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Designing a Childfree Life

Designing your life after making the decision to be childfree.

This piece was originally featured on the amazing blog, Boo & Maddie. While the blog is primarily focused on lifestyle and home, the writer is childfree after infertility and has weekly posts dedicated to sharing childfree stories. You can check them out by clicking here.

The conservative church I grew up in shaped my earliest views of motherhood. As a child, I learned that being a mother is the ultimate purpose for women on earth. That motherhood is an eternal concept. That even in heaven, women will spend their eternity birthing ethereal “spirit children”. 

Growing up, I didn’t know many women who weren’t mothers and the few I did know, I pitied. To me, womanhood equaled motherhood. I couldn’t imagine that women could have true joy, meaning, love, and fulfillment without kids.

Matt and I were young when we got married. We were 24 at the time and had no clue what we were getting into. By then, I had distanced myself from the Mormon church, but the beliefs about motherhood stuck with me. So much so, that I didn’t plan to go to college or have a career. My plan was to be a stay-at-home mom. There was no plan b. Neither of us felt ready for a baby though, so we waited. Years passed and I started taking college courses at night for fun. A decade later, I found myself with a master’s degree and an unexpected career.

After almost ten years of marriage, we finally felt ready for a baby. I couldn’t contain my excitement. I started tracking my ovulation, reading pregnancy books, dreaming of baby names, and designing a nursery. My anxiety grew as three months passed, then six, then a year, with no positive test. Nothing could have prepared me for what happened over the next four years.

If you’d like to read more about my infertility journey, you can find it by clicking here.

My life became doctor’s appointments, invasive tests, anxiety, depression, and disappointment. Each month I held a negative pregnancy test with no explanation of why I wasn’t pregnant. Everything changed when my reproductive endocrinologist (RE) told me I had endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a chronic illness where tissue similar to your uterine lining grows in other parts of your body. It affects 1 in 10 women, yet it takes an average of ten years from the onset of symptoms to diagnose. In my case, I had seen dozens of doctors over the past 20 years and every one of them dismissed my pain.

The next few years became a jumble of appointments, medical jargon, and big decisions. In the course of three years, I had three surgeries and a failed IVF cycle. I was getting conflicting advice from my RE and my endometriosis surgeon. I moved toward treatment options that would balance my need for pain relief with my desire to become a mom.

After four years of infertility, I decided I had sacrificed as much as I could to the pursuit of parenthood. I had given so much of my life, health, body, time, relationships, money, mental health, and I was done. I chose to put my health first and decided to have a hysterectomy to improve my quality of life.

I’ve spent the two years making peace with my decision. I’ve tried not to internalize the message from society that my life means less because I am not a mom. Connecting with others who are childless/childfree has helped me shift my perspective.

It’s been strange to work through grief while simultaneously embracing the benefits of a life without kids. For so long Matt and I based life decisions on the assumption that kids were in our future. With that option off the table, we wanted to explore new possibilities.

Last summer, we made some big changes. We left our home in Atlanta and bought a cabin right outside of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I told Matt I wanted a home that felt like a sanctuary and the cabin is everything I hoped for. It’s tucked away in the mountains on an acre of wooded forest. Here, I’m surrounded by animals, wildflowers, fireflies, and a lively stream. It’s so peaceful and quiet.

I also received a promotion at my job which I’m very proud of. I work for a nonprofit that advocates for better policies around children’s issues. It feels good to know that my work impacts the lives of children around the world. It’s amazing to see how far I’ve come in my career considering I never planned on having one.

My promotion also gave us the financial flexibility to allow my husband to follow his dream of starting his own company. After all the love and support he has poured into me these past few years, it’s been amazing to be able to offer him the opportunity to pursue his passion.

Embracing a childfree life has also forced me to redefine my identity and priorities. To explore this, I started this blog focused on designing an unexpectedly childfree life. It’s been therapeutic for me and an amazing way to connect with women in similar circumstances.

I’ve also had more energy and emotion to invest in my relationships. I’m lucky to have such an amazing partner and am grateful for the intimate connection we share. When we were planning to have a kid I was always worried we would lose the almost magical closeness we enjoy. He’s my best friend and I love the life we’ve created together. I appreciate the time I have to focus on him, as well as my relationships with family and friends. I thrive on connections and appreciate that a life without kids allows me to invest in those I love in unique ways. I have time for deep, uninterrupted, conversations. Whoever I’m spending time with has my full attention.

