Blogger Brandi Lytle is using her voice to break the taboo of infertility and show that sometimes the end of a fertility treatment story is where she and her husband have ended up: living childless, not by choice. Brandi’s childless journey is documented on her blog ‘Not so Mommy’, which she started in 2017 so others wouldn’t feel as isolated as she felt when trying to build her family.
Q: What’s Your Fertility/Infertility Story in a Nutshell?
My hubby and I went to four different infertility clinics in two different states and had 7 failed IUIs, three of which occurred during a clinical trial. We researched different types of adoption—domestic, international, embryo—but nothing ever felt right for the both of us. He wanted to do IVF. I wasn’t sure. I wanted to adopt. He wasn’t sure. After ten years, my hubby told me that he didn’t want to try anymore. So, at the end of 2013, I started trying to accept our childless not by choice life.
Q: Why did you decide to document your childless experience on your blog? How did people respond?
While going through our infertility battle, I felt very alone. When I was at my lowest (what I call “the pit of despair”), I truly felt that no one (not even my husband) understood what I was going through. The isolation was almost unbearable.
After accepting infertility and moving forward into our childless not by choice life, my hubby and I met another couple very similar to us—no kids, loved their nieces, nephews, and puppy. They hosted a foreign exchange student. My husband said that they were proof that there were other people out there like us! He told me that I should write a blog about our story and came up with the name, Not So Mommy. He even bought the URL address the day he told me to write a blog!
Several months later, I finally started posting blogs because I never want anyone to feel alone on this journey. Plus, I want those who come to the end of their infertility battle without the little their heart desires to find the support, love, and encouragement they need to let go and move forward in the what is…
And the response to my blog? Well, it has been overwhelmingly positive! I have connected with childless not by choice people in 15 different countries throughout the world. Within the United States, there are Not So Mommy community members in 23 states. While it is my honor to provide support and encouragement to this wonderful group, I am blessed that they offer love and support right back.
After accepting infertility and moving forward into our childless not by choice life, my hubby and I met another couple very similar to us—no kids, loved their nieces, nephews, and puppy. They hosted a foreign exchange student. My husband said that they were proof that there were other people out there like us!
Q: What has been the biggest obstacle for you in your journey to “re-defining momhood”?
When I decided to try and accept my childless life, I made a resolution to “stop trying to convince others that I’m a mom and just accept it myself.” Initially, that meant embracing my role as a dog mom. Later, I had the opportunity to “re-define” as a host mom to our foreign exchange daughter. While I truly believe these roles of dog mom and host mom allow me to fulfill my dream of being a mom, not everyone understands or agrees with this. (In fact, I’ve received some harsh criticisms about my perspective of being a mom.) So, at the start 2019, I made a new resolution—stop expecting others to understand my childless life. I realized that if I need acceptance, validation, and understanding from others about my “mom roles,” then I will never truly be able to redefine momhood for myself. So, I have challenged myself to just embrace my life and live who I am authentically and with joy!
Q: What is the acronym CANBACE and why does it resonate with you?
Nicci Fletcher, of Canbace Life, created this positive affirmation for the childless. I am very honored that one of my blogs inspired her to create this amazing CANBACE acronym, which stands for “Creating A New, Beautiful And Courageous Existence”.
CANBACE resonates with me because I believe that I am Creating A New, Beautiful And Courageous Existence for myself as I redefine momhood. I feel that CANBACE is one powerful way to find acceptance.
The infertility and childless not by choice journeys are complex, to say the least. For the childless not by choice, acceptance requires grieving dreams lost, letting go, and moving forward in the what is. For me, redefining momhood has helped with my healing, so I share about that on my blog. But I’m not so arrogant as to believe that Not So Mommy can meet all of everyone’s needs. Because each person must find his/her own way to acceptance, I share various resources with my community so that they can find their joy again.
At the start 2019, I made a new resolution—stop expecting others to understand my childless life. I realized that if I need acceptance, validation, and understanding from others about my ‘mom roles’ then I will never truly be able to redefine momhood for myself…
Q: What advice would you give someone who is considering moving on from fertility treatments?
If you decide to stop fertility treatments and live a childless not by choice life, please do not ever allow anyone (including yourself) to say that you “gave up.” Letting go and moving forward with a life that you did not dream of or plan takes a lot of courage. And discovering the bright sides of that life, living it joyfully… well, that is pretty darn amazing!
You can live a beautiful childless (but not childfree) life. Embrace the kids in your life—both two and four-legged. Cling to the good things, no matter how small. And accept that there are some things that simply cannot be. Live your imperfectly perfect life!
Q: Is there anything else you want to add?
I created an olive green Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbon. (You can read more about why I chose olive green here.) I would love for this ribbon to be recognized and displayed throughout the world.
How wonderful it would be if childless people and those who support us could wear the olive green ribbon and others would realize what it means. Perhaps then, they might ask about what books we like or if we have traveled recently. Or even better, perhaps wearing the ribbon would signal that it’s okay for someone to ask about our journey because the stigmas have been broken and discussing infertility and childlessness are no longer taboo subjects. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
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