Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About “I’ll Nevers” January 31, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

Whenever I get tired of hearing myself whine about all the things I’ll never get to experience because I’m childfree—feeling a second heartbeat within my body and beaming with pride when someone says “She’s just like you”—I find I can put an end to my self-pity party by thinking about some of the annoying things I’ll never do. This includes:

1.  I’ll never ruin another couple’s romantic dinner because I’ve let my toddler run amok in a nice restaurant.

2.  I’ll never keep an entire airplane full of stressed-out businesspeople and weary travelers awake with my screaming infant, because if I can block out her cries, surely they can make an effort.

3.  I’ll never insist that, because my child is actually the smartest/most talented/most gifted kid in the group, he should get special treatment.

4.  I’ll never have to schedule a vacation to coincide with school holidays, so I won’t be part of the masses of humanity standing in line in front of you to get into the museum/amusement park/restroom stall.

5.  I’ll never say the words, “How would you know? You’re not a mother.”

6.  I’ll never offend a stranger by asking him to hold my child while I lift up my shirt, fumble with snaps, and flash my breasts before taking the kid back for a public feeding.

7.  I’ll never saddle a colleague with extra work because I have kids.

8.  I’ll never blow off a friend because I have kids.

9.  I’ll never tell my husband to go take a cold shower because I’m worn out from taking care of his kids.

10.  And I’ll never, ever con extended family into going on a Disney cruise.

What’s on your list?

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Her articles have appeared in AAA’s Westways, GRIT, Real Simple, and 805 Living magazines. Read “How to Be the World’s Best Aunt Ever” on eHow.com.

 

A Fresh Start January 29, 2011

Tomorrow I am relocating to the opposite end of the state and I’m suffering from a bit of mover’s melancholy. This week I went to my local farmer’s market and bought my favorite things for the last time, I ran with the friends I will never see again, and I stood in my garden looking at the flowers that will surely die without me.

Ok, so that’s a bit dramatic and in actual fact, our move is only temporary and really just a change of base camps. We’ve been living in two places for almost a year now, based in the south and traveling to the north for work, and all we’re doing is moving my office and the cat, and reversing the travel direction. But still, I already miss my home.

Despite this, I think the move will be good for us. It’s going to be another fresh start.  We’ve had several fresh starts in the past few years – particularly at the various milestones of our infertility journey – and this is another one of those. Getting the book out into the world was another milestone, a kind of release of the story, a letting go, and it seems to warrant some symbolic marking of the end of one thing and the beginning of something else. The move will accomplish that.

I’m a big fan of fresh starts. I think sometimes we get bogged down with our norm and keep trying to solve the same old issues over and over, when sometimes we just need to get off the tracks and do something else for a while. Even a small change in the daily routine can mix things up a bit and give us a new perspective.

So, despite my sadness at leaving the familiar behind, I’m very much looking forward to my fresh start.

 

Valentine’s Week Blog Tour January 28, 2011

Filed under: Fun Stuff — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and I’m planning a trip. I won’t be heading off somewhere tropical with my sweetheart, though; instead, I’m taking a virtual tour of some of my favorite childless/childfree/non-mom/cool women blogs.

For the whole week of February 14th, I’ll be popping up on other people blogs for interviews, Q&A’s, and podcasts. I’ll be talking about the pros and cons of the childfree life as well as some of difficulties of coming to terms with that life. There’ll be contests and prizes and who knows what other fun stuff.

The idea is to connect as many related blogs as possible and introduce readers of all the blogs to each other’s. No idea if it’s going to work, but I’m looking forward to the adventure.

Right now I’m compiling a list of stops, so if you have a favorite blog (and yes, nominating your own blog is perfectly okay) post a link in the comments and I’ll add it to the list.

Now I just need to figure out how to get bumper stickers to show off all the places I’ve been.

 

Expressing Motherhood January 27, 2011

Last week my friend Holly invited me to go and see her performance in a show in Hollywood. “I totally understand if you don’t want to come,” she said, “considering the topic.”

The show is called Expressing Motherhood and is advertised as “the national, sold out, on-going play, consisting of moms sharing stories about motherhood.”

