The Infertile Grandmother

by Chloe Jeffreys · 170 comments

in Adult Kids, Favorites, Sandwich Generation

Earlier this year, after 3 years of concerted (and I’m told very enjoyable) effort, it was discovered that my daughter and her husband will most likely never be able to have biological children of their own. This, coupled with a myriad of other serious personal issues, delivered the one-two punch that culminated in this year’s nervous breakdown.

Having had my own torturous–and ultimately fruitless–turn at secondary infertility, (I spent my 40th birthday sobbing in my closet strung out on Clomid), I’m no stranger to the personal pain and torment of infertility. Being denied the children you so desperately desire is one of the worst things a person can endure. It is its own private nightmare with every pregnant belly you see a sucker punch to the gut, and every visit from that horrid bitch, Aunt Flo, a knife in your heart.

So in no way do I want to compare my grief to that of my daughter and her husband. There is no comparison.

Where are the Infertile Grandmothers?

But in all my travels around the web–and not an insignificant amount of time spent on infertility sites and blogs where I learned euphemistic phrases for your period like “riding the cotton pony”–I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any discussion devoted to the infertile grandmother, i.e. the grandmother whose arms will never be filled with biological grandchildren of her own.

It would seem that the infertile grandmother has no voice and no rights to one.

Put up and Shut up

Shouldn’t grandmothers be happy with whatever is handed to them? Isn’t a grandmother who isn’t initially thrilled about adopted grandchildren, or foster grandchildren, or even no grandchildren at all, a terrible, selfish bitch who probably deserves to be cut-off? Grandmothers, it seems, should just swallow whatever hopes and dreams they had for their own grandchildren and shut the fuck up. Imagine my shame as I must face now that the terrible, selfish bitch is me.

So, here it is. I’ll lay my heart open for the filleting and be the first grandmother to admit it out loud: I wanted biological grandchildren. From my daughter.

I wanted grandchildren who have my blue eyes; who might have some of my husband’s quirks. I wanted to see what these ginormous teeth that run in my family look like in the ginormous heads that run in my son-in-law’s family. Was that too much to ask?

Apparently.

My cursory Google search reveals that the phrase “infertile grandmother” brings up articles about grandmothers offering up their uteri to their children, mostly their daughters, for the purpose of bringing forth biological grandchildren. Let me just state for the record that if this were a possible solution to my daughter and her husband’s problem I’d do it in a heartbeat. Without question. But, one, I no longer possess a uterus, and two, it wouldn’t help if I did.  Nothing I can do will help this. It is just a quirk of nature, a biological fluke. It is simply the way things are and there is nothing I can do about it.

Midwife, Heal Thyself

For the past 20+ years I have delivered babies for a living. When my own babies were tiny, I started off as a Le Leche League Leader (that’s Nipple Nazi to you), then took up an apprenticeship with a home birth midwife for nearly three years, and finally became a labor and delivery nurse. My entire professional life has been about birth.

And now I must face the hard fact that I will never kneel between my daughter’s legs to see my own grandchild enter the world.  I will never watch my daughter amaze herself by doing the hardest physical task most women will ever perform, give  birth. I’ll never help her bring her wet and squirmy baby to her breast. It will never happen for her, and that makes me so inordinately sad. But that means that it will never happen for me either. Do I not have the right to grieve?

True, my son might have biological children someday. But it will not be the same. I will not have the physical intimacy with his wife that I have with my own daughter. I might be fortunate to be included in the birth of his child; I might be fortunate to have a good relationship with my daughter-in-law, but that relationship will never be exactly like the one I have with my own daughter.

The loss of this dream is profound for me. And I feel so ashamed that I feel this way. Everyone knows that grandmothers are not allowed to have dreams of their own. Grandmothers should have no dreams at all.

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{ 167 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane May 10, 2017 at 1:15 pm

I just found out two days ago my daughter will most likely never have her own biological child.
I am devastated and heartbroken for her and selfishly for myself.
It’s like the rug has been pulled from under me and all the hopes I had for her and myself are truly gone.
I’ll never see what who her child my look like , act like.
I for the moment feel completely hopeless. 😔

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Tamara April 9, 2017 at 12:22 am

Hi,
Thank you for sharing! I right now am going through this exact thing. My daughter and her husband are being told it is almost impossible for them to have a biological child of their own. My daughter has had 7 miscarriages. So I feel guilty and almost ashamed for not only grieving for my 7 grandbabies that were never born but knowing I will never get to hold one of my daughter’s. They don’t want me talking to anyone about it because to them it is a private thing but I want to yell and say you are not the only one feeling grief. But I don’t want to be mean to them because I have three children. I feel like I failed my daughter as well because she can’t have one so did I eat or do something that made it not possible for her. I have all my friends having grandbabies around me and I am happy for them but I truly don’t want to hear how wonderful it is to be a grandmother. I at this point will never have the opportunity so to be it is just a reminder of what I will never have.
Also I don’t want to here “oh be patient my daughter went through infertile and had X amount of children” Yes I am happy for them but my daughter has been told this is not a possibility!! So it just makes her feel guilty or that something is wrong with her but it does not help my grief but only gives me more grieving for the yearning to hold a grand baby of my own. to all it does is cause more grief. Thank you for reading but Thank you also for showing me that I am not alone.
Tamara
Tamara recently posted..Disconnecting from the Collective Conscious [sic]My Profile

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Mourning March 21, 2017 at 6:54 pm

Thank you.
So little can be found about mourning the hope that will never be.
So little written on how to help my daughter through the pain, that she has yet to share with me. Her husband shared with me that a baby will not be.
I am overwhelmed with the thought of her and their pain, and loss.
I am mourning as they are, and cannot say one word, until she feels okay to share with me what they are dealing with.
My heart is broken and I have no idea what to do or if I should tell her I know.
I do not want to betray my son-in-laws confidence, but my daughter is hurting and has been, and I cannot hold her and tell her that we will get through this together. All I seem to be able to do since I found out is cry and the most inopportune times.
More should be written about infertility and the silent, unspoken mourning that comes with the unseen dream and hopes that die with just a few words.

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sharon September 25, 2016 at 5:45 am

I have four fantastic grandchildren. I know there are people out there that will never be able to experience the joy of having a grandchild for whatever reason. As far as your child not being able to have a biological child – A child is a child and if they adopt = soon I won’t even think about the child being biological. You will be having so much fun with him or her it won’t enter your mind. As for the ones that have decided not to have children= this is something you won’t regret now but believe me I have seen it many times as people get older they are alone and wish they had had kids. Its sad but something they will find out too late

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Barbara May 26, 2016 at 10:03 am

I am a 60 year old woman who will not see my son father children. He had leukemia and his sperm have no ability to swim. I become very depressed for my son and his wife. It’s s continual sense of loss and there are reminders everywhere I look.

Please tell me how to move on with this sorrow.

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Karen May 26, 2016 at 1:55 pm

My story is similar to yours. An illness took their parenthood chance away. So we worry about the illness and also have the sadness. We are always hopeful for a miracle. I just take 1 day at a time.

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Karen May 17, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Every pregnant belly….it is so painful. And many friends are becoming grandparents. It is very difficult to be completely happy for their joy. It feels like you are being punished. I can see her pain – fom diaper commercials to babies in strollers in the stores. Like losing a child we never had a chance to meet.

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Martina April 29, 2016 at 10:14 am

I also am so glad I found this blog. I am approaching 60 and really thought I would have been a Grandma 5 years ago. I have two sons, ages 34 and 32. My 34 year old has been married for 7 years. They used to talk about babies, buying a new “mom” car, etc. but then it just stopped. I am not sure if my daughter in law found out she can’t have kids. We are very close to them but they don’t bring the subject up and I don’t ask them anything. My 32 year old son is living with his girlfriend but has no plans of even getting married. His girlfriend seems to have many health problems.
About two months ago it just kind of hit me that I may never be a Grandma. My husband and I are really upset about it, but just keep it to ourselves. To us, it feels just as bad as if we were told we wouldn’t be able to have kids. Our life is just way to quiet now. All the ladies I work with talk endlessly about their Grandchildren. Their life seems so full ….going to programs at schools, sports, trick-or-treating, applie picking, blah, blah, blah…It seems they get to see their kids more because of the Grandchildren. We have a pool at house, spare bedrooms, a big yard, a lake for fishing, trails for hiking and biking. We envisioned sharing these wonderful things with our kids and our Grandchildren. But because our sons don’t have children, they travel, go to concerts, dinners, movies…I am very happy for them the fulfilling life they have. I found life fulfilled by children and always thought I would be a Grandma. I miss being a (needed) Mom and wanted to replace the feelings by being a Grandma. My kids don’t need me anymore. I look forward to the times we are together but I know how different it would be if there were little ones around. I am typing things I would never say out loud. I feel bad that I am sad about all of this…

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andrea lewis April 26, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Thanks for writing this it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one feeling sad. I have just been told by my lovely daughter that neither she nor her partner are fertile much to their great disappointment. What can you say.

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Linda April 29, 2016 at 2:18 pm

I understand your anguish. After the third late term miscarriage it’s a double blow. Not only are we helpless in the face of their pain, we have to process the loss of our dreams as well. I think the isolation on both counts is the hardest piece. I hope you can find ways to comfort each other thru this terrible time.

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Linda March 31, 2016 at 11:24 am

Thank you so much for sharing. I can’t tell you how alone I’ve felt for months now. I’ve broken up w/lifelong friends who can’t comprehend my feelings of helplessness and grief. It’s so comforting to know there are others who understand.

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Donica March 30, 2016 at 5:14 pm

I was so thankful to find this blog. Some days the pain is unbearable. My son and his wife have been trying for 3 years to conceive with no luck. I can only imagine the pain she goes through watching her sisters and friends have babies. As an grandma wannabe, I too sit back and watch my sisters and friends becoming grandmas and telling me over and over again how joyous it is. My best friend is completely clueless to my pain and basically doesn’t seem concerned or even careful about what she says and how it might hurt me. Facebook is difficult as well, as I have to endure post after post about grand babies. I certainly funny blame them for being joyous as life is precious. It just reminds me constantly what I may never get to experience. On top of it all, you do feel like you have to remain silent. No one seems to want to hear about the pain, nor do they care. They are just living in their happy little baby filled world. I feel like a total baby myself for struggling so with this emptiness. Ugh!

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Donica March 30, 2016 at 5:17 pm

That should say I don’t blame then for being joyous.

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Angela March 30, 2016 at 5:46 pm

I understand your pain. You are not alone.

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Jenny Hitchens November 20, 2016 at 4:17 pm

I feel your pain, Donica. I will never have grandchildren and it just breaks my heart. I am invited out to lunch with friends, but all they talk about is their grandchildren, photos of them and on and on about how wonderful it is. I have NOTHING to contribute to the conversation and I feel so hurt. I think my best friend, who waited until she was 68 to have grandchildren, forgot what it feels like. She is constantly talking to me about her obsession with her grandkids and how wonderful her life is now. I just sit there and can’t get a word in edgewise. I don’t think I will go lunch with my friends anymore, I cry all the way home. I am a 65 year old woman crying like a baby! I am so ashamed of myself.

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Angela December 15, 2015 at 1:03 am

Thank you for writing something about moms who don’t get to be grandmothers. My daughters are both developmentally disabled. The chances of them having children is slim to none. I am 48 and all of my friends and family are grandparents. Every Facebook post I see about how great it is to be a grandmother(the one thing I always dreamed about being) – is like a knife in my chest. I have friends with small children who offer to let me be the “adoptive” grandma – but it isn’t the same. It seems the unfilled dreams for my children and myself just keep on coming. No driving lessons, no high school romances, no college days, no weddings, no grandchildren and no empty nest. Some days I don’t think about it, other days, that is all I think about. Does this make me selfish – No, I think it just makes me human.

