Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Happy Holidays December 23, 2011

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My Mum arrived last week to spend the holidays with us here, so I’m going to take the coming week off to enjoy some time with her.

If you need a little support over the coming week, please hop on the forums. There’s always someone there to talk to and you don’t have to deal with things alone.

I will be back on January 2nd, ready to start the third year (can you believe it?) of Life Without Baby. I look forward to catching up with all of you then.

Thanks for hanging out here with me this past year. I appreciate your willingness to talk openly on this blog. Special thanks to Kathleen for all her support and for her wonderful weekly “It Got Me Thinking…” column. Thanks also to Dorothy, who joined the conversation this year with her “Eyes of Faith” column, and to the other readers who contributed guest posts.

In the meantime, I wish you all the very best for the season. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year. See you in 2012!

~ Lisa


A Very Special Chero December 22, 2011

Filed under: Cheroes,Childless Not By Choice,Children,Fun Stuff — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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I’d like to give credit to a very special Chero.

This woman works tirelessly behind the scenes, offering her support to her husband, his work, and his faithful employees. She lives in a harsh climate, cut off from the rest of civilization, but she doesn’t complain. She never seeks credit for her contributions and dedication, but instead allows her husband to bask in the spotlight.

This couple never had any children of their own, and yet, they’ve chosen to bring joy to millions of other people’s children throughout the world.

So today, I’d like to raise a glass of whiskey and a mince pie (or a glass of milk and a cookie, for my U.S. friends), to that wonderful Chero: Mrs. Claus.


Whiny Wednesday December 21, 2011

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Ho, ho ho!

Are you having festive fun or are you in holiday H-E-double-hockey-sticks? Hopefully you’re tossing another log on the fire, spiking your eggnog, and settling in for a cozy holiday. If not, now’s your last chance of the year to get it all off your chest.

Happy Whiny Wednesday, one and all!


It Got Me Thinking…About Thoughtful Holiday Greetings December 20, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Last week, LWBer Dorothy Williams wrote about holiday cards in her guest spot, With Eyes of Faith…Birthday Jesus. She writes about why she chooses to send a card that celebrates the birth of Jesus versus “one of those cards” that trumpets family and children and seems to stab us right in the heart with our childfreeness.

It got me thinking about the worst holiday greeting I ever received. I was recently single again and in the throes of an if-I’m-going-to-be-a-mother-I-need-to-have-a-child-on-my-own-NOW panic attack. Friends’ cheery letters celebrated new homes, new babies, and full lives, and while I so wanted to be happy for them, each new photo was a painful reminder of all that I lacked and so desperately wanted.

In the pile of unopened mail one afternoon was a delivery from a long-time friend. In an effort to save time, she had mass produced address labels and affixed them to the envelopes. Smart. Mine was addressed to “The Guthrie Family,” although my friend had crossed out “The” and “Family” and written “Kathy” above. Not so smart. The insensitivity took my breath away.

I’ve talked to friends who have lost spouses to death or divorce, and they share a similar hurt when cards are inappropriately addressed. I want to shout “THINK, PEOPLE!” I know we’re all busy, I know this season is crazy, I know we are each shouldering our burdens, but please, take an extra minute, waste that extra stamp, and practice sending goodwill to all.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. When she can plan ahead, she prefers to send Thanksgiving cards.


Staying Strong December 19, 2011

Recently, my resolve has been tested. A new baby in the family, the use of my baby’s name, and a firm reminder that my family is, and will remain, very different from the fantasy family I’d created in my head. But, here’s what I’ve learned about myself in the past couple of weeks:

I am one tough, resilient lady. Life can throw all kinds of crap at me and I will pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. Yes, the suit of armor that I’ve built for myself has its weak spots. Yes, there are holes in my life that I feel keenly from time to time, and my infertility is always going to be a tender scar. But, I am strong and I will survive. I may not have the life I’d planned, but my life is good and rich in ways I’d never imagined.

It’s these thoughts that I will stay focused on as we head into the holidays and onwards into a brand new year.


Cheroes: Children’s Authors Who Didn’t Have Kids December 16, 2011

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It takes a mother to truly understand children, right?


Next time someone tells you that, whip out this handy dandy list of cheroes. All of these wonderful women wrote books that have resonated (in some cases for over a century) with little tykes all over the world.

Louisa May Alcott – Little Women (1868)

Beatrix Potter – The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1900)

Kate Douglas Wiggin – Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903)

Eleanor Hodgman Porter – Pollyanna (1913)

Margaret Wise Brown – The Runaway Bunny (1942), Goodnight, Moon (1947)

Tove Jansson – The Moomin Series (1948)

Dodie Smith – 101 Dalmatians (1956), I Capture the Castle (1949)

Anna Sewell – Black Beauty (1957)

Louise Fitzhugh – Harriet the Spy (1964)

Penelope Lively – The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (1973), A Stitch in Time (1976)

Ann M. Martin – The Baby-Sitters Club Series (1986)

Gail Carson Levine – Ella Enchanted (1997)

Kat DiCamillo – The Tale of Desperaux (2003), Because of Winn-Dixie (2000)

Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (2000)

Holly Black – The Spiderwick Chronicles (2003)


With Eyes of Faith…Birthday Jesus December 15, 2011

By Dorothy Williams

You won’t be receiving one of those cute, holiday photo greeting cards from me this Christmas.  You know, the kind you get from relatives and friends, showing the perfect, smiling family with the caption, “Greetings from the Williams bunch!” 


There’s nothing wrong with those holiday photos, of course, and now that I am in the acceptance stage of my grieving process, I enjoy seeing nieces, nephews and children of friends grow into the healthy, beautiful adults that God designed.  But when you’re struggling with infertility, or finally coming to terms with the stark reality that God may have a different plan for your life, the influx of December mail can be awful.


