Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

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.

 

In the Wake of Hurricane Infertility September 17, 2012

On a walk recently, my husband mentioned that a friend of ours is planning to move with her husband and small daughter to a more family-friendly neighborhood. I knew what was coming next. Once someone has a baby, it seems it’s only a matter of time before the next pregnancy announcement comes. I’d been expecting this news and my genuine happiness for her showed me how far I’ve come.

However, when my husband broke the news of our friend’s pregnancy, I saw him shrink away in the way you’d expect a mistreated dog to cringe when someone raises his voice. It made me sad to realize the damage my infertility experience has left in its wake.

My husband isn’t the only one who’s been affected. I’ve noticed friends stepping very carefully around the topic of babies and children, and keeping a close eye on me to gauge my reaction as to how much they can say. I am grateful for their sensitivity, but I’m sorry that they still can’t fully relax around me.
My infertility and my subsequent healing have been the major focus of my life for a number of years now. I’ve been working hard to sort through my emotions, deal with my grief, and get to the point where I can have conversations about pregnancy and babies without feeling upset or envious. But I realize that those around me don’t know yet how far I’ve come and they’re still stepping gingerly around me, as if I’m and unexploded bomb that looks safe enough but that could go off at any time.

It seems that the next step of my healing journey needs to be repairing some of the damage done by Hurricane Infertility, and letting my friends know that it’s safe to be around me again.

 

Laughter: The Best Medicine August 6, 2012

This post was originally published on September 26, 2011

When was the last time you laughed? I mean really laughed. I’m talking deep, belly rumbling, side aching, snorting, laughter. Odds are, it’s been a while.

Last weekend I laughed longer and harder than I’ve laughed in a long, long time, and it felt SO GOOD!

The first bout came as my husband was telling our friends a funny and embarrassing story about his 21st birthday. I’ll spare the details, but think boys, bar, beer, waitress – use your imagination and you’ll be close. I’d heard the story before, but forgot the punch line, and for some reason it hit me right on the funny bone this time. I laughed so hard I had to excuse myself from the room to avoid snorting my adult beverage down my nose.

The second time happened when I rode a rollercoaster – something I haven’t done in absolutely YEARS! I certainly didn’t do anything so wild and outrageous during my TTC years (just in case, you know) and the opportunity hasn’t presented itself since. So, last weekend I rode The Roller Coaster at the New York-New York Hotel in Las Vegas.

Let me tell you, I laughed! I whooped down the first drop, howled through the corkscrew, screamed in delight around the spiral and laughed so hard my legs shook. And do you know what? I felt great!

Something loosened up when I laughed like that. Some lump of built up tension released in me, and the weight that’s been dragging me down for so long lifted. Maybe it’s only a temporary reprieve, but I’ll take it. Laughter really is an excellent medicine.

So, if you could use a laugh, here’s a good article about the health benefits of laughter, including some tips for adding laughter to your life. (I’m adding “ride a rollercoaster to the list.)

I know that when life doesn’t go as planned it’s hard to find any humor at all, and when you’re healing from loss and dealing with grief, nothing’s funny. I know. But finding something to smile about, even just a giggle, can do you a world of good, and when the time is right, a great big belly laugh can help put your whole life back into perspective.

So, my challenge to you this week: Find something to laugh about. If nothing’s funny, just force yourself to smile until it turns into a giggle, and then let the laughter follow. I promise you, you’ll feel so much better.

 

That He Would Do This for Her August 2, 2012

This post was originally published on March 23rd, 2012. Sue Fagalde Lick’s book Childless by Marriage has just been published and is available on Amazon and on Sue’s website. Congratulations, Sue!

By Sue Fagalde Lick

When my friend John started going out with Lizzy, a teacher at least 20 years younger than he was, I kept my qualms to myself. Who was I to judge? Had I not married a much older man myself?

A couple years later, I ran into John and Lizzy at the Toledo, Oregon summer festival. Weary from strolling up and down Main Street, I saw them in the crowd sitting on orange folding chairs by the stage outside Bank of the West and decided to join them in the shade of a big alder tree.

I didn’t notice Lizzy’s belly until they stood to move their chairs into the sun. Was it really rounded under her denim overalls or was I imagining it? No, she was definitely pregnant.

Battling hot flashes and glad to be out of the sun, I remained alone in the shade, gazing up at the yellow and green leaves. With each gentle breeze, waves of sadness washed over me. John had finished raising his family. He had retired. He enjoyed his life of writing, music and bicycle trips. I was certain he did not want to start raising children again, but I could see the whole picture: Lizzy was young, she wanted a family, he loved her, and he could not deny her that part of life.

Of course it could have been an accident, a birth-control failure, but they were both too smart for that. This was pregnancy on purpose. That he would do this for her . . . It echoed in my head like a mantra: that he would do this for her. A corresponding chant answered: that my husband would not.

But I got it wrong. When I asked John about it later, he said he was the one who wanted another child. Lizzy didn’t mind doing without, but he wanted a chance to do a better job than he had before.

Why wasn’t my husband like that?

I had been through this so many times. It was not Fred’s fault. I had married him despite his declaration that he did not want to have children with me, that the three he had with his first wife were all he ever wanted. I had decided it was better to have him without children than to marry someone else I loved less or, more likely, to remain alone. Besides, had I not always placed my career above everything, thinking that someday I would get around to kids, but not today, tomorrow, next week . . .?

