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.