Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Infertility Myth: Women without children are never complete April 30, 2011

Remember this children’s ditty? I’m using myself and my husband as the example.

Jose and Lisa sitting in a tree,


First comes love,

Then comes marriage,

Then comes a baby in a baby carriage.

As a little girl, this was the expectation for how my life would unfold. Find a nice man, get married, and have a family, just as my parents did, and their parents before them. Sure, I came of age in the 80s, so there was college, a career, travel, and other big dreams thrown in there, but marriage and children were always a part of the picture.

I was 34 years old when I finally married Mr. Fabulous. Four years later, a doctor told me I’d never have biological children of my own. Those first years of our married lives were a crazy rollercoaster of desire and desperation, filled with doctor’s appointments and a desperate drive to complete my image of the perfect family. Even after this hopeless diagnosis, I kept pursuing that dream, convinced that the next doctor would have the secret elixir or that adoption would be my quick-fix solution.

I think I could have continued to look for a solution forever – there was always something else to try – but I realized something from that children’s ditty. After all that kissing in trees, there are three things that are supposed to follow – love, marriage, and children. In my pursuit of the baby in the baby carriage, I was frittering away two: the love and the marriage. I already had a wonderful life, doing work that I loved, in a city that I loved, with someone I loved. If I never had children, I’d still have that wonderful life.

We live in a culture of high expectations, where, as women, we expect to be able to have it all. But anyone who’s lived for any length of time knows that you don’t always get what you want.  I wanted motherhood, but it wasn’t meant to be, so I was left with two options: spend the rest of my life mourning what I’d lost and living with the hope that maybe a miracle would happen, or start figuring out how to build a life without children.

I chose the latter.

It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but now, two years later, I’m free to fully enjoy that fabulous marriage with that fabulous husband. Motherhood is only one small part of the life I imagined for myself and I am so much more than just an infertile woman. I discovered that there is life after infertility and that a life without children can still be a wonderful life.

For more information about infertility, please visit:

This post was written RESOLVE’S Bust a Myth Challenge. To learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW) go to:


NIAW Guest Post April 29, 2011

Tiffany is an ex-pat, living in Germany with two young children. She contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if I would write a guest post for her blog No Ordinary Homestead in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week. She told me that, although she hasn’t dealt with infertility herself, she has friends who have and she wanted to do her part to help raise awareness.

How could I say no?

Here is the post I wrote for her: A Family of Two.


Please take a moment and look at some of her other guest posts for this week. I suspect you’ll see a couple of familiar faces. I am so honored to be asked to do this. It’s people like Tiffany, who are willing to speak up to help the people they care about, that are making a difference and getting this subject matter out into the mix of general conversation.

So, Tiffany, thank you.


Family Pressure to Reproduce April 28, 2011

Unless you’ve taken to living under a rock recently (understandable, if you have) you’ll know that a Royal Wedding is imminent. Tomorrow, Britain’s Prince William (first-born son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana) will marry Kate Middleton.

The tabloids are a-flutter with talk of dresses, music, and guests – both invited and snubbed – but all I can think about is Kate’s ovaries.

I know; it’s sick to even be going there, but I can’t help thinking about the pressure on this young couple, but especially on Kate, to reproduce. Being second in line to the throne, and with speculation that Charles will not succeed his mother, Wills is certain to eventually become King. And a king needs heirs.

We’ve talked before on this blog about the pressure some of us have felt from our families to provide grandchildren and cousins, so imagine the pressure to produce a royal heir.

Historically, barren queens haven’t fared well (See Henry VIII) and although the days of executing a wife who doesn’t produce heirs are long gone, that pressure still remains. And forgive me, but I can’t help wondering if Kate, much like an expensive thoroughbred, has already been vetted for her potential as future King or Queen Mother. Either way, I’m pretty sure that choosing a childfree life isn’t going to be an option for this couple.

So, I’ll be keeping a careful eye on the royal newlyweds, but for now, I wish them good luck and a long and, um, fruitful marriage.


Telling My Story April 27, 2011

Tonight is the Opening Night of Expressing Motherhood. This is a show with 13 women and one man talking, singing, and performing on the theme of motherhood. This is the show where I will get up on stage and tell an audience, consisting mostly of mothers, my story.

I won’t give away too much now, suffice to say I will touch on the subjects of desire and choices, as well as some thoughts on the fertility industry and baby showers.

I’m a little nervous – about performing and about my story – but the producers and cast of the show have been truly supportive, and I’m hoping the audience will be too.

During this, National Infertility Awareness Week, I’m hoping to shed a little light on a side of motherhood that doesn’t get much love.

Wish me luck, and I’ll promise to report in.


What to Say (or Not to Say) to Someone Who is Infertile April 26, 2011

Photo courtesy E. Lindert/L.A. Times

My friend Carrie Friedman wrote this wonderful article for The Los Angeles Times My Turn Health column. In it she articulates perfectly what we’ve talked about many times here, which is people (well-meaning people) who just say the wrong thing. I found myself nodding to each unhelpful thing she’s heard and saying, “Yup, heard that one. Yup, that one, too.”

She also suggests some things that are helpful. Here’s what she says:

First, listen. Or, if you know it will make you uncomfortable to hear about it, let us know that. We’ll be A-OK talking about something — anything — else.

Second, say you’re sorry for our struggle. Several months ago, a friend of mine wrote me the loveliest, simplest paragraph I didn’t even know I so badly needed to hear:

“I am so very sorry. I’m most sorry that there’s nothing I can say that will make this better for you. But please know you’re in my thoughts and prayers and I am wishing you peace and good news. I’m always here to talk if you want to.”

