Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Transformations January 19, 2012

I’ve been following La Belette Rouge on and off for a while now. It’s been interesting to watch her progress.

In the early days, she blogged frequently about her infertility. As she began coming to terms with being childless-not-by-choice, she talked more about her run-ins with her therapist, and the cracks that began to appear in her marriage.

I haven’t checked in on her for a while, so when she blipped onto my radar last week, I was taken aback, but pleased to see this post, Not the Mama/ You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

What a transformation. Here’s a woman who tried almost everything imaginable to get the child she so desperately wanted, and here she is now, standing up and having the courage to say this:

“I feel crazy grateful for how everything worked out so very perfectly. And I think about how if I had gotten what I hoped and prayed and paid Reproductive Endocrinologists for that I would now be a very unhappy gal who likely would not have had the courage to do what I did in March (leave) and how I certainly would not be in this new relationship with this wonderful man who makes me ridiculously happy.”

I know how long it took her to get to this point, and she is the first to admit that there are still days when she is “punched in the ovaries” by a reminder of what she doesn’t have. But, oh, the progress she’s made.

She includes a quote from Truman Capote in her post:

“More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”

I know for me, there are days, that I can see clearly how my life is better just the way it turned out. And those days are increasing in number all the time.


Your Next 15,000 Days January 12, 2012

I was recently introduced to Klara, a blogger in Slovenia, and her new blog The Next 15,000 Days. Her title caught my attention immediately, and I had to know what it meant. Here’s what she writes about her choice of title:

“Just a few days before Christmas we will celebrate 3,000 days since our wedding day. Our first 3,000 days were mainly sad. Of course, there were also lots of great things. The greatest was that I realized I married the love of my life; all the pain brought us even closer together. If we are lucky, another 15,000 days are waiting for us. So, we decided to start living a new, happy life. We lost, already, enough days being sad. We just don’t want to lose another day.”

I love this attitude. It’s the same notion Mr. Fab and I had when we decided to start figuring out how to be a family of two. We drew a line in the sand and said, “This is where we start living our lives again. But it’s not always easy to do.

You can’t just decide to not be sad anymore. Sadness and grief are much more complicated and sneaky than that. They tend to hide in unexpected places and leap out on you when you think you’re safe. Family gatherings, pregnancy announcements, and closets where you kept baby clothes you planned to use are all places to be on the look out for a grief ambush.

But you can decide, as Klara says, to “start living a new happy life.” It takes work, and it might not always go as planned, but deciding is half the battle.

So, how do you plan to live your next 15,000 days?


Congratulations! October 28, 2011

Tomorrow is a big day.

My dear friend and writing buddy, Kathleen, is getting married. She is marrying a wonderful man (we’ll call him Thor – not his real name, merely his alter-ego) and I couldn’t be happier for her.

You’ll know Kathleen from her weekly “It Got Me Thinking…” column, and I hope you’ll join me in congratulating her and sending her off on her new adventure.

But don’t panic! She’s not leaving us. In fact she’ll be back next week as usual, just as Kathleen Guthrie Woods.

Congratulations, Kathleen. Wishing you much love.


Childless by marriage and a man’s point-of-view August 12, 2011

I recently stumbled upon the Childless by Marriage blog. Author, Sue Lick, married a man who already had children and didn’t want more. She understands that she made a choice and is largely happy with her decision, but is still coming to terms with being childfree, and the hole that has left.

I know that some of you fall into this category, so I thought I’d share her blog here.

Last week, she posted about childlessness from the man’s perspective and included a link to Him+17, a blog written by a man who married a woman 17 years his senior and was unable to have children. The author of that blog responded to Sue’s post and I found his comments insightful. He says:

“The struggle, I find, is understanding the various shades of my reactions to childlessness. Likely, this is an ongoing, never-ending effort. There’s the honest grief that I’d have loved to bring forth a child with my wife, watch the baby grow, and then enjoy (I would hope) a subsequent friendship with the adult who I helped make. There’s also the part of me that just feels plain left out in a societal, cultural way. At family events, with friends who have children, I’m partly the odd one out.”

Ah, yes, I’m all too familiar with those reactions, but here’s what he went on to say:

“Of course, everyone feels left out in some way: the family that only had daughters or only sons, the man or woman who never married. Perhaps people with kids sometimes look at my wife and I and think, ‘We could have had a life as free as theirs.’”

