Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Hope vs. Acceptence August 13, 2012

Life Without Baby is taking a short hiatus. Please enjoy some favorite posts from the last two-and-a-half years.

This post was originally published on April 12, 2011. You might also enjoy the follow-up post from April 16.

In the past week two different people have made comments to me that have amounted to the same message: Don’t give up hope; there’s still a chance you could have a baby.

Whether you’re childless-by-choice, or by circumstance, I’m willing to bet you’ve had someone say something similar to you.

“It could still happen.”

“You’ll change your mind.”

“Don’t give up hope.”

The “don’t give up hope” type of comment is the one that hits me closest to the core. While I think that hope is key to human survival, I think it can be dangerous if it isn’t backed by action. Just hoping something will happen someday is how potential and lives get frittered away.

While I was trying to get pregnant, I was full of hope, but I was also doing everything I possibly could to make it happen. Now that I am no longer trying, I am no longer holding out hope.

But this doesn’t mean I feel hopeless. And this is what I want to be able to explain to people who still carry hope for me.

Losing hope of having children is very different from accepting and coming-to-terms with the fact that I won’t. I am not hopeless; I haven’t thrown in the towel; I haven’t rolled over and surrendered to my childlessness. I have made a conscious decision to stop my quest to conceive and for the past two years I’ve been working on coming-to-terms with that decision. I haven’t lost hope; I’ve just changed my outcome. I haven’t simply given up on the idea of having children; I’ve made a decision to live childfree.

I know that many of these comments are said with the best of intentions. People who care about us can’t bear to see us not get something we want, or not get something that they think we should want. There is still a pervading idea that people who don’t have children do, or eventually will, want them. But some of us just don’t, or won’t, or did once, but don’t anymore. For the latter group, it’s not about giving up hope; it’s about accepting what is and building a life from there.

 

Advice for the Infertile February 6, 2012

A woman I know told me recently that she’s been going through fertility treatments and it’s not been going well. She didn’t ask for advice, but I felt I needed to say something encouraging. I mean, I’ve been there, I understand better than most what she’s going through and how she might be feeling. And I knew that she’d confided in me because she wanted to know she wasn’t alone.

But I didn’t know what to say to her.

Oh, I had a whole list of things I knew not to say, like: “You can always adopt,” or “If it’s meant to be it will happen,” so I wasn’t going near any of those. But I couldn’t come up with anything that sounded helpful.

I wanted to say something positive, to keep her spirits up and give her encouragement. I thought about, “Don’t give up hope,” or something similar. But I also know from experience that hope can turn negative when you keep clinging to it. Sometimes, “Don’t give up hope,” is the last thing you want to hear.

So, I considered, “Stay strong.” It’s general, but positive right? But who am I to tell her to keep a stiff upper lip, when I know the value of letting go of those feelings of frustration and just letting it all out.

In the end I told her that if she ever needed an ear, mine would be available. That was the best I could offer, and I hope it’s enough.

What would you have said? How do you strike a balance between what you know from experience and projecting your situation onto someone else? How do you help someone who’s dealing with infertility?

 

Great Expectations October 21, 2011

As young women (or men) we set our expectations and created a vision of how our lives would turn out.

My life was going to include college, a fantastically successful career traveling the world as an engineering consultant, and eventually a life with Mr. Right, in a large English country house with a circular driveway, and four children (including twins.) Sounds like a pretty good life, doesn’t it?

Well, I made it to college, then graduate school, and launched my engineering career, and that’s about as far as my expectations took me. I fell in love with Mr. Romance (who really wasn’t Mr. Right), fell out of love with engineering, and never even got a sniff of anything resembling my four children.

But…

I found my true vocation and now do work that I love. I picked my way through the minefield of potential spouses until I found, not simply Mr. Right, but Mr. Fabulous. These two areas of my life didn’t meet my expectations; they exceeded them.

When I look back at my expectations I realize that I probably wouldn’t have been happy in that life. I’ll never know for sure, but because I made some mistakes and some poor choices, and because things didn’t go as planned, I’ve had opportunities I would never have had, and I have a life that is, overall, better than it might have been.

So often we set expectations for ourselves and when they don’t work out we lament our misfortune or beat ourselves up for not achieving what we set out to do. But I’m coming to believe that life isn’t supposed to go as planned. And sometimes out of those disappointments comes an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

This may all sound a little Pollyanna to those of you who are trying to make some sense of the hand you’ve been dealt, but I really do believe that each of us will someday be able to look back and say, “Wow, this great thing that I have now could never have happened if I’d had kids.” Yes, it’s Pollyanna, but for now, I’m hanging my hat on it.

 

Whiny Wednesday: It Could Happen to You October 12, 2011

Dear Excited Future Mothers/Grandmothers/Aunties/Friends,

There’s no need to tiptoe around me anymore. If you want to tell me the amazing story of how you/your daughter/sister/friend was told she’d never have children, then miraculously became pregnant, it’s okay. I know these things happen, and I’m happy for you and your loved one. Just please, please, please don’t end your story with, “So, you see…it could happen to you.”

Yes, I know it could happen, but realistically, it’s probably not going to, and hanging onto this possibility will keep me from moving on with my life. And I am moving on. So please just let me move on.

Thanks.

It’s Whiny Wednesday. What’s put a hitch in your git-along today?

