Liz O'Donnell

The Not Mom Interview: Liz O’Donnell, Infertility Counselor, Therapist and More

Childless and childfree women come in lots of shapes and sizes. We are all colors, all cultures, and all ages. As much as we have in common, we are also very different, and we define ourselves without the label of ‘Mom. And if you’re not a Mom, who are you?  

The regular series by TheNotMom writer and childfree blogger Laura LaVoie featuring interviews with women without children with public voices is shifting focus: Laura is introducing presenters and speakers at for The NotMom Summit to you an idea of who the women at the podiums really are, and what to expect (or why you should be there).

Meet Liz O’Donnell, Ph.D., PCC-S, PT. We came across Liz quite by accident, or maybe it was Fate, while we were searching for speakers early in our event planning process. A search for therapists specializing in infertility led us to her website, Minding Matters.

We are blown away by Liz’s story and believe that she will be an impressive panelist at The NotMom Summit. Liz will be partnered with childfree author Laura Carroll in a discussion called “Expecting Acceptance: Post-Choice or After Grief.”

childfree poster

Look for the Childfree Woman of 2015 at TheNotMom.com!

By Karen Malone Wright

International Childfree Day is finally here! Today is August 1st, 2015 and I am proud to announce that our own Laura LaVoie has been selected as the Childfree Woman of the Year!!!

Oh yeah! That’s right! My girl is ALL that!

Of course, there’s a Childfree Man of 2015, too: Mario Amaro, now serving in his ninth year with the U.S. Navy.

Both winners are living their dreams in very different ways. Neither one is afraid to share their truths to explain why non-parenthood should be acknowledged as a viable option for any adult. (Extra points to Mario, who proudly changes the traditional military profile.)

2015ICDBanner

 

hold baby

Childless or Childfree, ‘Do You Want to Hold the Baby?’ Isn’t an Easy Question

By Karen Malone Wright

“Do you want to hold the baby?”

A simple question that’s not simple at all. My assumption is that for childfree (by choice) women, the answer isn’t difficult: No! For those of us childless by chance, it’s not so easy.

I always want to hold the baby. Any baby. Any age. But, as my husband reminds me time and again, doing so will mess me up for days. 

It’s been a long, long time since anyone has asked me that question. My 60th birthday is within sight. The last infant I held was my goddaughter, and she is now almost 25. The children of my closest Momfriends are in or out of college, and it’s been at least 15 years since I was at a baby shower or at the home of a new Mom.

Ah, but what about the GrandMoms? 

My next door neighbor rang my bell holding her new infant grandson. I opened the door and she said excitedly, “Do you want to hold the baby?”

computer shock

Online Trolls: Stab and Run Before Getting the Whole Story

By Laura LaVoie

A year ago, on July 22, 2014, I wrote on my Facebook page:

“Hey Facebook – I’m usually pretty private about medical stuff but I could really use some good thoughts or prayers or whatever your preferred method of emotional support is. I’m having some outpatient surgery tomorrow. Everything should be just fine, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to put this out to the Universe. Thanks!”

The next day, I went to the hospital to have surgery to remove an abnormal, non-viable pregnancy that was neither planned nor wanted.

At the time, only a handful of people knew what was actually happening. I told my Mom, my sister, and my best friend. Of course, Matt was there with me. A local friend had actually guessed when she was trying to be sarcastic, but I was glad she did because I needed someone else to talk to about it.

Earlier this year, I shared my story at TheNotMom in a two-part narrative. I decided that it was something people needed to know. It happens so often and women tend to keep it close to their chests and go through it alone. If I could help just one person, I wouldn’t feel so isolated.

The story was controversial, as you might imagine. While most of the comments were positive, some shocked me. One of my ‘favorites’ was, “1 mil says she keeps it and they live happily ever after. I can’t stand these stories, just sounds like a troll.”

bad puppy

Here’s to the Self-Aware Woman: No Puppies or Kids for Me

Guest Post by Lindsey Newbauer

Let me preface this by saying that I love animals and have grown up with a variety of furry friends from pet mice all the way up to my beloved late Appaloosa horse. Children are also acceptable, but I am more likely to hang out with your kid if he’s well-behaved.

