Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

That He Would Do This for Her August 2, 2012

This post was originally published on March 23rd, 2012. Sue Fagalde Lick’s book Childless by Marriage has just been published and is available on Amazon and on Sue’s website. Congratulations, Sue!

By Sue Fagalde Lick

When my friend John started going out with Lizzy, a teacher at least 20 years younger than he was, I kept my qualms to myself. Who was I to judge? Had I not married a much older man myself?

A couple years later, I ran into John and Lizzy at the Toledo, Oregon summer festival. Weary from strolling up and down Main Street, I saw them in the crowd sitting on orange folding chairs by the stage outside Bank of the West and decided to join them in the shade of a big alder tree.

I didn’t notice Lizzy’s belly until they stood to move their chairs into the sun. Was it really rounded under her denim overalls or was I imagining it? No, she was definitely pregnant.

Battling hot flashes and glad to be out of the sun, I remained alone in the shade, gazing up at the yellow and green leaves. With each gentle breeze, waves of sadness washed over me. John had finished raising his family. He had retired. He enjoyed his life of writing, music and bicycle trips. I was certain he did not want to start raising children again, but I could see the whole picture: Lizzy was young, she wanted a family, he loved her, and he could not deny her that part of life.

Of course it could have been an accident, a birth-control failure, but they were both too smart for that. This was pregnancy on purpose. That he would do this for her . . . It echoed in my head like a mantra: that he would do this for her. A corresponding chant answered: that my husband would not.

But I got it wrong. When I asked John about it later, he said he was the one who wanted another child. Lizzy didn’t mind doing without, but he wanted a chance to do a better job than he had before.

Why wasn’t my husband like that?

I had been through this so many times. It was not Fred’s fault. I had married him despite his declaration that he did not want to have children with me, that the three he had with his first wife were all he ever wanted. I had decided it was better to have him without children than to marry someone else I loved less or, more likely, to remain alone. Besides, had I not always placed my career above everything, thinking that someday I would get around to kids, but not today, tomorrow, next week . . .?

Suddenly the toe-tapping music grew tiresome. I needed to do the laundry, start dinner, make some phone calls. I kept glancing at John and Lizzy, unable to stop staring at Lizzy’s belly.

I had thought I was past this, beyond this agonizing over not having children. As I gathered my things, waved goodbye to my friends, and started the long walk to my car, I asked myself “Will it never end?”

Sue Fagalde Lick has been married twice to men who did not give her babies. She blogs on the subject atwww.childlessbymarriage.blogspot.com.

 

Amelia Earhart: Flying the Child-Unfriendly Skies July 24, 2012

In honor of Amelia Earhart Day, Kathleen generously agreed to give up her regular Tuesday “It Got Me Thinking…” spot. But don’t worry, she’ll be here tomorrow, sharing a Whiny Wednesday rant.

Today is Amelia Earhart Day, so in honor of the 115th anniversary of her birth, I thought I’d share one of my favorite Cheroes.

Children and family were never in the cards for Amelia Earhart. The pioneering aviatrix, always baffled by “the rules of female conduct,” considered marriage to be a cage, something she wouldn’t consider “until I am unfit to work or fly or be active…” Sam Chapman, Amelia’s first romantic suitor, discovered this the hard way after the pair had been engaged for several years. Even when she finally accepted the sixth proposal from George Putnam, she was still unsold on the idea of marriage. Instead of settling into the respectable life as a “domestic robot,” Amelia sought to conquer the skies.

Her illustrious flying career began in 1921, when she took her first shaky flying lesson. She was a confident flier, although not always competent. According to her teacher, Neta Snook, what made Amelia stand out from other pilots was her, “gut courage that transcended the sanity of reasoning.”

Amelia wanted to prove that women were just as capable as men in the air, and she sought opportunities to display her daring and prowess whenever she could. She attended airshows and performed aerial stunts, but she also wanted to be taken seriously as an aviator. In 1928, she got her opportunity when she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Although she was little more than a passenger on the flight, keeping the plane’s log and keeping her pilot and mechanic supplied with hot tomato juice and chocolate, she became an instant sensation.

Amelia understood the power of publicity. She knew the importance of keeping her name—and her face—in the news. She curled her straight hair into its signature, tousled style and once reportedly crawled (unharmed) from the wreckage of her crashed plane, powdering her nose and saying, “We have to look nice if the reporters arrive.” When she met George Putnam, a renowned publisher interested in her story­—and more—she found a ruthless promoter of the Amelia Earhart brand.

Amelia was often criticized for her stunts and for being motivated by fame. Although she took her celebrity seriously, she took her flying more seriously, and continued to rack up a long list of aviation firsts. She became the first woman to fly from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back, and competed in the first Women’s Air Derby, where she finished third after stopping to help a friend who had crashed. She set new records for speed and altitude, and helped establish the first organization of women pilots, The Ninety-Niners.

Then, in 1932 she made another attempt at the Atlantic crossing, this time as a solo pilot. Despite battling an ice storm and a badly leaking fuel tank, she touched down in Northern Ireland on the morning of May 21, 1932, becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Her accomplishment catapulted her from famed aviator to superstar of the skies.

In these early days of aviation, flying was a dangerous endeavor. Amelia had crashed many times, although she had always walked away unhurt. Many of her peers were not so lucky. Three of the five women who had attempted the transatlantic crossing before her had disappeared, and even the world famous Harriet Quimby was unexpectedly ejected from her aircraft in Boston only months after becoming the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel.

Motherhood and flying did not mix well, and many of the most intrepid aviators of the time had hung up their flying helmets when marriage and children beckoned. Neta Snook, who had first taught Amelia to fly, had been a fearless barnstormer and aviation pioneer, once telling the press that she could “fly as cleverly, as audaciously, as thrillingly as any man aviator in the world.” But when she married and became pregnant, she gave up flying, sold her business, and more or less disappeared into domestic bliss, eventually dying peacefully and without flourish at the age of 95.

Elinor Smith, who became the youngest licensed pilot in the world at age 16, earned herself the nickname “The Flying Flapper of Freeport” and became the first woman to appear on a Wheaties box by setting records for endurance, speed, and altitude. She had even flown under all four of New York City’s East River bridges, but eventually she hung up her flying helmet to raise four children in a quiet suburban life. Consequently, she lived to be 98.

Even Amelia’s first opportunity to fly across the Atlantic came about because of another pilot’s commitment to family. Although Amy Phipps Guest had the desire for adventure and the means to fund a transatlantic endeavor, her plan was foiled when her family got wind of it and her daughter pleaded with her to call off the attempt, crying that her mother would “end up floating in the ocean.” She scrapped her daring plans and lived to be 86 instead.

Flying was a dangerous business and, even though Amelia liked children, she knew that motherhood would force her to give up her career, and that would mean disappearing into domestic oblivion. At 39 years old, and with commercial aviation already gaining popularity, the opportunities for setting new records as an aviator were rapidly diminishing. Amelia knew she had just one last opportunity to become an aviation legend—by flying around the world.

When she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, set off on June 1, 1937, she couldn’t have known quite how the trip would seal her place in aviation history. Just over a month later, as her plane headed for Howland Island, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Amelia lost radio contact. She and Noonan were never seen or heard from again. To this day, their disappearance remains a mystery, sparking theories of suicide, faked death, and a top-secret government spy mission. There was even speculation that Amelia and Fred had made it to some tiny uninhabited Pacific island, where they are still waiting to be rescued.

Regardless of what happened to Amelia Earhart, she carved a permanent place for herself in history and inspired countless generations of aviators. As her close friend Eleanor Roosevelt said of her, she helped women to see that there was nothing they could not do. Mrs. Roosevelt—whose own dreams of flying had been firmly quashed by Franklin—told reporters, “I’m sure Amelia’s last words were ‘I have no regrets.’”

As many of you will have already heard, the world lost another great Chero yesterday. Sally Ride passed away peacefully after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. You can read Kathleen’s National Women’s History Month profile of Sally from March 2011.

 

Guest Post: What Bella Lucia Means to Me July 19, 2012

Joanne Troppello: The author at work.

By Joanne Troppello

I write romantic suspense novels and my most recent release is entitled, Bella Lucia. It is a story unlike my other suspense books, but I felt compelled to write it. My hope was that other women like me might find some hope and encouragement that they are not alone.

My husband, John and I, met back in 2002 and we quickly became good friends. Two years later we were married. This July, we’ll be celebrating our 8th anniversary. We’ve gone through the normal married stuff—you know, adjusting to life as a couple and all the issues that come with that—but one issue has left us feeling isolated in our little section of the universe. After 8 years together, we still have not been able to get pregnant.

It’s been a difficult road, but we have grown so much together as a couple and we’ve gotten stronger, but that hasn’t made the inherent pain of being a childless couple any easier to deal with. My husband comes from a big, traditional, Italian family. Of his cousins, we were the second couple to get married. In the ensuing years, his other cousins and brother have gotten married and they’ve all been able to conceive and have children. On my side, my two brothers and their wives also have been able to get pregnant, as have two of my cousins.

Needless to say, being around everyone who seemed so naturally to get pregnant hasn’t been easy; especially as we near year 8 in our marriage. Others, who have been married for less time, already have children. Although, God has been good and He’s brought friends into our lives in similar situations and we’ve been able to support each other through the ups and downs of trying to get pregnant. My one friend has been married for 10 years and they still haven’t been able to conceive yet.

Living with this ache in my heart, always feeling the call of motherhood, but never being able to have a child, led me to write Bella Lucia. As I mentioned, I write fiction and I felt God leading me to create a story dealing with the subject of infertility and all the painful struggles involved, yet weave His hope into the plot. Even though this story is fiction, it’s a very personal story for me and I wanted to share how when you invite God into the midst of your circumstances, He always turns everything out for your good…even during the hard times.

When I wrote about the main character, Gwen, looking longingly at the empty chairs surrounding her dining room table—that was familiar to me, because I’ve done that, and felt the longing. When I wrote about Gwen being in pain when her best friend so easily got pregnant after only a short time married, I went through that pain as well with other family members conceiving so easily. When Gwen’s heart was broken every time she would pass by the local playground on her daily jog and see the children playing and mother’s sitting watching their children, I felt her pain…wondering if I’d ever become a mother.

I know what it feels like to desperately want to be a mother and have a family. Yet, I know the peace that passes all understanding as God is guiding me and my husband through this rough time in our lives. He has a plan and I may not understand it, but I know He has our best in mind. Of course, it’s not always easy to believe that, but our faith is what has gotten us through and will continue to guide us.

Joanne Troppello is an author of romantic suspense novels and has published three books: Shadowed RemembrancesMr. Shipley’s Governess and Bella Lucia. She is married and loves spending time with her husband, family and friends. You can connect with her online at My Blog: The Mustard Seed, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

 

That He Would Do This for Her March 23, 2012

By Sue Fagalde Lick

When my friend John started going out with Lizzy, a teacher at least 20 years younger than he was, I kept my qualms to myself. Who was I to judge? Had I not married a much older man myself?

A couple years later, I ran into John and Lizzy at the Toledo, Oregon summer festival. Weary from strolling up and down Main Street, I saw them in the crowd sitting on orange folding chairs by the stage outside Bank of the West and decided to join them in the shade of a big alder tree.

I didn’t notice Lizzy’s belly until they stood to move their chairs into the sun. Was it really rounded under her denim overalls or was I imagining it? No, she was definitely pregnant.

Battling hot flashes and glad to be out of the sun, I remained alone in the shade, gazing up at the yellow and green leaves. With each gentle breeze, waves of sadness washed over me. John had finished raising his family. He had retired. He enjoyed his life of writing, music and bicycle trips. I was certain he did not want to start raising children again, but I could see the whole picture: Lizzy was young, she wanted a family, he loved her, and he could not deny her that part of life.

