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I’ve just listened to your video, Jody and I cannot believe how much it resonates with my story/experience. I’m particularly finding lock down difficult as I’ve spent more time in my local community and less time traveling for work. It’s made me realize that I’m excluded from so much simply because of my status as a single, childless women over a certain age. It feels as though I’m somehow perceived as threatening, which I think is such a pity. I see young mums struggling to cope with their children and I’d be happy to help but its as though this invisible barrier exists between myself and those women.
Dear G – thank you for commenting and I’m both glad and sad that my video resonated with you. You might find that joining our ‘Single Life’ subgroup in our online community would be really supportive for you, as it would have been for me a decade ago when I was coming to terms with my own ‘life unexpected’. And yes, unconsciously, single childless women in the mid-forties and onwards can be perceived as ‘threatening’ as we are actually very powerful disrupters of the status-quo! For me, grieving my losses enabled me to embrace the power of that, and having others around me who understood the price that I’d paid for my peace of mind was a huge part of my healing. I hope to see you there soon! Hugs, Jody x
I am wondering if anyone has ever felt a pang of hurt/jealousy and feelings of unfairness with their nieces and nephews. Mine are all getting into that zone of getting into relationships. It just seems so unfair and unbalanced that they have a relationship when I do not. Something doesn’t seem right about that. I know one day one of them will get engaged or married or have a baby. Things I haven’t done…and of course, I’ll be the happy aunt for them, but I still feel “funny” about this…It may seem easier with boys, but I guess with the girls, it’s a bit harder…
Does anyone else struggle with this?
Dear Scrambled – this is the kind of thing we often discuss in our private online community, where we can be free with our comments and share those things that might otherwise feel ‘not ok’ to talk about. Like envy, which is perfectly normal but hard to experience. Thank you for your honesty – it’s something that will strike a chord with many. Hugs, Jody x
I am 34 years old. I have been trying to conceive for the past couple of years after finally convincing my husband we should try. During this “trying” – I have discovered fertility issues in myself. I have been trying to overcome them. This past weekend, my husband and I were supposed to do an IUI treatment, but I had to cancel. My husband, who has medical and psychological issues, freaked out about the real possibility of having kids. He could not do his part for the procedure and now says he is not willing or able to try any longer. He is so certain about this that he said I should leave him if I need to have children. I spent the weekend seriously considering this, but I don’t think I could bring myself to leave him. We have been together 13 years, I love him and fear losing my marriage on top of not having a child. I feel stuck and miserable. My younger sister has a baby and is constantly posting about her love for this child. My parents are so taken with their first grandchild- they consider her a gift. Every time they express these feelings, it doesn’t make me happy. It makes me sad for myself – it is salt in my wounds. Not because of them, but because of my whole situation, I feel like a loser. I don’t have a great career, a house, friends, and now my marriage is hitting a low because of the stress of infertility, my husband’s illness and grief. I was “happier” when we were trying, but now I feel like the doors have been slammed shut without my consent. I desperately wanted to feel life growing inside me and have a pure, unconditionally loving relationship in my life. Now, I have nothing and am drifting further and further away from the few people in my life.
Hi Angie – I’m so sorry for the turmoil you and your husband find yourself in right now. You might find some comfort/recognition in the work of Sue Fagalde Lick, who writes movingly and helpfully of the issues facing women (and men) when both partners are not on the same page about having (or not having) children. You’ll find here work at http://www.childlessbymarriageblog.com It’s a big shock and a lot to deal with now so please take it as easy as you can and perhaps seek out some support for yourself to help you process this latest turn of events? With hugs and understanding, Jody x
Thank you so much for this reply, Jody. It feels like a relief to be heard. I am going to look into the resources you suggested. Xo Angie
Hi Jody, I’m so glad I found this site. I suffered POF (premature ovarian failure) when I was 27. I got married at 39 and myself and hubby looked into adoption, and then decided to try frozen embryo transfer. We’ve tried it twice unsuccessfully, the last time being a month ago. I’m a shell of a my former self, I feel sad all the time and the worst thing is that I’m not interested in intimacy or spending time with my husband at all. I’m not sure why, but splitting up with him would make me sadder than anything. I’m at a crisis point and I think its grief. Thanks for listening.
Dear Nessa – I’m sorry that you’re feeling so low. Many childless couples that I know have spoken to me privately about struggles with intimacy – it’s very normal and I’d encourage you not to make any irrevocable decisions about your relationship whilst you’re grieving, which it sounds like you are. You might find that joining our private online community, which is safe space to discuss such things, would really take a load off your mind? I’m also going to be leading a masterclass webinar in 2021 on ‘Intimacy after Childlessness’ that you might want to sign up when it’s announced (no date as yet). To be sure not to miss it, make sure you’re on our mailing list. Hugs, Jody x
Thank you Jody for the support. The minute I read the introduction of your book yesterday, my mind calmed. I have requested to join the online community but it hasn’t been approved yet. Looking forward to dialoguing online with people. I would love to attend the webinar. Thank you so much, what a wonderful community. Xx
Absolutely brilliant book Jody. It helped me so much, it was like a light switch clicking on. What a relief to be able to access the weird churning grief I felt and to now seek support from a place of self understanding and self respect. Thank you xx
Hi, I’m from Italy and I honestly don’t remember how I found an article about you Jody (on the guardian), but it really struck a chord with me.
I’m turning 35 in may, my main, serious and stable relationship (it lasted 6 years) ended 7 years ago and I didn’t have great nor many relationships since then. I have no family, my mother died when I was 13 and my dad when I was 27, I obviously have issues in the way I choose my partners and in keeping a healthy relationship and I’m trying to work on that and on myself, seeing a therapist.
In the meantime, anyway, the clock is ticking, and while I’m still trying to figuring all this out, around me I just see friends of my age and even much younger having kids… every year more babies are coming… It almost feels like my town is having a guinness record in birth rates.
In the end I’m always the only one (honestly, I have no close single girl friends, not one) alone, single and childless (and to support the stereotypes I have 2 cats and 2 dogs).
Even if my loneliness hurts, not having a family either, I’m ok with it, I know I have a value and I don’t need a child or a man to be a whole person, with a worthy life (sometimes I honestly appreciate not having children too, I’m not hiding that) but I always feel like I won’t ever have the chance to be in the position to decide if I want children, and if the answer it’s yes to go ahead and do it.
The fact that I’m surrounded by happy couples with kids does not help, also because I found out that I actually really like children, and I’m also good at taking care and dealing with them. And that is what is making me feel so sad about the whole thing… and worried that I won’t have the chance of experiencing such things too, as a mother.
And as the time passes by I feel like it will go this way, that I will be involutarily childless, not even knowing if my body would be able to do it (and no, I don’t want to have a baby as a single mother: to me having a child would mean choosing to have it with someone, I hope you can understand what I mean).
Reading about your work honestly made my feelings a bit more validated, it made me feel less alone in this fear of mine, and in the feeling of being overwhelmed and hurt everytime someone who sees me spending time with my friends’ children (who I love) starts telling me things like “Come on, it’s your time to have children now” or “So what about you, when do you make one too?” or “Well you’re next!”…and say such things knowing I am alone, single, a spinster..whatever you want to call it.
It made me feel like it’s ok to be sad and scared, even if you don’t necessarily have infertility issues, but that this pain of not being able to have children can be felt also by people who cannot have them for other reasons…
I don’t know if this makes sense to you, I hope I didn’t hurt anybody’s feelings…
Thanks for your work anyway, you are helping a lot of people.
Dear L. I’m stuck up here in Copenhagen, Denmark, feeling exactly like you! The ambivalent feelings of discovering your skills with children and then life having not afforded you the right circumstances to make some – and yet being surrounded by the constant echo of this being “the good deal of life”…ohhh, how I feel that sadness too, that I feel emanates from your words…
Dear I – the best way to have private conversations with other women who totally get it, is to join our private online community. Ambivalence is a big topic! Hugs, Jody x
A great friend, pretty much non biological sister had a birthday dinner in her hometown tonight that i attended..i was excited to go all week..we met in school and have been buddies ever since..she knows all my friends from always being in my hometown better than i know hers..the dinner was going well..her son arrived and i think that triggered something deep within..his dad also attended school with us so ive watched their son grow all these years..my son would be 6 yrs old now..stillbirth at 30 weeks..someone at the party teased her about him making her a grandmother soon now that he’s of age to have his own children..as she downplayed the thought i realized i would never have grandchildren and just wanted to get out of there smh..most of the attendees went with her to a bar afterwards but i couldnt..my vibe was off..spirit broken..just thinking of how we were kids and she now has 2 kids and i have an angel instead..idk what to think..some days i dont want to wake up..thinking I’ve lived enough..then some days are so optimistic and bright..im just lost and confused i guess..most of my girlfriends have kids and grandchildren already..then theres me smh..idk what i did for my life to be this way..parents dead..husband dead..child dead..God needs to hurry and take me also already smh..thank you for this platform..i wish there was support here in ny..i would go cry my eyes out to women that truly understand my daily pain
I got married to for the first time at the age of 30. I thought it was “time” to get married and start a family. My first Husband was a little like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory… I am something else entirely. Eventually, I felt ignored for his computer and did not want both myself and a child having to fight for his attention with a machine, so I broached the idea of not having kids. A few years later we got a divorce. It was much like the disillusion of a business.
I met a man online and was in an abusive relationship for a little over a year. We actually tried to have a child. But with the emotional, verbal and psychological abuses I endured, I am glad that never happened.
Now I am 38, married to a wonderful man who is 42. He has a son who is 19. I only came into his life when he was 15. I am a stepmom I suppose, but I have been fairly peripheral to his life.
I am back in college working towards a nursing degree. (This will be my 2nd AA. I have one now in Veterinary Technology.)
I consider having a child to be a couple’s decision- not just of one person. And with everything we have going on (mostly what I have going on) I don’t think it’s likely.
My husband and I have only been married a year, and despite our ages, I am asked frequently when we are having kids. When I say no to the question do you have kids or when are you going to have kids I get “why” or “when”.
My mom is completely involved in my nephew’s lives witch on some levels is great, except she spends way more than she should on things their parents should be buying. My mom is on a fixed income and is a widow. I feel a lot of the time like I don’t matter as much to her because I don’t have children.
I have a few friends that don’t have kids, but they’re 100 miles plus away. I never had a lot of friends in my home town…being an introverted, horse-loving, nerdy bookworm. I moved back after being gone for almost 20 years. Most of the people I knew had kids, moved away or both.
I always wanted kids, thought I’d have them someday. Now I realize it won’t happen.
I try to keep myself positive by reminding myself of all the things I don’t have to pay for or worry about…or that when I finish school and have been working for a year, I’ll be able to travel to places and do things I have always wanted to do, with my only concern being making sure I have someone I trust lined up to care for my horse and dogs.
Then there are days like today where I feel absolutely alone.
You are not alone KC. When your conscious mind reaches the end of its rationalisations trying to convince you about how good your life is without children, and your deep dark corner of emotion rears its head, remember there are more of us going through the same thing, daily. I am new to this website today and my journey realising I would never be a mother began 3 months ago. It’s all pretty raw for me. Some days I’m able to continue apparently normally (although I ask myself constantly what is normal anymore?) and somedays I struggle to keep the tears inside.
I am now 55 years old and will never be a mum. My husband and I had 3 failed IVF attempts, then got pregnant naturally which miscarried, this was all around 10 years ago. I remember when Gateway Woman was being set up when I lived in london and wish I’d come along to one of the meetings. I now believe I have found my Plan B having moved to the beautiful Isle of Wight where I run a successful B&B but I can not get over the fact I don’t have children. My feelings change and, at this moment, I feel anger!! I’m angry at all my friends who have their beautiful children, who fought hard for them like me but have somehow forgotten how that feels, I feel angry at my husband, bless him, who is allergic to all animals which means I can’t have a cat or a dog or even a budgie, I feel angry towards the friends who just don’t seem to understand, and I feel angry at myself for having these feelings. I feel I should have moved past this and be living the life fantastic relishing in the fact we can do all the things parents can’t do. I would like some help with these feelings but not sure where to start 😢
Hi Mandy – we are the same age and I’m pleased to hear that your ‘Plan B&B’ is going well. Unfortunately, time (and keeping busy passing time) does not heal grief – only grieving heals grief. We have women from all over the world who meet via our private online community and through which you can find out more about our online events and courses – we have women taking part from Australia so the Isle of Wight is definitely not too far! I suggest that you start with the online community and also make sure to sign up to my once-a-month newsletter where I share about the upcoming events, talks, courses, workshops etc. It’s not too late too ‘move past this’ and with our help, you’ll hopefully be able to find peace again and be able to enjoy your relationship and your Plan B. Hugs, Jody x
Thank you Jody
I am 46 years old and have tried everything to be a parent. The latest thing we have tried which has take. The last 2 years is to become foster parents. My husband wasn’t totally on board but then again every single thing that has been good in his life – I’ve had to push him into it. Everything bad – well he jumps in head first! The fostering process can’t be completely because his family won’t sign the reference form which is the last thing that we need to get started. And this delay has set my husband back even further. So needless to say the fostering thing probably isn’t going to happen for me. It was my last chance at being a mom even if it was just for a short time. I figured God put me here because Seth would be rob me of my only dream to become a mom. And over time I became 100% ok with that. But now that it won’t happen – well now I am devastated. How am I supposed to move forward and find happiness again? I feel like I will never smile again. This is all on the tail of losing my mother to a sudden heart attack. And a month after that – a miscarriage. A smile is a thing of the past for me. I’m lost and looking good and hard for alternatives on how to move forward.
God bless. My heart aches for you. Sending L-O-V-E
I have an older sister who just turned 36 and a younger sister who will be 32 this year. Neither of them has ever been in a romantic or sexual relationship of any sort for their whole adult lives. I understand how they are because we were brought up by loving but quite anxious parents and the thought of getting pregnant as a teenager was just the biggest most awful disaster that could occur, which we were regularly reminded of – it’s very difficult to change that mindset just because your parents are glad they got you through your teenage years barely interacting with the opposite sex and now they want to have grandchildren.
Whilst I talk to a therapist about my fears surrounding motherhood (currently pregnant) and past issues that I struggle with, I’m not sure my sisters really talk to anyone about it. I don’t know if this is something I should mention – how do you say ‘look if you want to have children you have to do something NOW to change this situation, one day it will be too late’? Is it my place to remind them of something they are probably already thinking about? Or should I ask them if they are thinking about it? It seems like they’re not but could be pushing it to the back of their minds. I don’t want to upset them but I also don’t want them to drift into childlessness or keep assuming they will get there in the end, when they might not!
I feel like my older sister especially has resigned herself to not just being childless but being alone as well, which just breaks my heart, I’m so sad for her. If it were something I felt she wanted I would be ok with it but I don’t think it is. I don’t think she would choose it.
I know marriage and kids is not the be-all end-all for everyone, and that’s ok – I just worry that both my sisters have given up before really getting started. Is it helpful for me to mention this to them or just mind my own business? I mean, they are aware they don’t have partners or children, would talking about it directly (instead of everyone just ignoring the elephant in the room and pretending it will be fine) make them feel better? Or more empowered? Or is it just worse to say it out loud?
The thought of them reaching an age where being involuntarily childless drops on them like a bomb is just too sad for words.
Dear Amy – this is a tough one as I can feel that you don’t want to offend your sisters either. Perhaps send them a link to this website saying something like “I came across this, you’ve probably already heard of Gateway Women, but if not, thought it might possibly be of interest?” Make it as casual as possible and leave it at that; don’t bring it up again. I’m sure it’s an issue they have considered deeply and discussing it with their pregnant sister is probably the very last thing they want to do… Hugs, Jody x
You’re right, the last thing I want to do is upset them or make them feel patronised, or like they are not enough as they are – they might not be that interested in having kids! I think the fact that I am pregnant is making me wonder more about their situations because we don’t really talk about it at all, and no one has ever mentioned it for fear of offending I guess. I’m sure they have thought about it, I just worry that they are ignoring time passing and maybe won’t confront it until it’s too late. We are all quite similar in that regard so I’m not in a position to judge.
Thank you for taking the time to reply, I will mention the site to them (casually); all the stories on here are so moving and it’s nice to see women supporting each other. X x
Hi, I have also found this site via my Ivf councellor recommendation at my lowest point, going to my GP this afternoon to ask for some anti depressants to help lift the load. Is your book available to buy?
Dear Louise – I’m so sorry you’re feeling so low right now. My book is indeed available to buy in bookshops and online (although not all bookshops will stock it). You can also ask your local library to stock it, which can be a nice way for another woman to find it when she needs it too. Find out more about my book ‘Living the Life Unexpected’ and download the first chapter free here. You might also like to join our private online community so that you feel less alone with this huge and unchosen future that might feel rather daunting right now. Hugs, Jody x
Hello, I have found this site at my darkest moment. I am 36, my life has been really challenging with my mental issues and constant bad things happening all the time, when I start to feel better. I haven’t really had a so-called normal relationship and it feels like I am a totally weird person. I loved someone I was in a long distance relationship with, but when it ended due to my instability, I went into such a crazy phase for years. Then my brother died, I was depressed, didn’t wanna go out, didn’t meet anyone. And when I did and they weren’t 100% of what I wanted I didn’t go any further. Years went by. I got cats. Felt like its enough. Last year I started to feel the biological clock really ticking and I went online, earlier this year I met a guy there, and I think we hit it off. Met really fast for me, I tried to be “normal”. He originally lives abroad and we were making plans to be together this summer, I was happy, looking forward to it. Thought ok, late in my life, but finally! Was worth the wait. Then last month overnight, out of the blue, he called everything off, deleted me from his social media etc. He was just playing with me. I was devastated and maybe 2 weeks later one of my cats died. Needless to say I fell into deep depression, I have to start taking medication again, probably won’t meet anyone for years and even If i do, I am not a person, who would have a baby right away with someone. All my life I dreamed of movie-like love and passion and a family and I am not gonna get it. My mom and aunt keeps asking when I will have a baby, since my brother died, I am the only chance for my mom to be a grandmother. I feel I have wasted and failed my life. Everyone keeps saying I am beautiful, why am I single. I look really young for my age, but now with all the medication, my body will not be. Sorry for the long message. But I feel so hopeless and right now my mental health is so bad.
Dear Susanna – I am so glad you’ve found us and so sorry to hear how difficult things have been for you. Mental health issues can make finding and sustaining a suitable relationship to bring a family into an additional challenge, so my heart goes out to you. I’m sorry that you have had such a difficult time with your most recent online experience too. I hope that the medication helps you to feel stronger soon and to find a way forward. I would encourage you to discount what you see in the movies as any kind of guide to romantic relationships – real life is far more complex and messy than that and those films are often no more than modern fairy tales. I’m so sorry for the loss of your brother and your cat. You are not there to provide a grandchild for your mother, you are here to live your own life, with its own challenges, as best you can. A life without children can still be a happy and fulfilling one, but that’s not a story line you’ll see in the movies any day soon. I would encourage you to seek out more helpful role models such as those I’ve gathered together here: http://www.bit.ly/gw-rolemodels. Hugs, Jody x
I am a child of divorce. My parents had a tumultuous marriage. My parents argued relentlessly and from the age of 0 – 18 shared a bedroom next to my parents. I heard everything they fought about. My mum never seemed happy (she had 5 children). I was left with the impression at a young age that marriage and children did not bring you happiness in life. I also ended up getting pregnant at 16 after failed contraception. I was signed up to go to college and knew I was not ready to bring a child into the world. This as well as the emotional ‘mocking’ from my parents about ‘not getting pregnant again are you??’ scarred me to this day. So I set out to get my drivers licence at 17. I already had a job by then. And get the hell out of there by 18. I then set on a course of putting my independence first and family/kids not even much of a conversation point.
I started dating a guy at 17 (whom had a mental/dark side) but I tolerated it until 9 years later since it was an escape from the first 18 years of my life. He also used to say to people he never wanted to get married or have kids. I never said to him at the time but deep down that hurt me. As if it was me. He just didn’t want to marry me.
We broke up in 2002. Then I moved onto another relationship – it was all the fun I needed after the previous guy and I started to spiral into drugs and alcohol. Fun was on the cards. Kids / marriage weren’t.
After that I met someone online. I thought it was a dating site should be for serious relationships but he just wanted some company when he felt ‘lonely’. He was also very self-absorbed. Then it turns out he doesn’t want kids/marriage (his mum was single parent).
It has taken years to get over the above. I’ve suffered a near breakdown and dark thoughts of not wanting to be here anymore.
By the time I got my s**t together and try to build up my life; I started to think about the fact that I had very little/no friends anymore. They all moved away/grew apart/married and children of their own. And I had little in common with them or they felt they had little in common with me.
I’m now 45. I have 2 wonderful young nephews whom I adore. It’s only the last 18 months I’ve really started to ‘wake up’ as see where I am in life. And thought I’d be an okay mum.
I never said to any of these guys that I never wanted marriage or kids. I guess I just wasn’t in the right time in my life/dealing with stress/childhood trauma/wrong relationships/financial difficulty.
Now I’m starting to feel a little lost as to what next. Do I get a mortgage if I have no-one to pass it on too? I know I am in some kind of grieving process but was not aware until I just read chapter 1 of Jody’s book “Living The Life Unexpected”. Now I’m reaching out.
Thank goodness I discovered this book/Jody.
Here’s to the next 11 weeks.
Dear RS – I’m so glad you’ve found my book and this website and I hope it’s a huge help to you. I’m running a facilitated reading group for my book in our private online community if you’d like to read it along with others doing the same? I’m spreading it out over a year and giving weekly prompts as well as videos and live chats. You’ll notice that I’ve edited your comment to remove some of the identifiable personal details such as names etc from it as once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever! As an overly independent young woman from a difficult family background, much of your story is familiar to me too. Hugs and welcome, Jody x
Jody – your hugs are very welcome and much needed. I’m feeling quite overwhelmed over the last 45 years and I’m keen to start building my life if hopefully another 45. I’m hoping your book and community can give me some guidance and relation to other women just like me out there… I appreciate you allowing my post… I don’t hate children – they just never happened for many of the reasons that you quote in your book. It’s coming into my life as exactly the right time. We have a lot to thank you for xx
I came across this webpage a few years ago from the newspaper but did not have the courage to tell my story until now.
I am a married woman in my late forties who always wanted the full package of a loving relationship and children from an early age. Although I had a happy working life from my early twenties into my thirties, I always craved relationships and dreaded the thought of ever being lonely, so dived into relationships with ultimately the wrong men for too many years. I didn’t want to be a single mother so put children out of my mind until I would meet my dream partner. I was financially settled and never imagined being childless, especially when my own family and close friends kept telling me, “Be patient, you will meet someone and be a fantastic mother.”
Finally, when I was in my late thirties, I did meet a wonderful man and I knew he was the right one. After a year long engagement, (his choosing, as he been hurt badly by his last long term relationship), we married. Like me, he had been in relationships that didn’t work out.
Unfortunately though, our dreams of being very loving parents didn’t materialise, despite us doing all we could to make it happen. I blamed my age as I was older than I had hoped to be getting hitched. We gave up trying to conceive when I was 45 and we had to watch 2nd cousins and friends marry and have babies and regrettably believe that we missed our chance. We are both extremely sad that we didn’t meet each other earlier, (in my twenties for example), when fertility wouldn’t have been an issue.
Dear Rach – thank you for sharing your story which will resonate with so many women (and men) who visit this site. I wonder if you’ve taken a look at our private online community where you’ll find the company of other women working through this complex and transformational life passage. Hugs, Jody x
I married my husband last November. We’ve been together 8 years in October. 3 months into getting together he told me he couldn’t have children. He’d been married before and she had a son. They decided they didn’t want children and he had a vasectomy. At the time I was shocked but thought I’d be okay with it. I always wanted children when I was younger but from about 15, I decided I didn’t and that I’d have a good career and that I was too selfish for children. I told him I could do it… we got two puppies and god it was hard. I remember thinking: I could never have kids. I’m now 35 and in agony. I love my husband, I love my dogs (now 7) but I want children. I want a great big family and I don’t know what to do. My brother and his wife wanted children, but are infertile so my parents will never have grandchildren. I feel the guilt every time I see them. My husband tries, but doesn’t understand. He thinks we have a fabulous life and we do but I can’t help how I feel. I now think I’m depressed as I’ll go for weeks ‘managing’ then I’ll have a day where I let everything out and I basically cry for a day and then go about my life…
Dear Anna – I’m so sorry to hear of how you’re struggling with your husband’s decision and your own early ambivalence about having a family. You are grieving something that your husband is at peace with, and that’s very difficult. Your situation is what, in our private online community we call “childless by relationship” and I really suggest you join us there where you can continue this conversation with others who are going through it, and others who have been through this in the past and have found a way through. Hugs, Jody x
I’m 32 and have been with my partner for 5 years. We have been trying for a baby for a while and have recently found out that my partner is infertile and will never be able to have children. He wont consider a donor sperm or any other options and I’m feeling completely heart broken. I dont know what to do and feel that all my Hope’s and dreams for the future have been crushed. I’m so low in mood and feel that I have no purpose in the life. I feel angry and resentful towards him because I feel hes depriving me of ever becoming a mother or having a family, because he wont consider a donor sperm. I’m 32 and have no mortgage, no children and am not married. I have to watch everyone around me announce pregnancys, and engagements and I feel such pain and sadness for myself. Some days I feel I just cant carry on and no longer want to be here. I feel so alone in my grief for a life I will never have.