Another childfree perk is the freedom I have to invest my time and energy wherever I choose. I have always been full of passion and curiosity. I love the ability I have to become absorbed in whatever interests me at the moment. It could be a relationship, a conversation, a hobby, writing, reading, exploring, or traveling.  

I’m an extrovert, but over the past few years, I’ve become much more introspective and find I need time alone. Without kids, I can easily find time for this, as well as for self-care. While my health has been better since my last surgery, there is no cure for endometriosis. I appreciate having time to rest when I need it. I also love that my free time is mine. I try to be a good spouse, friend, sister, daughter, and aunt, but at the end of the day, no one is dependent on me to have their needs met.

Some may look at my story and say the term “childfree” doesn’t apply because I tried for a long time to have kids. They would say that “childless” is more fitting. But I don’t want to be defined by what I lack. For me, having a childfree mindset is aspirational. I know women who couldn’t have kids but have created such beautiful lives that they would no longer trade them for parenthood. I don’t know if I’m quite there yet but I know I’m getting closer each month. I love my current life and am enjoying the unique benefits that a life without children offers.

I wish I could tell my younger self that there is nothing here to pity. That womanhood does not equal motherhood. I wish I could tell her not to worry. That her life won’t look how she expected, but it will be full of joy, meaning, love, and fulfillment.

How about you? What do you wish you could tell your younger self? Let me know in the comments!

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For more inspiring words and to connect with Carly, find her on Instagram at @herstoryourstrength.

How long did you spend trying to get pregnant? Did you try any medical interventions?

We spent 5 years trying to get pregnant. The “plan” was always to have a year of marriage first and then have kids. We spent 12 months trying before going to our GP for initial testing and referral to a fertility treatment center, first due to our age and then after the tests identified issues. From there we started with medication, more testing, actually fell pregnant with medication and doing an ovulation induction cycle, only to miscarry at 11 ½  weeks.

After more testing and finding more issues, our clinic moved us to IVF of which we tried 6 cycles where we did not retrieve any eggs from me at all except for the final round – of which we got two. One egg fertilized but it did not make it to freezing. We then tried a donor cycle, where I received treatment for my adenomyosis (which is basically taking medication which sends you into menopause) before doing the frozen transfer cycle. In January 2019 we found out that cycle had not worked.

How did you know you were ready to stop trying?

 We always knew that adoption or fostering was not something that we were really wanting to go through, plus it’s extremely difficult and expensive in Australia. So when it became apparent we had to do IVF, we agreed we would do IVF and a donor cycle if it came to that – but once we did that we would stop. We had to have some really horrible and hard discussions which I am not sure anyone is ever really prepared for. Discussing what we were willing to try and what we would be willing to walk away from was probably one of the most difficult conversations I have ever had to have.

I think due to the medical issues being all mine I felt a sense of responsibility and guilt for putting us in this situation. In the end, it was such a strain on us (me especially) emotionally, but also financially. We spent 5 years renting and not being able to buy a house, not going on holidays or doing anything except working and paying for IVF. We needed to close that chapter and move on.

For another inspiring story on embracing a childfree life after infertility, check out Brandi’s story here.

What resources, support, or other things were most helpful in making the decision to stop trying and to help you work through grief? 

 I found there was a real lack of resources or support available for people in our situation. The majority of the resources available are geared towards people still going through the journey of trying to conceive. My clinic had a fabulous counselor who I always encourage people to utilize if they have access to them. Mainly, I received support from my family and friends – I am grateful to have two of my best friends who have also traversed this journey before me and were able to really support me. 

To me there was a real big gap of having support that is less clinical (i.e. the medical professionals can give us all the information) but it is the need to reach out and just have a cuppa (or a wine!) with someone and vent. Or cry. Or just say how hard this really this. There is also not a lot out there around how to move towards a life without children if that is where you have ended with your journey.  With the support of my friends and family, I focused on trying to do what I can to start to fill the gaps that I found.

