Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fifteen years (!) on this road less travelled

Mel at Stirrup Queens, who has always been a great supporter of the childless/free-not-by-choice corner of the ALI community, had a wonderful post today about us -- and how it's important for everyone caught up in the cyclone storm of infertility & loss to remember that procreation & pregnancy & parenting is just one part of your life -- that there are other things in life beyond parenting (really!).

I've been thinking a lot lately about how much our CNBC part of the community has grown and changed and strengthened over the past few years.  Partly this was inspired by a recent gathering of several childless-not-by-choice bloggers in Vancouver. Those who attended have already written several great posts about that meetup and what it meant to them to be there, including PamelaLisa, Kathleen, Cathy and Sarah (here and here).  (I was dying to go, but the rest of my life got in the way -- perhaps someday in the future...!)

Partly it's also because, right now, it's almost exactly 15 years ago (one of those "anniversaries" that seem important because they're divisible by 5, lol)  that I was licking my wounds after the failure of my third agreed-upon IUI, recovering from a series of debilitating anxiety attacks that threw me for a (further) loop in the wake of that failure, and wondering what the future held in store for me & dh. (You can read about my fertility treatment journey and the immediate aftermath in the series of posts I wrote in 2010, labelled "The Treatment Diaries.")  Neither dh nor I had the appetite (let alone the budget) to continue further fertility treatment -- or to begin the gruelling process of adoption. As I told the infertility counsellor we saw, I knew we could have a good life together with just the two of us -- because we already did! -- but facing the reality of a future without the children we had long assumed would be ours -- in a world gone nuts for baby bumps -- was scary stuff.  

Looking back, there was so very little out there in the way of support. Dh & I had been attending a "real life" support group to cope with our daughter's stillbirth;  there were a few local infertility support groups, but I understood they were geared towards couples who were still going through treatment, not those who wanted to move on. I had been somewhat hesitant to join an online loss or infertility group, but I knew they were out there and had been lurking on a few for awhile. Maybe there were similar online sites for women like me, who were facing a childless future? (Blogs, at that time, were pretty much non-existent.) 

Fortunately, there were. Not many, and even fewer that were very active, but they were out there. Just before we embarked on our family vacation on the Oregon Coast, I found a "childless living" message board on iVillage -- and it was there that I finally found my tribe.  :)  Sadly, the board no longer exists, but my first post there was July 18, 2001 (I still have a printed copy of it). I consider that post and that date to be the beginning of my journey on this road less travelled, towards acceptance of a life without children. (I've written about the board and the role it played in my journey several times in the past, including here. And I'm hoping to meet up with one of the women I "met" there during my upcoming summer road trip/vacation!)

This fall it will be nine (!) years since I started blogging. (Mel just recently marked the 10-year blogoversary of Stirrup Queens -- go congratulate her, if you haven't already!)  At that time, in October 2007, there were very few CNBC-focused blogs on Mel's gargantuan blogroll -- most notably Pamela's original blog, Coming2Terms. Gradually, other voices began to join ours. By 2012, I noted the growing momentum of our segment of the ALI community in a post titled "I am childless, hear me roar."  ;) 

While the ALI blogosphere has been pretty quiet lately, compared to when I first started blogging, I've noticed that the childless/free part of the community just keeps growing and flourishing. Pamela is still blogging and advocating for infertility survivors at Silent Sorority, and there are now several hubs on the Internet where women without children can gather and find each other, such as Gateway Women and Life Without Baby. Last fall in Cleveland, Karen at The NotMom organized the first-ever conference for women who don't have children, either by chance or by choice.  She's planning another for October 2017. And there have been several great new blogs launched in recent months (and while I've been adding them as I find them to my blog reader, I just realized that I badly need to update my blogroll here -- my apologies!).

Do we still have miles to go before we sleep? (Sorry, I think I'm mixing up my Frost metaphors here, lol.)  Absolutely. There's no doubt that we are finding our voices;  whether the broader community (outside -- and still, sometimes, inside -- the ALI world)  is ready to hear those voices and accept our message, I'm not quite so sure.

But just looking at how far we've come over these past 15 years gives me great hope for the future -- for myself, for my fellow CNBC bloggers, and for those who will come after us. :)  And of course, the journey is a lot less lonely and a lot more fun when you have company along the way. :) 

Thank you for being here for at least part of this 15-year journey. 


  1. Oh, Loribeth, thank YOU for being here. I wish I'd found you when you started blogging. This spring (your fall) will mark 13 years for me, so I'm a couple of years behind you. I found an online group that gave wonderful support in the early 2000s when I needed it most. Blogging came later (starting in Dec 2006, though not about No Kidding living.)

    Like you I'm so pleased to see the growth of the Road Less Travelled/No Kidding bloggers. Yes, there are miles to go before we sleep (sadly - though I liked the metaphor!), but still, connection on a deep level, especially in the midst of pain, is something really important to all of us. So I'm very glad that more and more of us provide that for each other, and for those coming after us.

  2. Yes, thank you for being here! Yours was one of the first few blogs that I discovered almost three years ago, and I'm so glad I did. This community has been essential to my healing and I know it will be in the years to come too.

  3. I love Mel'a post. And I love this one too! 15 yrs is quite a journey, especially through such uncharted territory. I consider you one of the trailblazers and am grateful you are still writing and advocating.

    May this aspect of the community continue to grow and flourish.

  4. When I worked on the Our Bodies, Ourselves updates in 2010/2011, I had a heck of a time finding a CNBC person to offer insight and quotes for the book. I emailed a million people, and no one really wanted to talk about it. I was so happy that Pam was "loud and proud" so to speak and made sure we had what we needed for everyone to be represented in that infertility chapter.

    SO much of the world is still babycentric, but I have noticed a lot more people being openly childfree or admitting to being CNBC. This includes quite a few women I know, and all three of my sisters. I even hear some teen girls talking about how they don't think motherhood is the path for them, and I say the tide is turning a little bit.

    1. Thanks, Jen! I remember when we first connected. Beyond being grateful for your inclusiveness, I know how fiercely I wanted to participate so that no woman would ever feel the utter isolation and invisible-ness I once felt. Still loud and proud! ;-) ... and yes, you're right the world is starting to open up to the various reasons why not all women become mothers -- and that there is more than one ending to the infertility story. FINALLY! You helped make that happen. Thank you again!

  5. Congratulations to you, one of my personal heros, Loribeth! I cannot say how validating your powerful presence has been in my life. Thank you for being such a courage voice for us!!!

  6. wow!!! What a milestone! Congrats on this long haul. You've positively impacted so many in this community. Thank you for all that you've shared, the insight you've given, the words that helped people to feel less alone, and by being part of the backbone of this online community that has been an important touch stone for so many who struggle with infertility.

  7. So much good stuff here! Thanks, Loribeth, for riffing further on Mel's post and for making the case that there's much to be said for the blossoming and growth that's occurred over the years. Group hug everyone!!!

    p.s. As if to underscore your point, my life is so varied and busy these days, I barely have time to breath, let alone blog and comment. That's a testament to living a full and whole life! xo

  8. Oh yeah, the community sure has grown a lot over the years. I often wonder how my CNBC cousin in Indo found support/help back then (she's much older than me), because I sure feel thankful to be able to find CNBC bloggers by the time I was ready to move on from the TTC path. <3 CONGRATS for the milestone! I'm truly glad you're there.

  9. Congratulations Loribeth!
    Your blog (and the others I read) are at the top of my list of “best finds ever” on the internet.