard, you wanted to have children so badly…and your dreams never came true. It must be so hard. I can understand why you’re depressed, and looking for ways to be happy as a childless woman.

      I’m glad you’re here. I don’t have all the answers, but I hope you sign up for my She Blossoms newsletter! I offer tips, inspiration and encouragement. I send an email every Wednesday, and it may help lift your spirits. If you’re not already getting my newsletter, sign up here: http://eepurl.com/ca2mJr

      As you discovered, books aren’t always the answer. I don’t know what other books have been written for women in your position; I think most are for childless women who are looking for ways to be happy. Instead of focusing on the problem, I wonder if you’d benefit from thinking about and experiencing things that move you forward spiritually and emotionally? Often we focus on the problems – childlessness, depression, loneliness, pain, aging – and we neglect to grow the beauty, love and joy that is within us.

      I encourage you to think about your faith. I don’t know where you are in your relationship with God, but I hope you open your heart to the possibility of Him. Going to church isn’t necessarily the answer, though it can help! But I think it’s more important to focus on getting to know who Jesus is. He offers life, power, and strength…and He is always available. The love, peace and joy He offers has to be experienced before it can be understood! It’s like tasting chocolate, or your favorite most nutritious and delicious food. You can’t describe it…all you can do is taste it, learn about it, and keep returning and experimenting.

      May you find peace, joy, and healing. May your spirits be lifted and your heart strengthened. May you find yourself growing forward into the woman God created you to be….and may you never look back at what could have been.

      With the love of Jesus,

  5. Thank you for sharing your story, and for being so honest about your experience. Accepting the idea that you’ll be childless forever is a longterm process of grieving and surrendering, allowing and denying, peace and anger. I don’t know if there’s ever a time when you really “get there”…or if you really are at peace with the idea of never having children.

    I’m fine with not having kids – and I love my freedom! But even though it only took a few years for me to accept the idea of childlessness, I still feel pangs of grief and heartache. We were created to have children, to love and be loved in a family…and not being part of life in that way is really hard. There is no getting over the pain of this type of loss.

    There’s no getting over the pain of being a childless woman, but there are ways to be happy more often than sad! I guess that’s what I figured out, and what every woman has to figure out, too. How do you feel more joy and peace, more acceptance and hope? It depends on who you are.

    Do you think you’ll ever truly recover from infertility?

