World Childless Week

Thanks to Stephanie Phillips for starting the first World Childless Week which runs from 11-17 September and aims to raise awareness of the many millions of people around the world who are childless-not-by-choice.

When Stephanie realised that she was not going to be able to have children, she gradually started to link up with others in similar situations through an online group and gradually realised that the peer support she received was making a huge difference to how she felt about her life.

She realised that there was no focus for people who were childless in the Fertility Awareness Weeks in the UK and USA, and needed something that didn’t focus on happy endings after fertility problems but on life without children. That’s why she decided to start World Childless Week. Her aim may have been to help a few people know that they are not alone, but it has done far more than that already and has really helped to raise awareness over the last few days. You can find her website at http://www.worldchildlessweek.com

You may have already seen quite a bit about the week on social media, but I hope that Stephanie’s brilliant awareness-raising idea continues to be a huge success and starts to increase understanding and empathy for those who are childless-not-by-choice. Thank you Stephanie!

Other sources of support for those who are childless-not-by-choice include Jody Day’s Gateway Women and Kelly Da Silva’s the Dovecot

For women who are childless by circumstance

This morning I went for coffee with Jody Day, who runs Gateway Women – a really dynamic group for women who are childless by circumstance. There’s an online community on Google+, a blog and monthly newsletter, and Jody runs regular talks and workshops which are open to everyone.  Gateway Women aims to show women that a life without children doesn’t have to mean a less fulfilling or unhappy future whatever anyone else may choose to tell you.  Jody makes no bones about the fact that it isn’t an easy process to learn to come to terms with being childless by circumstance, but it’s a path she’s trodden herself – and she’s an inspiring role model.

Of course for anyone starting out on their fertility journey, any talk of remaining childless at the end may seem negative or gloomy, but I think it’s important to know that there are alternative ways ahead whatever the outcome.

Fertility clinics are based on hope and so there’s often a reluctance to talk about what happens if treatment doesn’t work – couples are sometimes whisked on to the next attempt or up to another level of treatment.  It’s easy to forget that some people can’t face fertility treatment for all kinds of reasons, or that others may decide they’ve simply had enough somewhere along the route.  When clinics finally say goodbye to their former fertility patients, they often offer next to nothing in the way of support or advice.  Infertility Network UK produces an excellent options pack looking at other ways forward, but not all clinics give this out to their patients.  If you are in the position of finding yourself trying to come to terms with being childless by circumstance, then there is support available from Jody and her Gateway Women and also from More to Life.  Meeting up with others who are in the same situation can be really empowering so do take that first step to at least see what’s on offer – you won’t regret it.