Last week, I arrived at my yearly gynecological check up and promptly took a seat that put my back to the majority of the waiting room. It was my first year since multiple failed fertility treatments attending my appointment without Xanax, both in regards to the PTSD that followed my fertility treatments and then my thankfully waning nervous system disorder that arrived three years later.
With one exception, come to think of it. I didn’t have Xanax at the very first appointment coming out of treatments as no one had yet had the basic intelligence – or mercy – to write me a prescription. I went into the appointment feeling positive that I was taking back focus on my overall health. The wimpy flicker of resuming control I had, however, was swiftly hijacked by a panic attack. Not so much because of the upcoming exam, as that stuff had become my routine, but at having to sit in the trigger filled waiting room, fill my new doctor in on my situation (thus providing yet another opportunity to be crushed by a lack of empathy and understanding), and the subject matter in general. I remember my blood pressure was 134 over 95 at that visit, a number that for my body is astronomical.
And so there I was, almost six years later, sailing into the same office with no medication, feeling good and not wanting to jinx it all. With my back towards most of the waiting room, a sign as tall as me just to my left caught my eye. Sponsored by I believe Northwell Health, it read:
An innovative program for women and their partners
While these things are no longer lacerating for me, the poster did illicit a chuckle at the one sidedness of it all. “Me and people like me could ALSO use a university, dipshits!” my thought balloon read as many of the agonizing, unforeseen life adjustments the childless not by choice crawl through, typically with little to no support from our friends and loved ones, flashed through my head.
I averted my eyes, a deeply embedded habit of function no doubt, and the next thing they landed on was of course a poignant rendering of a mother and child, swirling with tenderness and femininity (thank you very much).
“Well, no representation HERE”, my next thought balloon read, as I started to dream of the NO Baby University that should also exist. And then Jody Day’s book, Living the Life Unexpected, came to mind and my heart warmed shortly after. Jody’s book IS a No Baby University of sorts, a literary version at least, and in that moment its mere existence tipped the balance in my favor.
This post is part of the last lap of the blog tour to support the release of the second edition of Jody Day’s book, “Living the Life Unexpected, How to Find Hope, Meaning and a Fulfilling Future Without Children”. It is fully revised complete with a new introduction written by Jody.
What else is new?? An entirely new resources section in the appendix, new data on childlessness as well as multiple additions and updates in the individual chapters. And also notable, the probable firsts addressing grieving childlessness as a Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual Woman and of grieving childlessness as a Woman of Color.
For those in the UK, the link to order “Living the Life Unexpected, How to Find Hope, Meaning and a Fulfilling Future Without Children” is here.
I recall my reading of the first edition of Living the Life Unexpected clearly. In the early throes of a nervous system disorder, I had to rent a golf cart in order to watch my nephew play. This was something I enjoyed at the time, and was and still am grateful that my brother and nephew make me feel included and make my presence feel valued on the golf course. At the same time, there were still twinges for me in watching a parent and child together, and I was rightly wary of spending too much time and energy on a life I would never get to have. There’s also this lack of equilibrium we childless deal with, and of which I was becoming acutely aware of at this point in my healing process about three years out, where we start to wrap ourselves around the reality that while we are constantly entering other people’s worlds, no one is returning the emotional labor by entering ours. Plus, golf is just darned LONG. So, over the course of a few different golf games, I hobbled over the greens on my golf cart, lightheaded and foggy, continuing on with healing and plowing through the journey of processing my childlessness, with the Kindle Edition of Living the Life Unexpected as my companion.
It is an extraordinarily comprehensive work, while also accomplishing the pivotal task of any book on the subject of involuntary childlessness – it makes the reader feel fully and devotedly SEEN. Some standouts for me are Jody’s not to be missed list of “50 Ways to NOT Be a Mother”, as well as Chapter 2 which addresses “Childlessness Around the World”. Both were aids in adding to a much needed broader context of my experience, which is so crucial being that that context is in no way made known out in the world. It’s no wonder the difficulty we face in NOT slipping in to the false ideas we are crazy and alone.
Living the Life Unexpected also covers childless grief, as mentioned above, finding your way forward and many, many other facets of childlessness. And, nobody exposes and then promptly smashes taboos quite like Jody, so, what’s not to love? It’s an essential for anyone finding themselves on this, yes, entirely UNEXPECTED path.
Still not convinced? You can download a free sample and chapter one of the book here.
So as it turned out, I did end up surviving my appointment last week, drug free, even after I had to change seats for a much more, shall we say, panoramic view of the waiting room after the one person I was sitting close to was coughing (thanks, Coronavirus!). One of the main sources for my wounds back in the day was not so much a lack of hope that I could salvage my life and make a good one without children, but rather the lack of visibility of where I was at at the time and of my journey forward. A lack of visibility that is a great contributor to symptoms like the ones I suffered at the gynecologist six years ago and onward to varying degrees from there. It was astounding to reflect on the condition I was in six years prior, and I can honestly say that Jody’s book was one of the many things that has facilitated me getting from there to here.
I’ll select a commenter at random to receive a free copy of Jody’s book “Living the Life Unexpected, How to Find Hope, Meaning and a Fulfilling Future Without Children” – I’ll actually put all names in a jar and pick one – so comment away!!