To Shower or Not To Shower

I’m immensely grateful to our guest bloggers who take the time to share their stories and point-of-view. This guest post from Solo Girl touched a hot button topic. You can read the original post here.

invitation - pixabayBy Solo Girl 

I have a large extended family; we have to rent a hall on Boxing Day so we can all get together.  And now all those sisters and female cousins are newly married and reproducing.  Every time a baby shower comes up I’m invited, and I wrestle with myself over whether or not I should be able to go yet.

I’ve always been supportive and encouraging with my family, happy to celebrate in another’s happiness.  It’s been four many years since my dream died, and I get the sense that I’m expected to be “over it” by now.

Unsure and not wanting family to think I’m selfish or emotionally immature, I went to a cousin’s baby shower about a year ago.  I mentally prepared myself ahead of time.  For example, I’m terrified of flying, but I know that there is lift-off, food, a movie and a landing, and then it’s done.  I thought about how there would be food, presents and games at this shower, and then it would be done.  I thought to myself “I should be able do this, even my own Mom is expecting me to go.”

I thought the worst part would be the games, but I was wrong.  It was the chitchat.  I actually got stuck between my mother and a cousin having a conversation on the couch about how all the women in our family have long labors.  Seriously.  When I got home I wrote myself a note in black marker and stuck it on my kitchen pin board where it still remains today:  “You never have to go to another baby shower ever again.  No one will notice; no one will care.  It’s torturous.  Don’t Go.  Don’t feel guilty”.

But a year later I still get shower invites and I continue to question whether I am – or should be – ready to attend now.  And I want to know, is it ever going to be something I can attend?  And what can I tell my family that will help them understand how painful it is to attend without sounding like I’m feeling sorry for myself after all this time?  They have high expectations of me, and I really do think they mean well.  I was in a deep depression four years ago, and I think they are trying to make me normal again.  I think.

I’m glad Irina Vodar is producing a documentary on the subject of infertility that some helpful social norms will come of it.

How do you handle these situations?

Solo Girl lives on her own with her 2+ dogs in Ontario, Canada.  She focuses her time on volunteer work and fostering rescue dogs.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Just Saying ‘No’

Kathleen started a heated discussion with this post from September 13, 2013. You can find the original post here.

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods 

Girl ThinkingIf someone asked me if I’d ever declared bankruptcy or if I’d ever done drugs or if I’d ever shoplifted, I would answer with a simple “No.”

Period. End of conversation.

But when a new acquaintance asks, “Do you have children?” for some crazy reason, I feel compelled to elaborate.

“No, we have dogs.”

“No, I didn’t meet my husband until we were too old.”

“No, but I love my nieces and nephews.”

In my opinion, I have no obligation to answer any of the above questions beyond the one-word reply. So why is it that I feel I owe people an explanation about my childfreeness? I really don’t know.

I’d love to hear what you think and how you reply, and maybe I’ll find the courage to just say “no” the next time someone asks.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with being childfree.

 

Whiny Wednesday: “Netflix, You Don’t Know Me At All”

The post originally went out on May 22, 2013 and generated some unexpected whines. You can see them all here.

Whiny_WednesdayLast week I hopped on Netflix after something a hiatus. I was in the mood for a movie, but had nothing in mind, so I was delighted to see that Netflix had come up with a Top Ten Suggestions for me. This is what they thought I would like to watch:

Friends with Kids

(Synopses courtesy of IMDb): “Two best friends decide to have a child together while keeping their relationship platonic, so they can avoid the toll kids can take on romantic relationships.”

The Pill

“Worried that he has gotten the free-spirited Mindy pregnant after an unprotected one-night stand, Fred feigns romantic interest and sticks by her side for twelve hours to make sure she takes both doses of the morning-after pill.”

The Switch

“Seven years after the fact, a man comes to the realization that he was the sperm donor for his best friend’s boy.”

Apparently Netfilx is keeping a close eye on my online activity, but like the old Google ads for baby products that used to pop up on this site (before I cut them off!), I don’t think understand me at all.

