Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Holiday Support Group November 9, 2012

A few of you mentioned recently that you’d love to be able to find a local support group near you. It’s going to take a bit of coordinating, but it’s on the list of things to figure out in the near future. In the meantime, the next best thing is a support group that meets by phone.

I’ve been facilitating some group support calls as part of the “Finding Peace” program and participants say that it has really helped to be able to talk with peers who understand them. As the facilitator, I’ve been really inspired by the support and camaraderie I’ve experienced in these groups.

With the holidays fast approaching, it seems that now would be a good time to offer up some extra support. It can be a busy time of year, so rather than putting together a formal program, I am hosting a series of support group calls that you can drop in on as needed.

The first call is on Thursday, November 15th at 5:30pm PST and the cost for the one-hour meeting is $20. If it looks as if this is something that is going to be of value for everyone, I will add additional sessions throughout the holidays and into the New Year.

If you’d like to register for the November 15th session, you can do so here. If you’d like to learn more, you can find all the details here. And if you’d like to receive notification when more sessions are added, you can do that here.

As always, I’m open to feedback and suggestions as to what will be most helpful.

 

I Wish I Could have Told My Friends November 5, 2012

I am lucky to have some truly wonderful friends. I have a couple of friends in particular who were really there for me while I was going through the mess of trying to get pregnant and the subsequent coming-to-terms with not.

These women made me cups of tea and put an arm around my shoulder when I couldn’t hold in my tears. They met me for lunch and asked how things were going. They didn’t push the issue when they could see I didn’t want to talk and they didn’t try to help by offering solutions, based on zero knowledge, or sharing hopeful stories of miracle pregnancies. They seemed to know exactly how to be there for me, and yet when we talked about those times later, they admitted they were just as lost as I was and were winging it all along. I guess I just got lucky.

Other friends weren’t quite so lucky in their “winging” and I wish I could have helped them to help me. I wish I could have put into words what I needed from them, kind of a mini instruction book, so they wouldn’t feel so helpless. I wish I would have known then what I know now and been able to explain it to them.

I wish I’d known that what I was going through was a huge life-changing experience and that I would be a different person for it. I wish I could have told them that I’d still be the same old Lisa, but changed, just a bit.

I wish I’d known I would be okay in the end, no matter what the outcome.

I wish I could have explained that much of the time I didn’t want to talk about it because I was working so hard to keep my emotions at bay.

I wish I could have told them that some days I really wanted to talk about everything and tell them how angry and frustrated I was.

I wish they’d known I was lost.

I wish they’d known I was scared.

I wish they’d known that I could no longer see the future for myself beyond the end of my next cycle.

I wish they’d said, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this.”

I wish I’d been brave enough to just cry when I needed to and I wish they would have known to just hand me Kleenex until I was done.

I wished they would have known how much I appreciated their friendship and how, even if I went astray for a while, I’d be back, stronger than ever and ready to be a good friend for them, too.

If you could have told your friends (and family) what you needed, what would you have said?

 

Not the Holidays October 19, 2012

I’m sure I don’t need to point this out to any of you, but the holidays are just around the corner. While many of you will be decking the halls and celebrating, it can also be a tough time of year if you’re still working your way through that delicate phase of trying to get to grips with a life without children, and figuring out how your particular kind of family fits in.

It took me several years to fall back in love with the holidays. I hid from trick or treaters for a number of years, and Mr. Fab and I spent a couple of Thanksgivings out of town, dodging family obligations. One particularly miserable year, we decided to stay at home and celebrate Christmas alone, but when the time rolled around, neither of us had it in us to make merry. With no tree and no big family dinner, it was the farthest I’ve ever drifted from my expectations of how the holidays should be.

This year, if the weather ever drops below 90 degrees here in Los Angeles, I plan to get into the holiday spirit and put out my few Halloween decorations. I’m at the point now where the steady stream of impossibly cute trick or treaters doesn’t upset me, so I’ll probably stay in and hand out candy (perhaps one for the trick or treaters, one for me.) Mr. Fab and I will celebrate Thanksgiving in a very non-traditional way by biking to the beach for a picnic, and I’ll be renting a living Christmas tree from my friend’s company come December.

