World Childless Week has been created by a British childless woman, Stephanie Phillips as a way to highlight the experience, individually and globally, of women and men who are childless not by choice. Each day of World Childless Week has a theme, and the theme for today, Sunday 17th September 2017 is ‘Finding Support & Moving Forwards’.
Please find out more, share your thoughts, images, experiences and stories of being childless-not-by choices either below in the comments, on the World Childless Week Facebook page (where most of the activity is taking place this first year), on Twitter at @ChildlessWeek (using the #hashtag #WorldChildlessWeek) or at www.WorldChildlessWeek.com
For the last theme of 2017’s #WorldChildlessWeek, ‘Finding Support & Moving Forwards’, I’d like to share a selection of the resources that have helped me to in my childlessness recovery journey, and a few which I’ve created myself to help others over the last 6 years. You can find the full list at www.gateway-women.com/resources which includes many more books as well as resources for men, for researchers, for journalists, etc. And if you know of a great resource that isn’t listed, please leave me a comment below and I’ll check it out and add it. Jody x
Free GW meetup groups for childless women around the world
- Join the free, private Gateway Women meetup group in your country and come along to an event. And if there isn’t an event near you, you can suggest one. You need to be a member of meetup.com first, then apply to join one of our free, private country groups.
- You can see a list of all meetups across the world here
UK & IRELAND: www.meetup.com/gateway-women
NEW ZEALAND: www.meetup.com/gateway-women-nz
SOUTH AFRICA: www.meetup.com/gateway-women-sa
Recommended online communities for childless women
- Gateway Women Private Online Community on G+ (Global) To apply for membership of the ‘best online community for childless women’ (that’s a review, not me!) go to ‘Join Our Community’ to fill in the application form. The first month is free, after which there’s a very modest monthly or annual fee or free memberships for those who need them. All applications are vetted for member security and privacy.
- The Dovecote Community (UK): www.facebook.com/groups/thedovecoteorg Kelly da Silva runs a closed Facebook group for involuntarily childless women. There’s also a new community, Dovecote for Men: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1558482934478197/
- Life Without Baby (US) http://lifewithoutbaby.com/ A wonderful private online community run by Lisa Manterfield, author of the award winning, ‘I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home’.
- Childless Stepmothers (UK) www.childlessstepmums.co.uk Being a stepmother can be very challenging, being a childless stepmother uniquely so. This UK-based internet forum describes itself as ‘a sanctuary for women thrown into an instant family of often angry ex-wives, resentful stepchildren and guilty or mourning fathers’.
Recommended ‘life after infertility’ support organisations
- The Daisy Network (UK) www.daisynetwork.org.uk A UK charity that supports women who have experienced premature menopause or premature ovarian failure as it’s often referred to.
- The Lotus Network (UK/Online Support) www.thelotusnetwork.com A blog and support forum set up by Nia Fisher to support those experiencing premature menopause
- More to Life (UK) www.infertilitynetworkuk.com/more_to_life A UK charity that provides online and face-to-face groups for women and couples moving on after infertility treatment.
My top ten blogs on coming to terms with childlessness (see the full list in the sidebar to the right – scroll down to ‘Jody Recommends’)
- The Pursuit of Motherhood (UK) www.thepursuitofmotherhood.com A blog by Jessica Hepburn, author of the bestselling infertility memoir ‘The Pursuit of Motherhood’. Jessica is childless after 11 rounds of IVF and has since gone on to be a Trustee for Fertility Network UK and also to create the groundbreaking arts/medical event ‘FertilityFest’.
- Saltwater & Honey (UK): http://saltwaterandhoney.org/ Gutsy, honest, funny, warm British blog written from a Christian perspective (but not evangelically so). A lot of support around miscarriage and early term loss.
- Different Shores (UK): https://differentshores.com A relatively new blog that I’m enjoying immensely. It’s about embracing life as a middle aged woman after failed IVF.
