Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Danielle LaPorte on Soul Soup November 2, 2012

Photo Credit: Sherri Koop

Danielle LaPorte posted this inspirational article on her blog earlier this week: Soul Soup. (Keep this in mind when you’re falling apart.) Naturally, it caught my attention.

Danielle writes:

“There will be a time, a passage when you don’t really know who you were, or are, or can be. It’s natural, it’s divine, and it’s the chemistry of beautiful, awesome change.

This passage can happen in big dramatic swells, as years of not quite knowing what you want to do; or seasons of confusion that aren’t quite depressing, but confusing enough to invite sadness in. This can happen in compressed bouts of uncertainty before you do something new or monumental.”

If you’re feeling lost right now, not sure what the future holds for you and uncertain who you will be, if not a mother, you are making Soul Soup.

This is a time of transition. Trust that you will emerge from the forest. And trust that you will find who you are and who you are meant to be. For now, have faith in the Soul Soup.

 

Flying the Non-Mom Banner October 22, 2012

My fellow bloggie friend, Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, is always one to proudly fly the childfree flag. If you’ve read her book, Silent Sorority, or visited her blog by the same name, you’ll also know that she speaks on this topic with intellect and eloquence.
This week, Pamela will be hosting a 5-day Open Salon alongside infertility advocate, Keiko Zoll. Although now on opposite post-infertlity paths (Pamela is child free; Keiko is in the early stages of a donor egg pregnancy), I know that these two women will provide a lively and intelligent discussion on the topics of infertility, motherhood, and the childfree option. If you’d like to tune in and follow along, here’s where you’ll find the conversations this week:
To Mom or Not to Mom: A 5-Day Open Salon on Infertility, Motherhood and the Silent Sorority
Welcome to our open salon, hosted by Keiko of The Infertility Voice and Pamela of Silent Sorority. We created this open salon to discuss both sides of the motherhood debate from our unique perspectives in a responsorial fashion between our two blogs.Over the next five days and culminating in an open Twitter discussion #ALIMomSalon this Friday at 12:30pm EDT, we seek to parse out the concerns and vulnerabilities of transition within the ALI (adoption/loss/infertility) community without tripping over political correctness and delicate sensibilities.We hope you’ll join us every day this week and will be inspired to add your own responses in the comments here and at (the other person’s) blog and even by writing your own blog posts about this salon too!

Monday- intro to the conversation setup & first topic
At The Infertility Voice: Dealing with Survivor’s Guilt
At The Silent Sorority: Dealing with the Mommy Waiting Room

Tuesday – we write from opposing POVs
TIV: Accepting reality when motherhood won’t be happening
SS: Finding a place in a new world and reconciling conflicted emotions

Wednesday – addressing The Mommy Phenomenon
TIV: The Queendom of Mommyhood
SS: The Consequences of Placing Moms on Pedestals

Thursday – To Pass or to Stick Out: when to make infertility part of the conversation

Friday – Twitter Chat, 12:30-1:30pm EST #ALIMomSalon
Recap/reflection posts at TIV and SS

 

Guest Post: The Pretend Mommy September 27, 2012

By Quasi-Momma

It’s been mentioned here before, but I want to reiterate that Facebook just may be one of the worst forums for a woman who is trying to come to terms with being childless.   It’s all been discussed before:  the deluge of sonograms and cute baby pictures, the over-sharing over every detail, and the annoying mommy memes are enough to drive any struggling woman to tears, pulling out her hair, or both.

Perhaps, the best revenge would be to flaunt a more desirable status update about lazy weekend mornings spent lingering over coffee without a child to cart around to practices and recitals.   But not me, I am in the middle – I am stepparent, which makes me childless, but not childfree.

The strange in-between status finds me posting what I refer to as “pretend mommy” posts.  Case in point, in the swing of “Back to School” season  Mommies everywhere were posting pictures of kids sporting brand new backpacks or commenting on first day milestones.  I was not immune.  “I can’t believe that [enter Skid’s name here] is entering high school tomorrow,” my post read.  It was met with a handful of “likes” and good luck messages from family members, but to be honest the whole thing rang false with me.  Not that I underestimate my role as a stepmom, but I thought to myself, “I’ve contributed very little to this deal, why am I claiming it?”

“Pretend mommy” behaviors typify for me the yearning I harbor inside for some connection to motherhood. While I do perform parental duties, I seldom get the recognition for this role. And since I will never be able to tell the story of how I choose my child’s name or participate in the Groom/mother dance, I grab these little moments even if they are not completely mine.  They’re like a costume – a way to quickly try on what it might be like to be the one called “Mom.”

I’m not sure if doing this is necessarily good or bad.  Like most things that just “give you a taste,” it is never 100% satisfying.  I suppose there will come a time when I will grow to the point where I won’t feel as compelled to say or do such things, my relationship with skid will progress to the point where the behavior feels more natural, or both.  For now, I’ll take these little moments for what they are until they no longer serve me or something more authentic takes it place.

