Category: Childless Community

My jaw dropped

Published / by sandymichelet / 1 Comment on My jaw dropped

It was a LOT different than I thought it would be. Looking back, I should have read the agenda for the 2 day conference a lot better. It clearly stated the event’s purpose. However, my brain decided that it would be something similar to the Gateway-Women’s retreat. I was wrong.

For the purpose of clarification….this blog defines childless as those who cannot have children (for whatever reason). Childfree describes those who have made a conscious decision not to have children.

On Friday, a childfree keynote explained the backlash she received after a 1974 interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes. She and her husband discussed their decision to not have kids. The morning after the TV show she was fired from her job, received death threats and was ostracized from her friends/family.  After realizing the footage had been edited to remove any positive references, she became an author and now in her 70’s, continues to advocate for and celebrate those who decided not to have children.

The message, though, was a little hard to take. The keynote was cheering (arms in air) about not having kids….actually celebrating….mere feet from childless women who had come to the event unsure of what they were looking for….but I don’t think this was it. She was celebrating not having the one thing that some in the room desperately wanted but couldn’t have. The more she spoke, the lower my jaw dropped.

Please understand. I have nothing against Marcia Drut Davis. I admire and applaud her for taking a stand and setting the stage for women to be able to make the choice to have kids. (After the conference I purchased her book for a friend and asked Marcia to sign it…which she happily did.)

So why was I so….so….shocked? Confused? Honestly, I think I had just geared myself up to hear a supportive talk for the childless and was surprised by the obvious lean to the childfree life.

After the keynote, 4 superstars in the childless/childfree community took to the stage for a panel discussion and a Q&A. Based on the comments and the audience participation, I guessed the room was split about 80% childfree, 20% childless. Childfree women shared their stories. More cheering. So far, nothing from the childless.

I reallyyyyyy started to question if this weekend was going to work for me. And I don’t think I was alone.

I watched the mic move throughout the room while I sipped on coffee…I initially had absolutely no plans of speaking up…….I was full from lunch and happy with the caffeine. But my heart started to break for my new childless friends who I knew had to be listening to everything I was….and who were not being acknowledged as attendees. I raised my hand, asked for the mic and started to share my thoughts (insert your surprised face here):

  1. “Yay for you if you decided not to have kids. Seriously, it is your choice….and I applaud you not having kids just because someone/society/your mother says you are supposed to have kids.”
  2. “Something was becoming very clear to me. We actually had three groups in the room: a.) The cheering childfree, b.) the childless who were well on their journey to peace (like me) and c.) those who were coming to terms with their childlessness and accepting that their life wouldn’t turn out like they’d planned. That last group was rightfully raw with emotion….and being completely ignored.”

A few random claps…and I felt like I had alienated myself from the rest of the group. Way to go, Sandy. Making friends in Cleveland….

The conference organizer, Karen Malone Wright thanked the panel then addressed the group. From the podium, she spoke directly to me with sincere concern for the childless women in the room who (at least in my mind) had previously been unacknowledged. Then….she clarified the format for us….and realized that she hadn’t done it at the beginning over the conference. The first day’s keynote was dedicated to the childfree, the second day the childless. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh. That made a LOT more sense. I immediately felt better. Kudos to her for starting The Not Mom group to provide a safe space for women who (for whatever reason) do not have kids. She is passionate about making this group inclusive and protected.

After the clarification, I was flying high. And ready to meet some peeps. Ba BAM!

During the break I was lucky enough to meet women who felt the same way I had all morning….and they wanted to speak up but didn’t know what to say or, as one woman said, didn’t have the strength to say it. So…my estimation of 80% childfree, 20% childless was actually wrong. The childless were there…but just not ready to talk yet.

So….that meant that the following day was for us. And Jody Day did not disappoint.

Next Blog Post: The Super Hero of the Childless

LISTEN UP! This movie script bites!

Published / by sandymichelet / 2 Comments on LISTEN UP! This movie script bites!

We went to the movies over the weekend and one of the main characters died. What the heck!? I was 100% convinced that she’d pop up at the end in a dramatic “taaa daaaaaa” fashion. In fact, the lump in my throat kept growing because I just knew that she’d miraculously reappear. Nope. Didn’t happen. The credits started rolling, the over-the-top-sad-music played and I kept staring back at the screen, a little surprised. I mean, there are always happy endings.

The next time you are in an office or crowd…do a slow pirouette (or, like me, turn in a clumsy circle and try not to hurt anyone) and take a minute to absorb this fact about the people you are seeing.

One in 8 couples struggle to build a family. Think about that magnitude. One in EIGHT of the people you just saw could be a warrior at the office…kicking butt and taking names…and then spend their nights curled up in ball of tears on the living room floor.

Happy National Infertility Awareness Week, April 23-29th

 

Well…..not happy….but….you get my point.  The NIAW campaign was started to help those in the infertile community feel more empowered by providing tools and resources to help them build a family.

LISTEN UP! Infertility impacts millions. MILLIONS. OF. PEOPLE. And like cancer, diabetes and sarcasm, it does not discriminate.

There is a lot to be said about feeling empowered. I remember years ago the innocence of it all. “When we have a child” rolled off the tongue so easily that I never imagined it wouldn’t happen. But as time, procedures and hope passed I realized that I had ZERO control of any of it. It is difficult to feel empowered when something as “easy” as conceiving wouldn’t happen.

Some of the strongest people I know have been unable to conceive or adopt for one reason or another. They would give up everything (and sometimes have) for the chance to have a child. 

In our every day life we are all expected and conditioned to solve every problem in our lives. The miracle stories, the support groups and even the doctors can sometimes cause us to continue. To continue the treatment. To continue the hope. To continue the pain. And because the prize is so great we rightfully continue to grasp at any hope that exists.

But sometimes it just doesn’t work. And attempting but failing again and again is why many of us in this situation feel like losers everyday. Because we always hear that someone’s cousin’s mail lady’s hairdresser was able to conceive a child when all of medical science said it wasn’t possible. Well, wahoo.

So….like a project manager on cortisone, we mapped out our life’s plan so we could control our own destiny. We decided what types of fertility treatments to try…..when to start (and then end) the adoption process… and when to begin sharing our struggles (and then heartbreak) publicly.

In the quest for feeling 100% empowered over controlling our destiny, I found another piece to this….acceptance. After years and years and years, I didn’t give up but I DID make the decision to stop. My body couldn’t handle anything else and my heart was in pieces. It was time for another plan.

We are each in a different fork in the road. Some are just beginning this journey. Some have walked the path and have the battered feet, hearts and bank accounts to prove it. It is up to each of us to decide next steps. NO ONE can make the decision for us. And it is one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make. But one step that I never considered until recently was just….acceptance.

Every baby story doesn’t end with a baby.

Every adoption story doesn’t end with a child.

Every infertility story doesn’t end with a happy ending.

But just because the movie ended differently than I expected doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a good movie. I will never know what would have been. THIS is my new normal. Being childless is a whole new world. It is nothing that I ever planned. But, LISTEN UP! I plan to rock it.

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Visit www.infertilityawareness.org