Dear Emma, I’m so sorry to hear about this very hard news that you and your partner are dealing with. It is an extremely hard blow when we feel the decision is taken out of our hands. I would strongly suggest that you and your partner consider going for infertility counselling so that together as a couple you can process the impact of this on your relationship. Grief and resentment aren’t going to vanish, they need to worked through, together. Take a look at my resources page at how to find a counsellor near to you who sees couples. Don’t be alone in your grief honey, grief needs company. Hugs, Jody x
Hi all. I have been coming to terms with not ever being a Mum for about 6 months. I am 30, married to my wife who I am very much in love with and all the avenues we have taken just haven’t worked for us. Now, you may think ‘she’s only 30’ however we have tried and now I am grieving the loss of what I thought my life was going to look like. We were told 2 years ago that we were too overweight for adoption, we are little on the curvy side granted but at the same time work and volunteer with children, own our home, have great family and friends and are financially stable and had a positive recommendation from our GP…. however this was not adequate for the adoption agency. Imagine the embarrassment…!! Follow on from this a bumpy road to our first round of fertility treatment – delayed test results, not able to track ovulation blah blah blah, I eventually sat in the chair in the clinic and had the treatment that was going to give me the child that would give me my life’s purpose! Mama by the Spice Girls played through my headphones as a random selection from Spotify, my due date would be October 3rd -Mean Girls day, my fave film…..everything was falling into place….except the little egg and sperm were never to meet and alas I was not pregnant. The thought of trying again made me want to be sick and would flood panic through me – even if we wanted to try again we couldn’t afford it. I felt so so stupid for having hope that this would work for us, I was so sure that we would be the 17% that were successful. I am at the age where all my of my friends and work colleagues are having babies, my mum has just become a grandma to my nephew (after my brother and his girlfriend had become pregnant after just a few short months together and how overjoyed everyone was at their biological ability to procreate while my pain at not being a parent agonisingly continued). I keep telling myself I am ok, I even tried adopting a dog to show that I was capable of looking after and caring for something else however the dog was aggressive and couldn’t stay with us……. add it to the list of things I have failed at and continue to dance at the pity party. I hope I will be ok, I really want to be ok, I just don’t know at the moment when this grief will end….or if it will ever end…… I’ve added my request to join the tribe so keeping my fingers crossed! Thank you ladies for allowing me to get this off my chest!
I met my husband at 27 years old. He is the most amazing person, we got marry 7 years later I was 34. He did not wanted children, but I convinced him to try. I really wanted to be a mother. After three years trying, clomid, natural alternatives, and crying. I decided to go to a fertility clinic after few testing, I was diagnosed with hyperplasia with atypia ( pre cancer). I refused to removed my uterus suggested multiple times by an oncologist. I had the lining removed and did treatments until the oncologist allowed me to do fertility treatments. I did four IUI’s that failed doctor won’t recommend IVF because the pre cancer. I went into a deep depression, sadness, and stress. One year later after I turned 40 I started bleeding heavily, I was too afraid to go to the doctor so I ignored it. Because of my mistake I end up getting a blood transfusion and iron infusions. I had the pre cancer again thankfully I found a wonderful oncologist who say the last option will be removing my uterus, tubes, and ovaries. Eventually I have to removed it, and I would not be able to take any kind of hormones. Therefore, I am ironically in Mirena ( IUD) that works as a treatment for hyperplasia with atypia. Every six months I have to do a biopsy. I am 42 years old right now, I know I will never be a mom. Some times I tell god when I pray “ you wanted to make sure I will never be a mom that the treatment for my illness is a IUD”. I tried to get over it, but my brothers have kids like rabbits. Every time one of my sisters in law get pregnant I get sad and feel guilty for been sad. “ Never ignore heavy bleeding always ask your gynecologist for a vaginal ultrasound”.
Hi Helena, totally get the sadness you feel at your brothers having babies and then the guilt that follows! I often find myself thinking ‘well all they did was have sex’ as everyone coos over my baby nephew…. Then of course feel hideously guilty. I’m glad to hear you got the treatment you needed and sounds like you are doing well with your own health x
I am a 37 year old woman. I met my husband at 30 and we married 4 years later. We have been trying for a baby for four years. 2 years into trying we went to the doctors. No issues were found with either of us but because we had been trying without success for two long, I was offered chlomid. I fell pregnant on my first round of chlomid. I will never forget the joy I felt. I tried to do everything by the book as this baby felt so precious to me. Unfortunately at 6 weeks I started bleeding and ended up being rushed into surgery because it was an ectopic pregnancy.
Although I was sad for the loss of my baby I felt hopeful as I had after all got pregnant.
Four months later in November I took my second round of Chlomid. Again I fell pregnant. The joy was replaced with worry this time, but I thought this was my time. My sister in law had announced her pregnancy a few weeks earlier and it had hurt. I felt like everything had just slotted into place when I fell pregnant in November. I noticed blood at 5 weeks and went to a and e to be told it wasn’t ectopic. Phew…! A few days later though I was told over the phone my hog levels were dropping and I was miscarrying. I sobbed!!
6 months on and my heart is broken for the two babies I have lost and for the child I am never going to have. I did one more round of fertility treatment alongside acupuncture with no success. After that I had to stop. It was too hard. I visited my nephew at a few days old 3 weeks ago. At the time all I felt was love for him and happiness for my brother and sister in law. Today I feel sad and angry about the fact I will never have that. Not every day is like this but lots are at the moment and I don’t know how to pull myself out of it.
Hi – same happened with me today. I had lost 2 babies too this year in February and June. Seeing a dead end. Don’t know what to do now.
Dear R – I’m so very sorry for your losses and I can quite imagine how heartbroken and lost you must feel right now. I can really recommend a couple of books that might touch where you’re at right now – The Brink of Being (about babyloss) by my colleague Julia Bueno and It’s OK You’re Not OK an amazing book about raw grief by Megan Devine. Sending you much love, Jody x
I’m not sure how I stumbled across this site, but I’m glad that I have. I found the TED talk given by Jody quite informative, particularly about how much has changed in society, how many more opportunities women have these days, and how much is expected of us as well etc. I enjoyed studying at school and went on to college and then University, and my parents were so proud of that fact and really encouraged it. I was the first in the family to get a degree! Then after Uni, I wanted to get my career established, even wanted to pass professional exams before contemplating having a baby. But there came a time when I started to fail the exams, there was a lot of change going on at work, and I decided enough was enough. So, I put them on hold and at the age of 32 I came off the pill.
Around 6 months later, I got a positive result on a pregnancy test. But nature had other ideas, and within a few short weeks I was no longer pregnant 🙁 I don’t think I ever really came to terms with it and found out the hard way that people can be cruel or just ignorant in knowing what to say or how to deal with the situation. An ex HR Manager even asked me (several weeks afterwards) “how are you now, after your.. well, actually I don’t know what you’d call it?” – that was so hurtful and made me think I had no right to grieve, that it wasn’t a proper loss, and maybe that’s one reason I didn’t deal with it. My sister was pregnant with her 3rd child at the time, and I found it hard to visit her and see her ever expanding midsection. I also remember sitting in a room with her as well as my sister in law, both pregnant and talking about their babies and how excited they were to meet them. I remember feeling so grief-stricken at the time but holding it all in until I got home. I also remember wondering how I was going to cope when their babies arrived but I didn’t have mine to hold. More unhelpful comments ensued: “These things happen, you’ll just have to keep trying”. Well, fast forward to 4 months later when my sister had a stillborn baby; it was utterly devastating for all involved. And one close friend would ask me all the time, how are you? She was the only one who recognized that this could be twice as hard for me because I was already grieving over my own loss. I would push my loss to one side saying things like, “It’s nothing compared to what she (my sister) is going through”… At this point, I felt broken. We (hubby and me) both did. Neither of us wanted to be intimate. I felt like my whole body was disconnected and shutdown, and that made me feel like a freak. Everyone was grieving over my sister’s baby, a loss so public, that I didn’t feel like I had anyone to talk to about my private loss. Even before then, I tried to talk to my Mum but when I did, she recounted an experience that she had with her first that was so horrific that the doctor treating her was actually struck off. You could tell that she still felt so raw about that, more than 30 years on. So, I silenced my own grief.
Two years later, my sister had been brave enough to go on and have a rainbow baby but I was still stuck. Not long after her baby was born, I had a breakdown. I had many weeks off work, attended counselling sessions and then CBT sessions (both lone sessions and group session), I had EMDR. And I started to feel stronger. At this point, I was heading towards 37 and conscious about my body clock, so I visited the doctor to start the ball rolling into getting my fertility checked. After all the tests, we were told that we had unexplained infertility, which was really hard to digest until a consultant told us it was one of the better categories to be in because there is still hope.
A few months down the line, and we were on our first attempt at IVF. From the eggs that were collected, half of them over-fertilized, 1 had died, 1 wasn’t mature enough, another went on to die, so that only left 1 to be implanted. But it didn’t work. I blamed myself, well, I blamed my body. I blamed my poor mental health, always believing in this all or nothing way of doing things (have to get a career established first, have to pass exams first because I won’t have time or won’t be interested when kids come along) and wishing I knew different when I had made the decision to put a family on hold. I resented work, for taking the best years of my life, my prime. I’ve been angry at the unhelpful things people have said to me, “Would you consider adopting? – What about getting a dog, that’s what people seem to do when they can’t have kids?
– What about using someone else’s eggs? At least you know you can get pregnant, unlike me as I’ve told I’ll never be able to have kids, you’re lucky”.
After the IVF attempt, I asked to speak to the consultant embryologist and the even the receptionist was less than helpful “I can make you an appointment, but they probably won’t be able to tell you any more than you already know”…….. actually when we did speak to him, he told us a lot more. If they’d mixed only half of the sperm with the egg sample, we would have had less over-fertilization and would have had more success, so that’s something they could do next time. But my husband didn’t really want to go down that route again, not yet. He wanted to take what we knew and try on our own, believing that we’d be able to relax and it would happen for us naturally. But it didn’t.
I’m 41 now, and my husband and I are at a crossroad. Do we attempt IVF again knowing that we could be just throwing money away due to the very slim chances at our age, or do we just let things be? But the idea of giving up on those dreams is heartbreaking, that I’ll never be a mum, he’ll never be a dad, I’ll never have his child, we’ll never have the first day at school, never see them grow up, never see them follow their own dreams etc, and don’t even get me started on Mothers Day/Fathers Day 🙁
Dear Sharon – I’m so sorry for all that you’ve been through and your sister too. The ‘bingos’ that you’ve heard from others (and which I talk about in my TED talk) are comments that we’re all familiar with – and they are universally CRAP!!! The crossroads that you and your husband are at is one that many couples have experienced and each couple has to work out which way they can cope with going at this point. Although the heartbreak of childlessness is real, it is something that can be worked through and it IS possible to build a meaninful life as an involuntarily childless woman and couple. It’s not easy, but it is possible, particularly with the support of the good women of the Gateway Women private online community. Should you ever need us, we’ll be here for you. Hugs, Jody x
Hi Jody, thank you so much for your kind words. In some ways, I feel like a bit of a fraud, to think of myself as an involuntarily childless woman. I mean, we could have gone for another round of IVF after the feedback we got about what they could do for us the next time around. Even though there are no guarantees. We could have had counselling to help us work through our feelings (but we didn’t). I feel like others would think that we didn’t try hard enough, that if we really wanted a child, we would move heaven and earth to get that. In fact, I’m pretty sure we’ve heard those kind of comments from people. It’s horrible how others can be so judgemental about something they clearly do not understand, and have never been through. Thank you for welcoming me to the site and making me feel more like an insider rather than an outsider xx
Hi Jody, so this is a strange one… maybe. I hit rock bottom last year when I discovered that medically my chances of conceiving were small and added to that my partner told me he did not want to have a child. I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading other women’s stories on this site. One woman in particular used the line that really resonated with me “this is a strange way to go through life”. I am currently 16 weeks pregnant, my partner changed his mind and yes I’m thrilled but please please know this is not for a second a “miracles do happen” bingo story. Many women can not and will not ever be pregnant, society does not like “unfixable” problems but it’s the truth.
When I discovered I was pregnant I felt almost guilty about it and that I could no longer be part of the conversation about childless women. Then I realized that the conversation and responsibility can not be left to childless women, we have built a society and an economy that stacks the odds against women becoming mothers. In my workplace just yesterday a 20 something told me it would be disastrous for her career if she became pregnant. There is something seriously wrong in our society. Also if I am a true feminist I must support childless women who are amongst the most marginalized. I have been at the receiving end of “you wouldn’t know you don’t have children” many times. I am not special because I am pregnant I’m just a mammal. I’m trying to be as respectful as I can I won’t be having a baby shower or posting baby pictures on social media. I know I found it very hard not to feel bitter about other pregnant women and I completely understand if people reading feel I no longer have the right to comment on this site. I want to thank you for the great work you do which I will continue to follow.
Congratulations, and thank you for taking the courage to speak as I know not everyone can hear your words without wanting to shut you down.
It sounds as though you recognise the marginalised aspect of being childless so Yes! Please keep petitioning wherever you can, and maybe take some time to let other mums know how to tread more respectfully around this minefield of emotions.
I personally would love it if I could have Baby therapy the way they do with pets for those in need. Just a precious moment of actually connecting with a baby for a while – Yeah maybe I’d get tearful after but that’s part of the journey I think.
Anyhow, I wish you well, Jane x
Jane a belated thank you for taking the time out to post that you have no idea how much it means to me. I feel so frustrated with society- why did nobody warn us this may be on the cards, why does having an education and career mean putting a baby on hold until it becomes so much more difficult if at all possible. I remember being lectured in school about NOT having a baby. I hope that through groups like this and people like Jody we can start to have more frank and honest conversations about this hugely important subject. Thanks again Jane xx
Hi Lisa – good to hear from you and I’m thrilled for you and also very happy to hear that you wish to retain the painful consciousness you acquired as a childless woman in our society. You might be interested to read my recent blog on the attitude of many mothers towards childless women and in particular the response from “Paras” who is also a mother after being childless for a long time. I think the two of you share a similar desire to become what I call ‘childless allies’, which is something the childless community so needs from mothers! I spoke about this at my recent talk at Harrogate WEP (May 2019) and I’ll be posting a video and transcript of that talk as a blog shortly. Sending you my love and congratulations and thank you for holding a space for your childless sisters in your mind and heart. Hugs, Jody x
Jody a very belated thank you for your reply and the work you continue to do you are a remarkable person with incredible strength and humility towards others.
Thank god I’m not alone. Grieving hugely. Feel life is over. Breaking down in huge waves. 42 and just split up with my boyfriend as we’ve been arguing so much. I’ve been in a relationship where he has lived with his ex and hasn’t moved in with me for a year and a half (circumstance). It’s been tough. Had one miscarriage with him and got my fertility tested (wished I hadn’t) as told no point IVF and my measurements are really low 0. something. Feel totally depressed is it normal to grieve like this? Maybe I still have hope feels like there isn’t. This is one black hole I don’t know if my feet can climb out of. Plus I wonder if I’m going through an early menopause.
I always was going to be a great mum.
Hi Lucy – I’m sorry to read of what a tough place you find yourself in. Yes, it’s totally normal to grieve deeply for the loss of the dream of motherhood. I don’t know if you are going through an early menopause or not but statistically, most women would find it very difficult to conceive with their own eggs at 42 years old, despite what you many have ‘learned’ from the media and its relentless coverage of older women and their ‘miracle babies’. I would strongly recommend that you explore more of the resources that Gateway Women has to offer to support you as you come to terms with the loss of both your relationship and motherhood, in particular our online community where you will feel less alone and have the support of other women your age going through similar life experiences. Please don’t try to climb out of this ‘black hole’ alone – that’s not how grief works – it’s a social emotion and it needs to be heard by those that understand – and there’s still very little understanding available, sometimes even in the therapy room. Hugs, Jody x
My husband and I married young and celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary last year. We had both wanted kids when we got married, but wanted to wait until we were a little older. Seven years in, he changed his mind on wanting kids at all and I had to seriously consider if that would work for me.
I decided that the relationship I had with him was more important than having kids. I mean, even if I had left, there was no guarantee that I would find someone else, or that I could even get pregnant, and other than this one thing, our relationship was pretty close to perfect.
Last November our friends started having babies, and it hit me harder than I really thought it would. It was difficult to go to baby showers and swallow all the sad feelings I had knowing I would never experience all these things they were going through even though I was genuinely happy for them. My husband felt bad for me, but still absolutely did not want kids. He would tell me that he hated the thought of having a baby and he hated being around other people’s kids.
In December, very much out of nowhere, my husband told me he was no longer in love with me and he wanted a divorce. I was devastated to say the least.
And then in January I learned he was dating a girl he grew up with…and she has a three year old. So I gave up having kids because I wanted our relationship more, but he left me anyway for someone who has a kid and I’m stuck trying to start over in my thirties while he’s playing stepdad to his new girlfriend’s daughter. Life is certainly full of the unexpected.
Dear Jessica – this is a hard blow to bear and I’m so sorry for all that you are going through. Starting over is hard, perhaps even harder if you’re also holding the idea that children have perhaps now gone from a ‘no’ to a ‘maybe’… but then again, you’re here on my site for childless women so perhaps you are also seeking to come to terms with childlessness as your life path. I want you to know that it’s not the gloom and doom that society (and maybe that voice in your head) tells you, and I hope that whatever path life takes you down, you find a way to make sense and make meaning from all of this. It’s very hard and my heart is with you. Hugs, Jody x
I’m going through this now. He doesn’t want kids, I do now and I thought he was more important than a ‘what if’ but everywhere I look, I see babies and happy families.
Just a few minutes ago I walked in the kitchen with a perfect pink plate in my hand and wanted to smash it on the floor. So so deeply angry Iám at the moment. Finally that stage of grief arrived after 7 years… I feel so so alone in my grief. And when I do share with my family and friends I receive such horrible and on-human comments. Today I spoke with my dad and asked him why he and my mother and sisters never have asked me how I feel about not being a mother. How I cope with that. And that it hurts me that nobody asks me that. Since I see there is compassion and interest when my sister has a miscarriage. Today I said that I do not want to stand alone in my grief in my family. That I can see that this is what has been done with my aunt, the sister of my father, but that I cannot accept that anymore for my generation.
When I do share with family and friends I get the comments:
” you will get over it after a weekend break”‘
” just adopt a UNICEF kid so you will feel better”
” you must go and talk to a shrink’
” you will meet a man this month and can get pregnant in a sec…”
” I believe in the bible and you will get a child”
And even sisters I do not speak, nor do I baby sit their children. (If it was the other side around I would be very much ashamed towards my own sister when I would behave like that so I would share my baby with them…)
And offcourse… I can only heal my own deep pain myself, surrounded by people who do want to support me.
And also it makes the pain even more bitter since I am left out by my own familiy and friends with kids.
Since the weekends are the worst for me while everyone is with there own family, I now even work in the weekends. So I cannot think but just do and serve.
And yes, Iám workiing through my grief, bought @jodys book and am working through the capters and will join the online group as well. Never had known that grief was a dailogue, always thought I could heal in silence and now I know I cannot…. and I can ask for support.
So this is my first step out in the open and while I write this tears flow deeply. And I know this is only the start since I have kept the deep grief inside of my for so so so long. So I will take it one step at the time. And hopefully… someday I can enjoy life again.
Dear Miss Butterfly – the moment you describe – of just reaching a point of ‘ENOUGH!’ is one that many of us can relate to…. I’m so sorry that your family and friends cannot relate to your experience, or even allow you to experience it. I wish this was uncommon, but I hear it all the time and it was my experience too. Perhaps that might help you to realise that it’s not just YOUR friends and family that are tone deaf around the grief of involuntary childlessness – this is a culture-wide issue. I look forward to getting to know you better and supporting you through this life transition in our private online community. Hugs, Jody x
This is my first ever message. I really feel your pain. It’s heartbreaking. It’s like we are invisible. It hurts so much. What did your Dad say? Fluffy x
I’ve learnt that I’m at high risk of early menopause 5-10 years from now and my fiancé never truly planned on having children. I’m fine until a baby picture comes up on my Facebook feed and god help the mental breakdown that comes with having a baby in the same room as me. All my life my end-goal was to be a mommy and now that’s never going to happen. I feel like I’m pathetic for mourning my hypothetical children.
Dear Georgia – you are not ‘pathetic’ for mourning your hypothetical children – they were and are REAL to you. Grief is the emotion that is there to help us come to terms with irrevocable loss. If you’re grieving your children it means you love and loved them and there’s nothing ‘pathetic’ about that. Hugs, Jody x
Alone in Maine where people of my age (48) have adult grandchildren. I may be a group of one, but who knows? I’d like to know how/if I can start a support circle here.
Hi Sep – I’m sorry to hear how isolated you feel. Please check our list of meetups here and if there isn’t one near you, download the guidance sheet on how to start one on that same page. I’d also recommend joining our private online community as we have many US-based members you can get to know that way. Hugs, Jody x
I have just found out I can’t have children and I feel totally floored!
Dear Row79 – I’m so very sorry that this news has been sprung on you unexpectedly. This is devastating to process and I hope you have some professional support to help you process it. You might also like to come and join our private online community where I, and the other good, kind and understanding women of GW will be able to support you in the weeks, months and years ahead. My own realisation was gradual, but the moment of finally knowing will be engraved on my soul forever so my heart goes out to you. Hugs, Jody x
Is there a Gateway Women’s group in the US?
Hi Susan – yes, we have 30+ groups across the USA. Go to http://www.gateway-women.com/meetup to see the list and join your local group. Hugs, Jody x
Hi. I went through the menopause at 12. One sister had four teenage pregnancies. Another sister has just had her first wedded baby family complete and the whole family is ecstatic. It comes at a time I’ve lost being an aunt to my nieces from the teenage pregnancies due to going from kinship carer to fostering. I am a member of Daisynetwork. I am long over the stage of being distraught around children and mothers but finding it tough to carve my own safe space and niche especially in the family. Would love to hear from people!
Hi Yam – we have many ways for you to connect with other childless women. Check out our private online community http://www.gateway-women.com/community or our meetups http://www.gateway-women.com/meetup Hugs, Jody x
I have come back from another family gathering where I’m surrounded by babies, children and a pervasive pro-natalist attitude. I sucked it up as usual whilst nobody gave a second thought as to how painful it may be to have to hold the baby, feed the baby and hear about all the babies due in the coming months. I am angry and I am deeply hurt. I hurt so bad. On the other hand, I would hate it if my pain and feelings of social shame were visible to people who can’t conceptualise how carelessly cruel they so often are.
my own husband (who has 2 grown children of his own) joked with his nephew recently that he must be relieved that his wife was pregnant given that all his siblings have so many children.
I am the worst fate. of course he was horrified when he realised what he’d said and how hurtful it was…so I accepted his many apologies and assuaged his guilt.
so what am I to do? experience it? obliterate it with painkillers or alcohol? sacrifice my otherwise happy life to this unquenchable thirst?
I’m so exhausted with making it ok for others.
Hi Nicola – our experience is called ‘disenfranchised grief’ which means that it’s not socially acceptable to experience it or talk about it. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist nor that it doesn’t hurt like hell. The shame that we experience, and have loaded onto us, is part of that, but is also due to the social ideology of ‘pronatalism’ that you mention. You can read more about both of these, and how to handle them in my book, or come and join our online community of intelligent and courageous women who are each dealing with this in their hearts, relationships and social life, as you are. Being a childless woman in our pronatalist society is hard and with each others support and a program of self-education about how to handle things and understand them better, we can make it a whole lot easier. I’m sorry your husband was so tone-deaf as to how his comment might impact you – often those closest to us can be the worst culprits of these careless bingos!
Hugs, Jody x
I am 48 years old and I am unvoluntarily childless. During 23 years of my adult life I was a single and for many years a relationship on the base of love seemed an unreachable aim. I used to be very shy and with little self esteem, specially when I was very young. Reading about the other women‘s experience made me cry..,I tried until four months ago to become pregnant, thought that the miracle would happen. Soon I will be aunt for the seventh time…why only aunt?? Only god knows!
I’m 38 in a few weeks and have been trying to accept the fact that I think its highly unlikely I’ll ever have a child. Sometimes I’m not sure if I actually want one but feel like the decision has been taken away from me anyway. I feel like I’m not good enough and I’ve failed and just don’t have anyone to talk to about this.
Wow… I feel as though I wrote this comment myself. I always thought I’d be a mom. I’m now 40 and coming to the realization that I’ll never be. My boyfriend has 2 children from a previous marriage and doesn’t want any more. I’m not 100% positive I do, but I’m 40 and with his choice, I feel the decision was made for me. It’s hard for me to talk to him about it because he gets defensive and angry and no one else seems to understand. So I hold it all in. I hear you. I feel your pain. I have no advice just wanted you to know you’re not alone.
I’m in the same place age-wise and in regards to feelings.
Beth and Megan I feel the same. The decision was made for me and it hurts so bad!!! You are not alone!
Megan I have a similar situation. My husband has 3 kids and hag vasectomy. Told me he’d reverse it and after got married won’t do it. So incredibly hurt. I didn’t even get a choice.
Hi Beth – Big hug I can really relate to your story – Angela x
With the myriad of things going through my head, it’s so hard to even know where to start. With every post I read, I am just flooded by tears…partly for those who are suffering and also for myself. But unlike other ‘support’ sites I’ve looked at, it is comforting to see that people not only read them all, but actually respond to them. I was so discouraged at the last place I looked at where the posts were years old and most had never been responded to.
I am 44 and my husband of almost 14 years is turning 56 next month. He has 2 adult sons from his previous marriage. When we were dating, we had talked about how even though I was ‘past my prime’ and he had kids, I still wanted to have a child, too. I wanted more than anything to have a little girl, but of course I’d be grateful to be able to have any healthy child. At that time, he told me he’d love to father a child with me. I was so touched by that, but over the years, various circumstances changed all of that, including his feelings. More on that at some point, but it’s complicated. If I listed all the pros and cons about having a baby in this stage of my life, given my particular circumstances, my brain knows it’s a bad idea to even consider it, but my heart is stubborn and wants one anyway. This constant fight inside me is tearing me apart one day at a time.
I am still childless, never have been pregnant. I’ve never even come off of birth control because of these circumstances, so even if I were still younger, I wouldn’t even know if my body was capable of conceiving. At this point, I know the statistics are nearly insurmountable and it breaks my heart. Month by month, I feel my future slipping away, my hopes and dreams shattered. I am angry, hurt, disappointed…not just at him, but at myself too. I know….I’m not supposed to, but it’s all a part of the grieving process. I’m hoping by joining this place that it means that I am finally beginning to come out of denial about this fate. Sometimes, I don’t want to stop hoping, because in my mind, accepting it means defeat, failure, and even more depression. Other times I think, the sooner I just rip the bandaid off and accept it, the better off my marriage would be. All the years of resentment has taken its toll. It would be an easier decision if I knew with 100% certainty that I was physically incapable of becoming pregnant, as that would relieve my feelings of ‘I didn’t fight enough for what I wanted.’ Of course, medical conditions or menopause would elicit a whole other mess of horrible feelings that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, but at least it would be out of my hands at that point.
It’s a crazy feeling…being happy for family and friends (at least I’d like to think that I am?) while simultaneously mourning your own loss. This time of the year is the hardest for me (and most of us, I imagine). I try to avoid social media and not watch a lot of TV commercials, etc for a few weeks, but there are always unavoidable reminders in everyday life and I can’t live with my head in the sand. For years, I have busied myself with various activities, both at home by myself and out of the house with friends with similar interests, but even those things haunt me with reminders at times.
