Video 1 - Understanding why it is so hard to let go (it’s not all you!)
Hello, and welcome to this 6-part series on Letting Go of Trying to Have a Baby.
In this first video, I’ll talk about why it’s so hard to stop and why letting go is not the same as giving up.
If you’ve not met me before, I’m Kathryn Grace from Fertility Potentials and I support women who’ve struggled to conceive move on with their lives with acceptance and confidence.
My husband and I tried for 8 years to have a baby. I eventually let go and came to a place of acceptance and now I’m passionate about supporting others to do the same.
Like many people, I tried really hard to have a baby. I was determined and I invested everything. It was all-consuming. Infertility is sneaky that way…it hooks you in and before you know it, it takes over your life.
That struggle, that continuous trying, the constant disappointment month after month and year after year, took its toll on me. It impacted my marriage, my career, my friendships, my finances, and my emotional and mental well-being. It eroded my confidence and my spirit.
So why was it so hard to stop trying?
Firstly, there is that strong, innate desire to be a mother. For me, I wanted children for as long as I can remember. And when I met my amazing husband, I wanted to create a family with him.
There is also the conditioning. When I was growing up, there was just the expectation I’d be a mother. Being a mother is the norm, the default. So much of our identity can be tied to this role of a mother.
This expectation or pressure to have children is especially strong for women. Much of it is subtle. I’m often asked if I have children. I once asked my husband what he answered when he was asked this question. His answer stunned me. He said he’d never been asked.
Even when we truly desire a baby, this conditioning and pressure make it so much harder to let go.
Finally, I want to mention how we’re taught that giving up is bad. We’re taught to strive for what we want at all costs, and above all, to never give up. While this can be a positive message, it can also be damaging.
This message of never giving up is a powerful message, particularly when it comes to having a baby. Not only must you never give up. You must never ever give up hope. That’s a lot of pressure!
But we’ve confused giving up with letting go. There is a big difference - let me explain.
When someone gives up, they never really cared in the first place. Giving up is easy.
Stopping trying to have children is not giving up. It is just not an easy thing to do. I didn’t decide that I didn’t want kids, or that it was too hard. I didn’t just give up. Because letting go was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.
So what is letting go?
Letting go is deciding to let go of what no longer serves us. It’s releasing anything that makes us feel stuck, overwhelmed, or that blocks the beauty that life holds for us.
We often see letting go of trying to have a baby as giving up hope, which of course is a scary thing. What have you got left if you’ve not got hope? But I wonder why this message of hope is just on one side. Why can there be hope on the other side too?
For me, all my hope was stuck on the side of having a baby. I didn’t so much give up hope as let go of control and let go of the struggle. I still believed in hope.
No one ever told me that struggling to conceive is a much harder place to be than on the other side of letting go. And no one ever told me that not having children could also be great.
I don’t have children and I’m ok with that. It took time and work but I’ve found peace, acceptance, and freedom. And if I can, you can too.
I want to introduce you to the idea that letting go can be easier when we embrace genuine hope. You see hope isn’t about getting the thing you want. True hope is being open to possibility. It’s trusting that life is working out for you.
Video 2 - Knowing it is possible to be happy (after infertility & childlessness)
Hey, welcome back.
In this video, I’m going to talk about embracing possibility – and I mean something different to the possibility of having children. Embracing possibility is a key shift on the journey to letting go.
When I was TTC for all those years, my worst fear was that I wouldn't have the family I desired. I couldn’t even contemplate life without children. I imagine it’s the same for you.
What I never knew then is that where I was, in that place of struggle, of relentless trying and disappointment, that place of uncertainty, was a much harder place to be than if my fear came true.
I’d never heard that message before and that’s why I want you to know it.
We need to know that it’s possible to be happy with or without children. We need to know that even when you give years of your life to ttc, you can still be ok. You can be happy and fulfilled. It is a real possibility.
If you’re in the place of coming to the end of your fertility journey, even if you’re not ready or not sure, there’s something important you need to know. You don’t need to figure out how to let go, or how to be happy just yet. Just start with embracing this idea that it’s possible.
All of my life I had a vision. A plan of how I wanted my life to be. That vision had children in it - lots of them! It wasn’t easy at first, but I let go of my dream and the struggle that came with it. How did I do it? Let me explain.
I didn’t know it at the time but one key thing I did was I changed my expectation. What do I mean by that?
One of the simplest ways I’ve heard it explained is by understanding that we all have a movie inside our heads of how we expect our life to be. There's the movie but then there’s what’s actually happening - our reality.
What happens is that we’re happy if our life matches our movie, but disappointed if it doesn’t. When this happens there is a gap between what we think should happen or what we want to happen, and reality.
