There is risk inherent in sharing your story.
Speaking up about childlessness is risky. What will people think of you? What will they say? Will they exclude you, mock you, reject you? The risk is real. And that’s not the only risk childless people face.
There are risks involved in trying to get pregnant—and in succeeding. Many childless people have celebrated their pregnancy, only to grieve it a few weeks later. Trying IVF is risky too. It takes a massive physical, emotional, mental and relational toll. Not to mention the money required.
It is tempting to think of pregnancy or IVF as costly. But there are costs associated with not trying and with stopping IVF as well. One may wonder what might have happened if one had tried ‘just one more’ IVF round, if one had given it more time, if one had tried harder. The ‘what if’s and ‘if only’s can take their emotional and mental toll.
So risk can work both ways.
Risk can work both ways.
Personally, as someone who is childless-by-forced-choice, there’s a risk involved in that. I chose (well, under protest) not to take the risk of harming myself, or my baby, by trying to get pregnant with my autoimmune disease hovering threateningly nearby. But…
…in doing so, I accept the risk of always wondering what might have happened if I did try. There is no way of knowing for sure. I am now faced with the prospect of never knowing exactly how risky pregnancy might have been for me. That’s the gamble of being childless-by-forced-choice.
I faced risk in sharing my story of childlessness-by-forced-choice. I still do. I risk rejection by mainstream society because I am not a parent. I risk rejection by the childless community because I did not even try to conceive—while most childless people have at least tried to do that.
That’s the gamble of being childless-by-forced-choice.
So it begs the excellent question: why on earth would I share my story?
It’s a question of personal vulnerability versus shared solidarity. Sure, I am putting myself in a vulnerable position by writing my story and sharing it with the world. But there is a chance my story will help someone else. It might resonate with their childless journey. It might convince them they are not alone.
There is a chance my story will help someone else.
Yes, there is risk of me being publicly ridiculed. But there is risk of losing out if I don’t, the risk of how many people might not be reached by my book, the risk of not helping those who need to hear my testimony of God’s faithfulness in the face of grief and devastation.
This is a positive risk. I stand to gain a lot if my sharing pays off. But—and more importantly—other childless people stand to gain much from hearing my story, the stories of other childless people in my book, stories of loss and suffering and grace and healing.
That’s a risk worth taking.
How about you? Do you have a story of childlessness to share? Have you found positively risky ways of telling your story to others? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation.