Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

The Shame of Childlessness July 31, 2010

Recently, a friend confided that shame plays a big part in her life because of her childlessness. She told me:

“I think my Mom is embarrassed that I never had children, especially since there is “no good reason” why I didn’t.   It somehow reflects on her–her nurturing, her mothering skills, etc.  Instead of seeing it purely as my choice, there is a negative connotation for choosing not to have kids.  I think it is the same negative aspersion put on women who never marry. What is wrong with her?”

If you’re childless-by-choice, have you experienced this kind of shame? Are your family and friends supportive of your decision?   What about if you’re childless-not-by choice? Does shame play a role in your life too?

 

Your Amazing Childfree Life July 30, 2010

Recently, I had a revelation. I’m not going to have children. Big news, I know, but the real revelation came in the idea that, if I wasn’t going to be a mother, I must be destined for something even greater.

I have several friends who have big dreams. One has a natural ability for spotting new musical talent, another would love to quit her accounting job and become a landscape architect, and at least two others would love to go back to school and earn their degrees. But they all have children and their obligations prevent them from following their hearts. For some, their dreams are on hold for now, but for some, they’re on hold forever.

We don’t have those obligations. Yes, we have bills, partners, jobs, and assorted other things we have to do, but we don’t have other human beings relying on us for food and shelter. In a lot of ways, it’s very freeing.

Several of you have already made a leap in your life and gone back to school or changed careers, but let me ask you: If you could be or do anything you wanted, what would you do? And if you’re not going to have children, are those things now a real possibility?

 

Waiting for Baby – DivineCaroline July 29, 2010

Filed under: Infertility and Loss,Published Articles by Lisa — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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Several years ago I wrote this article for the online magazine Divine Caroline. As proof that whatever you put out there on the internet never really goes away, I just got a notification that the article has cycled its way back to the top of the featured articles list.

For a writer, this is great news, but for me, the personal me, not so much. It’s a harsh reminder of a chapter of my life I’ve tried to close the door on (and done a pretty good job of, thank you very much.) Looking back now, my words seems so naive. I have to ask myself: Would I give the same advice to a hopeful mother-to-be now?

You know what? I think I would. Despite my own experience, I don’t want to be the voice of doom and gloom. Ever. “Bitter” and “childless” so often get strung together in descriptions, and that person is not me. So, I hope that maybe this article will still bring comfort to a hopeful woman, and maybe she’ll get lucky. And if not, I hope she finds support and acceptance, as I have.

via Waiting for Baby – DivineCaroline.

 

Whiny Wednesday July 28, 2010

Filed under: Whiny Wednesdays — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am

I had so much fun reading your whines last week that I want to hear more this week.

Remember the rules: The topic is wide open, but your whine must be written in sentences of three words.

Here’s mine:

Brain is full. Too many ideas. Giant task list. Only one me. Must have sleep. Could I clone?

Whine away, my friends!

 

Dealing With: Do You Have Kids? July 27, 2010

Last weekend I was invited to a dinner party along with some people I’d never met before. There were five couples, including us, four of whom had children, so I knew that at some point in the evening, someone would ask the question: Do you have kids?

In the past I would have squirmed and mumbled something apologetic, such as, “Um, no, unfortunately not,” and been given the “ah, poor thing” look. But thanks to you, dear readers, I was armed and dangerous this time.

When the woman asked me, I smiled and said, “I have a cat and a fish.”

She did give me a look, but not the sympathy look. She was utterly bewildered for a moment, repeated “a cat and a fish” with no question mark, and when I didn’t elaborate, she promptly changed the subject.

It was great!! So great that I’m seriously considering keeping photos of both my cat and my goldfish in my wallet so that I can whip them out and proudly show them off next time anyone asks.

So, thank you for all the ideas about how to handle this sticky situation. If you have more suggestions of how to answer the dreaded question, please keep them coming.

 

Dealing With a Pregnancy Announcement July 26, 2010

Here’s an article I wish I’d found a long time ago. It’s about how to deal with a friend (or relative) announcing a pregnancy. If you’re childless-not-by-choice, this kind of news can trigger some of the worst human emotions—jealousy, rage, feelings of injustice, and worse. I know I’ve thought, (or maybe even said) “It’s not fair. Why her? Why not me?” It’s a terrible thing to think about someone you like or care about.