Suddenly the toe-tapping music grew tiresome. I needed to do the laundry, start dinner, make some phone calls. I kept glancing at John and Lizzy, unable to stop staring at Lizzy’s belly.

I had thought I was past this, beyond this agonizing over not having children. As I gathered my things, waved goodbye to my friends, and started the long walk to my car, I asked myself “Will it never end?”

Sue Fagalde Lick has been married twice to men who did not give her babies. She blogs on the subject atwww.childlessbymarriage.blogspot.com.

 

Whiny Wednesday: Household Duties July 11, 2012

I am the only person in my house who ever replaces the empty toilet paper roll. I am also the only person who ever thinks to replenish the emergency supply that is usually kept close-at-hand. Our toilet paper stockpile is kept in a cupboard – a cupboard that is all the way across the other side of our disproportionately large bathroom.

I don’t wish to lower the tone of this blog, so I will leave you to figure out the consequences of this for yourself.

Today is Whiny Wednesday and this is my whine. What’s yours?

 

Duck, Weave, or Cover? May 10, 2012

By Quasi-momma

Around mid-April, my mind starts thinking about that scary little day coming up in May. You know the one. The one that makes us cringe ever so slightly. The one we might all like to avoid. Dare I say its name?  It’s Mother’s Day.

As a stepmom, M-day has always been tough for me. The first year after marrying Hubs, I had expectations that I would at least be honored in some small way.  After all, I did perform the duties of a mom, so I deserve a little something, right?  Wrong.  It came and went without even so much as a word in my direction from anyone: not my Hubs, not my in-laws, and not my Skid. It was like a jab to the face.

Add a couple pregnancy losses and several negative pregnancy tests over the years, and M-day packs a one-two punch. You can safely say that the day has lost its luster for me.

To give him credit, Hubs finally did get the memo last year. He took me on a special outing the Saturday before to thank me for all I did as well as to acknowledge what we’ve lost. It was quiet, private, and meaningful: enough to get me through the indignity of the next day.

But this year, a final uppercut has been added to M-day’s combo: there’s a pregnancy in the family. I will now be the only female not honored as a Mom. It’s threatening a knock-out. I need a strategy.

Right now, I’m in heavy negotiations to bow out of this round. I know my limits. I’m just starting to deal with the possibility that I may never have a child of my own, and I’m not up to this “holiday.”  Yet, I fear that my absence may bruise some egos, and the fallout may not be worth it.  So I’m turning to you, my dear community, for advice. How do you get through it? (Feel free to whine too. By all means, let’s vent!)

The one thing I do know for sure is that extreme self-care will be required. There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the urge we feel to explain or defend our situations, whether they are by choice or not. This day will have our guards up higher than usual.  So please be good to yourself.

Quasi-momma, also known as “Bruisin’ Susan” explores her thoughts and feelings on her own struggles with childlessness, pregnancy loss and stepfamily life on her blog http://quasimomma.wordpress.com. She prefers not to disclose her weight class. It’s no one’s business.

 

My Glamorous Childfree Life April 9, 2012

Last week, loribeth left a comment that struck a chord with me. She said:

“Sometimes I feel like my life should be more “exciting” than it is. It’s like if you’re childless, people think you should be constantly travelling to exotic places — or feeding starving children in Africa — or giving up your job to run away & live on a beach in the South Pacific — because you don’t have kids to think about or send to college. When really, I am, for the most part, perfectly happy spending a quiet Saturday night at home with dh and a good book or my laptop.”

When I first realized I wasn’t going to have children, I did a lot of soul-searching about what I was going to do with my life now I wasn’t going to be a mother. Eventually, the answer came to me: I’d be doing pretty much the same as I was before. The upside now is that I still have the time to pursue things I love and I’ll most likely still enjoy that freedom ten years from now when my children would have been hitting their teen years and I would have been seriously considering running away to live on a beach in the South Pacific.

Mr. Fab and I are heading off on vacation this week—for a whole week! We’re going to the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington, where we plan to spend the week doing not very much. We’ll take our backgammon and dominoes, some good books, and our hiking boots for some long walks. I’ll pack my binoculars for whale watching and bird spotting, my waterproof jacket in case I decide to brave the water in a kayak, and my Pajama Jeans (and, by the way, believe the hype. I wear mine every day) for lounging around and relaxing.

In other words, we won’t be perpetuating the stereotype of the jet-setting childfree couple, galloping around to the most exotic corners of the world, but we will be doing something important; we’ll be making the most of what’s turning out to be a very pleasant, if not especially glamorous, life.

 

Whiny Wednesday: Smelly Cat June 22, 2011

There are lost of pluses to being “off the baby crazy train.” My Health Savings Account (used to pay everything not covered by health insurance) is carrying a healthy balance instead of being wrung dry. Most weeks I have no doctor’s appointments at all. My love life has improved dramatically. Beer and sushi are back on the menu. I’m happier. But the big downside is that the responsibility for cleaning out the cat box has fallen back to me.

Let me say, I love my cat. As far as furry friends go, she really is the cat’s meow. She’s a snuggle buddy, her fur is lovely and silky, and she loves to wrestle. But I do not know how a creature so cute can produce such a ferocious stink.

Today is Whiny Wednesday and this is my whine. What’s yours?

 

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.