Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

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.

 

Guest Post: Outrageously Boring Birth Announcements June 7, 2012

By Maybe Lady Liz

Remember when we used to get a real piece mail that wasn’t selling us something? It’s so rare nowadays that the handwritten address peeking out amidst all the junk actually makes my heart flutter a little.  Maybe it’s a letter from an old flame, fifty bucks from Grandma who’s senile and thinks it might be your birthday, or an invitation to a party in your honor for some fabulous thing you don’t even remember doing. But no, it can really be only one of two things: a wedding invitation or a birth announcement.

A wedding invitation is cause for excitement. Once you get over the annoyance of being addressed as Mrs. Husband’s First Name/Husband’s Last Name (my first name is not Mrs. Drew, thank you very much!), you have the opportunity to peruse the various invites, cards, return envelopes and that little wisp of tissue that no one ever knows what to do with. You get to judge them on color choices and menu options, decipher whether or not there will be a full open bar or just beer and wine, get miffed about not being invited to the rehearsal dinner. In short, there’s lots of good stuff in there.

But the birth announcement? Without fail, this is the same boring 4 x 6 Snapfish card. A montage of black and white close-ups and a list of stats: name, date and time of birth, inches, pounds, and ounces. I don’t mean to be rude here, but I’m genuinely curious – why on earth does anyone care how many ounces a baby was, other than the poor woman who had to push it out? It would be so much nicer to actually get an interesting piece of news here, maybe hear something about the parents. How many hours was Mom in labor, did Dad make a fool of himself and faint in the delivery room, etc.? Or at least something more interesting about the baby – how did they pick the name or what does it mean? Since baby names these days are more closely guarded than federal secrets, it’d be nice to finally hear how they chose.

All of this could come in a nice little note on the back and would reignite everyone’s excitement on getting a solid piece of paper news about friends and family. I might even start saving them in a little drawer. But if I keep getting the same old thing, I’ll probably just continue throwing them in the trash and later feeling very bad about having to toss a pile of coffee grounds or banana peel on a baby’s face.

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 Maybe Baby, Maybe Not.

 

Measuring Progress Via the OB/GYN June 4, 2012

Mud Dancer Wearing a Mask ca. 1990s Solomon Islands, Melanesia, courtesy MS Images

Reader Katy contacted me recently about the overwhelming experience of visiting her OB/GYN and being inundated by all those pregnant bellies. I’m sure many of us here can sympathize with her.

I got to thinking back about my own experience with those dreaded visits and was interested to see how they ultimately provided a measure for my progress.

When I was trying desperately to get pregnant, I remember looking at all those pregnant bellies and baby pictures posted on my doctor’s wall. I’d fantasize about making my first pre-natal appointment and glowing proudly in the waiting room. Then I’d imagine my baby’s picture up on the wall of fame.

As I continued on my journey and it became apparent that pregnancy wasn’t going to come easily for me, those annual visits became harder. My eyes would turn longingly to the bellies and the babies, but at the same time, I wanted to look away. I couldn’t bear to see what I didn’t have and didn’t know if I’d ever have. It was just too painful.

It didn’t get any easier after we made the decision to stop our quest for a family. I think that first visit after we stopped was the hardest of all, as I had to look at the mommy pictures and try to reconcile the idea that I would never join their ranks. To make matters worse, the Nurse Practitioner, a woman I’d been seeing for my annual exam for years, came in with my chart and started asking the usual slew of questions.

“You’ve never been pregnant?”

“No.”

“Are you using birth control?”

“No.”

“Are you trying to get pregnant?”

[Pause] “Not any more.”

There was another longer pause as she tried to piece all this together, so I saved her the trouble and explained our situation and that we’d decided to move on. She went on to tell me about a friend of hers who was 46 and had just had her first child via egg donation. I remember mumbling that it wasn’t for us and hurrying the conversation along to the real reason I was there.

Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until much later, when I was replaying the horrible scene over in my mind for about the hundredth time that I realized she wasn’t telling me the story from an “It’s a miracle and it could happen to you, too,” point-of-view. There was lot more to her friend’s story than I’d given her the chance to tell me, and she was in fact showing her support for my decision to draw a line in the sand. In hindsight, I wish I’d been in a place emotionally to have a conversation with her about her friend, as an understanding ally was exactly what I needed at that time.

