My usual cleaning pattern is pretty simple. Start to clean > find something I haven’t seen in years (pictures, etc) > sit on the floor to reminisce > reminisce til I get bored > ignore the area I planned to clean > move on with my life.
For the last month or so I’ve been in a cleaning spree…which nicely translates into “walking down memory lane while simultaneously ignoring all of the crap in the extra bedrooms”. One of the recent gems I discovered was a journal from our first few years of marriage.
If you ever wondered if I had a boring life, wonder no more. It is a yawner. I wrote the thing and struggled to keep my eyes open while reminiscing. Except for these two topics:
My grandma. She died while I was keeping the journal…so I have a lot of stories about her and how much I missed her
Looking back, I was ridiculously naive. I remember planning for a spring baby so I could put the baby in a bonnet for Easter Sunday.
Saturday, 3/2/01 “<Insert confidential name> and I talked about a baby. They said I am working myself up and that I am making it worse that it really is”
Monday, 9/1/01 “We went antique shopping and I bought a silver lamp for the nursery, It is great!” My plan was to save it and open it when I got pregnant. I bought the lamp 16 years ago. I just opened the box when I bought our new house.
Sunday, 12/23/01 “I am 33, 34 in 7 months. If I don’t get pregnant immediately, we are going to get into the 35 year old danger zone. I told Craig I wouldn’t try to get pregnant after 35”. This wasn’t true. I breezed right through 35 and we kept trying.
Saturday, 9/7/02 “I told <Migraine Doctor> we were trying and he took me off X and Y medications. I keep getting migraines now. Either try for a baby or have less headaches with no baby.” At this point in my life, I was having 18-25 migraines a month. I was told I needed to choose between getting off all of the medications (and be in debilitating migraine pain while trying to get pregnant) or stay on the medications and stop trying to get pregnant). I chose to try to get pregnant.
Sunday, 2/3/03 “I just took another ovulation test. I haven’t looked at it yet………It seems like we have to go through so much trouble to get pregnant. I wish it would just happen”. HA HA HA HA! This was two years into trying. Ah…..so naive!
Doctor visits, pregnancy tests, etc.
Tuesday, 2/11/03 “I have a doctor’s apt tomorrow at 3:45 to discuss Clomid. If you’ve never been on Clomid…lemme explain very simply. Think about the angriest you’ve ever been in your life….you want to strangle anyone who gets within 30 feet of you…there is no way that smoke isn’t coming out of your ears…..everyone is an idiot…you are questioning your sanity….and then, you are supposed to turn on Marvin Gayeif ya get my meaning. Yeah…its that sexy.
I have blocked out a LOT of things from those years. The pain of feeling like a failure and disappointment was just too great. Finding the journal was bittersweet. It brought me right back to where I was when I was writing each entry…but it also made me realize that 15 years ago I thought my life would end if I didn’t have a baby. Now I realize that my life was just beginning.
On the 3rd day of Childlessness, my inner voice said to me “I have empty arms”
On the 4th day of Childlessness, my inner voice said to me “I will die alone”
On the 5th day of Childlessness,
my inner voice reminded me
“FIVE PREGNANT HIGH SCHOOL GIRLSSSSSSSSS”
On the 6th day of Childlessness, my inner voice said to me “People treat me different”
On the 7th day of Childlessness, my inner voice said to me “I’ll never have a baby”
On the 8th day of Childlessness, my inner voice said to me “I’m embarrassed that I’m broken”
On the 9th day of Childlessness, my inner voice said to me “My family is small, its my fault”
On the 10th day of Childlessness, my inner voice said to me “Am I a real woman?”
On the 11th day of Childlessness, my inner voice said to me “Don’t look at me with pity”
On the 12th day of Childlessness, my inner voice said to me “Will I be remembered?”, “Don’t look at me with pity”, “Am I a real woman?”, “My family is small, its my fault” “I’m embarrassed that I’m broken”, “I’ll never have a baby”, “People treat me different”, “FIVE PREGNANT HIGH SCHOOL GIRLSSSSSSSSS”, “I will die alone”, “I have empty arms”, “What did I do wrong” and “This bites, you’ll have no legacy”.