- Walk in our Shoes (UK): https://walkinourshoes.net/ A social design site created by British graphic designer Berenice Smith featuring the anonymous words and stories of childless men and women, accompanied by photos of their feet. Amongst other brilliant things, including a great Facebook group “The Walking Forwards Inspirational Network” which is a networking/support group for childless entrepreneurs.
- The NotMom (US) www.thenotmom.com A website and blog that features articles and resources for ‘NotMoms’ by choice (childfree) or by chance (childless). Also the creators of TheNotMom Summit, which happens in 2017 on October 6/7th (I’m one of the keynote speakers).
- Childless by Marriage (US) https://childlessbymarriageblog.com Writer and musician Sue Fagalde Lick’s book and blog about life as a childless stepmother and now as a childless widow living on her own. One of the very few 60+ voices writing publicly about childlessness.
- Femme Sans Enfant (CA) www.femmesansenfant.com Catherine-Emmanuelle’s award winning French-Canadian blog has a wealth of resources and a great video interview series. Also in English.
- Infertility Honesty (US) http://infertilityhonesty.com/ Sarah Chamberlain’s funny, wry, honest and powerful blog about her life after infertility.
- Life Without Baby (US) www.lifewithoutbaby.com Lisa Manterfield’s blog, online community, online courses & resources for women coming to terms with life as a childless woman. Lisa is the author of ‘I’m Taking my Eggs and Going Home’.
- Silent Sorority (US) www.silentsorority.com Pamela Tsingdinos’s blog was one of the very first I found and her sane, compassionate and wry voice gave me hope that life after infertility was indeed possible. She has since become a powerful voice speaking out in print and in public about the dubious practices to be found in the unregulated US ‘ART’ industry (assisted reproduction technology).
My top ten recommended books on coming to terms with childlessness (see full list here)
Jody Day (2016) Living the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children. (UK: Bluebird/PanMacmillan). I couldn’t NOT mention my book as I did my very best when writing it to capture what had worked for me, and for the many thousands of women I’ve supported as they’ve made the painful journey to recover from the devastating heartbreak of childlessness. It also contains extracts from 24 case studies from women (and 2 men) around the world. With more than 50 five star reviews on Amazon and recommended by the British Medical Journal. You can download the intro and first chapter free here. See more and read some of the reviews here: www.gateway-women.com/book
Jessica Hepburn (2014) The Pursuit of Motherhood. UK: Troubadour Publishing.
A frank and funny infertility memoir by British theatre director Jessica Hepburn. If you’ve had IVF, you’ll welcome seeing your experience written about in this way. If, like me, you didn’t do IVF, you’ll learn a lot! Jessica writes about how the experience impacts her relationship with her partner too, which I found helpful and not too excluding to those readers without partners. Jessica has since gone on to swim the English Channel to raise money for IVF charities and is now crowdfunding the publication of her second book, ‘21 Miles’ about that. bit.ly/jessica-pursuit www.thepursuitofmotherhood.com
Christine Erickson (2015) The Mother Within: A Guide To Accepting Your Childless Journey. USA/Global Kindle e-book. This soulful, compassionate and practical guide to owning and honouring your experience as a childless-not-by-choice woman contains the social and cultural aspects of being a childless woman in our currently motherhood-obsessed society. As well as this, it includes topics that will ring true for many of us, including dealing with our self-blame and shame, coping with the judgemental and hurtful assumptions of others (even complete strangers), and finding a way to come to terms with our destiny and move forward. If you’re like me, your head will be nodding on every page! www.themotherwithin.com
Pamela Mahoney Tsingdinos (2010) Silent Sorority: A (Barren) Woman Gets Busy, Angry, Lost and Found. USA: Booksurge Plc. An award-winning infertility survivor’s memoir – an ‘alternative to the momoir’ as Pamela puts it. A wry and intelligent read about infertility – and after. bit.ly/silent-sorority www.silentsorority.com
Yvonne John (2016) Dreaming of a Life Unlived: Intimate Stories and Portraits of Women Without Children. UK: Blurb Incorporated. Yvonne John is a graduate of the Gateway Women Plan B Mentorship Programme and created this book of stories and portraits as part of her Plan B work. It contains stories about objects that women (such as myself) would have liked to have passed onto our children, and uses these as stepping off points for sharing our stories. Moving, intimate, surprising, diverse and vulnerable, this book records the stories of a group of women who each found themselves childless when it wasn’t the plan. bit.ly/dreaming-yvonne www.facebook.com/dreamingofalifeunlived