Of course it could have been an accident, a birth-control failure, but they were both too smart for that. This was pregnancy on purpose. That he would do this for her . . . It echoed in my head like a mantra: that he would do this for her. A corresponding chant answered: that my husband would not.

But I got it wrong. When I asked John about it later, he said he was the one who wanted another child. Lizzy didn’t mind doing without, but he wanted a chance to do a better job than he had before.

Why wasn’t my husband like that?

I had been through this so many times. It was not Fred’s fault. I had married him despite his declaration that he did not want to have children with me, that the three he had with his first wife were all he ever wanted. I had decided it was better to have him without children than to marry someone else I loved less or, more likely, to remain alone. Besides, had I not always placed my career above everything, thinking that someday I would get around to kids, but not today, tomorrow, next week . . .?

Suddenly the toe-tapping music grew tiresome. I needed to do the laundry, start dinner, make some phone calls. I kept glancing at John and Lizzy, unable to stop staring at Lizzy’s belly.

I had thought I was past this, beyond this agonizing over not having children. As I gathered my things, waved goodbye to my friends, and started the long walk to my car, I asked myself “Will it never end?”

Sue Fagalde Lick has been married twice to men who did not give her babies. She blogs on the subject at www.childlessbymarriage.blogspot.com.

 

With Eyes of Faith: Chero, Elisabeth Leseur March 22, 2012

By Dorothy Williams

“Those whom we encounter on our earthly path

often see in passing the outer wrappings of our being

and go their way, confident of knowing us well enough. 

Let us be careful not to do the same with the companions of our life.”

~Elisabeth Leseur

Among childless women, there are leaders and there are followers.  Many of the Cheroes celebrated on this blog are leaders who made a big splash, had great impact on the world, and made a name for themselves. That’s great if you’re a leader, but not all of us are called to do that. Elisabeth Leseur provides us with an example of what happens when a childless woman simply follows Christ.

In 1889, Pauline Elisabeth Arrighi married Felix Leseur after meeting him through mutual friends.  Felix was a doctor who also directed a large insurance company and it was sometime during medical school that he lost his faith.  After marrying, he permitted Elisabeth to practice her religion, but he and his friends constantly ridiculed her for what they thought were ignorant superstitions.  Despite this tension in their marriage, they loved each other passionately and Felix provided his wife with a wonderful life, which included travel to countries like Italy, Russia, Turkey and Greece. In her own words, Elisabeth provides a glimpse into the relationship: “Some joyful days, because of a present from Felix, and more because of the words that accompanied it – words so full of love that I am moved to great happiness.”

From the time they married until her death from breast cancer in 1914, Elisabeth prayed for her husband’s return to the Christian faith.  She kept a diary to give voice to her experience, but Felix did not learn of it until after she died.  A year later, he not only regained his faith, but also published the diary.  (The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur, published by Sopia Institute Press, is still available!)

In his remarks that preface the diary, Felix says: “My beloved wife, Elisabeth, prayed incessantly for my return to the Faith…But she did this secretly, for she never argued with me and never spoke to me of the supernatural side of her life, save by her example.”

A few years later, in 1923, Felix was ordained a Dominican priest, and over the next two decades devoted his ministry to giving talks about Elisabeth’s spirituality.  Father Leseur died in 1950 and the Church opened a cause for his wife’s canonization in 1990.

What I admire about this Chero is that she did not leave a difficult marriage to pursue holiness elsewhere, nor did she worry about leading causes to justify her existence as a childfree woman. So if you’re feeling a lot of societal pressure to go out and do something to fill the void left by infertility, think of Elisabeth…and pray.

Dorothy Williams lives near Chicago.  She is praying for her own husband’s return to the faith and found domestic bliss by acting on the advice of good marriage counselors.  

 

Happy Leap Day February 29, 2012

It’s Leap Day, the day when tradition states that a woman can propose to a man…and he has to accept. If I wasn’t already married to Mr. Fab, I would snag him today. We’re going on for eight years (a record relationship for me, I might add) and despite his numerous flaws, I wouldn’t swap him for anyone, not even Leonardo DiCaprio (although I’d give it serious consideration before turning Leo down.)

