Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Guest Post: Child-Tinted Glasses November 8, 2012

By The One Hand Man

I had a boss once who was married, very successful, but childless. When questioned about his lack of offspring he shrugged his shoulders and said it wasn’t for him.

Not understanding him at the time, I viewed him as someone who didn’t want that ‘completion’ in his life.

Knowing what I do now, I would probably have kept my mouth shut.

It is, as I understand it, a natural feeling to desire your own children. So does that mean it is ‘unnatural’ not to want them?… I should think not.

If you put a spreadsheet together of pros and cons of having children, I reckon the cons would outweigh the pros about five to one, so it is perhaps more natural not to want your own kids.

For me, the thought of going through the pearly gates without even trying is not something I can face, but having struggled with infertility and IVF, I am familiar with the sympathetic stares of child bearing parents, especially when my wife and I rock up to children’s parties and the like without any kids of our own.

I have had three years of batting off the obligatory “so no Kids yet then?” remarks, I can only imagine the frustration of those who never have children – a lifetime of explaining themselves when they really shouldn’t have to.

The pressures of having children (or not) can become immense, and with feet being put in mouths left, right and centre, I have quickly learned not to judge or assume anything about individuals and couples without children.

Some can’t have them, some don’t want them, but what business is that of ours?

The One Hand Man: Married in 07, sperm test in 08, IVF in 09, another sperm test in 10, adoption started in 11 – still going through the adoption process. Not had any recent sperm tests. Read more at: www.theonehandman.co.uk

 

From a Man’s Point-of-View September 20, 2012

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak to a group of businesspeople on the topic of blogging. Given the personal subject matter of my blog, I was a little nervous as to how it would be received. It’s one thing to talk about this topic to an audience who understands this experience, but something else altogether to speak to an unknown group of men and women.

As it turned out, they were a generous and accommodating group and were genuinely interested in learning about this topic. And of course, I was happy to share.

What surprised me most of all, though, is that it was the men in the group who sought me out after my presentation to tell me their personal stories and to discuss the issues they’d clearly not had the opportunity to talk about before. Our conversations really opened my eyes.

Several of you have commented in the past that your partner/spouse doesn’t seem to be feeling the same depth of loss, doesn’t want to talk about it, or doesn’t seem supportive of your process. From talking to these men, I realized that many men don’t know who to talk to, don’t know how to talk to someone, or don’t even realize that they can or should talk to someone about their loss. And if there are few resources out there for we women to find an understanding community, there are even fewer resources for men.

I’ll be honest that the male psyche is still something of a mystery to me and I wouldn’t dream of trying to write about this topic from a man’s point-of-view, but I’d really like to understand more. I would love to hear from men about some of the issues they’ve faced when children aren’t part of their future. I’d love to hear how they’ve dealt with coming-to-terms with not being a father. Who have they talked to? What do they wish their spouse/partner/family/friends had said or done that would have helped?

If you’re a man lurking around this blog, thinking that it’s only for women, I’d love to hear from you. If your spouse/partner/brother/friend is dealing with being childfree-not-by-choice and would love to have an outlet, please encourage him to get in touch. I’d love to be able to publish some guest posts from men, or even an (anonymous) interview, and I think the women in this community, as well as the men who are quietly looking for help, would really benefit from hearing the man’s point-of-view.

You can contact me through the About Lisa page or directly at editor [at] lifewithoutbaby [dot] com. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Special Guest Post for Father’s Day June 17, 2011

With Father’s Day approaching, I am pleased to offer a very speacial guest post today. My wonderful husband offers his thoughts on Father’s Day for you, and for the men in your life who don’t always get a voice. Over to you, Mr. Fabulous:

When Lisa mentioned to me recently that her readers would be interested in my thoughts on and about Father’s Day, I immediately refused.  The seed was planted however and I thought and thought and here for you, are my thoughts:

It occurs to me that Father’s Day is another opportunity for couples suffering from the various stages of infertility to get another black eye.  My position is unusual because I have children.  Lisa and I do not have children and never will, but I am a father.  I am glad and thankful for my children and for my granddaughter.  I think about them and miss them every day.

You all know that Lisa and I are childless due to infertility. This is the single unpleasant aspect in what is otherwise a relationship filled with friendship, laughter and bliss.

I think about it every day.

Our inability to reproduce makes me sad.  Once in a while it makes me very sad, such as when I attended Lisa’s performance at “Expressing Motherhood” and her story, which I had not previewed, snuck up on me and hit me between the eyes, hard.  This is why I have not read Lisa’s memoir of our experiences; I will never read it.

Regardless of my sadness, my message to you for Father’s day is one of hope.  Lisa and I tossed in the towel two years ago and I am still frequently sad because we will never have children.  I am not sad all the time, not every day, not any more.

It will get better.

You will feel better.  Your sense of humor will return.  You will find your libido.  Life, in all its glory, will go on and you will enjoy it once again.