But for now, I’m celebrating that it’s not yet the holidays. And if you’re celebrating too and need a little comic relief, please enjoy Christina Applegate’s opening monologue on the topic from last week’s Saturday Night Live.

If you are steeling yourself for the coming season and could use a little moral support, please consider hanging out with me on Monday, October 29th at 5:30pm PST. I’ll be hosting a live call-in session where I’ll share some suggestions for getting through the difficult holiday season and answering some of your most pressing questions. I’ll also be talking about an opportunity to get on-going support throughout the season this year.

If you’d like to join the call or catch the recording later, please register here and I’ll send out the call access details.

If you have a question or topic you’d like to hear covered, please post it in the comments and I’ll make sure it gets included.

 

The Great “Life Without Baby” Makeover October 12, 2012

Those of you who anxiously await the arrival of the Life Without Baby post every day (I know you’re out there) probably noticed that there was no post yesterday. Normally Thursday would be Guest Blogger day, but this week I had no guest posts to offer and no time, or frankly, inspiration to write a post myself. I didn’t want to just cobble something together for the sake of having a post, either. I’d much rather write one well thought-out, useful post a week than five hastily thrown-together tidbits.

Which brings me the crux of today’s post: The Great Life Without Baby Makeover and more to the point, my question to you: What do you want from this site?

The LWB site is now two-and-a-half years old, which in blog years is pushing 90, and the old girl is ready for a makeover. I have a designer working on the beautification process and I am taking a lot of walks and thinking about what I want the site to be.

My overall vision hasn’t changed much since I started. I want a safe place to be able to come and talk about the issues of coming-to-terms with not having children, and I want a community of women offering one another support. But as the blog has grown, my vision has expanded and now I’d love the site to become more than just a blog.

I envision a resource for information, support, and community, kind of like a village with a well-stocked library, a community room with groups and events, and a cozy coffee shop where people can meet to talk. I don’t know yet how that all works on one little website, and that’s why I have a pro helping me to figure it out.

But now I’d like to ask you: What does your village need? If you were (or are) struggling with coming-to-terms with not having children, or looking for other childfree women who understand how you feel, and you wandered onto a site that was exactly what you’d been looking for, what would you find there?

Do you want articles, books, classes, support groups, resources, lists, pictures, interviews? What would you like to see?

As I work through this process, I can guarantee I’ll be coming back with more questions, and starting to get specific about what the site really needs, but for now, pretend it’s your birthday and you get to ask for anything you want. Aside from a million dollars and a month in Provence, what would you like from this site?

 

Growing Up Together September 21, 2012

Last weekend I got to spend the day with one of my oldest and dearest friends. I’ve mentioned her before; she’s the friend I’ve known since I was about four, have remained in touch with over the years, and who reached out across the 6,000 miles that now separate us to make plans to reconnect in person. In the past year, we’ve managed to get together somewhere in the world on four different occasions.

As we walked around San Francisco last weekend, she hooked her arm in mine and said, “I’m so glad we get to grow up together.”

I laughed at first. We’re both 42 (and a half.) Surely we’re done growing up. We’ve shared so many life experiences over the years and we’ve traveled together through relationship ups and downs and major life upheavals. We’ve each dealt with health issues that have changed the course of our lives, and both of us have families of two. Over the years we’ve shared stories and laughs, and we’ve shopped, eaten, tested cocktails, and hiked. We’ve been through so much together and there is still so much more ahead of us. We are still growing up and I am very glad that we get to do it together, even if not always in the same corner of the world.

Who are you growing up with? Who do you sometimes take for granted, but who is always there, growing up alongside you? Give that person a shout-out today and let them know how glad you are to have them in your life.

 

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.

 

Dealing With Social Landmines September 14, 2012

The Dealing with Social Landmines e-pamphlet is making its official debut today. As promised in Monday’s post, this is a compilation of tips and strategies for getting through those difficult situations and handling prying questions. Even better, I’m offering it to you, my lovely readers, at the low, low price of absolutely free!

