Monday, August 22, 2011

Update on the Childless by Marriage book

So whatever happened to my Childless by Marriage book, the one I keep promising is on its way? Well, the book is written. I was actively seeking publishers when my husband's illness got much worse. He died in April, and I've been trying to swim back to solid ground ever since. But now I'm back in business, marketing as hard as I can.

I have found that most books on childlessness wind up being self-published. Although nearly a quarter of all women today never have children, publishers don't see a big enough market. I think all those childless women and men, as well as their families and friends, make up a huge market.

Never mind. I'd prefer the clout of a bigger publisher, but I have my own small publishing company, Blue Hydrangea Productions, which has already put out Stories Grandma Never Told and Shoes Full of Sand. See If no one buys the book before March 2012, I will publish Childless by Marriage as my 60th birthday present to myself. Count on it. (And yes, I am that old.)

Meanwhile, we have this site to share our stories. I have a childless resource page with descriptions of dozens of books and websites at my main website, I previously sponsored a Childless by Marriage Google group, but there wasn't enough action there to be worth the effort, and it was getting confusing as to what went where. If you're interested in a Facebook page, let me know.

While the Childless by Marriage book makes its way through the publishing world, I'm also working on articles and essays and will let you know where you can read them.

My Blogspot statistics tell me quite a few people are reading this blog. Some of you are quoting it elsewhere. Thank you. I'm flattered. Feel free to share what you find here, but please, because it is copyrighted material, let people know where you found it and link back to this site.

Thank you for your years of reading and commenting and offering support. Being childless in this society can be tough sometimes. It helps to stick together.


Friday, August 12, 2011

The Last Two Eggs (Just for fun)

If someone snuck a little TV camera up my fallopian tubes to my ovaries, what would they find?

“Que pasa? What’s that noise? Gertrude, are you awake yet? Something’s going on.”
“Mercy, Maria, go back to sleep. Nothing’s going to happen. Not after all these years.“
“You never know.”
“Please.” Gertrude sighs and sits up. “Let’s go over it again. She’s 52 years old and married for 20 years to this man who had a vasectomy, and then before that, there was the wall. Remember the wall?”
“Oh, sí. The diaphragm. Some very handsome sperm started up the path. Of course we could only see their silhouettes, but up they’d come, young and spirited and muy guapo, coming, coming, almost here, and then, boom. They’d hit the wall, get caught in the jelly, and die like flies in a spider web.”
“Those were sad times.”
“But antes, before that we saw some action.”
“When she was young.”
“Sí, young and slender and with no walls.” She sighs.
“I forget why we didn’t get together with anybody then.”
“Well, I remember that there was something muy weird going on. For months, we wouldn’t have no new eggs.”
“The pill.”
“I guess that’s what it was.”
“But there were a few fellows who got through.” Gertrude smiles, remembering. “They were not bad looking, but there was no spark. We held out for sparks, for magic, for romance, you know.”
“Should have grabbed what we could get.”
“I know, I know, but we all thought there’d be rushes and gushes of handsome sperm. It was just a matter of the right time. It never happened. One by one, our sisters sloughed away, gone forever.” Gertrude shakes her head sadly. “We’re the last two, Maria. I can’t bear the thought of losing you.”
“You might go first.”
“I suppose.” She silently watches the blood pumping through a nearby vein.
“I hear she’s a writer.”
“Writer? Words, words, words. All from the brain, nothing from below the waist. What good does that do us?”
“She’s a musician, too.”
“Is that what all that noise is about? Again, it doesn’t get us fertilized. Remember when we were young and fresh?”
“Como no? Now we’re so far past our expiration date we’re wrinkled up like raisins. If a hot sperm came swimming our way, we wouldn’t know what to do with it.”
“Or which one of us should get him. Should the kid get the Spanish genes or the Anglo ones?”
“Caramba. I’m too tired to even think about it now. Besides, I hear the uterus is shutting down.”
“Ah, I heard those rumors, too. I think the big U is getting a little senile, that’s all. One month, everything’s normal, the next, she forgets, the next she goes through two cycles to make up. It’s exhausting. And the hot flashes and the mood swings . . .
“She sends us plenty of food though. Tamales and cookies and ice cream . . .”
“Yes, she does like to eat these days. Once upon a time, I could practically see out into the world she was so thin, but not anymore.”
“No.” Maria rests against a soft red cushion, closing her eyes. “That’s okay. I don’t much care. We’re never getting out of here.”
“You’re wrong, Maria. Look, there’s something coming up the tube. This might be our chance. Do you see it? It’s coming closer and closer. It doesn’t look like a sperm, more like a box with one big eye and a very long tail, but we have to take what we can get at this point. Hey! Hey! Over here. Take us both! Let’s make twins! Come on, Maria, jump!”

