Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

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?

 

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?

 

Dealing With Social Landmines September 14, 2012

The Dealing with Social Landmines e-pamphlet is making its official debut today. As promised in Monday’s post, this is a compilation of tips and strategies for getting through those difficult situations and handling prying questions. Even better, I’m offering it to you, my lovely readers, at the low, low price of absolutely free!

If you’d like your very own copy, plus more upcoming goodies, enter your name and e-mail here and I’ll get it to you right away. You’ll also receive a free subscription to the brand new Life Without Baby newsletter, delivering tips, challenges, and (of course) news to your inbox about once a month. If you find the blog posts and member site are all you need, you can unsubscribe at anytime and I promise my feelings won’t be hurt.

I’d love to hear your feedback on the e-pamphlet and any tips of your own you’d like to share.

 

Fabulous Friday: Helping One Another July 13, 2012

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Last night I facilitated a conference call with the women on the mentorship program. For an hour, about a dozen of us sat and talked through some of the issues we’re struggling with most. All of the women on the call were there because they were looking for help, and yet each of them stepped up and contributed words of encouragement or offered a suggestion for something that has helped them. Each of them came looking for support, and each left having offered their support to someone else.

I see this happening every day in the comments on this blog, too. I see readers reaching out for help and I see other readers stepping in and offering a hand.  Even though each of you is dealing with your own pain and your own set of issues, your willingness to reach out help someone else is inspiring. Your generosity gives me enormous optimism for the future of mankind.

 

Guest Post: Small Favors December 1, 2011

Filed under: Family and Friends,Guest Bloggers — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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By Jill B.

After a particular tedious day looking at spreadsheets and attending a longer-than-expected internal meeting, I was having a much-needed night in, staring mindlessly at the TV with a glass of wine in my hand (please don’t judge me!).

I was expecting to watch some complete nonsense (that’s normally what happens when I actively sit down to watch TV) but I happened upon a gem that left me with a message I didn’t expect.

It was a property programme following the trials and tribulations of a couple in the south of England converting a charming, stone-built former industrial building into a family home.  It had no roof, the walls were non-existent in places, there was an open mine shaft nearby and the land was overgrown with fifty years of weeds.

The couple were challenged with a limited budget of only £100,000 (about $160,000) when any sane person would have said that a more realistic figure of £250,000 was needed to get the job done.

But this was the bit I really liked.  The man was a stonemason with 25 years experience in the building trade and lots of great contacts.  He was a pragmatic guy who’d been a kind-hearted friend to people over the years and had shared his skills and done a good deed where people couldn’t pay the going-rate.

Good-naturedly everyone generously returned his acts of kindness, ten-fold in many cases.  Pointing the stonework, a few hours plumbing or electrical work, a day or two decorating, supplying some hardwood for the window and door frames; everyone did a little bit of whatever they could to help out.  It took a little longer than originally anticipated but the home is now complete.

It seems indeed that a generous heart renews humanity*.

This was a generous heart on a grander scale than perhaps we’re capable of every day, but there are simpler ways to share.  There have been stories on the UK news in the last few years about how people in rural communities are starting to barter their wares on a more formal and organised basis.  But I guess we all recognise the opportunities we have to “return the favour” or perform an act of kindness.

My neighbour recently cut the hedge that sits between our gardens and he left me a small bag of potatoes that he’d grown in his garden.  A great but simple kindness that I know I’ll be repaying sometime over the winter when the driveway needs clearing of snow or he wants a pint of milk from the shop.

But perhaps we should be doing these things more often for our “neighbours” and in these financially tough times doesn’t it make all our lives much easier and much richer when we do?

 

*thanks to Buddha

 

Jill B. lives in Scotland, where her neighbors are few but appreciated.

 

Asking for help September 16, 2011

I’ve been writing a weekly blog for Psychology Today called The Plan B Life. While it’s aimed at a general audience of people starting again with a new career, new relationship, or a new health situation, whenever I write it, I can’t help but relate it to my own Plan B Life, i.e. my unplanned Life Without Baby.

This week I wrote about the power of networking and the importance of asking for help from your community of friends and associates. I think that asking for help is something many of us are afraid to do, but I’m always pleasantly surprised to find how willing most people are to help, if only we ask.

It took a long time for me to learn this and I certainly didn’t ask for help when I really needed it, in the thick of my fertility adventure. In fact, I didn’t fully understand the value of community until I started this website, but boy, do I appreciate it now.

I know that many of you out there are struggling with coming to terms with your own Plan B Life, and I really encourage you to ask for help from this wonderful community we have here. We have almost 500 members over on the private site, so you can throw out questions and issues on the Forums there. You can also drop me a line any time through the Suggest Topics form. I’m certainly not an expert beyond my own experience, but I do have the power to put your needs out to an audience for their expert help. People are problem solvers by nature and sometimes all you have to do is ask.

 

What to Say (or Not to Say) to Someone Who is Infertile April 26, 2011

Photo courtesy E. Lindert/L.A. Times

My friend Carrie Friedman wrote this wonderful article for The Los Angeles Times My Turn Health column. In it she articulates perfectly what we’ve talked about many times here, which is people (well-meaning people) who just say the wrong thing. I found myself nodding to each unhelpful thing she’s heard and saying, “Yup, heard that one. Yup, that one, too.”

She also suggests some things that are helpful. Here’s what she says:

First, listen. Or, if you know it will make you uncomfortable to hear about it, let us know that. We’ll be A-OK talking about something — anything — else.

Second, say you’re sorry for our struggle. Several months ago, a friend of mine wrote me the loveliest, simplest paragraph I didn’t even know I so badly needed to hear:

“I am so very sorry. I’m most sorry that there’s nothing I can say that will make this better for you. But please know you’re in my thoughts and prayers and I am wishing you peace and good news. I’m always here to talk if you want to.”

My hope is that Carrie’s article will help people to understand a little more about what it’s like to deal with infertility, and what it is they can say if they truly want to help.

And, by the way, if Carrie’s name rings a bell it’s probably because I reviewed her excellent book, Pregnant Pause here last year.

 

Where Do Your Men Go? April 5, 2011

Filed under: Childless Not By Choice,Family and Friends,Infertility and Loss — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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In my own efforts to come to terms with a life without children and talk about the issues that affect us women, I sometimes forget that there’s a whole other group of people dealing with this issue: men.

IrisD brought up the conversation recently on the forums, so I asked my husband for his thoughts. He has grown children, so doesn’t have quite the same issues I do, but our subsequent infertility definitely affected him. He agreed that men feel many of the same pressures women do to produce offspring and fit in with society’s expectations. Many men feel tremendous pressure from their families (sometimes more than women) to continue the family name. And men often feel alienated from friends and co-workers, whose weekends are spent coaching Little League and taking family camping trips.

So, where do these men go? Where do your men go? Who do they talk to? Would they benefit from a site like Life Without Baby, where they could safely go to talk out issues of infertility and childlessness with like-minded men?

I have no idea what, if anything, I would/could/should do with this information, but I am wondering if there’s a need out there and if there’s a way to fill it. I’d really appreciate your thoughts.

And here’s someone else wondering a similar thing, with some interesting comments from men.