If you’d said to me a few years ago that I would be looking forward and feeling excited about attending a day about being childless I’d have given you a really weird look. I’d have thought you were insane and would have probably told you so.
But it’s now bizarrely true !!
I am really excited to be counting down the days until the 27th April when I’ll be attending There’s More to Life than Children, at The Barbican in London. I can imagine that you are reading my words and giving me a snerk and an eye roll just like I would have done a few years ago. Possibly with the words “the World’s gone mad; well Steph has ” circulating in your head.
Hear me out as I tell you why my thoughts have changed or rather done a whole 180 degree flip.
I am still someone who gets nervous meeting people. I know I will have butterflies doing laps in my stomach on the 27th walking towards The Barbican, because that is a part of me that will not change. My nerves will be due to the thought of meeting people; not just new people but also ‘old’ friends. Usually my nerves lead me to say something stupid, something that makes me cringe inwardly as it rolls off my tongue. I can’t help myself; that is part of who I am. I’ll also be worried about recognising people whom I’ve talked to online but never face to face. Then there is the bigger problem of forgetting people’s names and hoping I don’t have to introduce one person to another. Getting tongue tied and forgetting names rolled into one can be a whole new disaster to worry about. You may think I over exaggerate but I managed to forget my own name once when attending my first day at college, so anything really is possible.
With all of these thoughts why am I going to put myself through this day? How can I say I am excited to attend something, when in reality I could be at home with my feet up watching something on the telly without a care in the World?
I want to go because attending Fertility Fest last year was life changing.
I discovered that people still liked me despite my nerves. I discovered that people wanted to know me for who I really was. I made new friendships and strengthened old ones. I heard stories that I understood and recognized the emotions my own heart had felt. I was surrounded by people who knew my pain. There were tears of sadness, but equally tears of happiness. There was no judgment or dismissal of my opinions or emotions. I could talk freely without fear. I was embraced by a group of people that felt like family.
After the event several of us stayed behind to mingle. The room felt charged with electric and the buzz of conversation was filled with laughter. I’d had a couple sips of wine but this did not contribute to the natural high I was cocooned in. I discovered a place where I belonged.
I will mention at this point that there was a lady sitting in a corner on her own and silently shedding a few tears. She was spotted by some friends who went to talk to her and she was immediately embraced into our circle without hesitation. So if you are attending on your own, don’t be afraid to approach me or anyone else whose face you may recognize. Come along and join our family.
During the day I’ll be attending all three of the daytime events and you are welcome to join me. You’ll also find a quiet room where people will be open to talk, listen or offer hugs. In the evening you have the additional option to watch Avalanche. As this is something I do not feel fully comfortable with I’ve arranged to relax and chat with some others from our community. We’ll then join up with everyone again after the show has finished. Again you are welcome to join us.
There’s More to Life than Children is a day of opportunities. It can be a reminder of the pain you have felt but it can also be a day of celebration. A day to discover you are not alone and perhaps take a step towards acceptance. A chance to find a positive within your heartbreak and realize that being childless is only a part of you and not all of you. Yes we are childless but we are so much more.
Remember, you may feel nervous and I may look calm but at moments I’ll also be shaking in my boots (well, comfy shoes). So please take this as an open invite to introduce yourself and say hello.
Love, laughter and hugs
To read Berenice Smith’s thoughts on last years Fertility Fest and watch a Facebook live from the “after show” party that shows a little of the electric atmosphere, click here. If you spot it, you’ll also hear me making a classic cringe worthy name mistake.