38 Comments on The 5 most important things I’ve learned about recovering from childlessness

  1. I dealt with all this stuff 15-20 years ago, aged 40-45. I entertained all my emotions, wept, raged, stormed, talked about it, shouted about it, went through 2 years of therapy. Came through, became the artist I should always have been. Hooray!

    Guess what? It’s back. It’s worse than ever. I’m 60 and all my friends who drove me nuts when they had children are now new monsters, grandparents! Sanctimonious, complacent , boastful, ghastly. Grief never stops.

    • Hi Kate. I’m new with GW so only just seen your post.. i’m 65 and can relate totally to your second paragraph. You describe it perfectly ‘Sancimonious, complacent, boastful, ghastly’, exactly. And they have done precisely nothing to merit their status. Anyone can be a grandmother simply by reproducing and having offspring who reproduce. I’ve jsut discovered the word ‘pronatalism’ and it’s been a total revelation to me. I’m so sorry are grieving again. Sending a big hug. Julie xxx

  2. Hi I just saw this after joining gateway women. I really needed this as I am 35 and facing the possibility of infertility. While me and my partner have not actively tried we have not taken preacautions in the last year and no pregnancy. The thought of infertility is unearable and I am terrified to be tested as I am scared that artificial means may be the only option (this is something I refuse to pursue if women want to all respect but I cant as I feel like a failure doing it). It hurts so much and no one understands. The other day I nearly called Lifeline as I struggled so much. I am dreading xmas as partner and I have many social functions where I am the only childfree woman or will be around women who semi tried when we did and now have big baby bellies I wanna punch their bellies as horrible as it sounds becUse I feel so incompetent around them. I also feel I failed my partner esp at his football grandfinal where all his teammates had kids to pose with in the photo when he didn’t. I think the team photo also made me realise that as childfree wag I could never join the photo. Comes back to the exclusion thing. I know Im silly thinking that as I know my partner loves me regardless and has a dont worry it will happen approach and it is times like this I need support from.women who know my feeling of 30’and childfree

    • I’m so sorry that you are struggling, Jess. Allow yourself to grieve, be angry, jealous, sad, whatever emotions you need to work through. This process takes time. My husband and I tried to conceive for ten years and are now in year four of accepting our childless life. I am 40 and still have some bad days. But I definitely have more good! I actually started a blog recently about our journey and it has been amazing to connect with other women like Jody who have gone through these same struggles. You have found support! We can take heart in that!

    • Hi Jess – thanks for your comment and I’m so glad you’ve found us. Our society paints such a scary picture of what life without kids might turn out to be that facing the possibility that this might be your future can feel overwhelming. The time up to and including Christmas is the hardest time of year because, let’s face it, it’s the celebration of the ultimate ‘miracle baby story’! Being a childless or childfree woman in our society is to be part of a large, but mostly hidden group of women in society. We are not less than mothers,our life paths are simply different. Spending time with other childless women may help you to realise that, even if you do find yourself part of ‘this club’ rather than the ‘mother club’, it’s going to be OK. Not right now, I get it. You’re grieving, in shock and fearful. I really recommend joining our private online community where we can support you where you’re at and help you get to a better place. Hugs, Jody x

  3. Thank you, Jody! As I read your post, I kept nodding in agreement. I particularly like that you say you are in “recovery” from childlessness. I struggled with infertility for 10 years. I think I’ll now remember and vocalize that I’m in my third year of recovering from childlessness. I recently started blogging about my journey and it has been incredible to find my “tribe.” I look forward to seeing where this new journey takes me!

  4. Thank you, Jody, for helping make us VISIBLE, helping us to connect to our tribe, and for your message of hope! Heck, just reading this post is empowering.

  5. My local library had a brand new copy of your book waiting for me this afternoon on my darkest day. I have read 4 1/2 chapters in as many hours and feel hope for the future for the first time in many years. You possibly have saved my life. I’ll be buying a copy to share with those closest to me so that they can understand what I’m going through.