We talked recently about how things might have worked out differently if we’d met sooner. Perhaps we might have been able to have children, then again, perhaps we wouldn’t. I’ll never know. But the time we spent before we met has made us the people we are today, and maybe if we’d met when we were younger, we wouldn’t have been ready for one another. Again, we’ll never know.

But my husband also acknowledges that if we’d met in a different time and place he wouldn’t have had his two children, and he wouldn’t change that for anything. So, I guess my whine for today is that I can’t begrudge him that…even if I really want to.

It is Whiny Wednesday. What’s irking you today?

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Waiting February 21, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

As I’m having my teeth cleaned, the hygienist (early 30s, getting married this summer, knows I recently got married) asks, “So are you planning to have kids right away or are you going to wait?”

Um…wait for what?

When I was clear of dental tools, I reminded her that I am 45.

That ship has sailed, sister.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Most days she finds the absurdities in life very amusing.

 

Transformations January 19, 2012

I’ve been following La Belette Rouge on and off for a while now. It’s been interesting to watch her progress.

In the early days, she blogged frequently about her infertility. As she began coming to terms with being childless-not-by-choice, she talked more about her run-ins with her therapist, and the cracks that began to appear in her marriage.

I haven’t checked in on her for a while, so when she blipped onto my radar last week, I was taken aback, but pleased to see this post, Not the Mama/ You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

What a transformation. Here’s a woman who tried almost everything imaginable to get the child she so desperately wanted, and here she is now, standing up and having the courage to say this:

“I feel crazy grateful for how everything worked out so very perfectly. And I think about how if I had gotten what I hoped and prayed and paid Reproductive Endocrinologists for that I would now be a very unhappy gal who likely would not have had the courage to do what I did in March (leave) and how I certainly would not be in this new relationship with this wonderful man who makes me ridiculously happy.”

I know how long it took her to get to this point, and she is the first to admit that there are still days when she is “punched in the ovaries” by a reminder of what she doesn’t have. But, oh, the progress she’s made.

She includes a quote from Truman Capote in her post:

“More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”

I know for me, there are days, that I can see clearly how my life is better just the way it turned out. And those days are increasing in number all the time.

 

Your Next 15,000 Days January 12, 2012

I was recently introduced to Klara, a blogger in Slovenia, and her new blog The Next 15,000 Days. Her title caught my attention immediately, and I had to know what it meant. Here’s what she writes about her choice of title:

“Just a few days before Christmas we will celebrate 3,000 days since our wedding day. Our first 3,000 days were mainly sad. Of course, there were also lots of great things. The greatest was that I realized I married the love of my life; all the pain brought us even closer together. If we are lucky, another 15,000 days are waiting for us. So, we decided to start living a new, happy life. We lost, already, enough days being sad. We just don’t want to lose another day.”

I love this attitude. It’s the same notion Mr. Fab and I had when we decided to start figuring out how to be a family of two. We drew a line in the sand and said, “This is where we start living our lives again. But it’s not always easy to do.

You can’t just decide to not be sad anymore. Sadness and grief are much more complicated and sneaky than that. They tend to hide in unexpected places and leap out on you when you think you’re safe. Family gatherings, pregnancy announcements, and closets where you kept baby clothes you planned to use are all places to be on the look out for a grief ambush.

But you can decide, as Klara says, to “start living a new happy life.” It takes work, and it might not always go as planned, but deciding is half the battle.

So, how do you plan to live your next 15,000 days?

 

Congratulations! October 28, 2011

Tomorrow is a big day.

My dear friend and writing buddy, Kathleen, is getting married. She is marrying a wonderful man (we’ll call him Thor – not his real name, merely his alter-ego) and I couldn’t be happier for her.

You’ll know Kathleen from her weekly “It Got Me Thinking…” column, and I hope you’ll join me in congratulating her and sending her off on her new adventure.

But don’t panic! She’s not leaving us. In fact she’ll be back next week as usual, just as Kathleen Guthrie Woods.

Congratulations, Kathleen. Wishing you much love.

 

 
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