I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request. I’m not an expert on all these creatures, but time and experience has given me a well-rounded knowledge.

That being said, last week I was dog-sitting for a friend. She’s a tiny black Pomeranian—the dog, not my friend—with a summer haircut the neighborhood kids would definitely make fun of if she were people. The dog has always been overjoyed and clingy with me when I visit my friend so we thought she’d be fine coming to spend a few days with her Aunt ~L~. And she was.

I mean, sure she missed her mom, but she mellowed out pretty quickly and was a joy to have. Except for that pesky being-a-dog part.

Having basically a furry, adorable toddler in the house made me think about something kid-related that often bothers me, sometimes to an eye roll, sometimes to a teeth-grinding anger. 

Though I’m not a dog person, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had years of experience with family pets and the pets of friends. The same goes with kids. In fact, I find myself equating having a dog with having a small child, especially if it’s a puppy. And this brings me to my point: Dogs and kids are great, but they’re most likely NOT for me.

elderly hospital

Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Dying? No One Knows for Sure.

Guest Post by Aralyn Hughes

Will there be anyone to take care of me when I’m dying?

A single guy friend with whom I did white water rafting with died in his sleep recently. His body was not discovered for 6 days. It caused me to pause, feel discomfort. This could happen to me.

When I made the decision to remain childless, I began saving money, buying long-term health insurance and making a will that established my wishes at death. In my will, I listed one friend to make the decision to pull the plug, another friend as back up.

My friends were on the same page and accepted my wishes to not be kept alive when it is apparent I’ve passed the point of no return. I felt friends could do this more easily than my brother who is eight years older, religious, and not living in the same state as me.

Having children is not the kind of insurance policy I wanted for my golden years.

baby envy

Childless Women Speak Out: What It’s Like to Know You Can’t Have Kids

By Karen Malone Wright

Much of the media buzz about American women who are not mothers focuses on the growing numbers of adults who are childfree by choice. Generally speaking, those women are using the Internet and other resources to speak out about their lives and their truths.

“Vocal” is not a word often used to describe women who are childless by chance or happenstance, as they say. Just one word is needed to understand the primary difference between the two groups: Choice. 

Buzzfeed Yellow, Buzzfeed’s YouTube video channel, shines a spotlight on childless women who explain what’s it’s like to know you can’t have children of your own, and why they keep that pain to themselves.

I know that pain. I know how much it can hurt to reveal it to others, thereby opening the door to other people’s comments and opinions — whether meant to help or not — that only lead to intensified heartbreak.

I have nothing but applause and hugs for the three women who sat in front of Buzzfeed’s camera and gave voice to the reality that their peers rarely discuss.

L Pyne

The Not Mom Interview: Lesley Pyne, Counselor to Childless Women

Childless and childfree women come in lots of shapes and sizes. We are all colors, all cultures, and all ages. As much as we have in common, we are also very different, and we define ourselves without the label of ‘Mom. And if you’re not a Mom, who are you?  TheNotMom writer and childfree blogger Laura LaVoie interviews women without children with public voices to learn their answers. 

Right now, we’re focused on preparations for The NotMom Summit on October 9-10, 2015. By introducing our presenters and speakers here, you’ll get an idea of who the women at the podiums really are, and what to expect.

Laura says: Meet Lesley Pyne, a pioneer in the United Kingdom for creating a service network for childless women to find a support and create the lives they desire.

I was excited to hear that Lesley was not only supportive of the NotMom Summit, but she was also willing to travel all the way from the UK to participate. She was one of the very first people we booked and she has been an amazing presence in our process to create an incredible inaugural event. Lesley will lead a session on Telling Your Story and also join a panel on Setting Boundaries.

