So today was the official launch of Fertility Fest 2019 at the Barbican Centre, London and once again I get to take part in this wonderful event.
As ever I feel privileged to be invited to speak on this platform and share my experience as a Women of Colour where I also for to meet some of the other participants of the event who I will be sharing this stage with.
This year I will be taking part in Fertility Fight Club on Saturday 27th April – the topic being ‘There’s More to Life than Children’s Day’ and Race, Religion and Reproduction on Wednesday 1st May talking about one of the biggest infertility taboos. I hope to see as many of you there as possible but for now I’ll be in hiding preparing for these events.
So I wasn’t that organised this year to send Christmas greetings and New Year messages (ok ok I still have a bit of time to write a New Years message but I won’t) so instead I decided to take some time to reflect on this past year. 2018 was HARD (sigh)!!!! It’s easy for me to sit here and think that not much has really happened but the voices that I have heard recently have reminded me that this is not true…
Looking back it all started when Jody Day asked me ‘Why black women weren’t talking to her?’ Ok things had been put into motion before this moment but this question became a pivotal turning point on my journey.
This question lead me to wiring a guest blog for Gateway Women, it lead to my interview on BBC Radio 4′ Women’s Hour (Bloody Hell I was on Women’s Hour!!!), it lead to me holding the first GW WoC Reignite Weekend workshop, it lead to me taking part in Fertility Fest as well as a number of podcast interviews… people wanted to hear what I had to say, they wanted to hear my story!!!
On a personal note, life has been challenging. There are times when I am surprised that I am still standing – one day I will share more about this but for now I enjoy reminiscing on the things that kept me smiling. I also have a new look to see out 2018 and welcome in 2019…. yep I got my hair cut!
So as I turn the corner into 2019 I am excited to think about what is to come without forgetting what I left behind. Here’s to a New look, New friends, New acquaintances , New opportunities and New possibilities. Look out 2019 HERE I COME!!!
I was so excited to be contacted by Emma Haslett, one of the co-host of Big Fat Negative, a podcast about infertility and IVF
Emma came across my bog and contacted me to see if I’d be interested in going on their show to talk about my experiences around my childless journey. This was an easy Yes especially after listening to some of their podcasts. Emma and Gabby have such an open and honest style which is both funny, relaxed and informative and I am looking forward to my interview next week on the 11th December. Keep an eye out for the podcast….
Monica Clark and I held a Zoom call titled ‘Race and Reproduction’. It was a prelude to Monica’s participation at the Race and Reproduction – breaking taboos event at the National Theatre in London on the 14th Nov 2018 where we invited black women to share their experiences around childlessness. We wanted to look at what childlessness means for black women as well as exploring the meaning of ‘Otherhood’ because as you know it can be difficult for childless women to see a future without children. Our first call was filled with a lovely, lively group of women who are childfree by choice, childless by circumstance and the still hopeful, which presented a really nice mix of experiences.
I must say for a culture were we are not supposed to talk about our business outside of the family we all had a lot to say and it was interesting to hear the different voices around this shared experience of not having children. The untold story of making the choice not to have children is one that I am not to familiar with and one that has an important place in this conversation with comments such as “I feel less of aChristian because I didn’t want children”, ” our families want us to have children more than we do”, “it’s a taboo to admit that you don’t want children” being part of this experience. I have really came to appreciate how complex the decision around choosing not to have a child can be especially when a women goes through the process of trying to conceive because that is what is expected of her (through family pressures). Hearing the voice of the ‘still hopeful’ has also allowed me to feel the reality of women who are trying to remain positive whilst silently grieving the disappointment of their bodies letting them down on a regular basis with the muffled voices of “it’s because you are with a white man” resonating in their heads, adding to the pain that they are failing to conceive.
It really goes to show how not talking, not sharing our pain, not being honest with our feelings can lead to another level of pain and suffering that we could avoid by taking the chance to be open with others. But it’s not just about us being open its also about us being heard without judgment, with care and compassion that will allow us to feel safe enough to reveal our experiences. Listening without judgment without the feeling of being felt sorry for is something that we all long for.
Infertility is often considered a “female, white, middle-class problem” whereas actually it doesn’t discriminate.
‘How do you have a baby when you’re 39 and single? Anna is ready for children. The only problem: she’s recently been dumped. Determined to start a family of her own, Anna sets off on an eye-opening, hilarious and heart-warming journey to have a baby and write her own story.’
The play sees Anna navigating her way through the grief of losing her partner and trying to figure out what to do next as the awareness of heading into her 40s with unsuccessful natural conception and IVF under her belt which was cleverly scripted and funny at times. So many layers were explored, some of which I could identify with especially the re-visitation of ex’s (lol I’m sure that I dated a few of those characters portrayed in this play) and the research into using donor sperm with the uncertainty of taking this option.
Pursuing motherhood at all cost is not a path that I can fully identify with especially as I made the choice not to pursue assisted conception, so I was intrigued with the many questions the play brought up for me. Some scenes left me wondering about the desperation of (a women’s need or desire) to belong and to fit in with regards to friends, social groups and status and also about the desperation to create a life which lead me to wonder who thinks or speaks for the unborn child??? As much as I support that we all have a choice that we are allowed to exercise, I did wonder if a child has the right ‘not’ to be born, which was subtly raised. I also wondered who’s right was more important, the right to have a child (but who said we are entitled to this???) or the right not to be born under these circumstances???
Weather it is the disappointment after disappointment of seeing your period, every month, the fact that you cannot make sense of why ‘this man’ does not want children with you or you are struggling to conceive there is one common element to all of this…. we have all struggled and we all have the right to be happy.
I came across Civilla Morgan when she was interviewed during World Childless Week. After hearing her talk I knew that we needed to connect. So I emailed her and this evening we got to talk and talked and talked!!! So to cut a long story short I will soon be doing a podcast interview with Civilla and we will be pushing all kinds of boundaries. So watch this space…..
Last year I meet Lois Tonkin who was interviewing women for her book Motherhood Missed. One afternoon I went into London after work and sat with Lois and we talked for a couple of hours discussing my journey and the grief of childlessness. Around a year later I received my copy of the book this morning. I am looking forward to reading my the book. Get your copy and catch me at chapter 134…