Creating life beyond childlessness

Being Childless: Setting boundaries with love

We’ve all had the moment where someone asks the question, “When are you going to have kids?” Depending on the person and the day, you may feel anger, frustration, sadness, or uncertainty. Whether the question is expected or it comes as a complete surprise, it’s helpful to think ahead about how you might respond.

While going through IVF I had several answers:

✨“Oh, you know, these things sometimes take a little longer than expected. I’m hoping one day soon.”

Or when they were trying to give unsolicited advice after I told them “No, not yet”

✨“I have a team of experts working on it.”

Now being childless after IVF (and having this little fighter in me to ‘educate’ people) I usually say something like this:

✨“You know, that’s a really personal question you shouldn’t ask everyone. Some people have a hard time getting pregnant, and questions like that could really make them feel bad about their situation.”

✨“Did you know that 1 in 8 couples, who desperately want to have a child, struggle with infertility?”

But.. you cannot anticipate or prepare for every situation that may come up.

But you can’t prepare for all questions or situations coming up. So how can you establish a sense of control and make it clear to others how you want to be treated?

The Tool for Setting boundaries with love

Setting boundaries is a way of taking care of yourself and communicating to others what is and is not acceptable to you. It’s an important part of maintaining healthy relationships and taking charge of your own well-being. 

My 4-step method to setting boundaries with love (for yourself and others):

Step 1: Stop and do not react (yet)

It can be helpful to wait before reacting in certain situations because it allows you to take the time to consider your options and make more thoughtful decisions. When you react immediately, you may be more likely to make decisions based on your emotions or impulses, rather than on a careful consideration of the facts.

Waiting before reacting can also help you to avoid saying or doing things that you might later regret. It gives you the opportunity to take a step back and assess the situation from a more objective perspective, and to think about how your actions might impact yourself and others.

Step 2: Take a deep breath

Taking a deep breath before saying something can be helpful in a number of ways. For one, it can help to regulate your emotions and reduce stress. When you are stressed or upset, your heart rate and breathing tend to become more rapid, which can make it more difficult to think clearly and communicate effectively. Taking a deep breath can help to slow down your breathing and heart rate, which can in turn help to calm your mind and emotions.

Taking a deep breath can also give you a moment to pause and consider what you want to say, rather than reacting impulsively or speaking without thinking. This can help you to communicate more effectively and to avoid saying things that you might later regret.

Step 3: Observe how you feel

It is important to observe how you feel because it helps you to become more aware of your own emotions and needs. By paying attention to your feelings, you can better understand what is important to you and what you need in order to feel fulfilled and satisfied.

Observing how you feel can also help you to identify any negative or unhealthy patterns in your emotions or behavior. For example, if you notice that you frequently feel anxious or stressed, you may want to explore the underlying causes and find ways to manage those feelings more effectively.

In addition, paying attention to your emotions can help you to communicate more effectively with others. By being honest about how you feel, you can better express your needs and boundaries, and foster deeper, more authentic connections with others.

Step 4: Place your boundary

Placing firm boundaries is important because it helps you to take care of yourself and to communicate to others what is and is not acceptable to you. Boundaries are an important part of maintaining healthy relationships and protecting your own well-being.

Having clear boundaries can also help you to feel more in control of your own life and to make more deliberate choices about how you want to be treated. It can help you to set limits on what you are willing to do or tolerate, and to say no to requests or demands that don’t align with your values or goals.

In addition, setting clear boundaries can help you to establish clear and healthy communication with others, and to establish mutual respect and understanding in your relationships. It can also help you to avoid feeling overwhelmed or taken advantage of, and to maintain a sense of balance and well-being.

Overall, setting boundaries is an important aspect of self-care and self-respect, and can help you to build healthier, more fulfilling relationships with others. Let’s dive in some examples.

Setting boundaries with love when you receive an invitation

If you have been invited to a baby shower and you don’t want to go, it’s important to communicate your boundaries in a clear and respectful way. Here are some steps you can follow:

  • Stop and do not react (yet)
  • Take a deep breath
  • Observe how you feel

Consider your reasons for not wanting to go: It’s important to be honest with yourself about why you don’t want to attend the baby shower. This will help you to communicate your boundaries more effectively.

  • Place your boundary

1. Communicate your boundaries with love: Use “I” statements to express how you feel and why you are unable to attend the baby shower. For example, you might say, “I appreciate the invitation, but I’m not comfortable attending a baby shower because I’m childless and it’s a difficult reminder for me right now.”