My hope is that Carrie’s article will help people to understand a little more about what it’s like to deal with infertility, and what it is they can say if they truly want to help.

And, by the way, if Carrie’s name rings a bell it’s probably because I reviewed her excellent book, Pregnant Pause here last year.


Infertility 101 April 25, 2011

Although I know that many of you have more education than you’d like on the subject of infertility, my goal this week is to get the word out there, and offer as much information as possible for people who don’t know about or understand infertility.

Here is Infertility 101, from the RESOLVE website:

Infertility 101: Get the Facts

What is infertility?
Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system often diagnosed after a couple has had one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse, or if the woman has suffered from multiple miscarriages and the woman is under 35 years of age. If the woman is over 35 years old, it is diagnosed after 6 months of unprotected, well-timed intercourse.

Who gets it?
Infertility is a medical problem. Approximately 30% of infertility is due to a female factor and 30% is due to a male factor. In the balance of the cases, infertility results from problems in both partners or the cause of the infertility cannot be explained.

What are the risk factors?

  • Weight
  • Age
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
  • Tubal Disease
  • Endometriosis
  • DES Exposure
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol

What are the signs and symptoms?
Often there are no signs or symptoms associated with an infertility problem. Listening to your body and getting regular checkups will help to detect a problem. Early detection and treatment of a problem are often critical in achieving successful pregnancy outcomes later.

How is infertility treated?
Medical technology now offers more answers and treatment options to men and women trying to conceive a child. From hormonal treatments, ovulation induction and Intrauterine insemination to more advanced technologies like in vitro fertilization, ICSI to surrogacy, egg/sperm donation and even embryo donation. For more information on treatment of infertility visit the Family Building Options section of our site.

What medications are used?
There are a variety of medications used to treat infertility. It is important to understand the medications and what their purpose is and to speak with your physician about the medications that will be used in your specific treatment plan. Read more about Fertility Medications.

What is artificial insemination?
Artificial insemination is now more commonly referred to as IUI (intrauterine insemination). It is a procedure used for couples with unexplained infertility, minimal male factor infertility, and women with cervical mucus problems. The procedure uses the husband’s or donor’s sperm, washing and treating the sperm, and then injecting it into the woman during the time of ovulation. Read more about IUI.

What is In Vitro or IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) gets its name from the fact that fertilization occurs outside of the woman’s body, in a lab dish instead of a woman’s fallopian tubes. Typically, a woman will use ovulation stimulating drugs to produce an excess number of eggs. These eggs are surgically removed from the woman and fertilized in dish with sperm. If fertilization takes place, the physician transfers the embryo(s) into the women’s uterus. Read more about IVF.

How can I find an infertility specialist?
Visit RESOLVE’s Professional Service Directory to find an infertility specialist in your area or visit

Can my OB/GYN treat me?
In many cases the difficulty experienced in becoming pregnant can be resolved by a gynecologist without a referral to a specialist. Often the problem comes down to timing intercourse with ovulation, which may be assessed using one of the over-the-counter urine LH test kits (ovulation predictor tests). Your OB/GYN can also conduct a basic infertility evaluation. If a problem is found during your evaluation and for more complex fertility issues, it is advised to see a specialist.

What questions should I ask my doctor?
It is important to go into the visit with your doctor prepared. Visit the “Downloads section” of this site which covers important questions to ask your physician on a variety of topics.

Also, if you haven’t yet seen Keiko Zoll’s excellent video, What IF? please take a look. She captures all the questions that ran through my head and then turns the idea around.


National Infertility Awareness Week April 24, 2011

This week, April 24-30, is National Infertility Awareness Week.

1 in 8 women and men are diagnosed with infertility. RESOLVE and the infertility community are busting myths and telling truths about the most popular public myths and misconceptions about the disease of infertility and the different ways people build their families.

Check out the website for ways to get involved and get this important conversation going.

I’ll be posting on related topics all week, but here’s my question to you:

If you’ve dealt with infertility, what’s the one thing you want people to know?

It’s important that we talk about this so that we can start blasting some of those misconceptions about this disease.


The Shame of Childlessness April 23, 2011

This post was originally published on 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?


Poll: Where Do You Turn for Support April 22, 2011


Not Exactly Lonely April 21, 2011

This post was first published on May 24, 2010.

My young nephew has no qualms about asking the most personal questions, and he’s so earnest and compassionate that usually I can’t help but give him an honest response. He’s asked why I don’t have any children, and also what happened to my first husband. I’ve told him the truth in both cases and he’s appreciated that, as far as I can tell.

Recently he asked, “Don’t you and Jose get lonely without any children.”

“No,” I told him. “We have lots of friends, and we have Felicity, our cat, plus we have lots of nieces and nephews.”

Somehow though, this response didn’t seem to satisfy him. Perhaps because it doesn’t satisfy me either. Do I get lonely because I don’t have children? Not really. Most of the time I wish I had more time alone with my own thoughts, rather than less, but do I feel a sense of loneliness sometimes, even when I’m around other people? I do. Sometimes.

Sometimes I feel that the connections I have with others are more tenuous than they would be with a child. My brothers have their own children and, while we’re still close, our connections have weakened as the bond with their children has grown. Somewhere inside me is a tiny empty hole that nothing can fill. Most of the time I’m not even aware of it, it’s so small. But every now and then I’ll experience a melancholy sensation that feels like loneliness and feels as if it could only be filled with children.