Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

A New Life, Without Children October 1, 2012

If you could wave magic wand or be given the secret elixir that would give you a baby tomorrow, would you do it?

For many of you, I know the answer would be a resounding yes. And it would have been for me, too, once. When I was in the thick of trying to have to a baby, and for a long time after we stopped trying and starting trying to come to terms with the idea of not having children, magically having a baby was the thing I usually wished for whenever I blew out birthday candles, broke a wishbone, or had some other imaginary chance to get exactly what I wanted.

But here I am now, a few years removed from that time and my desires have changed. It’s been a long, bumpy journey of acceptance, of coming-to-terms, and of finally making peace. And now I find myself making plans for a future that children won’t easily fit into.

There are some who’ll say that I can’t have really wanted children that much in the first place if I feel this way. These are the same kinds of people who implied that my widowed mother couldn’t have cared as much for her late-husband as they did for theirs because she went on to find love again. What those people don’t seem to grasp is that part of healing, part of moving on, is taking the life you have and shaping it into the best it can be. If that means falling in love and marrying again, that takes nothing away from the first, lost love. And if it means building a full and happy life that doesn’t include children, that in no way diminishes the original desire and the subsequent loss.

Recovering from loss isn’t about dragging the weight of what’s missing around with you forever. It’s about finding a place in your heart for what was lost and building a new life new around it.

For me, the fact that my plans no longer have room for children of my own signifies that I’m making excellent progress down that road of recovery.


LWB Mentorship Program September 28, 2012

Next Thursday marks the official end of the four-month mentorship program I’ve been facilitating. It’s been truly inspirational to watch this group of 15 women pull together to help one another through one of the most significant experiences of their lives. It’s like a super-concentrated version of what I witness on this site every day, only we get to talk in person, too, which adds a deeply personal dimension.


I’m planning to start offering the final version of the program in the New Year, but I want to do one more beta test with a slightly different format and some new material before then. If you’re interested in joining a small group of women for an eight-week program, beginning October 9th, I’d love the chance to work with you.


You can find all the details here, or drop me an email if you have more questions.


In the Wake of Hurricane Infertility September 17, 2012

On a walk recently, my husband mentioned that a friend of ours is planning to move with her husband and small daughter to a more family-friendly neighborhood. I knew what was coming next. Once someone has a baby, it seems it’s only a matter of time before the next pregnancy announcement comes. I’d been expecting this news and my genuine happiness for her showed me how far I’ve come.

However, when my husband broke the news of our friend’s pregnancy, I saw him shrink away in the way you’d expect a mistreated dog to cringe when someone raises his voice. It made me sad to realize the damage my infertility experience has left in its wake.

My husband isn’t the only one who’s been affected. I’ve noticed friends stepping very carefully around the topic of babies and children, and keeping a close eye on me to gauge my reaction as to how much they can say. I am grateful for their sensitivity, but I’m sorry that they still can’t fully relax around me.
My infertility and my subsequent healing have been the major focus of my life for a number of years now. I’ve been working hard to sort through my emotions, deal with my grief, and get to the point where I can have conversations about pregnancy and babies without feeling upset or envious. But I realize that those around me don’t know yet how far I’ve come and they’re still stepping gingerly around me, as if I’m and unexploded bomb that looks safe enough but that could go off at any time.

It seems that the next step of my healing journey needs to be repairing some of the damage done by Hurricane Infertility, and letting my friends know that it’s safe to be around me again.


Facebook’s Skewed Perspective August 20, 2012

This post was originally published on April 1, 2011.

In the news this week was a warning from doctors about teen depression and Facebook. Listed among the “unique aspects of Facebook that make it a particularly tough social landscape to navigate” were the “in-your-face status updates and photos of happy-looking people having great times,” leaving some kids to “feel even worse if they think they don’t measure up.”

If you’re childless-not-by-choice and spend any time at all on Facebook, these painful feelings might sound all too familiar. There’s nothing quite like a pregnancy announcement or cute kid pictures to remind you of what you don’t have.

But take heart!

