Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Our Theme Song July 17, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

This morning, feeling myself slip a bit deeper into sadness and uncertainty, I looked to my sure-fire pick-me-up: getting lost in a great film. Under the Tuscan Sun reminds me to look beyond my dreams, to acknowledge that something greater is in store for me. Happy Texas just makes me laugh till my face hurts.

But today this isn’t the right cure for me, so I started thinking about how other people lift their moods. Some spend time in a garden or park, reach out to a friend who routinely sports rose-colored glasses, open a dog-eared book of prayers and affirmations, or listen to music. And that’s how I stumbled upon “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. I’d forgotten how beautiful and healing the lyrics are, and as I revisited them, I was struck by how our aptly it expresses what we provide for each other in our LWB community. Take a look:

When you’re weary

Feeling small

When tears are in your eyes

I will dry them all

 

I’m on your side

When times get rough

And friends just can’t be found

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

 

When you’re down and out

When you’re on the street

When evening falls so hard

I will comfort you

 

I’ll take your part

When darkness comes

And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

 

Sail on Silver Girl

Sail on by

Your time has come to shine

All your dreams are on their way

 

See how they shine

If you need a friend

I’m sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind 

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind

Some days we are in need comfort; other days it’s our turn to give. Today I invite you to think about what lifts you up when you’re “feeling small,” or who is “sailing right behind” to give you encouragement and support, and share it in a comment. Perhaps just by sharing it, you’ll be reminded of what you need to hear or do today to cure your blues. Perhaps you’ll provide a new healing option for an LWB sister. And the next time “times get rough,” we can return to the list we’ve compiled and find comfort here.

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

 

Reorienting Friends July 16, 2012

Image courtesy: Microsoft Office

If you’re dealing with the loss of the dream of motherhood, there’s a good chance you’re going through it more or less alone.

Let’s face it, it’s often easier to turn in on ourselves and shut the rest of the world out than to try to express what we’re going through with someone who might not understand. There’s less chance of getting hurt this way and less opportunity for someone to try to say something helpful, but only makes matter worse.

While doing some research on grief and loss for a project, I came across an article that turned that idea on its head. (Of course I now can’t find the article, but when I do, I’ll add it to the post.) The article was about the importance of involving those close to us in our grief. The author writes:

“The process can also assist those close to us to re-orient their relationships to us. For example, without appropriate acknowledgement of a major change, former good friends don’t know how to relate anymore, what is appropriate for discussion or activities and so avoid the issue altogether by dropping the friendships.”

Our culture has accepted norms and customs for handling grieving friends and relatives. Most of us know what to do and what not to say to someone who’s suffered a loss. But the loss of motherhood may not be apparent or understood by those who care about us. We have to point it out.

By telling people what we’re going through, acknowledging our loss to ourselves and to them, we can create expectations for our relationships to function by, rather than allowing those connections to fizzle out because nobody knows how to behave around us.

Sounds easy on paper, I know, but wouldn’t it be worth the short-term pain of having an uncomfortable conversation with a friend versus the long-term pain of watching that friend drift away because she didn’t understand what was going on? What do you think about this idea?

 

Fabulous Friday: Helping One Another July 13, 2012

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Last night I facilitated a conference call with the women on the mentorship program. For an hour, about a dozen of us sat and talked through some of the issues we’re struggling with most. All of the women on the call were there because they were looking for help, and yet each of them stepped up and contributed words of encouragement or offered a suggestion for something that has helped them. Each of them came looking for support, and each left having offered their support to someone else.

I see this happening every day in the comments on this blog, too. I see readers reaching out for help and I see other readers stepping in and offering a hand.  Even though each of you is dealing with your own pain and your own set of issues, your willingness to reach out help someone else is inspiring. Your generosity gives me enormous optimism for the future of mankind.

 

You Are Not Alone July 12, 2012

   We read to know we are not alone.

~ C.S. Lewis

Most of us live in countries where we enjoy freedom of speech and if we choose to talk about infertility, or childlessness, we can. The problem is that for many us, these are still taboo subjects and not suitable for cocktail party conversation. I know that many of you haven’t spoken about your situation beyond your very closest family members and most trusted friends. It’s scary when you don’t know how people will respond.