 

Last night I had the strangest dream… September 15, 2011

Last night I dreamed I went to a fertility doctor for “once last try.” I’m not really sure what kind of procedure I opted for, but I knew it wasn’t going to work. The doctor was convinced otherwise. Based on listening to my abdomen in the middle of the medical building lobby, he told me–and a woman I knew, who happened to be walking by–that I was pregnant. I knew I was not, and a nurse did tests shortly after to confirm it. Another friend, who has recently become a first-time mother, asked if I was going to try again next month. I told her I was not, because “just one more try” never stops.

And then I woke up feeling horrible.

It wasn’t the content of the dream that bothered me, because I know it was just my sub-conscious cleaning out the junk, but the emotions that I felt during the dream and after I woke up, were all too familiar: hope, with that underlying dull feeling of, not exactly of despair, but despondency. That inner knowledge that things just aren’t going to work out in my favor.

Most of the time I don’t dwell on my experience of dealing with infertility, but all that experience and the related emotions are permanently lodged in my subconscious, and every now and then it seems they’re going to bubble to the surface. Lucky me.

 

Infertility’s Cruel Joke April 16, 2011

In an earlier post this week, I talked about hope and moving on. The post generated a lot of great comments and a number of people mentioned how hope is like carrying around a bowling ball and that it is impossible to move on as long as you hold onto it. I couldn’t agree more.

I have definitely let go of my “bowling ball.” I am no longer hoping for a miracle pregnancy. Given my condition, it would be virtually impossible. The problem is the “virtually” bit.

Recently, after talking to someone about moving on, she reminded me that it could still happen and that her friend, who had been told she’d never have children, got pregnant at 48!

She was trying to make me feel better, in that “hopey” way, but it didn’t work, and now I can’t get this thought out of my head.

What if I got pregnant now? Hormones do wild things and as menopause approaches (which I’ve been told it is) those hormones have been known to misbehave. What if my body suddenly kicked out that one juicy egg? What if I got pregnant at 48?

Even overlooking all the health risks of being pregnant at 48, my husband is 15 years my senior, which means he’d be in his 80s by the time our child made it out of high school!! My father-in-law is currently 81 and he is no condition to be taking care of a teenager, nor would he want to.

But there’s an even bigger factor at play here. The bowling ball. I’ve let mine go and I don’t want to pick it up again. I can’t say that I no longer want children, because that’s not the entire truth, but I don’t want to live with the hope or the worry that I might get unexpectedly pregnant. I want to keep moving on with the life I’m creating now.

So, I now find myself in the ironic position of being diagnosed infertile but having to consider contraceptive options.

Sometimes I wonder if life isn’t just one big April Fool’s joke.

 

Hope vs. Acceptance April 12, 2011

In the past week two different people have made comments to me that have amounted to the same message: Don’t give up hope; there’s still a chance you could have a baby.

Whether you’re childless-by-choice, or by circumstance, I’m willing to bet you’ve had someone say something similar to you.

“It could still happen.”

“You’ll change your mind.”

“Don’t give up hope.”

The “don’t give up hope” type of comment is the one that hits me closest to the core. While I think that hope is key to human survival, I think it can be dangerous if it isn’t backed by action. Just hoping something will happen someday is how potential and lives get frittered away.

While I was trying to get pregnant, I was full of hope, but I was also doing everything I possibly could to make it happen. Now that I am no longer trying, I am no longer holding out hope.

But this doesn’t mean I feel hopeless. And this is what I want to be able to explain to people who still carry hope for me.

Losing hope of having children is very different from accepting and coming-to-terms with the fact that I won’t. I am not hopeless; I haven’t thrown in the towel; I haven’t rolled over and surrendered to my childlessness. I have made a conscious decision to stop my quest to conceive and for the past two years I’ve been working on coming-to-terms with that decision. I haven’t lost hope; I’ve just changed my outcome. I haven’t simply given up on the idea of having children; I’ve made a decision to live childfree.

I know that many of these comments are said with the best of intentions. People who care about us can’t bear to see us not get something we want, or not get something that they think we should want. There is still a pervading idea that people who don’t have children do, or eventually will, want them. But some of us just don’t, or won’t, or did once, but don’t anymore. For the latter group, it’s not about giving up hope; it’s about accepting what is and building a life from there.

 

Waiting for Baby – DivineCaroline July 29, 2010

Filed under: Infertility and Loss,Published Articles by Lisa — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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Several years ago I wrote this article for the online magazine Divine Caroline. As proof that whatever you put out there on the internet never really goes away, I just got a notification that the article has cycled its way back to the top of the featured articles list.

For a writer, this is great news, but for me, the personal me, not so much. It’s a harsh reminder of a chapter of my life I’ve tried to close the door on (and done a pretty good job of, thank you very much.) Looking back now, my words seems so naive. I have to ask myself: Would I give the same advice to a hopeful mother-to-be now?

You know what? I think I would. Despite my own experience, I don’t want to be the voice of doom and gloom. Ever. “Bitter” and “childless” so often get strung together in descriptions, and that person is not me. So, I hope that maybe this article will still bring comfort to a hopeful woman, and maybe she’ll get lucky. And if not, I hope she finds support and acceptance, as I have.

via Waiting for Baby – DivineCaroline.