For now, I am thankful to have found this group that understands and has immense compassion for one another.
Hi Cynthia – I’m glad you’ve found us and I feel your confusion and pain. There is an understandable fantasy that if we ‘knew’ we definitely couldn’t get pregnant that would somehow be ‘easier’ but there is no ‘easy’ way out of this. We each have to grieve our losses, our dreams, our decisions, our non-decisions, other people’s choices and everything in between and around! However, what we don’t have to do is to try and ‘tough it out’ alone, because that’s not how grief works – it’s a social emotion and it needs empathic support and company from others experiencing the same. So please come and join us in our private online community where we can support you. Hugs, Jody x
Cynthia. My situation is identical to yours. Felt like you were writing my story. I’m younger, though, 34… at 32 I did a test to see if I could even have a child because I was always on birth control until 31. At 32 I was told by OB that my AMH level was .253, and .06 this past test in October 2018. Some say ignore that level, others say I need fertility specialist… needless to say my husband changed his mind because he is 43 and has two kids 22 and 12 in previous marriage. Doesn’t want to start over, wants to travel and have money to spend not on kids… it hurts me every day. Even with knowing my body probably can’t, I still wanted to try. I’ve never gotten the chance to try. Heart break is real and normal! You are not alone. Much love and hugs.
Hello, I am not sure if I am in the right place but I will give it a go. I am 34 years old and I still don’t have kids. I was pregnant once, when I was 29 and I lost the baby after 9 weeks of pregnancy . My partner and I hadn’t planed the pregnancy but after we found out I was pregnant we accepted it and were actually very happy about it. The miscarriage was of course very difficult for both of us. After that pregnancy we never tried to get pregnant again, we are still together but somehow feel that our life is great as it is. The older I get, the less need I feel to have a baby Also, my miscarriage experience was really terrible, made me depressed for months. Honestly, I am also scared of going through the same thing again. But more than that, I am happy without kids I have never been a “children lover” and is very difficult to imagine myself as a mom. Yes, I still have the chance to become pregnant but, It doesn’t sound too appealing to me, or to my partner. We love our childless live . My problem now is that people thinks I am crazy. Specially moms. All my friends have 1-3 kids already, my work colleagues (all my age are also moms. I feel like I am loosing all my friends, no one is interested in what’s going on with me, sometimes not even my family My cousins (around my age) all have kids and they get a great deal of attention . With me is something like : she has no kids, she has nothing interesting going on . My biggest problems are at work. I work shifts in a hotel, and now I’m in a situation where i don’t get any holiday or weekend free. I need to take every week the worse shifts and when I try to speak to my boss about it I get this answer : well, you are the only one here without kids. Does that mean that because I don’t have kids, I don’t have rights , does that mean that my life at work is so difficult just because I don’t have kids ? . With my friends is also complicated, they invite me less and less to their gatherings, and when we do see each other all we speak about is : their children. If I say I’m really tired because I ran 15 km I get answers like : oh that’s nothing,, my baby was crying the whole night and I’m up since 5 am . I could climb mount Everest without oxygen and that would still be “nothing compared to what moms go through. Whatever I do, is nothing compared to motherhood. I am really starting to feel like I don’t belong in any social group I’m tired from this ” she is childless and has nothing interesting or important to do ” attitude. There is also the fact that many moms feel completely free to critize my life For example : I told a work mate yesterday : I was in a birthday party with my boyfriend and we stayed until 3 am. And she answers : oh my God you need to have kids so you step up to the real life
To add to all of this un confortable feeling, people openly asks me the whole time why do I not have kids, and they make sure to remind me that the clock is ticking. Now I am very honest and I answer that I don’t think I’m made for motherhood, but then I get a waterfall of answers from : “you are crazy” to “who is gonna take care of you when you are old” All this situation is very frustrating and I’m getting more and more isolated and almost embarrassed to speak about my childless life. I feel like my desition is not valid and abnormal. Has someone here gone through the same situation
Dear Vanessa – I’m so sorry that your friends and family are not able to comprehend your experience of validate your growing awareness of what feels right for you. You are moving towards what is called being ‘childfree’, which is that you feel that you might like to remain voluntarily childless. Although many of the articles and resources here at Gateway Women may resonate with you, my work is focused towards those who are involuntarily childless, so some may not. I’d really recommend that you seek out the work of childfree authors, activists and film-makers including Emma Palmer/Kamalamani’s wonderful book “Other than Mother: Choosing Childlessness with Life in Mind” and Maxine Trump’s film, just out, called “To Kid or Not to Kid”. I think you’ll get a lot out of them and they in turn will help to connect you to more women who are going through the thought process that you are. I do hope you find what you need and I’m sending you much love. Jody x
I’m a 31-year-old woman in a long term relationship who wants to have a baby so bad but we have financial problems so “circumstances”. I’m not sure if we should make one and pray that God will see us through because I’m afraid time won’t be on our side when we are finally financially stable. PS: advise me please.
Dear Eunice – I’m sorry that you find yourself in such a difficult position but this is not something I, or anyone else, can advise you on. This is a decision for you, your partner and your family/community. I guess the only advice I can give is that should you find yourself childless not by choice, it’s not the end of the world that it may feel like right now and that a meaningful and fulfilling life without children IS possible. You probably don’t want to believe that now, and I respect that. But should that be how life turns out for you, know that we are here to support you through that and out the other side to a different life, the ‘life unexpected’. Good luck. Hugs, Jody x
I am forty years old, have been married for nine years, and have been trying to conceive a child for eleven years. It just never happened for us. About three years ago, my husband had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest and suffered a brain injury from lack of oxygen, leaving him with a movement and speech disorder. He is considered severely disabled. I have been his 24/7 caregiver since then. I know that if we had children to take care of, that my husband would not receive the level of care from me that he needs. I have been feeling so much better about being childless because of all of this, but I now feel a bit guilty for being glad that we have no children. My husband still has hope that we will get pregnant and start a family. I am now forty years old, the age I said I would quit trying to conceive and move on with my life. I am often exhausted from taking care of him and I know I could not handle an infant. I am thinking of going on birth control to make sure I don’t get pregnant now. Strange turn of events, for sure. I don’t believe that things happen (or don’t happen) for a reason. There is no destiny or meant to be. Just random chance and I am starting to believe that I lucked out in the no kids department. Of course, it we had had kids, our lives would have been very different, and my husband may not have had the cardiac arrest. But that is not how things turned out and I feel like I can put the whole baby issue to rest now. This is how things are for us now and that is enough to expend my emotional energy on.
Dear Megan – that’s a lot to deal with hon and I can understand why not having children might feel easier on some days – and a loss on others. I don’t think things happen/not happen for a reason either nor that my life would have been better/worse if I’d had children. Both would have been messy, imperfect human experiences; I’m just living the childless version! Sending you strength for the hard days. Hugs, Jody x
I’m 48 and have been on a rollercoaster of emotions. I am childless by circumstance and as I have grown through self-development and therapy I am increasingly feeling ready for that family connection of my own. There is one problem, no one told me that I would feel ready when my body is saying it is too late now. I don’t want to say too much on here but just having recently attended a family baby shower has reignited the pain and sorrow and I’ve been feeling very guilty and alone. I have been afraid to join the online community, but I’m seriously starting to think that I need to.
Dear L – it’s a very harsh thing to come to terms with – that although life is long, fertility is short. Our online community is a very gentle and healing space and we have the most amazingly generous and non-judgemental members. Why not try it for the free month and see if it helps? You don’t have to post anything, you can just read and see if it’s for you. Hugs, Jody x
Wow I am so sorry. However I am in your same shoes. This is why I came on here today. Your comment was the first one I got to read, and it made me feel i need to talk to other woman that feel the same way or who can relate in some way. I feel your pain….
I have suffered recurrent miscarriages, I had numerous investigations nothing wrong was found, each time I fell pregnant it took longer each time to fall so the years passed by, when i was finally referred for ivf it was all too late. I’m now 43 years old and still find it so hard to accept I’m never going to be a mummy. I just want to enjoy life again and find acceptance.
Hi Susan – the early-to-mid 40s are a tough time for those of us coming to terms with involuntary childlessness – with society (and ourselves) convincing ourselves that there’s ‘still a chance’ and the grief of childlessness coming to dominate our inner world. It’s incredibly hard to accept but grief is your friend in this – that’s its job – to enable us to accept the unacceptable. There’s no short cut around it (if there was, I would have found it because I certainly tried everything else!) but it is possible to find a new way to live, and to embrace the life you have to live, and not the one you dreamt of. That’s what my book’s about and that’s what our wonderful online community of women are there to help each other with. Hugs, Jody x
Its taken me 4 weeks to pluck up the courage to post this message. I have worked with children since I was 16 years old and have always had an incredible longing to become a mum. My 29 years working with children and having the opportunity to help in some small way to make a difference to a child’s life has been amazing but unfortunately cannot be a substitute for having the chance to have my own child. My circumstances like many are that I simply didn’t meet my partner until I was 42 and after trying and failing to get pregnant for the last 3 years I think I’m finally at 46 emerging from my cave of denial. I’m currently reading Jody’s book and am planning to sign up to my first weekend. I feel really scared that I can’t see a bright and happy future without children. In many ways I’ve been working towards the holy grail of having children my whole adult life and feel like I’ve had the carpet ripped from under my feet. What do I do now? I’m praying the weekend and having the chance to meet people who understand how this feels will help me to see some light at the end of my tunnel. Thanks for reading xxx
I’ve just been given a recently published book- Childless Voices by Lorna Gibb for my birthday. Along with Jodys fab book it’s so good to find other voices that mirror my own. Lorna’s book speaks of childless women across many cultures and across the world.
Felt like telling my story today since I often come here and read other people’s stories so I don’t feel like it’s just me . When I was a teenager In the early 80’s it was different time. I got pregnant at 14 and my mother, who was a teenage mother herself and now a single mom with 3 kids, decided I would not have the child and took me to a low costing abortion clinic. I remember having to take the bus both ways. I cried for months and although she told me nobody would know she told my brothers. She told me I brought shame to the family and I was treated that way. Of course, I rebelled and got the I don’t care attitude quickly. Once I made it out of high school I married the first guy who offered to take me away from my house. I didnt even love him, he was older and had 3 kids already. I didn’t get pregnant with him, when I finally started going to the doctor I was told I had excessive scar tissue from the procedure I got when I was 14. It was now the late 80’s and I went thru all they could offer at that time. Procedure after procedure but was just left with scars physically and mentally. I wanted to adopt but husband told me he would not. He actually offered to get someone pregnant so it would be his blood and we could adopt that baby. It took me 3 years after that to leave him . I was broken and only 27. At 38 I was marrying a new man. He had 2 kids from a previous marriage and accepted the fact I may never have children. But said he would adopt with me. He always had a reason why it wasn’t the right time. Finally after being with him 14 years he admitted he doesn’t want any more children . Meanwhile my brothers had kids. They knew my story and would use the kids as pawns when upset with me. That hurt. One brother told me I couldn’t see his son anymore because I was spending to much time with him. They lived 2 hours away .I saw the kids when I could . Nothing like family to break your heart. My mother she took a family friends daughter in and became Grandma to her kids. When I couldn’t take it anymore I decided to move to another state to get away before the hurt made me feel like medicating every day. I had gotten to the point where shopping would make me cry if I saw a mom and baby. Now I am in my early fifties , never had kids , have to many pets and although I still love the Man I married so many years ago I still have that whole In my heart. One day not to long ago my father said to me “I thought you would be over that by now” when someone asks me if me about children. I immediately felt I should have not said the truth and kept it in. I have become an expert at acting like it I am fine with it. But I am not and the hole in my heart is hidden buts it’s still there
Just thanks for sharing it that’s all. Circumstance after circumstance left me now 56 without children. I’m only really trying to face it properly now. It’s awful. Your writing meant something to me. I have nothing profound, just a thank you. Susan
I was really touched by your story. Sometimes I remind myself that in Henry Marsh’s book ‘Do No Harm’ about being a brain neurosurgeon, he says that doctors all carry a graveyard with them of people who didn’t make it against the ones that do. I like to think I have a silent heaven of small lights who might have been. On the other side, I also read that people sometimes want a child to complete something missing from their own childhood. I know I wanted a family at core because my parents separated and remarried. I am coming to terms with this through therapy and meditation rather than creating what I missed. You may end up becoming your best self as a result. Big hugs x
I am 47, never married and not a mother or so society tells me, though I nurture my beautiful animals and have since they were born, they are part of my family. I was never super clucky or mad to have babies as other girls seemed to be, or obsessed with getting married. Though I did want those things and assumed they would just happen, like it seemed to do for everyone else. My mother had myself and my 3 siblings in her late thirties and into her 40’s ( while on the pill!!) so I never panicked about it and lived my life fully through my 20’s and early 30’s. It wasn’t until my mid to late 30’s I notices comments and judgments from society about my status. Only then did I begin to question my self worth as a women and lose my self esteem and more.
One relationship after another broke me in other ways as well. My last relationship which began at 39 and ended at 43 nearly destroyed me. He had been married and in fact though my age was a grandfather! Also turned out he was a cross dressing narcissist, legit psychopath who told me he didn’t love me enough to ‘ give me children’ then went straight to a dating sight hooked up with a 29yr old single mother!! It took years to put myself back together and now I am in a great place. I have a new career and such inner peace around who I am and solid inner confidence. I don’t think the pain of the choice of not getting pregnant and being a mother will ever leave but I no longer grief,let it hold me back or make my self worth as a women revolve around it. Though many still do and judge me as such as though I failed at life… which I find shocking insensitive and ignorant. Now that I have found Gateway I am reborn in a new way and passionate about supporting other women in similar circumstances. Thank you Jody for being the voice of many and starting a revolution that is long overdue. xxxxx
Wow I can so relate to your story. It sounds almost just like me. It wasn’t until my late thirties that I was also struck by the fact that I might not have kids, which became strikingly apparent after a bad breakup.
My husband is 17 years older than me and had 5 children already from previous marriages. I told him from the outset that I wanted children. I was 32 then. I’m now 46 and have had 4 failed IVF attempts. He never told me that during marriage 1 he had a vasectomy and that during marriage 2 he had a reversal. The fact that he’d had 5 children always led me to think he was fine – and that It was me with the problem. I’m massively struggling to cope with the fact I’ll never be a mum. He gets angry with me when I bring it up. I have no family to talk to and feel very alone. All my friends have children and don’t understand. It’s never discussed. And why would it be? I’m the odd one out. They know I’ve had IVF but nothing is ever said that it didn’t work. I want to scream about my grief but my husband makes me feel guilty for that. I don’t bring it up until I’ve had a drink and then he says I’m just drunk. I’m not. It’s a rare release and gives me the backbone to say what I feel. I’m an only child and never expected not to have children. It’s devastating to approach the stage of having to accept something that most take for granted
Hi J – this is devastating to read and I’m not surprised you’re in pieces. It’s such a private matter to discuss that I really feel it would be better if you were to join our private online community where we can speak more freely and frankly. It’s free from now until the end of March. What a painful, complex and heartbreaking scenario honey, I’m so very, very sorry. Hugs, Jody x
Hello everyone, my name is Jennifer. I’m from America. I wanted to share my story. I’m now 48. Always wanted to be a mother. But wanted to do that with my soul mate. As years went by. I started to wonder where he was. I didn’t want to be a single mother. Finically and emotional I felt it wasn’t right to put a child through that. Besides I felt and believed a child needs both. So I choose to wait. At 41 I finally met my soul mate. My gynecologist encouraged us to try right away. After 2 years I developed uterus fibroids. Several doctors agreed It would prevent me from getting pregnant. But we kept trying. 7 years later, I’m being told now I need a hysterectomy. My soul tells me no. But now 49 yrs. old is coming. I really don’t get any true support from other women. I was also told you shouldn’t have waited. Or the big one adopt. Your video says it all! I keep thinking of all I won’t experience. We are open for adoption. But to not experience the whole motherhood from beginning to end is heartbreaking! Now I grieve for the loss. It’s feels like we have skipped several chapters of our life. Figuring out a whole new direction! Heavy load.
I always read the posts, but have never responded. I related strongly to your story and I am also from America. I too, wanted children but not as a single mother. I thought single mums were quite brave, but it was not for me when I was younger. I was waiting for my soul mate. In my thirties I was married to a man with four children and a vasectomy. He would not consider a reversal or any other options for parenthood. After our divorce, I thought I had my life together enough to become a single mother. I applied for single adoption, but was turned down because my income was not quite high enough and I did not have adequate support systems in place. I am now 51 and single. No partner and no child. I know people say “just adopt” and it can be heartbreaking because you wanted your own child. You wanted that experience of the whole pregnancy and birth. Please, if you have a partner you love, then extend that love by continuing to explore the adoption option. Adopting is difficult, in the US anyway. There are many things that can work against you. Adopting as a couple gives you an advantage, but I believe ageism becomes an issue after a certain age. I know you are going through difficult times because of health issues. Try to get through this by focusing on your whole well being. Do not give up hope yet that you and your partner can become a family. As for myself, Jody’s Plan B is helping. I am thankful.
Yes, it’s so true that you are told you are an idiot if you want to be a mother. No one really talks about the loss of wanting to be pregnant, to experience that special time while you nurture a baby in a unique way. No one discusses the grief of not being able to breastfeed. I’m single – I don’t want to raise a child alone and have not met my soul mate. I think neither one will be part of my life. It’s so difficult to have to go through the biological functions while also knowing it’s for nought. I’m 49 and feel like its a cruel reminder that I’m only half a person.
You are not half a person. You are a full person, we all are. You have a lot of love to give to others and receive from others, even if it is not as you expected or planned. All the ladies on here have been given a life unexpected, but it is still a life and you deserve to be happy. Try to find a gateway woman meet up group near you. I am part of one and it really helps to talk to women who understand. Xx
I just finished reading your book, which took a whole month to travel to me all the way from the US. I’ve never left a comment in the internet before, this is my first.
I’m from Austria and here it is practically impossible to find anything to help you coping with childlessness.
It’s all about “getting rid of this blockage/ unresolved conflict/imagining a silver cord leading up to heaven, which will lead your child to you/drinking the right tea or even that bottle of red wine… relaxing and then it will surely happen”… Yeah right. Didn’t work for us, as you can guess.
I turned 40 six months ago. I, too, have always looked much younger, my own mother and grandmother weren’t young mothers, I never thought conceiving would be a problem. But my husband and I tried to conceive for over 6 years, first trying with everything from a change of diet, osteopathy to Chinese medicine, detoxification, acupuncture and hypnosis. I have some pretty large myomas but the doctors kept saying that they weren’t in a place where they would actually prevent a pregnancy, so they didn’t recommend a removal. We then tried IVF a couple of times, but it turned out I’m a so-called “low responder” – my body simply didn’t produce any egg cells when stimulated with hormones. So we tried without hormones, something which is called a “spontaneous cycle”, having blood tests each month to check FSH and LH and if everything was okay, to check for the egg cell of this cycle and if there was one (there isn’t always) to have it extracted.
When I was 38, my father died and for about four months I couldn’t bear the thought of going back to the clinic. As soon as I started feeling remotely better, we started trying again, several months with too high FSH, one punctured artery during an extraction, one transfer with no pregnancy, one egg cell that couldn’t be fertilized. My left ovary is hidden behind one of my myomas which means every second month it’s not possible to do the procedure. Just before I turned 40 my doctor suggested egg cell donation. That moment was very important for me because it rubbed my nose into reality: it won’t happen. I’m not going back to the clinic.
I’ve never been pregnant in my life and now will never be. My myomas are huge now due to the hormones from the IVF’s – no one told me they would grow extra fast during treatment. My mistake, too, for not looking into the matter better, but I was in such a hurry to make the next step. My regular gynaecologist now recommends removal of the myomas, which might be too late to manage without a hysterectomy. I don’t know whether I’m up to that yet…
I’ve been through feeling absolutely worthless and suicidal, especially at night, waking up in the pitch black feeling utter despair. Luckily I’ve been over that phase for quite a while now. I don’t quite know how I managed that, though. My job kept me going. I’m a devoted music teacher and work with kids all the time… My own family seems completely without empathy, but I try not to hold it against them. They never ask how I’m feeling and I have stopped trying to talk about it to them. I went through silently resenting my husband for not taking the whole thing “serious” enough (e.g. forgetting to take his supplements, being wrapped up in other psychological problems “how can he? Our future family is more important” etc), knowing that if I told him about my thoughts, it would make things worse.
I have just had to learn to let go. And you are right: I go through days where everything is OK, then days where I’m just awfully sad. I envy mothers with teenage daughters for what I see as a close connection. Your book has helped me to recognize that I deep down missed a proper connection to my own mother and my inner little girl wants to “make it better, make the hurt go away” In a way I count myself lucky: a friend of mine went through 9 IVF’s, all of them resulting in pregnancies (up to 3 months), all of them ending in miscarriage; I can’t imagine just how painful that must have been.
I am realizing that my strong sense of self-preservation has instinctively led me to take the right steps: I tried to think of all the things I’ve always wanted to do (ride a motorbike, learn to sew my own clothes, have a well-organized home, etc) and started shortly after my last birthday… Still at it! Books like yours are a huge help, knowing you’re not alone and you are NOT selfish for deciding to put the wish for children aside and fighting for your own sanity. My life isn’t collapsing, on the contrary!
I think the pain will never completely go away, but I have stopped resenting my life and stopped feeling angry all the time.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to write about my experience! I couldn’t write in fewer words because it was such a long process…
Hi Jody, first thing I’d like to say is thank you for this site! I have felt alone for two years and don’t feel like I can tell anyone my story or that they will truly understand.
I am not childless by choice and it pains me every day! I fell in love very quickly with my now husband whom I meet in summer 2016. We knew within a month that we would get married and quickly as we are Christian and wanted to keep to our faith and wait to have relations till we were married. That and our age (we were both 39, now 41) and knowing we loved each other and 100% positive this is what we wanted. We talked about all the important stuff, finances, where to live, and of course having kids. He already has 3 children and they are great! I’m truly blessed to have such great step children!!! He told me before we were even thinking marriage that he’d had a vasectomy. I was devastated! How could I meet the perfect man for me and love his kids but we can’t have or own? So I asked him if he’d have a reversal and he said if it were something I really wanted that he loves kids and would do it for me. Of course i was relieved and even joked with him when he was going to have it done. He kind of laughed and brushed it off… I should have picked up on the red flag right then but I didn’t. I heard what I wanted to hear. So we married and about 6 months after i brought up the subject again. It didn’t go the way I thought. He told me that he didn’t think it was a good idea for us to have kids and gave me several reasons why. One being that he truly believes God has told him that we shouldn’t. I’ve been trying since to get him to understand my need to have our own child but he just won’t change his mind. I’m devastated , depressed and cry on almost a daily basis. All while having to work a tough job, be a step mother, wife to a husband who is very loving in many other ways but the one I seem to need. I’ve wanted to leave, to get divorced but I made a vow before my God and i just don’t think i can go through it and i know he’d put up a fight because he doesn’t believe in divorce. I’m so lost, it’s so incredibly hard and heart breaking. I need help but don’t know where to turn to. I will be purchasing your book soon in hopes that it helps. I just think to myself…. What have I gotten myself into? The pain is so unbearable sometimes I don’t even want to get out of bed!
Thank you for listening,
Dear Michelle – I’m so sorry to read of your heartbreak over your husband’s change-of-mind over trying for children with you and I’m afraid his justification that this is ‘God’s will’ sounds like a convenient way to not take responsibility for the pain that his decision is causing you and allow you the space to be angry and hurt by it. I’m not a Christian, but whether it’s “God’s will” or not (seriously, who gets to know that?!) it was HIS decision, not one you made together, and that’s not OK and a really hard situation for you. I would really recommend that come March, you join our new online community that we’re building as we will have a section in it just for ‘Childless Christians’ where you’ll be able to explore the complexity of your situation in privacy. In the meantime, I really recommend reading my box and, if your husband is willing, that you consider couple’s counselling. You need support hon, and even if he is not willing to support you, you need it for yourself. Hugs, Jody x
Thank you for your reply Jody!
I agree that I/we need counseling and I will be purchasing your book also. Is it only an e-book right now? When I looked it up on Amazon it was only available as an ebook. And I look forward to the online community. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone and will be able to talk about it with others who will understand!
Hi Michelle – it is available as a paperback too. I’m not sure where you’re based, but if you order it via The Book Depository they do free international delivery and you can also request it via your local library or bookstore. Let me know which Amazon site is only showing it as an e-book and I’ll let my publishers know! Hugs, Jody x
Thank you for letting me know. I looked again on amazon and when you search it pops up as an ebook but there is a small link for paperback. Looking forward to reading it!
Michelle, your situation seems so close to mine. I got married when I was 22 to my high school sweetheart, because of my faith, and because of the faith of my parents – who drove into my brain that a couple should be “equally yoked”. So I married the one guy who cared for me and went to church with me. I was too young to see red flags. Anger and temper tantrums, which then got worse when he got into law enforcement. Long story short, I never had children with him because I actually always told myself “thank God I didn’t have a child sitting or standing next to him when ____ happened” I protected a child I didn’t even have. When I turned 30 I knew if I wanted a chance at a family I had to stop waiting for him to change and make a bolt for the door. So I did. 6 months after our divorce I met my current husband, who I fell in love with immediately, and for the first time I wanted a child. He was sweet and tender and everything I wanted in a dad. He had two kids of his own, and a vasectomy to go with it. At first I told him I would be okay if I couldn’t have kids, but in time the desire just kept growing and growing. I knew I loved him because of how I felt about having kids which I did not ever feel before. I asked him about it, and he said he would reverse it for me – which made me feel like he really loved me if he was willing to do that. WOW. Right!? It took a while for him to propose, we got married when I was 33. I immediately signed us up for the reversal, we were assigned an appointment, and then he reveals he just doesn’t want to have another kid. I’ve been crushed every since. His alternative was if I couldn’t put it aside without resentment for him, maybe I needed to find someone else. I turn 34 this week. My AMH fertility level is concerning low and getting lower. And so I feel I am at this point of that I can’t even find someone else because by the time it would be at the level of commitment, I am too old. I think about it every day. I cry all of the time. My heart is so broken. To sit back and be the spectator to everyone else. Having to flip the switch of having hope to accepting the word “NEVER”. Thinking of all of the things I will miss, and I never even had the chance. No one has stepped up to be that man for me. All the while it is okay for me to give and give as a stepmom and spend my money to help him and his kids out. I hurt in every way. I feel alone in it, because it seems like he is really not effected or empathetic about it at all. In fact he ignores it. He doesn’t acknowledge the pain of how I feel. Will not even hug me or just hold me. Or check on me. Because he has no clue the heart break that I experience. Other people who know my situation check on my more than he does. But he does love me well in many other ways. I just don’t know how to even communicate it with him without him feeling defensive or pressure. I am very hurt.