    Thank you so very much <3

    • Tamara – I’m so very, very glad that my book has found you and that it is helping you feel some hope again. It was my dream when I created the new edition that it would be available in libraries and bookshops so that more women could find it. You have made my day! Hugs and thanks for letting me know. Do consider joining our online community – it’s a powerful, private and understanding place to process the deep reflections that the book brings up. Jody x

  6. Happy 5th Birthday Gateway Women and thanks for everything Jody! Your strength and courage to start this group up when you were in such a low place was so brave.

    Having only found Gateway 18 months ago I can honestly say I am making huge leaps and bounds in learning to re-evaluate my life without children and realising that life is worth it. Working through the book and attending various courses has been an emotional journey and one where I have learnt a lot about myself and others. Everyone’s stories are so different and yet we all have such sadness and so many feelings in common.

    Looking back to this time last year I have noticed my self hatred & lack of compassion has improved dramatically. Meeting other wonderful GW ladies at local meet-ups, all suffering in silence, has made me realise I am not alone and its been great to learn how to socialise again. Releasing the feeling of shame and allowing myself to grieve for something I saw as an invisible loss, and therefore not worthy of grief , has been life changing. I do hope that other ladies struggling with their nasty thoughts, sadness and isolation find you and the tribe. Its been a challenging journey but one hopefully worth fighting for.

    Big hugs to you and so pleased the new updated version of the book is now easily available to all – it is so worth buying to find some inner peace!.

    Good Luck with all your future plans. Well deserved.

    • Dear Braggie – thank you so much for taking the time to comment and to share how being part of GW has helped you. It has been an honour and a privilege getting to know you and watching you let go of the old and welcome the new in the last year. Lots of love, Jody x

  7. here here, Jody, as always so inspiring to read where you are and your plans for the future! The energy and warmth you’re slowly infusing into the souls that need it most, are so very meaningful and very powerful.

    Your book came to me at a time that, at the age of 45 after struggling 5 years with uncertainty and grief of the closure in my attempts to create a family, I wound up spontaneously pregnant, completely unplanned, and within nine weeks miscarried. Just enough time to fall head over heels in love with the idea of family again, then off the cliff I went. Your book and the Gateway community reached out to me with warmth and light through a dark, cold, and lonely place. I cannot express what it meant to me to receive warmth and kindness by email from all corners of the globe wishing me well as I waited for my emergency D&C.

    Now, here I am, two years later, having walked solidly through this grieving process, embracing a full, challenging, and meaningful life and LOVING it. Your book, and the women who I’ve connected with as a result, played a critical role in this process, I’m absolutely certain.

    Thank you again Jody. Xxo

    And please come to Vancouver some day, I’ll introduce you to the beautiful West Coast of Canada! 😉

  8. I’m struggling today, and desperately seeking something that can help me make sense of the turmoil I’m feeling. I’m 44 in a couple of weeks, and am childless by circumstance – married to a man with alcohol issues for 15 years, who told me that he wanted children, then changed his mind. For much of our relationship I wouldn’t have wanted to bring kids into the chaos that was often his world. We split when I was 39 but patched things up, and he promised that we could try for kids. He didn’t mean it. After limping on for a few years we divorced. He gave up the booze, found a new partner, and in January this year he told me that he is expecting a baby, due sometime this month. In the meantime I’d met a marvellous man who said that he wanted to try for a family. After recently encouraging me to have fertility tests (all results totally normal) he told me earlier this week that he didn’t think that he wanted kids after all – he just felt that he should make amends for my ex-. Now I’m in despair, and realise that the ‘toxic hope’ which had perhaps lingered for too long, has now been forcibly removed. I don’t want to be in this involuntarily childless club. I still can’t believe that this is going to be my life. I don’t want it to be my life. I’m sad and angry. I don’t know what to do. I don’t really know how to be. Reading that I should write a poem or paint a picture, or find a hobby enrages me. I don’t feel shame – not in the slightest, I don’t feel societal pressure, or disapprobation from family, friends, colleagues. I guess though, I feel lonely with these feelings.