If you’d like your very own copy, plus more upcoming goodies, enter your name and e-mail here and I’ll get it to you right away. You’ll also receive a free subscription to the brand new Life Without Baby newsletter, delivering tips, challenges, and (of course) news to your inbox about once a month. If you find the blog posts and member site are all you need, you can unsubscribe at anytime and I promise my feelings won’t be hurt.

I’d love to hear your feedback on the e-pamphlet and any tips of your own you’d like to share.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Our Theme Song July 17, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

This morning, feeling myself slip a bit deeper into sadness and uncertainty, I looked to my sure-fire pick-me-up: getting lost in a great film. Under the Tuscan Sun reminds me to look beyond my dreams, to acknowledge that something greater is in store for me. Happy Texas just makes me laugh till my face hurts.

But today this isn’t the right cure for me, so I started thinking about how other people lift their moods. Some spend time in a garden or park, reach out to a friend who routinely sports rose-colored glasses, open a dog-eared book of prayers and affirmations, or listen to music. And that’s how I stumbled upon “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. I’d forgotten how beautiful and healing the lyrics are, and as I revisited them, I was struck by how our aptly it expresses what we provide for each other in our LWB community. Take a look:

When you’re weary

Feeling small

When tears are in your eyes

I will dry them all

 

I’m on your side

When times get rough

And friends just can’t be found

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

 

When you’re down and out

When you’re on the street

When evening falls so hard

I will comfort you

 

I’ll take your part

When darkness comes

And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

 

Sail on Silver Girl

Sail on by

Your time has come to shine

All your dreams are on their way

 

See how they shine

If you need a friend

I’m sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind 

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind

Some days we are in need comfort; other days it’s our turn to give. Today I invite you to think about what lifts you up when you’re “feeling small,” or who is “sailing right behind” to give you encouragement and support, and share it in a comment. Perhaps just by sharing it, you’ll be reminded of what you need to hear or do today to cure your blues. Perhaps you’ll provide a new healing option for an LWB sister. And the next time “times get rough,” we can return to the list we’ve compiled and find comfort here.

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

 

Reorienting Friends July 16, 2012

Image courtesy: Microsoft Office

If you’re dealing with the loss of the dream of motherhood, there’s a good chance you’re going through it more or less alone.

Let’s face it, it’s often easier to turn in on ourselves and shut the rest of the world out than to try to express what we’re going through with someone who might not understand. There’s less chance of getting hurt this way and less opportunity for someone to try to say something helpful, but only makes matter worse.

While doing some research on grief and loss for a project, I came across an article that turned that idea on its head. (Of course I now can’t find the article, but when I do, I’ll add it to the post.) The article was about the importance of involving those close to us in our grief. The author writes:

“The process can also assist those close to us to re-orient their relationships to us. For example, without appropriate acknowledgement of a major change, former good friends don’t know how to relate anymore, what is appropriate for discussion or activities and so avoid the issue altogether by dropping the friendships.”

Our culture has accepted norms and customs for handling grieving friends and relatives. Most of us know what to do and what not to say to someone who’s suffered a loss. But the loss of motherhood may not be apparent or understood by those who care about us. We have to point it out.

By telling people what we’re going through, acknowledging our loss to ourselves and to them, we can create expectations for our relationships to function by, rather than allowing those connections to fizzle out because nobody knows how to behave around us.

Sounds easy on paper, I know, but wouldn’t it be worth the short-term pain of having an uncomfortable conversation with a friend versus the long-term pain of watching that friend drift away because she didn’t understand what was going on? What do you think about this idea?

 

Fabulous Friday: Helping One Another July 13, 2012

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Last night I facilitated a conference call with the women on the mentorship program. For an hour, about a dozen of us sat and talked through some of the issues we’re struggling with most. All of the women on the call were there because they were looking for help, and yet each of them stepped up and contributed words of encouragement or offered a suggestion for something that has helped them. Each of them came looking for support, and each left having offered their support to someone else.

I see this happening every day in the comments on this blog, too. I see readers reaching out for help and I see other readers stepping in and offering a hand.  Even though each of you is dealing with your own pain and your own set of issues, your willingness to reach out help someone else is inspiring. Your generosity gives me enormous optimism for the future of mankind.