You are not alone. Some days I resolve to just focus on travel, get excited about what I can do since I don’t have children. But I do know that nothing will take away the pain of how I feel. It will always be there.
Dear A – thank you for commenting and I hope that Michelle gets to see it and know she’s not alone. We have a section in our private online community called “Childless by Relationship” as sadly it’s not an uncommon way to find yourself childless not by choice – yet as with all involuntary childlessness, there’s very little understanding or empathy around it ‘out there’, and no doubt you’ve been given the usual “Well just leave him!” advice… It’s just not that simple or you would have done so already. I am concerned about his lack of empathy around how his unilateral change of heart has impacted you – I’m not sure how you’re expected to process and heal without his support on this and I would suggest that this is something you might need to explore in couple’s therapy; it’s not just up to you to ‘feel better’ as some kind of proof of your love; grief doesn’t work like that and neither do healthy relationships… I would like to suggest that your last line that “nothing will take away the pain of how I feel – it will always be there” may be truthful to how you feel today and the idea that it might be possible to feel differently one day even sound insulting… but it IS possible (with help, time, and grief work) to get to a better place about our childlessness. We never get ‘over it’ (it’s not the flu) but we can get through it. Come and join us in our private community and we will help you get there too. Hugs, Jody x
Thank you so much for sharing! Although I am sad that you are going through this, it does bring me some relief that someone out there truly understands how I feel and what I’m going through! I feel the same way about leaving my husband, that im just too old now and who knows when I’d actually find someone else who I loved to have a child with. I too have low levels, so it’s like I’m stuck. I feel like I made a really bad decision and now I’m just stuck and have to live with it! Such a sad way to live life knowing it’s not what you really wanted. And I completely understand giving up time and paying for the step kids. We have what we have mostly because of me, I just happen to be the bread winner as well. It all just hurts and I feel like I’m living someone else’s life, like it’s a bad dream! Don’t get me wrong, I love my step kids and actually have a decent relationship with their mothers but when they come home and tell me about mommy this and mommy that it just crushes me! It may be selfish but I want to be the only one experiencing life with them. Well I could go on and on here but I want you to know I’m thinking about you and praying for you and all the other childless women that we have peace and understanding and the will to push past this! God bless you A!
Michelle – hi. If your husband married you with no intention of having children then, as a Christian, you have grounds for annulment of your marriage. You could say that it was based on a lie. I am so sorry. I married a man who I knew was infertile. I didn’t think it would matter. It did. There are all sorts of reasons why I stayed with him (he died last year) – but there is always that part of me which wonders whether I should have left. Have courage.
Hi, I’m approaching 38 and my 9th year of trying for a child without success. After being diagnosed with poly cystic ovarian syndrome and having endometriosis removal, I had ICSI with my previous partner. This resulted in one pregnancy lost at 9 weeks. It was an emotionally gruelling process and resulted in the breakdown of my marriage.
In my current relationship, my partner and I have been seen once again by another fertility centre. I had an AMH hormone test and was told that it was all but impossible for me to conceive naturally.
Added to this is the fact that I have a genetic disorder known as Myotonic Dystrophy. My sister, who has the same condition, almost lost her own life and the baby’s during childbirth, such are the raft of complications this disorder causes during pregnancy and childbirth. She suffered excess fluid accumulation during pregnancy and my nephew was born with bilateral talipes (clubfoot), hearing, breathing and feeding problems and will always be developmentally delayed. Since I don’t feel I can put a baby through this, my only choice is to fund my own egg donation IVF which my partner and I cannot afford.
I am struggling to deal with the fact I will, in all likelihood, never have a child of my own emotionally and, despite the fact that my partner has been very supportive, I still feel like I’m constantly letting him down as I know he would have loved to have a family of our own. We have discussed adoption, but don’t feel this is a route we wish to take.
Hi. I am just turned 41. I am unable to have children because I am diagnosed bipolar. I am somewhat stable. .however I have some severe moodswings. I can’t have a child because of the prescription medication I must take to keep me stable..you can not be pregnant on these medicines. I am struggling hard right now…and facing the fact that it is too late. Time keeps ticking and friends keep having children. I can’t help but think they have such a better life than I do. In fact..I convinced that they do have a better life.
My daughter, who is 40, just discovered that she cannot have a child. I feel helpless when she describes her pain and hopelessness.
The parent, who suffers as a witness to the suffering of their child, is alone and without a solution. She rejects any attempt to demonstrate that there are people who love and care for her.
I know that the path for her must be her choice, not mine. How can I help her see that there is life beyond her circumstance?
My Lord. I live in Rhode Island, USA, childless, with my husband of 45 years. Years ago, there were no in-vitro-fertilization clinics, etc., so when I wasn’t pregnant after 3 years, we gave up in the early 1980s. I am a RN, with 3 degrees post-high school, taught aerobics for several years, did many, many vacations with my husband before retirement, and now have saved enough money to retire without pension plans! Live has been good to us with children. Do not succumb to society. Your outlook, interests and happiness must lie in the simple things of Life. Childfree gets better & better as you age. Trust me.
I am 59yrs now and my experience is that I have never been able to have sexual intercourse. Due to something that happened in my childhood. Therefore I am childless through circumstance.
Hi Jody. Grieving once again as I go through menopause now aged 53 next month. 4 of my friends became grandparents just before Xmas! Not sure of my purpose anymore…
Hi Annie – I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been hit by the next wave of babies in your life as your friends become grandparents. That sounds tough. Although it may sound unlikely, your grief is there to help you through this, painful as it is. If you feel able to, I’d really recommend reading or re-reading my book, particularly Chapter 4 on working through the grief of childlessness and Chapter 12 on ageing without children. You might also like to consider joining our private online community where you can work through this patch and towards finding more purpose again. Hugs, Jody x
thanks i’ve just joined your online community and looks like there’s no meet up group in Adelaide so i may do that this year. will order your book too. love that we’re both TEDx speakers!
I’m about to turn 39 and we’ve been trying for a baby for more than a year. Every month is a horrible cycle of hope then despair. I don’t think it’s going to happen for us. My best friend is 7 months pregnant and I feel guilty about lying to get out of her baby shower. I have found it very painful to listen to her talk about every stage of her pregnancy. We have a chat group with some other friends that I had to leave because it was just too much constant pregnancy talk. I didn’t want trying for a baby to become obsessive in case we couldn’t, but I think I was very naive about being able to control my emotions related to this. I feel miserable and lost. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next.
Dear Kate – I hear that you’re feeling miserable and lost and I’m sorry. You’re allowed not to attend baby showers or anything else that makes you feel like shit right now. You’re allowed to take care of yourself and your wounded heart. And who are these people who can ‘control their emotions’?! We can do our best to hide them, but we can’t control them, that’s not how they work! I’d really recommend that you spend some time learning how to be the very best compassionate friend to yourself during this part of your life that by exploring the work of Kristin Neff on Self Compassion. That way, whether you become a mother or not, you’ll have learned a skill that will help you cope with whatever difficulties life throws your way – and I guarantee that whether your life path includes motherhood or not, neither will be smooth sailing, because nobody gets off lightly in this game called life; no matter what it looks like on Instagram! Hugs, Jody x
Thanks Jody, I really appreciate it. I’ll check out her work.
Hi I am a 44 year old woman starting trying for a baby when I met my husband at 39 got married at 41 was so happy and looking forward to starting a family we tryed for a about 1 year and it didn’t happen so was put in touch with an off clinic had to pay because I was over 40 but it didn’t work I was heart broke .I was told by then clinic to try egg donor because of my age it was a shock at first but I did her my head around it cause all I wanted was a baby so we went aboard for it had to pay alot of money had the treatment done waited the 2 weeks I was pregnant i was over the moon then into my 8 th week I was told sadly I had miscarried I was heart broke yet again. Even more so with this because it had worked and I planed my life what it was going to be like so now I am 44 still married and happy but I have a hole in my life 4th at there is some think missing that I will never have it’s just heart breaking to know i will never hold that baby I always wanted and be a mom that I always wanted we can’t afford any more treatment and I wouldn’t put my marriage under that pressure like I did before I have to be strong ever day and try and move on from this heart ache
Hi Jody, I have been a big admirer of your work for a long time. For many years I was childless and really grieving and as a couple, we had tried everything to conceive but were left drained and exhausted and no baby. However in my early 40s I got pregnant naturally and we have a beautiful child. I have been on both sides of this, childless and grieving for years and then having a child. During the first year of being a mother, it was full on and crazy busy. My child free friends still had great social lives and I was up doing night feeds etc. However, we supported each other and try to be each other’s cheerleaders. One thing that I notice in your messages is that I think that you give mothers a tough time. There is a lot of mention that they don’t have room in their lives for childless friends, so not true. First-time motherhood can be overwhelming if a person is also continuing to work to pay all the bills. Don’t pit women against women, let’s support each other and celebrate all the amazing achievements of all women
Dear Paula – I’m very happy for you that late motherhood worked out and I’m interested that you are still engaged with my work. To your point about my bias against ‘mothers’ I strive to be quite careful not to be too categorical about ‘mothers’ as I recognise that each mother is different just as each childless woman is different – however, I’m not always speaking for ‘me’ alone as I’m often speaking up and speaking out for the many thousands of childless women who open their hearts to me with their problems and feel too silenced by shame to speak them publically. It has been my experience that with friends (and former friends) who are mothers or not, I have experienced empathy, identification and acceptance as well as ignorance, hostility and rejection… and often from surprising sources! Whilst I absolutely agree that mothers and non-mothers need to support and cheerlead each other on, there also needs to be a space where childless women are free to speak their minds about the societal shame and judgement that is placed on them by society, and often through the hurtful statements and exclusionary behaviour of ‘mothers’ and ‘others’. Gateway Women is just one of a small handful of those online spaces, whilst support and encouragement for mothers and those trying to conceive could break the internet! I will continue to strive to be a balanced voice and to keep the dialogue open between mothers and the involuntary childless, and I will continue to extend my empathy and understanding towards mothers for the huge emotional and practical burdens they carry, often alone. But most of all, I will continue to speak our childless truth in a world that wishes we’d shut up about it! Wishing you all the best, Jody x
Hi, Im 40, soon to be 41, happily married, with the most wonderful man, understanding, supportive. We met about 8 years ago, travelled, had lots of fun and then started trying. Im also the mother of 3 angel babies, after years of trying naturally, IUI, IVF we finally we’re delighted to see a + sign on a pregnancy test in sept. 2017. I did everything I could to have a positive pregnancy but unfortunately, at 15 weeks my water broke and I gave birth to my first child who didnt make it. Somehow we we’re able to get over the loss as much as we could to try one last time. After an eventful year, cancer scare for both of us, depression, and lots of crying, we found a new strenght and in august we again saw that much awaited + sign. We we’re happy yet careful, we kept the news for us for several week just in case. I had the best follow up, and at 8 weeks found out we we’re expecting twins. Which led us to be followed by high risk doctors, sometimes twice a week. Every u/s we’re ok, always saw our 2 little precious girls kicking around. At 22w my blood pressure was high so I went to hospital, they admitted me that day, and for a few days things we’re fine. And then friday night, dec 7th, at 10 pm, doctor walked in, telling me my body was shutting down, I wasnt feeling anything but my platelets, liver enzymes, blood count everything was failling me. In a matter of hours I was a happy pregnant woman, to almost dead, my husband thought he was losing all of us. I suffered from Hellp syndrome and had to have an emergency c-section to make sure they saved me, but our little girls Ophélia Meisje and Hope Juliette didnt make it. We got to hold them for several hours, at first still breathing on their own for a little bit. Its so hard to think that my body failed them. Both of them we’re perfectly fine upon delivery, just too small to make it. Its still so very fresh, yet sometimes I forget I was even pregnant, its the strangest feeling. I feel like everything is a blur, and im fighting between physically getting better and emotionnally trying to survive.
This was our last chance, and plus there is so much risk with having Hellp that its time to work on accepting of never being a mother. Its still impossible for me to imagine but I guess ill have to somehow accept.
This is my story and the beginning of acceptance
Dearest Bethanie – I’m so very sorry for the loss of your twin babies and for the grief that you and your husband must be in. The road to acceptance of involuntary childlessness is one that starts in the head, in the cold raw facts, and slowly travels through our heart and into our very bones and becomes our new reality. And the emotion that takes us on that healing journey (which hurts like hell) is grief. In these early, shocked days, I’d really recommend that you explore the work of Megan Devine and her deep and lyrical understanding of grief in her book/website “It’s OK That You’re Not OK” and also perhaps to consider, when you feel up to it, joining our private online community so that your childless sisters can help to carry this load with you as you learn to accept the unacceptable. Hugs, Jody x
Jody: I would love to meet you. I am 41, married, childless (not by choice), and just discovered you today, I can relate to so much that you and others share. Edna T
Dear Edna – welcome and I’m so glad you’ve found us. I’ll be chairing the “Life Without Children” Day at the UK’s Fertility Fest at the Barbican on Saturday 27th April (festival program launches 14th Jan) if you wanted to say ‘hello’ in person. And I’m in our private online community every day! I look forward to meeting you too! Jody x
Hi. I’m 65, my husband and I have been married for 45 years – we were unable to have children – the IVF advances came that too late for us. As my husband’s parents died young we became (at the age of 24) very involved with his younger siblings and their future families- readymade babysitters for weekends and longer. Now the ‘babies’ are grown up with their own families etc and (rightly so) as Auntie and Uncle we are further down the list. They would be heartbroken to know that’s how we feel. We are on the outside looking in – trying to make our own life but with a heavy heart. My husband, due to a hard childhood etc, had a major breakdown 7 years ago and is still depressive/anxious so we (I) am limited to what we can do. I just feel I am going through the sadness of being childless 30 years late. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to put my feelings into words x
Dear L – thank you for sharing part of your story with us and I’m so sorry to hear how sad you are at the moment. Grief is patient and wise and waits for us until we get quiet enough to listen and feel ready enough to heal. I can quite imagine that being a sort of surrogate parent for all those years will have fed that nurturing part of you and now, as your peers are getting busy with grandchildren and your nephews/nieces busy with their own families, that now it’s YOUR time to sit with those losses and allow your heart to grieve, and thus heal. You might also like to check out the work of an organisation I’m closely involved with – Ageing Without Children (AWOC.org) which really speaks to the additional challenges and concerns for those of us without children. You might also find that Chapter 12 of my book, where I address directly our fears and fantasies around our childless old age worth a look. You are very welcome here and are amongst understanding peers now. Hugs, Jody x
Thank you – you have ‘it’ spot on! I have already watched one of your webinars and have ordered your book. I have shed floods of tears today and feel better already – I, at the age of 65, did not realise I was grieving- thank you so much for what I have learnt so far x
So glad you’re here with us xxx
My wife And I have been trying for 4years no luck thus far. (34&33) She has grade 4 Endo=deep infiltrating. I’m in the medical profession and know the chances are slim. We’re waiting for the opp. To help fix some of the issues…. I see all my friends having kids and it breaks my heart. I’ve been depressed now for 12 months I can’t sleep at night, I think things through, I’m angry at the NHS who I have worked for for 17 years at the shocking care and slow service…. if it doesn’t improve things for me look bleak. It’s holding up our lives and I like to have a plan… adoption is an option, IVF my wife isn’t keen on she is fed up of been poked and prodded.
Hi Dave – I’m so sorry to hear of the pain that you are in struggling with your wife’s endo and the likelihood of childlessness. There are a small but growing number of male voices starting to speak out about the male experience of infertility/childlessness and I hope that if you explore them, you might feel a little less alone in your pain. You’ll find some of them listed here on my website: https://gateway2012.wpengine.com/resources/resources-for-men/
Hi Jody. I’m childless not by choice. I’m still grieving, I’m 46 and it comes down hard at times. Since finishing IVF I’ve been aimless. I choose things to invest my time and effort into yet most turn out to be working with shitty people or charities. I lost my precious cat last year because of a shitty girl in her 20s, and I’m also still grieving that. After reading grief brain, still in that too. We recently relocated interstate for a new start. The stress is over but I ended up with double pneumonia, three herniated discs in my lower back. Just this month I was going thru tests for ovarian cancer. The IVF drug Clomid coming back to kick me. Tests inconclusive, have to wait for the next flare in the ER to get a proper diagnosis.
I paint, draw and hand a range of power tools to get me through. I took care of my mother-in-law for 5 months while we lived with her – that was a huge time investment. Now I’ve finished that and handed her care back to her family.
I feel like I haven’t been able to get traction in my life for a few years. Like I’ve got no purpose. I don’t hold down jobs anymore like I used to because I can’t stand people being horrid to each other or abusive work cultures (huge job Australia).
Feel like life is meaningless, and 2019 has to be meaningful. If I can’t have a family of my own (can’t afford adoption or donor) then I have an abundance of time and effort to invest. And need to do so in something meaningful.
I’m exhausted. And I eat it down. So the spiral goes…
Where do I even start?
I need a good job for income but at 46 while not on benefits, panic at the thought of going into the workplace. I have a small business in web design and biz consulting but haven’t put huge amounts of effort in to get it going, but I’m better.
Nothing lights me up: ‘Happy Xmas’ they say – dead inside, means nothing. ‘Happy Birthday’, same thing.
All my friends have kids. Mentions of two new babies Xmas day, a third one announced last week.Two of which are women my age – hits hard.
How do I find traction again? I used to live in Europe, travel the world, be adventurous and now, nada.
Hi Kate – I’m sorry to read how lost you are right now and I remember it well, and see it a lot in many of the women I work with. As you’ve realised, it sounds like you’re grieving which, although it sounds like a bad thing, is actually the path back towards meaning. It’s the way our psyche makes sense of a painful and unalterable reality. I would really recommend reading my book and seeing if you can find (or start) a Gateway Women Meetup near you (we have them in many cities across Australia), and you’ll also find a lot of support in our private online community. I’m so glad you’ve found us, and all the resources I’ve created for you over the last 8 years – dive in, drink deep, work out what resource serves you best at this time and by this time next year, there’s every chance that things might look different for you. I know that’s not the magic wand you’d like, but if you can honour and support your grief rather than seeing it as something that is getting in the way of the rest of your life, it will lead you there. I hope that your health challenges ease soon too. That’s a lot of shitty things life’s been throwing at you. Hugs, Jody x
I’m so glad I found this site. In my late 30s and in relationship going nowhere fast I came to the conclusion that I’d never have children. Which hurt. Then my best friend announced she was pregnant and behaved as if she was the first person ever to be so. She had a tough pregnancy but thankful (and I am truly thankful) everything was OK and she now has a lovely healthy baby. But she was a giant pain in the backside and every conversation from when she announced her pregnancy to now three months after his birth has been about her and her baby. I was constantly consoling and showing (genuine) concern. However two things really upset me. The first was when I arranged a small meal to celebrate my 40th birthday with mutual friends. A few days before she asked me to be her maid of honor at her wedding and I offered to arrange a small hen do for her. Her response was that she’d use my birthday meal as her hen do, and still said she’d do so when I reminded her that I’d arranged it to celebrate my 40th birthday. She didn’t tell some friends until the meal that she was pregnant and the conversation, unsurprisingly, was all about her baby and her forthcoming wedding. I’m not surprised our friends all wanted to wish her well, but I was upset that both her and our other friends couldn’t be bothered for even a few minutes to celebrate what to me was a milestone event. The second thing that upset me was that my friend decided to post the news that the baby had arrived on Facebook, so I found out from somebody else. I know she would have been exhausted, but she still managed to text friends not on Facebook with the news and I’d been worrying about her, as I’d not heard from her for a couple of days and she hadn’t replied to my messages. It’s like because I’ve not been through a pregnancy or had a baby neither me or my feelings are worth considering. I now also seem to see pregnant women and people pushing buggies everywhere and I’m fed up of it.
Dear Suzy – I’m so sorry that your friend has been unable to keep space in your head and heart for you and your life. I’m afraid it’s terribly common in female friendships when one becomes a mother and one does not — as long as our society privileges motherhood as THE achievement for women, it seems that some women let it go to their head and forget that all they are doing is what all mammals do! Yes, motherhood is important – to that woman’s child and to the continuation of our species (and individual cultures), but there are many other ways to contribute to life and society other than motherhood. One only has to look at how differently men behave around fatherhood – can you imagine a man boring and overtaking every conversation with his childless male friends about his baby? No, because it’s ONE ASPECT of his experience and life and NOT the most validating to his peers. (Not to underestimate the pain of involuntary childlessness for men, nor the fact that it is becoming more common for young fathers to be baby-bores too!). I would really recommend that you educate yourself about the ideology of pronatalism, which is the one that is exalting your friend and crushing you, and also that you find yourself some new, awesome childless friends to balance out this friendship! Read my blog on “10 Steps for Healing from the Heartbreak of Childlessness” for ideas about both and, when you’re ready, do read my book. The early 40s, when one has one foot in hope and the other in despair around motherhood can be very hard – so don’t suffer alone – let your childless sisters support you. Hugs, Jody x
I spent my 20s in graduate school, during which time I was diagnosed with endometriosis and another painful chronic condition. My partner at that time did not want children, and I was ambivalent (it felt like a moot point with everything else going on.) I finished my degree but couldn’t get a job in my field, and found myself single again without any idea what I was going to do with my life. And still ambivalent about children. I wasn’t sure I would be able to take care of myself, let alone a child, and could not imagine myself as a mother. Not long after that, I married another man who did not want children, and I was comfortable with that. We have been married for 20 years, and while I don’t regret our choice, I am starting to struggle with the idea of growing old without children. My mother died recently, and I have been trying to support my father emotionally through the loss. I held his hand while we sat in the hospice and watched her dying. Now I wonder what it will be like for me and my husband, both emotionally and practically, who is going to hold my hand when I am facing such a loss?
Hi Leslie – the issue of ageing without children is a very scary topic and one that few are willing to discuss. Quite often what one might hear are bingos such as, “Well, I didn’t have children so that they could take care of me when I’m old!” or “Well, lots of kids don’t take care of their parents you know…there are no guarantees”. To the first, my response is, “I hear you — so what steps are you taking to make sure that isn’t necessary?” (Queue tumbleweed!) To the second, “The data doesn’t match this urban myth – very few children do NOT get involved with their ageing parent’s care, even if it’s something as simple as helping them to manage household admin, etc”. And this is why I was one of the founding member (and until recently, a board member) at http://www.AWOC.org (Ageing Without Children), the only org in the world advocating, supporting and campaigning on this issue. Do join, do get involved – this is a huge issue for our generation and together, we can change the way we age. Hugs, Jody x
I wanted and still want a family and children but everyone I have dated didn’t seem to be a right ‘fit’ – not wanting any more children, or aren’t ready to ‘settle down’. I’m 32 and counting for crying out loud. Working in an environment that’s predominantly women, most of which are mothers, isn’t helping. Even living with a family who have children aches. My younger brother is 26 and married with a child. I mean what’s wrong with me? Sometimes I yearn so much for a child that I want to do anything to get one. Venting to friends and family who don’t get it is not helping. I feel like I’m just spinning around in circles because the one thing I want I cannot have.
Hi Kilz – thank you for your comment and I’m so very sorry to hear that you are struggling to find a partner who is ready to have children. It’s so tough that this is outside your control and very scary too. I really hope it works out for you. Hugs, Jody x
I want to have children and be married but my past relationships didn’t work out. I couldn’t control these things but I’m sick and tired of extended family criticizing me for being an ‘over educated artist’; I’m not selfish I want a family very badly and I feel down whenever I’m misunderstood.
Hi Leah, the judgements of others are very hard to bear, when our internal reality is so very different from the one they ascribe to us. Families, sadly, are rarely the place for understanding around this! I do hope you can join our private online community or get to one of our meetups where you can be heard, not judged. Hugs, Jody x
“Fixes instead of empathy” – that’s exactly why I feel isolated right now. I’m in my early thirties with “unexplained infertility” and everyone around me seems more uncomfortable than I do about it. I have received literally every piece of advice on earth about conception over the past four years, and yet I never asked.
The fact that I (at least right now) have chosen not to engage in fertility treatments seems, to the outside world, to mean that I just don’t want it that badly. My life must be sad and empty-but while there are certainly “down” times, it’s really not.
What I’d love from my peers is the understanding that my life is full and busy, even though I’m not carting children around to activities; the understanding that sometimes I might need to send a gift to the baby shower with my regrets; the understanding that, maybe don’t ask me about it. I don’t really want to talk about it, except when I do…it’s a whole thing.
But yes, I do want to hold that baby :p
Hi Sarah – Brene Brown said to me in answer to a question at a talk that “infertility and childlessness are the number one area of human empathy failure”. It’s not just your friends, it’s pretty well much everyone… One of the things that’s helped me, and others, is to stop expecting understanding where there’s none likely to be forthcoming and instead to seek that need to be understood from those that have walked a similar path. It doesn’t mean our friends and family don’t love us, or don’t care about us – it’s just, that with a few glorious exceptions – they don’t get it. Hugs, Jody x
hi Jody: I am so glad I found your site.
I’m a 43 year old woman. I didn’t want kids until i met my husband 5 years ago. Actually, come to think of it, I went out of my way to AVOID having kids before I met hubby. (We have a good marriage btw). My husband definitely does not want kids. I realize it’s getting to be too late for me anyways. I don’t like the idea of *raising* a kid.. all those stories about parenting today makes me want to throw up. Otherwise, I have a rich life between work, hobbies, friends and travel.
Some days, when colleagues at work talk about their family lives, I feel incredibly sad. Though, when I dig deeper and inquire about their family lives in more detail, the “cozy family life” can be pretty miserable! Though, I know quite a few women who do not have kids.. and that number is growing. I should also mention that I know a number of divorced women with 1 adult kid and their lives are similar to ours. Just because you have an (adult) kid, doesn’t mean they are part of your life. It’s a sobering fact that is helping me cope somewhat.
I’m going back and forth between the bargaining and depression stages of grief you talk about in your book.
