Infertile or Mother of 5

A Newborn.


TWO Sets of Twins.

Three Girls.

Two Boys and a Girl.

5 Kids and One on the Way…

For all of you who would like children and cannot have them, how does it feel on a daily basis as you see all your friends’ growing families? Or your younger siblings’ growing family? Or your baby cousins’ brood? We’re talking about Facebook here. And the family newsletters. And baby announcements. And bloggers who add children right and left as you follow their lives.

Isn’t it nuts sometimes? It seems families all around are just growing, growing, growing. Some at a smaller pace. Some at a quicker pace. And yet – on your (our) end…nothing. Not even once. Not even a false alarm. I know there are MANY out there who cannot have kids, but it is so easy to feel like you are the only one.

Today I share with you my tactics for being at peace with my life. I think this is powerful whether you are infertile or are a mother of 5. 

-I just think to myself that we ALL have a unique life. I try not to envy someone else’s life. And I constantly think of all the people that would envy mine. At the very least, I can walk and talk and breathe normally. There is a lot to be grateful for there. It snaps me into a state of gratitude.

-I remind myself that it is never, ever what we HAVE, it is what we DO with our lives and how we RESPOND to life that matters the most! While motherhood is a gift to many, it is a nightmare to others. While family life can be a joy, many families are a dysfunctional mess. So clearly, we can’t expect children to solve all our problems.

-I remind myself to try and make the BEST of the life I am living right now. I know that if I couldn’t do that, I’d probably make a mess of the life I imagined I’d have, even if it was given to me.

I don’t know how I got so lucky to learn this stuff. It transformed my life.

That’s all for today.  🙂

With Love, Mara

Do you have trouble envying the lives of others’? Any tactics that you have come to use successfully ? 

P.S. If you enjoy any of our content here, we’d be so grateful if you passed it along and shared it with others. 🙂

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  1. DanandEmily January 28, 2015 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    I love this! My hubby and I are infertile and just adopted our second and most likely last babe! I always hoped for a large family and so I have been trying to be excited for my two healthy happy darlings instead of thinking about trying to get more babies here… I love how you said we all have a unique life! So true! So awesome! I love your blog and I always recommend it to my friends and people I meet who are infertile😄 xo!

    • Lauren Gillihan January 28, 2015 at 2:36 pm - Reply

      I loved your comment! I had always imagined having a large family… four or more kids. Certainly not everybody’s dream :). But, because of health issues, our family is complete with 2. Being thankful for our life, just the way it is, instead of thinking about or longing for a different one has been freeing for me!

    • Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      Emily your comment made me smile 🙂 I am so very happy for you and your family. xx

    • mara January 28, 2015 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      So inspired by you guys. Isn't it crazy that in ANY situation we are in, we could mope about…or we could just choose to be grateful for something? So glad to see this working for you. 🙂

  2. pneu January 28, 2015 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    These tips are spot-on! They also work for me as a single woman, when everyone else seems to be married. The hardest part for me is hearing people complain about their spouse or kids; often the complaints are about things that just don't matter in the big picture. Those complaints, however, are SUCH a good reminder that I need to be thankful for and think positively about my single life. I'm sure there are parents who envy my sleeping schedule, and spouses who envy my freedom!
    Thanks for the ideas; this post is very timely for me.

    • Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 7:25 pm - Reply

      Hi, I'm in the same boat. I find a lot of the advice on ABAL can apply to other situations (ie. I didn't CHOOSE to be single!! Why can't I meet someone and feel complete just like everyone else?!). I am so thankful for the kind words here. They really help me be more zen about my personal situation.

    • mara January 28, 2015 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      I can't even tell you how happy I am that you guys can apply this to being single, too. It SOOO works for that as well. Being single (when you don't want to be) is such an awesome opportunity to begin learning how to surrender and THRIVE regardless of your circumstances. And trust me, if you do marry someday or have a relationship someday, being able to bring that to the table is worth GOLD!!

      And p.s. yes – the freedom and sleeping schedule is kind of nuts. It practically feels wrong because it is that good. People always say, "Enjoy it while you can" and I guess I do that pretty well. 🙂

  3. Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Your blog has become part of my daily therapy. Thanks for being here & doing what you do.