Although I know that thought offers little comfort, this does go back to a comment loribeth made on this blog a while ago. She said, “Everyone has holes in their lives; mine just happens to be child-shaped.” I think about that comment often.

Him+17 goes on to say:

“I’m missing something; I’m not sure exactly what. I’ve tried to fill that gap by spending time with young people, by being a mentor through teaching and as a volunteer with Big Brothers. It helps, but truly, I’ll never understand on the most fundamental level what it means to love one’s own child. As I age, as I learn to live with the reality, this reality remains a grief, sometimes sharper, sometimes less so. I suspect it will never fade and never become something to which I grow accustomed.”

Sadly, I think he’s right. From my own perspective, I have come-to-terms with the fact that I’ll never have children; I can even write a short list of reasons why my life is better without children, but I don’t think that hole in my gut will ever close up. It’s a part of who I am now, like the scar on my knee that I don’t think about most of the time, but is always there and makes one knee different from the other. My experience has changed me and, no matter how well I move on with my life, I’ll always be a little bit sadder and my sense of humor will always be a little less sharp because of it.


Free to be Happy July 29, 2011

It came as no great surprise when friends announced recently that they were getting a divorce. They’d been emotionally separated for years and a new job for one had made them physically separated, too. It was hard to see why they’d ever gotten together in the first place, as they always seemed mismatched. But they had kids, and the kids were the reason they’d stayed together.

Fifteen years ago, when I told friends I was leaving my first husband, no one was surprised, and more than one said, “Thank goodness you didn’t have kids together.”

Even now I’m unable to have children with Mr. Fab, I’m still grateful that I didn’t have to drag kids through what would have been a much messier divorce than it was. But how many people do you know who’ve stayed in unhappy marriages because of the kids?

I’m not suggesting being childfree makes it easy to flit around relationships without having to commit, but not having the responsibility for other young lives offers a kind of freedom to find happiness for ourselves.


Remembering why you got together in the first place June 14, 2011

If you’re in a relationship and you’ve faced infertility or loss, odds are you’ve been through the wringer. Few people are at their best under stress and when that stress is prolonged, sometimes for years, the edges of even the strongest relationship can get a little frayed and tattered.

Part of the process of coming-to-terms with a life without children is patching that old relationship and moving on down the road. But how do you even start that when so much water has gushed under the bridge? It’s hard. Sometimes when so much has changed, it’s easy to lose track of why the pair of you ever got together in the first place, but those reasons form the glue that will hold the hold mess together when things go wrong.

So, what was it about your spouse that made you decide this was the person you wanted to have children with? What made you fall in love with him or her in the first place?

When your plans for a family don’t go right, take some time to reconnect with your partner to remember what it was that made you ever start out on this journey.

Oh, and don’t forget to keep the spark ignited in the passion department. See this post for ideas!


Infertility, Men, and Communication May 19, 2011

Kathleen sent this article to me this week. It’s a kind of “Top tips” for men going through infertility. I really appreciated the writer’s ability to find humor in this topic, and I admire that he was able to step back from his own experience (he and his wife now have three children) and offer some advice to other men who find themselves in this situation.

As we’ve discussed before, there seem to be so few resources aimed at men. While it’s often we women who go through the worst of the testing and unpleasant procedures, it’s easy to forget that the men involved are working through their own confusion, conflicting emotions, and sadness.

Here’s a man who tried to do the right thing. He gave his wife flowers after every failed procedure. What a nice guy! Except that, from his wife’s point-of-view, the flowers were just a reminder of the failure she felt.

His discussion about the importance of communication is dead on, and I think that it remains true even if you’ve decided to stop treatments, or if you’ve otherwise decided that children are not in your future. We humans can be fickle creatures and our big life decisions are seldom clear-cut. We waver, we reconsider, and we’re affected by events in our environment. Talking about this is critical.

I know I’m often guilty of keeping my thoughts to myself so as not to upset my husband (although he does read this blog from time-to-time, so it’s hard to have too many secrets!) But experience has shown me that being honest about what’s going on means fewer surprises for him and fewer, “I had no idea…” conversations.