I am a 62 woman who had an abortion at 16 years old. I never was able to have a child after this and had 4 or maybe 5 miscarriages in my 20s and 30s. For years while trying to conceive and carry a baby to full term my life was miserable. It dominated my life for over 10 years. After a while I was able to come to terms with my situation and no longer felt pain when the subject arose and could look at babies without wanting to burst into tears. However recently the feelings have returned and have been dominating my life. I suffer from depression and had to visit my GP today as a matter of urgency. I poured my heart out to her and told her about the pain of childlessness returning. She was very kind and said the mind is a strange thing. I wanted to join your Gateway website but thought I might be too old as I am not trying to have a child or trying to come to terms with childlessness. I have been through those times but I am shocked at the recurrence of those terrible feelings. I cannot believe that after 20 years they are back. Thank you for what you are doing!
Hi Lindsay – I’m so very sorry that the pain of your childlessness is still so fresh in some ways. Sadly, time does not heal grief; only grieving heals grief. Gateway Women has members of all ages from their 20s to their late 60s and early 70s, and you are very welcome here. I’d really recommend joining our private online community to get the best empathic support. Grief is patient and wise and it waits for us until we have the support both within and without to heal – it seems this is your time. As you say, you’ve done a lot of the ‘work’ already around acceptance; perhaps now you need some company to help you understand ‘why now’? Many of our older members come to us because of the grief resurfacing as their peer group become obsesses with grand-parenting and there’s a sense of, “Oh no, not this AGAIN!’ Hugs, Jody x
(PS: Chapter 12 in my book is also about ageing without children and dealing with grandchildren grief, so maybe that might help too?) x
I’ve attempted to share here a few times and not felt able. I’m 37 and divorced. My partner of two years told me about a year ago he didn’t think he wanted children but said he would give it more thought as it just wasn’t something he’d considered before and he’d never really been in a solid relationship where it was a likelihood. I decided to let it lie for a bit as he reiterated he was not ruling it out. A few months back things came to a head when I discovered my egg count is quite low and I have quite severe subclinical hyperthyroidism. The doctor advised time is not on my side and start trying straight away. Since then my partner has veered between saying no and that he hasn’t made his mind up yet. He knows it’s tearing me apart and says he feels very guilty and sad. I can’t sleep, I cry all the time. Tonight I am meant to be at a dinner with two friends who are both due in the next couple of weeks. I felt unable to attend, even the email about it upset me. I often have to miss things and make excuses because I find them too painful. I’m an envious of people all the time and then I feel guilty about that. I tell myself these mothers and pregnant ladies are better than me and that I am worthless. I know it’s not healthy but it’s better than being outwardly angry and bitter. My options seem to be stay with him and forget a baby which is unbearable or leave him and try to have a baby with a sperm donor which would be difficult as I could barely afford one go let alone several as my ex husband kept hold of all our savings. I feel powerless. I know at 37 I will probably make some people angry because it’s still within possibility but if you don’t have a lot of money your options are limited. I feel defeated. I have asked my partner to come to couples counseling several times as even if we have to split it could help us but he won’t engage. Thanks for listening.
Dear Lisa – I’m so sorry to hear that you and your partner are not able to agree on having children and I can quite understand how upset you must be. What comes through most in your post is your powerlessness over something so very important to you and I really feel how hard that is. It sounds as though in many ways your partner HAS decided already AND that he also loves you, which must be incredibly painful for you both. This is a situation many other women have been in and it is possible, if you choose to stay together, to work through the pain and grief of childlessness and come out the other side as a couple. However, for that, he will need to engage with the process emotionally too. I really hope for both your sakes, and whatever the outcome, that he does so. Hugs, Jody x
So after many shopping trips to Sainsbury’s I became quite annoyed yesterday: Till lady, “Have you got kids? Do you want some Lego cards?”
No I do not I thought. And I’ve complained in writing to them to retrain their staff as this is such a personal question. Other sentences should be used or wait till someone asks for them via advertising. My daughter passed at 3 days old owing to clinical negligence in a top London training hospital; they admitted liability straight away. 9 years later still no children, and at 44 I now have given up. Just little things niggle me but ideally the staff should not ask this particular question and need to more mindful, that not everyone has or can have children!
Hi Charlie – I’m so sorry to read that you lost your baby daughter and that you are now coming to terms with childlessness. I agree that an awful lot of ‘standard practice’ in sales and marketing needs to catch up with the fact that motherhood is no longer ‘the norm’ for at least 20% of women! I would suggest writing to Sainsbury’s marketing department and letting them know how this impacted you. The more of us that speak up, the better. Hugs, Jody x
I don’t know if I’m eligible to join your community- I’m infertile as a result of severe endometriosis. Nine years ago we adopted a baby. We didn’t know at the time but he’s got significant problems – autism, ADHD and developmental trauma. He’s very demanding and controlling and takes up all my time and energy. But the future I dreamed of in terms of enjoying parenting, feeling connected to a bigger community, and being part of something bigger for the future has gone. I feel as though I’ll always be mourning the loss of my fertility but neither can I try and make the best of the relative freedom afforded by childlessness.
Dear S – I’m so sorry that your experience of adoptive motherhood is so hard and that your son is struggling too. Whilst your experience would not fit within the ‘main’ Gateway Women online community, we do have a ‘Gateway Women Adopts’ which is a support community for those childless women who’ve gone on to adopt. Because the grief of biological childlessness is not necessary ‘cured’ by adoption. I really feel for you as something that adoptive parenting CAN indeed provide are those things you mention – being part of the community of mothers etc, and it seems that right now that’s something that also feels out of reach for you. If you’d like to join our ‘Gateway Women Adopts’ community, please apply to join the ‘main’ GW+ Community and mention on your application form that it’s only the adoption community you’d like to access. Hugs, Jody x
Hi Jody – I am a man. 56. No children. Currently single. It hit me later than I assume it hits childless women, but about a year ago it finally sank in that I would not have a child. All my life I assumed I would be a father and have a family. It didn’t happen. I have been in very deep grieving for the past year. I mean, very deep. Depression. I don’t see any end to it.
I have gone to a couple of therapists, but the fact is that they have no idea what to say to a man my age without children. My sisters can’t identify with my grief because they have kids. I don’t know any other men like me. I am very isolated and alone in my grief. I identify with the women that talk about how painful it is to see families, to see friends have children, and to see friends have grandchildren. I know that pain. I feel it every day. It is so painful for me that I find myself avoiding any situation I can that involves families.
I stumbled on your site. It is admirable that childless women have formed a community through your web site. The problem is that men do not do this. We suffer alone. We are stigmatized for not having children and hide I guess. As is so often the case, women are in the lead.
Have you considered allowing men into your tribe. I don’t know if the genders experience childlessness differently or not. But I do know how painful this is for me and that I identify with the quotes (and comments above) of childless women. I am sure there are many, many men like me, who feel the pain of childlessness and are suffering in silence. If you’d like to keep this only for women, are you are aware of anything similar for men?
Dear Mark – thank you for your comment and I’m sorry to hear that you’re struggling and that you’ve also failed to find what you need from therapists. I did consider creating a sort of ‘Gateway’ for men but after reflection and consultation with childless men, I’ve come to understand that this would really need to be created and led by a man. There are men and organisations beginning to develop this, although not nearly enough. You might be interested to know that it’s World Childless Week next week (10th-16th September) and it includes a day of programming called “Men Matter Too”. You might also like to explore the articles and resources that I am aware of, and which you can access on the ‘Resources’ tab of this website called: Resources for Childless Men You may be particularly interested to explore the work of Dr Robin Hadley (who’s included in the resources section) as he’s a colleague of mine the leading voice in male involuntary childlessness, which is his experience too. Hugs, Jody x
Hugs to you Jody for reaching out & starting Gateway! At 62 I still feel the pain & loss of losing twins after IVF. My husband left me as he wanted children …Now he has 5 and oh, how I hope they are naughty & expensive! Moving on in life I have always felt like a ship at sea with no steering… feeling unfulfilled & not finding love again. I have managed OK & now with breast cancer (managed) I hear all the stories of children, grandchildren, holidays together weddings etc… The pain & loss has come back to haunt me …Just now a new direction, thank goodness for you Jody… I will embrace Gateway -Women with both hands & eyes wide open!
Dear Bronwyn – I’m so glad you found us! My heart broke when I read that you lost your husband as well as your babies… and I’m not surprised that these losses still need loving attention in order to be grieved fully. You will find a wonderful community of sisters here, particularly in our private online community, ready to support you as you embark on this new direction – and this time, no longer alone. Hugs, Jody x
Where can couples without children go on their summer holidays? We’re in a rather family-friendly hotel at the moment…
Hi Kirstie – that can be tough! I know that some travel companies are waking up to the idea that not all adults (including parents!) want to spend their holidays surrounded by children. In the UK, Warner Holidays have ‘adults only’ holidays and if you search “childfree hotels” you might find some elsewhere. However, that’s not going to change your experience today… For which instead I send you a hug (and recommend you join our online community, pronto!) Jody x
Ive been married to my husband for 16 years now and have never had the joy of becoming a Mum. We realised we had issues after not getting pregnant after 3 years of trying, we started to have tests done but as my husband had been married previously and had 2 children he became resentful that the problem might be with him. We got to a stage where to save our marriage we had to stop these tests and just ‘hope for the best’… So here we are 16 years later and I still have no children and basically just want to know how to come to terms with it. We have a good life, but this keeps on rearing itself for me and I feel unable to speak to my husband over it.
Hi Debbie – thank you for your comment and I’m so sorry that you don’t feel that this is something you can discuss with your husband. Whenever something important is ‘off the table’ for discussion in a relationship, it can make ‘moving on’ really complex. I would really recommend that you join our private online community where you’ll be able to explore this issue confidentially and with a group of wise and empathic women who will help you to work out the best way for YOU to move forward. Hugs, Jody x
It is nice to share with people who won’t judge me, and I can finally get this off my chest. I am only 27. My husband and I got married just last year. I love him so much. Before we got married I didnt think I would ever want kids, and he definitely does not want them. But now I have had a change of heart. I don’t want to leave my husband, but it is such a big thing to give up. Im not sure if I’m able to have kids (fertility problems run in the family). But even if I can have kids I don’t want to leave him. I am just trying to figure out my Plan B life and hopefully get through this endless depression.
Hi L – I’m sorry that your ambivalence around not wanting, and now wanting, children has placed you in such a difficult situation. It’s one that many other women (and men) have experienced. I would really recommend the work of Anne Davidsman, a ‘Motherhood Clarity Mentor’ and her book, co-written with Denise L. Carlini, “Motherhood – Is It For Me? Your Step-by-Step Guide to Clarity”. You can find out more about both at https://www.motherhoodisitforme.com/ Ambivalence is MUCH more common than most people realise and has deep roots. I wish you the very best in finding your way through this. Hugs, Jody x
My name is Donna – I am 59. I was on fertility drugs in my late twenties/early thirties – I needed the drugs to ovulate but they caused multiple births and miscarriages – five pregnancies and five miscarriages no later than three months in. I’m in a bad place still at 59 – I realize I can’t get pregnant, but for thirty years I have been sealing my sadness and anger… I need to fix this, I have the best husband but men are different!!! I need to join a group and I’ve had no luck finding one in the south shore area of Massachusetts … can you help me?
Hi Donna – thank you for your comment and I’m so very sorry to hear of your multiple miscarriages and your continuing grief around this. As you’ve learned at great personal cost, time does not heal grief, only grieving heals grief. I have a few recommendations for you:
We do have a meetup that meets in the Newton/Boston area of MA – that’s your closest and it’s hosted by one of my trained Gateway Women facilitators and you will be in very good hands. Step one is to join the Gateway Women USA Meetup Group and then keep an eye out for the Newton meetup – it’s irregular but feel free to message the host through Meetup, Wendy A, to find out when the next one will be.
Hugs, Jody x
Hi Jody, I turned 40 this week. Have had 3 Miscarriages and 3 ectopic pregnancies. Decided to put an end to this misery but as you very well know it is not an easy decision. There is a lot of social stigma against women like me in india. Looking for like minded women. I see that this community is not very active in India. I live in New Delhi and would like to host a meeting.
Hi Sophia – I’m so sorry for your losses and yes indeed, ‘deciding’ not to continue trying for a family and emotionally coming to terms with it are two VERY different things! It would be great if you wished to host a Gateway Women meetup in Delhi. If you were to join our Gateway Women India Meetup Group, and then email email@example.com to let us know you’ve done so, we can then help you to get the meetup scheduled. Hugs, Jody x
I came across Gateway and this site today- thank you Jody. This is just what I need- At 41 and childless, searching for a purpose brought me here. Your empathetic responses move me.
@Sophie- am in Chennai,India and completely ‘get’ the child obsession. Hugz and here’s to bonding, rediscovering the power in us abd being happy
It is with eyes full of tears that I write. This is a difficult way to go through life and I am hopeful that this site will help me in any way. It has been many years of watching others enjoy the family life of ups as well as downs. Mostly thru an enjoyable profession, I’ve been able to make it work. But in my 60s I’m now faced with the hurt all over again. Watching others enjoy their family as well as weddings and grandchildren is almost more than I can stand. Do you know as any meet up group in the st augustine/Jacksonville area. Thank you.
Hi Donna – I’m so sorry to hear that you are experiencing a second wave of grief. I’d like to suggest a few things: that you check out the work of Ageing Without Children in the UK (I was a founding member) at http://www.awoc.org – and if you are on Facebook, they have a very strong private group with many US member. Also, I’d recommend checking out Gateway Women’s private online community at http://www.gateway-women.com/community – we have plenty of members in their 60s. And also, if you join the Gateway Women USA meetup group and are willing to host a meetup in Jacksonville, we can help you get that going. You might also like to know that there’s a Gateway Women Reignite Weekend happening in Baton Rouge this month and I think the support and solidarity of your childless peers would be a great comfort right now. There’s unlikely to be another one in the US till Summer 2019 so do grab this chance to attend! Hugs, Jody x
Hello Jody and Donna,
I have been following Gateway Women for some time now and happened to see this post. I’m also in the St. Augustine/Jax area and would be interested in meeting with Donna to share our experiences. Perhaps even discuss a meet-up group. I don’t know if there’s a way to privately send my email to Donna – if yes, please let me know.
Hi Debbie – if you could email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’ll connect you by email. Can you also join the USA Meetup Group (if you’re not already a member). Hugs, Jodyx
How can I initiate the start of a gateway women meeting sote in Naperville Illinois, currently there is one in Chicago. But Naperville is a large city and its midway for more south West locations of Illinois. Can you ad one in Naperville?
Hi Susan – if you are willing to be the host of a meetup in Naperville, we’d be happy to add it to the calendar. To do so, please email our acting community manager Lauren at email@example.com with your meetup ID number and the date, time and location of your suggested monthly meetup and we’ll get it added! Thank you and I look forward to hearing how it goes! Jody x
Hi, I am in Australia, found your site …this is so demoralising. I wondered where my misery was coming from. Am tired of struggling with there is something wrong with me… Its childlessness..probably. I’m 54 and had the saying to myself when things were bad..its OK, one day I will get married and have children….but it is over. That is so blatantly a reality that can no longer happen, nor pull me out of whatever misery I feel. I’m not sure what to write. Taking pills for life issues is not a solution. They do not change anything but make you feel worse. Doubting g myself is getting useless. Thank you for the site, I have read a number of the write ins and your replies but there is no relief yet for my feelings. Kind regards, Nina
Dear Nina – I’m sorry you feel so bad and I want to let you know that you will feel better again one day – but that it’s going to take more than browsing this website because what you are experiencing is grief. I would strongly suggest 3 things:
1. Join our private online community at http://www.gateway-women.com/community
2. Read my book and do the exercises http://www.gateway-women.com/book
3. Join (or start) a local Gateway Women meetup. We have them in many cities across Australia: http://www.gateway-women.com/meetup
Although none of these actions in themselves are some kind of magic, having the support of others going through this (and some, like myself, who are out the other side) will be of comfort, support and inspiration as you find your own way through this dark night of the soul.
With hugs, Jody x
I am 44 years old now. I also have Polycystic ovarian syndrome diagnosed at age 24. I am almost certain I was pregnant briefly while dating a guy, but likely miscarried within a month. I never went to the doctor, because I was ashamed of having sex before being married and what my family would think. Never told anyone about this. Kept it a secret. I got married to another man at age 25. He didn’t want any kids. At first, it didn’t bother me until a couple of years later when I started trying to conceive without him knowing. That was after I found out about the PCOS. I needed medical help, but he refused to play a part in it. I decided and went through with a domestic adoption. Three years later, we got divorced due to infidelity by him. I met a wonderful man in 2012 who fell in love with my adopted child. I was 38 years old, and he had a vasectomy and hypogonadism and some other minor health issues. He and daughter have taken to each other, and he is my soul mate that God placed us together. I thought I would be over not having biological children until I started going through menopause this past year. I was placed on 60mg of Prozac,so I can function. I am a registered nurse and have been one for just over 20 years now. I am praying, working through this grief of not having a child of my own. My mother found this website for me. Even though this is painful, it’s likely a blessing in disguise since I carry some bad genes. My mother is type 1 juvenile diabetic. It skipped me. There would have been a very high probability that I could have a child with diabetes and other serious medical problems. I am happy to see you have overcome your grief. I believe with time,I will too. God is the ultimate healer. He is the one who healed my heart going through my divorce so I could learn to love again and be strong for the adopted daughter I have. God is the great Physician and Healer. I found the most difficult thing in my faith is to believe, trust, and wait upon the Lord. God is good all the time. We may not understand, but He has the perfect plan for us. I know yielding to Him will help my heart to heal. Also, having the chance to fellowship with a group of women in the same boat will help too. This is something no one should endure alone.
Hi SW – thank you for your comment. It is something that is rarely spoken about, that adoption does not ‘cure’ the grief over not having a biological child. That grief still has to be grieved too, it is a separate issue. You will notice that I have edited your comment (and name) to remove certain identifying details of your life situation and your adopted child’s sex and age as this is a public forum and I wanted to protect the child’s privacy. There is a place for those discussions, which would be in our private online community rather than on a public and searchable website comment. I do hope you understand. Hugs, Jody x
Erm, hello there. Is there space for childless transgender women in this community? Childlessness amongst the women of our community seems to be an issue that is rarely examined or discussed. I have been trying to find support over the last few years, especially as people my age begin expanding their families, but there’s not much out there.
Our stories are somewhat different, perhaps, but many of the same themes around grief and loss emerge, whilst being compounded by the transphobic nature of many societies. At the same time, some of us likely feel unable to express these feelings in infertility fora because a major piece of that story is obviously missing–can’t very well undergo invasive fertility treatments if you literally don’t have the right parts.
Dear Exiled – Thank you for your comment. My aim with Gateway Women has always been to make an inclusive space and your voice and experiences is welcome here. Becoming childless not by choice and being stigmatized for that identity blasted my heart open to see how many ways we ‘other’ each other in our culture: race, sex, gender, sexuality, ability, class, body types, citizenship status, nationality… the list goes depressingly on and on. I can appreciate how very painful it must be that this aspect of your experience is not ‘seen’ and I hope that we can support you with that here. Hugs, Jody x
Thank you so much for your kind words and your commitment to building an inclusive community :). I am very appreciative of your work because it was through GW that I even learned that I’ve been experiencing grief for the last…15 years in some fashion or other. Being able to name that emotion has been crucial to begin healing and coming out of the exile I’ve felt trapped in. At any rate, I reckon I’ll be in contact to establish an account. Thank you again for all your labour around this often painful and difficult journey that we’re on.
I enjoy reading the e-mails sent. I am 58 never married and in my 20’s I became pregnant by a guy I met at a bar. I worked in an office environment where people with kids had partners married or not. This guy even stated that he didn’t want kids now. I wasn’t financially able to support a child on my own so I decided to abort thinking I would have another chance because I was still young. As years have gone by I did regret my decision and have never met someone that I could tolerate enough to even try!!
I know someone who had 3 abortions and still was able to marry and have two healthy children. So I don’t think I should have been punished.
I didn’t want to have the child go through what I had gone through not having enough food to eat and things like that.
I know I would have wanted another child and be able to give birth, maybe I could relate to all the grandmothers at work who all they talk about how fulfilling their lives are with grandchildren! It seems they love their grandchildren more than their children!!
Hi Nadine – thanks for commenting and I’m glad you enjoy my monthly emails. I too had an abortion in my early 20s and though I don’t regret it (it was the right thing to do for me, and the child, at the time) I never knew it would be my one chance to become a mother. I don’t see our childlessness as punishment for our abortions because, like you, I also know of many other women who have done the same (often more than once) and have gone on to become mothers. Like you, my decision was a maternal one, based on whether I would be able to mother that child in a way that was adequate and I wasn’t able to. So I consider that my decision then, and my choice not to have a baby in some of my subsequent relationships, was a deeply maternal and loving one. With one in three women having had an abortion in their lifetime, and yet 3 or 4 out of 5 women becoming mothers, the idea of ‘punishment’ doesn’t stack up! I’m sorry that you are now on the recieving end of grandparent mania having got through the motherhood-mania years! I’ve found that now that I’m through my grief, such stuff doesn’t trigger me anymore. Bores me, yes, but it’s not so painful anymore. I hope that you too will find your way to more peace. I suggest it might start with forgiving your young self for her very responsible and maternal decisions. You might like to watch this video interview I did on this topic for more support. Hugs, Jody x
I have been looking for something like this website for quite some time. I´ve been thinking to myself I needed a role model to deal with all this personal subjective mess, and I am really thankful I might have found many role models around here. I really feel younger women should get to know more about life beyond fertility and not have to go through all the pain we have to cope with because we weren´t taught the right way soon enough. I think that even when there´s still hope of being a mother, we should be allowed some peace of mind in case we should not achieve it. Every girl should learn to admire and respect “childless” women around them, to the point of making impossible for them to feel frightned of the possibility of being one of them for any of the possible reasons. Girls should grow up knowing about the real possibility of not being a mother even when it´s not her choice. I STILL HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO TOWARDS ACCEPTING LIFE AS IT IS AT THIS POINT, but the message here is really comforting. Thank you.
Hi Ana – I’m so glad you’ve found us too. We have a long way indeed to go towards honouring and respecting women in so many ways, motherhood/non-motherhood being one of them! I agree that young girls (and boys) also need to be taught that parenthood is an ‘if’ not a ‘when’ – for many reasons – and that you don’t need to be a parent to be a fully qualified member of society. That was conferred to you upon birth and is not dependent on becoming a parent. I think you might really like the role model gallery I’ve been curating for the last several years – 600+ women without children both contemporary and historical at http://www.bit.ly/gw-rolemodels
Hugs, Jody x
Hello, I’m so glad I found this site, I was beginning to think there was nobody who could understand. I’m 31 and I’ve always dreamed of having children, I’ve been with my partner for 16 years now and according to him having children is just not possible due to our finances. I wouldn’t want to bring children into this world if I couldn’t afford to look after them but I think we could do it, we both work, but the extra cash is going into our mortgage deposit fund at the moment, and we aren’t even half way there yet. All my friends have children, my cousins children are now having their own children and I can’t help but feel left behind, like it somehow makes me inadequate as a woman. My partner says he understands but sometimes it makes me question the point of my existence here. I love him so much, we’ve been through so much together and I don’t want that to have been for nothing but now I feel it’s like a huge wedge coming between us. I know some of you are thinking you are only 31, but when I see my friends teenagers messing around, I feel like my life has been on pause and I’m scrambling to catch up to get this seemingly impossible dream. I feel my clock ticking, I want my parents to be grandparents as they would be so amazing, their younger siblings (my aunties and uncles) are all grandparents now, and although they say they’re too young to be grandparents, they aren’t, both nearing 70. I’m passed panicking, it’s causing me to be so sad and teary everyday. I try to distance myself from my friends and their children now as it makes me feel so sad.
I have been in a couple of relationships where I had to leave because I had to honor myself and what my needs are. I learned I cannot stay in a relationship and say but I Love him so much and not take care of myself first. Never have I looked back and thought I made mistake in leaving. If you feel you need to have children and it is important to you then do the right thing for yourself. I waited to long to find the right Man and then I had Cancer and lost my ability to have children and would give a million dollars to go back and redo and make better choices for myself and not waste my time in this life on love for someone and not considering the love for myself and what would make me fulfilled.
Hi Diane – I’m so sorry about how things worked out for you. Those ‘what ifs’ are a natural (if incredibly hard) part of the grieving process. Childlessness due to cancer is something I’m hearing more and more about, and it’s so cruel that you lost your chance to have the family you dreamed of, and made so many hard choice for, this way. Hugs, Jody x
Dear Katie – whatever your age it’s so hard to feel that you are being left behind. I agree that now that you are in your thirties, things are becoming more urgent. Life is long, but fertility is short. Perhaps your partner is unaware that not all women can conceive right through their thirties, and even into their forties? (I certainly wasn’t, and the media paints a very unrealistic picture of fertility!) Perhaps finding some data about fertility (both male and female) and sitting down to discuss how it would be for you both if you were unable to have children at a later date is in order? However things work out for you both, I wish you all the best. And know that should your family building dreams not come true, you will survive that, and that there are other ways to create a meaningful and fulfilling life. Really. Hugs, Jody x
My story is so very similar to yours. I am also only 31 years old, married for the last 12. My husband and I talked about having kids at some point, but we wanted to wait a little while. But “a little while” then turned into him saying we just couldn’t afford to have a baby and me arguing that people much worse off than us were doing it every day, you just have to be willing to work for it, but he’s not…
At this moment, 2 of my 4 closest friends are pregnant and it is ripping my heart apart to have to struggle with being happy for them. I feel like such a terrible friend and I feel so broken and alone. No one around me seems to understand. All I get are comments like “there’s still time for him to change his mind,” “accidents can happen,” “just poke a hole in the condom, he’ll get over it,” and “you’re still young, don’t be silly.” My feelings are pushed to the side like they aren’t real and so I stay quiet and fake smiles but cry in the shower or while driving down the road.
I wish I could share in the joy of my friends’ pregnancies but I can’t seem to work through my own grief. I’m glad I’m not as alone as I feel…
I feel the same Katie. I am 43 and met my husband late – we wanted children and tried for just over 1 year but it didn’t happen, so we had fertility treatment. I had 1 round of IVF and it didn’t work, so they told me that the only way I would have a baby would be if I tried egg donation. So so we went for it; it was a hard decision but I so wanted a baby. We went to Spain for the treatment, lots of stresses in it all, but I didn’t really care at the time because I so wanted this baby. Anyway, after the treatment we came home had to wait 2 weeks to find out if it had worked,and it had, and I was over the moon, couldn’t of been happier. But after 8 weeks I was told that I’d lost the baby, I was told I’d miscarried and my whole world had fell apart. Up till now I am still so depressed I just can’t find a way to be happy any more. Every day is so hard. We have no more money to try again even though I would love to, I couldn’t go through all that heart ache, it would kill me. So, at the moment, I am just trying to take every day to accept that I will never be a mother and that is the hardest thing ever. i just want to tell you my story after reading yours. I hope you find Peace!!