I wake to the sound of a nurse asking whether I want tapioca or Jello. Then the doctor stands over me with his clipboard. “Well, Ms. Lick, it’s all over. Everything looked okay until we got to the left ovary, and then the camera malfunctioned, but we’ve seen enough. It’s just menopause. Nothing to worry about.

Copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2011 (Request reprint permission at

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dogs and kids don't always mix

I held my breath as my dog Annie sniffed at the little boy. Perhaps she thought he was an odd-shaped dog. After all, she knows even less about children than I do. But this little guy was barely old enough to walk, and my 80-pound pup was getting awfully interested in his diapered bottom. Any second, she’d jump on him and scratch or nip his pure white skin, and we’d be in big trouble.

The boy’s mom had let her three kids, ages about 1 1/2, 3, and 6, run free in the fenced dog park, a rectangle of bark chips, poop and shredded tennis balls. The boy’s older sisters played on the dog agility apparatus. Their own dog, a skinny brindled bulldog mix, sped around the park, touching noses now and then with Annie and a massive long-haired dolt of a dog determined to hump everything in sight. (His embarrassed owners would soon haul him away.) Meanwhile, the little boy staggered around in the middle of the park.

I grabbed Annie just before she got too friendly. The mom shouted out something like, “Hey, Winston(!), not all dogs like little boys.” To which he did not react. To him, a doggie was a doggie.

Mixing kids with other people’s dogs is risky. Dogs, as much as we love them, are animals. They communicate with their mouths and their paws. In a flash, they can bite or accidentally scratch someone. Poor Annie hasn’t been around children since I adopted her at seven weeks old. She knows nothing about them, does not understand you can’t sniff, paw or roll around with them the way you can with dogs.

Annie is a childless female like me. Spayed at six months, she occasionally displays romantic feelings, but she doesn’t know anything about puppies or baby humans.

Annie didn’t hurt the little boy, but things got out of hand when the mom passed out cookies and opened a Styrofoam box of French fries. Food! Annie tried to grab the cookie out of the little boy’s hand. I pulled her back. The bulldog dashed over to defend her family--or get some of the food--and a fight ensued. I dragged my snarling dog out by the collar.

I don’t hate kids or mothers, but the dog park is for mothers of dogs, not mothers of people. It's one place where we can all be equal as dog owners. As my late husband used to say, “Grumble.”

Friday, August 5, 2011

Savvy Auntie offers comfort to the Childless

Although I miss being a mom, I love being Aunt Sue to my brother's kids. How about you? Are you somebody's aunt? (Or uncle?)A couple posts ago, I mentioned a site for Savvy Aunties, women who may not be mothers but who can be great aunts, godmothers and friends to the children in their lives. I just came across a video and a blog post by Savvy Auntie founder Melanie Notkin that you might be interested in.

Interviewed July 18 on CNN, she talked about "circumstantial infertility" and the challenges for women in their 30s or 40s who haven't found that special someone to father their children.

Notkin also posted a great piece at that you may find encouraging.

Notkin's book is Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids. Visit the Savvy Auntie site at

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Childlessness from the man's perspective

The only childless men I know are my younger relatives. All the men of my generation and older have children, although they may not have acquired them with their present wives. Childlessness comes with the second wife syndrome; he's done with kids, and you missed your chance.

But sometimes it's the woman who doesn't want to have children with the new husband. Either she has hers already or she never wanted to be a mom. Same problem. Or is it?

Men have more time. Women need to get pregnant no later than their early 40s while men have decades longer, so the need to hurry is less urgent. But once they're committed to a relationship with no babies on the horizon, don't they grieve the loss of children, too?

Man or woman, it always comes down to a decision. Do I love this person enough to sacrifice the children I might have had? Did I always want to be a mom or dad? There are no easy answers and no way for both people to get what they want.

I sometimes read a blog called Him + 17, written by a man who married a woman 17 years older than he is. They were unable to have children together. In a 2009 posting, he wrote, "I know I've missed out on something fundamental to human experience. Sheri has, too. Though I would not change a whit of my past if it meant losing Sheri, I sometimes try to understand who that young man was, and why he made the decisions he did."

A few years ago, an anthology called Nobody's Father was published by Touchwood Editions in Canada. It offers some good examples of the male perspective. Some of the men are content with their situation while others are clearly in pain. One writer admits to conflicted feelings when a child has a tantrum over something he wants at the store. While he is grateful he never had to deal with that situation, he simulantaneously wants to hold and comfort the child, giving him everything he wants.

If you wanted kids and don't have them, it hurts. Even if you never thought you wanted them, you might sometimes feel that something is missing.

Men out there, what do you have to say on this?