Melanie Notkin (2014) Otherhood: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of Happiness. USA: New York: Seal Press. Melanie Notkin, now in her mid-forties is well known as the Founder of SavvyAuntie.com – the website for women who love the children in their life but don’t have them. In ‘Otherhood’ she reveals her own story as well as that of other women that she interviews – one of wanting to find the right partner to have children with, but it never quite happening. The first two-thirds of the book have a the same strong and compassionate tone as her Huffington Post articles, with the final third being a bit more ‘Sex in the City’ with lots of stories of dating and parties in Manhattan. This book has taken ‘social infertility’ into the mainstream and is well worth reading. bit.ly/otherhood www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-notkin
Justine Brooks Froelker (2015) Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life. USA: Morgan James. This is a personal memoir of how Justine and her husband Chad redefined their lives for the better after the heartbreaking losses of infertility and their subsequent decision not to adopt. It’s worth reading JUST for her honesty on the subject of NOT adopting, which is something that those of us who do or don’t choose that path are challenged on by friends, family and strangers over and over again. Also, her honesty with regard to how friendships are affected by the infertility journey is comforting to all of us who thought that such things must only have happened to us! Recommended for couples at any stage of their infertility journey, and for their family and friends to help them understand. bit.ly/ever-upward http://everupward.org
Sue Fagalde Lick (2012) Childless by Marriage US: Blue Hydrangea Productions.
Writer and musician Sue Fagalde Lick’s memoir and blog about life as a childless stepmother and now as a childless widow living on her own in her 60s and with a unsatisfying relationship with her deceased husband’s children. An excellent insider’s view of a very difficult situation that so many childless-by-circumstance women are expected to take on the chin without minding! bit.ly/childless-by-marriage www.childlessbymarriageblog.com
Tracey Cleantis (2015). The Next Happy: Let Go of the Life You Planned and Find a New Way Forward. USA, Minnesota: Hazleton Publishing. This wonderful book takes therapist Tracey Cleantis’ experience as a infertility survivor and turns it into a no-nonsense, wise-cracking book. Suitable for everyone who’s ever had to give up on a dream and find another reason to get up in the morning. Highly recommended, not least for her ‘Movie Rx’ sections at the end of each chapter where she recommends a movie to help you deal with your situation. http://bit.ly/nexthappy http://www.traceycleantis.com/
Laura Carroll (2012) The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds from Outmoded Thinking About Parenting and Reproduction Will Create a Better World. USA: Live True Books. An excellent and very provocative book that blows the lid off pronatalism and suggests really interesting alternative ways of thinking and behaving around having/not having children. bit.ly/baby-matrix www.lauracarroll.com
You can find many more resources here, including resources for men, for researchers, for journalists, for global support organisations, etc. And if you know of a great resource that isn’t listed, please leave me a comment below and I’ll check it out and add it. Jody x
I officially entered menopause in December and facing childlessness has been more devastating and difficult to TRULY accept than I’d ever thought it would be. I am so glad to have found your writings. Thank you for understanding how WE feel.
Dear Maureen – entering menopause when we are still hopeful (and hope isn’t always logical!) of having a child can be so very hard. I’m glad you’ve found us. I’ve written about the menopause elsewhere on this blog – I call it ‘a death you survive’ and I sense you know just what I mean right now. You can read more by following this link. Hugs, Jody x
Thanks, Jody, for offering all these resources. Your support, networking and guidance reflect an abundance of care and empathy. May you be blessed with joy and a fruitful life – in its many guises.
Thank you – what a lovely blessing! Jody x
Thanks Jody! And as ever, thank you for your sterling and pioneering work in this area – Gateway Women is an EPIC resource x
You are so very welcome – I really enjoy your blog too x