    • mara January 28, 2015 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      Yay! I'm beaming over here, I hope you know. This means a lot. I certainly know how much the ideas in many of my posts have transformed my life, but to get it out there in a way that is helpful to someone else is pretty much a miracle and I'm just grateful. Lots of love to you, M

  4. Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for blogging regularly again! I love your posts!! My experience has been that any time you want a child you still can have these feelings, even if you already have children! So this is a great comfort and wonderful practical tools. I love how you give practical tools!!

  5. Jody January 28, 2015 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    I think we are all living lives that are easy to compare to someone and find wanting–one of my favorite songs says over and over again–I want to be the man who lives forever–and I love the reminder that as much planning and thought as we put into these short lives–our lives are forever–and planning for forever should be our task–on top of that, god is never late–he is always right on time. It's my greatest comfort when I'm wanting patience. Also, this.

  6. Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    As a frazzled mother suffering from sleep deprivation, low self-esteem, and the demands of four busy little boys, I sometimes envy your life or others without children. I don't know when to find time to work on me. I don't have time to grow or do the things I'd like to do. I have a hard time getting anything done. This is what I chose, and your blog resonates sound advice and perspective for me.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your heart and wisdom.

    • mara January 28, 2015 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      Sending love and lots of hope to you. May deep sleep for hours on end be in your future soon!!!! I know it's hard to even think or progress when can't get sleep. Maybe think of a mantra to help you during the hardest times. "This time has a purpose. I am thankful I am able to raise these children." Or you could think of one more suited to your needs. But I find this helps a TON to help you carry on in a moment or do something or bear something that you seriously do not want to do or don't feel capable of doing.

    • Jessica Brown April 18, 2015 at 3:01 am - Reply

      During the first months of my last baby I kept a sign in the kitchen, "nothing worth having comes easy". Looked at it every night when I was down in the kitchen making a bottle while everyone else slept.

  7. Laura January 28, 2015 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    My husband and I are also infertile. We have recently adopted our precious daughter, but I find that these feelings still creep in from time to time. Especially when I have friends who are having their fourth or more child. I want to say- enough already! But these thoughts almost always lead to bitterness that will take root in your heart if you let it. My advice is to find a friend with whom you can safely share these thoughts and that will help you laugh or cry your way through them so you can hopefully let them go.

    • mara January 28, 2015 at 8:29 pm - Reply

      Congratulations on your precious daughter! What a blessing. Also, I've heard others say a similar sentiment to you. I guess it's just a part of being human, but something that is worthwhile to overcome (cause like you said, the opposite is just full of bitterness.) I love your advice to find a friend. So good. It seems that walking partners can easily become this kind of friend. There is something about your heart pumping and talking that ends up being so therapeutic.

  8. EllaY January 28, 2015 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    I try to delete the word "infertile" from my vocabulary. We are so fertile in so many ways, even if not (yet) in the baby-having way. My garden is fertile, my friendships are fertile, my heart and imagination, too…That has helped.

    • mara January 28, 2015 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      I am so glad that changing the wording has an impact on you! I have heard of others that feel similarly. My spiritual teacher once helped to get the title of my favorite fertility meditation changed. It was once called, "Help for Infertility" but it's now called "Help for Fertility."

    • DanandEmily January 28, 2015 at 9:02 pm - Reply

      I love that idea Ellay! What a beautiful way to think! I've never liked the word infertile…it sounds so sad! We are do fertile in so many ways!

  9. Jordana January 28, 2015 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    "I remind myself to try and make the BEST of the life I am living right now. I know that if I couldn't do that, I'd probably make a mess of the life I imagined I'd have, even if it was given to me."

    THIS line just went straight to my heart today. A few years ago I was living what I thought was my "perfect" life and felt unhappy a lot of the time and not worthy and didn't know or understand why. And then some circumstances changed that in the past would have made me completely miserable, but instead I feel peace and gratitude (most of the time) and as crazy as it might sound, in a lot of ways I wouldn't want to go back to how it was because I didn't understand how to be happy and appreciate what I had. And a big part of being able to change myself and learning to choose happiness is because of this blog. 🙂 Thanks for the great posts and inspiration, you are touching so many lives!