  6. I’m 33 years old, and 4 years ago I had to have an emergency full hysterectomy, the same day I was supposed to meet with fertility doctor to save and freeze eggs. Unfortunately, that was never possible.
    When I was 26 I had an ovarian cyst rupture . I was confused because I had just had my yearly a week before and they didn’t feel or see anything! The doctors said that my body just had to absorb the fluid from my cyst that just ruptured and it will take a few weeks and the severe pain I was feeling would go away in a couple of weeks. They were wrong. It was just the beginning of my 3 year battle with severe endometriosis. In Dec 2011-6 months after my cyst ruptured- I began my first surgical procedure. They did a laparoscopy and confirmed that I did indeed have severe endometriosis along my pelvic wall. They removed as much tissue as they could, but unfortunately they weren’t able to remove it all. I remember laying in recovery with a pamphlet they just had given me on endometriosis, feeling relieved that we found out why I’ve been in so much pain and deathly sick , losing 30 pounds in 6 months , but having so much inflammation I looked 3 months pregnant. I thought finally I’ll start feeling better and be back to myself! I felt good for a month after the laparoscopy and in February the pain and inflammation and troubling peeing was back and that’s when my doctor started to tell me exactly what was going on. To start, I had a septum uterus. I asked what that was and he said ,” your uterus is shaped in a heart but well deal with that when the time comes. He continued to tell me that laparoscopy does help remove the tissue , there are some cases that the tissue will grow back thicker and that will cause extreme pain. He asked me if I was married, I said no. He said my only option to be out of pain was to have a hysterectomy or get pregnant. I was 26, neither was an option!! So I started my first round of hormone therapy. I was injected once every 3 months to trick my body to go into premenopause, so my body would stop producing tissue in my pelvic cavity . I had 4 -10cm lesions along my cavity wall. Even going through premenopause and being told I only had 2 options-either have a baby or hysterectomy- I never even thought I might not be able to have children?? I was just focused on getting rid of the pain. I started to lose friend and my family didn’t understand because from the outside I looked fine. As the years went on and my health got worse , I was now feeling frustrated, alone, scared. My body wasn’t digesting food properly and tissue was just coming out of me ; and my weight had dropped to 70 lbs! In 2013, 2 years after being diagnosed and put through numerous hormone replacement shots, pills and patches; I told the doctor I was ready for the hysterectomy. I wasn’t able to live my life anymore. The pain had spread throughout my legs and I wasn’t able to walk upstairs and I wasn’t able to sit ina chair . There was so much tissue and inflammation when I would try to sit my insides felt like they were going to burst. I always wanted a family and kids, but I just wanted to be able to live my life. And if I would have tried to get pregnant, I wouldn’t have survived . The Dr told me that he couldn’t do the hysterectomy bc I was only 28. I felt duped. For 2 years he had been telling me have a baby or hysterectomy those are your two choices! I told him my decision and he said no. During this time tho, my cervix had cancerous cells. I went through 5 painful colposcopies , each time they removed 3 -7 lesions and biopsied to make sure it was benign. Even those results left me asking more questions. I went to a specialist who took more samples and removed my cancerous cells. That specialist was my savior. But he wanted to operate on my legs too bc he thought the pain was from my nerves, not the endometriosis. He told me tho I needed to take care of cancerous cells in cervix and he gave me the number to a surgeon that specializes in endometriosis. So in January 2015/ 4 years after my first laparoscopy, I finally met with a surgeon and we scheduled my hysterectomy and we also scheduled an appt with fertility dr so my boyfriend and I could freeze my eggs and his sperm. The pain at this point had taken over my whole body . The pain pills weren’t doing anything for me. My body had rejected the hormone replacements and was making me worse. In March 2015, I went into emergency surgery. A month before my planned surgery and the exact day I was supposed to meet with a fertility specialist, I was being admitted and prepped for surgery for 5 am the next morning. I remember laying in the hospital bed, being on morphine pump, and the morphine wasn’t helping. I barely remember anything that day. I didn’t sleep at all the night before bc of the pain and I remember signing my life away and that’s it. When I awoke from surgery , I was told that when they went in there it was really bad. They had to perform a full hysterectomy-they removed my ovaries, cervix, uterus and Fallopian tubes. My days were dark after that. They waited almost a month to start hormone therapy and I had started found through menopause. I was 29 and I have to wear a hormone patch til I’m 60 so I don’t go into menopause again. I’m 33 now, it’s been almost 4 years in March since hysterectomy and I can say that I no longer suffer from the pain of endometriosis, but my heart and the loss of never being a mother and having a family and missing out raising my kids with all my other friends and their kids. My best friend hid her 2 pregnancy from me because I was getting hysterectomy when she was just a couple of months along. I had felt isolated and alone when I was sick but her not telling me she was pregnant bc she didn’t want me to be upset or feel left out that I was the only one who didn’t have any kids . I don’t know what hurt more. That I was being left out of memories and happy occasions; or that I was already being put in the category of childless women. Like there was something wrong with me or something . Since I was 12 years old, I have been planning and dreaming about my kids and family and the love that we would have. That’s all I wanted. I never had a chance to think and process and accept that I would never be a mother. I just wanted to be out of the pain because I couldn’t fight anymore. My heart is broken, and I’m not the same person I was before I got sick. This is the first time I’ve ever told my story. It doesn’t help that not only my friends, but my sisters and my mom, haven’t invited me to a mother’s day in 8 years. They both have kids and like my friends; they all hang out together with their kids and I’m never invited. I don’t know if they feel uncomfortable around me or they only want to hang out with other moms? I went to my nephews birthday dinner tonight and I was the only single girl there. Everyone else had their kids who are all the same age . I feel lost during get togethers. And they all think it’s been 4 years, get over it! But Even tho it’s been 4 years since emergency full hysterectomy, it still hurts and is painful like it was just yesterday. I thought maybe I’d feel better since first time I’m telling my story but I don’t. There’s still a heaviness in my chest and heart. A couple of months ago , I tried talking to my mom how I’m still sad on Mother’s Day and if that will get easier and she just dismissed me and acted like my feelings were being dramatic . We’re not close and she stopped being a mother to me when I was 12. My dad left her and instead of my mom taking care of me she checked out and I raised myself from 12 on. When I was 16 I moved in with my Dad but ever since I was 12 I dreamed and planned about how great a mother I would be and I would show them so much love they would never feel how I felt or have to raise themselves. I thought I’d feel better after telling my story but The pain is still there.

