Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Free to be Happy July 29, 2011

It came as no great surprise when friends announced recently that they were getting a divorce. They’d been emotionally separated for years and a new job for one had made them physically separated, too. It was hard to see why they’d ever gotten together in the first place, as they always seemed mismatched. But they had kids, and the kids were the reason they’d stayed together.

Fifteen years ago, when I told friends I was leaving my first husband, no one was surprised, and more than one said, “Thank goodness you didn’t have kids together.”

Even now I’m unable to have children with Mr. Fab, I’m still grateful that I didn’t have to drag kids through what would have been a much messier divorce than it was. But how many people do you know who’ve stayed in unhappy marriages because of the kids?

I’m not suggesting being childfree makes it easy to flit around relationships without having to commit, but not having the responsibility for other young lives offers a kind of freedom to find happiness for ourselves.


It Takes a Village July 28, 2011

There’s an old African proverb that says: “It takes a village to raise a child.” But these days, families often live in isolation and there is no village to raise the children.

But what about teachers, neighbors, aunties, caretakers, volunteers, nannies, nurses? These people play a critical role in the raising of a child.

So, I’m wondering, do you play one of these roles in the lives of other people’s children? Do you volunteer, donate to a charity, work with children, or give your time to help raise someone else’s children?

What does it mean to you? How do you see your role in these children’s lives? I’d love to hear how you see yourself and how you think others see you.


Whiny Wednesday: Spoiled parents July 27, 2011

Filed under: Children,Current Affairs,Whiny Wednesdays — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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If, like me, you woke up on this beautiful Whiny Wednesday morning with nothing much to whine about, this little story ought to fire up a few complaints. (And thanks to Kathleen for sending this to me!)

[Warning: Before you click through, note that this story includes baby pictures]

A couple in Tennessee took out a home equity loan to get the $24,000 needed to undergo IVF–not for their one chance at parenthood, but to pre-select the sex of their fourth child. Oh yes. Already having two boys and a girl, these people thought their daughter would “miss out” if she didn’t have a sister to play with, so they took out a loan and flew to Los Angeles to find a doctor who offered gender selection.

What the fruitcake?!

I guess some people really don’t understand how precious life can be or how fortunate they are just have healthy children, or children at all. I hope that whatever void these people saw in their lives, it’s been filled now. Somehow, though, I think there’s more to this story than just wanting to even up the numbers.


Getting away from it all July 26, 2011

Mr. Fab and I love to travel and long ago set a goal of visiting one new country and one new U.S. city every year. In the early days we checked off Canada, Brazil, Italy, and Tahiti, and explored Seattle, Washington D.C., and New Orleans. But over the last couple of years our circle of exploration has shrunk and some of the top destinations on our wish list remain uncharted, at least to us.

For a number of years, I didn’t want to risk a trip to Guatemala, Colombia or China, just in case I got pregnant and ended up with Junior tagging along in utero to some malaria infested region. After that episode, we both threw ourselves into our careers as an avoidance technique regarding the lack of Junior’s arrival.

Now we’re tired. Planning a trip sounds like so much work right now, and the idea of arriving in a strange city where we don’t speak the language – something that was once the major thrill of travel – seems so unappealing. What we really want to do is hole up in a cottage somewhere quiet, where we can walk to dinner and spend peaceful days reading, talking and napping. But that all sounds very middle-aged to me.

Maybe the solution is to take the sedentary vacation and use the quiet downtime to plan an adventure for next year, but somehow that defeats the object of getting away to unplug and unwind, doesn’t it?

What’s changed for you in the past few years? Do you have passions that could use a rekindle? Does making the effort just sound like too much effort? If so, do you have a favorite way to reboot yourself when you’re dragging, like I am? I certainly could use some suggestions.


It Got Me Thinking…About Gallbladders July 25, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

I was in my 20s when my favorite aunt had her gallbladder removed. As I recall, she told me it was due to pressure from when she was pregnant, and any woman who had more than two babies would have to have the same surgery. My mom, a mother of three, provided further proof when she had a cholecystectomy, as did many of her childbearing friends. So, naturally, I assumed some day, after I was done having babies, I’d lose mine.

Now, as a childfree woman, I look back and wonder if that was all a bunch of old wives hooey. And you know what, it’s not! According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Pregnancy increases the risk for gallstones, and pregnant women with stones are more likely to have symptoms than nonpregnant women.”

And I think, “HA!” Not only do I get to skip the wretchedness of morning sickness and the flesh-ripping pains of childbirth, but I get to keep my gallbladder too. Score another point for the joys of being childfree!

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeWithoutBaby. She’s starting to see the upside of being childfree.


Jail time for growing vegetables July 23, 2011

Filed under: Current Affairs,Fun Stuff — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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I love to garden, but I rent my home, so my grand ideas are limited by my landlord’s wishes, my unwillingness to invest in someone else’s property, and my propensity for abandoning overly ambitious projects.

