Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Whiny Wednesday: I don’t want to talk about this anymore May 11, 2011

Let me just say, right up front, that I love the community of women I’ve found through this blog. I’ve really been amazed at how people are willing to rally around and help others they’ve never even met. I attribute the speed of my healing progress to this community and to having somewhere to go to talk about infertility and childlessness.

But sometimes I feel as if I just don’t want to talk about it anymore.

For the past two weeks I’ve stood up in front of a theater full of strangers and told my story. It was a fantastic experience and everyone I met was wonderful and supportive. (More about this very soon.) I know that talking about this issue is bringing it to the forefront and building understanding. People have come up to me and told me as much.

But sometimes I just want to be little old me. I don’t want to keep talking about “it.”

Recently, this article reminded me of why I don’t want to talk about “it.” Here, this writer pours out her heart and her “regrets” at never having children.

“I know, for example, that not being a mother means there is a part of me which remains unused, a love that will be forever unexpressed. I know that what any mother describes as the most profound love she has ever known is, to me, a locked door — there is so much love I will never be able to give, wisdom and understanding I cannot share, shelter and solace I cannot provide.”

I admire for having the guts to say that, and I know she’s right, no matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise. There are a million ways to substitute for not having children, but none of them are really going to fill that gap. I know that; I feel that.

But, then she goes on to say:

“My regrets will always linger. My life is a poorer place for not having children, and I am less of a woman for not being a mother.”

And that’s when I want to yell, “No!! Pull yourself together, woman! You have a successful career, friends, a great life. How can you say your life is a poorer place and that you are less of a woman because you don’t have children?” Forgive me, friends, but it just comes across as feeling sorry for herself, and that doesn’t sit well with me.

And this is why I don’t want to talk about this sometimes. I don’t want to be defined by my childlessness; I don’t want to be a one-ring circus with the same act playing night after night; I don’t want to be “that poor pathetic childless woman, who never quite got over it.”

All that being said, I’m going to keep talking about it, because it’s an important topic to me, but I’m keeping an eye on myself to make sure it doesn’t become the only thing I can talk about, to make sure I don’t start feeling sorry for myself.

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20 Responses to “Whiny Wednesday: I don’t want to talk about this anymore”

  1. Sue Says:

    I can truly understand where you are coming from. I think it is wonderful that you realize how important it is for women that are in various stages of the journey to have a place to come and find a place to belong if they are having trouble finding support close to home. Not that you need any more work to do, but perhaps you could start a second blog that is not related to infertility – just about your life and thoughts unrelated to childlessness. Then you could maybe post on this subject once or twice a week. You could certainly post about other topics here, but yours is a life much more than just a “life without baby” at this stage. I’m sure your followers would be interested in reading your thoughts on other topics as well. That’s just my two cents. 🙂

    And …. I’d like to whine a bit. Life was a bit rough the past week. My mom, who had a quadruple bypass last July and stents placed in October, was back in the hospital with blockages. As if Mother’s Day wasn’t bad enough to me, now I thought I might lose my mom. They placed two more stents and she’s doing well, but I’m so worried it’s going to happen again and they said she’d need another bypass surgery. She almost died last time. I’m 37 and shouldn’t have to worry about losing my mother. It has also made me feel sad/guilty for not giving her grandchildren to enjoy. It’s not for lack of trying, but I feel guilty for giving up for my own sanity over her happiness.

    • lmanterfield Says:

      Sue,
      All the color drained from my face at the thought of a second blog! LOL. But I do like the idea of writing about something else once in a while – food, travel, gardening – all those things I used to love, and still do, somewhere. Maybe I will start posting once or twice a week, just to mix things up a bit. 🙂

      I hope your mom is doing ok. Mine will be 80 next year and is in good health, but I cannot even get my head around the idea of losing her. I’m sending good thoughts your way.

  2. S Says:

    Whiny Wednesday indeed. I’m feeling particularly bad today. My marriage isn’t working. My marriage is the main reason I currently do not see a child in my future. Aside from the fact that my work, weight, and finances are out of control, I have to deal with a man who I can’t count on or use as a mean of support. While I see his efforts (and continued progress) to become a better man, I resent him and his substantial flaws. I regret my choices which led me to this path. I often think that had I picked a better mate then I would be living a much better life right now.

    I am a woman of faith but my faith is fading. I know I should appreciate what I have, trust and believe that everything will be okay but right now – today – I’m finding it hard to look forward and feel excited about my unknown future.

    As far as I know I am absolutely healthy and able to conceive. However, I don’t feel my life is suitable enough to host a child. I have a lot of work to do before I can feel confident in building a family. I feel I’ve worked so hard already and I’m so sick of seeing other people have the things I want for myself. I feel like a loser and (yes) somehow less of a woman. And I’m ashamed that I’m living a life that I’m not proud of. Today I pray for peace, not only for myself but for other woman who need it.

    • Kathleen Guthrie Says:

      S — Your comment struck a chord b/c four years ago I was you. I don’t want to sugar-coat or tell you to ignore your feelings, b/c your grief, your struggle, is real and important. What I want to tell you is Keep the Faith. My life today is so different from what I lived then, and very different from what I thought I wanted (I wanted children so badly, I was researching doing it all on my own). The specifics aren’t important. Listen to your heart, take care of yourself, and follow that Still Small Voice. I’m saying a special prayer for peace and courage for you today. — Kathleen

  3. Valerie Says:

    Yes, yes, yes! And amen! This is what gets me about so many of these related topics is people defining themselves (or others) by only one facet of their lives. We’re not only one thing (“mother” or “not mother”) we shouldn’t be polarizing ourselves or others. Maybe you are getting the itch to start letting a new facet of yourself come to the forefront?

