The 5 things I’ve learned coming to terms with childlessness

You know sometimes you get an email that brings everything to a stop for a few moments?

That happened to me last week, I had an email from the Emma Barnett Show on BBC Radio 5 Live; they were doing a show completely about IVF & would like me to be involved.

My answer was an initial yes then huge disappointment when I realised I couldn’t be in London on the day in question. After a couple of discussions with the researcher, we agreed I’d travel up to BBC New Broadcasting House in central London later in the afternoon & record a piece describing the 5 key things I’ve learned in coming to terms with being childless.

I did have a slight panic when he asked me to list them off the top of my head, but luckily he gave me some time to think about what they would be. The first thing on the list was that childlessness is grief, that’s a no brainer. And after that I found it hard to limit it: and could have made it 10, and in the end I believe I came up with a good list. Here they are in bullet points, you’ll have to listen to the audio to hear the detail. I’d love to know whether my 5 resonate with you, are they true for you and is there anything else you’d add (please add a comment)?

The 5 things I’ve learned.

  • Not becoming a mother is grief and you have to go through it,
  • The most important & hardest step is letting go of the dream of becoming a mother,
  • You are not alone,
  • You CAN find joy
  • And it could be an opportunity.

There’s obviously more detail, here’s my recording, it’s less than 4 mins long so an easy listen.

The programme itself

The programme itself was incredible. In the studio they’d gathered women who, between them had been through 110 rounds of IVF & spent over £500,000.

A number had been successful, but not all. For me, the most powerful part of the show was hearing their stories, what they’d been through and how they felt at both the time and afterwards.

There were some contributors you might recognise, including Jessica Hepburn, author of 21 Miles and director of Fertility Fest. I particularly loved these words from her; ‘we all have our sadness in the world & you have to take it & turn it into something positive’.

I listened to the whole show &, honestly if you listen yourself, you might find it tugs on some old wounds (here’s the link which is open for 30 days  ). I would recommend it mostly to those going through IVF or their families. It covered an awful lot of ground & if I had to criticise it, I was slightly disappointed that my segment was played just before the news & wasn’t followed by a discussion of what happens you end up on the path to childlessness. But that’s a small criticism, it was a very powerful show.

What the panelists had learned

Right at the end, Emma asked some of the panelists to describe what they’d learned. I know from the voices that a couple who answered have children and it was interesting that their reply was very similar to what I would have said. Here’s a selection:

  • The pain doesn’t go away (from a Mum of IVF twins)
  • Self-care is key
  • It’s really important to look after your mental health
  • Life is precious…. whatever the outcome, you have to live life to the full, enjoy every minute you can
  • Life is sometimes incredibly tough, so be prepared for that & look after yourself.
  • You’re stronger than you think.

And to end with words from a caller: ‘I’m sitting at home listening to a panel of heroic women & amazing risk takers. In the billion to one chance of life that we sometimes take for granted we need their stories to he heard to remind us of what is truly miraculous & precious. Which is just being alive.’

Amen to that.

(Here’s a photo of all the women who appeared on the show, I’m not sure who took it)

What do you think?

I’d love to know whether my 5 things resonate with you, are they true for you and is there anything else you’d add?

Thank you

4 thoughts on “The 5 things I’ve learned coming to terms with childlessness”

  1. Fabulous blog so encouraging,…..really spoke to me the bit when you say about making room for other dreams….I am blessed and encouraged and going to get leopard skin boots… rock

    • Thanks Caron, I’m glad it helped.
      To me, the boots, blue nails & bracelets are signs of being comfortable in my own skin & I definitely feel more confident when I’m wearing them (although I had to take the bracelets off when recording as I wave my arms about & they’re too noisy)!

  2. Every time I see leopard print shoes I think of you😊. I like your 5 things you learnt they all resonate with me. If we can get past the grief then we can learn to look after ourselves and start to love ourselves. Thank you Lesley 😊


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