  7. Thanks for your thoughts on childless versus childfree, Jaclyn! I choose to call myself childless not out of ignorance, but because I don’t see myself as “free” from children. To me, childfree is a choice. Childless is something I didn’t choose and I had to learn how to accept.

    How about you — are you childfree?

  8. I’d be happy if people stopped being so ignorant as to call women childless. Child free is the acceptable term. Learn it. Use it.

  9. Being childless is painful but it is not the end of the world. I found out I couldn’t have kids when I was 28, and I was devastated….until my little sister was brutally attacked. She lived through it, but she has so many health issues, emotional and physical.

    The world is full of suffering. Infertility is painful, I get it. But it’s not the worst thing that could ever happen to you – and you CAN learn how to be happy as a childless woman.

    It’s your choice: depression because of infertility or happiness because you don’t want to live in a black pit. What will you choose?

    Corinne McDonald

    1. We don’t have to exist in a black pit but neither do we exist in a vacuum…it’s an extreme challenge to live in contemporary society and not be deluged with “mommy mania,” obsession over baby bumps, etc. All day long, we are bombarded with media messages of “well, as a *mom*, my view is….” OR ” …as a busy *mom*, I rely on this…” ….blah, blah, blah. Many contemporary mothers are absolutely moms first and persons second. And they don’t miss a single chance to bleat and blare their reproductive accomplishments at every turn, celebrating their own momhood individually and with likeminded women as a group. And it’s absolutely horrible to have to listen to and endure. When I grew up, parents had their identities straight as *people* first. But by the time the ’80s and ’90s rolled in, the mommy mania was in full force. I even recall one TV host (of a mom-oriented show) simpering at the start of every episode “*every* day is Mother’s Day”.” My point is that some women may prefer the black pit as a peaceful retreat from the often cold and selfish attitudes of many of today’s “oh so busy (and self-congratulatory) moms.”

  10. Hi Jen,

    Good question! I suspect there are more faith-based articles on coping as a childless woman than non faith-based. I wonder why?

    There must be articles that help women cope with infertility that don’t encourage a connection with God.

    Have you tried searching for terms such as:

    Dealing with infertility pain without God
    Coping with childlessness no faith in God
    Being happy as a childless woman atheist
    Don’t believe in God can’t have children

    Searching for “how to be happy as a childless woman” might also work if you do the negative search thing. I’m not sure how it works, you’d have to Google it, but it’s something like using the minus (-) sign and “God” or “faith” when you search for “coping with infertility” or “dealing with childlessness.”

    I hope this helps! I wish you all the best as you look for inspiration on healing.

    Oh yeah, I just remembered Pamela T’s blog – Silent Sorority! She also wrote a book. I’m not sure if she references God or faith, but her infertility blog is very popular and supportive.

    Silent Sorority: A Barren Woman Gets Busy, Angry, Lost and Found by Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos


    May you find peace and healing, joy and love, acceptance and freedom. And may your life Blossom in ways you never expect.


  11. I would love it if someone could write about infertility and grief, and not reference God. Anyone have any suggestions? I’m not religious one bit, so relying on faith gets me nowhere. I’m not going to change in this respect. Where can I look for inspiration on healing?

    1. Life without baby has a support group and gateway women dot com also has a support group. I’m 10 years out of Ivf and my grief journey. I have a retreat/getaway for childless women in the Hill country of Texas in May 2018.

  12. Dear Roo,

    I’m sorry you’re going through this. My husband and I dealt with infertility and years of trying to conceive, and it is heartbreaking. It’s not easy, especially when you see pregnant women or babies. Even now, when there is no possible way for me to get pregnant (unless a miracle happens!), I still feel sad that I am a childless woman.

    I wrote this for you:

    How to Deal With Depression When You Can’t Get Pregnant

    I hope it helps a little. May you find peace and healing, surrender and acceptance no matter what happens in your life. May you find life and joy, light and hope…and may you learn how to be happy as a childless woman.

    Joy and happiness are possible! Trust me. But first you need to go through the dark bits…and expect shadows to fall every now and then…


  13. I don’t want to learn how to be happy as a childless woman because I just want to get pregnant. My partner and I have been trying get pregnant for the best part of 7 years. He has four kids from two previous relationships so I know its not him. He’s 31, I’m 33. I’m falling apart more every day and he’s just angry at me. He doesn’t know why I can’t just snap out of it.

