Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Eight years of childless/free living

This weekend marks a very special "anniversary" in my personal history -- the day I consider to be the true beginning of my childless/free life. Of course, I've lived without children my entire life (aside from the six months I was pregnant in 1998) -- but July 18th was a special day, an initial milestone marking the beginning, or at least the earliest stage, of my journey down the road less travelled. (I'll be otherwise occupied on July 18th, so I thought I'd blog about it early!)

It was the summer of 2001. Our third & final injectable/IUI cycle had failed in late May: we had reached the previously agreed-upon end of the fertility treatment road, & were embarking on the new & scary path of permanent childless/free living. In mid-June, I began having a series of frightening, debilitating anxiety attacks. I went to my family dr, was prescribed some Ativan, and endured a battery of tests (at my insistence) to satisfy myself that I hadn't had a heart attack, as I had initially feared. We went back to see the infertility counsellor we'd seen earlier for some guidance on this new path we were taking, & started getting ready for a much-needed family holiday on the Pacific Coast.

As I had when our daughter was stillborn in 1998, I began searching the Internet for resources -- something, ANYTHING, that would tell me I wasn't alone in facing this scary situation.

And I wasn't. Blogs hadn't been invented yet (or if they were, they weren't very well known), but I found a recently created message board that seemed custom-made for women like me. Women who had hoped to have children but, for a variety of reasons, hadn't. Some were like me, with a history of lost pregnancies and failed infertility treatments. Some were married to men who had families with previous partners & didn't want more children. Some were still hoping for a miracle, but trying on childfree living for size.

I made my first post on the board on June 18, 2001. I immediately felt accepted and understood. I began to look forward to logging on every day & finding out what everyone was doing and how everyone was feeling. It was a virtual support group. We got to know each other by posting "Two for Tuesday," "Wednesday woes & woohoos" and a "Friday Five." I found a few (very few) other boards for women in my situation (some listed in the sidebar of this blog), but most of them were not very active, and the bonds among the members not as strong as the ones I had formed with these women.

In the spring of 2003, the site underwent an "upgrade." Suddenly, I couldn't access the board anymore. PANIC!!! I had e-mail addresses for a few of the girls, & one day, I received an invitation: one of the members had created a private Yahoo group where we could reconnect. Eight of us eventually gathered over there and picked up the conversation where we had left off before we had been so rudely interrupted. : )

Eventually, I was able to access the old board again. But things were never quite the same there after that. There were many people we just never heard from again. A few of us "oldtimers" hung around to answer questions from newcomers. While the number of active posters slowed considerably, our threads continued to receive lots of views, indicating we had a lot of lurkers.

Last year in June, the hosting site shut the board down because of a lack of activity. The archived board is still there (although not, sadly, the posts from its earliest days -- so I can't link to my original post from 2001), but you can no longer post or respond to posts there, & it is not listed on the main site index of message boards. I blogged about the board closing here.

Only four or five of us still post on the Yahoo group now, not quite as often as we used to in the early days, when childless living was still a new & scary thing. But there is a bond and a common history we share that I treasure enormously. I've met two of these women in real life & it was simultaneously a weird & wonderful thing, to have someone step off the computer screen and into your arms for a hug. We've joked that that when we grow old & grey & widowed, without kids to "take care" of us, we'll move into a house together like the Golden Girls and take care of each other. (Or maybe we're not joking.)

Girls (I know some of you read this blog), I've never met most of you, but I can't imagine what the last eight years would have been like without all of you to vent to, cry with, laugh with and celebrate with. Thank you, thank you, thank you. To the extent that I have "accepted" my childless/free life, you all deserve much of the credit. I couldn't have done it without you. : )


  1. I wish that this was an anniversary you were celebrating. But, I'm awfully glad that you are here, to lead the way for the rest of us.

  2. Where would we be without the internet (and the beautiful women we meet on the boards/blogs)?

  3. Must love internet.
    I am glad you found those people when you needed them most.

  4. It really does help to know others like ourselves are living a similar life, facing the same issues, paving their own way, too. I know I truly appreciate this :-)

  5. what a crappy anniversary.

    But I am glad that you found the support and empowerment that you did, and that you could roll with the punches dished out by technology.

  6. Lori, I know this "road less travelled" wasn't the one you'd hoped to travel, but you've made that road a lot easier for those (like me) who've journeyed behind you. Thank you for sharing the wisdom and inspiration you've found over the past eight years - it means so much to the rest of us.

  7. I love you too, Lori.

    Audrey, a Golden Girl

  8. I'm so glad you found community, Loribeth. And not only found it, but contributed to building it and supporting so many others. Thank you so much!

  9. I know of the gratitude of which you speak of cause you're a part of my community.

  10. ((hugs))
    You have no idea what a difference you and the internet have made.
    Big, big love, loribeth. You are just awesome wonderful. xo

  11. It's a bittersweet anniversary, isn't it?

    You are such an addition to every community you are in. I'm glad you and I have "met" through ALI.

    Thanks for your very kind words today, too. :-)

  12. I am glad you found those special friends 8 years ago. And I am glad you were up for making more in the last year and a half!

  13. I think of you often as I am in limbo right now contemplating a childless/free life. You give me strength and have made just the idea a little more bearable and a little easier to face. I don't know yet what the future holds but I am on the path to accepting that it may not involve having children. It's worth repeating that you have given me the strength to face it.

  14. Thinking of you on this anniversary week. I am thankful for your thoughts and posts, and so grateful that this online community of blogs exists where we can support each other.