I like this article because the author turns it around and makes the news not about “me and her” but about the friendship and what the news will mean to both of you. She says:

A friend’s pregnancy may arrive like a bolt from the blue, but once you’ve caught your breath you can use this new event as an opportunity to think more purposefully about what you need and can offer in a friendship. Remember to keep the emphasis on mutuality, on open communication and also on expanding your friendship network in new ways.

Yesterday I got the news through the grapevine that a friend I’ve known for more than 30 years is pregnant. She struggled with infertility, gave up, lost a relationship, and finally settled into a new life with a new partner, who is already a father of two, and accepted that she would never have children of her own. Surprise! Suddenly she’s pregnant.

At one time, this news would have set me off on a personal rampage against the Universe, but when my husband tentatively asked me how I felt, I replied with all honesty that I was happy for her because I know she wanted this, that I was worried about her because of the potential health problems she might have, and that I was concerned about her mental state having finally come to terms with her infertility and started building a life without children. What I want to do now is contact her, congratulate her, and offer whatever support I can from across the other side of the world. I want my friend to be okay. That’s a far cry from the teeth-gnashing banshee I might have turned into a few years ago. I’m calling this progress.

 

Teen Retailer Launches Maternity Line July 24, 2010

Filed under: Children,Current Affairs — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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Even though I don’t have children of my own, I still find I have protective maternal instincts for children in general, and this article fired all those instincts into action.

Forever 21, that hip teen store, has launched a line of maternity wear for pregnant teens.

On the one hand, I think that if ever a group of women needed help to feel good about themselves, pregnant teens are it. But the maternal side of me thinks that making pregnancy attractive to teens by offering cool outfits is completely insane.

If you read the comments under the article you’ll see a number of people who think that this move won’t encourage teen pregnancy. I say baloney. I can clearly remember back in the days before hormones started my actual baby madness that, whenever I walked past a maternity store with stylish outfits draped over neat bumps, I’d daydream about the day I’d get to be pregnant. Those clothes made motherhood look beautiful and fun and desirable. Is this the message we want to send to our teens, that you too can be hip and trendy; all you need to do is get knocked up?

Yikes.

Maybe I’m being cynical, but we’ve all experienced the alluring commercialism of the motherhood industry, all those conferences and stores selling their glorious image of motherhood. And we’re (allegedly) sensible adults. Is this what we want to sell to impressionable teens?

 

The Sisterhood of the Childless Women July 23, 2010

This story is a couple of years old, but to be honest, two years ago I wasn’t looking for stories about not having children. Funny old thing, life.

What I love about this story is the raw honesty of this woman’s observations. She was married to man who decided he did not want children, and yet I don’t sense bitterness in her story. She talks very frankly about the friends she lost to children, not because they disagreed and parted ways, but because they suddenly had nothing in common. She says:

“I understood their joy but they never made an effort to understand my sorrow.”

Oh! I want to make a cup of tea for this woman and sit down to talk with her. I wish I could have told her back then that she wasn’t alone.

I feel very fortunate that my friends did make an effort to understand my sorrow and that I haven’t lost my true friends just because I am not a mother. And I feel fortunate to have found a sisterhood of women through this website.  I truly hope Anca has found her sisterhood.

 

Best Mothers Who Never Had Children July 22, 2010

Filed under: Fun Stuff,The Childfree Life: Issues and Attitudes — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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Oh, how I wish I’d found this article closer to Mother’s Day. What a great and inspiring list of incredible women this is.

If you ever find yourself having those feelings of being incomplete because you’re not a mother, take a look at this list and ask yourself whether these women made a difference. I’d say that they did…and then some.

 

Whiny Wednesday…With a Twist July 21, 2010

Filed under: Fun Stuff,Whiny Wednesdays — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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When I first started this blog, Wednesday’s post was always Whiny Wednesday. It was fun for a while, but then I got tired of hearing myself complain. But I’m not tired of hearing you complain, so Whiny Wednesdays is making a comeback…with a twist.

This week the Whiny Wednesday topic is wide open; you can come and complain about anything you choose, related to this site or not. The only caveat is that you have to whine in sentences of three words only. Example: Mad at cat. Ate my flowers. Puked on carpet. Scratched my furniture. Refused my tickles. Getting a dog.

(This idea is stolen from a writing exercise in Abigail Thomas’ book, Thinking About Memoir. The original exercise is to write about a whole decade of your life in sentences of three words.)

Anyway, whine away!