The report is very quick to point out that Facebook “provides a skewed perspective of what’s really going on.” I think that’s true. While there are some people who clearly don’t give a second (or even a first) thought to what they post on Facebook, I know that I am very aware of how many people can read my posts and the different levels of “friendship” I have out there. Because of this, I’m always careful to manage my public persona.

If I’m having a crappy day and life is just the pits, I stay off Facebook; I don’t post my misery to the world. On the other hand, the pictures I do post are usually of my best days, out in the sunshine, with my husband, in some exciting locale, living a dream life!

I think that the majority of people post this way – we put our best Facebook faces forward – so it’s easy to look at a small sliver, a snapshot of someone else’s life and see it as perfect. In other words, it’s easy to look at a portrait of a happy family or read a jubilant pregnancy announcement and perceive that someone else has EVERYTHING we want.

But life just isn’t as simple as that.

If you’re at the stage in your journey where seeing some else’s children or baby news tips you over the edge, I strongly recommend giving Facebook the elbow for a while. But that’s just my opinion. There’s been a really great discussion on the forums about how to deal with Facebook. Take a look to see how other readers dealing with it.


Guest Post: What Bella Lucia Means to Me July 19, 2012

Joanne Troppello: The author at work.

By Joanne Troppello

I write romantic suspense novels and my most recent release is entitled, Bella Lucia. It is a story unlike my other suspense books, but I felt compelled to write it. My hope was that other women like me might find some hope and encouragement that they are not alone.

My husband, John and I, met back in 2002 and we quickly became good friends. Two years later we were married. This July, we’ll be celebrating our 8th anniversary. We’ve gone through the normal married stuff—you know, adjusting to life as a couple and all the issues that come with that—but one issue has left us feeling isolated in our little section of the universe. After 8 years together, we still have not been able to get pregnant.

It’s been a difficult road, but we have grown so much together as a couple and we’ve gotten stronger, but that hasn’t made the inherent pain of being a childless couple any easier to deal with. My husband comes from a big, traditional, Italian family. Of his cousins, we were the second couple to get married. In the ensuing years, his other cousins and brother have gotten married and they’ve all been able to conceive and have children. On my side, my two brothers and their wives also have been able to get pregnant, as have two of my cousins.

Needless to say, being around everyone who seemed so naturally to get pregnant hasn’t been easy; especially as we near year 8 in our marriage. Others, who have been married for less time, already have children. Although, God has been good and He’s brought friends into our lives in similar situations and we’ve been able to support each other through the ups and downs of trying to get pregnant. My one friend has been married for 10 years and they still haven’t been able to conceive yet.

Living with this ache in my heart, always feeling the call of motherhood, but never being able to have a child, led me to write Bella Lucia. As I mentioned, I write fiction and I felt God leading me to create a story dealing with the subject of infertility and all the painful struggles involved, yet weave His hope into the plot. Even though this story is fiction, it’s a very personal story for me and I wanted to share how when you invite God into the midst of your circumstances, He always turns everything out for your good…even during the hard times.

When I wrote about the main character, Gwen, looking longingly at the empty chairs surrounding her dining room table—that was familiar to me, because I’ve done that, and felt the longing. When I wrote about Gwen being in pain when her best friend so easily got pregnant after only a short time married, I went through that pain as well with other family members conceiving so easily. When Gwen’s heart was broken every time she would pass by the local playground on her daily jog and see the children playing and mother’s sitting watching their children, I felt her pain…wondering if I’d ever become a mother.

I know what it feels like to desperately want to be a mother and have a family. Yet, I know the peace that passes all understanding as God is guiding me and my husband through this rough time in our lives. He has a plan and I may not understand it, but I know He has our best in mind. Of course, it’s not always easy to believe that, but our faith is what has gotten us through and will continue to guide us.

Joanne Troppello is an author of romantic suspense novels and has published three books: Shadowed RemembrancesMr. Shipley’s Governess and Bella Lucia. She is married and loves spending time with her husband, family and friends. You can connect with her online at My Blog: The Mustard Seed, on Facebook, or on Twitter.


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.


