Adventist Radio Interview

A few months ago Vanesa Pizzuto, presenter and producer at Adventist radio invited me onto her show, On The Go. Vanesa came across me via Sheridan Voysey, who I shared a platform with at Fertility Fests’ Fertility Fight Club at the Barbican back in April. So yesterday I was welcomed at the Radio station in Watford by Vanesa and her team.

It always surprises me how I feel like every interview is my first. This time I was particularly surprised at how emotional I felt during this one. I do, at times, feel a touch of sadness when I tell my story but at this interview I was reminded of how I felt when I first attended a Gateway Women’s workshop back in December 2014. I was also reminded of how I felt when I first faced the possibility that I was grieving the loss of my dream of becoming a mum and I was reminded of how far I have come since 2014. What a journey!!!

It is so great to be invited onto Christian platforms, Premier Christian Radio being my first, where I can still remain true to who I am. One of the difficulties that I experienced in the church environment (that I was in at the time) was the feeling of not being truly accepted and the many messages of ‘not being good enough’ that I felt on a regular basis. Today I was heard, acknowledged, understood and validated all in a place. This is a feeling that I never thought I would have, I never thought that the ‘Christian world’ would not accept my truth.

So today I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be heard on a platform that could have easily said No (to me) and from a woman who know’s how important it is for our stories to be heard so that other women on a journey similar to mine can hear that they are not alone. So I’m sending a BIG FAT THANK YOU to Vanesa for allowing me to share my story and for her world to know my truth xxx

Stories

Last week I saw the play Stories at the National Theatre with Monica Douglas-Clark.

Stories

The bio for the play reads…

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.’

Stories

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.

 

Our Warnscale Walk

 

I didn’t get a chance to share this when I went on this walk with some fellow GWs so 1 year one I thought that I’d share this with you now…

Our Journey on Warnscale like the childless journey.

A difficult, stony path full of others taking the space so we have to start backwards, behind others, late, too late, all the spaces are taken, no room for childless women, you’ll have to go elsewhere, get to the back, others come first. Parents and mothers always come first.

You’re on the the difficult path, on the stony path and the wind is so strong it pulls and pushes, I can hardly move, we are fighting just to walk thru the air. I can hardly move forward but I push myself onwards, so hard to hear each other speak, my ears hurt, stumble, trip, slip, we move, like snails so slow, walking into the bloody wind, give us a break wind I want to shout! It’s so hard being childless and you just make the journey harder.

We cross the bridge, it gets steeper, the rocks get bigger, we stumble on over rocks and into wind. I don’t think we can make it further? I don’t think we can make our spot, hit the mark, make the grade. I know this feeling of aiming and failing. I know it. I want to travel further than I can. I am reminded of limitations. I am disappointed and sad. It’s too dangerous to go on. My body too weak. I can’t.

We struggle off the path and collapse under a hawthorn tree. Tree for the heart. Hearts ease. A pause. The view! Wow. Think about glaciers, great blocks of ice. I have never seen a glacier. I would like to see one. To stand on millions on tons of ice, cold and white. We have a rest, take shelter from the wind. Too tired to climb higher. Too dangerous. We decide to stop. To just stop the journey. I know this point, I know it well. The decision, the turning point.

And so we descend. The wind whips us like a punishment, we cling to hats and to each other. How are you? Are you ok? It’s tough going up but it’s also tough coming back. I know this too. It’s so tough to come back from the wilderness of being childless. You can either sit out on the mountain of motherhood and die of exposure or you have to retrace your steps. And that hurts. Our eyes water, our knees buckle, we sigh into the wind.

We cross back over the bridge. We are at the edge of Buttermere and we meander now at the lake edge. Can we find our way back if we just follow this path? We walk on, talking about our Plan Bs. We see amazing trees, rowan berries, chatty people, people in blankets, people joking with us, dogs, couples with cameras. We walk through a tunnel cut in the rock. I love it! Like a spooky adventure, a rebirth from dark rock. I imagine skeletons lurking. I laugh into the darkness. I have my friends with me now.

We finish at a tearoom full of men eating ice cream. We are getting attention I notice. We have journeyed together from women who had no room this morning to women who take our space. Who turn danger and disappointment, sadness and loss into new space. Our space. Our lives. As rich and as beautiful as any other.  The tearoom welcomes us. The ice cream eaters smile at us. I smile at us and I’m grateful for my life.

 

 

 

 

Dealing with difficult emotions

Dreaming of a Life Unlived, Dealing with Grief

I was at an event recently where a lady spoke about the charity she started called Sienna’s footsteps. The aim of the charity is to raise awareness and  money for her daughter to have an operation (in the states) that will help her to walk. Her daughter has cerebral palsy, microcephaly. I must admit when I initially heard about her charity I found it hard to engage. It was hard to hear this women’s journey of fighting for her child to experience taking her first steps, something that her other children naturally did. I was unable to relate, trying just brought tears to my eyes not because I could understand her sadness but because mine was greater. As I listened I was reminded that I would never get the chance to stand up and fight for my child, I will never be their voice when they needed me the most. Don’t get me wrong, I am not sure that are many women who would want to trade places with Sienna ‘s mum just to experience motherhood but she is experiencing motherhood (as tough as it is) and there are many of us who will never get to say that.