How about you?  What behaviors are you finding or have you found doing to try to make it through your transition?

Quasi-Momma is living a childless, but not childfree, life as a stepmom.  Her blog,Quasi-Momma, is a collection of her reflections on pregnancy loss, childlessness not by choice, and not-so-blended family life sprinkled with a little gratitude and lot of heart.  

 

Whiny Wednesday: I don’t want to talk about this anymore August 15, 2012

This post was originally published on May 11, 2011.

Let me just say, right up front, that I love the community of women I’ve found through this blog. I’ve really been amazed at how people are willing to rally around and help others they’ve never even met. I attribute the speed of my healing progress to this community and to having somewhere to go to talk about infertility and childlessness.

But sometimes I feel as if I just don’t want to talk about it anymore.

For the past two weeks I’ve stood up in front of a theater full of strangers and told my story. It was a fantastic experience and everyone I met was wonderful and supportive. (More about this very soon.) I know that talking about this issue is bringing it to the forefront and building understanding. People have come up to me and told me as much.

But sometimes I just want to be little old me. I don’t want to keep talking about “it.”

Recently, this article reminded me of why I don’t want to talk about “it.” Here, this writer pours out her heart and her “regrets” at never having children.

“I know, for example, that not being a mother means there is a part of me which remains unused, a love that will be forever unexpressed. I know that what any mother describes as the most profound love she has ever known is, to me, a locked door — there is so much love I will never be able to give, wisdom and understanding I cannot share, shelter and solace I cannot provide.”

I admire for having the guts to say that, and I know she’s right, no matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise. There are a million ways to substitute for not having children, but none of them are really going to fill that gap. I know that; I feel that.

But, then she goes on to say:

“My regrets will always linger. My life is a poorer place for not having children, and I am less of a woman for not being a mother.”

And that’s when I want to yell, “No!! Pull yourself together, woman! You have a successful career, friends, a great life. How can you say your life is a poorer place and that you are less of a woman because you don’t have children?” Forgive me, friends, but it just comes across as feeling sorry for herself, and that doesn’t sit well with me.

And this is why I don’t want to talk about this sometimes. I don’t want to be defined by my childlessness; I don’t want to be a one-ring circus with the same act playing night after night; I don’t want to be “that poor pathetic childless woman, who never quite got over it.”

All that being said, I’m going to keep talking about it, because it’s an important topic to me, but I’m keeping an eye on myself to make sure it doesn’t become the only thing I can talk about, to make sure I don’t start feeling sorry for myself.

 

It Got My Thinking..About My Miraculous Body July 10, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Late last week I gave myself a nasty paper cut, one I didn’t fully appreciate until I tried out a new salt scrub. Sweet mother of god! I’ve had spinal taps that were less painful!

I was certain I’d be nursing my grievous wound for weeks, so was pleasantly surprised when the band-aid fell off in the shower yesterday morning, revealing a perfectly healed finger. Amazing!

There was a time when I thought the only miracle my body was capable of, was worthy of, was creating, carrying, birthing, and nurturing a child. Now that that ship has sailed, I’ve become more aware of the miracles it performs every day. It swims, it runs, it carries 60 lb. dogs and bags of groceries up stairs. It breathes, it whistles, it sings! It turns brown in the sun, it blushes at the slightest flirtation, it gets splotchy when it cries, whether in sorrow or joy.

Many of us have felt that our bodies have betrayed us, and we’ve beaten ourselves up for what our bodies couldn’t or wouldn’t do. With full acceptance of my path on the horizon, today I choose to celebrate, with gentleness and gratitude, this miracle that is my body. It’s the least I can do after all it’s done for me.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She’s mostly at peace with her decision to be childfree.

 

Feeling Directionless July 9, 2012

“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

Alice:   I don’t much care where.

The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.

Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.

The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Being a goal-oriented kind of person, I have an illustration that includes this quote in my office. It reminds me that writing out goals, creating strategies, and checking off accomplishments doesn’t matter a hill of beans if I don’t have a clear vision of where I’m trying to go.

Despite this reminder, I often find myself overcome with a feeling of being directionless. Yes, I have things I want to accomplish, but I don’t really have a big picture vision of how I want my life to unfold. I don’t have a long-term view of what my life will look like in 5, 10, or 20 years, and beyond. It’s not that I’m looking to plan out my path to the last detail – I know that’s impossible – but I can barely see beyond the end of the year. It’s a strange feeling for someone who, 20 years ago, had her entire life mapped out. Or at least she thought she did.

The trouble is, that life had always included children, and even as I made twists and turns in career, relationships, and geographical location, the expectation of someday becoming a mother was always a constant. Once it became a possibility, it also became the focus of my life.