She was right, considering the topic, I did not want to go. I could think of few worse ways to spend a perfectly good weekend night than listening to moms babbling on about how hard or how beautiful, or how life-changing, personality-altering, amazingly incredible being a mom is for them. I could picture myself sitting there yelling, “Cry me a river, ladies!” as some mom bemoaned her sleepless nights. Even worse was the fear of dredging up all those emotions I’ve worked so hard to get in line, and having to be carried in a flood of tears from the theatre.

Needless to say, I politely declined the invitation and Holly understood.

But earlier this week, I had a change of heart. As I’ve been telling friends about my book, I’ve realized just how many people who have been with me through the whole journey and have been so supportive and encouraging.

Holly is one of those people.

She listened to my woes when I was trying to get pregnant and she encouraged me when I decided to write the book. She even had the guts to come and tell me face-to-face, and with tact and consideration for my feelings, that she was pregnant when she knew I was not. If I was going to be standing on a stage talking about not being a mother, Holly would be sitting in the audience, whistling with her fingers stuck in her mouth.

So I sucked it up – woman’d up, if you like – and bought a ticket for Friday night’s show. I’m going on my own, so I won’t have anyone to embarrass if I do have to be carried out, and I’m going to support my friend.

I can’t say it’s not without some trepidation that I will make the drive up to Hollywood tomorrow, but if nothing else, it will be an interesting experiment, and you can be sure that I’ll report in!

 

Whiny Wednesday: Love January 26, 2011

Anyone who knows me in the real world will tell you that, in person, I am not a gusher.  I’m an enthusiastic sort when the occasion calls for it, but I’m not one for public shows of excessive affection. If I don’t tell you “I love you,” don’t assume I don’t care; it’s not a phrase I toss around lightly and if I say it, I mean it.

 

Like I say, I’m not big on public affection, either physical or verbal.

 

So, I’m not going to tell you, dear readers, that I love you, because I’ve never even met most of you, and “love” just isn’t the right word. What I will tell you though, is how very much I appreciate you and how glad I am that you are in my life.

 

I have been sitting here reading the comments you’ve left on some recent posts and I am touched by your incredible generosity in sharing your hearts with me and with other readers. I am in awe of how you reach out to one another – to people you’ve never even met – and offer words of kindness and encouragement. It is the most wonderful and inspiring thing to watch, and seeing it restores my (sometimes flagging) faith in the human race.

 

As I said, I’m not a gusher, but today I felt the need to gush a little.

 

It is Whiny Wednesday, of course, and even though I don’t personally have anything to whine about today, I hope that my mellow mood won’t deter you from letting rip, should you need to. Whine on!

 

Bye-Bye Baby Clutter January 25, 2011

As part of my “New Year, New Me” campaign, I’ve been trying to unload some of the clutter in my life. Last week I went through the dozens of marketing emails I get every day and unsubscribed to the ones I no longer need.

I haven’t ordered from Victoria’s Secret in years, so I took myself of their list. I don’t ever remember ordering from a company called Shari’s Berries, so they’re gone too. And the company who sends me emails in Spanish (no idea what they sell) no longer has my permission to do so.

I’m also pleased to say that I’m parting with my residual baby clutter, too. When the regular newsletter from Adoptive Families came in, I scrolled right to the bottom and unsubscribed. Babies R Us got the boot long ago, as did the portrait photographer who got me on her list.

I also went through the Mystery Closet in my office. There I found a sample of diapers and some kind of baby journal. I didn’t even bother to look what it was. In the trash it went.

What I’m pleased to report is that I had no hesitation letting go of these things, and any sadness I felt about no longer needing them was, at most, fleeting.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Speaking Up January 24, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

I finished reading Lisa’s book, I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home, within 3 days of receiving it. It’s so good, I almost missed my train stop—twice. It’s so good, it made me laugh out loud and it made me choke up (also while still on the train). I could relate, it helped me heal, it inspired me to listen to my sister-friends and their stories with more compassion.

And it made me want to stand up and shout something like, “Hey, world! Infertility sucks, and we shouldn’t have to feel ashamed about it and keep quiet any longer!”

But here’s the thing: I was taught to be a good girl. A polite, respectful, look pretty and don’t-rock-the-boat kind of girl. Don’t talk back when someone suggests you must hate children because you don’t have any. Don’t be a smartass when someone asks why you’re waiting so long to make babies. Watch your tongue and don’t get lippy with me, missy!