I have started an online support group, and have massive plans to turn it into a non-profit. Hopefully with some little centers all over the place where people can go, connect, chat with people who have been through similar situations and have access to services that will help them not transition through to their new life.

How long after you stopped trying did the shift from mostly grief to mostly at peace with your situation happen?

Ha! Not quite sure I am there yet! Seriously though, I will say the majority of the time I no longer have that “acute” pain. I am getting better with my reactions when there are pregnancy announcements, and that sort of thing – but I definitely still have some really tough days. Mother’s Day this year was hard, and while it has been for the last few years since I had my miscarriage, I think knowing this year was the first official year of us knowing we will not have children and therefore this is now our life, well it was just a bit tougher than usual.  

I did go searching for some meaning as to why this has happened to me, so anything spiritual I was interested in. Journaling has been a massive release for me – I always feel better if I just write and then I can close the and move on. 

Work has also been a great distraction!  I will admit there is a little bit of relief at knowing the outcome now. The biggest thing I struggled with each cycle and each year was the unknown. Will this work, won’t it. Will this year be our year. Not having that hanging over us anymore was a relief.

Personally, I really needed something to focus on. Something that I felt would make the last 5 years worthwhile at least in the sense of maybe I can help others. Hence the focus on creating and expanding the support group! This is my way to move on.

Are there changes you made in your life that you wouldn’t have made if you had become a parent? 

To be completely honest, I am not sure I would be the woman I am today if we had not gone through this journey and ended up childless. I was always very much a person who thought the worst of myself, felt everyone was better than me and really got down on myself. I still have to work on myself in the sense of not blaming myself for Ben and I not being able to have children (early on in the journey I offered to divorce Ben so he could find someone who could give him kids) but I recognize a strength in myself that I never knew I had. I had massive fear of needles, but I spent 5 years doing IVF treatment because I wanted this so much, I picked myself up after every cycle and kept hoping and trying. I managed to bring myself back from such a devastating event such as losing my baby when we should have been able to really start shouting from the rooftops – and again I kept going.

I was always one of those people who never really knew what they wanted to do with their lives. I went straight to work after school (no uni for me) as I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I thought I would go make some money while I figured it out.

I may not be going through my journey now – but I have hope that I can make a difference. I have the passion to try and at least ease this journey if I can for other people, and it has given me a new focus on in life. I know what I want to do with my life now.

For another inspiring story on embracing a childfree life after infertility, check out Erin and Brian’s story here.

What are the aspects you appreciate most about your childfree life? 

Peace and quiet! I have a niece and nephew and when I visit them (or they come to me) wow, I enjoy the peace and quiet after they leave.

I think I also appreciate the time Ben and I can spend together, just the two of us. I think to a certain degree going through this journey has bought us even closer. It’s pretty confronting to really analyze yourself and your relationship with each other to work out if this is enough for you. Luckily for me, it is. Plus, we love to go to concerts together and that is just so much fun!

Are there aspects of your identity you had to shift in the transition to a childfree life? 

I think taking all that love and energy and maternal instinct I have and finding a different avenue to utiliZe it was important to me. I love my family and friends and will always go above and beyond for them, especially the kids. Knowing that I want to translate some of that love and support into the support group is my way of utilizing it all in a good way!  Without the focus of children, I had to really look at myself and identify the things that will make me happy. That’s not an easy task when the biggest thing you want is taken away! I know my wants and needs will continue to change over the years coming but at least I know I have the ability and can do it so I can live a completely fulfilling life.

If you could wave a magic wand and have a baby in your arms, would you do it? Or do you prefer your current life? 

To me this is such a trick question. Due to my medical issues, I would say if I could do it again – absolutely, I want that magic wand and that baby. However, I would want it with the way I am now as a person, and with the relationship I have with my husband. I think it has been a really important lesson for me to identify the good points in myself, to be more gentle and forgiving of myself and also the relationship I have now with Ben – I wouldn’t want to change that at all. Especially not if I can help people in the way I hope I can. If it meant I was the ‘old’ version of myself – I would have to say no.

What advice do you have for those who have just made the decision to let go of their dream of parenting? 

Be gentle with yourself. There is honestly no right or wrong way to process the decision and transition into your new life. You just need to do what is best for you – and take note, this can change daily! Also, to be prepared – this is going to potentially be one of the hardest things you have to do in your life, which will include working through what makes you happy and what your priorities are now. And that is no easy feat!