    • mara January 28, 2015 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      truth: I just got the goosebumps.

  10. Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    A while back I was reading an article about an infertile woman who said that her body was broken. And my gut reaction was that her body was not broken because she is thin. It's my body, my always has been overweight body, that obsesses about food and never feels satiated and eats in stressful situations. That's the body that is broken. But I have two children each conceived on one instance each of disregarded birth control. So now I just think of my body as flawed, but not broken, because it did some amazing things. Just not the amazing thing I've always wanted it to do and that's ok. It's still a very good body.

  11. Courtney January 28, 2015 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    This is a different situation, but I thought I’d share what helps me. I still sometimes struggle with jealousy of my ex-husband’s girlfriend and what they share together. Whenever I’m feeling pangs of jealousy toward her, I try to muster the strength to practice compassion meditations. I use the phrases, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you live with ease.” and visualize offering those well-wishes to her. Maybe that sounds super corny, but it totally helps! It helps me remember that she’s a human being with trials and pain and feelings, going through this experience of life, like anyone else. It shifts the focus from “poor me” to feeling love for another person. And suddenly, the jealousy dissipates 🙂

    • mara January 29, 2015 at 11:58 pm - Reply

      Courtney – incredible and powerful!! Wow.

    • Michelle Bunt January 30, 2015 at 10:51 pm - Reply

      Beautiful! I love it Courtney! 🙂

  12. Hello, Queensland! January 29, 2015 at 12:31 am - Reply

    Your words are beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for making this big world feel a little closer and peaceful.

  13. AmeliaTheTeacher January 29, 2015 at 3:59 am - Reply

    I would add to the list that we are living the life we are destined for. My husband and I were infertile for a decade. As we were awaiting my cycle so I could start IVF with donated embryos, I discovered a miraculous and unexplainable pregnancy. I still cannot wrap my head around the turn of events. Really. Throughout the course of trying, we got five different opinions- including from the best doctor in the world for my condition.

    It took a long time to get to this point, but in the last three years or so of our infertility, I decided to completely open my heart up to the world about our struggles. I felt a strong sense of purpose in doing so. I wanted others (especially those struggling with the same condition) to see how brokeness can lead to beauty; that faith, hope, and love always win. I decided this long before knowing how our story would unfold.

    Our story has touched more lives that I can ever fathom. And I give all glory to God, but I know that seeking my purpose in all of this was instrumental and necessary to our story. Like you, I had grown to the point of loving how unique our life was. Infertility was undoubtedly devastating, but we vowed to make the best of it.

    A lot of times people can only see the reasoning/purpose behind things when their dreams are fulfilled. I would encourage everyone, no matter what their lot in life, to really look, and think "Why did God lead me here right now?"

    Your story has also helped us a lot! There are a lot of parallels in our attitudes, and it has been refreshing to see another couple that does not view IF as a death sentence. Thank you for sharing your hearts with us.

  14. Martha January 29, 2015 at 4:16 am - Reply

    Those are three very powerful statements! Thank you for sharing. You are so, so right. I just listened to episode 81 of the podcast After the Jump (run by Grace Bonney of DesignSponge) and it was about turning jealousy into motivation. GOOD STUFF!

  15. Anonymous January 29, 2015 at 8:33 am - Reply


    Thank you so much for this post. It truly touched my heart. As an infertile LDS woman i feel it extremely hard to be childless (Sundays especially are a struggle) but I need to remind myself it's hard for all of us regardless of our situations.I often have periods of I guess depression but am slowly learning to not dwell on the negatives but concentrate on the positives instead.I will still i'm sure always want to be a mother but i'm slowly learning to be happy with myself and the opportunities I have had and continue to have because we have not been able to have children.

    Your post completely reminded me of the things i need to concentrate on and was simply beautiful.
    Thank you!


  16. Kallie B January 30, 2015 at 2:27 am - Reply

    Such a good reminder… last week I was reminding myself of these same things. The majority of my friends have kids but my very best friend had her baby last week and I felt so many emotions… I think the biggest struggle was the thought that I lost her to a "club" that I'll never get to join.. not even an option for me.. and that also are relationship will never be the same again… I'm so happy for her but felt such a big loss on my side. But, as I keep reminding myself, I get to be an aunt to her sweet little baby girl! That's the best gift!