It has been tough writing this post, I’ve mulled over my feelings for some time mainly because I found it difficult being in the position of wanting to say “well as least you are a mum” and “at least you have other children (who have a ‘normal’ life)”. This kind of honesty is great to recognise in ourselves (so that we can deal with the feelings with care and compassion) but will not always be welcomed outside of our heads. My reality shows me that not many childless women could be honest with their thoughts and feelings without facing condemnation from their peers esp if their peers are mothers themselves.

Well as the weeks have passed I am glad that I have recognised these feelings in myself so that I could honour them, I am also still comforting myself for having them too. A good friend reminded me that Sienna’s mother needs the compassion that I would want mothers (and others) to give to me when they hear my story which has really helped me to be able to write this post. So I wish Sienna’s mum all the best on her journey with all the love and compassion that I can offer whilst I hug myself with all the self-compassion that I deserve.

Dreaming of a Life Unlived, Dealing with Grief

Fertility Fest 2016

Thanks to an invite from Jody Day I had the opportunity to attend Fertility Fest in London. It was the first time that I have come across such an event which took me on an emotional journey. The first talk I attended was named the ‘The Infertility Experience’ which started with extracts from 2 plays Mama’s Little Angel by Somalia Seaton and Those who Trespass by Matthew Dunster.

Mama’s Little Angel explores the experience of a young women who was diagnosed with infertility as a teenager. As much as I couldn’t relate to the experience of knowing that I would not be a mother at such a young age I remembered a couple of conversations that I’ve had recently with women who are in their 30s. Both women are unsure if they will become mothers but who remain hopeful despite the trials they have encountered trying to conceive naturally. Thinking back to when I received my ‘unexplained fertility’ diagnosis I knew in that moment that I wouldn’t become a mum. I was 43 heading towards 44. Listening to these women I was grateful that I wasn’t 33 having to live through years of what probably feels like a bottomless well of hope and endless trying only to be told ‘No’ month after month. My pain was instant which quickly turned into grief, it wasn’t long and drawn out, although the 3 years of trying did take its toll, my hope was over in what felt like minutes.

The second play was about a couple who cannot conceive naturally, who turned to adoption after being unsuccessful with IVF. IVF and adoption were not options for me and my husband, in fact its something that we discussed more recently and more of a way of making sure that it wasn’t what either of us wanted but sitting there listening to the debate that took place afterwards I was amazed at the journey’s people/ couples will take to have the family that they have always dreamed of. Given the chance to do it all over again I still do not think I would chose the IVF or adoption route  but I have gained an improved insight into the process and what it really means for those hopeful couples that embark on this journey.

After lunch I attended a talk titled ‘Facing Involuntary Childlessness’ where Jody Day (who you all know), Katie Barlow (film-maker) and Tina Reid-Persin (visual artist) talks about their experiences.

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Tina talked about her photographic project ‘Photos I’ll Never Take‘ where she and her husband took family pictures with a doll that ranged from Tina being pregnant, Tina post birth, Tina celebrating her daughter’s (the doll’s) birthday, Tina and doll at the ice-skating rink – you get the picture. They were strangely sad and a reminder of the experiences that I will not have as a mother. Tina also told of her experiences of being asked to leave public places because she was scaring the children, the image of this did make me laugh but Tina’s question ‘how mad do you have to get before others see your pain?’ has stayed with me ever since I heard it.

The future of fertility talk definitely raised some eyebrows…. I’ll let you check out the time-less website for yourself. Make sure you visit the Stop the Clock Age-Defying Serum page – egg-freezing is apparently the new rage!!!

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The day ended with the Quite House, a beautiful play by Gareth Farr.

The Quite House is a love story about life where Jess and Dylan (the main characters) are in love, they want a family (who doesn’t???) and suddenly find themselves on an extra ordinary journey…. You’ve GOT to see it!!! I laughed, it had some really funny moments, and although I couldn’t relate to the IVF journey, I cried as the cast took us on an emotional and very personal journey of trying for a family of their own. As the story unfolded I recalled the emotions I had encountered on my road to trying for my own family, when I really wanted to be a mum to my husbands’ child. I remembered the hope that consumed me and the pain that followed. The play (and actors) brings to life this incredibly emotional journey of trying to conceive a dream that most women have had since they can remember. A journey that is difficult to explain to family and friends who simply do not get it and an indescribable grief that is not allowed or accepted (outside of the circle of women who are here and have experienced it). It’s a grief that women who are not living ‘that dream’ will carry with us forever.

The play runs until the 9th July so if you can please go and see it.

 

The Quite House

The Quite House

I saw this great play at the fertility fest about a couple’s struggle with IVF. I will blog about the fertility fest soon but for now here is a discount code for anyone who wants to go and see it. It really is a great play and will invoke a lot of emotions, you’ve got to see it!!!

 

the quite house

the quite house