We are a married couple who have thought of ourselves as a family since we started living under the same roof. Families come in many sizes, shapes, and colors and are formed in different ways. We are a family of two. The phrase “family of two” is not frequently used and it even takes some by surprise when one of the two is not a child. We’d like to contribute to making this phrase more commonly used and understood, and as such, this is what we'd like you to know about our family of two.
1. Although we do not have children, we are a family.
We share our daily lives, our home, our last name, and many more beautiful things and experiences day in and day out. We are bound together by our commitment and our love. Thus, we are family. (We also have an amazing dog who is a beloved member of our little family!)
2. We intended to be a family of three of four.
Don’t assume that every childfree couple you meet never wanted to have children. After getting married, we immediately started trying to conceive. Little did we know that we would then go through years and years of devastating loss and trauma in the attempt to fulfill our dream of parenthood. We are among the 1 in 8 couples that experience infertility.
3. Choosing to be childfree after infertility was extremely difficult and involved courage.
Just as we made the decision to start infertility treatments, there came a point when we decided to stop. After multiple, devastating, failed infertility procedures, we were faced with choices. We could continue the same treatments, we could try treatments using donor gametes, we could stop treatments and live childfree, or we could stop treatments and pursue adoption. These choices may seem simple as you read them, but they are all quite complex and some are also extremely expensive. After a lot of time, discussion, fear-facing, and soul searching we decided, for many reasons, to stop treatments and live childfree.
4. We didn’t “give up.”
When couples like us inform friends and family that they’re going to stop treatments, many respond by saying “don’t give up!” Although this is usually meant to be encouraging, it’s not. A couple or individual that is making this decision is not making it lightly or in fact "giving up." Our desire to have children is so deep that we went through heart-wrenching experiences and spent thousands of dollars in the process. Imagine after all of that, how hard it is to stop pursuing your dream. We didn’t give up. We gave it all that we could and more. We need support from family and friends, not comments that imply we are quitters by choosing to stop. Such comments do not show respect for the remarkable journey we have survived.
5. We are not selfish for choosing to live childfree.
Apparently, there are a lot of people that believe it is selfish to not be a parent. Well, we believe that whether you are childfree by choice or by circumstance, it is not a selfish or negative lifestyle choice. Often it is quite the opposite of selfish. We should make decisions that are best for us even if they are not understood by our culture at large. Others haven’t lived our life. They haven’t walked in our shoes. No one who meets us and then finds out we don’t have children would ever know all that we have been through leading up to our decision to live childfree. We must all be careful of judging one another and the choices we make. You never know what someone has lived through.
6. We do have children in our lives.
Although we do not have our own children, we still have children in our lives. Be it nieces, nephews or our friends’ children, we enjoy them and we love them.
7. Our family is important and meaningful.
Just like any other family, our voices deserve to be heard. Our lives deserve respect. Our opinions in our community matter.
8. We are enough!
We love our family and we find great fulfillment in our life together! Although we intended to have children, we are now beginning to take advantage of the benefits of being childfree as we heal from infertility. We are very mindful each day of the things and experiences that bring us joy and are so thankful to no longer be living in the painful and draining land of infertility limbo! Our union is strong and by choosing to stop treatments, we chose us. We chose our marriage. We are enough.