It’s Whiny Wednesday. What’s causing you to shake your head in dismay today?

Why I Didn’t Adopt

I think all of us have been asked this question. In this post, originally published on January 6, 2014, I share my response.

MP900443266[1]When I would tell people I didn’t have children and the topic of infertility came up, they would often ask if I’d considered adoption. Can I tell you how hard it was to keep my sarcasm at bay and to not answer, “Adoption? Really? No, I’d never thought about that. I’m so glad you brought it up.”

But now I’m in a better place I can answer that question easily and in a more friendly and helpful way. I’m doing it today, not for those people who want to make sure I’ve thought of every avenue, but for those of you on this site who might be thinking of adoption and wondering why I didn’t do it.

My answer could be very complex and I could talk about how our adoption options were limited by age and finances, about how much more complicated and heart-wrenching the process was than we’d expected, and about how we didn’t have the emotional strength to risk being matched with a child who could be snatched away again in an instant. But having some distance from that time in my life, I see it more simply now.

We didn’t follow through with adoption because we hadn’t yet dealt with the loss dealt by infertility.

During our adoption training we were warned about the importance of resolving our infertility before diving into this new avenue, but at that time, I didn’t want to hear that. Now I think it was perhaps the most important piece of advice we were given. Adoption isn’t the next logical step on an infertility journey; it’s a step off that road and onto another completely different path. But the infertility journey still needs to be brought to a resolution. You still have to work through that grief.

When we ventured into adoption, we didn’t fully understand this. Perhaps if we’d taken some time to heal first, we might have been better equipped to deal with that wild emotional rollercoaster, but we didn’t, and we weren’t, and that’s the way that story went.

I know that some of you are still weighing your options and making some big decisions. My story is unique to me and my opinion is based solely on my experience, but I hope hearing it helps you.

My CBC 1 Interview About Childless Women Today

 SignEarlier this week I was invited to join a conversation about “No-Mos: Women who aren’t having children” for CBC’s Day 6 radio show. I was joined by Melanie Notkin, author of Otherhood, and Laura Scott, who heads the Childless-by-Choice Project.

I am enormously grateful to the show’s host for providing this space for an intelligent conversation about the realities of being a childless woman in our society, and to my co-interviewees for speaking out so articulately on this topic.

You can catch the show today on CBC 1 at 10 am (10:30 am NT) or Sunday at 1 am. It’s also on Sirius XM today at 10 am ET and 7 pm ET, and Sunday at 6 am ET. You can also listen the segment podcast here.

It Got Me Thinking…About All the Single Ladies

This post from Kathleen makes the re-run list every summer…and with good reason. You can find the original post and comments here.

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Girl ThinkingOne of the many beautiful things about our LWB community is the variety of voices and perspectives we’ve brought together. We’ve created a safe place here where we can cry, offer support, share hard-earned wisdom, and even whine about our different yet similar experiences. But as I read through recent posts and revisit older gems, I feel there’s one segment of our group that we need to encourage to join in more. Single sisters: This is your invitation to speak up!

The whole childfree-by-chance-or-circumstance status is painful, period, and I’d like those of us who are lucky to be in happy relationships to pause and acknowledge the quagmire of emotions when it’s compounded by the whole single-not-by-choice scenario. In my case, I spent my youth dreaming about the family I would create for myself. My 20s contained a series of disappointments and heartbreaks. By my early 30s, I hated how women (and men) would come up to me at weddings and baby showers and say “You’re next!” when I wanted so desperately to be part of the married and mommy clubs. Every time I heard what was intended as encouragement, it came across as another acknowledgement of my failings.

It got worse when I hit 40. I’d be standing in the middle of a country club, draped in a hideous bridesmaid dress, toes crammed in hideous shoes, smile frozen on my face while I stood among the other single ladies hoping to catch the bouquet and magically change my fate. I’d catch the eye of a married friend, she’d open her mouth as if to say It, then a look would cross her face and she’d decide to zip her lips. Peachy, I’d think, everyone else has given up on me too. I felt myself growing invisible, and I don’t want any of us to feel that way.