The Next Step May 18, 2012

For some time now, I’ve been bemoaning the lack of support available for those of us facing a life without children, whether we’ve reached the end of our infertility ropes or otherwise run out of options, money, or stamina to build a family. As far as most organizations are concerned, women are either planning to have children, trying to have children, or don’t like and don’t want children. There is a lot of misunderstanding and very little support for those of us who find ourselves in one of the many gray areas that surround those well-supported categories.

Several months ago, I came to a crossroads on my own journey of coming-to-terms with being childfree-not-by-choice. I knew I had to either stop talking about my infertility, put the whole episode behind me, and move on in a different direction, or I needed take the hand I’d been dealt and do something with it. For those of you who’ve been following along for a while, you’d be right in guessing that I opted for the latter.

I’ve spent the past few months compiling everything I’ve learned from my own journey and from talking to you about the issues you face and the solutions you’ve found to keep moving forward. I’m now developing a support program to help other women through the process of letting go of the dream of motherhood (sometimes the hardest part) and beginning the healing process.  The program will be aimed at women in the early stages of coming-to-terms and will include a combination of group workshops, exercises, and support phone calls over a period of four months.  I’m planning to beta test a pilot program with a small group beginning next month.

I’ll be putting out more detailed information about the program, including dates, costs, and what it will include, but for now, if you think you might be interested in a program like this, please leave your contact information here (it’s safe and confidential) and I’ll get more information to you shortly.

In addition, it would be really helpful to know what topics you’d like to see covered in this type of program, or if you’re further along on your journey, what you wish you’d known sooner.

I’m looking forward to being able to share more information soon and I hope that some of you will find this useful.


Whiny Wednesday: Giving Up my First-Born May 16, 2012

Last week I got the chance to see just how far I’ve come in my healing process.

I was at the Apple store, attempting to solve what should have been a simple problem, but never is, when the helpful genius said, “We can do that for you, but you’ll have to give us your first-born.”

There was a short cricket-filled silence while I processed all the reasons this was an inappropriate thing to say (at least to me) and all the possible responses I could give back.

Then I laughed and said, “Sure, no problem, where do I sign?”

Little did he realize that he was getting the short end of the stick in the deal and I left feeling strangely vindicated and pleased at how far I’ve come.

It’s Whiny Wednesday. Who’s ticked you off this week? And how far have you come?


How to be Happily Childfree in 10,000 Easy Steps April 26, 2012

There are two questions I get asked frequently: How did you come to terms with not having children, and how long did it take?

The answer is something akin to “how long is a piece of string and how many knots can you tie in it?”

Believe me when I tell you that if I could write down ten easy steps to making peace with being childfree-not-by-choice, I’d do it, but the answer isn’t that simple. Yes, there were many things that happened along the way that helped me make some peace, but it took closer to 10,000 steps than ten.

Writing down my story was hugely cathartic, venting about the injustices on this blog helped, too. Realizing I wasn’t alone in this and that people like you were out there wanting to talk through the minefield has helped immeasurably. Drawing a line in the sand and saying, “This is where that chapter of my life ends and this is where I start healing” also helped. And frankly, telling myself a big fat lie that I was better off not being a mother actually helped me to realize that in many ways I was. Setting new goals, appreciating the benefits of not having kids, and allowing myself to feel bitter and badly treated when I needed to. All these things helped.

I don’t think there’s a formula for working your way through this, and it’s definitely a journey of making forward process and dealing with inevitable setbacks.

As for how long the process takes? How long is that piece of string? It’s been three years for me and I consider myself largely at peace with my situation. I have closed the door on the idea that I will have children someday and most days I’m good with it. Everyday it gets a little better and a little easier. Some days there will be reminders of what I’ve lost and sometimes a flicker of a thought of “what if…”

The truth is, in many ways, I expect this piece of string to go on forever. The experience of infertility has changed me. It is one of the most significant and life-changing events of my life, and I don’t think the repercussions of that will ever stop reverberating. It doesn’t mean I won’t find harmony and even happiness in this new life – I already have – but I don’t expect this journey of coming-to-terms to ever fully end.