Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Guest Post: Why Not Me? July 26, 2012

By Quasi-Momma

As I try to accept being childless not by choice, there are moments when I am overcome with small torrents of grief and anger.  It usually is precipitated by the thought of someone who is currently pregnant followed by a white hot flash.  For a brief moment, I’m rocked by different waves of emotion:  there’s longing and sadness (of course), but there’s also a very strong feeling of indignation.

It doesn’t seem to matter who I am thinking about either – it could be a person who has been nothing but horrible to me, someone who has suffered losses like I have, or someone I barely know – the intensity of the feeling, the longing, and the burning is the same.

The indignation confuses me.  The very strong sense of “why them and not me?” throws me for a loop.   Why the person who has treated me unkindly, the person who already has been blessed, or the person who manipulates and abuses her children?   I could float away for days on a sea of anger that arises from such thoughts.

I know that I have the right to feel anger about my situation, but at some point it seems like a futile exercise.  It certainly isn’t going to change my situation.  It just overtakes me for a minute, leaving me feeling a little more depleted once it passes.

In an attempt to make sense of confusing situations, I like to listen to podcasts while I work.  However, there are very few out there that deal with CNBC or pregnancy loss.  So one day, I ended up settling on a Christian podcast relating to grief from child loss.  The podcast was an interview with singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth. The couple had lost one of their adopted daughters when she was run over in their driveway.   It was very hard to listen to them lovingly describe the joy she brought to them and the pain, confusion, and guilt the family dealt with after her death.

At one point, the subject of feeling angry about their loss came up.  Did they ever wonder why this happened to them? To which they calmly replied, “Why not us?”   I was floored by this response.  In it was a level of humility, grace and acceptance that I had never witnessed before.

The question of “Why NOT me?” is an interesting one (and a bit of a difficult one) to consider when unresolved feelings rear their ugly heads.  What is it that I possess that enables me to endure this versus someone else?  How can I take this and make this something for the better?  What does this serve: not only for me, but for others?

I’ve been exploring the idea of the importance of purpose in life.  Until recently, I thought that my purpose would be fulfilled in motherhood.    Now, I know it must be something different.   I think that all this anger, burning, and pain must be used as a catalyst to keep pushing me to explore until my actual purpose is found.

What about you, ladies?  How does “Why NOT me?” impact you?

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.  

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Feeling Cheated July 3, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

My long-time friend, Teri*, and I had spent the morning reminiscing about our college days, catching up on work and vacation plans, and updating each other on sorority sisters we’d friended on Facebook. I was in my kitchen, putting together a salad for lunch, when she finally acknowledged the elephant in the room: The fact that we’re both childfree. She knew I was working toward accepting a childfree life, and I was aware she’d endured several unsuccessful fertility procedures, but we’d managed to talk around it until…

“Do you ever feel…?” and she paused for a moment, seeking the right word.

“…cheated.” I’d never articulated this before, but it was exactly what I felt, and the admission surprised us both.

She looked straight into my eyes with full recognition, then burst into heart-wrenching sobs.

I sought words of comfort as I held her, but nothing could compensate for the emptiness we both were experiencing. Teri would have been an amazing mother. She and her husband are a wonderful couple, part of a loving community of family and friends that would have embraced a child. But you know the story: She and her husband have run through their savings and battered their hearts in attempts to get pregnant, in the process depleting the stores that might have helped them adopt. There will be no children for them.

Even though I’ve made great strides in my journey, there are moments when I have a few choice cuss words for God—or whoever it is who makes the big decisions about our fates. I think about the man who beheaded his teenage daughter because he didn’t approve of her lifestyle, the foster parents who starved and neglected the children in their care, and the woman who left her toddler alone in a filthy apartment so she could go clubbing. These people get to have children but not me? Not Teri?! You bet I feel cheated!

“Life isn’t fair,” my mother once told me, and I continue to wrestle with how to make peace with this. Sometimes I force myself into positive thinking, the whole “acting as-if” process. Instead of focusing on the lack, I focus on the gifts, such as my health, my friends, my dogs. Even reading that now I scoff at the triteness, but I persist. I have to start somewhere to point my heart in the direction of healing, and I suppose I can count myself lucky that I have these blessings when others have been cheated out of good health, supportive relationships, and loyal companions.

Still, I ache for my dear, sweet friend and the unfairness she’s been dealt in life. I don’t want to trivialize her pain, I don’t want to deliver some callous platitude. As we quieted our hearts and wiped away tears, what I said to her was, simply, “I am so sorry.”

*Not her real name, of course, and details have been changed to protect her privacy.

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