Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Infertility, Men, and Communication May 19, 2011

Kathleen sent this article to me this week. It’s a kind of “Top tips” for men going through infertility. I really appreciated the writer’s ability to find humor in this topic, and I admire that he was able to step back from his own experience (he and his wife now have three children) and offer some advice to other men who find themselves in this situation.

As we’ve discussed before, there seem to be so few resources aimed at men. While it’s often we women who go through the worst of the testing and unpleasant procedures, it’s easy to forget that the men involved are working through their own confusion, conflicting emotions, and sadness.

Here’s a man who tried to do the right thing. He gave his wife flowers after every failed procedure. What a nice guy! Except that, from his wife’s point-of-view, the flowers were just a reminder of the failure she felt.

His discussion about the importance of communication is dead on, and I think that it remains true even if you’ve decided to stop treatments, or if you’ve otherwise decided that children are not in your future. We humans can be fickle creatures and our big life decisions are seldom clear-cut. We waver, we reconsider, and we’re affected by events in our environment. Talking about this is critical.

I know I’m often guilty of keeping my thoughts to myself so as not to upset my husband (although he does read this blog from time-to-time, so it’s hard to have too many secrets!) But experience has shown me that being honest about what’s going on means fewer surprises for him and fewer, “I had no idea…” conversations.

 

Whiny Wednesday: Post-Election Day May 18, 2011

Filed under: Current Affairs,Whiny Wednesdays — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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Yesterday was Election Day in my hometown. This means that all last weekend and half of this week I was bombarded with phone calls, junk mail, and canvassers at my door.

I’m an intelligent adult. I read, I listen to the news, and I formulate my own opinions. So, no, it is not okay to hound me while I’m quietly pruning my roses on a Sunday afternoon. And no, it is not okay to verbally trash the opposition while I’m sitting on my porch. It is not okay to call all day asking for my vote; I work from home; I’m busy. And no, if you’re going to tout yourself as an environmental crusader, it is not okay to fill my mailbox with enough campaign fliers to paper the Empire State building.

It’s Whiny Wednesday, and it’s all over now, but I had to get that off my chest.

 

Childfree in Paris May 17, 2011

This Meet-up group popped up in my email and caught my attention.

“Childfree in Paris” conjures romantic notions of sipping coffee and nibbling croissants with sleek sophisticated women, talking about fine food, fabulous art, and chic fashion. Granted, my high school French would get me the coffee and croissant and very little actual conversation, but I love the idea that there are childfree women all over the world.

For those of you looking to find kindred spirits a little closer to home, Meet-up is a great resource. You can search for groups, or create your own. You can gather members, set up events, and then go off and meet like-minded people.

Consider starting a Meet-up group in your area and posting a link here.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Cravings May 16, 2011

Filed under: Childfree by Choice,Childless Not By Choice,Health — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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By Kathleen Guthrie

Chocolate, sushi, coffee, shellfish, swordfish, wine, deli meats, soft cheeses, cocktails, salad bars…conventional medical wisdom strongly recommends pregnant women cut out all these foods.

Fortunately, I’m not pregnant, and I have no plans to get pregnant. And because I am an adult of mostly sound mind, I can eat and drink anything I want. Therefore, I’d like to start with a lemon drop martini, a shrimp cocktail, and a side of raw chocolate chip cookie dough, please.

What are you craving today?

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is trying to embrace being childfree.

 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang expected to soar at auction May 14, 2011

Filed under: Fun Stuff — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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It’s been quite an emotional week this week, between Mother’s Day, post-show adrenaline drop, and the raging sinus infection that will not go away. I’m feeling like I need an Eat, Pray, Love kind of escape.

After my “I don’t want to talk about this” post on Wednesday, Sue (check) suggested that blogging about something other than being childfree and infertile might do me a world of good. After fainting at the thought of getting a whole new blog up and running (and fed with posts) I decided that what this blog needs is a little silly every now and then.

And so, for something completely different…

Big news this week! Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is going up on the auction block this Sunday. I asked my friends if any of them would lend me a couple of million bucks so I could put in a bid, but alas, they all declined.

I think I may rent this movie this weekend, just for old times’ sake. I bet even as you read this, you’re singing:

Oh (Chitty) you (Chitty), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we love you.

And (Chitty) in (Chitty) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s what we’ll do!

In case you aren’t, here’s a little something to help you.

Which icons of your childhood would you be willing to drop a couple of million on (if money were no object?) Or what’s your favorite guilty pleasure movie?

 

I Failed My Own Test May 13, 2011

Do you ever test yourself to see just how well you’re really doing with this whole “coming-to-terms” business? I’ve been doing it a lot lately. I’ve been inserting myself into mothering conversations, just to gauge how it makes me feel. I’ve started smiling at other people’s babies again, to see if it stirs up any dormant emotions. The other week, as I was driving past Babies R Us, I seriously considered pulling in and just walking around the store to see if I could do it. I realized it was a crazy idea, and I went home instead, but I’m pretty sure I would have been okay. Based on all these tests, in fact, I’d say I’m doing pretty well at re-entering the real world, where mothers and babies exist.