When I first began this blog, I was uncomfortable talking openly about infertility and living without children. I was afraid of being attacked or being controversial, and honestly, of getting my delicate feelings hurt.

But, in writing about this subject, I’ve discovered that, even when I thought I was the only person who felt a certain way, I seldom was. I also learned that there is nothing more comforting than hearing (or reading) the words, “Me too,” from someone who truly understands how you feel.

Every Thursday, some wonderful guest bloggers have shared their points of view, written about their experiences, and given us the chance to say, “Me too!” Now I invite you to put your thoughts into words. What are the issues you face? What’s helped you on your journey? What’s been good? What’s been unbearable? What have you learned about yourself on the way?

Odds are if something is important to you, it will be important to someone who reads it, too.

You can send your submissions through this form, or email me directly at editor [at] lifewithoutbaby [dot] com.

If you need some inspiration, check out some of the recent guest posts.

 

Whiny Wednesday: Household Duties July 11, 2012

I am the only person in my house who ever replaces the empty toilet paper roll. I am also the only person who ever thinks to replenish the emergency supply that is usually kept close-at-hand. Our toilet paper stockpile is kept in a cupboard – a cupboard that is all the way across the other side of our disproportionately large bathroom.

I don’t wish to lower the tone of this blog, so I will leave you to figure out the consequences of this for yourself.

Today is Whiny Wednesday and this is my whine. What’s yours?

 

It Got My Thinking..About My Miraculous Body July 10, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Late last week I gave myself a nasty paper cut, one I didn’t fully appreciate until I tried out a new salt scrub. Sweet mother of god! I’ve had spinal taps that were less painful!

I was certain I’d be nursing my grievous wound for weeks, so was pleasantly surprised when the band-aid fell off in the shower yesterday morning, revealing a perfectly healed finger. Amazing!

There was a time when I thought the only miracle my body was capable of, was worthy of, was creating, carrying, birthing, and nurturing a child. Now that that ship has sailed, I’ve become more aware of the miracles it performs every day. It swims, it runs, it carries 60 lb. dogs and bags of groceries up stairs. It breathes, it whistles, it sings! It turns brown in the sun, it blushes at the slightest flirtation, it gets splotchy when it cries, whether in sorrow or joy.

Many of us have felt that our bodies have betrayed us, and we’ve beaten ourselves up for what our bodies couldn’t or wouldn’t do. With full acceptance of my path on the horizon, today I choose to celebrate, with gentleness and gratitude, this miracle that is my body. It’s the least I can do after all it’s done for me.

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

 

Feeling Directionless July 9, 2012

“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

Alice:   I don’t much care where.

The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.

Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.

The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Being a goal-oriented kind of person, I have an illustration that includes this quote in my office. It reminds me that writing out goals, creating strategies, and checking off accomplishments doesn’t matter a hill of beans if I don’t have a clear vision of where I’m trying to go.

Despite this reminder, I often find myself overcome with a feeling of being directionless. Yes, I have things I want to accomplish, but I don’t really have a big picture vision of how I want my life to unfold. I don’t have a long-term view of what my life will look like in 5, 10, or 20 years, and beyond. It’s not that I’m looking to plan out my path to the last detail – I know that’s impossible – but I can barely see beyond the end of the year. It’s a strange feeling for someone who, 20 years ago, had her entire life mapped out. Or at least she thought she did.

The trouble is, that life had always included children, and even as I made twists and turns in career, relationships, and geographical location, the expectation of someday becoming a mother was always a constant. Once it became a possibility, it also became the focus of my life.

Now that motherhood is no longer a realistic prospect, my vision of how my life will unfold is missing a big and important piece of the puzzle, and I’m finding it hard to see the future clearly. I have career goals and travel goals, but the vision of who I will be in the future is blurry.

Maybe learning firsthand that plans don’t always work out as we’d imagined has softened my need to make them. It’s also possible that I never really had a vision for my life, but instead adopted the cultural expectation of motherhood and called it my own. Regardless, now it’s gone, I feel like an early explorer who can see my world only as far as the horizon, with no idea of what might lie beyond.