At my last appointment earlier this year, I found myself studying all the birth announcement photos more carefully. I formed opinions about people’s choices of baby names, looked for families I recognized (and found one), and fabricated histories for those I didn’t know. I did this without sadness or envy or remorse.

Looking at those pictures was almost like browsing the pages of National Geographic and seeing photos of some fascinating tribe who had this strange ritual called “reproduction.” I felt that I was not of their tribe. I didn’t feel superior or inferior, not less than or more fortunate than, just different. I’m from another tribe. I will never be like them, and just as similarly, they will never be like me.

Coming to terms with being childfree takes time and some days you may feel as if you’re making no progress at all, but sometimes the thing that can be the hardest to face can turn out to be the thing by which you’re finally able to measure just how far you’ve come.

 

When Childfree Friends Move to Mommieville May 7, 2012

It’s now been well over three years since Mr. Fab and I decided to call the whole thing off and figure out how to get happy with the idea of not having children together. It’s been a rocky road, especially in the early days, when hope would keep rising up to remind me of everything I was walking away from, even when I knew that walking away was the right thing to do. (I wrote a post about hope vs. acceptance last year.)

For those of you still in the early stages of coming-to-terms, know that it does get better, and you can get to a point of making peace with the situation. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that booby traps can still lurk around unexpected corners.

Recently, three of my childfree friends dipped their toes into the mommy pond. One had a baby after an awful infertility journey and the other two, once resigned to their childfree lives, met suitable partners and started discussing the pros and cons of attempting motherhood in their 40’s.

As a friend, I was supportive and talked with them about their futures. I was genuinely happy for my friend who got her baby and I’d be just as happy for my other two friends if they decided to go for it.

But our conversations made me feel as if I was on a raft, floating further and further away from these friendships. These women have been my friends for years, more than a decade in one case. We’ve been through all kinds of challenges together and our friendships have survived. But I know that motherhood would drastically change my friends and I’m afraid I won’t be part of their lives anymore.

And this is where it gets dangerous and I consider calling the calling off off.

I just read a story about a 57-year-old woman who used donor eggs and IVF to have a child, and it reminds me that with enough time, money, and lack of sanity, I could probably be a mother too, and then my friends and I could all be mommies together.

Fortunately these whims of mine don’t last long and reality gives me a swift kick in the behind. I made the decision I made after carefully weighing all the options still open to me. I had good reasons for not pursuing motherhood at all costs and those reasons haven’t changed.

But I would certainly miss my friends if they moved away to Mommieville, and at some point I’m sure they’d miss me too.

 

It Got Me Thinking…Baby Chitchat January 10, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

We made the rounds of holiday parties in December, and I enjoyed myself 97% of the time. Loved catching up with friends and their significant others, meeting new people, and indulging in yummy things like mulled-spice wine and those little cocktail hotdogs wrapped in pastry and dipped in hot mustard.

Ah, but that remaining 3%. At one lively get-together, I noticed a woman holding a sleeping newborn. I asked how old the baby was and then congratulated her on the new addition to her family. She responded by launching into the gory details of her C-section. I don’t even know this person’s name, but I can tell you a few things about her anatomy and how it was ripped apart during the birth of her child. The man next to me chimed in with his experience of witnessing his wife’s C-section. Feeling at a complete loss, I mentioned my sister had to have a C-section when her 10-pound baby was two weeks late. And then I realized what a complete ass I was for trying to participate in this sorry excuse for chitchat.

I turned away and joined a group of men who were discussing sports…or something. I really don’t know what they were talking about, and it didn’t matter, because all I wanted to do was shake the C-section images out of my brain.

Being childfree can be especially challenging during the holidays, especially if you’re still struggling to accept your status. We have all endured painful questions, awful suggestions, and shockingly inappropriate conversations. I invite you to share a few, and maybe we can start to find the absurd humor in all of this.

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is trying to embrace being childfree.