Saturday, June 30, 2012

Childless by Marriage has gone to press

I hesitate to advertise here, but I going to do it today. My Childless by Marriage book went to the printer yesterday and will soon be in paperback form. Copies should be available by Aug. 1.

What's in this book I keep yammering about? Here's the summary:

First you marry a man who does not want children. He cheats and you divorce him. Then you marry the love of your life and find out he does not want to have children with you either. Although you always wanted to be a mother, you decide he is worth the sacrifice, expecting to have a long, happy life together. But that's not what happens. This is the story of how a woman becomes childless by marriage and how it affects every aspect of her life.

The book tells my story, but I also include interviews of many childless women, as well as things I have learned in over a decade of studying childlessness. Chapters include "He Doesn't Want Children," "What Have I Done?" Who Knew It was a Sin?" "The Evil Stepmother," "Exiled from the Mom Club," "Why Don't You Have Kids?" "Can a Woman Be a Dog's Mother," "Mothering Fred," "Side Effects of Motherhood" and "What Will I Leave Behind?" For a complete table of contents, visit my Childless page at

The book will cost $15.95, plus $2.50 shipping and handling. However, if you want to pre-order a copy by mailing a check to Sue Fagalde Lick, P.O. Box 755, South Beach, OR 97366, before Aug. 1, I'll send it to you for $15 total. I will be putting a Paypal link on my website shortly for online orders, including credit card payments.

Remember, the book is also available as a Kindle e-book for only $2.99.

Questions? Email me at

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Childless? It Could Be Worse

Sometimes when I’m talking to other childless women, I feel lucky. Sure, I don’t have children and I wish I did, but my reasons for being without children are so much more benign than they could be. That became clear as I interviewed people for my Childless by Marriage book.

For example, Mindy from Arizona said she had a horrible childhood. Her mother was a monster, and she decided she  never wanted to bring a child into this messed-up world. She went into early menopause after being treated for breast cancer, so she couldn’t have a child even if she wanted to.

Karen, also from Arizona, had a premature baby who died at birth. It was so awful she didn’t ever want to risk going through that again.

Jan, a retired teacher from Colorado, had gonorrhea that was misdiagnosed and untreated for years, scarring her fallopian tubes. Later, she had a hysterectomy. In their late 40s, she and her husband briefly considered adopting a special needs child but decided they didn’t want to start a family that late in life.

Another woman with rheumatoid arthritis has been so crippled most of her life that not only did she not feel able to have a child but she couldn’t find a man willing to deal with her handicap.

Many woman have had abortions. Many have been nagged and harassed by their families. Many hate their mothers. Some have husbands who drink or abuse them.Others struggle with mental illness and fear they would pass it on to their children. And of course, many couples try and try to have a baby, only to have their hearts broken when they can't get pregnant or they suffer one miscarriage after another.

In comparison, I was blessed. My mother, God rest her soul, was a saint. She loved me unconditionally and supported me in my choices. I know she would have loved to be a grandmother. When I think about what it would have been like to see her holding my child, I weep. But she never pressured me about having children.

My family did not abuse or misuse me. My ex-husband may not have loved me the way I wanted, but he was civil. So far, I have not had cancer or other horrible illnesses. I get along with my stepchildren and their mother reasonably well, especially compared to what I hear about other families. I was blessed with a loving husband, a good home, enough money, health insurance, friends, work I love, and faith. I wish I had children, but still, I have to remember how lucky I am.

When you get to feeling down, stop thinking about what you don’t have and focus on what you DO have. I know it’s hard, but it really helps. And if you have a painful story you want to tell, we're here to listen and care.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Does having children take the romance out of marriage?

Are you or your partner hesitant to have children because of the effect it would have on your marriage?

I'm reading this book called Marriage Confidential: Love in the Post-Romantic Age by Pamela Haag. It's not about childlessness, but about marriage. It's very interesting, and it makes me feel about a hundred years old. Apparently things have changed since I got married in the last century.

In Haag's view, marriages alter irrevocably with the arrival of children. Instead of focusing on each other, the mother and father turn all their attention to the children. They become sexless partners in the business of raising children. One of my favorite lines is: "As far as erotic charge goes, one day you're sleeping with a lover-husband, and the next you might as well be in bed with a toaster." In this age of two-income families and "helicopter parenting," Haag suggests, there is no time or energy left for each other, or for a social life outside the family.The romance goes away.

I think back on my marriage to Fred. We acted like newlyweds for over 25 years. If we had had children, would that romantic feeling have been destroyed? Is that part of what happened to his first marriage? I'll never know. I do know that when I was raising my two puppies, everything was about the dogs, and I sometimes made their needs a higher priority than Fred's needs. Would it have been even worse with children? I don't know. Maybe this is just how it's supposed to be; you have children and marriage morphs into something different--but not necessarily something bad.

What do you think? Have you ever experienced this or worried about it happening? Is this why your partner doesn't want to have children?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sweet memory: Sadie joins the family

Today, I'm sharing a short excerpt from the Childless by Marriage book, one I hope will make us all smile a little. 

