Childlessness not by choice – Katy’s story

Katy Seppi   |   6 Jan 2020

One of the topics hardly talked about in the incredible TTC ( trying to conceive) community, is – what if you’ve had enough of endless fertility specialist appointments and failed IVF cycles? What if you can’t take infertility any more and want to live your life again?

We had the great pleasure of speaking to Katy Seppi, founder of Childless Collective, about childlessness not by choice and how she has redefined her future without having children.

Over to Katy…

How did you decide it was time to end your fertility treatment?

During the (almost) four years I spent trying to conceive, it never occurred to me that my fertility journey could end with childlessness. I was charting every cycle and I knew my body.

I was doing everything my fertility specialist recommended, I even had insurance that covered three cycles of IVF, I was full of hope and so was my fertility clinic.

With every month that passed, hope began to dwindle as more conditions were diagnosed and negative pregnancy tests piled up.

Within three years, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, fibroids, uterine polyps and interstitial cystitis. I had been through two surgeries and a failed IVF cycle. My pelvic pain was so bad, it was impacting my daily life.

ending fertility treatment

Standing at a crossroads

I was at a crossroads: move onto a second IVF cycle or have a hysterectomy to relieve my pelvic pain and improve my quality of life. I thought about how much I had sacrificed in pursuit of motherhood.

My body was tired and sick of trying to conceive, I was suffering from depression and anxiety, I had pulled back from relationships and I couldn’t focus at work. My hobbies and passions no longer brought joy, I was a ghost of my former self.

One week my fertility counsellor said something magical to me, “It’s okay to put your health and yourself first.” With everyone around me telling me to “never give up” this was the permission I needed to take my life back. I had given all I could to the pursuit of parenthood.

In December of 2017, I made the decision to end my fertility journey and to have a hysterectomy to improve my quality of life. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made but it was the best option for me.

From treatment, to childlessness not by choice

How do you grieve? What are your coping strategies?

Grief has been a constant companion since I was diagnosed with infertility. It took me a few years to recognise that what I was experiencing was grief.

Once I had a name for it, I was able to find resources to guide me through processing it. I’ve found a lot of helpful avenues for this:

  • Seeing a fantastic therapist who specialises in infertility.
  • Starting a blog to help me connect with others who are childless, not by choice.
  • Reading books and articles focused on grief and disenfranchised grief.
  • Using the power of ritual to mark the end of my fertility journey and my next chapter.
  • Reconnecting with hobbies and passions I’d put aside.
  • Creating a vision for my future without children that is full of love, meaning, and joy.
  • Reinvesting in my relationships and re-defining what family means to me.

I also understand that whilst each month my grief feels lighter, I will carry pieces of it with me throughout my life.

My hope is that as my heart heals and my life becomes filled with other amazing things, my childlessness (not by choice) and grief won’t comprise such a large part of my identity.

infertility grief

Triggers – how do you cope?

When triggers and difficult feelings come up, I try to be gentle with myself and remember that it is okay to feel conflicting emotions at the same time.

I can hold a brand new baby in my arms and feel awe and love for the little being that will be a part of my life, whilst also feeling heartbreak that it will never be my own.

I’m okay owning all of those emotions at once because they are a true reflection of my experience. They are equally valid and worthy of my time and attention.

I also try to balance protecting my heart with showing up for those I love. For example, I’m not going to show up for an acquaintance’s baby shower. Why put myself through that pain? But I will absolutely be there for someone I’m really close to.

I’ve been very open about my journey with family and friends which makes it easier to navigate emotional situations. If something hits me hard and I start crying, they understand and are there for me.

My nieces, nephews and friends’ children add incredible depth and love to my life. Whilst being around them can bring my grief to the surface, it also brings joy. I would never want to cut myself off from that.

How do you see life after ending fertility treatment?

I’m not someone who believes that everything happens for a reason. I don’t believe the universe had some grand design for making me childless not by choice. Most things that happen to us are outside of our control, which is terrifying.

But, I believe we are able to choose how we react. We have the power to adapt, grow and create a life that we love. For me, holding on to the dream of parenthood started to cost too much. By letting it go, I was able to clear space for other amazing things.

The truth is, everyone experiences grief, loss, and pain. They are part of the human condition. Parenthood is not a golden ticket for a fulfilled, love-filled life, void of loss and pain.

On the flip side, everyone experiences different forms of love and has the ability to create a life that is meaningful to them. There are experiences I will never have because I’m not a parent. There are also experiences parents will never have because they have kids.

Regardless of being childless or not, no one has a monopoly on love, joy, fulfillment’s, intimacy, family, meaning, happiness, and all the other beautiful things life has to offer. It’s up to us to find them and incorporate them into our lives and there are endless ways to do so.

Want to connect with Katy? Follow her on Instagram, and connect with Childless Collective – the cozy and connecting gathering place for childless women and nonbinary people.

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