Two years after taking my husband's name, I sat next to him, gripping his hand and fighting back tears as an infertility specialist stole our remaining hope. Calmly, with no emotion, we were told pregnancy was not a part of our future. It was time to start making other plans for parenthood, or no plans at all.

For the 10% of couples suffering from infertility, the above scenario is common and heartbreaking. How do couples with life plans based on parenthood, accept the possibility of life without children?

Explore Your Options

Before accepting life without children, it is important to explore all of the options available for creating a family. You may feel that the only option for parenthood is giving birth to a child created by you and your spouse. Even if that is true, take time to explore the options available. In the end, there may not be an alternative that fits, but you can gain peace from knowing with confidence.

Mourn the Life You Dreamed of and the Loss of Being a Parent

"Lori, mourn the loss that comes with accepting life without children, or even just life without pregnancy." This was the best advice I was given when battling depression over infertility and the possibility of never becoming a mother. The pain may never really go away, but mourning the loss allows you to make room for a new normal and healing to take place.

For more on overcoming depression from infertility read Surviving Depression Caused by Infertility.

Therapy and Support

As the loss of parenthood is mourned, it is important to seek out help for the difficult emotions that surface. Many find that a therapist and/or a support group are the most effective ways to find support. A therapist can help you work through the emotions, explain their impact, validate their normalcy, and give you tools to create a new life.

Support groups offer a connection with others experiencing the same complex emotions. The journey of embracing life without children is lonely. Even with loved ones that want to help, it is hard to find support from others that don't truly understand. Talking with others in the same situation can heal and inspire a broken heart.

Cling to Each Other

No one understands your unique journey like you and your spouse do. Utilize this time to make each other happy, explore other dreams you have together, talk with each other, but also remember that each of you is mourning and grieving in your own way as well. Find ways to celebrate your life without children together in addition to mourning it.

Avoid Painful Situations by Creating New Traditions

We live in a child-focused world. Everything is about children. Holidays, commercials, magazine articles, everything!

Take a vacation for Christmas instead of joining your family full of kids, skip church on Mother's Day, feed the homeless on Thanksgiving. Find ways to start new traditions with your spouse that focus on enjoying your new life plan.

Utilize Your Gifts

We are all gifted in unique ways. Utilizing your gifts to serve others will not take away the pain of childlessness, but it will fill your life with joy and gratitude. These are two emotions that are hard to come by when accepting a life without children.

Embracing childlessness is painful and overwhelming. Taking steps toward a new plan for life will not make the pain disappear, but it can make the pain manageable while new joy is found.

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