    • Hi Jenny – that all sounds very tough to cope with, and I’m not surprised you’re in ‘turmoil’ about it. I had to deal with alcoholism in my (ex) marriage too, so I have some idea of the hell you might have been through. And as for the new partner changing his mind…!! I strongly suggest you join our private online community where you can vent in privacy about all this, and be assured that no one will recommend a ‘hobby’ as a possible solution to your grief and despair. You sound angry as hell, and I don’t blame you! Come and join us in a place where you can process all this shit and get to the other side of it. With hugs and understanding of how incredibly hard this can be. Jody x

    • Oh Jenny ! I feel the anger in your post and have felt the same myself – still do occasionally although I’m now 61 and my failed IVF attempts and subsequent early hysterectomy were over 20 years ago. I can’t advise, but can empathise with what you’re going through. The only thing that helped me make sense was going to a counsellor (which I had to almost throw a screaming tantrum to get to see one) – It’s a long, long road. XX

  9. Thank you Jody for everything you do. Making friends through the Gateway Women site has been so incredibly helpful on what can feel like a v lonely journey. You are an inspiration to so many!

    • Hi Catherine – you are very welcome lovely. I’m so glad you found us and that the online community is helping you feel connected and supported again. Hugs, Jodyx

  10. Hi Jody
    Thank you for all you have and are doing with Gateway Women. I think I grieved from my mid to late 30s as I kind of knew it was never going to happen for me….I just couldn’t see how I was going to meet the right guy in time and lots of other issues. So by the time I discovered you, I had accepted (more days than not) that I’d crossed a threshold at 45 and after investigating adoption and being told by a social worker that there was little chance I would be considered for a young child, I went through a new and different kind of grief. It was after a morning of endless sobbing that I was sitting in the physio’s waiting room, that I picked up a magazine and with eyes sore from tears, I read an article which mentioned Gateway Women. It was a sign!!! Since then I have read your book (1st edition), realised where I’m at on the journey, told lots of women I meet about it, gone to GW meetups and most wonderfully I have made some new lovely friends and hosted some GW dinners at my home. So thank you so so much and well done!

    • Hi Dinah – how lovely to hear from you and I’m so happy for you that you’ve embraced all that I’ve been putting ‘out there’ and it’s made such a difference to you! I love that you’ve got some new lovely friends too. It makes all the difference again, doesn’t it?! And knowing that you found me through an article really cheers me up as I do spend a lot of time being interviewed, writing things etc and many of them don’t come out, or don’t have a link, or are strangely edited to make GW (and me) look unappeallingly ‘odd’, so I’m so glad that one of the gooduns found you at just the right moment! Hugs, Jody x

  11. Hi Jody
    It’s hard to believe that Gateway Women is 5 years old! It feels like it’s been going for much longer because it’s truly a pillar in my world, as it is for the community of childless women I’m lucky to meet up with each month in my local area.
    When you started GW, I had just turned 42 and being recently single, was struggling with the devastating realisation that I might not have the chance to have children. Although you couldn’t have known it, it was perfect timing!! I was experiencing exactly those feelings of grief, loneliness and shame which you were writing about and immediately felt that I wasn’t alone. I have learnt and continue to learn so much from you and those I have met through GW. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult and painful it would have been for NOMOs before GW, and I’m so delighted that it will be there for many more women in future.
    It’s been an amazing last 5 years, and here’s to the next 5, and beyond! Thank you Jody.

