Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

You’re Not Alone November 15, 2012

Last month I announced the Great Life Without Baby Makeover and asked, “If you wandered onto a site that was exactly what you’d been looking for, what would you find there?”

You responded with some great suggestions and I’m working to implement those ideas as best I can.

Several of you mentioned how much you enjoy the Guest Bloggers, how refreshing it is to hear new voices, and how reassured you feel by knowing you’re not the only person going through this mess.

Andrea suggested a new “You’re Not Alone” column, featuring readers’ “own stories of fall, personal suffering, and acceptance: of slowly getting back up.”

I love this idea, so I’m putting out a call right now.

“Tell us your stories!”

Here are some suggestions to start you thinking:

What do you wish you could tell people?

What was your darkest moment?

What turned things around for you?

What made a difference?

How did you start coming to terms?

How do you see your future?

What’s the silver lining you never could have imagined?

Your story doesn’t have to include all of these—or even any of these. I’m just using these as prompts to light a creative spark.

And if you’re thinking “I’m not a writer; I can’t do this” banish those thoughts right now. Storytelling is a basic human instinct. It’s how we learn and how we share information. Don’t overthink it; it’s in your bones. Just tell us; we’ll appreciate it because many of us will have lived it too.

So, put on your thinking caps and send me your stories. You can email them right to my inbox at: lisa [at] lifewithoutbaby [dot] com.

I can’t wait to hear from you.

 

The Blame Game November 12, 2012

Last week, a woman I’ve known for almost ten years finally decided it was safe to ask me a question about infertility.

“I wondered…” she began. “My grandmother always used to say that when there are cats in the house, women don’t have babies. I didn’t believe it and thought it was just an old wives’ tale, but recently I’ve noticed that many of the women I know who don’t have children have cats. Do you know anything about this?”

I told her I hadn’t heard of this, that it was most likely just superstition, but that I’d look into it and let her know.

But even as the logical part of my brain was writing the idea off as a misguided belief, and even as I was surfing the internet looking for any shred of scientific evidence to support it, I found myself looking sideways at Felicity, my poor unsuspecting cat, and wondering if she could be the cause of my otherwise unexplained infertility.

It’s been a while since I’ve caught myself playing the Blame Game—taking some irrational idea and trying to twist it into an explanation of why I can’t have children. I did it a lot in the early days, racking my brains for something in my past that I could pin my infertility on. Everything from Chernobyl fallout and birth control to too much computer time and too much wine was put under the microscope as a possible culprit. I refused to believe that it could have been “just one of those things.”

The scientist in me won’t allow fate, God’s will, or bad luck to factor into my infertility. There is a biological reason that my body’s reproductive system got old before the rest of me, and why my ovaries don’t function like they’re supposed to. But like so many other things in life, pinning blame on something or someone doesn’t change the outcome. So, I’m choosing not to expend my energy on finding the culprit, but instead I’m putting my efforts into making the best of the hand I’ve been dealt.

Call me fatalistic, but playing the Blame Game feels like a waste of my valuable time—time that could be spent living my life instead.

 

Holiday Support Group November 9, 2012

A few of you mentioned recently that you’d love to be able to find a local support group near you. It’s going to take a bit of coordinating, but it’s on the list of things to figure out in the near future. In the meantime, the next best thing is a support group that meets by phone.

I’ve been facilitating some group support calls as part of the “Finding Peace” program and participants say that it has really helped to be able to talk with peers who understand them. As the facilitator, I’ve been really inspired by the support and camaraderie I’ve experienced in these groups.

With the holidays fast approaching, it seems that now would be a good time to offer up some extra support. It can be a busy time of year, so rather than putting together a formal program, I am hosting a series of support group calls that you can drop in on as needed.

The first call is on Thursday, November 15th at 5:30pm PST and the cost for the one-hour meeting is $20. If it looks as if this is something that is going to be of value for everyone, I will add additional sessions throughout the holidays and into the New Year.

If you’d like to register for the November 15th session, you can do so here. If you’d like to learn more, you can find all the details here. And if you’d like to receive notification when more sessions are added, you can do that here.

As always, I’m open to feedback and suggestions as to what will be most helpful.

 

Guest Post: Child-Tinted Glasses November 8, 2012

By The One Hand Man

I had a boss once who was married, very successful, but childless. When questioned about his lack of offspring he shrugged his shoulders and said it wasn’t for him.

Not understanding him at the time, I viewed him as someone who didn’t want that ‘completion’ in his life.

Knowing what I do now, I would probably have kept my mouth shut.

It is, as I understand it, a natural feeling to desire your own children. So does that mean it is ‘unnatural’ not to want them?… I should think not.