  4. SOPHIA FOSTER Says:

    I turned forty a few weeks ago and it signalled for me the beginning of the end in my chances of ever conceiving. In my earlier years Ive tried several treatments to get pregnant except for IVF, which was just starting to get popular. Then I stopped because the ordeal was too emotional. I recently discovered that my husband has a child outside of the marriage and I am dealing with not only my infertility and the loneliness that I feel but my anger and deep resent for my husband and right on top of that my guilt that I was unable to give him a child and I should be happy for him. Im so confused and hurt.

    • lmanterfield Says:

      Oh, Sophia, I am so sorry to hear this. I cannot imagine the emotions you are dealing with right now. I hope you’ll find a way to work through them and I’m sending good wishes your way.

  5. Nic Says:

    It is an important topic.
    I am not at the living without a child forever stage yet, but it may sadly be the case.
    I have for a while kept my IF, TTC and multiple IVF’s private. Other than 2 close friends no one has know. I am now starting to slowly talk and tell people. Some days I want to tell the world, other days I want to keep quiet. I do not want IF to define me.
    It is important to talk though and well done you for keeping going!
    x

  6. Mali Says:

    I saw this article and had a very similar response. I was grumbling and saying to my screen “no, I don’t believe that at all” to her comment about being less of a woman. Infertility, pregnancy loss, or simple desire for a child when you can’t have one are all parts of being a woman – not the common, everyday version, but still women who feel these are 100% women.

    Oh – and I do have a second blog, when I blog about non-infertility stuff (though occasionally – about twice a year -fertility stuff slides in), and I can highly recommend it. It’s a place just to be me. Infertility and childlessness is part of who I am, but only a very small part these days.

  7. Kathryn Says:

    This is why i have an “ecectic” blog. I don’t want to focus on one issue. I read a blog for a while of someone struggling with childlessness. I feel for her, i do, but the repetition of the theme does sometimes smack of self pity and inability to move on. (I never feel that here, BTW). I understand all that she says, but i want more for my life than looking back at our lost pregnancies. I’m still struggling with this, of course, but i am trying to move on and focus on other issues, tho, of course, i will always be shaped by my past.

  8. […] I read this post by Lisa this morning it really summed up my feelings.  I have been stuck so long in the web of […]

  9. loribeth Says:

    I saw that article too & had a similar reaction. I guess she’s entitled to her opinion — if she feels she’s less of a woman for not being a mother, then I guess she is — and I KNOW there are people who think that — but I refuse to think that way about myself. There are holes in my life, sure, but isn’t that true for all of us? Most people’s holes just aren’t child-shaped.

    • lmanterfield Says:

      “There are holes in my life, sure, but isn’t that true for all of us? Most people’s holes just aren’t child-shaped.”

      Perfect!! This is about the best summation of this life that I have seen. You should have bumper stickers made!

  10. Rach Says:

    i hate that – the whole “you don’t know love til you’ve had a child” and “nothing you could do in your life could ever match being a mother” and the feeling of being less of a woman because you didn’t have children.

    I HATE IT.

    something needs to change – i’m tired of the world telling me i should be having children [ummm NOT much say in this unfortunately] and going on and on and on about how fricking fabulous motherhood is – i want us to take back how awesome women can be WITHOUT children.

  11. Mina Says:

    I’ve spent a LOT of time on blogs and internet forums about infertility over the past two years. And i even talked about it to real life (childless) friends :-).I found lots of support. And i found lots of refusal, envy, lack of understanding. I’ve come to think that women who are mothers can instantly share something, bond, be a community (though let’s face it: there’s envy and differences in opinion there, too). Women who are dealing with childlessness, it seems, are each going a very individual way. Same as couples can be driven apart by their different ways of grieving/coming to terms, the non-existent “community” of childless women can be affected by that. This woman is at a specific stage of her healing process, same as i am not at the same stage as any of you. What’s more it’s not only about “stages”. It’s important to know that there IS a process and time does help, but it’s not linear – and there isn’t a definite “goal” to reach, which would be the same for everybody. Its made up of so many components depending on your situation in life – marriage/partnership situation, job situation, age, past experiences with family, men, etc… and a newly arising situation in your life can change your whole outlook on it. We should be tolerant towards each other as well.
    And: THANKS for talking about it, loud and clear, Lisa.

    • lmanterfield Says:

      Really well put. We’re dealing with loss and grief here, and there is certainly no fixed pattern to that. I do admire her for being so open and frank about her feelings, but I hate to see the “barren, broken, incomplete woman” stereotype perpetuated.

  12. happynenes Says:

    Yes, and I can think of a lot of other adjectives that come to mind first when I think of you, Lisa, like “activist” “role-model” “survivor” and most of all, someone who turned an incredible personal tragedy into a chance to help others.

    We all have days when we feel like we fit the barren/broken category. But, I find the women on this website to be unique in their fight to be something more than that. And that is really a great thing!

  13. Lara Says:

    Lisa I just discovered your website and your video – which I watched at least 10 times, I love your style you are my hero! Thank you so much for making the thought of being childless forever much less scary and I can so relate to all you say.


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