|  Blog Post   |  The Last Never To Be First Birthday: My Ongoing, Thriving Acceptance

The Last Never To Be First Birthday: My Ongoing, Thriving Acceptance

The journey of IVF is a constant waiting game when you are in the throes of it; waiting for the right day in the cycle to begin birth control, the 10 or 30 days of medications and injections, the date of the transfer/conception and then the torturous two week wait for the first pregnancy test. There always seemed to be tons of support for this timeline. However, the doctors and all the message boards never seemed to prep you enough for the dates that will haunt you forever, the would have been birth date and first birthday, etc. The dates of the ‘never to be’s’ are seared into my brain; August 31st and December 21st.

I am sure, to many people they were just embryos, eight cells of Chad and I implanted into our surrogate’s uterus, never to be born.  But to us they were our babies, our future dreams.

We transferred two embryos the first round of IVF, making them due August 31st, 2012. We transferred our last chance at a family the second round, giving us the due date of December 21st, 2012. To us, these dates will forever, and always, be seared into our hearts and minds.


Today marks our last never to be first birthday. And with it I feel the universe; sad, mad and bitter, but more than that I also feel happiness, contentment and peace. Today I feel a sense that everything is right in my world, it is as it needs to be. It isn’t fair or unfair, perhaps just unlucky. Nonetheless, it is still very sad. But within this universe and space, I must choose to find my thriving acceptance.

This thriving acceptance means I wear a mother’s ring and necklace with what would have been the birthstones of our never to be children. And if you ask if they are my kids or if they are the birthstones of my dogs, I will not shy away from your questions. I will own my truth:

I will tell you, we tried to have children; we tried really hard with lots of money, pain and love, but it was never our dream to have.

I will tell you they were my children never to be mine on this physical earth.

I will tell you I’m an ever evolving, and sometimes not so pretty, work in progress in accepting my childfree life.

And, I will tell you that today, now more than ever, I am sure my journey of IVF, but even more so, those three babies are…

my completion…

my sorrowful joys…

my lights…

my ever upward.


Justine is a Licensed Professional Counselor with more than 25 years of experience in traditional mental health and personal and professional development. Justine has been certified in the work of Dr. Brené Brown for ten years. Justine is the author of eleven books, including five Amazon bestsellers covering subjects such as infertility, faith, and grief. She has been honored to do two TEDx Talks, The Permission of the And and The Donut Effect. She travels nationally and presents virtually to global audiences delivering keynotes, workshops, retreats, and trainings on topics such as leadership, courage, resilience, mental health, preventing and coping with burnout, and courageous and curious conversation, especially in creating cultures of belonging and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Justine lives in St. Louis with her husband Chad, their three dogs, and for four months of the year hundreds of monarch and swallowtail butterflies.

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