Hello. This is my story and I am hoping to find some support and hoping that some here might be able to relate to my situation and without judgement.
Is anyone here in a relationship where the issues of having difficulties to conceive lies with one partner due to their chronic illness?
I have been with my fiancé for 4 years and he has end stage renal failure and is now doing dialysis treatment 3 times a week. He has been doing haemodialysis for almost 2 years now. I was 34 and him 36 when we met and for the first 2 years of our relationship we had our freedom, had normality, no dialysis. Things were great and they were the best two years of our lives and I knew he was my forever one. We got engaged and made plans for the future, including having a family.
In 2016 he was suddenly told by his consultant that he will need to start dialysis and life for us is now so very different to what we planned and wanted it to be. I didn’t cope very well with the changes at first, the loss of freedom to do what we wanted. It felt like our future plans were all shattered, especially with having a family. I was in absolute despair about it and I sank into a deep depression.
I am now 38 and still no children as fiancé has such a low sperm count and our chances of conceiving naturally are practically zero. He has had 2 semen analysis done, both very low results. We have explored IVF but it’s not affordable for us and doubt they will accept my fiance due to his condition. I love him with all my heart and there is no one else in this world that I want to marry and have a future with, have children with, but he is on the transplant list and who knows how long he will be waiting to get a transplant.
Words cannot describe how much i love this man, and i made a choice to stand by him and support him through his illness, however, I thought i had come through that really dark phase of frustrations and sadness and every other emotion that comes with this situation… and for a while i thought i had found some acceptance that if I want to be with this man then I’m never going to have normality or children. But I don’t think I have fully grieved and accepted it at all. I really crave normality and being able to do the things that couples in love tend to do in life… but mainly, I am struggling to accept that I will never be a Mother whilst I’m in this relationship.
Recently, I have had all the tests done which results have all been fine, plus I have been pregnant before years ago when i was younger, though i was not in a loving or functional relationship at the time so I did not take that pregnancy to term, which reflecting on now, I look back on whether I had made the right choice, finding myself in the situation I am in now. Could that now have been my only chance gone?. Will I now have to live with that regret?
I just feel so utterly torn between my relationship and my decreasing fertility… I’ve recently turned 38 and i can’t wait much longer if I’m going to have kids. I am in absolute turmoil about this. Should I stay because I do love him and want him, but then should I leave to give myself the best possible chance of motherhood and meeting someone else? However, of course, there is no guarantee that I will meet a suitable someone else anyway, especially now at 38. But what if…
Hi Michaela – what a tough situation to be in – my heart goes out to you. It’s absolutely not for me to say whether you should stay or go but I can feel how this is tormenting you. We have many members in our private online community who have wrestled (or are wrestling) with the same dilemma, and it’s a private place where you can open your heart and be heard. I’d really recommend you come and join us over there, away from this public page. Hugs, Jody x
I started menopause at 36 so unfortunately it didn’t happen for me. I was so into my job that I thought I could have children in my late thirties not knowing I would have early menopause.
Hi Kymberley – early menopause is hard for any woman, but especially hard for involuntarily childless women of our generation, because in previous generations women were more likely to have had their children younger. I highly recommend the work of The Daisy Network who support women with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), often also referred to as Premature Menopause. https://www.daisynetwork.org.uk/
Hugs, Jody x
By the time I manage to divorce I was 40. It took another 8 years to find my darling husband. It was too late for both of us. So sad.
Hi Eva – that timing is tough to live with. My heart goes out to you both. I’m glad you’re here and I hope we can help you navigate your way forward. I do recommend my book (and not just because it’s my book!) as it can really help. Hugs, Jody x
I need to rant so thought this might be a good place… my sister-in-law is pregnant at the age of 46!
Hi Kirstie – er – blimey! A ‘miracle baby story’ in the family. It’s going to be a long slog… do come and join us in the private online community – I think you’re going to need a more private ranting space from hereon in! Hugs, Jody x
I’m from Switzerland, 37 years old (soon 38), and discovered Gateway Woman today. I’m so glad I found this site… I’ve been in a relationship with a wonderful single Dad for three years and I also had a really great connection with his little daughter. And I always thought that one day we would have a child together, but a couple of months ago he told me he couldn’t imagine having a second child. I was horrified. I loved this man so much (well I still do) but I had to leave him. This hurts so bad, because I’m not sure if I’ll find another love in time and maybe I also have to let go my dream of having a child on my own… I’m happy with my job, my friends and my life in general but I’m going through the toughest time of my life… So glad, I’m not the only one…
Dear Elisabeth – I’m so very sorry to hear of the pain that you’re in. Leaving a relationship for the hope of a baby ‘one day’ with someone else when time is already not our friends is so very hard. And the alternative, staying in a relationship with a partner we love who already has children and doesn’t want more is… very hard. There’s no easy way out of this one and I’m not surprised you are having such a tough time. I’d really recommend you join our private online community as this is an issue many of our members have dealt with or are dealing with currently and we can support you. You might also like to know that we have Gateway Women meetup groupsthat meet monthly in both Basel and Geneva, which you’d be welcome to attend. So glad you’ve found us and I hope we can help you find your way through this part of your life feeling a little less alone with it. Hugs, Jody x
Was Du da schreibst, habe ich exakt genauso erlebt. Mit einem Mann und seiner kleinen Tochter zusammengezogen, es lief nichts mehr zwischen uns und irgendwann eröffnete er mir, dass er – anders als vor dem Zusammenziehen noch angekündigt – doch kein zweites Kind haben wollte, daher auch die Abstinenz. Ein Riesenschock, ich blieb bei ihm, wir waren ja erst zusammengezogen und für seine Tochter war es ja auch wichtig, Familie zu erleben. Ich dachte, er lässt sich noch umstimmen. Dann wurde die Stimmung immer schlimmer zw uns, er beendete die Beziehung schließlich (ich konnte mich nicht durchringen), das war 2015, inzwischen bin ich 45 und mir ist klar, dass ich kinderlos bleibe.
Ich wünsche Dir viel Glück, Du hast noch viel Zeit!
Das tut mir sehr leid für Dich… es hinterlässt einen so hilflos. Ich empfinde es auch als grosse Ungerechtigkeit, dass Männer in dieser Sache keinen solchen Druck haben wie wir Frauen. Auch wenn es für die Männer sicherlich auch nicht einfach ist und oft auch mit schlechtem Gewissen gepaart ist, wenn sie den Kinderwunsch nicht teilen. Ich kann auch gut verstehen, dass Du Dich nicht trennen konntest. Es fiel mir auch unendlich schwer, da wir eine sehr schöne Beziehung hatten und ich mir sehr sicher war, den Richtigen gefunden zu haben. Aber irgendwie hat es mich auch verletzt, dass er sich das nicht mehr vorstellen konnte. Zumal er ja schon ein Kind hatte, also nicht generell keine Kinder wollte. Das hat mir letztlich geholfen, loszulassen. Wer weiss, was es mit der Beziehung gemacht hätte, wenn ich geblieben wäre. Momentan habe ich gar nichts, keine Beziehung und kein Kind. Aber ich will auch nicht in einer Beziehung sein, in der ich keine Perspektive habe, das finde ich persönlich noch schlimmer. So habe ich wenigstens noch etwas Hoffnung 🙂
Ich weiss nicht, wie heute Deine Gefühle Deinem Ex gegenüber sind? Aber ich finde, Du verdienst jemand, der 100% ja sagt zu Dir! Ich wünsche Dir von Herzen, dass Du den findest. Meine Freundin bekommt übrigens gerade mit 45 ihr zweites Kind…
Dear Elisabeth – thought this might be of interest to you – it’s in German:
Hugs, Jody x
Dear Doda – thought this might be of interest to you – it’s in German:
Hugs, Jody x
I’m 30 years old, I have polycystic ovaries, bicornis uterus, apparently only one of my ovaries work (I can get pregnant but in a very long time apart) and I’ve lost 2 babies, one at 2 months pregnant and a baby girl at 5 months pregnant (oh yeah! I have thrombosis also! My own body attacks my babies). I’m really going out of my mind. I really feel I won’t be able to have children, EVER, and life is just against me becoming a mother. I’m so afraid of getting my heart broke again, I’m sick and tired of people telling me “my time will come”, “stay positive”, “its not a competition”, “you have to chill.” How the hell could I be positive or chill?! I can’t even sleep without having nightmares. I think nobody gets it; nobody gets what it is to give birth to your dead baby. I feel so depressed and so negative about my life. And the sad part is, I’ve really tried. I have a good job, a wonderful husband, family and friends, but nothing is complete in my life right now. I should now be taking care of my baby girl, and instead I’m feeling awful and watching all my school friends and family members getting pregnant… with their second child!!!!! I really try to make my peace with God and with life, but lately, I just don’t feel in a very “faithy” kind of way. I don’t know if i should keep trying or if i should just quit, because I don’t think I could handle another death again. Everyone tells me to be patient… I sure can’t!!!
I’m 38years old. I’ve been married since I was 24. I love my husband. Diagnosed with poly cystic ovarian syndrome at 22. Have struggled with my weight, currently 5 stone overweight. Decided to wait to have children. Didn’t seem to be any rush! Got to 30, thought now is the time! Husband was made redundant, needed to carry on working. Husband got new job, got pregnant, overjoyed! Miscarried at the new year. Fell into depression, so did my husband. My husband lost his job, I needed to keep working so we wouldn’t lose the house. 3 years on, my husband is in a new job after retraining again. I’ve got chronic anxiety. My husband is very hard working but the recession hit his field hard. People keep asking me when I’m going to have a baby! Sick of the whole conversation. Mother in law is the worst, she has told me it is my ‘Christian’ duty. Get jealous all the time, have to cover for my younger, pregnant colleagues all the time. I’m very good at my job! Have had multiple rounds of CBT just to feel like a worthwhile person. I’m lucky my husband appreciates me and my own parents understand. Why others give no credence to what I have achieved I don’t know. Being a Mother appears to be the only way to have value.
Hi Rachael and thank you for commenting. I am so sorry at how life has got in the way of you and your husband having a family. It must seem so unfair that having been fiscally responsible and ‘waiting’ to start a family, others who get ‘whoops’ pregnant end up having more ‘value’ as adult women… I’m so glad that your husband and his family are so understanding and supportive. I’d really recommend joining our private online community for support – it really helps not to be on our own with this stuff. Hugs, Jody x
Just to clarify, my parents have been great, very supportive. My husbands mother, less so. The love and support I have gladly given her son seem to have counted for nothing. It has been very hurtful and difficult. My husband has challenged it, argued with her, but I don’t want him losing contact with his mother. Life eh!
I’m afraid the lack of support around this issue can often come from those we’d hope to get it from. I’m glad you’ve had support from your own family. Your husband’s mother is not unusual in her behaviour, sadly. Hugs, Jody x
I’m turning 40 next month. Single, never married – not even close. Always wanted kids but never found the right person. Also adopted so I don’t even have the biological parent-child experience on the other side. I love kids and have a lot of compassion for people, but sometimes I get angry or frustrated when I see mothers and their cute babies or families. It’s hard to accept that if it hasn’t happened by now, it’s probably not in the cards for me. I feel bad that I never gave my aging parents the grandkids they always wanted. My dad used to give me grief about it, but now they tell me they have accepted that I never decided to have kids. This also hurts because it wasn’t a conscious choice, it just never happened.
Hi Enceladus and thanks for taking the time to comment. 40 can be such a hard birthday to cope with when childless and single. I’m so sorry that you didn’t find the person that you wanted to start a family with. It’s hard too that you have not been able to give your parents the grandchildren they longed for. I hope that you can find a way to explain to them one day that childlessness chose you and not the other way around. Hugs, Jody x
Hi. A few years ago I was in a violent relationship. One day I was beaten so badly that I lost my baby. I was 4 months along at the time. Today being Mothers Day brings thoughts about my loss to the forefront of my head. I was devastated. Still am. I am so scared that these feelings will never go away. I was even more devastated when I was told I could not have another baby. The damage to my body was horrendous. Will I ever be able to move on?
Dear Charlie – I am so sad to read of your horrendous experience and your devastation over this trauma and its lifelong consequences are terribly sad. I’m not sure that we ever ‘move on’ fully, but we can learn to integrate these losses into our life so that they no longer dominate our experience. Joining our supportive online community would be a good start and you might also find seeking out trauma therapy very helpful too. I had a great experience myself with Somatic Experiencing therapy as a way to shift old trauma. Hugs, Jody x
I thought I was alone feeling like I do but I’ve just found this page. Age 42 and never lucky enough to have children. My husband left me because of it a few years ago and my new partner recently ended our relationship because I don’t have children so he decided that I didn’t fit into his life with his child as well as a parent could. Constantly told by friends or family that I don’t understand because I don’t have kids and having to stop myself shouting out ‘no you don’t understand because you do’. I hope this website will help me realise that it’s not me or my fault and I can’t wait to be able to move forward without the pain and upset it causes me.
Hi Lou – I’m so sorry that on top of your own pain, those around you are judging and misunderstanding you because you aren’t a mother. People can be so thoughtless about how hard it is to be childless not by choice. Do consider joining our online community as a way of ‘moving forward’. We get it. Hugs, Jody x
So pleased I have found this website! I am 41 and found out I was unable to have children 15 mths ago. I had been trying for 3 years. I have never fallen pregnant and have had no accidents in the past so it was a bit of a gamble of knowing whether I could or couldn’t. My partner is 8 years younger than me and has been amazing throughout our journey and we remain together since.
I was originally offered one fertility treatment, IVF, but was told that at the time that the drugs I would have to take would probably do more harm than good to my internal system as I had a very slim chance of falling pregnant and would more than likely miscarry. After hearing this outcome we decided against this option as we both thought at the time we had been through so much with waiting to be referred/appointments/endless blood tests – the upset mentally and emotionally that to fall pregnant and possibly lose a baby would be all too much. A decision not taken lightly..
I went back to work the following day when I found out my results. My partner said it was for the best to keep in a routine. I look back now and think it possibly wasn’t the best idea as I needed time to grieve and I probably still do.
I am now at a point in my life where I have kept busy/avoiding social gatherings and any form of conversation that involves any sort of family talk. I feel like an outsider. In fact I have become more of a hermit. I don’t know where I fit in and I don’t know what i’m doing with my life/career wise. But all I know is I need to keep going…
I look back at my 30’s and think where did the time go. I was with someone for 5 years during that time and in the end I left him (which was the hardest thing I had to do) because he wasn’t sure if he wanted children. Then 3 years later he was made a father! I just wish I had met my now partner so much earlier. It’s so strange how life pans out! Thank you for listening.
Hi Eliza – I’m glad you’ve found us too! It does indeed sound like you’re grieving, which is a natural (and healthy) way that we adjust to a devastating loss. I hope that you find the articles and resources here helpful. I’d really suggest you check out our private online community – it’s a very special group of kindred spirits who will travel alongside you as you find your way in “life/career wise” as you say. No small task! Hugs, Jody x
Hi Jody – i really thought I was alone in this journey til just a few minutes ago when I found your talk with Christine Erickson. To Not have had children is a grief that just feels too heavy to hold some days for me. Catastrophic even. Well, I was happy and relieved to see I’m not alone. It’s such a comfort. Thanks you rock! X
Hi Alison – finding out you’re not alone in this is the HUGEST relief, isn’t it. I will always remember the first comment on the very first blog that I published in 2011 and thinking and what a relief it was to be heard. Hugs xxx
Totally understand what you are going through. I hope we can all help in here.
So I tried to have a baby and it didn’t work. I am single and spent all my money on sperm donors. I didn’t know it would be so hard to conceive. We are so scared in our 20s to get pregnant and I was so careful. What a waste. Thanks for the video. I know I am not the only one after reading through this
Dearest Mona – I’m so sorry that you haven’t been able to conceive. Those people that blithely say, “Oh, you should just have a baby by yourself” have no idea how many women have tried, like yourself, and it didn’t work out. I’m so glad you’ve found us. Hugs, Jody x
Had been single for a long time then last Feb I met my current boyfriend. I turned 40 in July and although having a baby is something I want more then anything in the world I obviously wasn’t going to push it onto a new relationship. Today we were talking a bit about our future and he told me he wants kids, but not for another few years. I don’t have that kind of time! I’m already 40 and who knows if I even can. He’s wants to stay with me but isn’t sure what will happen down the road. Haven’t been able to stop crying. I feel so broken.
Dear Mary – this is so very painful, I’m so sorry. I can completely understand why you are heartbroken. Unfortunately, the reality of female (and male) fertility is not one that is yet taught in schools and the media give a very unrealistic expectation of what is possible in our 40s, so men (as well as women) often don’t realise that ‘another few years’ isn’t always possible. Perhaps your boyfriend is unaware that male sperm declines dramatically with age and that for men 40+, chromosomal abnormalities in sperm are one of the factors implicated in the high rate of miscarriage for women over 40? Charlie Chaplin and Rod Stewart are outliers, not templates. If your boyfriend wants to ‘wait a few years more’ is he aware that this might mean childlessness for him too? Here is an article which although the study was on IVF patients, does explore the decline in male fertility. It’s obviously early days in your relationship, but late days in your own fertility (as you are painfully aware), which makes all this very fraught so I’m not for a moment suggesting that waving this article under his nose is going to make things magically easier… Perhaps the one thing that really might help is the understanding and empathy of women who’ve been in your situation, so I’m really glad you’re here with us. The pain of straddling both the ‘still hopeful’ phase and the very real possibility of childlessness is excruciating. With hugs, Jody x
Found this website from the BBC website. I’m 39, single and childless. The childless part is the one that bothers me most when I do think about it.
Some people’s attitudes is probably the most challenging. It can be uncomfortable for them if they can’t fit you into a category. I’ve got round that by being outspoken when the questions start. I’m keen on reclaiming the word ‘spinster’ (I’m not ready to stop spinning my thread yet).
Regards the children aspect: most of my close friends have husbands and children. You get used to no longer being a priority (family comes first). I’ve carved out a new role of being the break from the norm for them (and at times rescuer during difficult times). It’s funny how envious others can be when you tell them you’re going home to a quiet house where you’ll choose what you want for dinner and what you want to do for the evening.
I’m blessed to have nieces and nephews and I’m a significant part of their lives. I’m not sure how I would have coped without them. I’ve always been strongly maternal. I wrote a piece of school work at 13 that my goal was to have several children. Most were shocked that my sister went that route instead. It’s just the way things work in life sometimes.
Outlook and attitude is vital to how we see ourself and who we are. Having children doesn’t define you as a person, nor does being part of a couple. Giving to others and enriching yourself (emotionally and socially) goes some way toward a feeling of satisfaction of a life well done. I like to travel (solo) to experience as many different places and peoples as I can. I do feel an ache in my heart at times that is baby shaped but pets help!
I found your site several years ago when I was seriously considering if life was even worth the living.. Since then I have read your first book- several times. Jody – you are truly a life saver – thank you for your passion and compassion. I am 44 and hope many others discover optimism once again
Hi Jenny – I’m so very glad that this site and my book has been a support to you. Crossing this life passage has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I wanted to make sure that others didn’t feel so alone in it as I did. Thank you for your words of appreciation, they mean a lot to me. Hugs, Jody x
I just purchased your book several days ago on line and am waiting for it to arrive in the mail by next week. Anxious to read it
HI SW – It would be great if you could come and join us in the private online community so that you can share more privately the issues in your life. We also have a community for childless women who have adopted (or who are thinking of adoption). I do hope you find my book helpful. Hugs, Jody x
Hi. Heard your interview & about this site on bbc radio 5 live. Is there anyone on here who cann’t have children because of the condition turner syndrome?
Hi H.B. – there possibly are but they may not have mentioned something so private on a public website. These kinds of conversations tend to take place in our private online community. Perhaps you’d like to join us over there? Hugs, Jody x
I’m really struggling just now and I couldn’t have found this site at a better time. I feel so isolated and the whole situation has been having a major impact on my mental health and my self esteem.
I have always had gynae issues and having had multiple procedures/operations over the years I had my tubes removed when I was 31 as all the scar tissue and adhesions had damaged them badly so I knew I’d need IVF.
I am now 41, I have been with my wonderful fiance for almost 6 years and we have been on our fertility journey for almost 5 years now. In that time I was diagnosed with a large ovarian cyst, a year later we were referred but I was diagnosed with early menopause (and relatedly osteopenia of the spine, so I started HRT – it took over a year of hell to find the right one for me). Then we went on a waiting list for donor eggs and in the meantime had 3 attempts with a private clinic (to no avail).
Eventually we were matched with a donor but only 1 egg fertilised (as it turns out, my partner has fertility issues too) so all our hopes of funded treatment were resting on that 1 precious embryo. It then took a year, 2 attempts at treatment, an operation and a 3rd and final attempt to eventually get the embryo transferred in November. Those were the the most exciting and hopeful 2 weeks of our lives but needless to say, given my presence here, it didn’t take. I feel ashamed of my inability to become a mum and I feel like my life has been on hold for the want and trying to start a family. All of my friends now have children too so that just makes it all the harder.
I’m emotionally exhausted by the whole situation and my body feels like it’s been through the ringer with all the treatments. On my worst days I feel like I can’t keep going with this journey, that it might be easier to just accept our fate. I just can’t imagine my future without children though and that thought scares me more.
I’m sorry if I’m over-sharing, but I’m at the stage now that I’m desperate for connections with people who understand what we’re going through and I sincerely hope I’m in the right place. Any guidance of where to start with the website, or indeed any other help, would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Becky – Thank goodness you found us and I’m not surprised you’re emotionally exhausted honey! You’ve come to the right place to find connections with women who ‘get it’. The best place for a confidential conversation where you absolutely don’t have to edit your thoughts or feelings is over at our private online community. Hope to see you there very soon. Hugs, Jody x
Hello, am glad to find this site. I am 40 and through decisions i now regret, I have lost my last chance of having a child. I feel very frightened of what will become of me as I get older and I feel such sadness that I will be unable to experience motherhood. It’s something I’d never thought I’d be able to do due to issues I have with my self esteem and mental health and now it is too late. I look forward to using this resource in the hope that I can start to see my later life being something I can try to enjoy and not full of regret and mourning.
Hello, I read your comment – I can’t have kids either – so sorry for your loss
I ordered your book a few years ago after my 2nd miscarriage. I work in an office of new/ expectant mums. I recently just lost my 3rd after making it to 5 months. Your book gave me resilience during my most difficult months. East coast of Canada needs you or one of your sisters!!!! I cant find any meet ups east of montreal…. what about Halifax? ??!
Hi Erica – I’m so sorry for your loss – that sounds very hard INDEED. so glad you’ve found us. We do have a meetup in Toronto, but perhaps it’s inactive at the moment? I’m training someone who lives in Toronto to lead the Gateway Women Reignite Weekend and so that will be running in the Toronto area for the first time next Spring. If you’d like to email me at private [@] gateway-women.com I can introduce you to her by email as she also organises the Toronto/Barrie meetups. Hugs, Jody x
(PS – also join our mailing list at http://eepurl.com/rfSvT so that you’ll be the first to know when workshops near you go on sale).
Just found this site in my lunchbreak and I am so INCREDIBLY RELIEVED THAT THIS EXISTS. Like a new universe – can’t wait to explore this. Thanks.
Hi Kata and WELCOME! I’m so glad you’ve found us too! I created Gateway Women because when I needed it, it didn’t exist. There are many wonderful women and great resources here for you to explore. I really hope it helps. Hugs, Jody x
How do i connect up to this group in Australia? Joined meetups but nothing there?
Hi R – you’ll need to join the Gateway Women Australia Meetup Group – it’s a private group so seems to be hidden from searches. You’ll find it here: http://www.meetup.com/gateway-women-aus
Hugs, Jody x
Can you please set up a group in West Palm Beach, FL USA and/or a retreat here in the USA?
Hi Jenny – I’ve literally just returned from the USA (with the jetlag to prove it) yesterday. I ran my Reignite Weekend in Colorado, as well as speaking at the NotMom Summit in Cleveland. However, you’ll be pleased to know that there will be more Reignite Weekend’s in the USA in 2018. The best way to be informed when they open for booking is to join my monhtly mailing list here http://eepurl.com/rfSvT
With regard to starting a meetup in West Palm Beach, can I recommend that as a first step (if you haven’t done so already) you join the Gateway Women USA Meetup Group and then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you to get a local group going.
Thanks so much for wanting more of GW in your life and I hope we can make that a reality for you soon.
Hugs, Jody x
Wow others like me. I have sent a comment but the computer played up so I could not end with my name.
It is wonderful to have this site as women who have children have no idea how sad lonely and how on the outer I feel at times with family with nieces and nephews. Husband feels the same but does not voice it. Men don’t.
I know I will have feedback soon. It is wonderful to talk to others who know how empty we can feel even though we have other purposes.
Hi Elizabeth – it’s great to have you here with us. I created GW so that others wouldn’t have to go through this alone, as I did. Welcome xxx
Thanks so much for putting words to my feelings. It’s certainly the big unacknowledged issue for women of our tribe. I’m now 55 and remember clearly the end of a relationship at 42, thinking “this is it, I’ll never have kids” and grieving privately about it, maybe sharing a bit with one friend in similar circumstances. I coped by putting my energies into friends’ kids and being the best Aunty I could be. Recently my niece said she and her brother were like “the kids you never had”. I thought my feelings of exclusion about my childlessness had ended as friends’ kids became adults and less involved with parents on a daily basis until the whole thing started again with grandchildren. Grrrr. Good news is that last year I married a man with 5 adult children and 2 grandchildren. He tells people we meet that we have 5 kids; it’s very inclusive and the best alternative I could have anticipated, but not the same as my own child.
Everyday since google era started, I search the web for any subject.
Only today this one,
-‘not going to have a child subject’, hidden beneath for 5 years, examined from all possible angles that are accessible from an inner-monologue viewpoint-
made it into the search line.
Thank you Gateway Women!
It will be so refreshing paddling in your swell, so freeing surfing your waves.
Silverlaketales, I LOVE your words. You sound like a great and creative WRITER. I joined the Gateway WWOC in Cleveland, Ohio in March, 2017 and it has made quite a difference in my life. Until then, I have NEVER had anyone to talk to about this “childless” thing. I have however, found that we have OTHER gifts to be thankful for, and beholding to. Hold on, help is on the way.
thank you for your kind words and reassuring me by telling me about the possible change. It is time for me to talk, so I will delve into the gateway community in the coming weeks. Greetings from South Australia to Cleveland!
