Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About What Comes Out of My Mouth April 10, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

So here I am, a couple of years into coming to terms with my childfree status, at a point where I feel confident I’ve made my peace with this whole not-going-to-be-a-mommy scenario. It’s been a while since I’ve dreamed about babies or ached when I’ve held an infant or cried when a childfree friend has crossed over into mommy-mania. I’m good. Really. Or so I think. Because then I opened my mouth and something inexplicable came out. Here’s what happened:

After months of thinking and planning, I’ve decided to take a detour in my career path, to set aside the long-term goals I’d outlined for my business and devote time and energy to finishing a passion project. As part of this shift in priorities, I needed to let my business networking group know my intentions, as a way to hold myself accountable and to ask for their support. I stood up before my colleagues and said, “I have some big news….” And then I said, “And, no, I’m not pregnant!”

What the fruitcake?! Where did this come from? This was inappropriate on soooo many levels, and it’s so not like me. Right? I mean, I always behave professionally in professional settings, plus I blog and talk openly about being childfree and I rarely ever think about getting or being pregnant.

But apparently there’s a corner of my subconscious that is holding onto the dream. There must be a tiny part of me that still believes only announcements such as “I’m engaged!” or “I’m pregnant!” count as “big news.” I’m so disappointed in myself, appalled that sad Little Me has poked her face out from behind the mask of strong, savvy, childfree Big Me. I’m horrified that there’s a part of me that doesn’t believe this huge leap I’m taking in my career is worth sharing and celebrating.

As much as I’d like to shove Little Me back behind the mask, I can’t ignore her or the uncertainties that occasionally bubble up from my subconscious. I think these surprises are part of the process, and they must be examined and addressed. Clearly, I’m still learning how to live the life I’ve been dealt. I am in a much better place than I was a few years ago, and I believe I’ll be in a better place in years hence. Till then, I need to be gentle with myself and not too judgmental when I speak before I think.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She’s mostly at peace with being childfree.


16 Responses to “It Got Me Thinking…About What Comes Out of My Mouth”

  1. Wolfers Says:

    Thanks for writing THAT post….. it has been two months for me since the removal of my uterus (not by choice), so I’m going through grief. Nevertheless, I have noticed occasionally when I’d make a significant decision, and want to share it with friends or family, I’d go “I want to let you know..” and then I catch myself going “I’m not pregnant, I can’t be pregnant, remember?” bursting into tears. I go “WTF?” at myself for a moment, then letting it go, reminding myself “It takes time, it takes time, can’t rush it.” So, for you to write about that part, is reassuring me that it’s human of us, and nothing to beat ourselves up. Thanks…

    • Kathleen Guthrie Woods Says:

      I am so sorry for your loss. Be gentle with yourself, and thank you for the reminders. So hard when we want to feel better now.

  2. Maria Says:

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. When I read your statement, I perceived it to be sarcasm directed at women who think the only statement to follow “guess what” is “i’m pregnant.” I wasn’t offended at all. Let us know about your new business venture.

    • Kathleen Guthrie Woods Says:

      Little scary to say this outloud, so I’m practicing: I am finally finishing my memoir about my “internship” as a single mommy.

      How’s that for a teaser? 😉

  3. Amel Says:

    Today I just had a similar problem. Someone asked me if we had kids or not (after asking how long we’ve been married: 5 years) and I blurted out, “Not yet.” I wanted to knock myself in the head. Why didn’t I just say, “No?”

    And it didn’t help a bit when the stranger asked me back jokingly, “What went wrong? Is he shooting blanks or what?”

    GGGRRREEEAAATTTTT!!! Sometimes I wonder if I responded “not yet” ‘coz that’s what I think other people want to hear or what??? But you’re right, we have the right and obligation to be gentle with ourselves, esp. on days like these.

    Btw, GOOD LUCK on your business venture!!! 😀

    • Mali Says:

      It INFURIATES me that people think infertility (“shooting blanks”) is something to joke about. What sort of question is that or a stranger to ask? Argh!!!

      • Kathleen Guthrie Woods Says:

        Appalled by the stranger’s comment.

        I sooooo appreciate all the comments here that let me know I’m not alone in this. And at some point, I’m sure I’ll find this incident funny (not today, but soon, I hope).

      • Amel Says:

        THANKS for your compassion, Mali and Kathleen. I was SO SO SO glad that my hubby wasn’t there with me when the stranger asked me that. I know that we both don’t know what’s wrong with us (we never did a full check-up ‘coz it’s our decision), but I can just imagine how painful it’d be if hubby heard such a thing. And I’m never going to tell him this story. After the encounter, I was thinking how much I wanted to say to him, “What went wrong? It’s me. Not him, but me!” Anyway, THANKS for giving me a chance to fume here. 😀

        After all said and done, to calm myself down I tried thinking of it this way: “Some people make silly jokes when they’re uncomfortable about a certain topic.” Period.

      • IrisD Says:

        A few years ago, the husband of one of my friends, discussing his cousin’s childless or childfree status, joked that her husband was probably shooting blanks… I didn’t stay quiet, I told him that I didn’t think that was funny. He responded that he really disliked the guy…. Regardless, it just made me feel bad for my friend. I wouldn’t want a husband that is so insensitive.

      • Amel Says:

        Iris, that’s realy cruel that he said those words ‘coz he really disliked the guy. For me personally, what stung the most when I heard the stranger’s words was the fact that he seems to be proud of his own virility, as if it were something he had earned (like getting a six-pack belly or something). Anyway, I’m glad you didn’t stay quiet, though. :-))) I would have wanted to say to the stranger my piece of mind, but it was such a short exchange and I didn’t know him at all and his words took me by surprise…

  4. Quasi-Momma Says:

    I’m on the tail end of the rollercoaster. We’re still trying, but bracing ourselves because chances are slim, but I so get this, and in fact did it just recently with my MIL. We had some news we wanted to tell her and were trying to set up a time and place talk face to face. In my email I wrote that we had some good news and felt compelled to add “it’s not what you think.” I guess I did it because my BIL wife is pregnant, so they have baby on the brain, but I felt a little foolish too.

  5. Mali Says:

    I think the “and no, I’m not pregnant” reaction is actually self-protection. We don’t want anyone blurting out “are you pregnant?” We don’t want to have to deal with the emotions of our response to that, or their responses to us, and so we try to stop it before it starts. I don’t think you should beat yourself up over that.

    And perhaps too, it blurted out because you now feel strong enough to joke about it (or pretend to) whereas in the past it would have been too painful?

    Good luck on the good news, whatever it is!

  6. That is so something I would say… So ouch & a small smile at your little me sneaking out x

  7. Gayathri Says:

    I fell Down married for 4 years but still no bady, I wish i have a baby and i will be so happy every month i have a hope and later it goes into water its not just thousand of Women facing this. and the wost part when some body ask “Kids” I feel what the hell did i do wrong Why God is testing me.

  8. loribeth Says:

    I suppose some people might think “The lady doth protest too much” — but really, whenever women of a certain age announce they have “some big news” to share, you KNOW that’s the first thing that springs into everyone’s heads, whether that’s the news that’s going to be shared or not.

    So I know where you’re coming from. I’m not sure I’d have had the courage to speak up pre-emptively like that ; ) but I always hated giving people an excuse, even for a few seconds, to think I was pregnant when I wasn’t.

  9. mina Says:

    Maybe your subconscious is not holding on to the dream but is very aware of other people’s expectations and/or scared of reactions (like “i have big news!” – “are you finally pregnant?”). So don’t blame yourself.

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