Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Life-Changing News June 25, 2012

In the realm of attitudes and stigma surrounding infertility and childlessness, I have a long list of things I’d like to see change in my lifetime. Somewhere close to the top of that list is the manner in which life-changing news is delivered.

Here’s how I first got official notification that there was something very wrong with me, and that my chances of conceiving naturally were next to zero.

A phone call. From someone (not sure who) in my RE’s office, but certainly not my doctor. I was at work, in an open office space, within earshot of my co-workers when I got the call.

The Mystery Person said, without pausing for breath, “We got your test results back, your blah-di-blah is high, so call us on the first day of your next period so we can get you started on IVF.”

No explanation of what that meant. No word about infertility. No offer of counseling on what to expect or where to go for help. I went from “let’s do a test to see what’s going on” to “let’s do IVF because you’re infertile” and the course of my life did a full 180 in the span of a ten-second conversation.

From talking to many of you on this subject, I know that this was not an isolated incident; in fact, I’d dare to say it’s the norm.

I compare this to my friend’s experience when a lump in her breast was diagnosed as cancer. She talked about the physicians who walked her through every step of her diagnosis and subsequent treatment. She talked about the volunteers at the breast center who took her into a quiet, comfortable room and gently guided her through brochures and directed her towards her counseling options. My friend’s diagnosis was life-changing, too (and not necessarily life-threatening, either), but the way the news was delivered couldn’t have been more different.

There was a time when cancer was a shameful disease and people didn’t talk about it openly, but kept it to themselves. Over the years, that’s changed. The medical community learned the need for compassion and understanding when dealing with patients who are scared and whose lives have been turned upside down. Thankfully, survival rates for cancer have risen dramatically over the years, but the need for compassion hasn’t diminished.

My hope is that infertility will attain a similar level of understanding and compassion, so that no one should have to have their lives upended with no more support than a ten-second phone call.


Friends, neighbors, and community August 2, 2011

My neighbor is sick. She hasn’t come out and said the words, but she’s hinted at breast cancer. It’s not the first time for her; she knows what to do.

I don’t know what her prognosis is; we haven’t talked about it, but I do know that her relatives all live several states away and that she’s a quiet person who has just a small group of friends. She’s never been married and she doesn’t have children, so I’m wondering: who’s going to take care of her if she gets really sick?

We live in a small compound (although that’s not quite the right word) with five little beach cottages on a lot. Mr. Fab and I live in the front house and the other four are all occupied by single women. One has grown kids and grandkids, but the others are childfree, like me. So, I wonder, if my friend needs care, will it come from us, her neighbors?

Maybe she has a plan figured out that doesn’t include us, but if my friend needed help, I’d be there for her and I’m encouraged to realize that, even though I don’t have children to care for me when I’m older, I do have friends, and I’m willing to be that those friends would be there for me, too, if I needed that. That thought alone makes me optimistic for the future and how this whole thing will work out.


The Rose Run for Breast Cancer June 11, 2011

Filed under: Family and Friends,Fun Stuff,Health,Uncategorized — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , ,

If you happen to be in Petersburg, Michigan, look out for the Rose Run coming up on July 16th. Even if you’re far from Michigan, you can still participate in a virtual run (or walk) to support this important cause.

My friend Jessica Cribbs founded the Rose Run in 2009 in honor of her mother, Rose, who lost her battle with Breast Cancer earlier that year. Jessica is 100% dedicated to her crusade to raise awareness and funds to fight this disease and I really admire her for her determination.

It’s paying off, too. In 2010, the Rose Run raised $10,000 for Breast Cancer Research and this year “virtual” teams have already formed in Boston, Alabama, Los Angeles, and Afghanistan.

I’ve signed up and for my own one-person virtual event and will plod around my favorite 3.1-mile loop in Howarth Park in Santa Rosa. Please consider joining me where you are. All you have to do is sign up online and do your run or walk wherever you are.

The event is five weeks away, so if you’ve been looking for motivation to get moving, this could be it. My training starts on Monday!


Childless Women and Breast Cancer Risk December 4, 2010

I went to my doctor for a check-up this week and the subject of breast exams came up. My doctor (he’s relatively new to me) asked me if I had children and when I told him I didn’t, he said, “Well having children and breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of breast cancer.” It was all I could do to say, “Well then, I’ll just get right on that!”

In my doctor’s defense, it was just a passing comment and not any kind of accusation that I was neglecting my health by not having children, but I couldn’t help but think that this was just another strike against childlessness. Regardless I decided it was my civic duty to research this and report back to you.

A Google search of “childless breast cancer” turned up more contradicting facts than a political sex scandal and starling little trustworthy information. I found this:

Women who had their first full-term pregnancy after age 30, and women who have never borne a child have a greater risk of developing breast cancer. During pregnancy, estrogen levels surge so high that there is a small immediate risk of breast cancer, but the long-term effect, particularly with breast-feeding, decreases risk.

Starting at about age 45, childless women are at an increased risk for breast cancer in comparison with women who have had children, with the risk being from 20 to 70 percent greater.

That’s a big increase in risk, but the source was a pharmaceutical company selling breast cancer preventative medicine, and I couldn’t find similar numbers elsewhere. I did discover that women over 5” 7” tall have a greater risk (two strikes against me) and this article that confirmed that childless women were at greater risk, as were women with more than five children, teenage mothers, and mothers with children closer than 18 months apart. So a tall teenage mother of five or more children under age 7 is basically up the creek.

I also found a blog post on the same subject from two years ago! The fact that this two-year-old post hit the front page of my search suggests that this topic isn’t getting a lot of love

If you happen to have these statistics, please share them, but the bottom line is this: There are so many conflicting risk factors; some us will get lucky and some of us won’t. All we can do is take care of ourselves and check those breasts ladies! I will confess to not being disciplined about doing regular self-exams. I do it when I remember, but not on any regular schedule. That ends this month. Here’s a useful link that offers e-mail reminders to do your monthly self-exam as well as instructions on how to do it.