So, when I found myself in a conversation with a pregnant woman last week, it really was no big deal. I was genuinely happy for her and chatted about names and the baby’s sex, and how she was doing. No big deal. When she pulled a strange face I asked her if she was okay.

“Oh yes,” she said. “He’s just moving around. ”

I laughed and asked her what it was like.

“Here,” she said. “Do you want to feel him?”

Before I knew it I had my hands on her belly and I was looking at her wide-eyed as I felt her baby’s little backside sticking up in the air and a tiny pointy elbow poking out to one side.

“That’s amazing,” I told her. And it was.

As I drove home later that night, that baby was all I could think about. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a tidal wave of emotions barreling towards me and there was nothing I could do to get out of the way.

I could picture her little guy clearly and I imagined what it must be like to have another human being grow and move inside me. I could feel it. And then the what-ifs started. What if we tried IVF and it worked? What if we found an egg donor; wouldn’t it be worth it to go through that? And even as the logical side of my brain was listing all the good reasons to not even entertain these thoughts, the other side was cooking up a plan to offer myself up as a surrogate for another woman, just so I could experience what it would be like to be pregnant.

I’m not going to tell you that these were fleeting thoughts, nor am I going tell you how I laughed at my craziness and put these silly thoughts behind me; neither of those is true. But I am going to tell you that I know that this won’t be the last time this happens to me. My infertility is up there at the top of the “life-changing events” list in my life. And like the other experiences, it’s always going to be with me. Most of the time it will just hang out in the back of my mind and not give me too much trouble, but every now and then, something is going to trigger my memories and all those emotions will come rushing back. I think that’s just a part of being human.

 

My “Expressing Motherhood” Performance May 12, 2011

For the past two weeks I’ve been performing in a show called Expressing Motherhood. In case you’re new to this blog, you can follow along with the story of how this came about in these posts:

Expressing Motherhood

Expressing Motherhood Report

Expressing Motherhood: Part III

Telling My Story

The show closed on Saturday night and I have to tell you that it was quite an experience. I performed alongside 12 mothers and one brave man, who offered stories – and songs – about motherhood in all its forms. And then there was me, telling my story about my relationship with motherhood.

The cast was really wonderful and so supportive of what I was aiming to do. They each said something encouraging, and several even commented that my story had given them a better understanding about infertility and the ongoing emotions involved. For that alone, it was worth it.

My story was second-to-last in the line-up, and I think it had the most impact there, after all the stories from the mothers (the lone man closed the show with a story about his own mother, which was perfect.) I got several kind compliments from audience members after the show, and although it’s hard to tell from the stage, I think that my story went down well.

After the show closed, I went through a few days of questioning my decision to get up there and put it all out for the world to see. Some of those feelings prompted yesterday’s “I don’t want to talk about this anymore” post, but overall, I’m pleased that the producers chose to include my story as another (often overlooked) facet of motherhood, and I’m pleased with the response it got.

So, for those of you who expressed an interest in seeing the show, here is my performance in Expressing Motherhood.

 

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.

 

Getting Over Mother’s Day May 10, 2011

On Monday, I had lunch with a friend. “We had so much fun yesterday,” she said. “We had the whole family over at my mom’s and we all brought food and ate way too much.”

“That’s great,” I said, understanding that “whole family” would mean siblings, their families, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. “What was the occasion?”

My friend stared at me for a moment and then burst out laughing. “Um, Mother’s Day?” she said.

“Oh right! Of course!”

Luckily, this is a friend who knows where my head is and also reads this blog, so knows about my breaking up with Mother’s Day. Well, apparently, I succeeded in not only breaking up with Mother’s Day, but getting over it and forgetting about it!! How fickle I am.

I’ll admit, that on Sunday morning, I unwittingly hopped on Facebook and very quickly hopped back off again! Way too many Mother’s Day posts for me and I thought why torture myself? I checked in on the blog comments and the forums to see what was going on there, but other than that, I didn’t give much thought to Mother’s Day at all.

What about you? How did you do this year?

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Shotgun Weddings May 9, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

We recently sent out save the date cards for our upcoming wedding and, in response, I’ve received several variations of “Didn’t know you were pregnant – har har!”

I’m not finding this the least bit humorous, although I’m sure this is what these Jim Carrey–­wannabes had intended. My fiancé and I have been together for four years, living together for two. We are getting married because we want to, not because we have to. And so what if I was pregnant? Would it make this occasion, our commitment to each other, any less solemn?

Of course, because I have finally (mostly) made peace with our decision to be childfree, this strikes a deeper, more painful chord. What I really want to do is reply back by saying, “No. Sadly, pregnancy is no longer an option for me.”

But that would be rude.

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She finally met her Mr. Right in her 40s and looks forward marrying him this fall.