12 days ofInfertility
To me, someone who is infertile has been unable to conceive a child but is still TTC (trying to conceive) and is hopeful that it will happen.
On the 1st day of Infertility, my family asked of me “Are you pregnant? We want to see a ba-by”
On the 2nd day of Infertility, my coworkers asked of me “Have you seen a doctor?”
On the 10th day of Infertility, my dentist said to me “IVF could fix this”
On the 11th day of Infertility, my nail tech said to me “Why can’t you get pregnant”?
On the 12th day of Infertility, my doctor said to me “This will never happen”, “Why can’t you get pregnant”?, “IVF could fix this”, “Is it you who has the problem?”, “Hurry, you’re getting older”, “If its meant to be you’ll have one”, “You need to try harder”, “FIVE CLOMID DAYSSSSSSSSS”, “Adoption is an option”, “Stop trying it will happen”, “Have you seen a doctor?”, “Are you pregnant? We want to see a ba-by”
This started to be a tongue in cheek blog post…but as I wrote I started remembering the unsolicited (i.e. unwelcome/unwanted/not helpful) advice I had received over the years. Add that advice to me already beating myself up and it was a constant barrage of negativity….like a partridge jumping out of the pear tree to peck the childless to death.
Others dream of visions of sugar plums dancing in their head. We dream of a child.
Others think a Silent Night is a good thing. We think its another night without hearing a cooing baby.
All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth. Nope…………………………
We heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
When I was a kid I dreamed that I would do something to change the world. I wanted to be one of the first female astronauts or I wanted to create a new type of math (I knew it would be called “subvision’ but didn’t get a lot further than that).
Somewhere along the way I got an inkling that those things would never happen. Strangely, my debilitating fear of heights and poor math skills never deterred me in either goal…..I was still forging forward.
At ten years, old (you know…. when I was creating new mathematical formulas), I didn’t really know what changing the world meant. Now I do.
I first met Jody Day while walking into a Cleveland hotel. We were both in town for the Not Mom Summit. She was the keynote speaker and I was the lunatic fan who ran up to her like she was one of the Beatles. For many years I had been overcome by grief…..feeling like I was immersed in pudding, drowning more every day. Then her book arrived.
Welcome. Pull up a chair.
Grab yourself a cup of tea or something stronger and make yourself comfortable.
Things are about to get a whole lot easier – Jody Day
The morning of her keynote she came to sit at our table. (Craig warned me to “be cool and don’t act like a goofball when you meet her”). I think Exhibit A Stalking Picture proves I didn’t listen.
She started her keynote and the room went silent. Her reputation is well known as someone who started speaking for the childless when no one else was. We were all anxious to hear what she had to say.
The numbers are staggering. Twenty percent of the women in the US will make it to their 40’s without having children. Jody acknowledged the heartbreak. “Yep. This sucks. It really, really sucks”. But then she asked the game changer. Very simply. “What’s next?” How did we want to live our lives?
Back then, I hadn’t gotten that far, honestly. I was still knee deep in refusing-to-acknowledge-cry-on-the-inside-like-a-winner grief. But, I’ll bite. How DO I want to live my life? Was the baby story going to be my only story? Was that my legacy?
She acknowledged that unwanted childlessness was painful and horrible… but she went far beyond that.
Those in the room looked around inquisitively. What!? Wait. What is happening? We had all been focusing on our individual internal grief (as we should have been) that we never even realized what was happening to the collective “us”. As a society, are childless women treated differently? Do company policies uniformly impact their employees or do they lean toward benefitting those with children? She tossed out a few examples that most had never considered. Unfair utilization of PTO? Are benefits equal? Does a company contribute more money toward healthcare for a family than they do for a childless person. Is that right?
