Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About What Makes Me Crazy June 5, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

You think you’re finally okay with being childfree, then your best childfree girlfriend announces she’s EXPECTING! and you find yourself sobbing hysterically over a carton of Haagen Daz. You turn on the six o’clock news thinking you’re going to hear actual news, but instead you get bombarded with baby bump status reports and profiles of unnaturally gorgeous celebrities who reveal secrets for losing all their pregnancy weight in just 4 weeks. You attend an important conference, all excited to focus on building your business, and get stuck in the middle of a passionate discussion about the struggles of working moms.

Is it just me, or is the Universe trying to make me crazy? I thought I was just being oversensitive, but then I got a new cell phone. In order to set up the apps, I needed to read the manual, which was only available online. In order to get online, I needed to register my phone. In order to register my phone, I needed to get the serial number from under the battery, inside the back panel. To open the back panel, I needed to refer to the manual. (Warranty be damned, I finally pried the thing open with a screwdriver.)

Once I got the manual, here’s what it said about organizing my apps: “Icons that have the * symbol cannot be removed. Only icons with the * symbol can be removed.”

I give up. Clearly the world has gone mad and is taking me down with it.

Pass the ice cream, please.

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

 

Pregnant Lady Compliments March 29, 2012

By Maybe Lady Liz

At my thirty-first birthday party a couple weeks ago, one of my pregnant friends, Megan, did something truly shocking post-dinner: she actually joined us for the after-party at the bar. My surprise wasn’t due to her tossing back white Zins like Franzia was going out of business (she wasn’t, for the record). It was the fact that she made such an effort to maintain some semblance of her previously childless life when so many of my other friends have dropped off the face of the earth after becoming pregnant.

In some ways, I don’t blame them. Once you turn thirty, it becomes embarrassingly exhausting to pretend you want to rage at the bars till they turn the lights on. But trying to do it with morning-turned-all-day-sickness, back pain and swollen ankles…while SOBER?! No thanks. Needless to say, I was impressed as Megan hung in there through a mortgage payment’s worth of Bud Light for the rest of us and a few overly-emotional shufflepuck games.

Little did I know I’d come to regret including a photo of her in my Facebook album the next day. Mere moments after posting it, I was getting pinged left and right with messages that people I’d never met were commenting like mad on my album. I began to wonder if I’d unwittingly captured a wardrobe malfunction and it’d gone viral.

But no. I’d stumbled into one of my biggest pet peeves: the absolute AVALANCHE of compliments bestowed upon pregnant women when their photo appears on Facebook. Every woman Megan had ever met began leaving comments on the one photo she appears in. You know the ones I’m talking about. Your run-of-the-mill “you look beautiful!”, “you’re glowing!” and my favorite, “Look at you, pregnant lady!” Yup, she’s pregnant. You nailed it. And by the way, if you have to continually comment on how lovely she is now, what did she look like before? A cow?

And at the risk of sounding like a petulant child…it was MY birthday! Why was it hijacked by a belly? Why is the fact that someone was pregnant the most fascinating, comment-worthy part of that night? Are the rest of us that uninteresting and unphotogenic?

Well alright, I realize that I DO sound like ridiculous child. Likely because it has activated within me some simmering junior high-esque sentiment that if I don’t have a baby, no one will ever lavish that kind of attention on me. (Boy, I didn’t have to dive deep into the subconscious to retrieve that one.) I know this is just one of a million ways that society exalts pregnancy and the child-bearing process, so I’m not sure why this one’s got me so fired up. Maybe I’m just a grumpy thirty-one year-old now.

Am I the only one who’s being driven insane by this?

Maybe Lady Liz is blogging her way through the decision of whether to create her own Cheerio-encrusted ankle-biters, or remain Childfree. You can follow her through the ups and downs at www.MaybeBabyMaybeNot.com.

 

Whiny Wednesday: MIA…Missing in Motherhood March 21, 2012

Over the past two years of writing this blog I’ve crossed paths with lots of women trying to come to terms with being childfree. Some people find the blog and stay for the community; some come and post a comment or two, never to be heard from again.

I’ve also really connected  with a lot of readers. They’ve left insightful or funny comments and I’ve enjoyed getting to know them a little.

Some are still regular readers, however a couple have suddenly left, and I’ve thought, “Oh good for them; they’ve moved on. That’s great.”

For some reason, maybe feeling nostalgic about the early days of the blog, I was looking over some old posts this week and followed up on a couple of bloggers I hadn’t heard from in a while, just to see what’s going on with them.

Turns out, they’re busy having babies.

I’m not really complaining about this, so perhaps this doesn’t belong on Whiny Wednesday. But it’s left me feeling funny. I’m not sad and I’m not envious. I’m not hurt or feeling deserted. I’m happy for them, but not happy enough to send a note of congratulations. I just am. I’m here; they’re there; our paths crossed briefly, and then we went our separate ways. That’s life, I guess.

 

Dealing With a Pregnancy Announcement July 26, 2010

Here’s an article I wish I’d found a long time ago. It’s about how to deal with a friend (or relative) announcing a pregnancy. If you’re childless-not-by-choice, this kind of news can trigger some of the worst human emotions—jealousy, rage, feelings of injustice, and worse. I know I’ve thought, (or maybe even said) “It’s not fair. Why her? Why not me?” It’s a terrible thing to think about someone you like or care about.

I like this article because the author turns it around and makes the news not about “me and her” but about the friendship and what the news will mean to both of you. She says:

A friend’s pregnancy may arrive like a bolt from the blue, but once you’ve caught your breath you can use this new event as an opportunity to think more purposefully about what you need and can offer in a friendship. Remember to keep the emphasis on mutuality, on open communication and also on expanding your friendship network in new ways.

Yesterday I got the news through the grapevine that a friend I’ve known for more than 30 years is pregnant. She struggled with infertility, gave up, lost a relationship, and finally settled into a new life with a new partner, who is already a father of two, and accepted that she would never have children of her own. Surprise! Suddenly she’s pregnant.

At one time, this news would have set me off on a personal rampage against the Universe, but when my husband tentatively asked me how I felt, I replied with all honesty that I was happy for her because I know she wanted this, that I was worried about her because of the potential health problems she might have, and that I was concerned about her mental state having finally come to terms with her infertility and started building a life without children. What I want to do now is contact her, congratulate her, and offer whatever support I can from across the other side of the world. I want my friend to be okay. That’s a far cry from the teeth-gnashing banshee I might have turned into a few years ago. I’m calling this progress.