Tell us about yourself and your services for NotMoms.

I’m a London-based coach supporting childless women to heal and to create a life they love. I work with women in person and on Skype.

My personal story is that we waited until I was 35 before we started trying for children, which I now know was leaving it late. Six unsuccessful rounds of IVF later and we stopped when I was 40.

H Lee young

Just When We Need a Watchman, Harper Lee Is Back

By Karen Malone Wright

Surely you’ve noticed that an 89-year-old NotMom is setting the literary world on fire, publishers, critics and readers alike. It’s Harper Lee, author of the 1960 masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird, a very American tale of lost childhood innocence, bigotry, and standing up to The System. In many high schools (like mine), the book has been required reading for generations.

Never read it? Then you probably don’t understand why Demi Moore and Bruce Willis have a daughter named Scout. Maybe Hollywood failed to pull you in through the Oscar-winning performance of actor Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, the white lawyer who defends a wrongly accused black man in the South of 1930’s Jim Crow. 

Harper Lee left her small Alabama hometown for New York City in 1949. While working on her first novel, she worked closely with Truman Capote as he researched and drafted what would become another American classic, In Cold Blood. She was 35 in the photo above, taken the year after Mockingbird‘s release.

Never married, she returned to Monroeville, Alabama to live quietly with her sister for many years. Remembered as a tomboy in childhood,  there’s been speculation that Ms. Lee is gay. The answer “unearthed” by her biographer in 2007: None of your business. 

Today, after decades of believing her to be a one-hit wonder, we now know that Ms. Lee wrote another book. Go Set a Watchman, a sequel to Mockingbird, was her first novel, unpublished and forgotten. 

Diaz1

If Cameron Diaz Gets Pregnant, She’s Not Betraying Herself, or You, Either

By Karen Malone Wright

When I saw this headline in a July 2015 issue of People, my eyebrows shot up, but I wasn’t surprised by its news. How about you?

Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden, Now Married, Hope to Have Children

Newlyweds for just six months, Good Charlotte guitarist Benji Madden is 32. Cameron is 42. A “source close to the actress” let People know that time’s a wastin’.

berries

Wellness for One (or Two): Four Unexpected Ways to Enjoy Summer Fruit

By Samantha Pollack

Fresh fruit doesn’t need a recipe, especially in peak season. I know this, you know this, our grandmothers knew it, and our kids would know it too…if we had kids.

But.

I LIVE for recipes!

Keep in mind, I am a fruit snob. I don’t eat strawberries in October or apples in March. I only eat nectarines and apricots for about a month out of the year. My preference is to eat fruit plain, on an empty stomach, and I could happily survive for a week or more eating only fruit.

Which means – any fruit-based recipes have to blow the raspberry seeds out of my teeth. Here are four of my superstar favorites: Carrot Fruit Soup, Apricot Blueberry Salad, Blackberry Crumble and Strawberry Watermelon Salad!

cat gifts

5 Steps to Hosting the Perfect Shower For Your New Pet

By Laura LaVoie

Fourteen years ago in August, Matt and I brought home our squirmy, nekkid bundle of joy. As it turns out, she’s a Sphynx cat, not a baby. After she was settled in, we hosted a small get-together at our house.

My parents, my sister’s family of four (including two nephews who were very young at the time), my brother, and Matt’s mom all came over for an afternoon to meet our new kitten. We had a sundae bar, which was a lot of fun, and they brought treats and toys for Piglet, even though we had said, “No presents.”

My mom and sister, who had been kind of freaked out by the thought of a hairless cat, immediately fell in love when they experienced Piglet’s personality.

Recently, I’ve been involved in a few conversations with other childfree-by-choice women who have adopted new furbabies. They say, half joking, that they should have a shower for their new pet. And I say that shouldn’t be a tongue-in-cheek suggestion!

Here’s how to throw a pet shower in 5 easy steps.