2. Offer an alternative: If you feel comfortable doing so, you might offer to do something else with the person who invited you, such as going out for coffee or lunch instead. This can help to show that you value the relationship and still want to spend time with the person, even if you are unable to attend the baby shower.

3. Respect the other person’s feelings: Remember that the person who invited you may have their own feelings and expectations about the baby shower. It’s important to be understanding and respectful of their perspective, even if you don’t agree with it.

4. Be firm but kind: It’s okay to say no and to set boundaries, but it’s important to do so in a way that is kind and respectful of the other person’s feelings. It’s okay to be honest about your own feelings, but try to avoid criticism or blame.

Setting boundaries with love for yourself and others

Remember, setting boundaries is an important part of taking care of yourself and maintaining healthy relationships. It’s okay to do what is best for you, even if it means saying no to an invitation or request.

Setting boundaries with love when your friends express their thoughts

We all have been in that situation, explaining that you’re childless not by choice and friends (who love us so much) offering the very next option: ‘You can just adopt!’, What they don’t seem to realise is that adoption is a complex and often emotional process, and it’s not something that everyone is comfortable with or able to pursue.

  • Stop and do not react (yet)
  • Take a deep breath
  • Observe how you feel

Take a moment to process your feelings. It’s very natural to have a range of emotions coming up when someone makes a comment like this. It’ important to allow yourself to feel and process your emotions, rather than trying to push them aside.

  • Place your boundary (as explained previously)

1. Communicate your boundaries with love: Use “I” statements to express how you feel and what you are and are not comfortable with. For example, you might say, “I appreciate your suggestion, but I’m not comfortable talking about adoption right now. It’s a very personal and sensitive topic for me.”

2. Offer an alternative: If you feel comfortable doing so, you might suggest another topic of conversation or activity. This can help to redirect the conversation and show that you still value the relationship. Even if you don’t want to talk about adoption.

3. Respect the other person’s feelings: Remember that your friend may have their own feelings and perspective on adoption. It’s important to be understanding and respectful of their perspective, even if you don’t agree with it.

4. Be firm but kind: It’s okay to set boundaries and to say no to a conversation or topic that you are not comfortable with. However, it’s important to do so in a way that is kind and respectful of the other person’s feelings.

Setting boundaries with love when strangers share their opinion

Yesterday I was on the phone with a therapist and she said: “Why do you call yourself childless? You decided to stop IVF, so you’re childfree. It was your choice not to pursue your dream of having a baby with a donor egg.”

If only it was that easy.. 

I defended myself (and all other women who are struggling in silence). Aiming to explain the difference, but after 20 min I gave up. 

Talking about childlessness makes a lot of people uncomfortable. They either give you unsolicited advice, dismiss your feelings or try to put you in a box where you clearly don’t belong. 

  • Stop and do not react (yet)
  • Take a deep breath
  • Observe how you feel
  • Place your boundary “Thank you for sharing your point of view, let’s leave it there.”

Summary

Remember, setting boundaries with love for yourself and others is an ongoing process. And it’s okay to adjust them as needed. It’s important to be flexible and open to change, and to recognize that our boundaries may evolve over time. It is normal to need to reassess and adjust our boundaries as you learn more about yourself and your needs, and as your circumstances change.

It can be helpful to have a plan in place for how to handle unexpected situations that may arise. This might involve seeking support from a trusted friend or professional. Taking time to reflect on your feelings and needs, or finding healthy ways to cope with stress or conflict. Remember to be kind to yourself and take care of your own well-being, even when faced with unexpected challenges.

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Learning-to-set-boundaries-with-the-help-of-nature

Learning to set boundaries with a little help of nature

Walking has been an integral part of my life since I completed a 21-day Mt. Everest trek, back in 2017. And it became a huge part of my recovery, as I worked on my overall health and well-being during and after IVF. 

I’d LOVE to let you experience the healing powers of walking & hiking in nature. And even more so give you the opportunity to cultivate new friendships and create memories for a lifetime!

Looking for some ‘new’ friends? Women who get you? 😉

Check out my walking & hiking retreats exclusively for women who are childless not by choice.

These are not regular retreats, this is an experience! And it’s unlike any other program out there, because I know that rebuilding your life being childless takes more than goal setting and visualisations.

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