Am Natalie, 41 can’t have kids and am struggling so much. Everywhere I turn friends, family always about kids and I feel like an alien sometimes. Some friends I don’t believe are good mothers but who am I to judge what do I know…Really struggling at the moment – any advice thank you.
My friends say, ‘OK Nat, you can’t have kids – sick of hearing about it – get over it – foster or summit!
Any advice still waiting x
Hi Natalie – the best way to get support would be to join our private online community. http://www.gateway-women.com/community
You can also browse the many blogs, articles and resources on this website to see if something resonates with you. Hugs, Jody x
Hello Natalie X I’ve just read your post after finding this superbly promising site for women in the same heart wrenching situation as myself. I’m struggling too. In fact, I’ve only just stopped crying. I’m sick of crying now and contemplating various options available to the sad, lonely, eccentric, isolated woman such as myself, who feels that there isn’t much point carrying on with this life as I have no real purpose.
I’ve found myself secretly judging women who are pregnant with their umpteenth child and clearly aren’t a good mother to the existing kids. But these kids love their mums. So who am I to be judgemental. Another thing I scorn myself about.
It’s time to start living and I too, need advice, friendship from women who are in a similar situation and basically …. I need to start living again.
Stay in contact… Claudia x
I’m 39 and after a 10 year relationship where I was asked by my partner to wait and wait and then wait some more, they finally left me explaining that they loved me but didn’t want kids. That person knew from day one that I did want kids and let me hope and hang on for over a decade before leaving me out of the blue. I would have moved heaven and earth for this person but found out shortly after that they had been in love with someone else for over half the time we were together. I am trying to forgive this person but I still have a long way to go. I hate them so much for lying to me and not giving me the chance of finding someone sooner who actually loved me and wanted a family. In the meantime I have a new relationship. We have been together for about a year and a half. This person loves me and I love him and originally he seemed very enthusiastic about becoming a dad, but since I have come off birth control he has been suffering with low sex drive and other related issues and now I can’t even joke around and flirt with him without him feeling pressured. So I don’t try and pressure him or flirt. I just try to be supportive and kind and try to make his days as stress free as possible. But time is running out for me and I don’t think he minds not having children based on how indifferent about the subject he has become. On the few occasions we talk about how depressed and unhappy I am he panics in case I leave him but then things don’t change. He isn’t the type to ask for help himself so the chances of him getting professional support are practically zero. I get so many mixed messages from him that I don’t know what he wants any more. I just know he doesn’t want me to leave him. I don’t want to leave him either. There is no guarantee I would find someone else who wanted kids and I would have hurt and pushed away the person I now love. But I feel like my heart is breaking. I know I have to come to terms with the growing likelihood that I will never be a mother, but when I consider it I feel like I’d rather not be here any more. I’m afraid of hoping for much longer because the more time I avoid accepting it, the worse it will be.
Jodi, I just discovered this website after spending time w/friends and feeling left out.
Reading your entry I discovered many similarities in your situation to mine. I too was promised a family only to have to wait because of my husbands career. His lack of sex drive and the promise to have children led him to feel pressure from me. So much so he said I was obsessed w/ having sex. After that announcement I gave up “asking”.
I go back and forth lately trying to come to terms w/the reality I will not have children. I trusted in a partner and believed them and am now 43.
Thank you for sharing
I can relate. My first husband did the same thing. I nearly left him a couple of times, but I wanted that family. I secretly tried to conceive naturally for nearly a decade to find out he was cheating on me after we successfully adopted a child at birth. We divorced 3years later. He never wanted to be a Dad. I regret not leaving him much sooner. I was married to him ten years and he left me for another woman! I always dreamed of a child of my own, but it didn’t happen. The adoption did help. I was turning 40 when I met my current husband. Couldn’t ask for better! He’s eight years older than I. Had his family in previous marriage and had a vasectomy. I came to terms–so I thought—a long time ago that I won’t have biological children until I started going through menopause this past year. I am 44 years old now.
Hi I’m 39 when I was 19 I was told that I didn’t ovulate. I tried 2 different fertility tablets to no avail. I have always wanted children and am absolutely devastated that I can’t. I have developed a phobia of pregnant women and small baby’s over the last 20 years to the point they make me feel physically sick. I know this is my minds way of dealing with the grief and the jealousy I feel when I see them. Over the years I have had some really close friends but lost them due to this phobia, they don’t understand and think I should just “get over it”. I barely saw my sister’s while they were pregnant and dreaded them coming round with the baby. My mother used to force me to hold the baby’s thinking it would help…. It didn’t it made me feel worse.
After 2 failed marriages I have finally met a great man who having had children previously didn’t want anymore. He has grown children though who are now starting to reproduce….. I’m dreading seeing them when they are past the 6 month stage in their pregnancy.
However, last year I started a new job. I met a woman who fell pregnant. I tried to explain to her about my phobia and not to take it personally if I didn’t want to work with her. She listened to me … the first person ever …. she did everything she could to make me feel comfortable and when it got to the stage where I couldn’t bear to be around her she made it better. I don’t know how maybe because I felt listened to and able to talk to her. She encouraged me to work with her and told me to just look at her face. I even hugged her once and she turned sideways and put a bag between us so I wouldn’t feel the bump. Thanks to this girl I have made big steps (to me). I actually held a 4 month old baby for at least 2 minutes before giving her back.
I may feel stupid with my phobia at times, I may feel really depressed but I felt so proud of myself that day. I know this doesn’t mean I’m over it. I know this doesn’t mean I’m going to be able to do this with other women and their babies but I do know with the right circumstances and approach I don’t have to always be the freaky woman who doesn’t like pregnant women and babies. I know I have a friend who understands and supports me who wants to be there and help where she can. For that I am so thankful.
I will always be childless but hopefully with time and understanding I will be able to enjoy the grandchildren my husband brings me.
Hello Valerie, thank you for sharing your story, you are very brave and totally inspiring! Your friend is an angel sent to help you in my mind and you have been willing to be helped too, that is so wonderful and lovely to know you are on the road to less suffering and more joy. I wish you all the very best for a bright future. Kirstin
People don’t understand, they avoid us. Infertility & childlessness become the elephant in the room. I read your story and cried because your colleague showed you patience, compassion & understanding throughout her pregnancy which is amazing and in my experience rare.
LT, you just said it best as the elephant in the room. As if not being able to have kids wasn’t hard enough, my husband and I feel like we’ve lost all our friends who opt to spend time together with their growing families. They’ll have group suppers with all their kids and we aren’t invited to anything anymore… too awkward for them I guess? Funny because I wouldn’t go anyways for fear of falling into an emotional pit so far it’d take me weeks to climb back out of. You seem to find out who your true friends are when dealing with grief. I feel like our whole life is difficult right now…
Hi, I’m 29 years old and right now I am childless and I feel like it’s never going to happen since it hasn’t happened yet. I feel like I’ve cursed myself by always saying “I don’t want kids” when people would ask me when I was going to have children – I would say it but always in my heart I wanted children. It is like a knife in the heart every time I see someone with a baby bump or announcing a pregnancy, like why can’t that be me ya know? Last year I just knew that I was pregnant, at least I thought so – well one of my coworkers come in and she tells me that she’s pregnant and I find myself happy for her but also sad – but it prompted to test which was negative and everyday I had to watch this beautiful thing take place Nd smile and pretend to be so happy for her when all I wanted to do was cry. And now this month another coworker tells me she’s pregnant 🙁 and I’m so happy for her but I’m hoping this test I take in a few days brings me good news because God knows it sucks to have to act like I’m okay when I’m not. I just feel like time is ticking away. Idk maybe I’m overreacting
It’s interesting that you did not include couples who cannot afford having children…so many complicated reasons but still somewhat devastating
Jody Day, you are an inspiration, I’m doing the 30DC, I’d started a project for a community of women and seeing your interview this week blew me away! Would it be possible to have the honour of having you as my first interview in the blog? In case this reply is published, and for anyone who reads: I happen to be a (late) mother, by choice I’d have been an earlier one a mother to more, I share life stories with many of you who are no-mo by chance, I’ve discriminated against and considered “suspicious”. I fully support the choice of no-mo too and stand with you all in support. We women are discriminated and misrepresented for so many reasons that it’s starting to look like excuses. I just would like you to know that I relate, I care and I support you. And I’m sure there are millions of yes-mo like myself out there, ready to stand with you to fight discrimination, even if we can’t share and accompany your life experiences all the way. With love and respect,
This is the only site I ever see that speaks to me or doesn’t make me angry. I am a 38 year female… only 39. And as down as could possibly be. Not married, no children, no anything. Thought I did a lot of things right. It is so difficult living with a constant grief, chronic sorrow, lost dreams, and not much I look forward to or that brings me joy. I’m so sick of being a constant spectator of everyone else’s life, without a family of my own. I live life, am physically fit, physically and mentally strong, best shape of my life actually. I volunteer, have a gazillion friends, social, active in my community. But I do all of it aching and without any joy in my heart. I am depressed, but I get so angry when anyone tries to write it off as a mental illness. I am NOT. I tried antidepressants, counseling, and all those things too in the past, and it did NOTHING for me. In fact, it all just made me feel worse. The therapists would bounce me to doctor to give meds and the med drs would bounce me to the therapists. Because it’s not my brain chemistry that is off. I am unsatisfied, not content, living a life that was my worst nightmares come to life.
A parent is allowed to mourn the loss of a child. I have divorced friends who fall into a dark place whenever their kids are not with them. They HATE being home when their kids are not there. But I’m supposed to feel great about going home to an empty house every night. Or coupled friends invite me over to “hang out” so I don’t have to “be alone,” promising they don’t act “all couple-y.” Gee thanks. I like my own company. I am independent and am not afraid to be “alone.” I actually prefer it to doing stupid things to “keep busy.” I don’t want to “keep busy.” It’s exhausting. I wanted a life of my own. 🙁
Jobs, friends, volunteering, fitness classes – it’s not the same. It doesn’t give me a full heart. I cry every single day. I read books. I try to practice gratitude. I try to live in the moment. But I do everything with an aching heart. I feel like other people got lives and families and my joys and happiness are reduced to things like “my body feels good when I step out of the hot sun into air conditioning.” Not quite doing it. But maybe I can pop a pill and feel better about it.
Sorry. Thanks for everyone sharing their hearts. This is very, very painful.
I’m 37. Divorced. My husband told me after we dated for 10 years and married for 1 year that he didn’t want children and never wanted to marry me. I have so much shame and pain and feel so incredibly stupid to be where I am now. It feels like this awful, painful limbo. Do I try my damnedest to get pregnant alone, spending a ton of money, even borrowing it? Or do I accept that I’m single and it is what it is and maybe I’ll meet someone one day. I’ve realized in the last few years how much regret I feel. A lot of what you said resonated with me. Others who have partners and kids have little and big moments of joy and laughter every day. And friends with kids provides camaraderie. Sure there are negatives to these scenarios too, but it’s very hard to feel joy in my aloneness. I have no real deep joy. I’m happy sometimes. I can laugh. I love my family. But I wanted a family of my own. I don’t want to be Aunt Carrie my whole life. Attend my nieces and nephews graduations alone. All my friends have had their weddings and children. Their kids are all in pre-K or older. I’m trying so hard to keep my head above water. But it’s nice to know others have these feelings, too. So thank you.
Aww, Mara (and Carrie too) I hear you. I Know that pain only too well. Another single childless woman here (44 years old, though I still feel about 17 most of the time!)
Trust me, you’re not alone. There are so many of us these days. Women who longed to marry & bear children, whose dreams have been unfulfilled. It’s agony isn’t it.
I have no doubt that other people think all manner of things about me; but they don’t truly know me. Only God and I know the absolute truth of myself and my life story. I rest in that knowledge.
I often wonder who or what let me down? Did I let myself down? Did society let me down? Should I blame my parents? Or is it just one of those things? I’m part of a growing statistic. Women who have ended up single & childless not by choice, for whatever reason. I didn’t expect ‘this’ to happen to me; and to be honest it’s a bit of shock.
I often wish I’d grown up in a different century, where women were almost trained from birth to be wives & mothers. I realise that sounds shocking, as I’d be sacrificing my right to vote (for which I’m very grateful) as well as access to the NHS; and my chances of dying in childbirth would be huge. But at least I’d be a mother. So great has my desire for many years been to be a mother, that I’d be prepared to sacrifice those other things. I’m a little ashamed of that, but can’t help how I feel. I’d obviously ideally like babies and emancipation!
Anyway, I’m grieving too, so can’t give you much light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel advice; but offering you a hand-hold, and oodles of empathy xxxx
Hi Guys. I hear ALL of you. I THINK I missed being a mother. I am a TRUE believer in a “Reason and a Season for EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN”. It could be a biological reason, a timing reason, or a God reason that we do not have children. The thing is, WE are HERE for a REASON. So I figure, be positive about the gift of life, and do ALL we can for others. I believe that one of the greatest ways we can leave our legend is through both the “Written”, and the “Spoken” word. Leave timeless lessons for others to live by through our knowledge and wisdom and lessons. Go forth and learn, prosper, and have JOY. We are Gods children too.
Thanks I didn’t know this site existed – I feel better already x
I am 40 and Single. I have always imagined my life with a husband, kids and a family. At the age of 27 I broke up with my long-term relationship, which was quite difficult. However, I assumed I still had plenty of time to find a suitable partner. Aged 30 my wish for a child gradually grew stronger, but I only had short realationships with men, which unfortunaltely did not work out. For years I have been unsuccessful with online dating while my friends found partners and grew relationships. At the age 35 my wish for a child was getting stronger, but I was still missing a suitable partner in my life. Aged 36/37 I went through social freezing, luckily successful against all odds. Approaching my 40th birthday which was kind of a line for me I started feeling even more sad then before. I ordered your book, Jody and tried to work on it, but after a series of dissappointing dates, I went into an episode of major depression (my second one) which made it impossible for me to continue on that topic. I fully recovered, am still in therapy, but under a medication you should never get pregant with and even further away from it any than ever before. My chances of having a child are vashingly low, but I am not yet prepared to finally let go of it. The topic still makes me cry every time I think or talk about it. I struggle so much coming to terms with it and it is really painful. I started working on your book again, Jody and it is also good to read here that others are going through the same (@Mara, it was really great reading you post). I really would like to find a meetup in Germany, but believe there is not yet one. Could you maybe point me into the right direction to get together with local women who experience the same?
Hi Carrie, I’m 43 and wothout children, its sad, I’m trying to be happy. best wishes from UK, Marina.
Hugs to you. It felt like I was reading my own thoughts reading your post. Like you are inside my head. This is my daily experience too. It’s so heartbreaking. No one else understands. Never had a chance to be happy with anyone let alone the idea to have kids. Always been hurt and betrayed in relationships. I spent positively the worst Christmas day of my life today. On my own. I’m in my room just staring at the floor. I couldn’t even face going to see my mother – the only family I have. And my sister died last year suddenly so it’s even worse. I hate myself for being a bad daughter as I’m the only child my mother has. But I’m barely coping right now and I just can’t do Christmas. It continually reminds me of what I don’t have – what I’ve never had and now probably never will. Im 41 and last year met a man I thought wanted me and I could be happy with. For the first time in ages I allowed myself to hope children may be a possibility. But he turned out to be someone who hurt and betrayed me too. I don’t go out anymore apart from to work. I can’t cope with it. I feel insanely jealous if I hear people and family I know having babies. I feel I hate them. And I hate myself for it but I can’t help it. It’s desperately hard to the point I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up. The only thing stopping me from doing anything is my mother. I couldn’t do that to her. But nothing helps. I’ve seen councellors and they are all useless and uncaring. No clue. They have no idea what it’s like. But I just wanted to say to you that I do. xxx And I hope things change for you.
Dear High Priestess – I’m was so saddened to read of how hard things are for you now – grieving both for your sister and for your own chance to be a mother. 41 is such a hard age to find ourselves single and childless when that wasn’t the plan – I remember it very well and yes, it hurt like hell and there were days when I didn’t know how I’d carry on. I’m so glad you’ve found us here at GW and I’d really recommend joining our private online community – it’s a place of such understanding, empathy and friendship – and we totally ‘get it’. Hugs, Jody x
Thanks Jody. I will look into joining the forum- I think it would help.
This is really great to have a support group such as this. i too was childless for 10 years so i understand. Wishing you the best.
Wow this is just what I needed to read right now. Currently struggling with the possible reality of childlessness and in that nervous and angry stage of almost blaming God! I know he has made me this way for a reason… I’m just not ready to accept that Yet! I have copied this and enjoyed visiting your website.
I just have to trust God, I know I will… maybe when the time comes when I know I will live the rest of my life childless. I hate the waiting, to wonder. God knows if I will ever have children, I just wish the conclusion was clear…
But thank you for these uplifting words and encouragement, it is just what I needed right now!
https://marlenebelongstojesus.wordpress.com -EMPTY WOMB-HEALED HEART.
“There are worse things in life than not being able to get pregnant”. Who said that?! I didn’t want to hear those words and I certainly didn’t see it that way, for a very long time. Many tried to encourage me but the more they said, the worse I felt! I didn’t want to hear another ‘pregnancy story’. And everyone seem to have one to tell! Of course they meant well but it really didn’t help. I was just too hurt to receive encouragement. My wrong thoughts, poor self-image and what felt like unending heart-ache only made this situation even worse.
I had started looking at God through the eyes of my unanswered prayer and being in such a bad place emotionally, I became angry, resentful and bitter towards Him. I felt like He was just being cruel and though somewhere, deep within my heart, I KNEW He loved me, the despair was just overwhelming to the point that I unfortunately went with how I FELT instead of what I KNEW.
Thank God for His amazing grace, tender mercies, loving kindness. He never gave up on me during those difficult times. And believe me I was difficult! Now as I look back so many years later, I stand in awe of His love. I am not proud of how I handled this especially as a child of God, but I am grateful that He remained faithful when I fell apart.
On one of the many occasions I cried my heart out to Him, I had the following vision:
I was walking in a river, but against the current so it made each step difficult. The Lord was walking with me, holding my hand. I was crying profusely while we took each challenging step together. I saw tears flow down His cheek (without seeing His face) and without audible words, He said, I won’t take you out of this, but you will never walk alone.
I have since learned that having faith doesn’t always mean receiving the answer that I WANT. But I have the assurance that God would always be with me in any situation, no matter how painful. I have to trust that He knows things that I don’t. I know without Jesus in my life, I would never have been able to get past the pain of an empty womb. I am on a journey with God; healing taking place along the way. Now the most precious gift to me is my personal and intimate walk with Him. Different challenges have since come along in life but it is always comforting when I am reminded He is ALWAYS HERE BESIDES ME.
God my Father has impressed on my heart that though I may not have been able to have a child, I am still HIS CHILD.
No matter what we go through in life, not having the answers to all the WHYS is hard, but it doesn’t change that GOD IS LOVE. I assure you, He has our best interest at heart. ONLY T R U S T – EVEN WHEN IT’S DIFFICULT.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.
An empty womb – a healed heart….
I’m 43 and although I thought I managed to kind of accept my childless situation, I’m grieving terribly again. I moved to a new apartment and the owners left a wall full of photos of their little son. It didn’t take a lot to remind me of what I’m missing.
There is a part of me that still hopes that it will be possible to have a child. But I never met the right partner and my current partner has an adult daughter and doesn’t want more children.
I feel cursed by my career and dating decisions. I honestly didn’t realize in my 20s that this was really the right time to settle down. I wish someone wise had spoken with me.
I left home in my mid-20s and mostly pursued an international career. Doing work in post-conflict countries abroad, has become both part of the cause and part of the remedy for my situation. Because people in this line of work usually don’t bring their families with them, we are all without children while abroad. For me, it’s a way of avoiding the situation back home – where I am only the guest at someone’s child’s baptism, birthday, performance, graduation, etc., etc.
My friends and family have never made me feel inferior for being childless. Social pressures or expectations weren’t noticeable, maybe because I often lived/worked abroad. But the sorrow of my heart now is so great, I don’t know if the oceans can hold my uncried tears. I was drowning a few years ago, fighting depression and suicidal wishes/plans. My strategy since then has been to avoid dwelling on my childlessness because it can really pull me into a negative spiral.
Thank you Jody for talking about your experience. There is little relief in this situation, but it helps to know that I am not alone.
I will be 50 in 5 months. I am childless because of male-factor infertility. And now I am separated from him for other reasons. I haven’t gone through menopause and I get sad sometimes, even my 50 year old friend just had a baby. It’s incredible. You can have a fulfilling life, and realizing that unless I live to be 100, I have already lived more than half of mine, I have no choice but to embrace the life I have left. It has been almost 5 years since our last infertility treatment, but it still hurts sometimes.
My name is Kari, I am 40 and have no biological children. I married my husband when I was 23 and he was 38. His daughter was 11 @ the time and moved in with us within our first year of marriage. I love her dearly, but the fact remains that she has her mother. My husband did not want anymore and at first neither did I. My mindset changed, his did not. Now I’m 40 and childless and my husband clams up when I talk about it. I don’t really think any one around me gets it. My step daughter, says that I have her and I know I do, I love her and her children very much. However, it is a difference that I can’t seem to get anyone to understand.
Hi Kari – your situation of being ‘childless by relationship’ is one that many others in the private online community share. It’s a safe place to explore how hard this is and it’s where you’ll FINALLY be understood! I’d also really recommend exploring the book/blog/website “Childless by Marriage” by Sue Fagalde Lick where you’ll find lots of other women who ‘get’ this. Hugs, Jody x
My name is Sarah and I have been advised not to have children because I am in the early stages of heart failure. I am looking for a group in the USA, preferably close to Philadelphia however I am willing to travel. I am also open to chat rooms or other community based organizations.
Any advice would be much appreciated.
I’m so sorry to read of your diagnosis and your reason for not having children. That’s really hard.
We have groups across the USA and you can find out more here: https://gateway2012.wpengine.com/meetup
I’d also really recommend you join our private online community as there are women who are part of that who are in your area, but who are not part of meetup.
Hugs, Jody x
Mount Laurel, NJ
Hello Jody my name is Aprile I always wanted to be a mother my dreams came crashing down in October 2015 when I found out I had cervical cancer and had to get a full blown hysteroctemy me and my husband was trying like crazy to conceive even before him with my first husband I was trying I found out when I was 20 I had some polyps on my uterus and had those removed I tried again but no baby. Now here I am in my 40’s I can’t have any now..i feel less of a woman I am a aunt of 3 my youngest sister was able to conceive but I wasn’t every time I see someone pregnant I get all teary eyed I guess it was in God’s plan for me not to have a baby…im in Virginia I really need a support group do you know of any here in VIRGINIA USA I could possibly go to…Thanks in advance.
Hi Aprile – I’m so sorry to hear of your cancer and how it brought your family-making dreams to an end. We do indeed have a Gateway Women meetup group in Virginia. Go to http://www.gateway-women.com/meetup for more info and to join. Hugs, Jody x
I am trying to find a meet-up in Cleveland, Ohio for Women without children. Can’t seem to find anything. Help !!!
My e-mail is Donnidahlin@sbcglobal.net. Any help is appreciated.
Hi Donna – I don’t think we have a Meetup in Cleveland as yet, but we’d be happy to help you set one up. I know of a couple of other women in the area who I could reach out to who I’m sure would also like to attend. And I’m going to be in Cleveland this coming October to speak at The NotMom Summit so maybe we’ll meet then! http://thenotmom.com/ First step in getting the Cleveland Meetup going is to join the Gateway Women USA Meetup Group here: http://www.meetup.com/Gateway-Women-USA/ and then email my assistant Helen at email@example.com and she’ll help you get it up and running.
Hugs, Jody x
Have you heard Tara Henley’s radio documentary “39” on CBC(Canadian Broadcasting Co)?? You might want to tune in to it. It’s amazing how similar your experiences are to her documentary. I think it resonates with many of us.
Friday, 30 December 2016.
(Kuala Lumpur is the Capital City of Malaysia)
Hello there !
I am Melanie.
I am 57 years old, single, childless.
I am thankful and grateful for this great opportunity created via Gateway-Women to come to terms to these difficult & complex issues that surround us; & that we need to live with – daily.
I am not sure where this is leading me; but I believe this is worth a shot.
Dear Jody, I’m from Germany and I have no idea how I found you, it was probably meant to be. I thought that I had overcome my childlessness by the age of 45, almost 46 but a few days ago sadness hit me unexpected and hard. I’m in menopause for about 3 years which makes me think a lot about my life and I heard of another pregnancy of my friends wife and I broke down. It didn’t affect me the first time she was pregnant, so why now? I was really devastated and trying to find some relief so I searched on the internet for support like I did a lot of times before, only now I found you which I can’t explain because I was searching in german. At first I just read superficial because it’s a little difficult for me in the english language but after a few minutes I realized I’ve found a treasure!!! I’ve never found anything similar in german and I couldn’t believe that there are so many women feeling the same and that I’m allowed to have this feelings. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m far from accepting my childlessness and that I need to mourn or I will never be ok again. Looks like I have been deceiving myself that I was good with it, it never goes away without letting the pain out. I was in psychotherapy because of a childhood trauma at the age of 38 and it helped me very much (that’s the time I found the strength to divorce my husband who had a drinking problem) but when I mentioned the pain of not being a mother my psychotherapist said one sentence only – one can have a fulfilling life with no children. That was it! So, I thought I’m not entitled to have those feeling when even a therapist said so along with of course, family, friends, society. I felt better instantly after I found gateway but the wounds are bleeding now as I opened Pandoras box so I would ask you what do you recommend me to do because we don’t have any groups in Germany although I know a lot of women in my country are childless. I would so love to read your book, will it be available in german soon? If not I don’t want to wait so long and would get it in English. One “interesting” thing is that I have a cousin who is like a sister to me and we are very close and talk about everything, she also has no children but we’ve never talked about it. Imagine that amount of pain and shame is so big even amongst such close women who know each other their whole life! My wish is that we all would let that go and after healing our wounds stand proudly like you do Jody.
[Just to correct my name, it’s Jasna, my parents and relatives are from Croatia but I was born and live in Germany. And it’s even more difficult because Croatia is very Conservative, so I struggled there also a lot, but that’s another story…]
I just wanted to reach out and say hello – I read your post very inspirational. I have received the emails from Jody and I have glanced at them not really reading them but after reading your post about being in denial – I think tomorrow I will start to read the blogs and information on this great website. Thank you! I too want to read the book but have not made the next step of buying it. Denial does play a massive part in this journey and we need the tools to help us along the way.
