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 Great “Life Without Baby” Makeover October 12, 2012

Those of you who anxiously await the arrival of the Life Without Baby post every day (I know you’re out there) probably noticed that there was no post yesterday. Normally Thursday would be Guest Blogger day, but this week I had no guest posts to offer and no time, or frankly, inspiration to write a post myself. I didn’t want to just cobble something together for the sake of having a post, either. I’d much rather write one well thought-out, useful post a week than five hastily thrown-together tidbits.

Which brings me the crux of today’s post: The Great Life Without Baby Makeover and more to the point, my question to you: What do you want from this site?

The LWB site is now two-and-a-half years old, which in blog years is pushing 90, and the old girl is ready for a makeover. I have a designer working on the beautification process and I am taking a lot of walks and thinking about what I want the site to be.

My overall vision hasn’t changed much since I started. I want a safe place to be able to come and talk about the issues of coming-to-terms with not having children, and I want a community of women offering one another support. But as the blog has grown, my vision has expanded and now I’d love the site to become more than just a blog.

I envision a resource for information, support, and community, kind of like a village with a well-stocked library, a community room with groups and events, and a cozy coffee shop where people can meet to talk. I don’t know yet how that all works on one little website, and that’s why I have a pro helping me to figure it out.

But now I’d like to ask you: What does your village need? If you were (or are) struggling with coming-to-terms with not having children, or looking for other childfree women who understand how you feel, and you wandered onto a site that was exactly what you’d been looking for, what would you find there?

Do you want articles, books, classes, support groups, resources, lists, pictures, interviews? What would you like to see?

As I work through this process, I can guarantee I’ll be coming back with more questions, and starting to get specific about what the site really needs, but for now, pretend it’s your birthday and you get to ask for anything you want. Aside from a million dollars and a month in Provence, what would you like from this site?

 

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.

 

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.

 

Connections June 22, 2012

The mentorship program I’ll be running starts on Tuesday and I feel….

There are so many adjectives I could insert here: nervous, grateful, excited, expansive, cautious, even calm. Sometimes I feel them all at the same time.

But I’ve been searching for the word that describes another feeling that has been sitting with me for the past week or so as I’ve been getting to know the participants. And that feeling is “connected.”

I’ve been hearing everyone’s stories and, without fail, I’ve found something of myself in each of them, and something of them in me. The tapestries of our journeys are different, but so many of the threads are the same.

I’ve had this experience of connectedness so many times before, reading the comments you leave on this blog and even meeting some of you in person. The one thing I no longer feel is the thing I felt most at one time, and that’s “alone.” For that, I thank you.

So, onwards and upwards, and into a new chapter.

And there’s that excitement and nervousness bubbling up again.

By the way, if any of you have been thinking about joining the program, there are a few spots still available. All the details are here.

 

Whiny Wednesday: Haters Gonna Hate May 23, 2012

According to Urban Dictionary, “Haters gonna hate” is:

“A phrase used to acknowledge individual superiority in the face of negative external accusations. Can be repeated twice for emphasis. Often accompanied by a strutting walk away from offending party.”

I’m adopting this attitude towards the rare negative commenters who find their way to this blog. I’m not talking about those who offer an alternative point-of-view or simply disagree with an idea I post; I’m referring to the random people who drop by once, pick and fight, and then never come back again.

In the interest of creating a positive and supportive community here, I’m now practicing my “haters gonna hate” strut and the judicial use of the “Unapprove” button. I may even adopt this attitude in the real world.

It’s Whiny Wednesday. What do you wish came with a “Delete” button?

 

M-Day Safe Haven May 11, 2012

I’ve been reading your comments this week and I can see that many of you are battening down the hatches in preparation for this weekend’s “festivities.” RESOLVE got onboard, too, and sent out an email, with some positive tips on coping with the day.

These are good tips, but the problem is they’re all positive and don’t include the option to stay in bed until Monday rolls around. And I say this with my tongue nowhere near my cheek.

I think the key to getting through this weekend is self-preservation, whatever that looks like for you. For me, this once would have meant staying home and avoiding any social interactions at all. This year, it will mean trying to have a pleasant, ordinary Sunday with perhaps a walk or bike ride. And while I’m now in a position to handle a casually cast “Happy Mother’s Day” from a stranger, I will still be avoiding restaurants and stores where I might get pulled into a Mother’s Day mêlée (like the time our local breakfast eatery was handing out flowers to all the mothers and I left empty-handed. Not nice.)

I’ve been really inspired lately by the way this community has rallied around one another and offered support to other members in need. You are an amazing group of women and I am so glad to have the chance to get to know you just a little.

Over on the private site, there’s a Mother’s Day Safe Haven forum that started up a couple of years ago. If this weekend starts to get the better of you, please consider heading over there for support or just to vent. You do have to make it through this weekend, but you don’t have to do it alone.

I’m sending good wishes out to you today and I’ll look forward to seeing you back here on Monday, when the mommy madness will be over and we can hopefully get back to our regularly scheduled programing.