I once dreaded opening my mailbox during the holidays as if tiny pipe bombs lay in there, waiting to explode with emotional shrapnel.  My hands shook as I opened each holiday photo card because I knew there would be another reminder that I was childless-not-by-choice, and it would take hours to process the raw feelings of rage and sorrow that welled up. I’m glad I didn’t say anything to my family during those years because it might have stopped the cards, preventing the joy I receive now. Instead, I shared my secret pain with a couple of trusted advisers, and of course, my best friend and Savior, Jesus. It was good to have a powerful friend who experienced deep suffering, too, and didn’t mind talking about it.    


So instead of sending one of those cards, I am sending a link to Birthday Jesus at the Skit Guys website as my holiday greeting.  Have you heard of the Skit Guys? They are the comedy duo of Tommy Woodard and Eddie James, best friends since high school, who now serve the Lord, making up wonderful stories about life in Christ.


I hope you enjoy it. Merry Christmas


Dorothy Williams lives near Chicago.  She sends out holiday greeting cards that celebrate the birth of Christ.


Whiny Wednesday: What any mother would do December 14, 2011

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The woman who pepper sprayed shoppers at a Wal-Mart on Black Friday has decided to play the Motherhood Card.

The woman, who sprayed more than 20 shoppers while grappling to pick up a bargain X-Box said that her “Mama Bear instinct kicked in” when she saw her two teenage children were in danger, and she did “what any mother would do.”

Really? Because when I picture any of my friends with children in that same situation, I see them grabbing their beloved babies and getting them out of the situation they’d foolishly just put them in. I don’t see them rummaging in their purses and pepper spraying a crowd. And I don’t see them suing Wal-Mart for providing insufficient security.

It’s Whiny Wednesday. Greedy, stupid people rub me the wrong way. What’s on your nerves today?


It Got Me Thinking…About Oprah December 13, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Last night, I dreamt Lisa and I finally scored tickets to the Oprah show. I bought a new dress, flew to Chicago, and chatted excitedly with the women seated around me before the show began, trying to figure out why we were there. Was it the “Favorite Things”? Were we “Women Who Rock”? Several minutes into Oprah’s opening, it dawned on me that a hideous mistake had been made. From my seat in the second row, I looked over my shoulder and locked eyes with Lisa, who was a few rows back. We were there for the early taping of the “Mother’s Day” special.

The assistant producers apparently had googled “mother” to find guests, but did scant research to further qualify us. At least the two of us. I prayed there weren’t other women suffering through this like we were. The theme of the whole show was women getting up to congratulate each other for being wonderful mothers, to celebrate how special they were, to cry and laugh and share stories about their beautiful children. I was in hell. And I was stuck in the middle of the row. There was no graceful exit, so I choked back hot tears and stayed put.

I considered calling over a staffer to explain the mistake so that maybe I could make a statement, contribute something to the show, but I couldn’t imagine sharing my experience of being a childfree woman with a more unreceptive audience. Then, the assistants came out to hand every guest a Mother’s Day bouquet. I passed mine along. So did Lisa. If I’ve learned nothing else from years of watching Oprah’s show and reading her magazine, it was that I need to live my truth, and my truth was that I was not going to suck it up, accept the flowers, and pretend to be a mother just to fit in and make nice for everyone else.

I watched with my heart in my stomach as the staffers grouped together on the side, scanning the audience, trying to determine which two guests didn’t yet have their bouquets. I overheard one say that this would ruin the audience shot at the end, that every guest HAD to hold her bouquet. I tried to sit lower in my seat. I hoped my neighbor wouldn’t rat me out. The stress of it all finally woke me up.

As far as nightmares go, this isn’t the worst one I’ve have. But two hours later, as I sit writing at my desk, I’m still shaking. I am childfree by chance and circumstance, and I’ve been in situations where I’ve been stuck in a group of mothers and felt the need to play along. I’ve also been in situations where it’s been okay to speak my truth and have it heard. I don’t know why I had this particular dream scenario at this time, and I’m pondering its significance. I think, maybe, the message is that I need to better acknowledge and celebrate the beauty of my own life and the unique roles I play. I think, maybe, I need to go out and buy myself a beautiful bouquet.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She takes issue with the idea that society still largely considers childfree women anomalies.


The Night Watcher December 12, 2011

This weekend I went to see Charlayne Woodard in her one-woman show The Night Watcher. The play is a made up of a series of short stories about the relationships she shares with the many children in her life, and it was fascinating.

Charlayne “missed the small window of opportunity” she had to have children of her own and chose not to adopt. She makes no bones about the fact that she and her husband (and dog) can spend Sunday mornings in bed reading the newspaper and drinking Bloody Mary’s because they don’t have children, but also that she is able to play an important role as auntie and godmother to a lot of other people’s children.

It was  so refreshing to see this point of view in a public forum and I laughed out loud at some of her scathing observations, and blinked back tears at others. Charlayne touched on many of the subjects we’ve brought up on Whiny Wednesdays – how when you don’t have children, someone is always trying to “fix” that; how she’s judged as being something less than a woman; and how her opinion is so quickly dismissed, even by a mother who is all but absent from her own daughter’s life. I related to her experiences and appreciated her frankness.

I’ll admit, though, that the show was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster to watch. I found myself flip-flopping along with Charlayne between lamenting the joys I was missing by not having children, and appreciating the life I have. And of course, it brought the subject of our own journey back up to the surface again, and got me and Mr. Fab talking about it, which isn’t always pleasant, but is nonetheless beneficial.

The Night Watcher closes here in L.A. this coming weekend, but if you get a chance, get out to see it. Don’t forget your chuckle muscles and your Kleenex, though.