By Lisa Manterfield
One of the big changes I’ve seen since starting this site more than five years ago, is that the topics of infertility and childlessness are being brought out from behind closed doors and are being discussed in more public forums.
Whereas once I felt as if I was the only person talking openly about this, I’ve since found an incredible network of fellow bloggers and authors writing very intimately about their stories. Last week, the NotMom Summit was held in Ohio, where more than a hundred women discussed many of the issues we face and explored ways to follow a new path.
I’ve also received several requests to complete surveys from researchers who are exploring the effects and issues of unplanned childlessness. I’ve posted details about the two most recent studies below.
In your corner of the world, you may still be feeling that NO ONE is talking about this, that no one understands what you’re going through, and even your closest confidants don’t want to talk about it. Sadly, I think this is still true for most of us. But the tide is turning, and the more we talk about this topic and the more we venture out and start these conversations, the less taboo it will become.
Even if you’re not ready (or feel as if you will never be ready) to start your own campaign for understanding, you’re already part of this quiet revolution. You’re here, you’re talking about your experience with others, you’re sharing comfort and encouraging other readers. Even if you’re doing all of this anonymously and even if you’re coming here in secret to contribute to these conversations, you are part of the change that’s coming.
This issue is never going to go away, in fact I believe that our segment of the population will only continue to grow (but that’s another post for another day), but perhaps in the future, our sisters who need help will be able to pick up a leaflet from their doctors or walk into a local support group or sit down with a friend over coffee and feel comfortable talking openly about what it feels to not to have the children you wanted.
If you’d like to contribute to a research study, here are two I received recently:
Sarah Spear, M.A. from the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA is conducting a study of women age 60 and older who identify as infertile and as involuntarily childless. You can find more about participating in her study here.
Livia Cremona-Bellizia of Victoria University is conducting a survey into how childlessness affects self-esteem, self-silencing behavior, life satisfaction, and depression/anxiety. You can participate in her online survey here.
Please note that both studies are confidential and anonymous.
I’m really thankful for this place, just knowing there are others out there like me is really helpful. I have yet to meet a woman like me in person, but I know they are out there!
Jane P says
yes, like Becky apart from LWB I feel very alone. It helps to drop in on friends here and share coping strategies.
Lisa – just completed the Livia survey – one question assumed I had not ventured towards IVF – so I responded in terms of not pursuing “adoption”. It made me wonder if the results would be misleading though. It was the only question that I would have preferred a different option. I doubt it will matter thinking about it. Thank you for posting this and the survey – it helps to feel someone notices that not having children impacts on self worth and self esteem. I think had I completed the survey a year ago it would be very different. Again – I feel they ougt to ask how long since stopping TTC.
“…perhaps in the future, our sisters who need help will be able to pick up a leaflet from their doctors or walk into a local support group or sit down with a friend over coffee and feel comfortable talking openly about what it feels to not to have the children you wanted.”
Exactly! Well said, Lisa.