As editor of the Saratoga News, I often received press releases from The Pet Network, a local dog and cat rescue agency. Remembering the close bond I had had with Heidi, the German Shepherd I had shared with my first husband--and lost in the divorce--I decided I wanted another dog. Now that Fred and I had a house of our own, there was no reason we couldn't have a dog. We started going to animal adoption fairs, visiting rescue dogs displayed at various area shopping centers.

When we first met Sadie at a PetSmart store, her name was Snapple. A German Shepherd-yellow Lab mix, she had the same dark eyes as Heidi had, the same lush multi-layered fur, and the same plumed tail, with the sturdy body of a Lab. She was mostly the color of the Snapple iced-tea drink.

As I reached out to pet her, she wagged her tail. "Fred, look. What do you think about this one?"

"She seems nice."

The dog's tail wagged faster.

Snapple had a problem. The volunteers said she was so aggressive with other animals that she couldn't be boarded with any other dogs. Hm.. Our house had come with an old cat, and we certainly didn't want a dog that might hurt her. We decided to keep looking

Two weeks later, Snapple was still there. Now they called her Sadie, having decided her name was discouraging potential owners. She was beautiful. As we leaned over to pet her, she licked our hands and wagged her tail. She didn't seem to have any problem with the other dogs nearby that day. We asked to take her out for a walk.

We strolled around the store, then sat on the warm pavement just outside the back door. This dog acted as if she was already part of the family.

"I like her," I said.

"Me too," Fred replied.

"Do you want to live with us?" I asked the dog.

Her dark eyes sparkled as if she understood.

We came back in, paid $100 for the dog, bought a leash, collar, bowl and food and loaded her into the Honda.

Our cat wasn't too happy with the new addition. When Sadie came bounding into the back yard, Lady, sleeping on the lounge in the patio, flew at her with  teeth and claws extended. I grabbed her off the startled dog, and we started a life of dog in the back yard, cat in the front and never the twain should meet.

It wouldn't be for long. Lady had already been diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer and would die a few months later, but things were tense for a while.

Michael, Fred's son, who had moved in with us a few months earlier, was happy with the new dog. When we weren't around, he let her sleep in his bed. We started signing Christmas and birthday cards from "Fred, Sue, Michael and Sadie, letting people wonder if we'd had a baby girl.

Our family was complete.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Happy dads, pets instead of kids . . .

Time to round up the online stories about childlessness again.

First, in the category of, well, duh, cyberspace is full of this study that showed that dads are happier than non-dads. Read about it in "Dads are Happier Than Their Childless Peers" at

Then, it seems that in Japan, where the birthrate may be lower than just about anywhere else, pets are filling the gap. You should get a smile out of the pictures at "Why Japan Prefers Pets to Parenthood" in The Guardian. Puppies in strollers? Wearing sunglasses? I have a chapter on this in my Childless by Marriage book. As a dog-mom myself I find this stuff fascinating.

There's a good discussion about whether we should be called "childless" or "childfree" at TheNotMom.com What do you think about this?

Finally, there's all kinds of good stuff at The Road Less Traveled, including a discussion of the "How I Met Your Mother" episode where they deal with whether or not to have children.

Enjoy. As always your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Childless by Marriage cover revealed

Drum roll, please . . . . Here is the new cover for the Childless by Marriage paperback. It will also replace the Kindle e-book cover in the near future. Yes, that is from my wedding. Don't those hands look young, innocent, and loving, with no idea what will happen in the future?

I can't believe I went through so much craziness to get the original brown cover that is elegant in a sparse kind of way but not at all what I had dreamed of. It was only through looking through hundreds of stock photos that I realized I might have something just as good in my own photo albums.

I will have ordering information online for the paperback within the next week. My recent trip to California delayed things a bit, as did a last-minute kerfuffle [disturbance, fuss] with the stepkids over the book, but the problems have been dealt with, and the print book is on its way. Sometime this month, the e-book will temporarily go offline, so I can make some minor changes and add the new cover. Be patient; it will be back, probably within a few hours.

I hope you all survived Father's Day all right. Any experiences you care to share with our readers?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Surviving Father's Day

Well, it's Father's Day. If you are a non-dad who wishes you had children and finds this holiday painful, I hope you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. If you have a living father or grandfather, honoring him will help take the pressure off of yourself. Otherwise, as I advise the women on Mother's Day, get thee far from all media until the day is over. Of course, if you're not living in Pacific time, maybe this advice comes too late. Or maybe not. Tonight's prime-time TV shows are likely to be Father's Day oriented.

At church this morning, I watched the men as our pastor asked all men who are fathers or play the role of father in some capacity to bow their heads for a special prayer. Most bowed their heads, but the man across the aisle from me, who is young but walks with great difficulty, stared straight ahead, looking uncomfortable. I could feel his pain. In a world where all the men of a certain age seem to be dads, he's not. For him, I'll bet the prayer seemed to last forever.

Father's Day doesn't get quite the attention that Mother's Day gets. It may be a little easier to ignore it, but it still hurts. Go do something you enjoy and forget about it.

