Pursuing other meaningful life goals

It is not worth spending all that time on nothing but childbirth! I certainly don’t want my whole life spent on nothing but childbirth!

Developing and pursuing other meaningful life goals helps most people to reach acceptance of their unmet desire for children. However, despite desiring to ‘move on’, some people lack other meaningful things to pursue. Others express that it requires them to look into the future, which can be painful because it implies a confrontation with their childlessness and lack of legacy.

While finding a new goal or activity requires an active effort to re-evaluate what is important or enjoyable, it is a valid way to deal with the suffering of loss. Those who try new things end up being surprised with the pleasure they experience. Sometimes it also helps to realize that we are still able to do things even if we feel pain.  Pursuing new life goals can also give you a new sense of purpose and help you to regain control over your life, something you might have lost while trying to conceive.

It does not matter which new goals or activities you pursue and it is OK to try many. Whatever you choose to do, the important thing is that you find pleasure and fulfilment in doing it.

Being a whole person, being a good person, having a meaningful life does not mean being a parent. You know, there’s lots of ways that you can have a perfectly valid existence.


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Pursuing other meaningful life goals tasks

Week 6: Make your plan

Week 7: Commit to your plan

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[1] This self-help guide was developed by Sofia Gameiro, Cardiff University.

It is based on multiple research studies conducted by Sofia Gameiro and collaborators (Gameiro & Finnigan, 2007; Gameiro et al, 2014, 2016; Gameiro, in prep) that account for the experience of more than 10,000 people. The quotes presented were retrieved from the primary qualitative research included in the Gameiro & Finnigan (2007) review. The exercises were developed by Sofia Gameiro, apart from when otherwise indicated.


Underpinning research:

Gameiro, S., & Finnigan, A. (2017). Long-term adjustment to unmet parenthood goals following ART: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Reproduction Update, 23(3), 322-337.

Gameiro, S., van den Belt-Dusebout, A. W., Bleiker, E., Braat, D., van Leeuwen, F. E., & Verhaak, C. M. (2014). Do children make you happier? Sustained child-wish and mental health in women 11-17 years after fertility treatment. Human Reproduction, 29(10), 2238-2246. doi:10.1093/humrep/deu178

Gameiro, S., van den Belt-Dusebout, A. W., Smeenk, J., Braat, D., van Leeuwen, F. E., & Verhaak, C. M. (2016). Women’s adjustment trajectories during IVF and impact on mental health 11-17 years later. Human Reproduction, 31(8), 1788-1798. doi:10.1093/humrep/dew131

Gameiro, S. (in prep). Adjustment to unmet parenthood goals: A test of the Three Tasks Model of Adjustment to Unmet Parenthood Goals.


Primary qualitative studies included in the Gameiro & Finnigan (2007) review:

Boden, J. (2007). When IVF treatment fails. Human Fertility, 10(2), 93-98.

Daniluk, J. C. (2001). Reconstructing their lives: A longitudinal, qualitative analyses of the transition to biological childlessness for infertile couples. Journal of Counselling and Development, 79(4), 439-449.

Johansson, M., & Berg, M. (2004). Women’s experiences of childlessness 2 years after the end of in vitro fertilization treatment. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 19(1), 58-63.

Lee, G. L., Choi, W. H. H., C.H.Y., C., Chan, C. L. W., & Ng, E. H. Y. (2009). Life after unsuccessful IVF treatment in an assisted reproduction unit: A qualitative analysis of gains through loss among Chinese persons in Hong Kong. Human Reproduction, 24(8), 1920-1929.

McCarthy, M. P. (2008). Women’s lived experience of infertility after unsuccessful medical intervention. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 53(4), 319-324.

Su, T.-J., & Chen, Y.-C. (2006). Transforming hope: The lived experience of infertile women who terminated treatment after in Vitro Fertilization failure. Journal of Nursing Research, 14(1), 46-53.

Throsby, K. (2001). No one will ever call me Mummy: Making sense of the end of IVF treatment (Vol. 5, November). London: London School of Economics – Gender Institute.

Volgsten, H., Skoog-Svanberg, A., & Olsson, P. (2010). Unresolved grief in women and men in Sweden three years after undergoing unsuccessful in vitro fertilization treatment. Acta Obstericia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 89(10), 1290-1297.

Wirtberg, I., Möller, A., Hogström, L., Tronstad, S.-E., & Lalos, A. (2007). Life 20 years after unsuccessful infertility treatment. Human Reproduction, 22(2), 598-604.