Written By: Brandi Lytle of Not So Mommy… The older I get, the more complicated it becomes to describe who I am. There was a brief moment when I thought I didn’t want to be “labeled.” But the more I contemplated this, the more I realized that “labels” are not necessarily a negative thing. And being able to describe ourselves in words not only helps others understand us better, but, perhaps more importantly, helps us understand ourselves more effectively.
So, what labels identify me?
Label #1: Endo Warrior
About two years into our infertility battle, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. Unfortunately, at the time, I did not truly educate myself about this chronic illness. I believed that it simply caused me some pain and was one of the reasons that I couldn’t get pregnant. Only recently have I learned more about this disease and truly become an endo warrior, fighting for myself and other women, educating, and raising awareness. I don’t want future generations to be as naïve as I was when diagnosed with this illness.
Label #2: Infertility Survivor
As I already mentioned, my husband and I battled infertility. Having resolved this struggle, I now consider myself a survivor. For many, “infertility survivor” implies that you ended up with a little. For me, this label has a much different meaning. I feel it shows that I literally survived the battle of infertility. It did not break me, despite the fact that I was never able to have a biological child. I endured the pain, yet persisted in living, finding joy, and moving forward…
Label #3: Childless Not By Choice
As I grasped that our infertility battle was ending, I began to accept that I would, in fact, lead a childless not by choice life. As I started navigating this path, I realized that I am so much more than childless. It was going to take a lot of words to truly describe the complex being that is uniquely me…
Labels #4, 5, 6, & 7: Wife, Dog Mom, Aunt, Host Mom
Because being childless not by choice involved redefining momhood for myself, I had to point out that I was a dog mom and a host mom. Also, I could not leave out my nieces and nephews who hold a very special place in my heart. So, being an aunt had to be on the list of labels, as well. My hubby has been by my side throughout this entire journey, so my role as wife needed to be mentioned, too. While I don’t mind listing all of this, it can get a bit wordy. Plus, the answer to “Do you have kids?” gets a bit complex…
Label #8: Canbace
That’s why Nicci Fletcher, of The Canbace Diaries, decided to develop a new word for the childless not by choice. Her hope was to capture the essence of who we truly are without needing the long, complex descriptions. So, she created CANBACE, which stands for Creating A New, Beautiful And Courageous Existence. And I absolutely LOVE it!
Yes, I am an infertility survivor, endo warrior, and childless not by choice woman. Yes, I am a wife, dog mom, aunt, and host mom who is redefining momhood. But all of this can be wrapped up with the fact that I am embracing the what is and moving forward, finding joy in my new path, my new existence. I am canbace. Honestly, like Nicci says, “It’s more than a label. It’s a lifestyle.”
There’s a ribbon for that…
As an endo warrior, I can wear a yellow ribbon to show my support for endometriosis awareness. As an infertility survivor, I can wear an orange ribbon for the cause. But as childless not by choice, as canbace… There was no ribbon for that.
Because of this, I created an olive green CANBACE / Childless Awareness Ribbon. It is my passion to help others marching along the childless path, those who are trying to discover Plan B and find the bright sides of a life they did not ask for… I don’t want anyone on this journey to feel alone. So, I’m proudly displaying the olive green ribbon and hoping that others will come alongside me in support of raising awareness and educating others about being CANBACE / Childless Not By Choice.
Brandi Lytle, founder and owner of Not So Mommy…, is a wife, dog mom, aunt, host mom, infertile woman living an imperfectly perfect life in South Carolina, USA with her husband, Dane, and fur baby, Maddie. She is redefining what momhood means to her and strives to focus on the bright sides of being childless, but not childfree. Her hope is to inspire others to be their authentic selves and live a canbace life!