Whole Warrior Solutions blog
The journey of a childless woman presents many twists and turns. Those childless by choice may revel in the control of their decision to live a childfree life. Those childless by circumstance, may however experience inequality and varying socio-economic status across the lifespan. The journey of infertility often negatively impacts relationships, health, social status, and wellbeing.
Famous childless women such as Oprah, Cameron Diaz, Dame Helen Mirren, Condoleezza Rice have worked for causes they believe in, overcame the inequity of stigma and the gender pay gap.
Yet many childless women experience invisible heartache, social discrimination, relationship pressures and situational decline in mental health (Graham, 2015). Causes of infertility may comprise 50% endometriosis (La Rosa etal, 2020), and varying percentages of PCOS, pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids and other issues. Sometimes it is also the man who is infertile. The length of time and number of medical interventions attempted prior to and after diagnosis may also negatively impact earning potential, mental health and finances.
Over my career I have had the privilege of walking alongside many amazing women. There have been those who live with chronic illness, disabilities, have miscarried, experienced the grief of a stillborn, had multiple IVF attempts, been abused, abandoned when diagnosed infertile, and those who have never married and are childless. My work as a counsellor and life coach gives me a privileged portal into a window of their lifespan. The anecdotal impact of infertility across the lifespan I have observed has been wide and varied. Some common themes have included unrequited longing for a child, betrayal, discrimination, and acts of courage, resilience and even miracles!
What is clear from my own lived experience and professional experience is that the journey of the childless woman is a complex, courageous and solitary one. Support groups are not for everyone. Hitting grief points each anniversary of a miscarriage, coming to the point of acceptance of diagnosis, feeling like a social outcast, not being invited to mother's groups, and complicated grief can negatively impact wellbeing and future relationships if it is not addressed.
Childless women who come together in a women's circle share their stories of being unable to conceive. ‘Finding other women who can empathise with what it’s really like to be excluded from the mother's club, being on the outside, desperately longing to join in’. Tracey's infertility journey has included multiple unsuccessful IVF cycles (including three egg collections, four cancelled cycles, three pregnancies, two miscarriages and two surgeries).
What rings true is the personal grief and trauma stories...‘I stopped IVF treatment when my doctor said my womb was too damaged to carry a pregnancy to term,’ said Jenny. Tina said ‘I’m not just infertile. I’m a disappointment to my husband, and my mother and shunned by my church for having a "barren womb".’ Another client, Mary, said 'There's still a powerful stigma around being unable to have kids because society and the media idolises motherhood!' Sally said 'The constant need to try to make a baby ruined our sex life, took away all spontaneity and my husband had an affair.' (names have been changed to protect privacy).
Life is not always a bed of roses and baby bumps! The lens we look at life through can make all the difference to how we cope with pressure and find meaning in life. If you find you are stressed, ruminating and worried about childlessness - a counselling or life coaching session may just be the support you are looking for. I truly believe each life on this planet is blessed with a high purpose regardless of childbearing status. What are you giving birth to today? Love to hear your comments and thoughts. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org today!
Light and love
Learn more at www.wholewarriorsolutions.com.au
Tania Gorry is the founder of Whole Warrior Solutions based on the Central Coast of NSW.