I´m so glad to hear that my post was some kind of help to you and that you´ll beginn to process this overwhelming and painfull feelings. I´m also just starting and it is difficult to face it but I can tell you that I have days on wich I feel much better and then there are those really really sad and painfull days. But I wouldnt want to go back in denial where it was probably less painfull but at the cost of feeling numb. I want to have real feelings again and if it means I have to go through those other ones to be ok again it´s worth it. Becaus I know we can be happy again, although there will allways be a scar, but that´s ok to, as long as we heal our wounds. Feelings can´t dissapear, we have to bring them out, that´s what I did on my psychotherapy but I was so naive to diminish the pain of childlessness. I would really recommend Jody´s book, I bought it in english, wich is a little harder for me to read but I couldn´t wait for it to be published in german. It´s helping me so much, and I hope it will help you too on your journey.
I wish you strength in this and take good care of yourself!
Reading your post just now has hit such a strong cord with me. I’m living in Ireland and I feel like this is my story…I too went through a premature menopause at 43, I’m now 46, accepting this for me is a daily uphill battle, very though…. I hope things get better for you….
thank you for your wishes and I hope you too will get better in time and I know it´s possible though it´s not easy. I had a really bad day yesterday but I didn´t push those painfull feelings away, instead I accepted and felt them. I also gave myself promission to cry and afterwards I felt much better. It´s just so hard sometimes, as you know. I wish you find a good way to deal with it and hope you´ll have also some good days along the way in this battle we all fight!
Hi Jane & Jasna,
My story too is based on premature menopause, diagnosed at 36 I’m now 43 and still finding this childless journey a rocky road. I wish you all well and hope we can all find a good measure of peace x x x
I’m an adult female without children. I have nothing against children; I just simply didn’t want to have any, nor did my husband. Is there a place here for women who are just indifferent to motherhood, and who think a life without kids can be just as amazing and fulfilling as one with?
Hi Katy – childfree women such as yourself are very welcome here at GW, although you’ll find that the focus is more towards women who wanted very much to be mothers. I am now in such a place of peace over my childlessness that I imagine that this was how I would have felt if I had chosen not to have children… and I hope that all of us get to that place one day. However, the issues of prejudice and discrimination that all women without children (whether chosen or not) face are something that unite us, however we feel about our childlessness, and that’s something that I hope you’ll find supportive for yourself and your husband here at GW. Hugs, Jody x
Just began reading your book and this statement, “I loved my unborn children and they will always be with me, but now my life goes forward with them safely inside my heart forever” immediately brought me to tears. I don’t know if I’m brave enough for this yet…..
Happy to have found your site. I feel like more like the triple or even quadruple whammy. Did not have much of a career, did not manage to have children, did not manage to meet a suitable partner. Life has been tough.
I’m 41 and still holding out hope for all or 2/3 of those things. This site looks like it may be very helpful in finding others who understand what I’m going through. I am sorry for your struggles.
Hi. I’m 43 on Saturday and totally feel your pain. I still want children but its looking increasingly like I have left it too late and I am totally devastated about it. Feeling very low today x
Hi Christine – I’m sorry to hear that your birthday is bringing up so much pain. I would really recommend that you join our private online community where you can share in privacy and receive support from other women like us. It’s a lifesaver. Hugs, Jody x
Oh, I know exactly what you mean. I haven’t ever invested in a career, as I didn’t see the point, as I was so certain my calling in life was to be a mother (sad sigh!) Had I known I’d be single & childless by now (43) I think I may have spent more time focusing on other interests in life. A successful life in other ways would at least be a consolation, though my heart would still be broken, as a result of not having given birth.
I know I still have many things to be grateful for – my health, lovely friends etc. But there are days when I feel so full of grief I can barely breathe. I spend far too much time going over things, and trying to figure out how & when it all started to go wrong! The seeds of ‘failure’ (I hate to use that word, but it is how I feel sometimes) were sown many years ago in my case.
But the good news is – we’re ALIVE! Where there’s life, there’s hope. I think once I’ve come to terms with a few things, I’ll be able to start really living again. Still time to live a productive life. We are mothers spiritually. We have mothers’ hearts. Every time we nurture, we mother.
Keep hoping, you have a future, and your best may well be yet to come.
Take care xx
Hi Jacinta – there’s no rush honey – take your time. This is a HUGE loss to process – but you don’t need to do it alone… come and join us in the private online community at http://www.gateway-women.com/community Hugs, Jody x
Hi Jody. I was pleased to find your site over the weekend while searching for support. I’ve rather lost my mojo recently, which isn’t like me and think some of it is tied up with accepting that I’ve got to age 46 without having kids and that this option is now in the past .
Having read some blog posts and watched some of your videos, it feels like I’ve found a place that’s giving voice to many of my feelings and experiences which is such a relief. I am amongst kindred spirits here.
Yesterday I was out on a walk and I saw a canal boat turning around in the marina in front of me – it’s name was ‘Plan B.’I think that’s a clear enough sign from the universe that I’m on the right track, don’t you! I especially like that you offer hope by talking about creating a bright future without children which is an empowering and positive message.
Thank you very much for sharing your experience and offering support. I look forward to reading your book and connecting with the group in future.
Reading comments on this site makes me feel part of a larger lonely family that are not fortunate enough to have children of our own. We have been married for nearly ten years and have a great marriage but these years also include having been gone through numerous tests but story short we have been diagnosed as having unexplained infertility. I am 37 year old guy who wants nothing more at this point in life than have a daughter (or son) of my own, life feels so lonely and useless at this point with no real meaning to it. As most of the commentators on this site understand it can be so difficult to accept when siblings and friends are getting an endless supply of children. We just came back from visit to another province to visit family where we have nineteen nieces and nephews and every time it gets harder and harder for me to see this one particular 9 year old niece, she pulls on my ‘heart strings” and it certainly does not help the situation any more when she looks almost identical to my wife when she was her age, and is sharp as a tack, I have had an opportunity to spend time alone with her quad riding and walking through a mall together and chatting while my wife was shopping, during this time I begged for time to stand still so I could relish every moment that I had with her, for that precious time that we shared I pictured her for those moments that she was my daughter and I could take her home but alas that too had to come to a end. I feel terrible that I cannot feel this way with any other of my nieces and nephews like the feelings that I have for her. I had this with her since she was a one year old child.
There are times that I strongly wished that i could hug her, and just to pretend that I was her dad, but I am so concerned that I would get flack from her parents as being a ‘creepy’ uncle since they have no understanding that the longing that I have to have my own child.
There are so many moments that burn like a hot steel pin going through me longing to share moments with my imaginary daughter to go fishing, hiking, camping and reading bedtime stories to etc.
It can be so terribly frustrating watching some of my siblings in my opinion have a dysfunctional family by not spending time with there children but only to strive more and more for that great evil money…every moment that they have. Some of my family will not share there children with us even it is for an afternoon, but will tell there kids not spend to much time with my wife when they come to her like she is a magnet. it upsets us so much.
At times longing to be a dad is so strong it can feel like I am missing some limbs or something to that effect.. I can go on and on, but as we all know, no one will understand us until they themselves have or are experiencing what we are going through.
Thanks to Gateway-woman for a great website and many wonderful commentators.
Thanks you so much for taking the time to share your perspective as a childless man. Too many people appear to think that childlessness is ‘easy’ for men. However, although it would appear that men do not receive the societal shaming a ‘failed’ person that women often get (implicitly or explicitly) the interior experience of grief and loss can be equally devastating, as your comment shows.
There are a few resources for childless men and they are listed in the ‘Resources’ section of my website: https://gateway2012.wpengine.com/resources and I hope that some of them might be supportive to you in your experience. I think you might find the work of Robin Hadley (who is a colleague of mine at http://www.awoc.org so I know him/his work very well) particularly helpful.
Hugs, Jody x
Hi my name is selena and I’m childless hopefully just for now but my boyfriend and I have been trying for a year now and all of a sudden my monthly stopped and I went to the doctor to be told I have cysts in my ovaries and they treated them and for some reason they kept coming back and I started to gain alot of weight and my hair started to thin out and I started to become ready moody so I went back to my doctor and she had me do a few tests so far no good news but I’m still wanting to be a mother and be the amazing mom I know ill be one day hopefully. I would really want to know and maybe confide in some other women on how to deal with the depression that comes with knowing you may never have children and knowing some women can and don’t want them its really hard to know so.
Hi Selena – I’m sorry to hear of your problems conceiving and your ongoing hormonal issues. It can be very hard to cope with the feelings of sadness that not being able to conceive easily brings. You may find that the UK forum Fertility Friends is an excellent support and place to get both advice and emotional support. http://www.fertilityfriends.co.uk/ Wishing you every luck. Hugs, Jody x
So I was curious, and sad to see there is very little to no information about what I’m looking for.
I’m 32 and have no desire to have children, yet I am able too. I was searching to find out, what I can expect from my body in the coming years.
Mostly what I found was about infertility and the effects it has on emotion etc etc. Nothing relevant to what I was looking for. Can you guide me? I kind of feel I’ll get a generic answer from my gynecologist.
If you search for “childfree” websites, which are for people who choose not to have children, you may find more of the information that you need.
http://thenotmom.com/ is an excellent website which features articles on both childless (not by choice) and childfree (by choice) perspectives that I particularly recommend.
In terms of ‘what you can expect’ from your body, women are women, whether they have children or not so I don’t think the answers you’ll need will come from your gynecologist. If you want to educate yourself about the your body, and in particular about the peri-menopause, which will (most likely) begin to show up in your life in your early 40s, I recommend the work of Dr Christian Northrup “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom”. She can be a bit la-la at times, but her wisdom and practical experience makes up for it in my eyes!
Having children is not the only route to a meaningful life for women and if you know it’s not for you as early at 32, I’m happy for you.
Wishing you all the best for a life defined on your terms, not society’s!
I saw your HuffPo article and really appreciated your use of child free rather than childless. But this whole site keeps using childless which is disheartening.
Hi Heidi – thanks for your comment. Although ‘childfree’ is a more pleasing word in some way than ‘childless’, it has a very specific meaning, which I was unaware of when I first started writing about women without children, in that it refers to women (and men) who have chosen not to have children, rather than those who wanted to be parents but don’t have them. Gateway Women is open and friendly towards the childfree but its focus is towards supporting those who are childless to come to terms with their unchosen situation. I hope that helps to explain my use of the terminology a little more. With hugs, Jody x
Jody Day, I wish to thank you for this site and your Excellent Book, which is adding
so many healing layers to my journey. You articulate everything I’ve thought and felt through the years, and allow me to feel normal about it. I’m not sure how long this site has existed,
I wish I’d learned about it in my mid 40’s. I’m now 54, and more in the ‘waves that
pass through more quickly stage.’ I was actually happy to learn about this stage, as
I thought something was wrong with me that I still experience ‘triggers.’
I was so happy to see that Creativity is a way through!
Following my early, small, treatable breast cancers at ages 43 and 45, I delved
into Creativity and Plant Based Nutrition. I started to write, draw, paint and obtained
several Creativity Coaching Certifications. I also love my travel. I’m aiming to look for
Gateway Meet Up Groups in my area and nurture new friendships.
(I believe you mentioned in your book that you perhaps enjoy the French culture?
I attended Cynthia Morris’ Capture the Paris Wow, which combined Creativity with enjoying Paris. (It is not specifically aimed at childless women, rather, something that combines
one of my favorite cities with creativity, which lights me up.)
I look forward to learning more here, and utilizing the resources.
To everyone here ~ *With Creative Energy Sparkle for the ART that is Your Life!*
Hello and thank you for stopping by to comment! I’m so glad that my book is helping you move through your grief and also to have compassion for ‘the waves’. I started the site in 2011 when I was in the depths of my own grief and there was NOTHING around to support us that I could relate to (apart from a couple of life after unsuccessful infertility treatments which was not my experience, nor that of many of us who find ourselves childless). I’m sorry to hear about your cancer experience and I’m glad that creativity has been a big part of your healing from both cancer and childlessness. With regard to attending (or starting) a Gateway Women group in your area, please go to http://www.gateway-women.com/meetup to see if we are near you yet! And do consider joining our private online community – it’s a great space of creativity and healing. Love, Jody x
I would like to say thank you for the article in Red magazine, it really touched me as I’ve been there myself and I totally understand. I grieved for my little girl that I physically couldnt have myself. Your article helped me understand my feelings a lot better. We adopted 2 beautiful children 3 years after the end of the 7 year ivf battle. Just happened our 2 angels ‘came’ to us, we didn’t go looking. Sometimes they are far from angels though 🙂
Thanks for sharing
Hi Carolina – thanks for commenting. I am so sorry that you’ve been through the hell of childlessness too. I wish you all the best for your new family life. You might be interested to know that I host a private online community just for those GW members who have (or are thinking of) adoption. We have about 50 members and they support each other with the realities of being (or becoming) an adoptive parent. If you’d like to join – apply for membership of the main GW online community and then once your membership is approved (they are all personally ID-checked by us to make it all as private and safe as we can) you will also have access to the GW Adoption Community. Hugs, Jody x
Thanks Jody. I have ordered your book. I’m 42 this year and I’m going to use the book as a guide and support book. After reading your article in Red magazine I was delighted to know that there is others who are going through the same thing. Thank you.
Hi Jan – I’m so glad the article found its way to you. Knowing you’re not alone makes such a difference! I hope you find my book supportive. Hugs, Jody x
I would like to say “thank you” for taking the step of writing the article in Red Magazine. It was such a truthful and thoughtful article especially about the history of fear of pregnancies and later your description of ” feeling utterly purposeless.” You are the first writer I know who has made sense of it to me. However, what really hit a chord with me is that you are now able to use your “mother’s heart” in a “unexpected way.” I hope you do not mind me writing as I went down another route to you as I am now a single foster carer . It is tough but your article is so comforting to know that if I had chosen otherwise then I would not have been looking at an endless black sea at night. Morning always arrives.
Thank you again for putting a velvet carpet across the steps of womenhood. We all deserve to dance across it .
Hi Jules – thanks for letting me know how much my article touched you. We all find different ways forward, and being a foster carer is a noble one which I hope you are finding a rewarding (if tough) way to use your mother’s heart. You are very welcome here as whether a stepmother or a foster carer, we are still ‘childless’ and not everyone gets that. I love your metaphor ‘velvet carpet across the steps of womanhood’. Maybe you should write an article for RED about being a childless foster carer? Hugs, Jody x
I’m so glad that Gateway Women exists. It makes me feel slightly less isolated. I didn’t realise there were so many other women as utterly full of grief at their childlessness as I am. I obviously wish nobody else was suffering like this, and my heart goes out to you all, as it’s a most terrible and often misunderstood loss.
We all have our own stories. In my case, it’s complex, but my entire identity since I was about 15, was built around my future motherhood. I’ve never invested in a career (no interest) and just worked to survive. I didn’t care about wealth or fame or career or anything, ALL I wanted from my mid-teens was to be a mummy. I’ve always babysat, and was such a maternal child – towards my dolls and the animals I grew up with. It was inconceivable (no pun intended) to me that I would get to 42 (my age now) without having given birth. I just can’t believe it!
I suffered from severe depression & anxiety for a number of years, and really wanted to get myself sorted (for the sake of my children) first. I also have always struggled with low self-esteem, and a fear that no man would want me (due to an upsetting chapter in my past). I also struggled with debt and poverty for a while, which took some years to get over. All these factors have conspired to take me to now, all the years gobbled up by these multiple monsters.
I’m in agony. I feel so purposeless. I just want to sleep these days, as every waking hour, I’m reminded of my loss.
So many women who didn’t especially want children seem to have just accidently had them! Without much forethought. Life is so unfair. Maybe I overthought things…
Anyway, I’m going to make a cup of tea (an emotional anesthetic!) and read through some of the other comments, and spend time on the Gateway site in general. It may well ease some of my agony.
Best wishes to you all xx
After reading Jody’s article in Red magazine its nice to know that I am not alone in how I feel. I am 41 and single (been on so many bad dates!), yes I have had long term relationships but for many reasons they never worked out. I have always wanted children and a family of my own but knowing that it is not going to happen hurts so much. Being a teacher I am surrounded all day by students, all the women at work do is take about their kids and how great their lives are. Mothers day was 3 days a go and i always find it difficult. I have everything, good job, nice house, car, lots of holidays yet I feel lost. The pain never goes, this was not how my life was suppose to be. Reading these posts help. Glad I have found this site.
Thank you Rachel, that’s so hard on you having to listen to colleagues discussing the delights of motherhood all the time. Single, childless women like us have to have a quiet strength and bravery that happily married mothers can’t begin to understand (though I realise they have other struggles).
Maybe in another dimension somewhere there are other versions of us, who have husbands & children! That surreal thought makes me smile.
Hopefully in time some of our pain will subside. I’m definitely in deep grief at the moment.
Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply by the way! I only just read your reply! Take care x
I have longed to find a group like this. Everyone I know either has kids or never wanted them. I wanted kids desperately, but wasn’t able to have them. I have an absolutely wonderful husband who is great with kids, but never really cared if he had any of his own. Due to this I have felt so alone with no friend or family that understand how I feel. I am 44 now, and most of the time I’m okay with not having kids, but the longing is not gone. The longing sneaks up and comes back when you least suspect. I look forward to being around others who are in the same situation.
Have anyone been intrested in adoption?
I have been interested in adoption – older children though. I have read a lot about young people who age out of foster with no families or a support structure. I would like to be that support structure for a young person but do not know how get connected with someone in need. Not interested in working through a non-profit or agency. I would rather be available to a young person truly out of the system that needs help.
Hello. Just read your article in Red Magazine. It was about 90% word for word, my last decade. I’m pleased to have found you. Nicola x
Hi Jody, I read your article in the daily mail with interest. I’m 37 this year and met the love of my life when I was 32 (met a fair few frogs before I found my prince!). We married 2 years later and I stopped taking the pill 3 months before our wedding day. Having no luck we decided to get tested and discovered my wonderful hubby can’t have children, although my womb is apparently top notch (doctors say the funniest things eh?!). 2 years later, 2 failed rounds of IVF that we had to pay for ourselves thanks to the wonderful NHS postcode lottery (despite the fact both my husband and myself have always worked and are both serving our country in the Royal Navy) we were left with no baby, no savings but love; and lots of it. I decided to retrain in the forces to become a welfare worker (similar to social work but for the military and their families). I get great job satisfaction but the void is still there. Your article gives me hope that one day I will accept that I have chosen love over motherhood and help me come to terms with having to make that choice. Thank you. Dawn
I finally got the baby I’d hoped for after years of trying and so feel acutely aware of both sides of experiences. I feel sometimes the sisterhood who want and get their families in an easy fashion have no clue how awful “charity plugs or “cause awareness” are when they’re fashioned into ‘Mother’ sweatshirts, Facebook forwards of pics and quotes on reasons they’re proud Mums etc, etc, are a constant kick in the teeth for those who want it all so badly.
It looks smug and uncaring at best, spiteful at worst.
Only when you throw your privacy on the line and speak honestly of the trial of ‘trying’ for a family, that maybe you get to meet other people in the same situation who have empathy and perhaps great advice.
It then makes for a wry laugh at all the annoying comments and advice; “stop TRYING”, “get legless”, “my mate”, blah – all that weary chat fades briefly.
I have so many friends who are still trying for children. I cried my heart out when I discovered I was pregnant but I also felt still desperate for those friends – I felt bad ‘leaving them behind’, social moments definitely dwindle. One friend and her husband have grief counselling. Like Jody said in the Times2 article I read, all that time grieving and no name given to it still you have to self diagnose.
A few months ago, Women’s Hour had a chat about fertility-delaying a family/leaving it too late. it was awful listening to a young 20-year-old berating an older woman in charge of a fertility department for scaremongering because her generation wanted careers. So ignorant.
What a great web-page and champion for an enormous hidden society. I feel privileged to have found it though it doesn’t strictly apply to me, and I will be promoting it.
Hi Sio – thanks for commenting and for your support and understanding. It seems (perhaps quite naturally) that many mothers who struggled to conceive ‘forget’ about what went before, which can make it very hard for their friends who remain temporarily or permanently childless. But not all, as you and some other women I know show. Thank you for offering to champion GW to those who need our support. There are a lot of us! Hugs, Jody x
Will definitely listen.
I am surrounded by this. Gulp.
I read your story in a Sunday paper. I also feel ‘marginalised in this mummy mad world’ as you put it….. And I am a mummy.
Hope it’s ok to write anyway. Your plan B gave me a lot of good advice.
Rachel – I’m glad my story spoke to you. You might be interested in this interview I did on Woman’s Hour earlier this week, discussing with a mother (and Jenni Murray!) ‘the fetishisation of motherhood’. It does none of us any favours! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b070hbsn (segment starts at 17mins) Jody x
Keep up the good work Jody.
Women shouldn’t have to run on the same ‘time table’ as men as we are led to believe ‘ we can have it all.’ I’d rather do a few things well than everything badly..which seems to happen a lot these days for so many women rushing around trying to fulfill the work commitments, family life and house work etc.
Realistically, there isn’t enough time to study, be half way up the corporate career ladder, have that suitable partner and the own home before even family planning comes into the mix! However, women also need to know that having children is just one avenue out of many and you can have a ultra fulfilling, varied and interesting life without having children.
Thanks for gateway-women.
Hi Charlotte – yes, structurally women have entered an education and working model that grew up around male life-patterns, such as university and then working hard in 20s and 30s and having family then. Doesn’t fit female biology so well! We need structural changes in society to address this rather than making out that this is all about women ‘leaving it too late’ or other such uninformed and unempathic tosh! And yes, a life with or without children can be fulfilling, varied and interesting – no one gets a free pass on that one! Jody x
Another issue is.. we are all conditioned into believing we all need to be ultra-ambitious ( in the workplace) in order to be ‘worthy’ or ‘on par with men.’
Choosing a suitable partner and planning a stable and secure family life takes time and that is an ambition in itself.. rather than just settling for anyone.
These days just having a job doesn’t seem to cut the mustard either. You must carve out ‘a career’ It’s time people wake up and are realistic that many women (and men) do not want to be shackled to the corporate world and for women it’s is heart-breaking trying to ‘do the right thing’ and then realise all their time and energy spent job chasing the prospects and pounds has ended up with their biological clock having run out. Sadly, you then get clobbered ‘you’ve left it too late’ or if you have one child you’re seen as doing things by half!
Thanks for your thoughts. X
I’m so glad I found this website. Everything out there talks about why life without kids is so wonderful. I wanted to hear from women who were experiencing the same grief I am. I am happily married to a wonderful man- a man who doesn’t want kids. He didn’t come to this realization until a year after we were married and I am absolutely devastated. Reading some of these threads helps me realize that I am not alone. Thank you for sharing.
HI Michelle – that sounds really hard. You might like to come and join our private online community (if you haven’t done so already) as your experience is one that other women are dealing with too. Hugs x
Sarah – that’s lovely feedback, thank you! I’m so glad my email is one you look forward to opening considering how many we are all bombarded with these days! Hugs, Jody x
Having been in a marriage I didn’t want to bring a child into (and was quite comfortable with that decision), but now I am in a relationship where I do want to have a child born out of love – but it is seemingly all too late…. I couldn’t understand why I have been experiencing such very, very, very strong emotions. I was starting to think I was going mad. Thank you for sharing x
Hi Anne – I’m so sorry that you’ve found the relationship you’d have liked to have brought children into – but it’s too late. It’s a heartbreaking thing to get our head (and hearts) around. I too remember that I worried I was going mad – it was such a relief for me to find out it was grief – and it still comes as a shock to me how many of us don’t know that’s what’s going on. I found out because of doing some ‘grief training’ as a part of my psychotherapy training and if it hadn’t been for that, I don’t know how it would have happened… no doctors, therapists, friends or websites were out there 7 years ago to give me a clue… I’m so glad GW is here for you to find, and I hope not being on your own with your pain anymore helps a little to ease it. Hugs, Jody x
Just read your new year post Jody for 2016. You’re a true star. You cheered me right up and I always read your updates when they come up on my email x I couldn’t reply on your New Years thread because I’m not registered or something but just wanted to thank you for such beautiful Optimism and hope x
Happy 2016 xxx sarahT
I am so grateful this blog has been created and it echoes all the thoughts and experiences I have been having. I am 38 and with the ‘double whammy’. However right now I do not feel I even want to be in a relationship, due to the way I handle relationships. I think I’ve also been put off by my parents’ horrid relationship and have subconsciously modelled myself on their patterns, so relationships seem doomed to fail or I don’t want to repeat their painful marriage and avoid it all costs.
So it slightly takes the edge off the loneliness because I actually feel better off as single right now, but it still is the overall stigma I have to deal with (even if it’s more in my own head than anything ‘out there’). Where I differ with your view is that it is never ‘our fault’ that we are single; I do think it is important to take responsibility where it may actually be your ‘fault’ or personal issues that have been the problem. I, for one, know that I have a very low level of tolerance towards men and how they behave, and mostly it comes from a place of irrationality. I am extremely sensitive and take things to heart very easily, and am an emotional wreck if things are not going swimmingly well! So I’ve decided I am better off single (right now). Maybe I am making excuses, also for the men, and of course it could be their failings as well, but I do note that you always attract things to yourself that you yourself are projecting. Maybe these are just things I tell myself however I truly do think that the relationship had either be totally perfect, balanced and healthy or I’m better off single, where I’m more emotionally stable. And even if I have invited this into my life, it’s about accepting that that’s ok…even if we have ‘invited’ the double whammy as a result of our choices, then that should be seen as ok, that’s the path we are meant to take in life for whatever reason, and (easier said than done) we should embrace it…not everyone is meant to end up with the ‘fairytale’, that’s the process of life and you can end up learning new and different things as a result of not ending up with the family unit that we are supposedly meant to have.
Moving onto the ‘childlessness’ issue. I can definitely relate to everything said on here. I have turned into a woman possessed and obsessed. Everywhere I look something triggers the thoughts and reminds me that I haven’t ‘achieved’ the ultimate female goal… babies, children, everywhere, colleagues having to go and pick up their children after work. I’m always wondering ‘what are her circumstances, how did she manage to do it? Was she just not fussy about who she picked? Maybe I should just do that…but I can’t, simply can’t be with someone I’m not attracted to…Maybe she doesn’t like her freedom as much as I do, the ability to just
run about going to yoga classes and the gym whenever she wants…if I was like that then I would have started this process a lot sooner but I haven’t, I’ve put it off and put it off…’ So these obsessive thoughts get a little tiring, and I