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Em December 1, 2015 at 9:04 pm

My fiancé is infertile. He has zero sperm. We tried for 10 months doing IVF and a surgery on him to get pregnant and ended up empty bellied. I try the best I can to pick myself up over and over the last couple of years. My younger sister just told me she is 12 weeks pregnant, we started trying before she even got engaged. I guess from what you are saying my mother will never love our children like my sisters because I am forced to use a sperm donor. My (hopefully) future children may never get the same love from their grandmother simply because my fiancé wasn’t blessed with genes that make him fertile like my sisters husband who actually broke up with her because he didn’t want to have kids before they got married? So he’s a better man (when he’s far from it) and they therefore “better” children because they have the same eyes? Is that what your saying because that’s what I am gleaming from this post. Just because that man has sperm does that mean our children will be any less of “grandchildren”? I sure hope my mother doesn’t hold on to shallow beliefs such as these. It’s bad enough to to have to grieve your own biological children to think feel even more guilty your mother who was lucky enough to even have her own is harboring such feelings.

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Chloe Jeffreys December 2, 2015 at 7:18 pm

Dear Em,

I understand more than you can know why you might be feeling somewhat defensive about your own personal situation, but nowhere in this piece did I say I wouldn’t love adopted or sperm-donated grandchildren.

Infertility is a painful, all-consuming experience, and people going through it often develop a sort of tunnel vision where they see only their own loss and pain. I might also suggest to you that children who, by definition, lack maturity and life experience are prone to seeing themselves as the center of the universe and their parents as mere backdrops against which they play out their own personal dramas instead of real people capable of complex emotions and their own inner thoughts and lives.

Best of luck to you.

Chloe

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Em December 3, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Here is lies the contradiction to your words. You have children. However much you suffered along the way you have not one but two. So therefore you could not possibly understand “more than I could ever know” what it is like to stare down the sad truth you may never have children since you in fact do.

Secondly you wrote it in bold. You did not say you wanted grandchildren you specifically said you wanted biological grandchildren. Its therefore insinuated that you won’t be as happy with the alternative ways a family is made the bold really highlights this.

Now as to whatever nonsense you are trying to relay in that last paragraph I can only guess you for one reason or other believe because you are a mother (how patronizing is that)!and older you are so wise as to suggest I must have tunnel vision and be immature. You write publicly asking to be filleted and yet can’t take some heat for something you yourself already feel guilty about which means on a certain level you know your feelings are shallow, it’s fine to have shallow dreams but back up your claim to being the terrible bitch. I called you out on them because I am in fact mature enough to see past my own loss and pain. You truly have no idea what your daughters going thru. I hope she doesn’t read this. No matter what she says to you I’m sure in someway reading this broke a little piece of her heart. I think that’s what made this article worth commenting on. Knowing your daughter could find it. You had your dreams it’s your daughters turn to reinvent hers with out having to confronted by guilt losing hers meant you didn’t get yours. That’s an incredibly unfair burden to cross.

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Chloe Jeffreys December 3, 2015 at 7:11 pm

Dear Em,

I wrote this post several years ago. I am now the grandmother of two beautiful adopted grandsons who I adore more than life itself. Since I wrote this before they came into my life, I couldn’t possibly have known then how I would feel about them now.

As far as my daughter is concerned, my not writing this post wouldn’t have changed how I felt. It would have only become that something we couldn’t talk about. Thankfully my relationship with my daughter is strong enough to withstand truth, even painful truth, because relationships that are based on intimacy, love, and emotional honesty are like that.

At the time I wrote this post, this was my truth. If that makes me a “terrible bitch” in your eyes, well, that’s your opinion. I think I was simply a grieving mother coming to terms with my daughter and her husband’s infertility.

I am so very sorry that you are going through infertility with your fiance. Since you can’t possibly know how it is I came to have my children, you can’t possibly know what I went through to get them. But have them I did, and I’m certainly not going to apologize for that! Having biological children also doesn’t discount what I personally know about infertility, just like someday you still may have biological children of your own and that won’t mean you haven’t honestly come by your hard-won knowledge of “what it is like to stare down the sad truth you may never have children”.

Em, clearly my post has triggered some powerful emotions for you that indicate to me that you aren’t quite as resolved as you’d like to appear. Choosing infertility–which is what you’ll be doing if you stay with your fiance–is not quite the same thing as suffering from infertility yourself. I can’t even know what set of emotions and internal conflicts that must bring to a person. Although, I must admit that I am somewhat confused at your anger towards me regarding infertility because you aren’t the one who is infertile and you’ve spoken about sperm donation, not adoption, which means you are going to have biological children, right? This leads me to wonder who it is you think you’re defending here. My daughter? Your fiance? Maybe some therapy would be helpful since I’m not seeing how coming here and calling me names is solving anything for you.

As for my reasons for writing this post, I wrote this post for women like myself, grandmothers-in-waiting. As much as the fact that I dared write this seems to be bothering you, mothers of every age and circumstance do have a right to have their feelings and the right to express them. When you are a mother, however that ends up looking for you, you will understand what it is to have dreams for your children that will never come true because that happens for every mother at some point.

And Em, while I appreciate your passion on this topic, I must tell you that if you ever post again on my website calling me names I’m going to delete and block you. That is absolutely unacceptable to me and I will not allow any more of it. I didn’t write this post “asking to be filleted”, I wrote it to help other infertile grandmothers not feel so alone with their grief. I’m only leaving your comments for now because I feel you do deserve a response, and it is obvious to me that you are in a great deal of pain and turmoil over this, and I don’t want you to think I’m insensitive to your suffering.

Sincerely,

Chloe

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Karen May 17, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Nicely said.

Martina April 29, 2016 at 10:31 am

Em,
I am so sorry. My husband had very low sperm and was due to have surgery when I found out I was pregnant. We had tried for 3 years and it was the worst 3 years of my life. I am so lucky I was able to have children. I always feel more sorry for someone dealing with infertility than anything else. Hey, someone could lose everything they own and I would think they are lucky because they have children. If my daughter in law is going through this (and not telling me) then it just makes me cry just as I sit here…
I want you to know that if my one son had a biological child and the other one had a sperm donor or adopted…I truly know in my heart I would love them just the same. Your Mom would never have shallow beliefs. She will be the same way.
I pray for you that your wish for having children will be fulfilled. Hugs to you…

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Jane November 24, 2015 at 11:51 pm

Oh Heather, I was so saddened to read your post. I think this is the right place to speak what is in your heart because all of us who has sought out this blog in our darkest hours share your grief with every bone in our bodies. Since I first posted, my husband died in July of a sudden cardiac arrest, in my arms, in our bed. Now I am on my own with so much unhappiness, lost without the one person who understood my feelings before I even let the outside world see even a tiny sigh of sadness. All I can say is to just draw those you love even closer to you and cherish every moment of love you can have with them on this earth, even without the things you dreamed of enjoying. Every day will present you with some fragment of human warmth to kindle and treasure if you open your heart to the possibilities of the healing love of humankind. You are not alone Heather. You are alive, and as long as you breath there will be chances to recover from your sadness. You will, for sure, be with those dear babies one day, but for now, live,live and live again, just one day at a time.
xxxxxxxxx

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Martina April 29, 2016 at 10:33 am

God Bless You, Jane…

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Heather November 24, 2015 at 3:49 pm

I have also searched for grieving grandparent support and found none. Thank you for this post. It helps to read the comments and know I’m not alone. My husband and I went through many, many years of infertility. And now that our oldest son and his wife are going through their many, many years of infertility, all the old grief and isolation is back. Out of respect for our son and daughter in law’s privacy, we suffer in silence. Thirty years ago we suffered through all the Christmas cards with pregnancies announced and pictures of babies. And now its the same people announcing they are grandparents and pictures of their grandchildren. This upcoming holiday season we are grieving our daughter in laws 4th pregnancy loss. I’ve had to block people on FB because the pain has become too great. I’m embarrassed over how angry and resentful I feel toward those who become parents easily and haven’t a clue to how horribly difficult becoming a parent and grandparent can be for others. And I’m embarrassed that at times I feel like our family is cursed and can’t see my blessings. When people ask if I am a grandmother, I say yes and that my grandchildren are in heaven. My heart has been broken each time, and my heart breaks for my son and daughter in law.

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Tamara April 9, 2017 at 12:35 am

Hi Heather,
I also was trying to find a support group for grieving grandparents with no success. I was told by someone one time that I should have to have support since I wasn’t going through the infertility my daughter and husband were. The cruelty that people say. But in reality I grieve for the grand babies I didn’t get to hold since she miscarried 7, I grieve for my daughter because it is the worse thing to have to go through (I had difficulties too) and I grieve for the grand babies I will NEVER get to have.
I also feel resentfulness right now because three of my friends just had grand children where their daughter’s had them from surprises. Not being in a marriage or commitment or just weren’t trying or didn’t want one. When all I want to say is my daughter truly has everything together but this one thing and these kids just do it by accident. I feel guilty for being angry. Plus I agree FB is a good thing unless you are grieving in silence.
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Jasmine @ PlacidWay November 17, 2015 at 9:51 pm

My sister is infertile and wants to undergo IVF but his husband and his family were not in favor of this procedure, it is an issue for them because of their religion. My sister badly wants to have a baby but this is her problem what do you think she must do to convince his husband.

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Mary September 26, 2015 at 12:41 am

Imagine that you’ve never had children, and then someone asks you one day if you bought a vintage kid’s book you were holding for your grandchild. That’s what happened to me the other night. This was the first time I’ve been asked about grandchildren, and boy did it sting. Imagine the pain of not being able to have children, and then reminded of it all over again because, by default, you will never have grandchildren either.

I’ve been fielding questions for years about ‘do you have kids’, and I always reply ‘not that I know of’. I have no such ready quip for the insensitive people (women of course) who ask about grandkids! But now I’ll have to come up with one.

Fostering will probably be the one of the options for my husband and I, because we do want to have children in our lives.

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Julia July 7, 2015 at 7:24 am

I so relate to so much you and others have written here. I have one daughter and three sons, and so yearn to experience supporting my daughter through pregnancy and birth, and her becoming a mommy. My son in law has been diagnosed with varicocele and poor sperm count and quality. They have been trying for a baby for five years. They will not talk to us about it. I know they feel as if they have disappointed the family( we all were so looking forward to them having kids), and I think my Son in law feels ashamed and guilty, and our daughter feels protective of him. We want to help and support them, but they will not discuss it at all. We offered financial assistance if and when they may go through assisted reproduction and treatment, but don’t bring it up any more to respect their wishes. They have seemingly put it on hold to finish building their home, and I want to scream at them that time is not on their side. Some of my motives are selfish, I admit. My life plan always was based on raising my kids, and then being available to help and support with the raising of my grandchildren. So many of my friends and acquaintances are lavishing love and attention on their grandbabies. I do not understand what my daughter and her husband are waiting for, and it makes me sad and angry. I know they still want kids, but feel they are making a huge mistake by putting it off, but I keep my mouth shut. Thanks for letting me vent.

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Elizabeth December 5, 2015 at 6:13 pm

I don’t know if it would help, but you might think about what might happen after you have grandchildren that would be different from your fantasy. That’s clumsy wording, but for example: Chloe’s original post talks about being in the delivery room with her daughter, being there when her grandchild was delivered, and so on. What if none of those things happened? What if there was a caesarian delivery instead? What if her daughter didn’t want her there at all? What if she couldn’t visit a new baby as much as she wanted, or her daughter wasn’t receptive to her help?

