Article by Lesley Pyne
Hello I’m Lesley Pyne, I’m childless and it’s taken me over ten years and some hard work to be able to say that openly. I love my life & who I am.
You know someone like me.
Think for a minute. You have a friend or family member who never talks about why they don’t have children don’t you? It could be an elderly aunt, or someone at work. They could be defensive if you ask, they might have missed christenings or perhaps they overcompensate and always buy fuss over your children.
You know someone like that, don’t you?
My guess is they would love to talk to you but they don’t know what to say and how you’ll reply. They’re hurting because they have a big secret which they want to share. It might be ten or twenty years since they stopped trying but they still find it hard to talk about.
I’ve been there; done that; got the T shirt and I’d like to explain what your friend is going through so that you can start to understand.
Three facts about fertility and IVF
Let me set the scene with three important and depressing facts:
- Our fertility starts dropping at age twenty seven, and the chances are that if you haven’t had your children by thirty five, you will struggle
- In the UK one in six couples seeks specialist help in trying for a child.
- The average success rate for IVF is twenty five percent, and this reduces dramatically with age.
The reality is that many of us spend our most fertile years doing our best not to get pregnant and by the time we try the odds are stacked against us. And the stats show that IVF is not as successful as the media would like us to believe.
That’s my story; I was probably too old when we started trying, we had ‘too many’ rounds of IVF and stopped when I was forty.
One of the (many) depressing things about the (in)fertility industry is that it’s just that, an industry. You’ll have every test and procedure they can charge you for, but you’ll get minimal emotional support. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and it’s really hard to cope without support when you get thrown off at the end.
Coming to terms with a life without children
I could write many pages describing what it’s like to give your all and fail to achieve something that comes naturally to all your friends, but I’ll keep it short.
- You feel alone and cut off from your friends who are getting pregnant because seeing (and hearing about) their children hurts so much. We live in a child obsessed society, and they’re everywhere, giving you constant reminders, Mothers day and Christmas are especially hard.
- You’re angry at your body, the world, and especially those who complain about their children – they chose their life and you didn’t.
- You feel ashamed, maybe depressed, and your relationship with your partner will either be stronger or falling apart.
- Fundamentally you’re grieving, for the children you couldn’t have, for the future that you wanted, for all those things you wanted to do. And to add to that it’s unrecognised by society, by your family and friends. If you lose a family member at least people know what to say, but there are no words for the loss of an identity/a dream and because you’ve kept this secret no-one knows you’re hurting.
- When you’re starting to come out of the fog, you start to worry about what to do with your life, why you are here; after all you haven’t got the purpose and legacy that children provide.
I was incredibly lucky in that I joined the support charity MoreToLife and have healed with a fantastic group of friends and now we share a massive bond.
Studying NLP also really helped me to put things in perspective and the Time Line Techniques that I learned finally helped me to stop the negative feelings from coming back.
But it wasn’t quite enough. A couple of years ago I discovered this quote from Brené Brown. ‘I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen’.
It was like a shot in the arm and I realised that I was standing on the outside of my life and I’d had enough so I gathered my courage to stand inside my life and am now using my skills and experience to support other childless women.
The importance of perspective
When I was twenty I stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon and the place grabbed me. It looked big, hard, intimidating and forbidding.
For our tenth wedding anniversary we spent two weeks rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon exploring it from the bottom. From below it’s a totally different; it’s beautiful, intimate, quiet, and wet!
The trip changed my life and of the many things I learned, the most important was:
If you look at things in the same way that everyone else does, you’ll only see what they see. Taking a different perspective can be life-changing.
I hope I’ve opened the door to another perspective for you and you can recognise and understand what your friend/family member has been through.
Over to you
Do you identify with what I’ve written, maybe you couldn’t have children, and if so is this your experience?
Can you recognise this in someone you know?
We’d love to know your thoughts and any questions you have.
Bio. Lesley Pyne supports childless women to heal and to create a life they love. She uses her first-hand experience in coming to terms a life without children and her professional skills in NLP and time line techniques to help other childless women. Her website is www.LesleyPyne.co.uk