Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Don’t Ignore…the Life Without Baby Option April 23, 2012

If you’re someone who imagined, or even expected, that motherhood would be part of your life, the option of a life without children isn’t one you’d be in any hurry to consider. But for many women, that can become the only reasonable option.

I never thought that I would be childfree, childless, a non-mom, or however you’d choose to describe me. Children were always going to be a given for me, “No matter what it takes.” But in reality, I wasn’t willing or able to do whatever it takes, and eventually the option that started to make the most sense to me, even though I didn’t like it, was a life without children.

Medical technology has made great strides over the past decade or two (I was just reading an article this morning about the latest procedure that enables women to freeze ovarian tissue.) Adoption has lost much of its stigma and is considered by many to be the obvious next step for someone who can’t have children of their own. In many ways, there’s a perception that infertility is never an insurmountable obstacle to a family, and that there is always a next step available.

In theory, that’s somewhat true, but in practice, it’s never as simple as that, and many us find that we reach the end of our emotional or financial paths long before we exhaust the list of family building options available to us. It’s hard to walk away from the dream of motherhood, but sometimes it just makes sense.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. There are many things that I would wish for my former self, if I were starting out on the road to parenthood again. I wish I’d had more information; I wish I’d had someone I could talk to, who could guide me through the process; I wish I’d had one great doctor who could have given me a step-by-step work-up, an accurate diagnosis, and a set of options sooner, before I’d exhausted the emotional stamina and financial means to use them.

But now, three years after deciding to end my quest for motherhood and starting to make peace with my life without children, I have this wish: I don’t want to promote childlessness as an option. I don’t want to say, “Hey, you! You don’t need to put yourself through all that hell any more. Come over here and be childfree!” I don’t wish “unresolved infertility”, as I’ve heard it called, on anyone. But when some of us reach that point, I wish there was more support available. I wish that infertility resources included information about choosing to walk away from motherhood, and how to come to terms with that decision.

The theme for NIAW this year is “Don’t ignore…” and my request is this: Don’t ignore those of us for whom the infertility journey does not end with a baby.

And now for some resources that are available: There are lots of us out here in the blogosphere, talking about this topic. Check out the blogroll on the right and please support their efforts to have our voices heard. If you have a blog on living without children, and it isn’t yet on the blogroll, include it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list. We have a strong community here on this site, so if you’re new here, cruise around and see what we’re talking about. You can also sign up for the password-protected site where you talk to other women in a private forum.

If you’d like to hear some live voices (and see some beautiful childfree faces) please join me here this Saturday, April 28th at 12:00pm PST as I talk to three wonderful women about their own journeys to come to terms with being childfree-not-by-choice. There’ll be the opportunity to chat live with other women online and make connections with some kindred spirits.

Finally, if you’re here supporting NIAW and want more information about infertility, please visit these links.

 Infertility 101

About National Infertility Awareness Week

 

Life Without Baby Live Update April 6, 2012

Thanks for all your great questions and suggestions for the Life Without Baby Live event.

Plans are coming together and my dream interviewees are all saying, “Yes.” Hurray!

Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 28 at noon Pacific Standard Time (that’s GMT -8).  I’ll be broadcasting live, but don’t worry if you can’t make it. A recording will be available here for you to see at your leisure.

I’ll be posting more information soon, but in the meantime, keep posting questions and topics you’d like to see discussed.

 

Life Without Baby Goes Live! April 2, 2012

In honor of National Infertility Week later this month, Life Without Baby is going live.

I’ll be doing a live online broadcast and interviewing some amazing women about coming to terms with being childfree, whether by choice, chance, or circumstance. We have all arrived here by different paths, but we also share so many similar issues, as you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while. I’m hoping this will be a great opportunity to really talk openly (and not just write and edit in private) about this very important issue.

So, I’d like to know: What do you want to talk about? If you could sit down with someone who’s walked the path and made peace with not having children, what would you ask her? It could be a specific question or a general topic of conversation, whatever you’d like to know.

You can post topics and questions in the comments, or if you’d prefer, you can email me directly at: editor [at] lifewithoutbaby [dot] com.

I’ll post more details about the event soon. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing from you.

~Lisa

 

Infertility Myth: Women without children are never complete April 30, 2011

Remember this children’s ditty? I’m using myself and my husband as the example.

Jose and Lisa sitting in a tree,

K.I.S.S.I.N.G.

First comes love,

Then comes marriage,

Then comes a baby in a baby carriage.

As a little girl, this was the expectation for how my life would unfold. Find a nice man, get married, and have a family, just as my parents did, and their parents before them. Sure, I came of age in the 80s, so there was college, a career, travel, and other big dreams thrown in there, but marriage and children were always a part of the picture.

I was 34 years old when I finally married Mr. Fabulous. Four years later, a doctor told me I’d never have biological children of my own. Those first years of our married lives were a crazy rollercoaster of desire and desperation, filled with doctor’s appointments and a desperate drive to complete my image of the perfect family. Even after this hopeless diagnosis, I kept pursuing that dream, convinced that the next doctor would have the secret elixir or that adoption would be my quick-fix solution.

I think I could have continued to look for a solution forever – there was always something else to try – but I realized something from that children’s ditty. After all that kissing in trees, there are three things that are supposed to follow – love, marriage, and children. In my pursuit of the baby in the baby carriage, I was frittering away two: the love and the marriage. I already had a wonderful life, doing work that I loved, in a city that I loved, with someone I loved. If I never had children, I’d still have that wonderful life.