Use the support you have available to you – including friends and family. And just know – there are so many of us out there, we can be pretty easy to track down if you need to chat!

Interested in sharing your story through Chasing Creation? Drop me a line through my contact page.

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If you’d like to learn more about Brandi’s infertility and childless not by choice journey, check out her blog, Not So Mommy…  You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

How long did you spend trying to get pregnant? Did you try any medical interventions?

My husband and I tried to have a child for ten years (from 2003 – 2013).  We did seven rounds of IUI, plus we checked into various types of adoption, from domestic to international and even embryo adoption.  Ultimately, I was never able to get pregnant and adoption was not our path.

How did you know you were ready to stop trying?

Honestly, I wasn’t ready to stop trying.  Although I knew we would not have a biological child, as we were done with infertility treatments, I wanted to adopt.  On 26 December 2013, however, my husband asked me to accept our life as it was. He was tired and did not want to spend the next ten years like the last—desperately trying to attain something (well, someone) that seemed out of reach.  So, in 2014, I tentatively began trying to accept our childless not by choice life. (Yes, I actually say that I am childless, NOT childfree. If you’d like to find out why, you can read more on my blog, Not So Mommy…)

For another inspiring story on embracing a childfree life after infertility, check out Rebekah and Lenny’s story here.

What resources, support, or other things were most helpful in making the decision to stop trying and to help you work through grief?

Who and what helped me as I started accepting the what is…

Well, my husband was a huge help.  He gave me the initial nudge (it might have been more like a push) into letting go and moving forward.  We had lost our Pomeranian of 13 years in March 2013. We adopted Maddie in July 2013. Over-zealously embracing my role as Maddie’s Dog Mom helped my healing so much.  And becoming a host mom to a foreign exchange student in 2015 continued my healing even more. I’ve learned to change perspective about what it means to be a mom. In fact, I say that I am “redefining momhood.”  Ultimately, this change in perspective, along with finding the bright sides of a childless life, helped me accept, redefine, and embrace the what is joyfully…

How long after you stopped trying did the shift from mostly grief to mostly at peace with your situation happen?

I did not realize it, but I believe I had already gone through much of the grieving process before we officially decided to accept our childless life.  Now, that’s not to say that healing hasn’t continued over the past six years.  Triggers and wobbles still happen (probably always will), but I feel 2014 was the beginning of moving past the grief, past the in-between.

Are there changes you made in your life that you wouldn’t have made if you had become a parent? 

Absolutely!  For one, I would never have quit teaching to start writing a childless blog.  Second, I seriously doubt we would have moved to South Carolina or hosted our foreign exchange daughter.  I don’t think my husband would have gone back to school to earn both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration.  We wouldn’t live in a little log cabin that needed to be completely remodeled inside and out. And I definitely wouldn’t be driving a sporty car at age 42!

What are the aspects you appreciate most about your childfree life? 

First, I must say again that I do not consider myself childfree.  I am childless not by choice. Despite using the term “childless,” I am not a sad, depressed, bitter woman who wasn’t able to have kids.  I have chosen to see the bright sides of infertility and a childless life. In fact, one of the most popular posts on my blog is “Good Things: The Bright Sides of Infertility.

For another inspiring story on embracing a childfree life after infertility, check out Erin and Brian’s story here.

Are there aspects of your identity you had to shift in the transition to a childfree life? 

Yes.  In 2014, when my husband asked me to accept our childless life, I made the following resolution:

“Stop trying to convince everyone else I’m a mom.  Just accept it myself.”

How could I possibly be a mom if I didn’t have biological or adopted children?!  Well, for me, I accepted that being a Dog Mom means I am a real mom. When we hosted our foreign exchange daughter, I expanded my definition of a “real mom” to include being a host mom.  

Because not everyone understands my perspective, I made another resolution at the beginning of 2019…

“Stop expecting others to understand my childless life.  Just embrace my life and live who I am authentically and with joy!”

If you could wave a magic wand and have a baby in your arms, would you do it? Or do you prefer your current life? 

Oh, this is a tough one.

During our ten-year struggle, I wanted nothing more than to have a baby.  At that time, I would most definitely have accepted the magic wand with open arms!

