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Childless Not by Choice

When I had my hysterectomy at 35, I felt like the only person in the world whose infertility story didn’t end with a baby. I needed reassurance that it was possible to create a life I could fall in love with, even if it didn’t include children. Jody Day of Gateway Women was one of the first childless voices I found online. This isn’t surprising as she is a pioneer in and vocal advocate for the childless-not-by-choice community. Her words brought the comfort I sought, reassuring me that this was not the end of my story, but a new chapter.

Living the Life Unexpected Blog Tour

Two years later, I am thrilled to be a part of the blog tour launching the 2nd edition of her book, “Living the Life Unexpected: How to Find Hope, Meaning and a Fulfilling Future Without Children” available March 19. This book is the bible for those who are designing an unexpectedly childfree life. Which, I guess makes Jody the Patron Saint of the Childless.

Through her book, she serves as a guide; holding your hand, offering reassurance, walking with you as you take baby steps to envisioning your plan b. If you’d like a preview of the book, you can access the new introduction and first chapter here. You can also pre-order the new edition here. If you’re in the U.S., order through the Book Depository for free international shipping. I just ordered mine this morning.

About the Book

I love Jody’s beautiful quote in the new introduction:

It is my deepest wish that you find your place in this world again through the pages of this book, and that your dream of motherhood can be put to rest with the tenderness and love it deserves. Letting go of hope when you can’t see any other kind of hope ahead is terrifying, like swimming away from the shore in the dark without any idea when you’ll reach land again. Let this book be your lighthouse; let it be your hope in the dark. Those of us who’ve already made this trip are waiting for you on the other side, and many others are in the water alongside you, each feeling that they’re swimming alone. But you’re not alone. Welcome to your Tribe.

I was lucky enough to read this with a group of childless women through an online book club I hosted last year. I saw first hand the power of this book to heal and inspire. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of childlessness, together they take you on a path to finding acceptance, working through your grief, and envisioning new possibilities for your life. Exercises are included to help you apply the information to your own life and circumstances.

Updates to the New Edition

The introduction is just the first section that’s been updated. Jody has included a number of updates in this new edition. Including:

  • New “Resources” section highlighting organizations, websites, and support groups worldwide; recommended blogs (including this one); and fifteen pages of recommended books for further reading.
  • A look at Childlessness Around the World that includes up-to-date data on both the involuntary and voluntarily childless.
  • New sections to the chapter on grief that include: childlessness after abortion; grieving while single; grieveing as a couple; grieving as a lesbian, gay or bisexual woman; grieving as a woman of faith; grieving as a woman of colour.
  • New thoughts on ambivalence about motherhood.
  • Updated list of childless role models.
  • New section on fears and myths of aging without children.

Jody’s Book Club

While I am no longer offering a book club for this book, a guided online reading group, led by Jody, is part of the Gateway Women private online community. Complete with videos to introduce each chapter and weekly discussion prompts, the group is free for all members of the Gateway Women Online Community. Members can join in wherever they are in the book,  whether it’s their first or fourth reading!

Coping with Mother’s Day Webinar

On Saturday, March 14, Jody will also be offering a webinar looking at the ways different experiences of childlessness and Mother’s Day can painfully intersect, offering insight, support and self-care tips. You can RSVP for the webinar here.

Pre-Order the New Edition

I am such a fangirl of Jody and am floored by all devotion she has shown to creating resources, support, and community for those who are childless-not-by-choice. I’ll leave you with the endorsement I wrote for the book, included in the new edition:

If you are childless-not-by-choice and are needing support, to know that you’re not alone, and guidance on how to create a plan b for your future, you need this book. Go pre-order your copy!

*For a chance to win a free autographed copy of the book, courtesy of Jody, head over to my Instagram account and on the book review post, answer the following question in the comments:

Why are you excited to read the book?

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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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This Mother’s Day, let’s hold space for those who are grieving.

You can show online support for those who are feeling blue this Mother’s Day through the Blue Mother’s Day campaign in two ways:

  • Use the hashtag #BlueMothersDay along with loving, supportive content; or with your story to raise awareness.
  • Draw a blue heart on your hand and post the photo on your social media channels. You can also download the #BlueMothersDay graphic to use on Facebook and Twitter.

Click here to download the #BlueMothersDay blue heart image.

Why is Mother’s Day a trigger for grief?

Mother’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to show appreciation for the mothers or mother figures in your life, but it can also be a heartbreaking day for many. There are a lot of different circumstances that can cause grief on Mother’s day, including:

  • Mothers who have lost children
  • Those who have had a miscarriage
  • Those experiencing infertility
  • Those who are childless not by choice
  • Mothers who have given children up for adoption
  • Those who have lost their mothers
  • Children who have strained relationships with their mothers
  • Mothers who have strained relationships with their children

For those who are grieving, Mother’s Day is a reminder of what they don’t have or have lost.

Why Blue Mother’s Day?

Blue Mother’s Day is an opportunity to support those who are feeling “blue” on Mother’s Day. From strangers wishing them a “Happy Mother’s Day” to social media streams filled with reminders of their loss, grief triggers seem unavoidable.

By participating in the Blue Mother’s Day Campaign, you can hold space for those who are grieving, including yourself. What does it mean to “hold space”? According to Adam Brady at the Chopra Center:

Holding space is a conscious act of being present, open, allowing, and protective of what another needs in each moment…To hold means to embrace or encircle someone or something in your grasp. Physically, this might take the form of a hug or the cradling of a hand in yours. But you can also embrace someone non-physically with your intention, attention and energy.

Space refers to the immediate environment you are sharing with another. This, too, may be the physical space of a room, but more frequently refers to the mental and emotional environment you are in with others. Put together, these words embody the principle of surrounding the environment with your awareness in a way that provides comfort and compassion for all.

By participating in the Blue Mother’s Day campaign, you can hold “digital” space by contributing online content that supports those who are grieving. Imagine the difference in experience if those who are grieving could use one hashtag to find messages of support, love and acceptance on Mother’s Day.

How to Participate

You can show online support for those who are feeling blue this Mother’s Day through the Blue Mother’s Day campaign in two ways:

  • Use the hashtag #BlueMothersDay along with loving, supportive content; or with your story to raise awareness.
  • Draw a blue heart on your hand and post the photo on your social media channels. You can also download the #BlueMothersDay graphic to use on Facebook and Twitter. 

Click here to download the #BlueMothersDay blue heart image.

Here are some other ways you can support those who are grieving on Mother’s Day:

Does Blue Mother’s Day take away from Mother’s Day?

Blue Mother’s Day isn’t meant to take away from Mother’s Day or imply that it shouldn’t be celebrated. Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to show appreciation for the mothers or mother figures in your life. By all means, celebrate!

The purpose of this campaign is to recognize that not everyone finds joy or feels like celebrating on Mother’s Day. For those who are grieving, it creates a separate online space to acknowledge that grief, easily find messages of love and support, and create community.

Add your voice by participating online this Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12, 2019.

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