If you are a woman who loves someone who would like to be a father but isn't, be especially kind to him today.

Soon it will be Monday, and we can watch "The Bachelorette" again.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kids, kids, kids, they're everywhere!

I've been on the road this week, which is why my posting schedule has turned erratic, but I'm on my way home now.

 I'd like to write about a run-in I had with a grown stepchild that makes me wonder if I would have been the worst mother ever, but the kids read the blog and are easily offended, so I'll change the subject--for now.

I've never seen so many babies and pregnant women in my life. I sold books at a Portuguese festival in San Jose last weekend and was flabbergasted by the population explosion happening there. Where I live on the Oregon coast, the population is older, so I don't see so many babies; I just hear a lot of grandma talk. But out in the world, babies are happening.

It wasn't just at the festival. I stayed with my dad, and whenever we went out to a restaurant, there were bound to be babies or toddlers at the next table. At church, he introduced me to his "girlfriend," a four-year-old who came running in and gave him a big hug. She sits next to him every Sunday. If only that was my little girl. The child has a one-year-old brother, and the mom is expecting again.

Then there's me and my dad, both single and living alone. At a party with my brother's friends, someone actually asked me if that was my husband. Is it that he looks young for his age, or that I look old?

Eventually someone asked me about my children. I had to tell him I didn't have any. Not one person at that party said, "Oh, I don't have any either."

We visited my sister-in-law's mom, who recently sold her home of 50 years to move closer to her kids. Her house is filled with pictures of her children and grandchildren, and they were the only things we had in common to talk about.

You can't get away from it. It takes a strong person to feel comfortable being childless in this world where everyone else seems to have a life filled with children. I'm working on it. I think the only thing we can do is enjoy all the children of the world and accept the freedom that comes with not having our own.

How's that going for you?

Friday, June 8, 2012

How do you not lose hope?

Dear readers,
I'm on the road this week and have a very limited Internet connection, so I'll keep this short. Sorry I missed yesterday. Tomorrow I'll be selling books at a festival in San Jose, so I'll be offline then, too. Next week, I'll be back on schedule.

I interviewed a very interesting woman yesterday. She's exactly my age, but her life is very different because she has children and grandchildren. Toward the end, she asked about my children, and I had to tell her "I don't have any children." "Oh, I thought you did," she said. Sigh.

I received a comment yesterday from a new reader who became so unhappy with her childless state that she slashed her wrists. I was shocked by that, but unhappiness can lead one to all kinds of desperate measures. She assured me she is in treatment now and is okay, but she wants to know how people cope and how they keep going without losing hope. Maybe one way is stepping out of your own grief to help other people. So, my friends, do you have any words of comfort for the woman who calls herself Lizardgoat and for anyone else who might be feeling just as desperate but hasn't found the courage to write?

Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Childless News on the Web

It's time to share what other people are writing about childlessness.

In a play on the new movie "What to Expect When You're Expecting," Irish writer Anna Coogan wrote a great article for The Herald called "What to Expect When You're Childless. She looks at all sides of the childless question, childless by choice, by circumstance or by infertility, dealing with people who don't get it, and more.

For another view on the situation, visit the Childfree News blog. Keep in mind the author is coming from the "childfree" viewpoint, meaning she is childless by choice, but she makes some good points.

I'm always ragging on the need to talk with our partners about whether or not to have kids. Beth in the "Have Children or Not" blog writes about this in her most recent post. In trying to help couples struggling with the decision to have children or not, she often finds that they waited until the marriage was in jeopardy to talk about it.

Beth links to a UK newspaper article titled "I Left the Husband I Loved Because He Refused to have Children (and had IVF Twins Alone)." It's quite a story, especially for those of us in marriages where babies are seeming less likely every day.  

See you Thursday.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Have you had THE TALK with your parents?

I often write here about the need to have THE TALK with one's partner about whether or not you're going to have children. But after that talk, we'll probably find ourselves having another talk--with our parents--about how they're not going to be getting any grandchildren from us.

If they're like most parents of adult children, they're going to start hinting for grandchildren shortly after the wedding. As time passes and you're not pregnant, they're likely to start dropping hints, asking questions, noting that you're not getting any younger, and laying guilt trips about how their friends are all getting grandchildren

How do you respond? Do you put them off with "not yet," tell them it's not going to happen, or change the subject?

In my own case, although I remember many conversations about marriage while we did dishes together, I don't remember telling my mother I wasn't going to have kids with Fred. I know we talked about it, a lot, when I was with my first husband. Children were still a possibility then. After the divorce, I remember talking about whether or not I was too old--I wasn't.

But when I hooked up with Fred, did we have the talk about his vasectomy and reluctance to have more children? I don't think we did. I do remember that my mother took my side when other family members bugged me about kids. When I moped about not being a mother, she insisted I was a mother because I had stepchildren, even though she didn't have much of a relationship with them.

As for my father, we didn't talk about that kind of thing. I'd talk to Mom, and she'd talk to him. I know he would have enjoyed the children I might have had. But we've never spoken about it directly.

How about you? How did you break the news to your parents? How did they react? Or have you put off that conversation indefinitely?