I had the pleasure of being Jody Day’s photographer at her book launch on Monday. The event was hosted at Eat, Shop, Do on Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London which turned out to be such an inspirational night. I was honoured to have been able to experience it. As I weaved through the crowds I meet some wonderful women, women who were part of the extended Gateway Women community and some women who weren’t but most were on this roller coaster ride of living a childless or childfree life. There were also some men who braved the cold (but were warmly welcomed) and came out to support the event too. To have been amongst such a variety of people, making new connections and hearing new stories made the night so special. For those of you who couldn’t make it and were there in spirit here is a link to the pictures. Enjoy!!!
I have been promoting my book these past few days, which has been meet with some positive reactions. Its been great to see that there are women out there who are just as excited as I am to see my book come to life. I realise that we still have a long way to go with changing people’s mind-sets. We childless women seem to be placed into some category by society because people don’t seem to know how to respond to us.
One response that surprised me was from a group of young women in their twenties, possibly their early thirties, who responded by anxiously saying that they want to have a baby soon so that they are not in my position when they are 45. They are single and actively trying for a baby. It was strange sitting there hearing these women not want to be like me when they are my age because as hard as this grief process is, I would not have wanted to be them at their age either. As much as I am sad that I couldn’t conceive with my husband the prospect of bringing up a baby alone was also not an option for me. During this encounter I was asked why I hadn’t met anyone in my twenties to have a baby with. It was a surprise that they thought it shouldn’t matter who I had a baby with just as long as I had one. They just couldn’t stand in my shoes and that, also made me question: why do women want children in the first place? And what price are they willing to pay to have them? I wouldn’t have said it’s an option that I readily chose but I wanted the best for me and my children and in some ways realised that this just became my reality.
As much as I have been met with excitement and admiration regarding my book I also see the difficulties that are still to come. Whilst I was sharing with a different group of women, telling that, as much as it hurts to be here, women grieving the loss of their unborn children do not need others to fix us, we are simply looking for love, support and understanding. Some women still told me ‘not to give up the hope of having a child’ with one whispering ‘just keep praying’ into my ear. As I breathed to contain my anger I realised that there are going to be those people that are so uncomfortable with the idea that I am grieving, that the only thing that they can do is to keep me in a world of false hope so that they do not have to see my pain. Why can’t they just allow this pain to be what it is, why can’t they just hug me (some women did which was so amazing), why can’t they just silently hold my hand through it?
Though all of the difficulties I also saw women who found the courage to own their stories, women who hadn’t even told their families of their struggles of navigating their way through not becoming a mum, which really touched my heart. I am very apprehensive about how I will be received, not only when I speak at International Women’s Day, but also when my book is published and my story is out there in all its glory, but I also see this as such a special part of my journey. My book may allow other women to have a voice, and this is such an honour for me.
Back in march 2015 I had the idea that I was going to write a book. This idea was born from a conversation I was having during my Gateway Women plan B workshop where I was working through the feeling of not being heard. I wanted to find my voice. So I decided that I was going to write a book using my photography and stories from other Gateway Women, to document our experiences on the journey to realising our plan Bs.
As the weeks went by the idea grew and started to develop at a rate that I certainly did not expect. As I developed the courage to take about my idea (and I was becoming more honest with my story) the more others became interested in what I wanted to achieve. People started to believe, they believed in my story, they believed in my journey and wanted to here the stories of the other Gateway Women.
It has been an emotional, tiring journey and I am becoming excited at the prospect of my up and coming book launch on the 5th March at International Women’s Day. Reading through the stories from my fellow plan Bee’s is overwhelming, they really remind me of what we have gone through and I am amazed at the strength of these women who are stepping out and sharing their stories. I really can’t wait to share my book and our stories with the ‘world’.