On my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days was to read 3 IF books - I know, not a lofty goal, but I have other books I want to read and I figured 3 IF-related books was a good place just to start. So I read Sweet Grapes: How to Stop Being Infertile and Start Living Again by Jean and Michael Carter. It's about how to make a conscious choice to live childfree and embrace both the gains and the losses of being a family of two. Essentially, it states that "infertile" means trying to get pregnant, and by making a choice to walk away from that journey and in no longer trying, a couple is no longer infertile. It describes in great detail the difference between being childfree and childless.
I'd been wanting to read this book for a while, and I'm glad it did. Even if an IF couple isn't facing a childfree life decision just yet, I think it's helpful to read to see what it means to be childfree after infertility. The book discusses the grieving process as it is specific to IF. It explained the steps of grief that a couple must go through, the process for making, affirming, and sticking with a decision to be childfree. For me, it justified many things I've been feeling. First, there is no right or wrong decision. We all have to make a decision based on the weighing of facts, risks, and outcomes. This goes for any decision, and two couples may never come to the same conclusion given identical situations simply because we each value things differently. So while I've been feeling strange about the fact that we essentially chose to not pursue treatment before it even started, Sweet Grapes affirmed for me that Buddy and I made the best decision for us based on many factors. And it's okay that someone else would have done things differently. I don't have to justify our decision to anyone but us. That was a big point for me.
Sweet Grapes covers a variety of topics, including adoption, which is often a difficult subject for us IFers. Oftentimes, we are labeled as selfish for choosing to either pursue infertility treatments or live childfree over choosing adoption. The position of the authors is that choosing childfree and choosing adoption are not mutually exclusive, meaning being childfree is not being anti-adoption. It's just a different choice. Adoption is not for everyone and that's okay. Adoption and choosing childfree are simply two of the possible positive outcomes for the end of the infertility struggle, along with the birth of a biological child. All three choices are equally viable and good, but they have to be conscious choices and not events that take place because one of the others didn't pan out. This is how I felt about adoption from the start, but to have it written out in a more eloquent manner than I could ever express is helpful.
I'm not good at book reviews, it's never been my strong suit. But if you're an IF couple and are interested in educating yourself on all three of the possible outcomes for an IF struggle, I'd definitely encourage checking out Sweet Grapes. It's not the choice for everyone, and it's not an easy decision, and it comes with a long process. However, I think this reading brings a number of topics to light to give IFers at all stages a good look at what childfree means in a true-life account of a couple who found their way through it.