 

Duck, Weave, or Cover? May 10, 2012

By Quasi-momma

Around mid-April, my mind starts thinking about that scary little day coming up in May. You know the one. The one that makes us cringe ever so slightly. The one we might all like to avoid. Dare I say its name?  It’s Mother’s Day.

As a stepmom, M-day has always been tough for me. The first year after marrying Hubs, I had expectations that I would at least be honored in some small way.  After all, I did perform the duties of a mom, so I deserve a little something, right?  Wrong.  It came and went without even so much as a word in my direction from anyone: not my Hubs, not my in-laws, and not my Skid. It was like a jab to the face.

Add a couple pregnancy losses and several negative pregnancy tests over the years, and M-day packs a one-two punch. You can safely say that the day has lost its luster for me.

To give him credit, Hubs finally did get the memo last year. He took me on a special outing the Saturday before to thank me for all I did as well as to acknowledge what we’ve lost. It was quiet, private, and meaningful: enough to get me through the indignity of the next day.

But this year, a final uppercut has been added to M-day’s combo: there’s a pregnancy in the family. I will now be the only female not honored as a Mom. It’s threatening a knock-out. I need a strategy.

Right now, I’m in heavy negotiations to bow out of this round. I know my limits. I’m just starting to deal with the possibility that I may never have a child of my own, and I’m not up to this “holiday.”  Yet, I fear that my absence may bruise some egos, and the fallout may not be worth it.  So I’m turning to you, my dear community, for advice. How do you get through it? (Feel free to whine too. By all means, let’s vent!)

The one thing I do know for sure is that extreme self-care will be required. There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the urge we feel to explain or defend our situations, whether they are by choice or not. This day will have our guards up higher than usual.  So please be good to yourself.

Quasi-momma, also known as “Bruisin’ Susan” explores her thoughts and feelings on her own struggles with childlessness, pregnancy loss and stepfamily life on her blog http://quasimomma.wordpress.com. She prefers not to disclose her weight class. It’s no one’s business.

 

A Great Place to Raise Kids March 26, 2012

I live in “a great place to raise kids.” People have been telling me this since before I made the decision to leave L.A. and make this my part-time home.

I love it here. I can walk into town for just about any service I need. I can walk or bike from my house along a creekside path that takes me out into the vineyards. A ten-minute drive away is a huge State Park, where I can hike, bike, look for birds, and enjoy the peacefulness of the countryside. For me, this is a great place to live.

I didn’t give much thought to it being a great place to raise kids until my neighbor stopped me one day last week. She and her husband run a day care center in their house and even as I write this post, I can hear the kids playing and squealing in the backyard. It doesn’t bother me. I enjoy their laughter, and when things turn ugly – as they’re apt to do later in the afternoon around nap time – I get to enjoy one of those “Phew, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that tantrum” moments.

But last week, the neighbor lady made a welcome gesture to join her and her friends for cocktails one night. “We have a great group of ladies here in the neighborhood,” she told me. “You’ll love them.” But I realize that in this “great place to raise kids” this woman’s great group of ladies all have kids too.

I was struck with an image of myself sitting on the couch, clutching a pina colada and staring like a deer in the headlights as the neighbor asked me if my husband and I are going to have kids, while a dozen pairs of inquisitive eyes bore into the new girl, waiting to hear her answer.

I’ve lived in L.A. for 18 years. I barely know any of my neighbors because, as a general rule, L.A. is a great place to be anonymous and neighbors don’t often come around to introduce themselves. As a woman without children, it’s a great place to blend into the background. But here in “a great place to raise kids” I’m starting to worry that I might not fit in after all.

 

The Power of Community February 20, 2012

I just got back from the San Francisco Writer’s Conference (hence the silence here for the past few days.) It proved to be an enlightening experience in so many ways, as well as in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

I went with the intention of pitching an idea for a new book and generating interest. That happened, but not in the way I’d expected. I had hoped to spark interest with agents and was looking for a champion to take on the book. I got a lukewarm response, at best. However, I found my spark and excitement elsewhere…in potential readers, which turned out to be far for exciting and valuable.

I spent much of the weekend telling strangers that I am childfree-not-by-choice, which is a little odd in of itself, but I ended up meeting and talking to an incredible community of women, some mothers, and many not, but most of whom understood me, my situation, and my message.

Why am I telling you this? Because the experience solidified something that I already knew. In the broad scope of our society, and particularly in the media and commerce, those of us who don’t have children are hugely misunderstood. People make assumptions about our reasons and motivations, not to mention our personalities. And even though 1-in-5 women will not become mothers, we are still a marginalized and overlooked corner of the market.

However, my one-on-one interactions with other women gave me encouragement. Almost every woman I talked too was in some way supportive. I spoke to many women who were also childfree and they all had different reasons and different paths. But I also talked to mothers (including a mother of four and a mother of six) who were just as supportive of my project, and of me.

Ultimately, I left the conference encouraged, not necessarily by the future of the publishing industry, but by the power of community and the wonderful things that can happen when women stand together, no matter the paths that brought them together.