Photo of a jar with sparkles coming out the top on Anne's Story, on Not So Mommy..., an infertility & childless blog
As told to Brandi Lytle

My very first post this year was entitled, “Childless Warriors, Let’s scribble outside the lines in 2021…”  (You can read it here.)  It was inspired by an Instagram comment made by fabulous one, Anne.  I shared her words with permission, telling her how deeply they resonated with me. 

Anne and I had connected a few months prior.  I told her that if she ever wanted to share her story, I’d be honored to publish it at Not So Mommy…  Well, on New Year’s Eve, Anne emailed me her incredible story.  An absolutely fabulously AMAZING story with the theme “scribble outside the lines” that brought tears to my eyes AND made me smile!  Anne’s Story is the perfect one to share this first month of 2021!

I couldn’t decide whether to share Anne’s Story as a CNBC Story or a Finding Joy Despite… Story.  It encompasses so much and could fit in either category.  So, for the first time ever, I decided to share a story as both.  I mean, if we are going to scribble outside the lines, then why do we need to put Anne’s Story into one specific category?!

Well, that’s enough from me!  Let’s see what Anne has to say about scribbling outside the lines…

Last year turned the world on its head and forced everyone to confront longstanding traditions and expectations. It’s the perfect moment for a scribbler to shine, to color outside the lines, and make the most of the life that is right in front of us.  -Anne, A Childless Warrior

Anne’s Story . . .

POSSIBLE TRIGGERS:  Anne speaks openly and honestly about her childhood, being bullied, fertility treatments, parenthood, redefining momhood, holidays, and more…

When I was a young child, my pre-school bully teased me for being “a scribbler.” My inability and unwillingness to color inside the lines earned me the taunt. It made me angry, but I still loved coloring and I kept scribbling. Years later, I was in an after-school art program and we had a guest artist come in. He was a muralist, and could simultaneously draw with both hands. While drawing with soft pastels in each hand, he said to the class, “There are no museums for famous erasers.” Even as a kid, I recognized this statement had many meanings about mistakes and creations.

Many years later, I would receive a degree in engineering, get a good job, and marry my college sweetheart. We bought a house, advanced our careers, traveled around the world, and finally decided it was the perfect time to have children. With countless blessings, support, and hard work, we had checked off every life milestone in perfect order…except becoming parents.

We tried as hard to become parents as we had for every other goal in our lives. We created action plans and schedules for perfectly timed sex that worked around our demanding careers and travel ambitions, but nothing worked. After months of trying, tracking, worrying, and arguing, we saw a fertility specialist.

Just after my 30th birthday, in March of 2020, we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. We had discussed beforehand what treatment options we would be open to. We were hoping some Clomid would do the trick. Also, we had discussed IUIs, and we determined that we were unwilling to undergo IVF. At the doctor’s recommendation, we agreed to do 3 rounds of IUI. However, none of them worked and I have never been pregnant.

But I will scribble again.

I have always had a deep love for dogs, but I have not always been a “dog mom.” Growing up a farm kid in very rural northern NY, I was involved in 4-H, horse shows, dog shows, and worked various farm jobs. I loved my pets, but I never thought of them as people or fur-children.

My husband and I got our first puppy, Bella, a golden retriever, the day after we graduated college. We adopted our second dog, Maddie, a year later from the local shelter. ​They are both eight now and quite well behaved. I craved adding some chaos to our quiet, well ordered, childless home. My empty arms ached to hold something small. Six weeks after we stopped pursuing parenthood, we welcomed Kona, a mini-Aussie, into our family. I decided part of making the most of the life I had was allowing myself to indulge in the fun of being a (possibly crazy) dog mom.

This year, I will proudly color outside all of the lines.

I have committed to making the most of what is directly in front of me and not denying myself something because “it’s not what childless people do.” Cheesy Insta posts, refrigerator worthy snail mail, and adorable little fuzzy blankets are not solely for newborn parents!

I made a puppy announcement card and mailed it to all of my friends. Now, Kona adorns several of their refrigerators. I usedPhoto of Anne's Puppy Announcement on Anne's Story on Not So Mommy..., an infertility and childless blog a felt board and month stickers to track Kona’s growth on Instagram. I scheduled family photos with a photographer for the first time since our wedding. And ​I made Christmas cards with our little family on it, instead of using mass produced cards. I am embracing our family for what it is, instead of being ashamed for what is missing.​

People seem to appreciate receiving these tokens of us embracing the life we have. I believe these gestures can inspire others to have more confidence to embrace their life as-is without worrying that they are not meeting standards set by our pro-natal culture. (I could write a whole separate essay on the damage caused by a pro-natal culture for both moms and non-moms.)

Last year, I worked up the courage to go get puppy pictures with Santa on the last possible day because I had spent most of December debating if that was “too ridiculous” and telling myself “Santa is for families with children.” But this year, I’m embracing any thoughts that may be considered ridiculous and not caring what the status quo is.

This year, I will scribble a masterpiece.

I like to count days. One hundred sixty-two days ago, we stopped pursuing parenthood. I have been married for 2,413 days and I’ve been alive for 11,272. ​I like to count days because it means every day counts, and I have a widget on my homescreen to do it for me.

The thing about a childless not by choice life is that the moment you stop pursuing parenthood, absolutely everything in your life changes – and almost no one notices.​ Everyone knows that having kids changes everything, but few people know how not having them does too. Every aspect of your life is impacted; you are left in a monumental transition to decide who you are, who you want to be, and how you want to live.

People falsely believe the milestones in life that cause​ for deep personal reflection are tied to stages of parenthood. I believe these crossroads in life simply correlate with generational milestones but they are not caused by them. They happen to everyone and the​ feelings are universal. It is said that no one can understand the loss and grief of the childless not by choice. Perhaps this is true. But I know we all experience a deep need to define who we are throughout our lives. Through my journey, I’ve grown to appreciate that life isn’t lived inside neat clean lines and there is no eraser to do it over.

So this year, I will embrace life as a dog mom and scribble myself a beautiful new chapter.

THANK YOU, Anne!

Oh. My. Goodness!  WOW!  Can I just say again that I think Anne’s Story is absolutely fabulously AMAZING!!! 

THANK YOU, Anne, for trusting me and the Not So Mommy… community enough to bravely share your truth!  You are FABULOUS! 

And your story…  Truly, I cannot express in words how much I love it…

If Anne’s Story resonates with you, fabulous one, please tell her about it in the comments.
Want to inspire others?  Please, consider sharing your story!  I am currently taking submissions for 2021!  Click here for more information.
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Featured Photo:  Created by me, using Canva

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3 comments

Jessika January 25, 2021 - 9:17 pm

Proud dog mom here! The words “no one can understand the loss and grief of the childless not by choice” really spoke to me. It is something that I feel deep in my soul and i speak to very few about. Even my closest friends and Mom will never “get” it. And you’re right- there is no eraser to do anything over. So, I’m taking too many dog pictures and laughing way too much at my furry kids. Because why not? Maybe it will inspire someone else to do the same. Thanks for your story.

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Brandi Lytle January 26, 2021 - 9:26 am

Jessika, I am so grateful that you are redefining momhood, embracing your life as it is… I agree that living our lives authentically most definitely gives others the inspiration to do so, as well. Sending you so many hugs, fellow warrior!

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Sherry January 25, 2021 - 5:28 pm

Anne, your story is completely and totally uplifting and inspiring. If more people would embrace the “what is” instead of wishing for “what isn’t”, we would have a happier world. Thank you for sharing your truth. 💚

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