(almost) 8 months out.

I was thinking this morning about the transition between TTASP and choosing to live child free.  You all know the “Infertility Island” metaphor right?  To recap, there’s a ferry that runs between Infertility Island and the mainland, call it Motherworld.  And the ferry comes, but you never know when your ticket is going to be called.  You wait and wait and hope and wave goodbye to your friends and wish them well and simultaneously feel miserable that you’re not going with them.

Then one day, for whatever reason, you realize that you simply CANNOT stay one more day on the Island.  Could be that you’re going crazy, could be that your spouse forces your hand, could be that you run out of funds, could be … any number of reasons.  But you can’t stay.  And you still can’t go to the mainland cause you don’t have a ticket for the ferry.  So you jump in the water and let the current carry you where it will.  And pretty soon, you wash up on another island downstream.  There’s a great big jungle on the side of this island that faces infertility island that’s deep, and dark, and foreboding, and hides all the villages.  But once you hack your way through the jungle, you realize that there’s a gorgeous beach and friendly neighbors with lots of tequila to share on the other side.  

The ferry doesn’t come to this island (well, occasionally it’ll show up without any warning, but it’s a complete surprise because no one here expects it).  For the first few months after you wash up on the island, you force your way back through the jungle to watch the ferry travel back and forth between Infertility Island and the mainland.  It’s sad, it’s painful to watch the ferry and know that you might have been a passenger, that your ticket might have been called this month.  But after the first month or two, you get settled into your new routine and you realize how much WORK it is to trek through the jungle to watch the ferry arrive.  So you delete the arrival date from your calendar, you try to find something to keep you busy on the day the ferry arrives.  You still know it’s there, but you make a conscious decision not to keep watch for it anymore.  More time passes, and one day you realize that you really don’t know when the ferry schedule is anymore.  And the absence of that knowledge is an absence of pain.  Sometimes you’ll think about the ferry, or catch a glimpse of it as it travels over the water, and you remember.  Some days the memory is sharp and it cuts like glass and leaves you bleeding.  Some days the memory is a fleeting ghost that you catch out of the corner of your eye and then it’s gone.  But the vast majority of your time is spent doing things other than thinking about the ferry.  More time passes, and memories grower paler and the pain grows duller and then one day you wake up and it hits you: you are happy.  Not just faking it, not just the absence of pain, but true and real joy in the life you have instead of longing for a life that might have been.  And that is a wonderful day.


Y’all know me, I find my words so often in the mouths of other writers.  And I love me some Fight Club, so I’ll paraphrase here: …first you have to give up. First, you have to know, not fear, know that someday you are going to die.  Only after you’ve lost everything, are you free to do anything.  And then, once you’ve hit bottom, you start deciding what you are going to do with your freedom.  I think that part of the reason that there are so few women who keep blogging about unresolved infertility is that they are either a) in the stage where they are deliberately trying to NOT think about the ferry or b) busy living the rest of their life.  I’m a big believer in perspective and have been accused of observing situations instead of participating in them.  And choosing to step off of the ART train, choosing follow a different path, requires a big ol’ dose of perspective.  It takes a true and wholehearted belief that there is a life for yourself that does not include children, that you can be happy, that time will heal emotional wounds, that eventually you too will be free of jealousy and anger and bitterness.  But it takes a choice to start that process, to embrace that belief, to stop watching for the ferry, to walk away.  And that’s a hard motherfucking choice to make.  But once you make it, once you start walking that path, it gets easier with every step you take away from the beach.




46 thoughts on “(almost) 8 months out.

  1. You have voiced what I have been feeling. I haven’t been able to get it out or figure it out even, but this post has helped me a lot. A lot a lot. Thanks for taking the time to post.

  2. sharah, thanks so much for this post. I’m still new to that jungle and the deep dark foreboding place. it always helps to read the perspective of those who have at least hacked their way through to see something beyond the trees. best, ~luna

  3. I think that this is something that people don’t write about enough — probably because the process isn’t punctuated with specific events that are easily described. Thanks for writing this.

  4. What a brilliant post. (TTASP = trying to achieve a successful pregnancy?) I think you’re right about why so few people keep blogging after they swim away from Infertility Island. But I’m glad when they do, because it gives hope to others who are thinking of taking that plunge that there is life to be found on that other island (& lets those of us who are also hacking our way through the jungle know there are others doing the same…!).

    See you on the beach — I’ll bring the pina coladas & we can wave to the ferry as it passes by…!

  5. Maybe you’re reaching the point where your infertility is not “unresolved.” It may be unresolved in the conventional way of thinking–you don’t have children–but you have found resolution in your decision to move forward and go ahead with your life as it is. I’m very happy for you.

    It’s a great metaphor.

  6. Is there a special ferry for truly wonderful, amazing, and supportive friends who make it to first birthday parties? Thank you for being there. It meant more to me than you will probably ever know. You were one of the only ones there I wouldn’t have to fake anything with. You’re the best!