So you might ask: what if a grandchild turns out to be a very different person from you, that you just don’t click with or like very much? What if they aren’t as close to you as you’d like? What if your kids have families, but move far away for whatever reason, and you don’t see the grandchildren very much? (This is quite common among my peers, where daughters can live as far away as halfway around the world. Sons tend to stay close to their parents.) What if you need to trade off holidays and only see grandchildren every 3 or 4 Christmases? A lot of what commenters here are mourning isn’t about simply passing on family’s genes, but about other assumptions about how the children and family will take shape.

My own mother, for example, dreams about me having 2 or 3 children, including at least one daughter who resembles us, and being a stay-at-home mother for several years like she was. If I were to have children, I would have only one child and be a working mother. There’s no real way, in the end, that one of us wouldn’t hurt the other with each of our needs directly contradicting the other’s dreams.

I’m not at all suggesting that you overthink it, or worry yourself sick, or anything like that – maybe none of these things will happen! Just thinking, from years of working with the parents of adults, that grandchildren – biological or otherwise – can come with a different set of unexpected disappointments or hurt you weren’t planning on. Grieving infertility, and its meaning, is usually about losing a specific scenario, not a general one (that’s not wrong, either). But children have a way of being their own people, whether their parents and grandparents like it or not, and it’s an adjustment for everyone.
Wishing you and your family the best.

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Julie March 13, 2016 at 5:58 am

Thanks for your comments, Elizabeth, and I am sorry I took so long to respond. Nothing has changed in my situation- my daughter and her husband have finished fixing up their house, but are still childless. You make valid points but our situation is that my kids are involved in our family business and as such, will not be living far away from us. I cannot imagine a situation in which I would not be close to a grandchild, and my son in law has very little supportive family- none close by, so if there were a grandchild, we would be the “primary grandparents” so to speak. What makes it especially difficult is not being able to discuss it with my daughter. I wonder if they have decided to give up trying. My husband and I have so much to give, and always looked forward to the time in our lives that we could shower a grandbaby with love. It is hard when one’s dreams don’t come true but harder when there is nothing one can do about it.

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Martina April 29, 2016 at 10:53 am

Thanks for posting a different spin Elizabeth. I had previously thought of some of the “negatives” as a way of not getting so wrapped up in the emptiness. Like, what if they have a special needs child and maybe their marriage broke up (that did happen to a friend of mine). Get togethers are so “adult” in our house. The dining room table is set with the good china and we have adult conversations, play adult board games, watch adult movies. We go for long hikes in the mountains. I do love all of my “grandpups”. My sisters complain their kids only call to babysit and at least my kids ask us to do things with them. The grass is always greener, I suppose…but I like to think the grass is greenest where you water it. I know anyone taking the time to post here would be such a special Grandmother and would “water” their Grandchildren with so much love. I do appreciate your thoughts and wanted you to know it helped me remember that nothing is ever perfect and to appreciate what I have.
Thank you.

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Folami May 28, 2015 at 1:44 pm

As you, I did the ubiquitous Google search and typed in “how does it feel to never be a grandmother”. And the only information to come up, that peaked my interest, was your blog. Albeit, the name of your blog…which I love, and the posts viewed; my story is not about my daughter having infertility issues. My daughter, who was my only child, passed away in November 2013. Not only am I grieving the loss of my one and only, I am also grieving the fact, that I will never be a grandmother. I pray every single day for God to give me the strength to find joy in seeing pregnant bellies. The joy in hearing from those close to you, that they will be a grandmother. It is not easy, as you mentioned, it can be nightmarish, and more times than I care to count, gut wrenching…and that’s putting it mildly. You want to feel happy during these life changing moments of happiness, but it’s not easy. Especially when you will never be able to partake in the joy of your own daughter bringing forth life, and being able to share your child raising stories.

Your blog, and the various posts were funny…sense of humor is key to healing, and very insightful. Especially knowing, even though the circumstances may be different, we still have a common thread, and to know we are not alone 🙂

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Jane April 15, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Completely identify with all this. My daughter has had 2 miscarriages and won’t talk to me about it. She doesn’t seem to want to spend time with me any more either, as I guess she feels she has let me down, knowing how much I longed for those precious little babes to be part of our family. I dread yet another Mother’s Day coming around and her not being a mum one more year. Another Christmas when I buy a ton of gifts for her little cat, the substitute child, because there is no child to spoil. All my friends are grannies now. I am the only one left, feeling so sorry for myself. I try to fill my life up with things to do, even volunteer for a charity that supports families with very young children once a week. This is hard, and I suspect more of a chance for me to spend time with babies than to actually help the families. I do wonder if it’s helping me, seeing people who don’t realise how lucky they are, hashing up their lives and me trying to keep non-judgemental and sweet. At least she is only 29 and there is still a decade of hope left, but what then? I don’t think her husband will go for tests. He’s the sort of man who won’t want to have to admit there might be something wrong with him. I’m even starting to think terrible things like why doesn’t she have an affair and see if that does the trick. What sort of terrible mother am I to start those sort of thoughts? God help me, this thing feels like it’s driving me nuts.

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Elizabeth May 17, 2015 at 6:57 pm

You’re not thinking as terribly and brutally as my own mother did, when she told me I should date men I disliked in the hopes they would force me into unwanted sex. Unfortunately, to her great shame, in spite of dating for many years I haven’t been able to marry during my fertile years. I have occasional wistful thoughts about something I can’t have – someone who genuinely loves me and who would be a real father, one who does 50% of the baby care. Talk about pipe dreams!

I think my own experience with biological families is that there’s many more limits to parental love and love of biological children than we think about – we think of it as unconditional but perhaps it’s really not for everyone. For example, a mother who talks about how difficult she finds it to love a biological child who doesn’t resemble her. Or an biracial child who only resembles one set of grandparents while the other set disowns the family, for another example. There are a lot of limits to biological connection when you really think about it.
I can’t say I behaved differently to my own mother because of my “failure,” and it did cost her some of my love. Please tread carefully if you don’t want to lose her. And I am sorry for your grief.

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Jane May 17, 2015 at 11:10 pm

You are right to point these things out – thank you. I am trying to move on just a little bit every day because I can see that this thing is going to overwhelm me if I let it.
I try to let her see that I am happy, enjoying life and love her no matter what her situation. To make her feel that she was the cause of grief in me would be to put an unfair and unwanted extra worry onto her shoulders.
I garden, paint, sing, play my ukulele and teach workshops in it, see friends, sew, read – all the things I looked forward to doing when I retired and now have the time to do! Who knows, perhaps when a baby does come along one day I might resent the things I don’t have time for anymore because I am busy baby minding! Fickle, us humans, or what?

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Elizabeth June 10, 2015 at 8:18 pm

Well, from what I understand about miscarriage, it *can* be a sign of fertility problems, but it also might simply mean that there was only a problem with a *particular* pregnancy (which I realize doesn’t necessarily make it easier). For some reason, our culture doesn’t particularly talk about how often miscarriages occur, maybe because it does make us worry. My own sister definitely had more than 2 – maybe as many as 4, though some were quite early – and an ectopic pregnancy after that. But she still had a healthy pregnancy with my nephew, and my equally healthy niece came along in her late 30s after the ectopic and a lost Fallopian tube. So you never know – fertility and pregnancy are such mysteries and so beyond our understanding, I think. But I am sending good wishes to you and your daughter.
I know it’s really tough, but I think your daughter is doing the right thing to keep this between her and her husband for now, since they’re each other’s primary family and get the final say on how and when they have children. Of course I don’t know, but if she really loves him and if their marriage were to get rocky or end, she might discover she wouldn’t want children nearly as much with a different man, since each relationship is so different (a friend of mine recently went through a similar situation, much to her shock).
You sound like you’re really supportive to your daughter and taking care of yourself as best you can, which is all any of us can ask for. You’re also right to think that when a baby comes along, it will probably be different than you expect or fantasize about. Friends of mine tell me that when their children were born, the new grandparents were more interested in travel, painting and retirement hobbies than babies! My own mother expected that she would be the doting grandmother, the center of the new family, only to discover that my sister, brother-in-law and their baby were a new family of their own and she felt a bit left out. A family is such a balance between fantasy and reality.
All the best to you.

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Jane June 10, 2015 at 11:27 pm

Thank you Elizabeth. This came on just the right day. My best friend sent me a message yesterday to tell me that she was on her way to see her newborn grandson – her first – and although I had been anticipating this news coming from the day six months ago when she told me of the pregnancy, I still found it difficult. Of course, I sent her the required joyful message in reply, because what else can you say? I am, truly, joyful for her, since it won’t make any difference to my own daughter’s situation. There is not a finite number of babies and still every good reason for me to hope.
I grew the wedding flowers for this friend’s daughter two years ago and at the time I remember giving up a prayer ( how vain we are to think God would answer such an impossible request!) to ask that this young woman would not have a baby before my own girl, who has now been married for many years. I also asked that the Duchess of Cambridge’s fertility might also have such a brake attached to it. Ha ha! How God must laugh at us!
I spent yesterday afternoon at the hairdresser’s and listened to her and another client moaning the whole hour and a half about their rotten marriages and miserable husbands and I cam home feeling very blessed indeed that my own dear love of 31 years is such a cheery companion and friend to me. You are made aware of the blessings of your life at some very unexpected times indeed.
Well, the roses in our garden are blooming and yesterday I cut the first summer cabbage from my plot, fresh with dewdrops so plenty to contemplate in wonder and thanks.

Jacky March 7, 2015 at 11:13 am

You summed this painful time up so well. I too have trolled the net and made various calls to see if there are any support groups for grieving grandmothers. But apparently this is not the case so we suffer in silence so as not to cause any further distress to either our daughters or friends. On the friends it seems you have to stop talking about it because it’s all so easy for them. Although we personally have not reached that finality and still continue with hope I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your frankness and voicing what I’m sure many of us feel. I especially feel guilty as my son and wife are just about to give birth but my heart bleeds for my daughter and therefore takes the edge of from this wonderful moment

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Chloe Jeffreys March 18, 2015 at 12:51 am

Jacky, I wish I could reach out and hug you. It is so painful. And so isolating since we’re not really supposed to speak of our sorrow. My own daughter was upset with me after I wrote this post. She had moved on and felt I wasn’t honoring her by writing about my own pain. It was a bit of a crisis in our relationship, but I’ve held steadfast to the notion that somebody somewhere has to break the silence about what it is like when you are a thwarted grandma.

Since writing this post my daughter has adopted two little boys. They are the apple of my eye. I love them with all of my heart. I no longer pine for her to have biological children, or at least I pine very little. I have come to some peace about it at least. And I feel that writing this piece and sharing my pain with other like you and myself has been part of that process of healing.

God bless you. And thank you for sharing your story. It means a lot to me.

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Rae February 10, 2015 at 12:14 am

I enjoyed your article, Chloe, and understand how painful it can be to not realize your dreams in this area. My daughter was not infertile, but made a decision to marry a man who turned out to not want children. He manipulated her into staying by using the possibility of having some children like a carrot he would dangle in front of her. “Next year we’ll start planning, honey.” She waited eight years until she realized it was never going to happen.

Believe it or not, after separating from her husband 2 yrs ago, my daughter fell in love with another, wonderful man who lives overseas and wants marriage and children very much. They planned everything out and at the last minute he changed his mind. It turns out the ex husband called him and lied to him, saying bad things about my daughter to cause the new man to distrust her. Now the new, 1 1/2 yr long relationship is off the table and my daughter, who is so wonderful, beautiful, kind, and loving probably won’t be able to have children at all.