At this point, however, it’s difficult to admit that having a baby at this point in our lives would be extremely difficult.  We have remodeled our home to be perfect for our current family—me, my husband, our fur baby, and an extra space for when our exchange daughter comes to visit (as she is now family).  As I said earlier, I traded in my SUV for a sporty car. My husband is growing his business, and I take an active role in helping him do that. We enjoy traveling, sitting in our snug and watching our favorite TV shows while drinking tea, going to fancy restaurants…

So, as much as we wanted a little, the time for one has passed.  Give the magic wand to someone in the midst of her battle. I don’t need it anymore.

What advice do you have for women who have just made the decision to give up their dream of parenting?

Well, since I did not give up on my dream of parenting, I can’t give advice about that.  In fact, I really dislike the “give up” mentality. I didn’t give up on anything. I did let go.  (I’ve written a blog about that, too. You can read it here.)

What did I let go of?  Well, I let go of what I thought being a parent was supposed to look like.  I redefined momhood and embraced non-traditional parent roles. My hubby did, too, which makes this journey even sweeter.

I suppose my advice is this:

Accept what is, redefine your dreams & your expectations, and embrace your new Plan B with reckless abandon!

Interested in sharing your story through Chasing Creation? Drop me a line through my contact page.

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Trauma creates change you don't choose. Healing creates change you do choose. Michelle RosenthalI suck at creating babies. Even the most advanced medical interventions available can’t convince my body to perform one of its most basic biological functions.
 
During my infertility, all I could do was watch months turn into years with no hint of a positive pregnancy test. I started feeling like a failure. It was devastating to know that the thing I longed for most in this world was not within my power to create. No amount of will, desire, or action was going to change the outcome.
 
I spent so many years focusing on what I couldn’t create that I lost sight of what I could. Since making the decision to embrace a childfree life, I’ve worked to identify and celebrate what I create in my life and the world. To see myself as the powerful source of creation I am. Here are a few of them.
 
  • I create loving, compassionate relationships.
  • I create a better world for children through the policy change I work toward at my job.
  • I create a healthier earth by respecting the planet and being conscious about the resources I consume.
  • I create music when I play my ukulele, sing or write music.
  • I create space for magic and play in my life.
  • I create nourishing food and a connection to the earth when I garden.
  • I create an understanding, supportive space for people to connect through my blog and social media accounts
  • I create kindness by treating those I meet with respect and courtesy.
  • I create beautiful surroundings when I take on remodeling projects at home.
  • I create a better world by donating my money and time to causes I care about.
  • I create self-love by taking care of my mind, body and soul.
  • I create compassion by opening my heart to myself and others.

If you need another reminder of how powerful you are, check out my post, “I’m not a mom, but…Life isn't about finding oneself. Life is about creating oneself. George Bernard Shaw

  • I create laughter by making those around me laugh and seeking out humor.
  • I create a more just society by voting and using my voice for social activism.
  • I create a vision for my future by developing and moving toward goals.
  • I create happiness by focusing on the positive aspects of life.
  • I create a healthier future for myself by letting go of the past.
  • I create authenticity by following my inner voice instead of trying to fulfill others expectations of me.
  • I create health and joy by cooking delicious, healthy meals.
  • I create courage by letting go of fear.
  • I create peace by practicing forgiveness.
  • I create knowledge through reading.
  • I create resiliency by accepting and adapting to the shit life throws at me.
  • I create meaning in life by defining and following my dreams.
  • I create a new future by letting go of regrets.
  • I create self-acceptance by loving myself, flaws and all.
  • I create a connection to the world through travel.
  • I create confidence by gaining new skills and recognizing my achievements.
  • I create empathetic space for others who need a listening ear.
  • I create awareness by sharing my experience with endometriosis and infertility.
  • I create my own truth by questioning the beliefs and ideas of others.
  • I create deeper connections with myself and others by living in the moment.
  • I create meaningful conversations by listening and being open.
  • I create memories by taking photos of the people and places that are meaningful to me.
  • I create a life I’m in love with.

You are also a powerful source of creation. What are you creating in your life and in the world?

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How long did you spend trying to get pregnant? Did you try any medical interventions?