Now that motherhood is no longer a realistic prospect, my vision of how my life will unfold is missing a big and important piece of the puzzle, and I’m finding it hard to see the future clearly. I have career goals and travel goals, but the vision of who I will be in the future is blurry.

Maybe learning firsthand that plans don’t always work out as we’d imagined has softened my need to make them. It’s also possible that I never really had a vision for my life, but instead adopted the cultural expectation of motherhood and called it my own. Regardless, now it’s gone, I feel like an early explorer who can see my world only as far as the horizon, with no idea of what might lie beyond.

 

Graduation Season June 11, 2012

It’s graduation season and Facebook and the local newspapers are festooned with pictures of graduating high school and college kids. I have a niece graduating from university and a nephew aiming to get the grades to go the university of his choice in the fall. It’s an exciting time and it always makes me wistful.

I’m over my longing for a baby and over my desire to be pregnant. I got over the desire for a screaming toddler first of all, and am largely at peace with the idea of not having the chance to raise children. But my recovery always seems to fall apart when it gets to the teenagers.

You’d think I’d have to be crazy to long for teenagers, and no, I’m not exactly pining for a pouting, door-slamming, know-it-all emo. But in general, I like young adults. I love to get into a conversation (difficult as it might be sometimes) with someone old enough to have opinions, but not yet old enough to be cynical. I love to hear about their ideas and dreams and plans for themselves. And I would have loved to have a kid of my own to be proud of.

I no longer ache for the cherub-like cheeks of a new baby or the warmth of a child in my lap. But I do get a little melancholy knowing I’ll never enjoy the pleasure of knowing I did a good job raising a decent human being to send out into the world.

This feeling will pass and my teen longing will join the ranks of the other stages of childhood I’ll miss and have mourned. But for now, I suppose I’ll just keep imposing myself on my nieces and nephews and living vicariously through my very proud mom friends who are celebrating their children’s rites of passage this summer.

 

When Childfree Friends Move to Mommieville May 7, 2012

It’s now been well over three years since Mr. Fab and I decided to call the whole thing off and figure out how to get happy with the idea of not having children together. It’s been a rocky road, especially in the early days, when hope would keep rising up to remind me of everything I was walking away from, even when I knew that walking away was the right thing to do. (I wrote a post about hope vs. acceptance last year.)

For those of you still in the early stages of coming-to-terms, know that it does get better, and you can get to a point of making peace with the situation. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that booby traps can still lurk around unexpected corners.

Recently, three of my childfree friends dipped their toes into the mommy pond. One had a baby after an awful infertility journey and the other two, once resigned to their childfree lives, met suitable partners and started discussing the pros and cons of attempting motherhood in their 40’s.

As a friend, I was supportive and talked with them about their futures. I was genuinely happy for my friend who got her baby and I’d be just as happy for my other two friends if they decided to go for it.

But our conversations made me feel as if I was on a raft, floating further and further away from these friendships. These women have been my friends for years, more than a decade in one case. We’ve been through all kinds of challenges together and our friendships have survived. But I know that motherhood would drastically change my friends and I’m afraid I won’t be part of their lives anymore.

And this is where it gets dangerous and I consider calling the calling off off.

I just read a story about a 57-year-old woman who used donor eggs and IVF to have a child, and it reminds me that with enough time, money, and lack of sanity, I could probably be a mother too, and then my friends and I could all be mommies together.

Fortunately these whims of mine don’t last long and reality gives me a swift kick in the behind. I made the decision I made after carefully weighing all the options still open to me. I had good reasons for not pursuing motherhood at all costs and those reasons haven’t changed.

But I would certainly miss my friends if they moved away to Mommieville, and at some point I’m sure they’d miss me too.

 

Freedom April 27, 2012

A few years ago I decided to make the leap from the corporate world to a career as a freelance writer. It was definitely a leap of faith and I’d be lying if I told you the transition wasn’t rocky. But leap I did and I haven’t looked back more than a few hundred times since. (I say this with my tongue firmly in my cheek, as there have definitely been days I’ve considered chucking in this crazy dream and going back to the safety and dependability of corporate life.)

When I made the decision to follow my heart, there was also an idea in the back of my mind that working from home would fit so much better with my other plans of raising children. I even bought a book called Writer Mama in preparation for my dual role. It turned out be a great resource for a writer, as long as I skipped over the “mama” bits of information.

Fast forward a couple of years and not only do I realize how naïve I was to think I could easily mix babies and books, but it turns out I also spend much of my time writing about not having children. Who knew? But the thing is, my life is pretty good regardless. In fact, most days it’s better than pretty good.

In the past, I’ve written somewhat flippantly about the benefits of not having kids, but the reality is that I have the freedom to be more creative, to experiment in my writing, and try new things, while still having time to do the not-so-creative work that actually pays the bills. And I really value that freedom.

I didn’t get the life I wanted and planned for myself, but I may well be getting the life I needed and I think, when all is said and done, it’s going to turn out be a pretty good life after all.

 

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.