    I have all of the symptoms of depression and I just want to get pregnant. I don’t have much feeling for anyone or anything anymore. I feel so all alone. Even the smallest things are difficult and require so much energy. Even writing this comment is exhausting. I just wanted to write to say I understand and truly know how heartbreaking it is to be woman and not be able to perform your basic and primary purpose for being. To create, nurture and give birth to another human being. I hate myself for not being able to get pregnant and I can’t understand why this is happening…

    1. To Roo:
      I know you left this comment long ago but, I couldn’t help to feel the need to reach out to you. Your husband should not be angry with you for not being able to have children! Or for being upset about it! Have you told him how much it hurts you and why? I had to explain to my husband how sometimes simply walking past the baby section at a store is too much for me, etc.. for him to finally “get it.” He’s now very supportive and understanding. If you’ve done that and your husband still acts that way, I highly recommend counseling. That’s not right.

      Also, women aren’t only here to have babies. Your primary purpose is to glorify God and to spread his word to those who may not have been fortunate enough to hear it, yet. If you do not know God, I hope you will give him an opportunity to change your life by reading the Holy Bible and asking for his forgiveness.

      It’s hard enough to deal with infertility, don’t make it worse by believing you have no purpose! You do. Whether you have children of your own, or not.

  14. You’re right, Gabriella. It can be more difficult to be happy as a childless woman if you’re single….but it really depends on your marriage. Some marriages make childlessness worse, because of guilt and condemnation and lack of understanding.

    The only true source of peace, love, and joy is God. It doesn’t matter if we have children, husbands, homes, cars, jobs, interesting hobbies, beautiful vacations…the only way to be truly peaceful and joyful is to have a relationship with He who created us. Everything else pales in comparison!

  15. You know what is salt in the wound? The bit about having a husband at midlife has more effect on a woman’s well being. Does no good for those of us who are childless thru the circumstance of not having ANYONE.

    1. Hi Gabriella Gateway Women is a great resource and just the support you may find useful. If you do an internet search you will find it. Also, ‘Living the life unexpected’ is a book you will also find a great support.

  16. I know of so many people who chose not to have children. The one big positive is they have a very nice lifestyle. I find that even those who made a conscious decision to remain childless do a little mourning once they reach midlife. I became a mother at 19 years of age and enjoyed every moment of it. I think our desire to reproduce is instinctive. Biology programmed us that way. Now that my children are grown with families of their own and I rarely see them, I sometimes ask myself why did I have children? I told one of my sons and his wife who choose to remain childless to invest time and energy on their nieces and nephews. They may need them someday.

  17. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Jacquie, I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. May you find peace and joy in your life, despite the pain and heartbreak of not having biological children.

    It’s a hard idea to live with, but it does get easier. And then you see a baby or a pregnant woman, and it’s hard again. And then it gets easier….it’s not possible to be 100% happy with a childless or childfree life after infertility, but the difficult times do become shorter and less painful.


  18. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thank you for your thoughts, Rachel! God IS so good, and He is the key to peace and joy no matter what suffering we’re facing. Whatever is true and good and right and pure, think of those things.

    Let yourself be used by God, to be the woman He created you to be.

  19. Thank you for this post! I have recently reached the point in the grieving process of acceptance, I want to enjoy the life God has planned for us. Thank you for this encouragement :). God is good.

  20. Laurie,
    Thanks for putting this blog out there. It is helpful for me to know that someone else has struggled with infertility too and has found peace in her life even in the midst of heartbreak.

  21. Hmmm….now I’m looking at my quote “you can’t be both depressed and grateful”….and I’m rethinking it. You CAN be physiologically or hormonally depressed, and still be grateful for what you have!

  22. I’m very sorry I missed your comments! Sometimes life gets so busy, I can’t keep up. If you’re still around – if you see this – please stop by and let me know how you’re doing.