Our house has a fair sized lawn in front, but because we live in Southern California, it’s green of its own accord for just a few months a year. Last year we were under water restrictions that limited the watering of lawns, and regardless, I have a hard time justifying pumping gallons of water onto something that isn’t supposed to be there in the first place. We live in a desert for Pete’s sake.

I’ve long harbored dreams of ripping out the lawn, terracing the slope, and planting a verdant vegetable garden. Yes, that will take water, too, but it will be a lot more productive and environmentally savvy than grass.

So, I was stunned (but not ultimately surprised) when I saw in the news this week that a woman in Michigan could face jail time for planting a vegetable garden in front of her house.

Apparently a neighbor complained that the woman’s new landscaping “disrupted the look of the neighborhood” and the city has taken it all the way to the courts.

Contrast this with the many cities, such as Long Beach, CA, offering their citizens financial incentives to convert their water-guzzling lawns, and Sonoma County’s iGrow program that encourages everyone to grow their own food.

Of course, this story make me want to go out and start digging my lawn up immediately, but knowing myself as I do (see last week’s Craft Nerd post) I know I’d get complaints, and well-deserved, about my half-finished project.


The Plan B Life July 22, 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what to do when your plans don’t work out. I’ve had some experience with this, having made a couple of major career changes (engineering to marketing to writing), made commitments to the wrong relationships, and more recently and more significantly, had my plans for motherhood thwarted.

Recently I’ve written some articles on the subject and now I’m very excited to present my new weekly blog on Psychology Today. It’s called The Plan B Life: Redesigning your world when “Plan A” fails.

Although these articles are aimed at a wider audience, moving on to Plan B when Plan A was motherhood is always at the forefront of my mind.

Last week I wrote about Letting Go of the Dream, and tapped into my personal experience when I talked about losing sight of why I wanted that dream (children) in the first place and realizing that other areas of my life were starting to suffer because of my determination to become a mother.

This week the topic was tapping into childhood memories to find your life’s passion again. I don’t know if you had this experience, but I know that I had planned my little world around someday becoming a mother, so when I finally realized it wasn’t going to happen, I saw that my life was full of holes and I had no idea what I was going to fill them with. As I wrote in the article, I did the childhood memory exercise ten years ago and recently revisited my journal to remember some of the things that had once given me joy. It’s a really great exercise (and I can recommend Barbara Sher’s book if you’re feeling lost) and I’ll be including a variation of it in the “Finding Your Identity” workshop I’ll be leading in November. More about that soon.

I’d be thrilled if you’d take a look at the Psychology Today blog, over the moon if you’d click a couple of the share buttons at the bottom, and beside myself with excitement if you decided to subscribe.

I don’t know where all of this is going yet, but I do feel as if I am stepping out into the start of my own Plan B life. And I can promise you I’ll be sending postcards from my travels.


Happy Auntie’s Day! July 21, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

We suffer through Mother’s Day. We hide out on Father’s Day. We barely disguise our envy as grandparents essentially get appreciated on two holidays…until now.

Melanie Notkin, the brilliant and delightful founder of Savvy Auntie, has designated July 24 “Auntie’s Day,” an opportunity for nieces and nephews to thank, honor, and acknowledge Aunties By Relation (ABR), Aunties By Choice (ABC), and godmothers. A special website,, offers unique ideas for how to celebrate this blessed occasion. Visit Twitter and Facebookfor special promotions.

“Many women without children of their own give tirelessly to children all over the world,” Notkin says. “I hope at the very least they feel acknowledged for their incredibly valuable role in the American Family Village.”

Cheers to you, aunties of the world! Enjoy your special day!

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is “Aunt Kath” to six wonderful young humans.


Whiny Wednesday – Free Birth Control July 20, 2011

The big debate on yesterday’s morning news show was whether birth control should be considered as preventative care and therefore covered by health insurance.

What?! Are we really having this discussion in the 21st century? Do we really need to go over the long list of ways that providing women with family planning options makes sense socially and fiscally?

The woman brought in to speak against the bill made the case that people who are opposed to birth control for religious reasons shouldn’t be forced to pay for this coverage.

Well, guess what, lady? That’s the whole basis of any type of insurance; you pay for what you hope to never use. Believe me, I hope I never need to use most of what’s covered by my health insurance and I don’t want to use my car insurance or my life insurance either.

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe in supporting services that I may never use. My taxes help pay for schools that I’ll never get to send my children to, but I’m happy to pay to keep other people’s children educated. I no longer need to use birth control to prevent an unexpected pregnancy, but I’m more than happy to do my bit so that others can have that option.

It’s Whiny Wednesday, the sun’s shining right in my window, and I’m hot, cranky, and pissed off about backwards attitudes. What’s on your mind today?


Helping a friend through infertility July 19, 2011

I wrote this article, published today on, about how to help a friend who is dealing with infertility. It’s drawn from my own experience and from hearing your stories about how people helped you – and how some didn’t.

Please take a look at the article and feel free to share it. Then, let me know here if you have other things you’d wish your friends and family had known.