If you put a spreadsheet together of pros and cons of having children, I reckon the cons would outweigh the pros about five to one, so it is perhaps more natural not to want your own kids.

For me, the thought of going through the pearly gates without even trying is not something I can face, but having struggled with infertility and IVF, I am familiar with the sympathetic stares of child bearing parents, especially when my wife and I rock up to children’s parties and the like without any kids of our own.

I have had three years of batting off the obligatory “so no Kids yet then?” remarks, I can only imagine the frustration of those who never have children – a lifetime of explaining themselves when they really shouldn’t have to.

The pressures of having children (or not) can become immense, and with feet being put in mouths left, right and centre, I have quickly learned not to judge or assume anything about individuals and couples without children.

Some can’t have them, some don’t want them, but what business is that of ours?

The One Hand Man: Married in 07, sperm test in 08, IVF in 09, another sperm test in 10, adoption started in 11 – still going through the adoption process. Not had any recent sperm tests. Read more at: www.theonehandman.co.uk

 

I Wish I Could have Told My Friends November 5, 2012

I am lucky to have some truly wonderful friends. I have a couple of friends in particular who were really there for me while I was going through the mess of trying to get pregnant and the subsequent coming-to-terms with not.

These women made me cups of tea and put an arm around my shoulder when I couldn’t hold in my tears. They met me for lunch and asked how things were going. They didn’t push the issue when they could see I didn’t want to talk and they didn’t try to help by offering solutions, based on zero knowledge, or sharing hopeful stories of miracle pregnancies. They seemed to know exactly how to be there for me, and yet when we talked about those times later, they admitted they were just as lost as I was and were winging it all along. I guess I just got lucky.

Other friends weren’t quite so lucky in their “winging” and I wish I could have helped them to help me. I wish I could have put into words what I needed from them, kind of a mini instruction book, so they wouldn’t feel so helpless. I wish I would have known then what I know now and been able to explain it to them.

I wish I’d known that what I was going through was a huge life-changing experience and that I would be a different person for it. I wish I could have told them that I’d still be the same old Lisa, but changed, just a bit.

I wish I’d known I would be okay in the end, no matter what the outcome.

I wish I could have explained that much of the time I didn’t want to talk about it because I was working so hard to keep my emotions at bay.

I wish I could have told them that some days I really wanted to talk about everything and tell them how angry and frustrated I was.

I wish they’d known I was lost.

I wish they’d known I was scared.

I wish they’d known that I could no longer see the future for myself beyond the end of my next cycle.

I wish they’d said, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this.”

I wish I’d been brave enough to just cry when I needed to and I wish they would have known to just hand me Kleenex until I was done.

I wished they would have known how much I appreciated their friendship and how, even if I went astray for a while, I’d be back, stronger than ever and ready to be a good friend for them, too.

If you could have told your friends (and family) what you needed, what would you have said?

 

Danielle LaPorte on Soul Soup November 2, 2012

Photo Credit: Sherri Koop

Danielle LaPorte posted this inspirational article on her blog earlier this week: Soul Soup. (Keep this in mind when you’re falling apart.) Naturally, it caught my attention.

Danielle writes:

“There will be a time, a passage when you don’t really know who you were, or are, or can be. It’s natural, it’s divine, and it’s the chemistry of beautiful, awesome change.

This passage can happen in big dramatic swells, as years of not quite knowing what you want to do; or seasons of confusion that aren’t quite depressing, but confusing enough to invite sadness in. This can happen in compressed bouts of uncertainty before you do something new or monumental.”

If you’re feeling lost right now, not sure what the future holds for you and uncertain who you will be, if not a mother, you are making Soul Soup.

This is a time of transition. Trust that you will emerge from the forest. And trust that you will find who you are and who you are meant to be. For now, have faith in the Soul Soup.

 

Thinking About My Old Age October 29, 2012

The question often seems to come up of, “What’s going to become of me when I’m old? Who’s going to take care of me if I don’t have children?” It’s a question that rattles around in my brain more often than I’d like, and my answer is always the same: “I have absolutely no idea.”

Given that my husband is 15 years my senior and my family lives on a different continent, I am facing the statistically real possibility that I will be someday be alone with no blood relatives within a 6,000-mile radius of me. I’m thinking that as long as I remain physically and fiscally fit, I’ll get long well enough. I have friends and interests, not to mention a job that doesn’t tie me to any particular geographic location, so I could choose to move closer to my family if that’s what I wanted to do.

But what happens if I’m not healthy, either physically or fiscally? What happens if I need care that I can’t afford to pay for and there’s no one around who gives enough of a damn to look after me? What will become of the poor, impoverished, childless widow then?