In 2012, Brian and I decided the time was right to have children.  Brian had just finished grad school and had found a job in his field, I was established in my own career and we just purchased a home with three bedrooms.  After several years, a number of miscarriages, one of which threatened my life and going through part of the adoption process, we became childfree by circumstance. 

How did you know you were ready to stop trying?

Marriage is a partnership and there are times when both partners are not on the same page at the same time.  My last miscarriage was an ectopic pregnancy, which can be life-threatening and at that point, Brian was ready to stop trying, out of concern for my health.  After talking through it, we decided that we would stop trying to have biological children and that we would begin exploring adoption. Adoption is a wonderful thing to do but after going through a number of the steps required to adopt, Brian and I decided it just wasn’t the right thing for us to do.  It was at this point we both knew that we were ready to stop trying and that we would be childfree.

For another inspiring story on embracing a childfree life after infertility, check out Rebekah and Lenny’s story here.

What resources, support, or other things were most helpful in making the decision to stop trying and to help you work through grief? 

Being in a loving, supporting partnership and openly communicating with each other about how we were feeling was the best resource in working through our grief and was the only way we were able to come out the other side of this experience together.  

How long after you stopped trying did the shift from mostly grief to mostly at peace with your situation happen?

It was a process, not an event and it took years to completely work through grief and arrive at peace with our situation. Life doesn’t always turn out the way you envisioned it, arriving at this conclusion did not mean we immediately accepted how our lives had ultimately turned out, it really just meant that the grieving could begin for the life we had originally envisioned for ourselves.

Are there changes you made in your life that you wouldn’t have made if you had become a parent? 

When Brian and I came to the realization that we would be childfree, we were both at a very unhealthy place in our lives.  We were quite overweight, didn’t exercise and ate fast food far too often. This had a profoundly negative impact on both our physical and mental health. We had both always wanted to go on exciting adventures like climbing mountains and running marathons, but our lifestyles at the time made it impossible to have those adventures together.  During the years we spent trying to have children, it had felt like we put our lives on hold, we let our physical and mental health take a backseat to our desire of having children. Realizing that we would be childfree came with grief but it was also liberating, we could stop living for tomorrow and instead, live life to the fullest with each other today.  Together we changed our lifestyle, lost a combined 200 pounds. We have also climbed mountains and run marathons (well, half-marathons).  

For another inspiring story on embracing a childfree life after infertility, check out Rebecca’s story here.

What are the aspects you appreciate most about your childfree life? 

Making the lifestyle changes we did have opened up a whole new world of adventures which are much easier to experience together being childfree. Having the time and resources available to take on these adventures and seek out new ones is what we appreciate the most about our childfree life.

Are there aspects of your identity you had to shift in the transition to a childfree life? 

I had to become more focused on living in the present moment and became happy with what I currently have, rather than focusing and spending time anticipating things that may or may not happen in the future.  One positive outcome of this is that I’ve become much more relaxed and less worried about the future!

If you could wave a magic wand and have a baby in your arms, would you do it? Or do you prefer your current life? 

It’s hard to know if we would have made the lifestyle changes we did if we had children, but I suspect that since we spent years putting the desire to have children ahead of our own physical and mental health, we would have put our children’s needs ahead of our own in a similar way.  For that reason, I’m ultimately grateful that we are childfree and wouldn’t want a ‘miracle baby’ at this point, since not only are we living life to the fullest, but because of the lifestyles changes we made, we will likely have more years to enjoy together.

For another inspiring story on embracing a childfree life after infertility, check out Tracey and Dan’s story here.

What advice do you have for those who have just made the decision to give up their dream of parenting? 

If I were to provide one piece of advice to couples who have made the decision to give up their dream of parenting, it would be to work together as partners and make new dreams.  It’s not an easy process, but it’s so worth it!

You can read more about the health journey Erin and Brian took as part of their transition to a childfree life on Today.com, KHOA.com and GlobalNews.ca.

Interested in sharing your childfree by chance story through Chasing Creation? Drop me a line through my contact page.

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How do you make new friends as an adult?

I was grappling with this question a year ago and faced some challenges as I began my quest.

