The Semantics

I chose the term childfree over childless for the subtitle because I am not less of anything. I am not missing anything. I am not less of a woman because I cannot be a mother in the traditional sense.
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The shamed ignorance is becoming more and more fragile.
Our shamed stories are gaining more and more attention.
The shamed silence is breaking.

Infertility continues to see more and more media coverage:

  • The Today Show correspondent Bobbie Thomas publicly announcing she is enduring IVF.

  • The Today Show also covering the baby orangutan conceived via IUI.
  • The Today Show and Good Morning America, both, following Dr. Silber (who was also my doctor) and his patients through successful IVF treatments.
  • Giuliana and Bill Rancic continuing to live their infertility journey, including surrogacy and miscarriage, publicly.
  • Ashley and Tyson Gardner still talking about their IVF journey even with quads on the way!
  • As the discussion and the education (thank goodness) continue to grow surrounding infertility, the claim over certain semantics has also grown.

    In particular, the semantics surrounding the term "childfree" versus "childless"

    I have read many articles and blog posts and also been confronted myself on why my use of the term childfree is incorrect.

    To some people, maybe even most, the term childfree describes those who have chosen to not have children, otherwise called the childfree by choice group. Whereas, childless describes those of use who have tried, but cannot have children.

    The subtitle of my book Ever Upward is Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life.

    I describe myself as childfree, now with a qualifier.

    And yet, I desperately wanted children. I paid a lot of money to have children. And, I suffer lifelong losses from the journey I endured to have children.

    I chose the term childfree over childless for the subtitle because I am not less of anything. I am not missing anything. I am not less of a woman because I cannot be a mother in the traditional sense. My life does not mean less than anyone else's. I am not not whole because I cannot be a mother.

    My heart, my soul, my life are not missing pieces. They are simply scarred by three tiny souls. These soul scars have not left me lacking anything, but rather have left me more whole. For I am a more loving, more compassionate, continually healing person because I so loved those three tiny souls and even more so because I lost them.

    Some do not like childfree because they feel it is reserved for the child free by choice. Those who have said my infertility is a gift to the earth, the human race and a bullet dodged. Thank you to the man with the initials of PB for sending me a long, completely uncompassionate, hurtful email with these words in response to my HuffPost piece "The Childfree Mother," rather than a public comment so my fellow warriors cannot have my back and come to my defense.

    Some do not like childfree for people like us because it feels too positive, like we haven't lost or like childfree indicates that children are restriction or hindrance.

    But then for many of us childless feels like a knife in the gut and like we are less than.

    So, I chose the term childfree because I refuse to be identified as less than.

    I now choose the term childfree, yet childfull, because this is where I have found my continuing recovery.

    And yet, there are days it doesn't feel like a choice at all.

    I do not need everyone to understand my semantics but I do ask for compassion and the permission to define my own journey, just as I give you to define yours.

    So, I will continue to practice my recovery and choose my whole self and my whole story; childfree, yet childfull.

    And, that is nothing less but really the true definition of ever upward.

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