This Sunday, Father’s Day, please remind your partner that things will get better.  Please remember to visit, or call or think about your old man, too.

Happy Father’s Day.

Father’s Day

by Harry Ruby as sung by  Groucho Marx

Today, Father is Father’s Day

And we’re giving you a tie.

It’s not much, we know –

It’s just our way of showing you

We think you’re a regular guy . . .

You told us we didn’t have to bother

But believe us it’s our pleasure to fuss.

For according to our Mother you’re our Father –

And that’s good enough for us,

And that’s good enough for us.

 

Crotch Length and Infertility in Men June 9, 2011

Filed under: Current Affairs,Health,Infertility and Loss — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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In the news recently, a study conducted at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas reveals that a man’s crotch length (that’s the distance between the scrotum and the anus) is directly related to fertility.

The study showed that infertile men had “a significantly shorter anogenital distance” than fertile men.

Apparently, this finding could be used as a “less invasive” way to test fertility in men, but my question is, “And do what about it?”

I understand the importance of continued research, but sometimes I’m just left scratching my head.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Fathers Work Longer Hours Than Childless Men February 1, 2011

According to this recent article from the Institute of Leadership and Management, fathers work longer hours than childless men. It states that:

One in three fathers work more than 48 hours a week compared to just 25% of men without children, according to a report by think-tank Demos.

The article doesn’t offer any explanation for this trend, so I’m tossing out a few theories of my own:

Maybe fathers, with numerous dependents, feel more pressure to do whatever it takes to stay employed. Maybe they have more distractions during the workday so need to work longer hours to get their jobs done. And there’s the other (perhaps cynical) theory that fathers spend more time at work so they have to spend less time at home being fathers.

I’d be very interested to hear your theories on this, too.

What I do find interesting is that I’d be willing to bet these statistics don’t apply to mothers, and that a similar study would show that it’s the childless women that put in the longer hours. If that’s the case, however, I suspect that says less about the parent/childless divide and more about the inequities of shared parenting.

What do you think?



 

Technology: The Demise of the Human Race? September 16, 2010

Filed under: Current Affairs,The Childfree Life: Issues and Attitudes — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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As we’re on the subject of men this week, I thought I’d share this story as food for thought:

A friend recently commented on the young men in her office (she’s in her 50’s; she’s talking about the 20- and 30-something set.) “When I was young,” she said, “all guys talked about was sex, how, when, and with whom they were going to get lucky. Sometimes they talked about their cars, too, but their main focus was girls. These days, all the guys in my office ever talk about is technology—their phones, the hottest gadget and new fangled whatever. It’s bizarre.”

Granted, I’m sure that today’s sexual harassment laws have curbed a lot of that young male enthusiasm in the workplace, but it did get me thinking. Will technology be the demise of the human race? Are today’s young men really more interested in their phones than the opposite sex? What do you think?

 

Men Dealing With Childlessness September 14, 2010

This month’s Oprah magazine has a feature about surviving miscarriage—from the man’s point-of view. It’s so rare that we ever hear what it’s like for men to deal with infertility, loss, or “missing the baby boat.” I think it’s easier for us women to find communities and to talk to one another openly and honestly about our feelings. Not so for men.

While I’m merrily discussing my infertility with you and pretty much anyone who’ll listen, I know that my husband is dealing with it by not dealing with it. In time, if properly ignored, it will somehow go away. I’ve been hashing out my emotions in writing, sorting through my story and looking for meaning, but my husband doesn’t want to read anything I write. He says he doesn’t want to have to relive it all again.

We all deal with things differently and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another, but I wonder if the men involved in our stories are getting what they need to heal. Where does your spouse/partner go for help? Does he go anywhere? Would he benefit from having somewhere safe to go to talk, or is that not how he deals with problems?

Our men may be from Mars, rather than our own planet of Venus, but we’re all hurtling around the same crazy solar system.

 

Issues for Childless Men May 17, 2010

My husband’s cousin recently commented that she would never become a grandmother because her only surviving son was gay. Her comment then prompted my husband to ask me if this website included gay men in its audience. The whole interchange inspired several threads of discussion regarding potential grandparents, modern families, and whether this site was a place that childless men would come, or if the female readers would be as open if men were lingering around. All this is material for future posts, but the thought that bubbled to the surface this time was: What about childless men? Which of the same issues do men and women face and are there other issues that are unique to men?

My husband has grown children from his previous marriage, so I’m not able to ask him about being childless, although he’s more than able to talk about the frustrations of infertility and of having a wife who is unable to have the children she wants. So, for those of you with male partners, what issues do you think men face? Do they feel the same pressure from family? Do their friends (and complete strangers) ask the same tactless questions? Do men feel the same sense of loss that we women sometimes feel. And is it easier for a man to make the decision to be childless?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.