  • I had recently moved to a new city.
  • I didn’t know a single person.
  • I’m not religious and don’t belong to any organizations.
  • I work from home and don’t live near colleagues.
  • I was looking for friends who weren’t parents since I was embracing my identity as a nonparent.
  • I wanted to meet people who shared my interests, hobbies, and values.

Impossible, right?

I kept seeing women at restaurants, coffee shops, and book stores who looked very friend-able. I would rehearse opening lines in my head, searching for something that wouldn’t sound weird or creepy. I would compliment her style and we’d talk about her shoes or hair for a minute and that would be it. I could never find a way to turn that initial conversation into a hangout.

For more ideas on how to expand your social circle, check out my post, “There’s More than One Way to Create a Family.”

Bumble BFF

My actual Bumble BFF profile.

Then I found Bumble BFF. If you’re not familiar with Bumble, here’s the gist. Bumble is an app that includes three settings for connecting with new people:

  • Bumble Date,
  • Bumble BFF,
  • and Bumble Bizz.

You can download the app for free, create a profile and instantly connect with people in your area.

I’m only discussing my experience with BFF mode since I haven’t tried the other two. In fact, you can disable the other platforms all together if you don’t plan to use them. In BFF mode, you’ll only see profiles of the same gender you select when setting up your account.

Spoiler Alert

I have so many new friends! After a few months, I had connected with dozens of women. Of those, I met up with about ten, and ended up with a handful of new friends that I adore! Just yesterday I met a friend for ice cream, art, and dinner (yes, in that order). I met her through Bumble almost a year ago and we’re still hanging out. Next week, I’m grabbing a drink with someone I connected with a few days ago.

For more ideas on how to embrace your unexpectedly childfree life, check out my book review of “Sweet Grapes: How to Stop Being Infertile and Start Living Again.”

Getting Started

My actual Bumble BFF profile.

  1. Create your account. If you already use Bumble Date: tap on “Bumble Date” at the top of the page. From here, you can toggle to Bumble BFF to get started. If you’re new to Bumble: select ‘New Friends’ when creating your account.
  2. Set up your profile. You can add photos, fill in the “about me” section, and basic info. You also have the option to link your Instagram account so users can view your pics.
  3. Choose your settings. In the “settings” tab, you have the option to disable Bumble Date. You also have the option to select the age range and distance of your desired friends.
  4. Start making friends! You can now view the profiles of potential friends. When a new profile pops up, look through their info to decide if you’re interested in connecting with them. If you are, swipe right on your screen; if not, swipe left.
  5. Get connected. If someone you swiped right on also swipes right on you, Bumble will notify you that you have a new match. Now you can message your new friend directly. But don’t wait too long, the match will expire after 24 hours if neither of you reaches out to the other.

So, does it work?

For me, it absolutely did! I’ve met some amazing women over the past few months and made a few new besties. I live in a small town so you don’t have to be in a big city for this to work.

Tips for Success

  • Include what makes you unique in your profile. I’m surprised at how many women don’t include any info in their profiles, just a few pics. Or, how many read exactly the same. I can’t tell you how many women only list wine and Netflix as interests. Let your personality and interests show through!
  • Make the first move. I’m not gonna lie, it’s awkward to connect with strangers. But you’re both there because you are looking to make new friends. Be brave! Send that message, set up that hangout! You’ll be glad you did.
  • If you’re looking for friends who aren’t parents, include that you’re childfree in your profile. It will help others who are also looking for childfree friends find you.
  • Be patient. Making new friends kind of feels like dating. You’ll probably have to hang out with a few people before you find the ones you connect with. Keep trying!
  • Have fun! Your new besties are waiting for you!

What does making friends have to do with embracing a childfree life?

My actual Bumble BFF profile.

Part of embracing an unexpectedly childfree life means shaping your identity as a nonparent. Making new friends is a fun way to explore that.

In the past year, I’ve met other women and couples who don’t have kids and it’s been amazing! They help me identify the benefits of a childfree life, and are so much fun to spend time with. I love my friends with kids (love you so much!) but it’s been affirming to add a few friends who can provide a different perspective. If you’re coming out of infertility, making new friends can also help you reconnect to other aspects of yourself that may have been on the backburner.

Good luck!

Click here for more posts on designing an unexpectedly childfree life.

Have you tried Bumble BFF? How did it go? Let me know in the comments.

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