Platitudes such as “It will happen when you least expect it…God must have a plan for you to birth something else…You need to love yourself more, then love will find you” just don’t fly here. At LWB, we’re about having real, open, and often painful discussions about who we are and what we experience. Through our efforts, we hope to promote awareness and acceptance, to create a more inclusive culture, and to heal ourselves.

So, if you’re a gal who happens to be childfree and single, join the conversation. Comment on posts and share your unique perspectives. Check out the “childless couples—childless singles” discussion initiated by Elena K. Start your own discussion or create a group on our Home page. If you’d like to submit a guest post on this subject, visit this link for more information.

Please share your hurts, your reflections, your questions, your experiences. I wish I could have told my younger self, “You matter. You have something to contribute. You are appreciated and loved just as you are.” If you need to hear that, your LWB sisters are here to remind you that it’s true.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She’s at work on a memoir about her experience as a temporary single mommy and how it helped her come to peace with being childfree.

Whiny Wednesday: People Who Ought to Say Nothing

This post was originally published on April 4, 2012 and generated the most comments of any post! Read what everyone had to say here.

Whiny_WednesdayKathleen’s post about mistakes and well-intentioned people got me thinking about people who really ought to just mind their own business.

A few years ago, when I my glorious plans for motherhood were just beginning to come crashing down around my ears, Mr. Fab and I went wine tasting. As a rich, fruity cabernet was hitting my bloodstream and making my crappy world feel better, a woman (whose world was feeling a little too good) leaned over and said, “Should you be drinking?”

I was confused for a moment, until I realized she was peering at my belly. Admittedly, I’d put on a few stress pounds over the previous year, but I was beyond mortified that she’d mistaken my bloat for a pregnancy, especially considering that was the one thing I was truly aiming for.

I’d like to tell you that she realized her mistake immediately, but alas, she had to ask me twice – the second time for everyone around us to hear.

So, while I agree that most people are well-intentioned when they make a faux pas, in some cases, people just ought to keep their traps shut and mind their own damn business.

It’s Whiny Wednesday, ladies. Let ‘em fly.

Do You Ever Get Over Being Childless-Not-By-Choice?

Every summer I take the month of August off from blogging to recharge my batteries and visit my family. (This year they’re coming to me!) Rather than drop off the radar, I will be re-running some favorite posts from the past year or so.

If you’re a new reader, you’ll get to read some of the hottest topics on the site, without having to sift back through more than 1,000 posts! If you’ve been a reader for while, think of this as a chance to look back and see how far you’ve come.

So, for now, enjoy your summer (or winter for southern hemisphere dwellers) and I’ll look forward to catching up with you again in September.

~ Lisa

This post was first published on April 1, 2013, but the topic never grows old. You can see what others had to say on this topic on the original post here.

bigstockphoto_Sand_Through_Hands_2823Last week I was interviewed for an article about women who decided to stop infertility treatments. (I’m very pleased that this topic is being discussed in a broader forum and I will share it as soon as it’s available.) One of the questions the reporter asked was if I thought it was possible to ever get over being unable to have children. I gave her an answer, but I’ve been thinking more about this question ever since.

I can’t see far enough ahead to know for sure if infertility and being childless is something I will ever “get over,” but based on another life-changing experience, here’s what I think:

When I was 15, my dad passed away suddenly and everything changed for me. I remember feeling immediately alienated from the other kids in school because I was no longer like them. I felt as if everyone was staring at me to see how I behaved, to see what someone with a dead dad looked like. People didn’t know what to say me, so many just said nothing. Several adults said variations of “This will make you grow up quickly” so I took them at their word and forged a new grown-up path.

For many years, my dad’s death defined me and I saw everything in my life through that filter. I felt angry and rebelled against people who had living parents, especially if they didn’t appreciate them. Unexpected things would trigger my grief and those old emotions would come at me from nowhere.

