Creating a life beyond childlessness

Nothing could have prepared me…

‘Are you ready?’ I asked my husband.

Absolutely!’ he answered with a big smile.

After years of thinking about having a baby, the day was finally there. The day that we felt that we would be physically, emotionally, and financially prepared ‘enough’ to start our own little family.

I was living a balanced lifestyle, I was taking my daily vitamins and Folic Acid supplements, I had limited my alcohol intake and had read all I could about breastfeeding and raising kids the so-called natural way.

We were ready to give up certain aspects of our freedom. We were ready to adapt our lifestyle to the needs of our little human. We were ready for sleepless nights and our relationship was better than ever before!

We’ve read the stats: 42% conceived in their first month of trying. 75% conceived by their third month. 88% conceived by six months. 98% conceived by 12 months!

We were so ready!

Calculating the due date, discussing baby names, making a checklist of all the baby stuff we needed, scrolling through forums about pregnancy hacks, and reading all we could find about what to expect as first-time parents.

The stress of infertility is real!

The first 3 months passed by, nothing happened. I started tracking my menstrual cycle, used ovulation kits, and 6 months passed by. We’ve changed positions, I did acupuncture, stayed laying down in bed after sex, and 9 months passed by. I stopped working out as figurously as I did before, I cut out gluten and dairy from my diet, and 12 months passed by.

As someone who likes to be in charge, this was a hard concept for me to come to terms with. But after 1 year we had to face the fact, which we had never ever considered, that it was time to see a fertility doctor.

And while I was going through treatment after treatment, life went on all around us. 

In the course of 5 years:

– my best friend started dating, found a partner, has now a 1,5 year old and broke up with her partner

– my younger brother got 2 children, now 4 and 2 years old

– my parents became grandparents (twice!)

– two of my cousins got a baby with a partner they’ve met only a year before

– my 10 year younger sister-in-law has just given birth

– which makes my parents-in-law grandparents for the first time

– two friends of mine are raising a baby by themselves after getting pregnant from a one-night stand

And there I was…

Trying not to beat myself up over all the boundaries I’ve crossed for myself: ’I’d never do IVF’, ‘I’d never inject myself’, I’d never do more than 3’, I’d… Avoid looking at all the echocardiograms of babies that never made it alive. Try dealing with the fact that our baby name got ‘stolen’ twice, having sex as a scheduled task instead of fun, and putting all of our time, money and energy into babies, that never made it into our arms..

Over the years I became lonelier and lonelier. The constant uncertainty and waiting had put my life on hold and the emotional rollercoaster of infertility took over my marriage, my relationships, my work, my body, in fact, all of me!

Infertility is like climbing a freaking steep mountain

I’ve always compared my infertility journey to climbing the most difficult mountain you could ever think of, and I knew that once I would arrive at the top, I would finally be able to hold my little miracle in my arms.

Every day I would visualize myself standing there on top of that mountain, after all the struggle, carrying her in my arms, softly touching her face, feeling so immensely happy. 

But then one day, while I was sitting in silence, I looked around and noticed that besides the baby, the top of the mountain was very empty. No partner, no friends, no family, no work, no health, no nothing. There was nothing but that baby in my arms.

That was the day that I suddenly realized that I was climbing the wrong mountain!

Because NO, that’s not how I imagined it!

I knew I had to quickly and drastically change the mountain that I was climbing. I started visualizing myself on the top of this new mountain, where my baby was still waiting for me, but… also a loving partner, caring friends, a healthy fit body, a job that I love, and the financial freedom to never feel stressed if I would take a week off.

What I’ve learned the hard way, in the last couple of years, is that trying to stuff all of our hopes into one specific outcome: having a baby, which we anyway can’t control, is a really dangerous game.

My name is Rianna Hijlkema

In 2011 I broke up with my boyfriend, sold my house, lost my job, my savings, and my cat. I lost everything, except my car, so I drove to Paris and started all over. Well, not THAT easy. 

I was overwhelmed and very confused, but I found a way to use this major life transition to design a life of my choice. 

Now I’m a multi-passionate serial entrepreneur, digital nomad, full-time traveler, happily married with my soulmate, and one of those who ended up – against all odds – childless after IVF.

And what about you?

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