 

Lovin’ Bloglovin’ July 6, 2012

I’ve just been introduced to Bloglovin’ and I’m converted. I realize this is probably ancient technology for some of you, but I’m just catching up…or catching on.

For those of you who might also be a bit technologically challenged, Bloglovin’ is basically a blog reader, but with a prettier format than most of the other feeds and readers out there. It looks like a blog, and feeds in posts from all your favorite blogs, so you can see new posts in one place. Here’s the official explanation, which is probably a bit clearer than mine.

So, in honor of my new love for Bloglovin’, I decided to do a roundup of what’s been happening around the blogospohere this week.

Mali had some good suggestions for dodging the onslaught of baby and ultrasound photos on Facebook in this post on No Kidding NZ.

On Living Life As a Family of Two, Kellie also practiced some Facebook self-preservation with the arrival of a co-workers new baby.

Klara at The Next 15,000 Days bemoaned the trend in older celebrity mothers who give the impression “there’s plenty of time” to have a baby.

In Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind on Baptism by Fire, Wolfers asked the difficult question, “How do you know when you’re ready to be around babies again?”

And over on Maybe Baby, Maybe Not, Maybe Lady Liz weighs the pros and cons of childfree communities.

If you have a blog that LWB readers might enjoy, please add a link in the comments so I can include it on my blogroll AND on my new Bloglovin’ list.

 

Locked Out of the Mommy Clubhouse July 5, 2012

By Maybe Lady Liz

Last week, I texted one of my girlfriends, trying to throw together a last minute Sunday night dinner with her and her husband. When she responded that they already had dinner plans with two of our other friends, but that we were “welcome to tag along”, I was a little taken aback. I couldn’t imagine why we hadn’t been included in the first place, until later that night when I saw some inside joke exchanges on Facebook about chromosomes. My girlfriend was newly pregnant, and I realized she’d reached out to the other pregnant woman in our group, because she wanted to spend time with someone who was going through the same experience.

It was my first glimpse of being locked out of the Mommy Clubhouse. Up until now, it had always been the other way around. My group was still very active, going out every weekend, and the first person to get pregnant in our group had been the one left at home. Now that more and more of them are starting to have babies, I’m realizing that my husband and I may be the ones left home alone while everyone else attends each other’s kids’ birthday parties, mommy yoga classes or family-friendly barbeques.

Parents seem to have this glamorized picture of the Childfree as partying every weekend night till the wee hours of the morning and then sleeping off our hangovers all day long on Sunday. Admittedly, part of the reason they have this image is because it’s the one being loudly and proudly portrayed on the Childfree blogs and forums. But that’s not really what I’m after. All I want is to be able to spend time with my friends. If that means tame dinners in, or board game nights in lieu of clubbing, I’m all for it. It just hadn’t occurred to me until last week that we might be excluded because they think we don’t want to give up the bar scene. Or worse, that we no longer fit in.

I don’t begrudge my friends the lack of an invite to their dinner. They’re sharing a life-altering experience together and some bonding is bound to take place that we can’t really participate in. And of course, it’s only natural that certain members of a group have smaller gatherings from time to time – everyone can’t be invited to everything. What scared me was not knowing if this was a one-off, or just the tip of the lonely weekend iceberg.

Maybe Lady Liz is blogging her way through the decision of whether to create her own Cheerio-encrusted ankle-biters, or remain Childfree. You can follow her through the ups and downs at http://www.MaybeBabyMaybeNot.com.

 

Happy Independence Day! July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

If you’re tuning in from outside the U.S. you may be scratching your head and wondering what the heck happened to Whiny Wednesday. Well, it’s still here, fear not. But today is also Independence Day and just about the biggest holiday of the year here.

I am claiming my independence from whining today. I’m heading to the beach and then I’m off to the Hollywood Bowl for what may prove to be the highlight of my summer…Barry Manilow, LIVE!

Hey! You can say what you want about me, but I will not stand for any besmirching of my Barry, thank you very much.

If you need a whine (and your mouth isn’t too full of hot dogs,) go ahead. I’ll be back with my old attitude next week.

courtesy: Hollywood Bowl