It is especially difficult when we see someone we love so dearly not be able to realize their dreams and, through them, our dreams – but it is doable. If there is one thing I’ve learned in life, Chloe, it is that I have to accept what is and learn to roll with it. Here is an article I wrote about my experience and feelings on the subject if you are interested: http://www.raepevy.com/index.php/i-will-probably-never-be-a-grandmother/
Rae recently posted..I Will Probably Never Be a GrandmotherMy Profile

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Eliza January 30, 2015 at 12:34 pm

One point that I haven’t seen raised in the comments is, in general, even if your children have biological children of their own….your biological grandchild won’t necessarily look like you, or look like the fantasy you envisioned, i.e. you could have many grandchildren, but none with your blue eyes or facial characteristics. Genetics is just too great a roll of the die. My maternal grandmother, for example, adored me, but I ended up looking almost exactly like my other grandmother (who my family didn’t have a very warm relationship with). I wonder if she felt cheated by her daughter not producing a child that resembled her. If she did, she behaved like she got over it.
So even with bloodlines, you fantasize about a specific gender or appearance, but hopefully you learn to love the reality you get instead.

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Chloe Jeffreys February 8, 2015 at 1:22 pm

This is true. My adopted grandchild actually looks very much he could be ours genetically, but I don’t love him more because of that. I love him because he’s mine regardless of what he looks like!

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Tempesta January 3, 2015 at 12:02 pm

I am very thankful I have a Adult Daughter and Son but I know what you are talking about with the hurt of not having Grandchildren…probably never will. My Daughter is getting her Master’s degree and totally into her career. My Son came out of a nasty marriage and they never had children because his ex couldn’t but had two from her first marriage which my Son was an awesome step dad. The issue here is I am co owner of a catering service with my husband and his 5…YES 5 sisters. Two are not very nice to me…I gave up trying to be excepted years ago…but the one Sister is so evil she rubs it in that she has step grandchildren and her bio son is getting married. Also one of the sister in laws had a grandbaby about a year ago and another sis in law’s Son just had their first…so she is a grandma too. The one sister like I said likes to rub it in and I have to pretend it doesn’t bother me. My Husband and I were the first out of his Sisters to get married and have children. So it is very sad but I am just trying to deal with God’s plan and go with it.

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Mary February 11, 2015 at 9:13 am

Oh, Ms. Tempesta, how I am growing to know your pain. I am struggling to not become the bitter bitch I feel encroaching upon my soul. My three daughters, ages 26, 30, and 32, have not yet had children and may never due to PCOS. They no longer let me even bring up the subject of grandchildren . . . at . . . all, not even to speak joyfully or hopeful or lightheartedly about it. I find myself having to carefully choose my words when I’m around them, and it is so uncomfortable. Then at the same time, every one of my peers have grandbabies popping out one after another. I’m faced with having to block them on Facebook because it seems they are reproducing like rabbits. Then I feel the shame of whining about it, as I have many blessings, i.e., a wonderful husband of 35+ years, three beautiful daughters who are happily married and each have their own lovely homes and happy careers. What do I have to complain about? I can’t help it that I love children and have done so my entire life. In the meantime, I keep myself busy and try not to think about it; worrying about it does not help and just hurts me and everyone around me even more. It’s just hard. I wish I could give you a great big hug. I know we can’t base our personal happiness on whether we have grandbabies, but we feel what we feel and should not have to be ashamed of that. You take care.

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Jan R December 23, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I can’t find anything for people like me who have dreamed of being a grandmother since my kids were small. I have a son with Autism and a daughter who for a wide variety of valid reasons is does not want children. I find myself really struggling lately with so much heartache. Watching SO MANY friends, some who have 6, 8 or 10 grandchildren, while I never will. I don’t blame her at all, but I find myself feeling so jealous of friends who do have grandchildren and I feel a hole in my heart for the grandchildren I’ll never have. I’m I being a self centered fool who should be grateful for what I have or is my heartache real? Is there a place where I can find support and maybe hear from others that this pain will pass?

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Linda December 2, 2014 at 6:12 pm

This article titled the “infertile grandmother” makes me upset. I have come to terms (or trying to) that I will not have children. This means the double punch is I will never be a grandmother because of my infertility. While I appreciate how the woman feels, she does have a daughter and son in law in her life. I am sorry I don’t sympathize.

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Mary February 11, 2015 at 9:15 am

Then perhaps this is not the thread for you to be reading and commenting on.

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Sandra October 19, 2014 at 4:59 pm

My daughter is 36 and has been trying to get pregnant for three years. She won’t talk about it to anyone, including me. As far as I know, she hasn’t seen a fertility doctor. I don’t even know if she or her husband has the problem. She has signs of PCOS . The one time I tried to mention it, she nearly took my head off. My husband told me it’s her life and not to get involved. I’m heartbroken.

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Donna September 19, 2014 at 8:13 am

Thank you so much for above. I have been struggling so! My daughter and her husband have been trying for seven years to have a child. They have done everything possible. She had three early miscarriages which were all devastating to her. She used donor embryos and became pregnant yet again. At 9 weeks we discovered she was pregnant with rare mono mono identical twins. The odds were stacked against her yet again as the specialists gave her a 50/50 chance of having one or both babies. My daughter was very positive and kept saying that God gave her this miracle and he would not take it away. My heart ached each day because I was worried about her mentally and physically knowing the risks. Well she lost the babies at 16 weeks right after she first felt movement. She is beyond devastated, her heart is broken and may never heal. To add to the horror of her situation her brother’s girlfriend was due two weeks after my daughter and just found out that she is having identical twins! If I tried to publish this story no one would believe it…..what are the odds! As her mom I have to be strong for her but I am having a hard time. I am grieving too, those were my grandbabies and I have waited a long time for them. My family is destroyed right now as my daughter cannot be around my son and girlfriend. I don’t know how to do all of this. I should be experiencing this with my daughter, my son’s girlfriend has a mother and I don’t seem to fit into the picture. People do not understand any of this and why I am upset. I am very very tired at this point and do not know what the future holds. My daughter may be done trying and I have to respect her decision but I want to yell and scream at her to keep trying, her body was working. She was maintaining a pregnancy and due to a late split of the embryo lost these babies. Thank you again

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Julia September 9, 2014 at 6:23 pm

And then there are those of us who wanted children and couldn’t…We went through all the fertility stuff…didn’t work. And after 16 years of marriage he left! And NOW – after dealing with all the pregnancies of friends and family – and baby showers and EVERYTHING, I find myself now dealing with seemingly EVERYONE now thrilled to be a grandmother! So…here’s the deal in my humble opinion….we all have our pain. And we are all entitled to our feelings…but we can’t let those feelings RULE us. Stuff happens. My sister is afraid she won’t be a grandmother…her children aren’t married yet…but I can tell she’s already very worried. Part of me wants to scream….but you have two sweet boys! But guess what! That would be insensitive to my sweet sister who is entitled to her feelings…she still has her dreams although I feel at times her dreams have been so more fulfilled than mine…and that’s all I’ll say about that! The very good news is if you are believer as I am…we are all God’s children and we will be with him some day…and then all this pain from this earth will be erased!

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Elizabeth September 7, 2014 at 2:57 pm

This is tough for me because, while I have acquaintances and friends who are struggling with infertility, I’ve never wanted what our culture terms “real” children badly enough. I’ve always thought of myself as having a “nontraditional family” – nonbiological children. Ironically, my mother’s telling me I needed to produce grandchildren for her, and her being disappointed that I can’t control getting married, makes it really difficult for me to think of biological families as loving. I get the feeling she wouldn’t love nonbiological grandkids as much – so it’s sad all the way around, for all of us.

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TwiztidHeart August 26, 2014 at 9:17 am

You bring tears to my eyez! Tears of love and understanding. I am a daughter and my husband and I have been trying for over a year now. Reaaaallly trying. We lost a child about 4 years ago around 12 weeks of pregnancy. We were devastated….my womb felt like a graveyard. My momma and his were both devastated as well. I came here looking for some understanding of my mother’s and his mother’s possible emotions. I’m so sick of looking at my own. Well I took a pregnancy test this morning and it’s negative…AGAIN! Well spoke to my friends and decided I need a date…This can’t go on forever! So my birthday which is a bit over a month away …if I’m not pregnant…we will go to a fertility doctor. I don’t know how to talk about this I’m so scared. Thank you for opening your heart and soul. I feel better already and like I’m not as alone in this knowing our moms prolly share our pain. I don’t think k you are a selfish gramma. You are human like the rest of us. You are a gramma that cares…and that is AWESOME!

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robin schuitema August 23, 2014 at 7:26 pm

I am crying! Thank you for the honest words! My daughter is infertile. She and her husband have been trying for over 4 years for a baby. They have suffered two misscariages. Her brother and his wife have a baby girl. We adore her!One week after our daughter lost her second baby, our daughter in law and son announced they are pregnant again. It has been such a bittersweet time. It’s hard to be excited about a new baby when we are heartbroken with grief. My husband thinks I am losing my mind sometimes……..

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Lily August 9, 2014 at 6:57 am

Hi Chloe, many thanks for writing this. It gives me an insight into what my mother must feel. The difference is, I am not infertile (not that I would’ve know); I am childfree by choice. I am 32 and I’ve known it since I was 8. I kept telling her all these years, but she keeps saying that I will change my mind. No I won’t. I was careful enough to marry a man that also doesn’t want to have children. We use two methods of birth control at the same time (IUD and condoms), that’s how much we DON’T want to be parents. I know it’s frustrating for her because I only have one brother, and he’s gay. So, no grandchildren for her. It was her dream but she shouldn’t have assumed I would make the same choices than her in the first place. How can I make her understand!?

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Chloe Jeffreys August 13, 2014 at 10:17 am

Lily, thank you for reading and writing a comment on my post. That means a lot. I think the first step to helping your mother understand is for you to understand what a huge loss this is for her. And if she’s engaged in any way with other women her age socially it’s a loss she’s reminded of over and over again, sometimes multiple times a day. She’s having to endure her friends’ ecstatic grandbaby announcements and stories of grandbaby achievement knowing she’ll never have that joy.

Knowing that your mother’s loss is real, profound, and carries meaning beyond what you are able to comprehend might help you be more sensitive to your mom’s feelings. And realizing that on a profoundly deep biological level, your mother may be perceiving that her purpose here on earth is null and void if she doesn’t have grandchildren to carry on her genetic legacy also will help.

No one should EVER have children they don’t want. I applaud you for knowing yourself so well. Live the life you want to live. I really do mean that. Also know that your choice means your mother does not get to live the life she might have hoped to live. Life is a bitch that way. Good luck. And you can always send her my way.

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Gloria July 11, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Thank you for this. My daughter just told me today that she has been labeled “infertile,” a label that hurts her very much. And I am sad because she is sad. I especially appreciate your insight about the difference between the grandchildren that come from a son and a daughter. My son has two children who are incredibly precious to me, but as you note, it is different with a daughter. It’s not that I wouldn’t love the children of my daughter more than the children of my son, but it there is a nuance that matters. And it hurts my heart that you say, “grandmothers should have no dreams at all.” As I’m processing my daughter’s news, I keep thinking, “oh maybe, if she does this, or maybe if this happens…” When do dreams have to give in to reality? It hurts. And we need to allow ourselves to hurt. Thank you.