  7. You are a wise old soul my dear Sharah. This post is so poignant, so full of rich and perfect metaphors and imagery. Thank you. This is a post I’m going to bookmark and come back to.

  8. Thank you very much for posting this – from someone who has left the infertility island but is still watching the ferry.

  9. So poignant and revealing of true feelings. I myself have been in this situation recently. I actually tried to blog about it, your post is said much better.
    Also, quick note, Im in AL too.
    Thank you for your words of wisdom!

  10. For someone who really might want to walk away from the beach if my result is what I think it is today, this couldn’t have been more appropriately timed or better written. That someone being me, if I wasn’t clear. I absolutely LOVE the ferry metaphor, cuz for the last while, I’ve really been thinking how much I don’t want to be trapped on this stupid fucking island anymore – I need me a new ferry.

  11. Wow. I’d heard the Island metaphor before…but had never heard of the other island. The one where those who jumped off the IF Island swim to. I absolutely love it. You painted such a vivid picture that I could see what I had been doing for the past year was hacking my way to see the ferry every month, and then yelling as loud as I could because people were getting on without me…even though I was on another island. I’m with PJ – I’m going to mark this and come back.

  12. I am bookmarking this post forever. Thank you.

    I think I’m going to hang around and wait for the ferry just a little bit longer, but my toe is in the water, and its coolness and calm is pretty inviting…

  13. I needed this post.

    Thanks so much for putting my thoughts to paper. You not only write it better but give a beautiful image as well.

  14. Found you via the roundup.
    Thank you. I’m on the verge of jumping in and going with the current…I’m incredibly grateful that you’ve written this post…it seems to be what I’ve been searching for…and now, thanks to the comments, I’ve found some kindred spirits….
    thank you.
    thank you.
    thank you.

  15. I just wish I could stop noticing the ferry crossings. I am not hacking my way through the jungle to see them, or even looking at the schedule. I know with 100% certainty that my ticket will not be called.

    Loved this post. This is the second time I have read it so far. Last time I was in such a bad place I couldn’t focus enough to enjoy it. Today I did.

    Glad you are back.

  16. Thank you for this. I think I am still floating in the river waiting to find this new island, but it helps to know that there is one out there.


  17. This is a breathtaking post.

    Thank you for it — I cast myself into the water…and then crawled back onto the island…and now I’m back to the vigilance of watching that ferry schedule…

    but I like to hear about the other island…I have to remind myself that if I cast myself into the water — I won’t drown.


  18. Brilliant post.

    My ferry capsized recently and I’m currently floating aimlessly in the water. Sometimes, I feel like letting the water take me. Mostly, I’m just not sure which direction to swim.

  19. Love love love this post! I hope Manly is healing well and that you will be able to come to dinner next week. It just wouldn’t be the same without you!

  20. This is a beautiful post. So perfectly written. I am an early island considerer…I have not yet even inhabited the island yet..in fact I am not even sure I will be accepted on ART train..I might have to by pass it and go directly to this nice island of acceptance that you speak of. Thank you for reminding me that my life can be full and rich and HAPPY either way.

  21. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your post. Perfectly written, I will bookmark it for reference once I learn how to jump…

    I have been on that island, given stand-by tickets for that ferry. My ticket was called for the ferry twice, but I fell overboard shortly after leaving dock both times and had to doggy-paddled back to shore…

    My husband has asked that I jump into the current with him, even though there are still stand-by tickets in my hand.

    I already am happy without children. The only thing that I know in every cell of my body is that, together, my husband and I can do anything. Our love is the ONLY thing that I have ever trusted, believed in, or could relied on during my entire life.

    I can happily jump with him (or he stay on the island with me), but my question to you is, how do I know, when there are still stand-by tickets to be had, that I should just jump and hope I don’t get too much water up my nose? How do you make a choice and just decide? I have made the choice to release all the extra tickets (although they are easily attainable) with the exception of one… And I just don’t know how or when to open my hand and let it go with the island breeze… How did you?

  22. Thank you! I am on the beach, but just very sad today. Kind of confused about whether I need to be on the infertility island instead so that the ferry might pick me up.

    Thank you for your post 🙂

  23. Thank you!! I have felt so alone. Everyone in my family has a child-even my husband from a previous relationship. Just knowing someone else has felt the pain helps. I’m struggling with the swimming part right now. Letting go is very difficult.

  24. amazing amazing post… I’ve found the beach.. i like the drinks there.. but I am still making the trek to watch that bloody ferry. Thanks for putting images and words to this… it helps so much to help me figure out what the heck I am doing.

    So glad you found your joy and happy. And for sharing that here. It means the world to me today!

  25. I know this is an old post, but it is truly wonderful. Thank you for sharing this. It was what I needed to hear.

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