These are the thoughts that pop into my head, and honestly, it’s depressing. If I allowed these thoughts to take hold, it could be paralyzing. I could see myself planning for this possibility, saving every penny for my future healthcare and frantically collecting friends in the hopes that, in my time of need, one of them will be a friend indeed. I could see me putting my current life on hold for the sake of avoiding a future life alone, and I don’t want to do that.

I don’t want to get all Pollyanna about this. I am thinking about this future possibility. I am trying hard to keep myself healthy, I’m nurturing my friendships, and I’m trying to be smart about my finances. But I’m not looking at my friendships with an eye as to who will take care of me (that would be weird, for one thing) and I’m not living now for the possibility of my future, because it might not happen that way.

Anyone who’s ever made plans for the future and then watched them fail to come to fruition (is that anyone here?) knows that life has no guarantees. Yes, statistically I should outlive Mr. Fab and someday be alone, but in reality I might not. Yes, theoretically people with children will be taken care of in their old age, but if you’ve ever visited a retirement home, you’ll know that’s not a given either. In fact I wonder if people with children aren’t sometimes more alone because their friends assume their kids are visiting and taking care of them? As a friend, I am more likely to step in to help a friend who doesn’t have family than one who has a partner and family close by. Likewise, I hope that my friends will be there for me, when needed.

So yes, I’m aware that I may need a plan for the future, and I am thinking about what my options might be. But there’s no way of knowing what my future will be, so I don’t want to fritter away my present worrying about it.

P.S. After writing this post I came across the image above and it made me laugh. Who knows, 40 years from now I could still be sitting here blogging about how to get along without children. Hopefully by then I’ll have it all figured out. 🙂

 

Certainty October 26, 2012

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I always used to have an answer to that question. For a time the answer was, “Raising my children and writing brilliant novels in my spare time.”

These days I don’t have a clear vision of how my life will look 10 years from now. It’s not to say that I don’t have goals and plans—I have plenty of those—but what I no longer feel I have is certainty. I really have no clue where or who I’ll be in 10 years time.

After a strange week, where I’ve felt sure of nothing, I always know that there’s one thing I can count on. If I walk around the corner from my house and go down the hill, I will find the ocean. Some days it will be calm and enticing, other days—like today—it will be wild and intimidating. But it will always be there. And if I am here, in this place, 10 years from now, I can be absolutely certain that the ocean will be there, too.

If you’re feeling uncertain right now, what’s the one thing you can count on?

 

Anniversaries October 25, 2012

Do you have an “anniversary”, a day that is significant on your journey? Maybe it’s the day you decided to stop trying to conceive, or perhaps it’s the date of a miscarriage or stillbirth. How do you deal with those days?

My friend’s father died earlier this year, and she recently marked what would have been his birthday. She gathered some of her family and “celebrated” in a way he would have enjoyed. Her friends understood it was going to be a rough day for her and we gave her space and offered to listen, if she needed to talk.

But how do you deal with an anniversary that many other people wouldn’t understand?

I don’t really have any of those anniversaries. My quest for a baby simply ran out of gas. I never actually conceived, so my losses weren’t marked by any particular events. But if they were, I would mark those anniversaries the same way I remember other losses.

I wouldn’t schedule any work events or meetings that day. In fact, I might take the day off all together. I would be kind to myself and I’d allow myself to experience whatever emotions came up or me. I think I would give myself permission to just let my sadness be.

And the following day I’d get up and get back on the horse. I’d go about my business and I’d keep myself moving forward. I would get on with my life and I’d make plans to make it the best life it could be, and maybe the next time the anniversary rolled around, I’d feel that pain a little bit less, but that doesn’t mean I would forget what brought me to this point in the first place.

That’s what I’d do. How about you?

 

Whiny Wednesday: Thanks a Lot, Facebook October 24, 2012

In the interests of fuelling my Whiny Wednesday fire, Kathleen was kind enough to send me news of Facebook’s new “Little One” pregnancy tracker app. (Here’s a link, but please click through with caution as it’s a baby fest.)

Not only does the app provide video of baby’s development, users can also “Keep friends and family involved throughout your pregnancy with weekly updates, comments, gift registry, and polls.” The idea is to make it easier for moms-to-be to share photos and news.

I am currently “involved” in a family member’s pregnancy via Facebook. And let me tell you, this woman needs no help from an app in broadcasting her daily updates. In fact, it’s starting to become fascinating to see which unrelated topic she can twist around to the subject of her pregnancy next.  I know she’s excited, and I am happy for her, but mix it up a bit, lady, ok?

Glad that’s off my chest. What’s on yours today?

P.S. On their open salon this week, Pamela has a wonderful analogy about what it feels like to watch a friend (or family member) go to the other side and lose empathy for those left behind. On her blog, Keiko talks about having to announce her pregnancy and feeling guilty for “not failing.” Check out the conversations.