  12. Very useful post. I try to get over being childless, but the concept of motherhood is constantly promoted everywhere and I still get exhausted with it. I’m now 61 and had to have an early hysterectomy due to endometriosis, following years of trying and 2 failed IVF attempts. – The first attempt failed at Easter (when the focus is on new life) and the second at Christmas (again celebrating birth)

    • Hi Penny – yes, motherhood is promoted everywhere because we are in the grip of a period of rampant pronatalism, which I think is a kind of social ‘backlash’ to the advances that women have made since the 1960s. It’s not any kind of reality or truth and the many women who create meaningful and fulfilling lives without children prove that! I’m sorry to hear of the cruel timing of your IVF attempts and I can imagine that having to be reminded of those dates each year in such a way can be hard… I find looking at role models of childless women really helpful – have you seen my gallery that I’ve been curating these last few years? I’ve got over 500 of them now? Love, Jody x

  13. The ‘shame’ thing is one which has really touched nerve with me. I will never understand why mothers of my generation (I’m 44) place themselves on a pedestal, and suggest that by having and raising kids, whilst doing the other jobs which most people do, they are superior. I do feel a little out of place that I haven’t delivered kids, but when I read about kids being harmed by the very people who should care for the, I realise that me and my fellow non-mums have nothing to be ashamed of. Many of us were able to reproduce, but by choosing not to have kids because our circumstances were just not secure, we are ostracised, yet who is to say we didn’t behave with foresight and maturity?

    • Hi C – yes, I absolutely agree that the ridiculous over-praising of women who managed to have a child, whether it was a good idea, whether they were ready, whether the father was on board with the idea, whether they were psychologically, emotionally, logistically and financially prepared to parent… is utterly bonkers! Indeed, those who have chosen NOT to have a child, despite longing for one, when the situation to parent that child adequately is not in place have made a deeply maternal choice, and the very opposite of the ‘selfish’ tag so often applied to us! We totally have NOTHING to be ashamed of, and the very fact that society sees it otherwise suggests that pronatalism is at work here, and not logic, compassion or kindness. Love, Jody x

    • Hi Rosa – you are so welcome! Thank you for letting me know, it’s so lovely to get comments and know that you’re out there reading! Love, Jody x

  14. this holiday I could not face going on another couples dancing holiday as I have done for the last 4 so got into deep depression unable to exercise today I got out of it by speaking to another depressed but recovering friend and 3 or 4 12 step fellowship got out of my stuckness and got to a badminton session and tournament full of mental health professional eager to invite to groups where my physical recovery can continue I do not overeat now 21 years an am in a therapy group but remain childless and partnerless and jobless can manage one hour voluntary work listening to 2 six year olds reading and 1 hour rainbows with 20 energetic 6 years old. not on in holidays. holidays are the most challengeing but not eating sugar picking up the phone and seeing I have value becuae I help many people admit loneliness and depression and they are too ashamed this has helped me I have run out of library books no energy to go so read this today thank you jody

    • Hi Krysia – sounds like you’re doing everything you can to cope with a difficult time. I’m glad my post reached you today and helped a little bit. Love, Jody x

  15. Thank you Jody. Very helpful. I’m nowhere near ‘there’ yet, and am definitely grieving. But it’s inspiring to see the light that is shining brightly at the end (and out the other side) of someone else’s tunnel – gives me hope while I’m still fumbling round in the dark of mine! Hopefully one day…

    • Hi Katie – although it’s tough that you’re grieving, it’s also ‘good’ in a strange way, as there’s no other way ‘through’ this loss. Grief is the emotional process that gets us to the other side. But we can’t do it alone – I hope that you’re a member of our online community or attend GW meetups? Either of those will help you along your way if they were accessible to you. I’m glad my post gave you hope that it is possible to come out the other side – it helps to know that, even if it feels a bit unlikely on the really ‘griefy’ days! Love, Jody x

  16. Thank you so much Jody! Finding Gateway Women a few years ago helped me more than I can ever begin to describe. The community of women, the inspiring and thoughtful posts, knowing I wasn’t (am not!) alone , all of these saved me. Thank you:) In saving yourself you have saved others:)

    • Hi Heather – lovely to hear from you and I’m so glad that you found GW when you needed it most. It is a great privilege having been able to turn my healing into something that helps others find their own path out of the swamp too. My book will be in bookshops in Canada this October! Love, Jody x

  17. This is really useful. I have found meeting up with other childless women through Gateway Women a real life saver and fun too. I have a social life again!

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