As told to Brandi Lytle
Trigger Warning: Raw, personal, vivid description of miscarriage
I was introduced to Lauren through her publicist who contacted me about writing a review for Lauren’s book, Following Sea. (You can read my review here.) Lauren is childless not by choice herself. So, I asked if she would like to share her CNBC story with the Not So Mommy… community. Lauren graciously agreed.
When sharing a CNBC story, I request that the childless answer the following questions:
- How did you become childless not by choice? (Infertility, chance, circumstance?)
- You are so much more than childless not by choice. Tell us about yourself!
- What roles are you redefining for yourself? and How are you redefining those roles?
- How are you Creating a New plan Bravely and Courageously?
- Have you figured out your Plan B? If so, what is it?!
Many people use a question and answer format, much like an interview. Being a writer, however, Lauren weaved her answers into a beautifully written story. It is so eloquent that I decided to leave it in its original format. I have no doubt that you will find Lauren’s CNBC Story quite moving…
The Owl: A CNBC Story, By Lauren . . .
The day my husband and I switched gears is fixed in my mind. A beautiful, pink summer morning spread around us as we stepped out our back door with our dog, Oliver, to go for a walk. Our intention: to talk, to discuss what are lives could be, where we might want to go next.
It had been eight years of doctor’s appointments, examinations, cycle monitoring, ultrasounds, blood work, medications, IUIs, gynecologists (5), naturopaths, supplements, fertility yoga, online forums, depression, counsellors, acupuncture, foul-tasting medicinal teas and a failed effort to explore adoption when (we found out later) the agency had lost our file for over a year.
In all that time, I’d been pregnant once and it – a potential child – had slipped painfully out of my body as nothing more than a dark cluster of cells.
We were tired.
Tired of the grasping, the yearning, the constant devastating disappointment, the growing inability to hope.
Tired of well-meaning family and friends giving us advice or sharing useless platitudes – just relax, it’ll happen when it’s meant to be – or telling stories about those couples who adopted and then became pregnant (stories everyone has heard because they’re so rare).
There are many ways to live a life, my mother said to us on one particularly dark day during this journey. Her wisdom was starting to sink in.
That summer morning, we turned to walk down our driveway to the street and above of us rose a huge grey owl. It looked me right in the eye. I still remember its yellow gaze.
I took its presence as a sign: this is correct, here is the path. Later, I wrote a poem called The Guardian.
All along I had been writing poems. Poems to help express the emotional toll of the monthly cycle of dashed hopes and the rigours of treatment. Grief – which is pretty much a constant during infertility – makes the world seem strange and isolating and this came out in the language of these poems when I let myself simply write from my emotional centre. Some are abstract and surreal, full of metaphors and similes comparing this journey to a sort-of lonely settler life, living in an overwhelming wilderness.
But dealing with unexplained infertility (which, it turns out, would eventually be diagnosed by a women’s clinic in the new province where we moved, since closed by our conservative government) also led me to broader topics: Where had I come from? What ancestry and accidents of birth had formed the spirals of my own genetics?
I began exploring my genealogy and the people who’d built my blood–in particular, my mother’s paternal line who’d come from Scotland as indentured servants and who were among the first white settlers to arrive on the island I love: Manitoulin Island, in Georgian Bay. (Incidentally, my novel, Swarm, also creates a fictionalized version of this beloved place and a narrator longing to care for a feral child whose tiny footprints start appearing in her garden).
This effort turned into an obsession. A week after my miscarriage I was in a library, hunting through archives, while my husband went fishing (his growing hobby).
My poetry shifted into an imagined retelling of my great-great-grandparents’ movements during the 19th century from a relatively comfortable life in southern Ontario to log shanties and land they cleared themselves further north. Together, these stories merged and flowed together, along with others about more recent relatives, to form my new book, Following Sea.
The owl is wise.
She knows the night. She can see in the dark. She finds nourishment in the shadows.
That, I think, is what I’ve done in this path that’s been given to me. It wasn’t my choice to not have children, but I’ve taken this life and found meaning in its hardships in the way I always have, in the way I was born to do: through language, through metaphor, through story, through words.
Thank you, Lauren.
Thank you for sharing your truth, Lauren. I adore how you compare we childless warriors with the owl. “She finds nourishment in the shadows.” What an empowering statement!
If you would like to read my review of Lauren’s new book, Following Sea, click here…
I encourage you to check out Lauren’s website, “Lauren Carter, Writer & Creativity Coach,” by clicking here…
If anything Lauren wrote resonates with you, fabulous one, please tell her about it in the comments.
Want to inspire others and share your story? Click here to find out how…
Featured Photo: Anton Atanasov of StockSnap.io