When our mind notices this gap it fills it with thoughts. It likes to ask why. Why is this happening to me? Why can’t I get pregnant? Why does everyone else have a baby and not me?
The answers to these questions can spiral us into a cycle of negative thinking… because life’s unfair, nothing works out for me, there’s something wrong with me, I can’t be happy without a baby.
When we’ve struggled to conceive the baby we want, we need to throw away the plan and create a new movie for our life. One where we are not the victim.
This is not easy. Yes, while that can be simply a decision, that doesn’t mean it’s painless.
You don’t have to have this figured out yet. All you need to do right now is, firstly know that you can have acceptance. And secondly, become aware of the gap between your movie and your reality. What stories are you telling yourself about infertility and childlessness?
When you become aware of the stories, you have the power to change your perception.
Infertility and not having a child is the most painful thing I’ve experienced. What I had to do to find acceptance with this was understand that what is key, is that we’re not unhappy about what happens to us in life, but we are unhappy about what we tell ourselves about it. As much as I wanted to, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t control if I had a baby. All I could control was the story I told myself about it.
Letting Go was a painful process to go through. It was too big to do on my own and I needed support, but I made it.
Letting Go is both a decision and a process. It’s not about willpower, being strong, or just getting on with it. It starts from knowing that we will be ok whatever the outcome. It’s having hope in possibility.
Video 3 - Why It’s Important You Make The Decision Of When To Stop
Hello, Welcome to the third video in this series on Letting Go.
Today I’m talking about why it’s important that you make the decision of when to stop trying to have a baby rather than it happening another way.
When we try for so long to have a baby and it doesn’t happen, we feel like so much is out of our control. It’s easy to feel like life is happening to us. We can feel powerless and even a victim.
I know I lived in a victim mindset for a long time. My mind went crazy asking questions like “why is this happening to me?” “What am I doing wrong?” “Why is everyone else getting pregnant and not me?” and finding answers like “I’m broken, there’s something wrong with me”, “life is unfair”. And I must have a baby and then I’ll be happy.
This was such a disempowering perspective. Yip, what was happening was shit and I felt frustrated, exhausted, and well generally miserable.
When we’re in this mindset, we like to look for blame. We can blame the doctors, the specialists, our partners, our age, our decisions, and if you’re like me, even ourselves. Of course, it can feel good to blame, but only short-term. We can get attention and validation and feel good when others are concerned about us, but it‘s disempowering.
We feel right but it protects us from having to take responsibility – not for what’s happening, but for how we respond. It stops us from having to step outside our comfort zone and face the hard things, like reality. And fears. And some big life questions (like who am I if I’m not a mother?).
If we don’t actively decide to let go, we can miss the opportunity to step into a more empowering place.
I want to be clear about something. This by no way means you’ve chosen what has happened or it’s your fault in any way at all. Not at all.
And I’m not saying that you need to like or want what is happening. I certainly didn’t. Rather, it’s about choosing to accept that it has happened and you can't change it. Acceptance is such a powerful thing.
When you do this, you give yourself permission for things to be as they are, to be as you are, feel what you feel, or have experienced what you've experienced without creating unproductive shame or anxiety, trying to change things, or creating a story around it. It just is what it is.
When we accept, when we see things as they are, we can choose what we want to do. We didn't get to choose what happened to us, but we get to choose how we respond. And there’s immense power in that.
When we accept that things are the way they are – for me it was accepting that those 8 years of trying was making me miserable and that it was unlikely to happen even though there was still a possibility - I could choose how I moved forward. I didn’t like it. I was angry, sad, all of the things, but it meant I could let go, grieve, and then rebuild.
Accepting meant acknowledging the pain. I’d pushed it down for so long as a way of protecting myself from really feeling what it means to be childless. I didn’t want to feel it! I pretended I was ok. I didn’t yet understand that real strength was about braving enough to face our pain, to be vulnerable.
I used to think that if I focussed on the pain, I’d make it worst or I’d get stuck in it and never feel better. It was so much not to face it. Until it wasn’t. I now know we need to ‘feel it to heal it’.
You may have heard this before and it was true for me, that there is a difference between pain and suffering. When we struggle against the pain—by resisting and rejecting it—we create suffering. That’s why ‘being positive’ doesn’t always work. Letting go was easier than being in that suffering from infertility. I let go of the struggle and that’s when the healing began.
When you decide when you stop, you are taking control. You’re not choosing to give up, you’re choosing more for yourself, you’re creating a new future for yourself.
Video 4 - Owning Your Infertility and Childlessness Story
Hey welcome back.
When I was trying to conceive, my life became such a struggle, an emotional rollercoaster, because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get the very thing I truly desired.
I’d been taught that if you stay positive, don’t give up, and keep focused on your dream, you'll get what you want. Unfortunately, that was not the case for me. And I paid a big price for it.
