Forced choice by Steph Penny

I had been married for two years when I was diagnosed with lupus. I was thirty one years old at the time. My husband and I had decided to enjoy our time together before making any hurried decisions about family. Our deadline was to make a decision by the time I turned thirty-five.

The lupus diagnosis came after about eight years of strange symptoms and misdiagnoses. In that respect, it was a blessing. It finally gave me clarity on all the bizarre, seemingly coincidental medical issues I had experienced.

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The Best Laid Plans by Tanya Trusler

“I grew up firmly believing that I’d be a mom one day. Parenthood had always figured into my plans and life goals, but I thought I was being sensible by getting my degree, starting my career, getting married, travelling, buying a place, and becoming financially secure first. “ Read this honest and moving account by Tanya Trusler on the facts and figures in her journey.

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Introduction to World Childless Week Facts and Figures by Steph

I started World Childless Week because I realised that the voice of the childless not by choice community I am part of, was not represented anywhere. I felt that we deserved a week that was focused on those of us who have never been pregnant, never carried full term or only hold the memory of a child born sleeping. Our grief of never having the children we dreamt of is largely unrecognised, a disenfranchised grief.

In July and November the USA and UK retrospectively have infertility awareness weeks that focus on fertility and not those of us who will never be parents. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month which some of us can relate to, but not all of us. July is Bereaved Parents Awareness Month, but having not suffered the loss of a living child we are excluded from this month as well.

The term childless can be used in numerous ways by different people: parents who are suffering empty nest syndrome, parents whose children live across the other side of the world, parents whose children are missing, parents who are estranged from their children, parents who have sadly had a child passed away. All of these (and more) are reasons that people may say they are childless and whilst our grief overlaps in many ways, a parent’s grief is different to ours. Parents have memories that for us were just dreams and often there is a divide of misunderstanding that can lead to a lack of empathy.

World Childless Week is our chance to raise our voices and be heard. It is our chance to share our stories and our thoughts. It is a way for us to support each other and find strength through others.

World Childless Week is a way for us to unite as one.

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Posts will be published throughout the day on the World Childless Week website which will automatically be fed to the World Childless Week Facebook page and Twitter account.

So please join in each day in whatever way you feel comfortable. A simple "like" to a post can make a real difference to the person who gathered up their courage to share their words. A comment can start a conversation. A re-tweet or share of a post could really make a difference because your post may reach the eyes of someone who is silently struggling.

Let’s do this not just for ourselves but for all of us and start the day by reading and interacting with Facts & Figures: Our Stories, because Our Stories matter.

Stephanie Phillips, founder, World Childless Week