We live in a culture of high expectations, where, as women, we expect to be able to have it all. But anyone who’s lived for any length of time knows that you don’t always get what you want.  I wanted motherhood, but it wasn’t meant to be, so I was left with two options: spend the rest of my life mourning what I’d lost and living with the hope that maybe a miracle would happen, or start figuring out how to build a life without children.

I chose the latter.

It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but now, two years later, I’m free to fully enjoy that fabulous marriage with that fabulous husband. Motherhood is only one small part of the life I imagined for myself and I am so much more than just an infertile woman. I discovered that there is life after infertility and that a life without children can still be a wonderful life.

For more information about infertility, please visit: http://www.resolve.org/infertility101

This post was written RESOLVE’S Bust a Myth Challenge. To learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW) go to: http://www.resolve.org/takecharge.

 

NIAW Guest Post April 29, 2011

Tiffany is an ex-pat, living in Germany with two young children. She contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if I would write a guest post for her blog No Ordinary Homestead in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week. She told me that, although she hasn’t dealt with infertility herself, she has friends who have and she wanted to do her part to help raise awareness.

How could I say no?

Here is the post I wrote for her: A Family of Two.

 

Please take a moment and look at some of her other guest posts for this week. I suspect you’ll see a couple of familiar faces. I am so honored to be asked to do this. It’s people like Tiffany, who are willing to speak up to help the people they care about, that are making a difference and getting this subject matter out into the mix of general conversation.

So, Tiffany, thank you.

 

Telling My Story April 27, 2011

Tonight is the Opening Night of Expressing Motherhood. This is a show with 13 women and one man talking, singing, and performing on the theme of motherhood. This is the show where I will get up on stage and tell an audience, consisting mostly of mothers, my story.

I won’t give away too much now, suffice to say I will touch on the subjects of desire and choices, as well as some thoughts on the fertility industry and baby showers.

I’m a little nervous – about performing and about my story – but the producers and cast of the show have been truly supportive, and I’m hoping the audience will be too.

During this, National Infertility Awareness Week, I’m hoping to shed a little light on a side of motherhood that doesn’t get much love.

Wish me luck, and I’ll promise to report in.

 

Infertility 101 April 25, 2011

Although I know that many of you have more education than you’d like on the subject of infertility, my goal this week is to get the word out there, and offer as much information as possible for people who don’t know about or understand infertility.

Here is Infertility 101, from the RESOLVE website:

Infertility 101: Get the Facts

What is infertility?
Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system often diagnosed after a couple has had one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse, or if the woman has suffered from multiple miscarriages and the woman is under 35 years of age. If the woman is over 35 years old, it is diagnosed after 6 months of unprotected, well-timed intercourse.

Who gets it?
Infertility is a medical problem. Approximately 30% of infertility is due to a female factor and 30% is due to a male factor. In the balance of the cases, infertility results from problems in both partners or the cause of the infertility cannot be explained.

What are the risk factors?

  • Weight
  • Age
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
  • Tubal Disease
  • Endometriosis
  • DES Exposure
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol

What are the signs and symptoms?
Often there are no signs or symptoms associated with an infertility problem. Listening to your body and getting regular checkups will help to detect a problem. Early detection and treatment of a problem are often critical in achieving successful pregnancy outcomes later.

How is infertility treated?
Medical technology now offers more answers and treatment options to men and women trying to conceive a child. From hormonal treatments, ovulation induction and Intrauterine insemination to more advanced technologies like in vitro fertilization, ICSI to surrogacy, egg/sperm donation and even embryo donation. For more information on treatment of infertility visit the Family Building Options section of our site.

What medications are used?
There are a variety of medications used to treat infertility. It is important to understand the medications and what their purpose is and to speak with your physician about the medications that will be used in your specific treatment plan. Read more about Fertility Medications.

What is artificial insemination?
Artificial insemination is now more commonly referred to as IUI (intrauterine insemination). It is a procedure used for couples with unexplained infertility, minimal male factor infertility, and women with cervical mucus problems. The procedure uses the husband’s or donor’s sperm, washing and treating the sperm, and then injecting it into the woman during the time of ovulation. Read more about IUI.

What is In Vitro or IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) gets its name from the fact that fertilization occurs outside of the woman’s body, in a lab dish instead of a woman’s fallopian tubes. Typically, a woman will use ovulation stimulating drugs to produce an excess number of eggs. These eggs are surgically removed from the woman and fertilized in dish with sperm. If fertilization takes place, the physician transfers the embryo(s) into the women’s uterus. Read more about IVF.

How can I find an infertility specialist?
Visit RESOLVE’s Professional Service Directory to find an infertility specialist in your area or visit www.sart.org.

Can my OB/GYN treat me?
In many cases the difficulty experienced in becoming pregnant can be resolved by a gynecologist without a referral to a specialist. Often the problem comes down to timing intercourse with ovulation, which may be assessed using one of the over-the-counter urine LH test kits (ovulation predictor tests). Your OB/GYN can also conduct a basic infertility evaluation. If a problem is found during your evaluation and for more complex fertility issues, it is advised to see a specialist.

What questions should I ask my doctor?
It is important to go into the visit with your doctor prepared. Visit the “Downloads section” of this site which covers important questions to ask your physician on a variety of topics.

Also, if you haven’t yet seen Keiko Zoll’s excellent video, What IF? please take a look. She captures all the questions that ran through my head and then turns the idea around.