This really got those in the room spinning. Nahhhhh, this isn’t a thing, is it!?
The story, all names and characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, building or products is intended or should be inferred. <ha! This is what they put after Law & Order.
Susie needs to leave work at 2pm because she just learned her child broke his arm at school. She packs up her things and walks out the door…. everyone wishes her well and says “I hope little Johnny is ok”.
Jamie doesn’t have any children. She just bought a new house and needs to leave work at 2pm because she just learned her contractor is having an issue with her countertops.
A few weeks later, Susie’s son is in a holiday program at school. She needs to leave at 3 to get him dressed and ready for the evening. He will be dressed as a cow. Her co-workers say “Awwwww..a cow”
A few weeks later, Jamie needs to leave at 3 because she is going to meet with a decorator. Her co-workers say “Uh, why doesn’t she schedule this after work?”.
Susie’s daughter was accepted to cheerleader camp. Rah! Rah! Sis Boom Ba! Susie has a lot of work to do before the camp starts…buying outfits, getting lunch money for her, etc. She missed a few hours of work this week. Her son reinjured his arm and the project she’s been leading is starting to fall behind schedule. She is starting to feel overwhelmed. “We need to take Susie to lunch. She is juggling 20 things right now”.
Jamie started painting her kitchen and bathrooms a few weeks ago. She is still fighting with the contractor about the countertops. She missed a few hours of work this week . The project she’s been leading is falling behind schedule. She is starting to feel overwhelmed. “Jamie’s project is not on schedule. She needs to get her priorities in order. She took off a few weeks ago to go meet a decorator and now she just missed again?!”
Who is a better employee? Susie or Jamie? They’ve both missed the same amount of hours. Both of their projects are falling behind. But does your company’s leadership or the office gossipers consider these scenarios to be the same? Or….is Susie a “working mom trying to take care of her kids ” and Jamie is considered “self-centered and not a team player”.
What about this?
Susie sends an email “Attention company. Abby in accounting is having a baby soon. Let’s shower her with love! If everyone on this email gives $10 we can buy her the <insert random baby crap available at Babies R Us>. Yay!”
Jamie sends an email “Attention company. I am saving for a trip to Italy. If everyone on this email gives $10 I can buy my ticket before the rates go up! Yay!”
Huh. Not really the same, is it. Is it more socially acceptable to ask co-workers to donate to a baby gift as opposed to donating to another co-worker’s dream vacation fund? In fact, in some places (every southern place I’ve ever been) it would be considered tacky.
This conversation is about awareness and action. Things like the above are happening in our workplaces and it is up to us to stop it. Because we now know that childless women may get treated differently…..(In all fairness, companies may not even realize it….which is why we need to talk about it.)
This conversation is NOT about asking people to donate to childless women. If you believe it is, then either you missed the entire point or I explained it poorly. Over the years, I’ve happily donated to a zillion baby showers and bridal showers and will continue to do it.
A great keynote will make you think differently, act differently, feel differently….expand your thinking. Jody Day is a great keynote. She has impacted countless women from around the world. And now, she will make an even bigger impact….and I am THRILLED and honored to be a part of it.
Early next year, I will join 9 other women from around the world where Jody will teach us to facilitate her Gateway-Women’s Reignite workshop. This is the same workshop I attended in February and experienced the 10 most powerful minutes of my life. This workshop had a massive impact on me and helped remove the heavy feeling I had for so long (like drowning in pudding)…and now, she wants to expand the reach and by extension, the healing. She is giving us a chance to impact other women’s lives. THIS will be our legacy.
Gateway-Women.com describes Jody Day as the Voice of the Childless in the UK. She is much more than that. She is changing the world. And, she is a pudding remover. That is a big deal, people!
I find myself getting immersed again…but this time, not pudding….but in the excitement of Living. This. Life. The childless life.
For more information about the Reignite Workshops or the NEWLY launched Baton Rouge Childless Women Meet Up (1st Saturday of every month), visit Gateway-Women.com.