Enough. I will no longer be shushed simply because I’m not a baby-maker. Lisa speaks for us through her raw, funny, emotional, controversial, honest, and page-turner of a story. Let’s follow her lead. Let’s hold our heads and the cover of this book up high to show family and friends—as well as marketers, advertisers, publishers, producers, and retailers—that we, the childfree women of the world, have voices, and we will be heard!

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Since she’s childfree, she can stay up till all hours of the night reading a great book.

 

Sonja Lewis Puts Childlessness into Perspective January 22, 2011

Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/Bartosz Hadyniak

Sonja Lewis, who regular comments on this blog, has written a very insightful article about the stigma of childlessness and why it’s still such a taboo subject.

In the article she says:

“While today’s childless woman might not be singled out as readily as she would have been a generation ago, she’s still under pressure.”

Indeed she is! And Sonja goes on to cite five reasons she believes childlessness is still so misunderstood: it’s personal, unconventional, difficult, isolating, and anti-social.

Sonja has also used her research and her own personal experience to write an upcoming novel The Barrenness. It’s out this spring and I’ll be keeping an eye open for it.

If you’d like to read the full article, you can log in to Sonja’s website and download it here.

 

You Waited Too Long: The Jennifer Aniston Syndrome January 21, 2011

“You waited too long!”

Any of you heard that comment before? Well now it has a name: The Jennifer Aniston Syndrome.

According to this article on Babble, poor old Jennifer Aniston was just another of the “career-driven women [who] realize too late that it’s not always easy to get pregnant after 35.”

Hear that funny noise? That’s my blood boiling.

When I was 18 and head-over-heels in love for the first time, a teacher told my boyfriend and me that 18 was the height of a woman’s fertility and the perfect time to start a family. Yes, I am serious. This was during a conversation about our plans to go away to college.

Fortunately I didn’t listen to him, but maybe I should, because, by the time I was ready for a family, I was 34 and my eggs had other plans.

So what was I doing for all those years between 18 and 34? Striding my way to the top of the corporate ladder? Smashing glass ceilings? Taking the world by storm? No! I was looking for a man!

Because at 18 I could have married my college sweetheart and had his babies (I think.) He was a nice guy, but I know myself well enough to know that I would not have been happy in that life and would most likely have blown up somewhere in my mid-20’s and hurt all concerned. I know that because it’s exactly what happened with the next serious relationship (but without the babies, thankfully.) And the candidate after that didn’t want kids at all. I was 32 when I finally found Mr. Fabulous and 34 when we swung our family plans into action.

So did I wait too long to have kids? Yes!!! Of course I did! But not because I was trying to conquer the world. I waited too long because I know that motherhood is a serious and lifelong responsibility and I didn’t want to pump out babies with the first man that jiggled his pheromones in my direction.

Call me old-fashioned, or call me selfish, but don’t call me a career-driven woman who just waited too long.

 

Oprah’s Second Chance January 20, 2011

Oprah Winfrey was one of the first guests on Piers Morgan’s new talk show this week, where she talked candidly about the loss of her baby when she was 14. Oprah has said in the past that she has no regrets about not having children, but this time she talked about how losing her baby was her second chance to turn her life around and make something of herself.

Love her or hate her, there’s no denying that Oprah has certainly made something of herself. She talked to Morgan about the chain of events – beginning with going back to school and becoming head of student council – that led to her becoming the person she is today. “None of those things would have happened and the whole trajectory of my life would have been different,” she said on the show.

Although I have no illusions of my own life paralleling Oprah’s, I have to say that it’s certainly taken some unexpected turns since that doctor told me I would never have biological children. I’ve started a blog, met women from all around the world, written a book, and been quoted in a magazine as an expert! Recently, another avenue has opened and I’ve been working with a therapist friend to develop a series of workshops to help women deal with the effects of infertility and childlessness (more to come on that soon!) None of these things were in my plans two years ago and certainly would never have happened if I’d merrily gone on to become a mother.

They say that for every door that closes, another opens, and I’m a believer. The motherhood door closed firmly for me, but once I picked up my chin and looked around, I discovered a whole host of opportunities waiting for me. While I don’t believe I was denied motherhood so that I could do these things instead, the converse is certainly true -none of these things would have happened if I’d had children.

Has your life changed for the better because you don’t have children? Have you had opportunities you wouldn’t have had if you’d been a mother?