Along the way, I received countless, unhelpful pieces of advice. Things like the classic “just relax”. A few people told me to just get drunk and it would happen. Another friend shared that she had gotten pregnant when she started focussing on something else Nope, Nope, and Nope. Nothing worked for me – neither trying nor the times I tried to ‘not try’.
I was happy to try anything and do all of the things because I thought I’d be happy once I had a baby. Maybe I would have, but it was out of my control.
In the last video, I talked about how empowering acceptance is, and how empowering it is for you to take control of when you stop. In this video, I want to expand on that and talk about owning your story.
The amazing Brene Brown introduced me, and many others, to this concept. She tells us that “When you deny your story, it owns you. When you own your story, you get to write your own brave ending. When you deny your pain, it owns you. When you own your pain, it sets you free.
To me, the key here is owning your pain. It means being honest about the reality of your life. It’s not easy.
When we continue to deny a situation – whether it’s denying we have an addiction, that we’re in a relationship that’s not good for us, or holding on to the belief that we can have a baby, even after years of trying, or numerous expensive and traumatic failed IVF rounds, we can’t move forward. Denial protects us from our pain.
There is a lot of pain in being childless – more than anything else I’ve had to experience. But if we stay in denial, which can look like hope and never giving up at all costs – we stay stuck. We need to own our pain so we can be free.
How do we “own our pain”? Surely we want to get rid of pain, not get any closer to it?
What Brene is talking about is a healing paradox. The more you come closer to your pain, to start identifying all the horrible aspects it carries, the more you can tangibly empower yourself to heal from, and then release the pain. It’s like shining a light on the darkness.
When we feel our pain, we start the process of grief. And grief is a powerful emotion. It helps us let go of what we no longer have.
Owning our pain means taking responsibility for the stories we tell ourselves about it. Sure it’s shit, but accepting it enables us to stop blaming ourselves or others for our situation, or feeling sorry for ourselves. That just keeps us stuck.
Owning our story allows us to be the author of our ending. We may not be able to control the experience, but we can control how we respond to it. We get to write how it ends, and that feels good. We get to decide how our leading character lives her life after all that’s happened.
Don’t let others - family, society, media, anyone - dictate to you what it means to not have children. You get to decide that.
Video 5 - What Happens When You Let Go And What To Expect
Hello. Welcome to video 5 of this 6-part series on letting go.
Today I want to talk about what happens when you let go and some things to expect.
My worst fear had come true. I thought I would always feel terrible but in reality, I had already felt as bad as I could and now, I could focus on healing and moving forward.
When you let go, let go of anything, you create space for new. For me, letting go ultimately gave me freedom – it released me from the struggle of infertility. It gave me the opportunity to create a new future – and that was exciting but so terrifying.
I could see just how much space and energy my desire to have a baby consumed.
Letting created a void. It was uncomfortable and confronting. It forced me to face some big life questions.
Questions like: If I wasn’t going to be a mother, who was I? What did I want to do with my life? Wanting to be a mother had defined me for a long time and it was time to re-evaluate.
You might not know what will fill the void being childless creates, and that’s ok. All you need to do is to start exploring, start spending some time with these questions. Journaling is a great tool to use or the guidance of a great coach can help.
For me, finding purpose was key as was imagining a life filled with adventure and travel. One of my clients brought a motorcycle and went on a long tour around NZ. Another channeled her creative energy and became a successful artist. Maybe there is something you’ve always wanted to do. What better time to do it!
We are all more than mothers, partners, daughters, or whatever other roles and labels we have.
The second thing I want to talk about that may happen when you make the courageous decision to let to is what’s sometimes referred to as an Are You Sure Moment. It’s something I’ve seen happen many times.
This comes in the form of doubt, questions, fears, or something more direct.
If you have not heard of this before, it’s when you decide something, the universe wants to know if you’re sure. It needs to know you mean it.
It can appear in all sorts of ways - doubts, comments from loved ones, or like one of my clients who received an offer of a surrogate out of the blue after deciding to let go.
Of course, you are allowed to choose whichever path is right for you when presented with new information. There are no rules to follow – you have to be guided by what’s right for you.
Finally, I want to talk about other people’s reactions.
Being childless can make us feel different. We worry about fitting in, in a world full of families with children. I had felt so isolated and excluded when I was TTC and I thought I would always feel that way.
When I told people, we were stopping trying to have a baby, I expected them to be supportive and even say about time! But some people wanted us to keep trying and that surprised me. I see now that people didn’t understand the toll infertility took on us and just how hard it was. They didn’t understand it wasn’t as simple as just relaxing, adopting, or never giving up.