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kelly June 28, 2014 at 8:01 am

Thank you for sharing this. My husband and I face also a rare quirck of nature and are unable to have biological children. We are very excited to be adopting but I know the entire infertility thing has taken a toll on my mother in law. I have be searching the web for books or resources that could help her and have come up empty handed. If along your search you’ve found anything that could be beneficial I would very much appreciate the names of anything.

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Chloe Jeffreys July 2, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Kelly, your comment made me cry. How deeply you must love your mother-in-law to have spent the time searching for help for her. I’ve so often listened to women get angry and put out when their mothers and mother-in-laws have emotions about infertility. They don’t realize that one day they will be the mother of an adult child. And all those feelings just don’t go away when your child turns 18. Thank you so much for your comment. I don’t know of any books, but you can certainly send her my way if you think it would help. Blessings on you and your husband and the children I know will come your way.

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Stella June 24, 2014 at 10:15 pm

This is an issue for which I feel very deeply. I have two children, adult daughters, both of whom will never have children. I am currently struggling with this. This is not how I had envisioned my life to be – I was to have children, my children would have children and I would be a grandmother – that is how the latter years of my life were to be spent. I’m now in conflict as to my life’s purpose. I also wrestle with the feeling of selfishness – I know my feelings are secondary to those of my daughters and their husbands, but they are, nonetheless, real. We are not alone, there are many of us out there, but we are silent – it must be the shock!

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Laura June 20, 2014 at 8:53 pm

I know how you feel. It may sound odd being that I myself am adopted. I have never seen a face that looks like mine, eyes, smile, teeth, etc. until I had my own 2 children. I see myself in them & it’s amazing to finally see a familiar face. My 11 yr old son is recovering from cancer & bone marrow transplant. His Dr says it’s highly unlikely he will ever have children due to the treatment. I’m grateful he’s alive, but I cry because I won’t have biological grandchildren from him. I won’t see my face or his in his children….I have a daughter & hopefully she will be able to conceive when she’s older…. But my son won’t carry on the family name. I try to keep it in perspective & be grateful that I still have him but my heart hurts. I worry about his future & finding a wife that is ok with never having children.

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Chloe Jeffreys June 25, 2014 at 5:28 am

Oh Laura, this has to be so hard. This is not only a loss for you, but a loss for your son, and an issue that could bring you both heartache in the future. My heart is just breaking over your story. While I rejoice with you that your son is alive, I understand there must be mixed in there a lot of other emotions about the consequences of his medical treatments and hiw uncertain future. I that knowing you aren’t alone in longing for biological grandchildren helps in the tiniest way. It has helped me writing this piece and finding so many others like myself.

Blessings to you, my friend. My daughter and son-in-law did adopt and he’s the light of my life.
Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..Bellman, there’s a naked man in the hallway.My Profile

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May May 20, 2016 at 9:43 am

I’m sorry, that is very tough. Particularly since apparently our sons pass on a greater percentage of their mother’s genes than our daughters do – something about that X versus Y chromosome means that a son’s daughter is a little closer, genetically speaking, than a daughter’s daughter. Go figure.

I think I understand my own mother’s difficulties with me as well. We’re definitely biologically related; she conceived me and gave birth to me, and since I’m her daughter we were supposed to be very close. But she didn’t see any of herself in me – we have very different looks, bodies, and temperaments. Even the age I went through puberty wasn’t similar to hers, and that really has to be incredibly difficult – to feel like your child has no connection to you. Thankfully in adulthood we have a good relationship, but now I can see why she was so hurt and frustrated by me, and sometimes even wanted a different daughter.

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Peg May 1, 2014 at 6:58 am

I feel the pain and grief of not having a biological grandchild. I have a step grandchild who I have known since the day he was born and love him with all my heart but when I look at him sometimes I see his biological grandma in his smile. My heart is heavy for my son and daughter in law who will not have their own child because of fertility issues. My daughter in law has a daughter so her loss is not as profound as my sons. Adoption is financially out of reach for them. But the bottom line is I will not see my smile or quirks go on. Just ran into an old friend who let me know about her seven grandchildren! She is blessed! And I think why not me. I am 62 now and envisioned my older years with a yard full of happy grandchildren. It is kinda like you get to this time in your life…semi-retired and you think what was the point of it all. Nothing to be done about it I guess. Have to just put those dreams away and move on.

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Chloe Jeffreys May 1, 2014 at 7:50 am

The pain in this comment breaks my heart. I am so sorry for your loss of a dream that is entirely reasonable. I know what this feels like and it hurts so much. Thank you for reaching out. I know it doesn’t really fix anything, but you are not alone.

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Linda Vutton March 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm

With all the horrible problems in this world I cannot really sympathize with an infertile grandmother…sorry ladies! I can definitely see the pain of infertility for the woman who cannot have a child of her own. In that case – be there to support your daughter and if you are lucky enough, one day she may adopt and make you a grandparent that way! When did we come to believe our genes were that essential to the human race that they needed to be reproduced? So many kids out there waiting for good homes.wake up and stop whining! You at least had the privilege of being a mother- do volunteer work and start realizing how lucky you are! By the way, being a grandparent isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

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Donna September 19, 2014 at 8:25 am

Wow Linda, some nice insensitivity there. My genes are not “essential to the human race”. I want grandchildren and I want more than anything for my daughter to have what she wants most….to be a mother. Thanks to all the liberal progressives there are not children all over the place to be adopted. My daughter has started that process and it is long with no guarantees either. I don’t think that the women on here are “whining”, I think they are giving voice to their hurt. Why is that wrong? If you don’t like what they have to say, then just don’t read it.

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Eliza February 24, 2015 at 8:12 pm

I think you also have to look at adoption from the other side if you think it’s an easy solution. If you wouldn’t be devastated by giving away your child, or if you were at peace with your daughter giving up your grandchild, then I think adoption is a good straightforward solution as you suggest. But it’s often much more complicated, and you have to think of a birth family’s feelings too. Some of the happiest adoptive families I know involve the birth mother and grandmother in the child’s life, though not all birth mothers are that lucky, I know.

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Lisa Z. March 23, 2014 at 9:24 am

For Janet W., I so feel your pain, this is the reason I got off of Facebook. I could not take one more of my friends, cousins, co-workers, etc posts with “Like if your grandchildren are your reason for living” and such other things. What could I say about that?, nothing, as I have no grandchildren and I still have reasons for living! My husband and I have 3 adult children, our daughters in their 30s, aren’t really positive they want children, the oldest 34, is not in a relationship and her sister who is 30 is in a 2 year relationship and she is not even sure she wants to be married, let alone have children. Our son is in the military, 26, with no prospects in sight at the moment. I have given up on this dream of being the gram-grams, (my hsuband does not seem to obssess about this, but I can tell it bothers him also), where the grandchildren come, and I have all the toys saved from their mom’s/dad’s childhood and we play with those things together, read books, share things, take trips that we took their mommy and daddy on when they were children etc. I have recently begun minimalzing in the house and I have donated these toys, books, etc to the women’s shelter, church groups etc. I want some children to get use out of these things. Yes I mourn in my heart everyday for the grandchildren I do not have (I am 58, husband 65), and have to answer with a smile everytime someone asks me that question, “So, do your kids have any children?”, or “are you a grandparent ?” and when I answer “not yet”, their answer is, “Oh, I am sorry”, like it is something that I should be ashamed of, or should not have shared.

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Janet W. December 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I am 61 years old and have 2 daughters and no grandchildren. ALL of my friends are grandparents, some numbering into the teens! I am so tired of attending baby showers for my friends’ kids. I am so tired of hearing that my friends are unavailable because they are busy with the grandkids. I am so tired of having to look at baby pictures and listen to the stories about how wonderful it is to be a grandparent. I feel guilty for feeling this way, but I can’t help it. I am sad and jealous. Are there support groups out there for us?

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Marlene September 27, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Forgive me – i did not mean “glad that others are suffering” It just helps that I know there are others that are also feeling this pain. Does that make sense?

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Marlene September 27, 2013 at 7:22 pm

I feel your pain. I had my children young (19, and 20) and always told them..”don’t have children til you are at least 25) and now – they are 33 and 34….with no significant others in their lives. Its not certain, but highly unlikely that my daughter will have a child. My son might…but i agree – probably not the same. I cry often about this and glad that others are out here too, pining for this right of passage. I have not lived a perfect life… a sinner in more ways than one – and I often feel that this is God’s way of punishing me for not being perfect… i’m not amused.

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Radonna June 1, 2013 at 12:44 pm

And no one has mentioned the fact that we know we won’t be alive when our child is old. We just wanted to know as we went into old age that someone would be there to look after our kids when they got old. That’s what children do. It hurt now and worries us that our children will be alone when they are old. I don’t know how parents of handicapped children face old age. Knowing that their child will outlive them.

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Chloe Jeffreys June 2, 2013 at 8:58 pm

I have always thought the same thing. That must be very hard to worry about what will happen to a disabled child who will outlive you. Life is so hard sometimes.

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Elma January 17, 2013 at 7:30 am

i am here to give testimony on how Dr Helen made dream come to past been a mother,i have been married for up to 14 years now with no issues of children.this has been a problem between my husband and i we have gone for so many kind of tests to different hospitals in and out of the country to different kinds of medical check up. every doctor we have ever approached in the name of child bearing are always saying positive results that there is nothing wrong with us i have even to the extent gone to see spiritualists and see pastors for the same problem because it was really unbearable to me.there was a day i called on of my friends who had the same problem for over 20 years with no issue too so then i asked her how far has she gone about it.then she told me that she was pregnant with her third kid, i was really surprised about it and so i asked her it happened so she told me that someone linked her to Dr grace who prepared some roots and herbs medicine,i was really desperate to have my own baby and so i collected Dr Helen’s phone number and email and contacted her right away to see how lucky i was going to be, and so i called her and explained everything to her and then she prepared roots and herbs and prescribed on how my husband and i should take it and so we did hoping for the best to come out of it.for about two months or there about i noticed that my mensuration did not come as it use to i called my husband at the office and told him what i noticed so he drove down to the house and later went to our personal doctor to ask him what was going on and then i went for a test immediately the test cane out from the laboratory, the doctor gave my husband a hand shake and told us congratulations that we are going to have twin a boy and a girl so my husband was really happy that he was going to be a father at last. 9 months later just as it happened i gave birth to a bouncing baby boy and a bouncing baby girl. am really most grateful to Dr Helen for making my husband and i happy. for all you women who is having the same problem as i did never give up on it Dr Helen is the solution. please contact her on childrensolutionhospital@gmail.com.

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Stephanie January 10, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Here it is…

I am an infertile woman. I was told when I turned 20 that I had PCOS. I tried fertility treatments that did nothing for me. I have been to Mexico to work in an orphanage, all to fill the unfillable void. I am first and foremost a mother without children.

I divorced my ex husband when I found out he looks at child pornography. I called the FBI and I left, only to find out that he molested two children in our care while we were in Mexico.

I remarried last year. I live my husband with all that I am. He is my perfect mate. He has a daughter who is 17 and a son who just turned 20. I am new to their lives and I do not have too close of a relationship with them. My step son and his girlfriend just had a baby! She is the most adorable baby ever. I am so happy for the parents and for all the grandmas and grandpas. I feel emotional and left out. I am so heartbroken. I am so happy at the same time.

I am an infertile grandmother.

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Janet DeCasas January 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Thank you! I am not alone and I am not crazy!

I am 51 and an infertile grandmother, step grandmother to be correct. I never had children of my own. My stepchildren, adults now, have been in my life for 20 years and I am now a grandmother or so they tell me.

I don’t get any of the same treatment the biological grandmas do I don’t get to see any of me in the baby and I get to grieve my losses (2 miscarriages) over and over again!