  17. Anonymous January 30, 2015 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    Mara, I found this blog through a random google search. Thank you for this. I just had a missed miscarriage at 8 weeks with my first pregnancy and am going through so many emotions/issues (depression, fear that I'll never have a child/be a mother, difficult physical recovery, watching others who became pregnant when I did have successful pregnancies) This has been the worst time of my life. But as you said, I am trying to live the best life I can now, without fearing the future too much.

    • mara February 3, 2015 at 2:51 am - Reply

      Liz, you dear woman. My heart goes out to you greatly during this time. Thank you for sharing your hope here. I am sure it will be seen by others who are also needing some hope and strength at this time. Much love to you.

  18. Sarah February 2, 2015 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    Mara, thank you so much for this, and so many of the other wonderful posts you (and Danny!) have written. As a woman in her mid thirties who desperately wants to have a family of her own and is facing some difficult decisions I never saw myself facing, well, this just resonated with me so much. I find myself having awful moments of (and I can't believe I'm admitting this) – gosh, well at least people who are infertile get the opportunity to TRY! I don't even get to try for a baby as a single person, and I have no one to share that grief with as I could with a partner. And I can get so so so bitter so quickly. And it's just embarrassing. Like who thinks like that?!? I do. That's the truth of it.

    BUT so much of what you have written here has helped me tremendously on the path towards finding peace with the fact that my life is not what I hoped it would be, and that it may never be! That the only thing I can truly control is me and my attitude. And even if I never have a husband or a family of my own, I will always have the ability to make the best of my current circumstances, whatever they might be.

    In fact, this has been my mantra since you've written it: "I remind myself to try and make the BEST of the life I am living right now. I know that if I couldn't do that, I'd probably make a mess of the life I imagined I'd have, even if it was given to me."

    So thank you. For helping me to see the things that are the most painful, raw and vulnerable too me in a different way.

    PS – I hope I haven't offended anyone by this comment! I put it out there in the hopes that if there is any other single gal (or guy!) out there, who has ever had awful ugly thoughts like mine and wish they didn't, that they know they aren't alone. There is something so powerful in knowing we are not alone, especially in our imperfections.

    • danny February 3, 2015 at 2:41 am - Reply

      Sarah, thank you for sharing this. Thank you for putting those very vulnerable thoughts out there in an effort to help another who is in a similar situation to your own, or one completely different. I have a feeling they just might do exactly that!

    • mara February 3, 2015 at 2:49 am - Reply

      This comment really touched me tonight. Thank you so much for being open and brave in sharing your journey. You're an incredible woman. I also know exactly the feelings you have had- longing for ANY experience with a partner – even if their were painful experiences involved. When I was single, after the divorce, I absolutely had thoughts like that. I remember thinking of terrible things people were going through and thinking that -"At least that experience involved love and partnership and family. What I would give to have that experience." But certainly, envying never ends well. I finally had to OWN my life and LOVE it and have gratitude for it every single day. Certainly then I still longed for a partner. And certainly still now I would choose to have a child if I could. But I guess deep down, that wholeness has to reside within me. Because if I didn't have that, I know marriage and motherhood would not be what I would desire it to be anyway.

      Sorry for more rambling on. I guess I just want you to know that you're not alone in your journey. And I'm already so amazed by your desire to have peace. It is so worth the work. It is so worth sacrificing whatever desire or ego that may get in the way.

      Much love, M

    • Sarah February 5, 2015 at 11:40 pm - Reply

      Danny/Mara – thank you SO much for your thoughtful responses. I have been trying to find adequate words to express my gratitude, but I can't see to find them! There is something so beautiful in knowing you are not alone, especially in the things you struggle with the most. I have and am working on putting into practice so much of what you write about in this blog. You have both fundamentally changed the way I look and love and life. I'm still very much in the "work" phase and not in the "this comes naturally to me" phase, but am hopeful that with time and patience and perseverance I can come to a place of peace and wholeness within myself and learn to look at things differently. Thank you, thank you, thank you. With love and so much gratitude, Sarah

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