Welcome Back! And News

Hello and welcome back!

I don’t know about you, but for me this summer flew by. I had a great time with my visiting family and got to spend some really wonderful and long overdue time with my brother, niece, nephew, and their friends/partners. It was exhausting and fun, and I was very grateful to be able to take that time.

Despite allegedly taking the month off from Life Without Baby, a lot has been happening, so I’ll do a quick update and then we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled programming, as they say.

Last month I was invited to join a conversation for the Canadian radio show, Day 6, on CBC. I joined Otherhood’s Melanie Notkin and Laura Scott from the Childless-by-Choice Project to speak about the issues faced by childless women. We touched on many topics, including the growing trend of childlessness, social acceptance of childless women, and how each of us has made peace with our situations.

I am incredibly appreciative for the safe and non-judgmental environment that host Piya Chattopadhyay created. (I also got to geek out about getting a behind-the-scenes peek at the NPR studios here in L.A.

Anyway, you can hear a recording of the segment here.

My other big news is that, during my “vacation” I finally committed to writing the Life Without Baby book I’ve been talking about for about the past three years. I’ve been so overwhelmed by the thought of gathering all I’ve learned over the past five-plus years and writing an entire 250-300 page tome that I never managed to get past the first couple of chapters.

Then I hit on the idea of writing a series of mini eBooks covering each of the stages of the journey. Somehow, researching, writing, editing, and completing a short 40-50 page book felt so much more doable, and in fact, over the summer, I did just that.

Lisa Manterfield_ebook

Available for pre-order now

The first book in the series is Letting Go of the Dream of Motherhood and deals with the impossible decision of when it’s time to let go, how to create a meaningful ending to an indefinite journey, and how to begin making peace with a life without children.

This book is scheduled for release on October 6 and it’s already up on Amazon and available for pre-order.

It’s only available in eBook format at the moment, but my goal is (drumroll, please) to have all the books finished and compiled into a printed version by Mother’s Day 2015. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

Here on the blog, look out for regular posts from me, as well as weekly posts from Kathleen, more Our Stories, some special guest bloggers, and of course, Whiny Wednesday. I’ll also be asking for your input on topics you’d like to see covered, so watch for that coming soon.

I hope you enjoyed your summer (or winter—Hi, Mali!) I look forward to catching up with here soon.

 

 

Whiny Wednesday: Kid Hater

This post was originally published in April 2013 and it still makes me sad. You can see the original post and comments here.

Whiny_WednesdayOverheard outside my local café last week:

“I have three kids and I hate all of them.”

Can someone please explain to me why this jack@$$ gets to have the privilege of being a parent when so many lovely people I know (including myself) don’t?

It’s Whiny Wednesday. What’s got you spitting nails this week?

How to be Happily Childfree in 10,000 Easy Steps

This post is an oldie, originally posted on April 26, 2012, but I think it’s worth a rerun. You can see what others had to say here.

MP900289486There are two questions I get asked frequently: How did you come to terms with not having children, and how long did it take?

The answer is something akin to “how long is a piece of string and how many knots can you tie in it?”

Believe me when I tell you that if I could write down ten easy steps to making peace with being childfree-not-by-choice, I’d do it, but the answer isn’t that simple. Yes, there were many things that happened along the way that helped me make some peace, but it took closer to 10,000 steps than ten.

Writing down my story was hugely cathartic, venting about the injustices on this blog helped, too. Realizing I wasn’t alone in this and that people like you were out there wanting to talk through the minefield has helped immeasurably. Drawing a line in the sand and saying, “This is where that chapter of my life ends and this is where I start healing” also helped. And frankly, telling myself a big fat lie that I was better off not being a mother actually helped me to realize that in many ways I was. Setting new goals, appreciating the benefits of not having kids, and allowing myself to feel bitter and badly treated when I needed to. All these things helped.

I don’t think there’s a formula for working your way through this, and it’s definitely a journey of making forward process and dealing with inevitable setbacks.

As for how long the process takes? How long is that piece of string? It’s been three years for me and I consider myself largely at peace with my situation. I have closed the door on the idea that I will have children someday and most days I’m good with it. Everyday it gets a little better and a little easier. Some days there will be reminders of what I’ve lost and sometimes a flicker of a thought of “what if…”

The truth is, in many ways, I expect this piece of string to go on forever. The experience of infertility has changed me. It is one of the most significant and life-changing events of my life, and I don’t think the repercussions of that will ever stop reverberating. It doesn’t mean I won’t find harmony and even happiness in this new life – I already have – but I don’t expect this journey of coming-to-terms to ever fully end.

It Got Me Thinking…About Being Blessed With Children

This post touched a few nerves. You can see the original post and comments from October 2013 here.

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods 

Girl ThinkingI’m not a Catholic, but I have attended numerous services to support friends in their faith journeys and I am familiar with the vow in wedding ceremonies that asks, basically, “If you are blessed with children, will you raise them in the Catholic faith?” (“We will.”) It was an unpleasant surprise, then, when recently I attended a beautiful wedding mass and the priest, in my humble opinion, went too far.

“There are many here who are eager for you to bear fruit—as soon as possible!…May you soon become co-creators and bring many children into the world…Now that you are husband and wife, we look forward to your becoming parents…When you have your children….”

I get that the parents of the bride and groom are eager for grandchildren, but as the calls continued for my friends to procreate, I got uncomfortable, sad, and, well, angry. The kicker for me was when the priest invited us to pray for this beautiful young couple to produce babies asap. Oh, I prayed for them alright, but my prayer went something like this:

Dear God, Please be present for this wonderful man and woman. Bless their marriage. If they have a desire to have children, I pray that you spare them the heartache of infertility, miscarriages, and any other impediments to parenting. If children are not to be a part of Your plans for their future, please be a comfort and guide to them, and please soften the hearts of their family members.

I’m rankled whenever I hear someone say that “it’s not God’s will” or “you aren’t faithful enough” or some other condemnation for why good people are not “blessed” with children. I know in my heart that none of these statements are true, yet they can be so hurtful. I hope and pray that my newlywed friends never have to be at the receiving end of this kind of pain.

I’d like to hear from you. What does your church have to say about this? How do you feel about wedding vows that call for bringing children into the world? And most of all, how has your faith helped you in your journey through life without babies?

 

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

Whiny Wednesday: When We Were Kids

Here’s a Whiny Wednesday from October 2013. You can see the original post here.

Whiny_WednesdayA college friend just posted a photo of her son and his date all dressed up for the homecoming dance.

It got my attention because the “kids” weren’t much younger than my friend and her now-husband when I first met them, and, as the boy looks like his father, the photo reminded me of them and how flipping long it’s been since I was in school.

It also caused a pang of sadness for another experience I won’t get to have. I won’t get to send my teen off on his first date or take a photo of him and realize he’s a carbon copy of his dad.

It’s Whiny Wednesday, and today I’m feeling whiny about how unfair life can be.

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.