I am overwhelmed with sensitivity at silly things, not getting to see the baby at Christmas or introduce her to my family being two of those things, we are only 7 or 8 miles away so it’s just that they don’t think of me (the mother and father). My husband has his kids so he can’t relate.

I wanted biological children and grandchildren. I got neither. Sometimes it feels like a cruel joke that I get to “play” grandma.

We all have a right to our feelings and it sucks when people tell us to “stop hurting look what you have” we have to grieve what we don’t, I just wish it didn’t take so damn long!!

Sorry for your loss, Janet

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Chloe Jeffreys January 5, 2013 at 9:13 pm

You are NOT crazy, Janet. Your losses are real and profound and only made worse by the fact that others don’t even realize that you are grieving, or even tell you that you don’t have a right to your grief. Thank you for understanding. I felt really out on a limb writing this, as though I didn’t have the right. I’ve watched many of my friends over the years adopt and get their noses bent out of shape over the reactions of their parents. I judged their parents, too, thinking that they had not right to those feelings or thoughts. Now I know better.

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Rosemary December 27, 2012 at 11:24 am

Yes, it is sad that you will never experience your daughter’s child being born, but being an infertile woman who never was able to have a child; the infertile grandmother syndrome has really hit me broadside. I went through the miscarraiges, eptopic pregnancies, many years (more than I wish to count) of IVF and still no baby. Now, all my friends and relatives are having grandchildren from all the children that I stood by and watched then have. From all the visits in the hospital – bringing them gifts, their Christenings, their first birthdays, etc. You think I would get some sort of prize for having endured all that for the past 20+ years, but I don’t even get a the thrill have having a grandchild out of all the pain I’ve endured.
I don’t know what it feels like to hold a child of my own in my arms and now having the loss of not holding a grandchild – it seems particularly hurtful. I hope your daughter is strong through this ordeal and comes out on the other end as a happy and positive woman, whatever she decides to do.

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Patty S December 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I am so glad I found this blog. My heart is broken. My daughter just had her second miscarriage. I’m pissed. I’m so mad I can’t see straight. Why do our daughters go through this horrible pain? This most recent miscarriage is resulting in a d&c because the fetus will not pass on its own. More god forsaken pain. I am supportive and positive but I cannot protect her. She has a husband and rightfully he is with her every step of the way. I still feel so devastated I can’t be there to wipe her years or hug her and tell her everything will be okay. God this pain just takes my breath away

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Stephanie November 11, 2012 at 5:27 pm

I cause myself so many more problems when I try to deny or avoid or circumvent whatever it is that is causing grief or pain. I’ve learned I have to grieve before I can truly and fully move on – and it can’t be on someone else’s timetable. I believe you will get to a better place with this, but for now you are hurting and for that I am deeply sorry.

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Brandi Barnett November 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I am so grateful you put this out there. One of the more painful aspects of my decade long struggle with infertility was watching my mother’s pain. For years, my husband and I didn’t tell anyone. When we did, we felt lighter in sharing the burden. However, I watched my mother silently suffer along with us. She always said the right words, but it didn’t change the fact that I knew she, too, wanted to recognize that familial smirk or eye color in a little one. Your blog did a service to these grandchildless women. True…with adoption or miracles of God and science, those armed may be filled, but it doesn’t lessen the reality of the pain now.
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Chloe Jeffreys November 10, 2012 at 10:18 am

Hey Brandi! So glad to meet you. I’m glad you found this post and that you understand. It has been a heartbreaking time for all of us. I know something good will come at the end, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a season of grieving for what will not be.

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Annika October 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I’m sooo sorry Chloe. I never saw it from your perspective. I totally see now how heart wrenching it must be for you, especially as a L&D nurse. I still pray for a miracle.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Thank you, Annika. I appreciate it so much.

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Shawna October 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm

What an honest post. While I’ve not walk the road of infertility myself, I’ve journeyed alongside my bestest friend as she tried for years to conceive, did all the fertility treatment stuff, then accepted and GRIEVED heartily her infertility, and then came to embrace adoption. It was a long process, and filled with lots of heartache and lots of joy.

I actually think that well meaning folks can be way too quick in expectating infertile families to jump aboard the adoption train. Adoption is wonderful. We’ve done it twice, and not due to infertility. However, I think if adoption is being chosen due to infertility, its REALLY HEALTHY to take the time to really grieve the loss of biological children or in your case, grandchildren. Adopting does not make that loss any less real. Nor does grieving make the blessing of adopted child any less. You will absolutely love having adopted grandchildren. However, that reality does not make the reality of this loss any less.
Love to you.

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Shawna October 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I just wanted to add, that what I mean is that a child by adoption will not ever make up for, or replace the loss of biological children. They are separate things. A child by adoption is a great, big, huge, amazing, awesome blessing all by itself.

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Negin October 21, 2012 at 5:23 am

Chloe, I’m so very, very sorry. This really and truly sucks. Like you, I’m very close to my daughter. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must be for you all. Life is crappy at times and so unfair. Love you all lots. Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.

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Ciaran October 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I have to say (as an adoptive and bio mom) that I agree with Sharon. Pregnancy and birth are a blip in the parenting journey. I’d also like to add that I never needed my own mom more than when I adopted my first. I had people to attend to me physically and to some degree emotionally when I was pregnant. But none of that when I was adopting. I won’t begrudge you your mourning. It’s always difficult to let a dream go. It’s good to acknowledge that. But don’t close your heart to a different dream. Let it go as a pleasant dream of something that wasn’t meant to be. Things have a way of being how they are meant to be and that can be a beautiful things indeed.
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Chloe Jeffreys June 25, 2014 at 5:31 am

Ciaran, your words were very wise and turned out to be prophetic. When my adoptive grandson Sam came into my life he brought a joy with him that wiped away so many tears. I do still occasionally have the pangs of regret about not seeing my daughter give birth, but it is a fleeting feeling of sadness and not the all-encompassing feeling it was when I wrote this piece. Thank you for speaking words I wasn’t yet able to hear.
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Jamie@SouthMainMuse October 20, 2012 at 11:20 am

After struggling with infertility, I finally can acknowledge that along with my two adoptive child’s inevitable grieving over being adopted — I too had a deep grief for not being able to have two more children with my husband. (Our oldest is biological.) After a few years — I was okay with the fact that it will never be perfect for my adopted children, or perfect for me — after grieving that fact — I could start to see how “right” our family truly is. Not the perfect plan in my heart, but what we were given after making the choice to pursue adoption that ended up being so very wonderful. You will be in my thoughts. I’m so very sorry.
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rodalena October 20, 2012 at 8:25 am

I am so sorry. For you, and for your daughter. I wish God would close such doors gently with tender and thoughtful explanations that make sense; instead, it sometimes seems like He just slams them without a word, and leaves us on the other side looking at the locked flat door, stunned.

Everywhere you look for awhile (especially you, in your line of work-what cruel irony), you’re going to see happy/trashy/fun/rotten/busy/bad/gushing grandmothers, and seeing them with their cute/snot-nosed/bald/fussy/loud/adorable/stinky/beautiful/spoiled grand-kids will sting like fire.

But, one day, it won’t.

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J~ October 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I didn’t know you were formulating this when I messaged you earlier in the week.

My dd & I have had this discussion just b/c she is made so much like me and she knows of my infertility issues. But totally not the same (I assume) where there is already a loving marriage in place and grieving together.

I’m sorry. I’d never wish this road on anyone!
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Chloe Jeffreys October 20, 2012 at 5:25 am

Hey J, thank you for commenting here and for your note a few days ago. I thought that my days of feeling sad about pregnancy announcements was over when I was at peace about not having any more children myself. Now I get to go through it all over again.

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Amy Whitley October 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm

You are amazing. I am in love with your honesty here, and your logic, too. This is real for you, as it is for your daughter (though as you say, cannot be compared). Having never struggled with infertility, I’d never thought of the deep importance/significance of a biological line, but can see it now.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 20, 2012 at 5:27 am

Hey Amy, thank you for commenting. Maybe it shouldn’t matter. And in the end it probably won’t matter. But today it does matter to me. Somehow it will all work out–everything always does, doesn’t it?–but for now this is where I am. Thank you for understanding and seeing my perspective.

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chaik October 19, 2012 at 10:56 am

chloe,
my heart is with you and psp, and with all your families. :hug:
and infertile grandmas are certainly allowed to grieve, too.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:52 am

Thank you, chaik. I appreciate that. I also appreciate your understanding. Everyone needs a soft place to land and express their grief. Thank you for being here to catch me.

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Denise Danches Fisher October 19, 2012 at 10:27 am

I am going through the same thing. I don’t have grandchildren, and it is very likely I won’t have the opportunity to even enjoy adopted grandchildren. I feel the same way, I selfishly wanted to enjoy the infancy with their children, the way I enjoyed seeing them as infants.

It just ain’t in the cards. Yes, I am a SELFISH grandma wanna’ be!

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:51 am

Oh, Denise. You can come here and be selfish anytime you need to be. These damned kids! What is it with them thinking they get to make important decisions like this that affect us so deeply? You’d think they thought they were individuals with free choice or something!

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Chris October 19, 2012 at 7:09 am

Chloe – thank you for giving me some insight into how my mom might feel. None of her three kids (two boys, one girl) have given her any grandkids. As the daughter, all hopes were pinned on me. As someone who never pined for children, the miscarriages were more or less issues of fact, not devastation. Now, the sign that says “My grandchild is a dog” that we gave her, and that is hanging in her kitchen, doesn’t seem as funny.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 10:19 am

Chris, thank you for commenting and understanding. Wow, zero for three is pretty bad odds for a grandma. Maybe she grieves and maybe she doesn’t, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask her. It might mean a lot to her to acknowledge that it is okay for her to feel sad about not having any grandchildren. Parents have dreams for the children. Of course, those dreams are shadowed by the whatever the dreams of the child are. This is how life goes. But to have your grief acknowledged at least helps you start to put it in perspective. Thanks for listening.

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Janie Emaus October 18, 2012 at 11:14 pm

You have every right to feel sad. I know I would. And grandmother do have their own dreams. Sometimes they are just dwarfted by those of our children.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 10:23 am

This reminds me of that song by Crosby, Stills and Nash, Teach Your Children Well

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Kristin October 18, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Oh Chloe, there is absolutely nothing for you to be ashamed of. My heart is breaking for you and your daughter. {{{Hugs}}} and prayers to you.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 10:26 am

Thank you, Kristin, for this. I am heartbroken. For her, for her husband, for her parents, for my husband, for my son who won’t be a biological uncle, and for myself. I have now learned that infertility, which I thought was an individual or a couple’s problem, is a family disease.

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BigLittleWolf October 18, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I certainly don’t think you should feel ashamed of your feelings. They seem heartbreakingly tangible, if you ask me, particularly given how you’ve spent the past 20 years.

You make an interesting point. I actually know one woman, my age, a writer, who is in a similar situation for now, except she has only one child. That precious daughter.

She doesn’t speak or write about it. And I’m sure that makes it even worse.

I hope that writing here, getting it out, is of some help. Pain is pain, and for those of us who love children and love family, deeply, this would be a significant loss. Why shouldn’t you grieve?
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 10:32 am

I feel for your friend. I am the oldest daughter of and oldest daughter of an oldest daughter of an oldest daughter. When my firstborn was a daughter I thought even then, “Oh my, wouldn’t it be remarkable if she had a day first?” Even then I began to dream of my own genetic legacy. I think this is natural. This is why we breed (other than the screamin’ orgasms). A point can be made that our bodies are just life support systems for our genitals whose job it is to pass on our genetic material. I do have a wonderful and beautiful son and I hope someday that he will have children. And I know that my daughter will adopt and I will be a grandma someday. But for now there is only this huge sense of loss and sadness. I cannot imagine how I would feel if I only had one child. I feel for your friend.