  23. Hi! My name is nataly I’m 16 yrs old and I’m about to b17. I’m really sad and worried about my future bc I had two stds and probably have p.I.d and Im scare it may damage my reproductive organs and lead to infertility. :'( I’m soo scared help me plz

  24. Hi message for jane
    i too am in the situation that my husband has children from a previous relationship although he does try it is very hard as aside from all the pain from what is going on i feel very sad and lonely that he will not be able to understand the feelings i am dealing with at all, we can not share the joy of having a child together and now we cannot share the pain of not being able to(to make it worse it now appears the problem is his side now so i dont want to get to emotionally messed up in front of him and him to feel terrible…. also his last girlfriend aborted his child!). so i am very much by myself, you could say i am lucky as i have children in my life but they are teenagers and so obviously not mine -there is no unquestioning love that i see between father and child all the time and i am not expected to care for them or rather am expected not to care-it is not my place. im sorry i started hoping i could be supportive and show you you were not alone but it has turned into a bit of a whinge. one thing i do know is that sometimes pretending to be someone that can deal with it all is the only way to deal with day to day and advenually it will become a little easier i hope! i count my lucky starts everyday for the good luck in life that i do have- this is much more than some people have in the world i know.
    with understanding and every best wish. x

  25. My sister and her hubby have three kids and can’t stop complaining and/or bragging about them. She boasts while she’s pregnant, then gives birth and boasts for longer for several months–until she figures out how much difficulty she’ll have with the child. Then she complains. I honestly doubt my older niece and nephew realize that she loves them–but then, my sis and I don’t have a chummy relationship and therefore I am unable to be involved in her kids’ lives. I am one who personally would rather have kids in spite of what parents say (ie. “enjoy your intimacy now,” and “kids make it worse.”). On one hand, I’m not naive enough to think having kids would “fix” things. On the other hand, even if I am changing diapers and cleaning poop, I always dreamt of becoming a mom, and infertility has robbed me of that dream. After more than 3 years of trying to get pregnant and trying to adopt, I’m at a point of giving up and looking at childfree living as our choice. Infertility treatments would be too difficult for us–emotionally and financially–and my DH doesn’t feel comfortable yet with the idea of becoming a foster parent (I’m not sure i could handle it, either, to be honest). So it is looking like childfree living is going to be our best bet, even though the thought still devastates me. I just wish people could see how it feels to live for three years waiting for that baby to come who never shows up–neither through pregnancy nor adoption–and would realize that sometimes we have to reach that dream in order to realize that it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be.

  26. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Beauford,

    Thank you so much for your comment! I think parenthood is so difficult, and yet very few parents can honestly admit how hard it is. Thank you for your honesty.

    I included your comment in this article:

    Childlessness and Happiness – Why I’m OK With Being Childless


  27. The grass is always greener. I love my kids but having kids makes your life suck. Enjoy your freedom. Kids have a way of zapping all the meaning out of life. You have to clean up poop all the time, your back hurts all the time, you can’t go anywhere, you lose intimacy, you go broke, they do stupid things, your house gets destroyed, they get you sick all the time, vacations are more stressful than your job…

    Enjoy your freedom. If it feels like something is missing in your relationship, examine the relationship. Kids won’t fill that void, only complete honesty can do that. Kids only make it worse. Parenting is different than people think it is before they have kids. Yes you love your children forever, but everything else in in life ends up sucking.

    I’m not a jerk, I’m just honest.

    Hope this helps.

  28. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Katie,

    Thank you for your comment! I understand exactly how you feel: there are good and bad days when thinking about a life without children.

    I, too, would much rather have kids than not have kids…but I don’t want to live in misery because I didn’t get what I want out of life. So, I too pray for happiness and acceptance no matter what happens. Children or no children.

    Never give up hope, my friend. My husband doesn’t have any sperm, so we have no chance of conceiving (unless God gives us a miracle!). But still, we hope and pray and think maybe one day….and if not, it’s okay. Like you, we didn’t want to go for treatment after treatment — I tried IUI six times, but it didn’t work. I’m 41 now.

    Anyway, thanks again – I really appreciate your comments!


  29. …oh and i should have mentioned that i’m 35..almost 36, have been ttc for 3 years and was also ‘diagnosed’ with unexplained infertility and had 1 failed IUI a year ago at which point we decided we didn’t want to be a couple that went for treatment after treatment and decided not to go for any further treatments and just see what life brings us.


  30. Thanks Laurie for your 7 ways to be happy with a childfree life after infertility.

    This is exactly what i’m going through right now – my aim for this year is to be happy as we are…happy with the life we have and try not focus on what we have not got.

    I had already started to think about number 1 – the benefits of not having children…it was like a light bulb moment for me when i thought about it and having worked as a nanny some years ago i realise how much time and effort kids can be and i now try to believe that perhaps in a way it is best for me to cope with infertility than to cope with being a parent if perhaps i’d find that even more difficult…..well it’s one way of looking at the whole situation anyway and in many ways it can make it easier. (i’m by no means saying i’m completely ok with it all the time, there are still good and bad days)

    Up until this year i prayed for a pregnancy…..now i pray for happiness in whatever life brings us.