Over time, this eased. I went about my life and slowly, the fact that I didn’t have a dad no longer factored in. The trigger situations became less frequent and I thought about his death less and less.

It’s now been 27 years since he passed away. His death no longer directly colors my life. It is something I experienced a long time ago and found my way through. I think about him sometimes, but mostly with fondness and only occasionally do I think about the traumatic time around his death.

I have never forgotten my dad, nor will I ever forget him. His memory and my loss are woven into the fabric of my being, but don’t identify me as someone who has lost. I can say that I am “over” the loss of my dad, but I will never forget that he’s no longer here.

So, now if I go back over this story and replace the loss of my father with the loss of the children I never had, I imagine the story will unfold in much the same way. I’m already on the road to healing. Situations that cause my grief to flare up are very rare these days and the traumatic period of my life is blending into my library of memories. I am well on the way to being “over” infertility and the loss I experienced because of it, but it will always be a part of who I am and I don’t expect I will ever forget.

Our Stories: Heather

As told to Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Our Stories“When I was a little girl,” Heather says, “I always wanted to have a baby, just one.” But she was not able to be a mother, first by chance and later through choice when she chose to stop pursuing infertility treatments. Now 39, Heather and her husband are embracing their own Plan B, a childfree plan. Here’s her story.

LWB: Briefly describe your dream of motherhood.

Heather: I had dreams of loving, caring, and teaching my child all about life. I wanted to be a mother who gave my child humor and memories, a mother who would support and enjoy my child’s journey in life.

LWB: What was the turning point for you?

Heather: After the last IVF, they called to tell me that my levels had turned low—meaning a miscarriage. I went upstairs into my bathroom, took everything from the IVF and bagged it up, took it to the trash, and told myself that enough was enough. I needed to get myself back.

LWB: What’s the hardest part for you about not having children?

Heather: Being excluded from my friend’s lives when they talk about their kids. Or being left out of the birthday parties because I don’t have kids, so they think that I won’t want to attend. (I buy the best gifts!)

LWB: What have you learned about yourself?

Heather: That I love my quiet time. That I don’t have the patience for kids around me all the time. I believe that there are places kids should not be—salons, swanky restaurants and bars, concerts—and I enjoy going there.

LWB: What’s one thing you want other people (moms, younger women, men, grandmothers, teachers, strangers) to know about your being childfree?

Heather: Just because I don’t have children of my own, doesn’t mean that I don’t “like” them. I am a great aunt, a great friend to young teens that my friends and family have. I want people to know that I wanted kids, it just was something that was not meant for me to do.

LWB: How do you answer “Do you have kids?”

Heather: This question still bothers me. I usually just say “No, I don’t have kids.” If people would leave it at that…but most of the time they follow that with “Are you going to?” It depends on who asks and the situation itself, but my favorite answer is “No. Do you?” It usually takes them aback, and I smile deep down.

LWB: Who is your personal chero (a heroine who happens to be childfree)? What about her inspires you?

Heather: I read an article a couple months ago about stars who don’t have children. Cameron Diaz stated that she doesn’t have kids, and she has a great life because of that. It makes me happy, because my husband and I have a great life, we are free to do what we want, when we want. I lean on that when I feel bad for myself.

 

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status.


“Our Stories” is taking a short hiatus until September. If you’ve enjoyed reading the column and would like to add your voice to the conversation, we’d love to hear from you. Sharing your experience with others makes you realize you’re not alone, and your story could help someone who is struggling to feel heard.

Please visit the “Our Stories” page to find more about the column and get information about how to share your story. ♥

Whiny Wednesday

Whiny_WednesdayIt’s Whiny Wednesday and this week we have another hot button topic suggested by a reader:

The men who wasted our fertile years

Whether it’s the relationship you fought hard to make work, the “perfect” man who never quite grew up, or the spouse who suddenly decided fatherhood wasn’t for him.

If you have one, you can whine about it here. If not, the floor is open, as always, to all topics in whinification.