I do understand why she doesn’t want to write about it. I didn’t. Every time I tried I would end up blocked. Finally I was awakened at 5:21am yesterday by something inside myself that insisted I write about it NOW. I cried all day after writing that. It is like a dam was opened and the pain is pouring out now. I hope this is a step toward peace. I hope your friend finds comfort.

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Rebecca October 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Wow. I’m literally crying for you right now. I, being an infertile woman myself who has lost two babies and now on the brink of beginning our adoption journey, have not only often grieved for the loss of my children and the prospect of biological children…but I also grieve for the biological grandchildren my parents might never have. I have a stepson, who they love as their own, but I know the connection just isn’t the same. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see yourself expressed in the features of your grandchildren, it’s totally natural. My parents were amazing when we lost our babies, openly grieving with us as we worked through that horrible experience. It’s actually hard for me to forget my parents’ grief and possibly unfulfilled dreams of bio-grandchildren. As happy as we will all be when we do adopt, there will always be a little space in all our hearts that would have been filled with the babies we lost and their potential siblings.
My heart goes out to you. I believe you and every “infertile grandparent” absolutely have the right to your feelings, dreams, and grief. It’s a life changing time that affects the whole family, not just the couple trying to have the baby. 🙂
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 10:37 am

Rebecca, thank you for taking the time to read this and comment on a topic that has caused you so much personal pain. I am so sorry that you have experienced the loss of your two babies. Infertility is so painful on so many levels. Nobody expects to be infertile. It is a blow that is difficult to recover from.

I deeply appreciate that you realize the grieving your parents are experiencing too. I have come to see through these comments and others I’ve gotten that infertility is a family disease. Everyone is affected. Maybe is more women like yourself would acknowledge the grieving of grandmothers (and grandfathers) then there would be better reactions to adoption. I have heard infertile women talk about the extremely hurtful things their mothers (and fathers and in-laws) have said when the couple turns to adoption. Maybe if we’d acknowledge that grandparents grieve too and allow for that grief then adoptive grandparents would react better in the long run. I don’t know.

I do know that this is part of my process of walking through in sadness for my daughter and her husband, but also for my husband and myself. Infertility is awful. God bless.

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Kymberli aka JW Moxie October 18, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Chloe, this post is stunning in its raw beauty and honesty. I cried (am still crying).

My daughters are 11 and 7, and even now I worry and feel preemptive guilt for whatever parts of my infertility (PCOS) that I may have passed on to them.

Thank you for being open about an angle of infertility that we don’t often hear about. I don’t think I’ve EVER heard this angle voiced so openly.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 10:40 am

Thank you, Moxie. I cried all day yesterday. I called my daughter and asked her to read it to make sure it was okay for publication and it really is the first time she and I have fully addressed my grief. Of course, initially, it was all about her and her husband. I played my cards as close to the chest as I could for her sake. She did not deserve my grief. It was my job to hold hers. But as she and her husband come to peace about it and begin their adoption plans, I find that now my grief is pouring out of every pore. It is a palpable thing that threatens to bring me to sobs at any moment. I hope writing this was a first step in healing.

And I do hope other infertile grandmothers will find this post and at least take some comfort that they aren’t alone in their thoughts or feelings of grief and sadness and lost dreams.

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Haralee October 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I am so sorry for you. It is something that is not talked so openly about so thank-you for sharing.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 10:41 am

Thank you for commenting, Haralee. I hope this opens up the door for grandmothers to walk through their grief and not stay stuck in it out of shame. I know for me that I have to walk through it before I can get to the other side.

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Ann October 18, 2012 at 5:15 pm

You have the right to your grief. You can hold this loss and the joy of a non-biological grandchild (if so, one day)–even at the same time. You can.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 10:53 am

Thank you, Ann. I cried all day after I wrote this post. Today I still feel raw and sad, but also I woke up with some hope. I hope there is a rainbow at the end of this storm.

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Lynn October 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Brave and honest Chloe. You say stuff out loud that make all of us think. When my girls were younger I would jokingly say, “The best birth control I can give you is my wrath should you make me a grandmother before my time.” I never thought about whether or not I would ever be a grandmother. Of course I would. I just took that for granted. Now my oldest daughter is 32 and I’m thinking, “When the heck do I get my grand kids?” My girls just laugh at me, amazed that all of a sudden I’ve gone from “don’t you dare” to “let’s get this party going!” They’re in no hurry so who knows how this will go, but as Suzanne above so beautifully said, life has a way of working things out.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 10:57 am

Lynn, isn’t it funny how quickly that change comes. Very recently the question, “Do you have grandchildren?” began to crop up. Not often–my daughter is only 24–but it happened. It probably isn’t coincidental that the first time I was asked was days after we found out this devastating news.

Writing this out has been painful, but maybe by acknowledging that the pain is there I can begin to walk through it to the other side. The side where that question, “Do you have grandchildren?” won’t knock my breath out.

Thank you for commenting and sharing your own story in this. Life just keeps unfolding, doesn’t it? All the things we didn’t understand about our parents and their reactions to things slowly is revealed. It kinda sucks.

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Brenda October 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Mourning the loss of a plan, dream, or future is painful and necessary. I love both you and your beautiful (inside and out) daughter.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 10:58 am

Thank you, Brenda. That’s exactly where I am, in mourning. Thank you for understanding.

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Suzanne October 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Wow! A powerful post. I understand the connection between mother and daughter, which is why I so desperately wanted a little girl after bearing two healthy, beautiful boys. But what happens to the grandparents when you bear a less than perfect grandchild?

When Kinsey was born and we were given nothing but bad news about her future, my parents were grief stricken, and frankly unable to cope with the news. They had driven all the way from AZ to No. CA to help us after the birth, and they couldn’t leave fast enough. I felt as if I had to hold my shit together so they wouldn’t break down.

Fortunately, they recovered from the shock and have been amazing ever since. My mother makes a special card for Kinsey every week and encloses a fresh dollar bill in it just so she can get mail. (Plus emails and pictures!) In return, Kinsey calls “mom-mom” several times a week and they have a grand time chatting. Something I must point out, her two older neuro-typical brothers rarely (if ever) do.

My point? Sometimes life has a strange way of working out the kinks. That is my hope for you and your family.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:00 am

Thank you, Suzanne. You bring a whole different perspective to this that I hadn’t considered yet. And so many great points. Your parents initial reaction was not good, but thankfully you all could work past that. It is beautiful that you can see that they were suffering too. Sometimes we don’t act our best when we’re in pain.

And I do believe the point of your last sentence is 100% right on. I am waiting to see what strange way this all works out. I do hope it does.

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Patricia aka BoomerWiz October 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I feel your pain. I have a son and am so looking forward to grandmotherhood. I Respect your honesty in speaking your truth: that you feel the pain of not being to experience the closeness of the shared experience of birth with your bio-daughter versus your daughter-in-law. I don’t think you are supposed to say that stuff out loud. Of course, you would not be true to yourself if you do not. I think you will get over this; but I also think that by accepting where you really are you will be able to get over it as well. Good luck honey. This is hard

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:07 am

Patricia, I can say this out loud now only because I don’t have a daughter-in-law and no immediate prospects of one. I certainly hope by the time one comes that I’ll have worked through this and she’ll understand that I wasn’t talking about her.

The irony is that my own mother-in-law was at the birth of my second child, not my mother. I had a homebirth and my mother was so freaked out about it that I didn’t want her there. One just never does know what the future will bring. I certainly didn’t see this infertility thing coming.

You are not the only commenter who has brought up the issue of how moms of sons feel about this issue. I think that’s another one of those things we are never supposed to talk about. I love both of my children so much, but I do have different relationships with them that likely are based somewhat on their different genders. My son does not want to be as intimate with me as his sister does. I think that’s right and good. He’s a man. He wants to be a man. I think part of being a man is separating from your mother in a way a daughter doesn’t have to to be a woman. It is just the way things are.

That said, I will do whatever I can do to form a great relationship with my future daughter-in-law. But my son lives hundreds of miles away, not 2 like my daughter. I have hopes for that relationship that doesn’t exist yet, but at this time I must admit that I’m pretty well entrenched in my grief.

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Peg October 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I sure do love you and your girl. It sucks. I hate this for both of you.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:07 am

Thank you, Peg. I appreciate your love and support. I know my daughter does too.

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Robin October 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm

My own Mother struggled terribly when we lost a baby. She was hurting for me AND for herself. I really believe her pain was worse than mine.

I have no words for what you are feeling. Just a hug.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:10 am

Robin, thank you for commenting. I know how you struggled with infertility and the loss of a baby. It is terrible the way that the infertility of your child reopens those old wounds. I hope that at least my talking about this will open the door for healing for myself, other grandmothers, and even my daughter. I know she knows how terribly I’ve struggled with my grief, even as I’ve done my level best to keep my pain to myself. But we are so close that she can’t help but know how sad this has made me. I hope that finally talking about it will help us all walk through it and come to the place where we can all move on to see what God has planned around the bend.

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Molley Mills October 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Grandma’s are people too. I’m so sad for you all. This is a tough pill to swallow for you and for your daughter. Go ahead and grieve, there’s no rule book and you are not a selfish bitch. You are a loving caring mother with dreams.
I pray you get to be a Grandma some how, some way, even if not biologically.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:12 am

I love this, Molley,”Grandma’s are people too.” Yes, they are. And sometimes they have ugly and painful feelings that need to be walked through.

My daughter and her husband have initiated their adoption journey. They had their first foster child over the summer. They are moving forward and it is time for me to move forward, too. But always for me it is through the grit and grime of grief that I must first traverse. So here I am.

Thank you for understanding and sharing this on twitter. I do so appreciate it.

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Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs October 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm

My heart breaks for you, Chloe. You have every right to grieve the loss. No shame in it, for it’s so very sad and no words, no pretending can make it anything else. You once again floor me with your honesty in the face of heartache. I’m so, so sorry.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:18 am

Dear Lisa, thank you for commenting and understanding. This post forced itself to be written so I can’t take much credit for it. The pain of this grief has been bubbling within me for months and months now and finally woke me up at 5:21am and demanded to be written about.

Now I’ve done it. I hope this is the path through it to the other side. I hope this is a post that will help other infertile grandmothers not feel so alone in their own grief.

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Amiyrah October 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Sending love to you and your daughter. The idea of the grandmother being in grief about infertility had never crossed my mind until this post. It is a valid, raw and real issue and truthfully, if I was in your shoes, I’d be distraught too. I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t have been able to explain it as eloquently as you have, though. You are such a strong woman and I admire you even more today.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:19 am

Amiyrah, thank you so much for coming by and commenting on this. I appreciate your understanding. I am distraught and hope that by writing this I can find my way out to the other side.

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Anne (@notasupermom) October 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Someday you are going to re-read this and laugh. But not now. Now it’s okay to feel this disappointment.

I wanted to give my husband biological sons. It’s never going to happen, but he says I already gave him two sons (from my first marriage). He means it and that helps a lot.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:20 am

Anne, I laughed when I read this. You are right. Someday this will be funny. Somehow. I’m certain that when my grandchild does arrive I will realize how silly it was for me to worry. Right now my grief is not about the grandchild to come, but about the grandchild who will not. I do believe that in the end I will much prefer the real grandchild I receive over the imaginary ones in my head.