I also don’t think people know how to accept a childless woman or a couple. I talked in an earlier video about the strong but often subtle expectations to be a mother, and the overwhelming pressure to never give up hope no matter what the cost. It’s like society has decided you must have a baby to be normal, to be of worth.
But this can change. Other people don’t get to define us – we do. As I talked about in the last video, we need to own our story. We get to write our own ending.
The key here is acceptance. Once we’re ok with not having children, it doesn’t matter how others see us. But actually, what happens is that when we feel comfortable with our life, it gives others the permission to be comfortable with it too.
Once I’d made peace with being childless, I no longer felt the shame of it or felt uncomfortable being different. I now feel comfortable being around families and I love being with children. When friends talk together about their children and I’m not part of the conversation, it doesn’t upset me but I can find it boring!
It does get easier. There is no need for us to feel different anymore just because we don’t have children. We can tell a different story. It does take work to get there, but I promise you it’s possible.
That’s all for this video. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I’ll see you soon in the next and final video.
Video 6 - How To Decide When is the Right Time To Let Go of Struggling to Conceive
Hello. I’m so pleased you’re here and made it to the 6th and final video in this Letting Go Series. Today I’m talking about how you decide when is the right time to stop trying.
The simple answer to this question, of course, is there is no simple answer. But here are 5 things you can do that will move you closer to clarity and a decision. For more, download my 20 Things to Help You Let Go of Trying to Have a Baby. You’ll find the link below.
1. Take stock of where you are at.
You know how they say: “The truth will set you free.” And maybe you’ve heard this version too: “The truth will set you free - but first it will piss you off”. Well, I've found that for me it's more often a case of the truth will break your heart.
This process of coming to a decision starts with getting clear on where you are now. The best way I have found to do this is through journaling. Journaling helps you access what is really going on and get to what’s underneath all the thoughts. If you’re not familiar with journaling, give it a go – it is a powerful tool. If it’s new for you, watch my YouTube clip on how to journal or download my journaling prompts for letting go but really all you need is paper and pen and some questions.
You can start by asking what this is costing you? Financially, of course, but also in your career, socially, mentally, emotionally and physically. Write it all down – all of it. It can be quite sobering to see it all written down.
Another question to explore is what is the fear around not having children. Getting honest and getting clear about this can help you work out how much of your fear is true, and allow you to explore this further.
2. Know that once you cross that line, things change, for the better.
Something that I didn’t know and I want you to know is that the hard place is where you are now in the pain, in the cycle of hope and disappointment, in the uncertainty.
Even though you may not have the baby you desire, letting go of the trying and the struggle allows for things to get easier. After all, you can’t be worst off than you are now, right?
Swap your hope of having a baby with the hope that things will get better. Apply that same level of hope to create a life you can be happy with.
Grieving is the process that helps us let go. There is a lot of grief that comes with infertility, and it is often not honoured with the time and space it needs. This grief is real, it is deep and it needs to be felt and processed or you will get stuck.
A lot of the infertility journey is invisible and is not always understood by others and this can make it hard to share our grief. Yet witnessing grief helps to heal it. Honour your grief in any way that feels right for you. Don’t underestimate the depth of the pain and loss you feel. Find someone whom you feel safe with and who gets it, to share.
Let yourself feel it to heal it. Making peace with it will allow you to move forward with your grief. It’s true that it will always be part of you, you can still honour it, but it doesn’t need to define you.
4. Get Help
Consider getting some support to help you process your grief, and talk through your experiences, your fears, your worries, and your future. Infertility is a huge life event – may be the biggest you’ll ever experience and it’s a lot to carry on your own. Talking through your experience and emotions helps you process them, feel validated and gain perspective. It can help you find clarity on your next steps and support you to make a decision that is right for you.
Find someone whom you feel safe and supported with. It can be a trusted friend, or someone professional and objective like a counsellor, or coach. Be selective - not everyone gets to hear your story and not everyone will get it
5. Have faith that things will work out.
Right about now, faith is probably at an all-time low. But having faith is not the same as hoping for a particular desire to come to fruition. Having true faith is knowing that everything is working out.
Believing in something bigger than ourselves is the key to faith. We do this with hope, so why not with faith?
We don’t have to understand why we didn’t get the baby we wanted. Learning to trust that everything is working out, is a big one, and can take some time to get your head around, but this is the key to it all. Trust that even though it doesn’t make sense now, it will.
A great place to start cultivating trust is with Gabby Bernstein’s book “The Universe has your back”. Meditation is a great way to cultivate more trust. There is a reason why people talk about this so much. Meditation is powerful.
Thank you so much for joining me on this video series. I hope it has helped you.
If you would like more help, contact me and book in for coaching sessions and make sure you get on the mailing list and find out about the Moving Forward with Grace online course.