  31. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Tanya,

    The only way to find out if you can have a child is to keep trying to get pregnant, and to get fertility tests from a doctor. Also, get your husband’s sperm checked (male infertility is just as common as female infertility!).

    And remember that it takes a year on average for most couples to conceive a child.


  32. Hi There,

    I am married for a year and i am 27 years old. I have regular cycle (34 days cycle). Now i am trying to conceive last 1 year with no success. I do ovulate last month as i gave up & checked using OPK. I also using pre-seed. Is it possible for me to have child? What can do next? Thank You.

  33. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen


    Thanks so much for your comment! It seems like I rarely hear from people who are finding ways to be happy with a childfree life after infertility, and I’m glad to hear from you 🙂

    I hope you don’t mind — used some of your comments in a blog post, and linked to your facebook page.

    Can Your Marriage Survive Infertility?

    I like your Facebook idea, and will become a fan!

    Blessings — and best of luck with the fostering.


  34. Thanks for your article Laurie – I really enjoyed it.

    We are currently waiting to be placed with long-term foster children (waiting nearly a year), after 13 unsuccessful IVFs and 6 years in total TTC.

    I absolutely know it is possible to be happy after infertility – for us, we have even found value, meaning and purpose out of our deep suffering (we feel blessed that we will provide a loving and stable home to kiddies who have had a rocky start to life).

    That doesn’t mean to say that we don’t feel loss or sadness sometimes because we do. It has taken a huge committment on our behalf – years of couples and individual psychotherapy to work through our anger, loss and longing. Being part of a support group has also been instrumental to my healing – helping and supporting others through their infertility journey. I started a facebook page to support others. Looking at the benefits of a child free life – all of these things have helped us to heal.

  35. While I have started to accept infertility in my life, I can imagine how painful it must be for Cindy to deal with it. We all go through the grieving process in our own way, and at our own pace, and I remember when I felt the way Cindy is feeling now.

    TO CINDY: I am sorry to hear that it continues to be difficult for you to deal with a “childfree life” — my heart goes out to you. Please continue to give yourself the necessary time and space to grieve and process your current life situation. In the meantime, I wish you much peace and comfort during this very challenging time…

  36. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Jane,

    I’m really sorry to hear that you can’t have kids of your own, and your husband has kids from a previous marriage…that’s really difficult to cope with.

    I don’t have any easy answers for you — probably because there AREN’T any easy answers for anyone! Coping with a childfree or childless life is difficult no matter what the situation. Maybe it’s harder when you see how happy your husband’s kids make him…I’d never thought of that situation.

    Have you thought of other ways to have a family? Many couples find adoption or fostering children just as fulfilling as having biological children. I know it’s not the same; but in some ways, it can be even more fulfilling because you’re opening your home to children who don’t have families.

    I wish you all the best.


  37. So how do you cope when you find out you can’t have kids of your own because your husband has become infertile but he already has kids from a previous marriage?

    I live every day with a step son. See the joy in my husbands face and know I will never have kids of my own.


  38. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks, Nicole. I really appreciate your feedback, and hope Cindy reads your thoughtful message.

    I know that many women who can’t have kids are heartbroken beyond belief. It’s difficult to live in pain like that…and choosing to find happiness in other parts of life isn’t easy.

  39. Laurie,

    I appreciate the measured response you had the grace to write to Cindy. You recognized that she was coming from a place of pain where she couldn’t even see what was obvious to me when I read your article – that you too have struggled with infertility. Like you said, “I’d rather have kids, but I’m happy.”

    I hope that you can take a moment to reflect that there are many of us other there who experience exactly what you are going through but we don’t judge and warp what people say just to make ourselves feel better. Laurie never said that she “found happiness in the fact that she can’t have children.” She said she is finding it DESPITE it. You might have too also. I did. Good luck to you but either way – be happy!

  40. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Cindy,

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, I appreciate it.

    I wrote this article, and have been struggling with infertility for three years now. My husband and I have been “forced into a childfree life”, but we don’t choose to look at it that way.

    It’s hard, and I’d rather we had kids, but we’re happy!


  41. Whoever wrote this nonsense article has never struggled with infertility nor do they have any concept of what it means to be forced into a child free life.

  42. If you think that any of the suggestions listed above are ways to find “happiness” in the fact that you cannot have your own children, you are sadly mistaken.