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Sally October 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm

It is something to grieve. We screw ourselves up when we try to bypass the step of grieving our losses, whether they be past, present, or future. But I think it’s also true that future joy, while mixed with the bittersweet undertones of lost dreams, will come again, often when least expected.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:26 am

Sally, I agree with this. I think part of what has been blocking my appropriate grieving was feeling like I had to right to grief at all. Thank you for saying out loud what I believe. I want to be in a place to receive the blessing that is to come, but first I must cry over the blessing that I will miss.

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Sharon Greenthal (@sharongreenthal) October 18, 2012 at 11:45 am

My dear friend Chloe, this IS sad. You have every right to feel sad, sorry for yourself, your daughter, your family. I would feel the same exact way if my daughter were found to not be able to have children when she is ready to start a family. It’s just plain shitty. Sending you love.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:28 am

Thank you, Sharon. I appreciate your comment so much. I am relieved to hear that I’m not the only mother who would feel this way. I feel bad about it. But then I realized by reading these comments that I am not so much grieving the child that is to come as much as grieving the imaginary ones who will not.

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Cherie October 18, 2012 at 11:29 am

I’m so sorry. I have no words to offer. I cannot begin to imagine your pain and your daughters pain. The loss is indeed great. My prayer is that God will surround you with his peace and comfort.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:29 am

Thank you, Cherie. Hearing your kind words of love and support along with so many others is been a balm to my soul. It has been a dark and lonely time carrying the burden of this knowledge along with my daughter’s grief. I have felt that there was no room for my own.

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Jennifer @ Mom Spotted October 18, 2012 at 11:25 am

Hugs mama. I wrote a story about Gender Disappointment where I shared the feeling of loss on these moments the moment I’d know I’d only have sons. It’s hard. I’ve also suffered from years and years of infertility. I don’t know her issues but when I was told they’ve done all they can do I still got pregnant. I hope you guys find your miracle too!
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:49 am

Jennifer, thank you for saying this out loud. Things like Gender Disappointment and mourning the loss of biological children and grandchildren are often misunderstood.

When I was going through infertility treatments people would say things like, “Well, you have two healthy children.” Yes, that was true. And I was entirely grateful for them. My desire for more children had nothing whatsoever to do with the children I had. I was not upset about what I had, I was sad about what I would never have.

Later, after walking through the sadness, I was able to gratefully relinquish my grief. But not a moment before. My attempts to circumvent grief (that I felt I had no right to have) only delayed my healing. That’s the way it works for most people, I think.

Thank you again for understanding. It means the world to me.

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Sharon D. October 18, 2012 at 11:14 am

Chloe – I am so sorry for your pain and grief and for your beautiful daughter and family as well. Having lost 2 babies and spent years struggling with others pregnancies, I KNOW of what I speak when I say the following. (And it is NOT to dismiss or make light of anyone’s horrid and personal pain.) But having crossed over into this 2nd half-century of life, I have come to realize this…. Having babies is a wonderful and amazing thing to be sure. But it is such a small thing in the scope of raising a human being. A few months of pregnancy, a few hours of birth. The beautiful softly focused photos. Wondrous to be sure. But then next thing you know you’re busy raising this person. I wish that women (and I was one!) would just not torture themselves so with the romanticism of a baby and focus more on the actual and amazing privilege of raising a child. For it is indeed a privilege, and as the parent of a child who is not my own biologically, I can wholly say, when that little face looks up and calls you “Mommy”, it doesn’t matter whose uterus they came from! I hope this doesn’t read as harsh in any way – but with the encouragement and love that I intended! I pray that God brings you ALL resolve and peace in your time of grieving…….

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:46 am

Sharon, not harsh at all. As I said to Debi, I appreciate this perspective. I longingly look forward to the grandchildren who are to come while mourning the ones who never will.

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Sharon D. October 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

and mourning is perfectly okay! I think it is just sensitive to me because I have known women so strangled by what couldn’t be that they could never fully embrace what could……..and that’s just a damn shame. Continued hugs to you AND the family!

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Debi Drecksler October 18, 2012 at 11:12 am

I have 4 children. The oldest son and his wife (after years of infertility) adopted a 3 year old who is now 9. This is our only grandchild (so far) and we never think about the fact that she is not blood related. The oldest daughter is 35 and has no connection with the family. From what I know about her life, she has no children. If she did and I was not allowed to see them, I would be devastated. The youngest daughter at 29 is unmarried and does not want children but is open to marrying someone who already has children. The youngest son is 27 and still happily single. Sometimes I feel badly to put all the pressure on him to produce a grandchild. Then I wonder if I’ll live long enough to see it happen or not happen. I’m not sure this will help you at all but recently I thought to myself, “I didn’t bring these children into the world to grow up and feel they owe me anything. Whatever they choose to do with their lives is their choice and I will love them unconditionally, even the daughter who left home 17 years ago and never returned. The front light is always on….

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:45 am

Debi, thank you for bringing perspective to this conversation. I longingly look forward to the grandchildren who are to come while I mourn the ones who never will.

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Magnolia October 19, 2012 at 10:15 pm

I really like your perspective. It has taken me a lot of years to realize that my children are not here to fulfill my deepest needs (and I have many).

I feel hurt sometimes that they are not cooperating with my plan for all of us. But, their nerve to chart their own course in this life has taught me that I have no right to demand that they honor my dreams above their own.

I wish I could say that insight has been cheap and easy. But it hasn’t.

Magnolia
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Chloe Jeffreys October 20, 2012 at 5:24 am

I think it wouldn’t bother me right now if my daughter (who is only 24!) were saying she didn’t want children. Honestly, I am not anxious to become a grandmother any time soon. But the finality of their medical diagnosis makes it all very poignant for me. It wasn’t something I wanted today, but I must admit it is something I wanted someday.

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mindy trotta October 18, 2012 at 10:57 am

Well, I have sons, so I cannot really relate to this, but what I would like to say is if you feel sad, then you feel sad. You do not have to apologize and feel guilty about it. That’s just the way you feel. Everyone knows that you understand how selfish it might sound that you are ranting and raving about never seeing biological grandchildren while some people never see any at all, or others have grandchildren that are ill or handicapped, etc. Well, I felt thew same way when I realized that I was not going to have daughters of my own. Yes, I knew my boys were healthy, and was very thankful for that, but I still wanted a girl…and did not get one!! We are all selfish at times. It’s okay!!
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:43 am

Mindy, you are not the only commenter or friend I’ve had remind me of how moms of sons feel about this issue.

I have a beautiful and wonderful son who I hope will have children someday. And that will be great and I will love them with all my heart. On that point my grief isn’t so much about the grandchildren, but about a shared experience of giving birth I hoped to have with my daughter. My son might become a father, but he will never give birth.

Does that really matter? Well, in the grand scheme of things, not really. But I had hoped to share that experience with my daughter. If I hadn’t had a daughter I would have deeply grieved that too.

I think grief like this isn’t so much about the blessings one has, but about the sadness over the blessings one will never realize. I see after writing this that I am not so much grieving the grandchildren that will come my way as it is about grieving the ones who will not.

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kym October 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm

My mother-in-law suffers greatly with the fact she has only 2 boys. though we are suffering infertility treatments – nightmare. Fiance’s brother becane a father 2 years ago – but i still remember my mother-in-law’s tears when the other grandmother’s presence was requested in the waiting room & she had to wait because it was her son not her daughter. she will never have a bride or mother for a daughter – though she is happy with her lot – poignent moments like that break her heart ( note – i try to involve her in the wedding plans as much as possible since my mum is interstate anyway and hope this helps to ease the pain a little)

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Chloe Jeffreys October 20, 2012 at 5:31 am

As a labor nurse I have seen the mother-in-law left out in the hallway or the lobby while the birthing woman’s mother is brought into the birth room to see her grandbaby born. Even worse is when the birthing woman’s mother is brought in first to see the baby while the dad’s mother is left to wait. And almost all of the time the woman’s mother is given the baby to hold first, before the dad’s mother. This happens A LOT. On the one hand, I understand it. A girl is going to have a closer relationship with her own mother than with his mother. But that grandbaby is as much the dad’s mother’s than her mother’s. It can be so hurtful and something couples should really consider. Maybe if I hadn’t seen the above drama played out so often in real life I wouldn’t even consider this is the way it will go down. And who know how it all will ultimately play out. I just don’t know. But I am sorry for your mother-in-law. It has to be horrible to be left in the waiting room.

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Ginger Kay October 18, 2012 at 10:53 am

Who says you aren’t allowed to have dreams of your own? Everyone has their own dreams. Everyone grieves when those dreams come crashing down.

However, I will be honest with you. It was incredibly hurtful to be told that my adopted daughter would not be “a real grandchild.” Referring to my child as a purchase was cruel. I knew that my in-laws were opposed to adoption. An adoptee myself, I’ve heard all their unpleasant opinions on adoption already. I did not need to hear about it again, for hours on end. Whether or not they accepted adopted grandchildren was/is their issue, not mine, and I wish they had kept their thoughts to themselves.

Did I cut them off? No, but I don’t seek out the company of people who have made their negative feelings about my child clear. Why would I put her in that position? She has experienced enough rejection and loss in her life. I’m not setting her up for more.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:39 am

Ginger Kay, I am so sorry that your mother hurt you this way. I will happily accept adopted grandchildren. I hope that by grieving the loss of the biological one that I can open my heart even wider to accept the blessings that are coming my way.

“Cutting off” maybe wasn’t the right word. There’s no way I would continue close contact with someone who felt they needed to spend hours telling me what was wrong with my children, no matter what the issues were. That’s just unacceptable.

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Helene October 18, 2012 at 10:41 am

I know I would be experiencing the same reaction if it were my daughter. This is one of those extremely sucky curveballs that life can throw us. I’m so sorry.

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:37 am

Thank you, Helene. It does help to know that I’m not defective or something in this grieving. I feel so selfish at times because I do have a daughter (how special is that?) and someday she will become a mother.

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Maddie Kertay October 18, 2012 at 10:32 am

Oh Chloe, my heart is ripped apart for you and for your sweet daughter. Know that your loss is as real as any other and your time to grieve is real and your process is your own and valid. Much love and healing to you so that in turn you can support your daughter in her pain.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:36 am

Thank you, Maddie. You know my daughter (at least virtually) and know what a special and beautiful person she truly is. It breaks my heart that she must know such heartache. Life is fucking unfair.

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Jasmine October 18, 2012 at 10:30 am

Such hard questions
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:35 am

Jasmine, they are for me. For my daughter’s sake alone, I wish I didn’t have to ask them.

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Julia October 18, 2012 at 10:29 am

Oh honey. I so wish it were different for all of you. And yes, we parents do have dreams, don’t we? And often we don’t admit we have them until there are problems with the dreams. Hopefully naming the dream & grieving the dream will prepare you for the next steps to come. I love you all. <3

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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:34 am

Julia, I hope so too. I hope by writing this out loud that I can begin the process of walking past it to the other side. I cried all day after writing this post. It was like pus pouring out of a wound.

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Amy October 18, 2012 at 10:28 am

Oh you have made me cry. What a beautiful post. I do know women in your shoes. My friend Lydia for example, who is learning to live out some of the impulses as grandmother figure to other children but has a place in her heart still grieving. And I’m crying for Rachel all over again, too. It’s not fair.
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Chloe Jeffreys October 19, 2012 at 11:33 am

Amy, thank you so much for understanding. I will admit that my fears of this sort of thing did drive my own desires to have more children myself. As if my genetic material were so damned important! Oh well. It is very sad. My heart has broken for my daughter and my son-in-law. Nobody could see this coming. It was been a tremendous blow to our entire family.

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