Walk in Our Shoes is at Fertility Fest 2018, There’s More To Life Than Having Children

Fertility Fest is for anyone and everyone. It’s for people with and without children. It’s for people in treatment and beyond it. It’s for fertility professionals and also for the general public who are interested in how the human race is (and isn’t) being made today. We promise that whoever you are it will be engaging, entertaining and exceptionally enlightening and whilst you’re there, you’ll feel part of a very special Fertility Fest Family.

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We Are Worthy summit

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Worth as a mass noun that is ‘The level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.’Many times in my life I have felt less valued or rated because I lacked the experience of being a parent. I am, according to one forum of professionals, unable to appreciate ‘how lucky I am to have the freedom to do what I want’ because I don’t have children. 

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Mental health issues caused by infertility after IVF or ICSI treatment failure

To do this subject justice, I would need to write a book or two as there are so many variations of mental health problems with different causes and whether or not people have them before or after infertility treatment.  People may be infertile due to many different factors and may not have found a partner to have children with and so are childless by circumstance.  Then there is the treatment itself and the methods, hormones and medications used and their effects on mental health.  There are also those people who choose not to have treatment or cannot afford it or cannot access it.  With all this, are society’s expectations that we should have children and the stigma associated with this when we find that we cannot.    

I am focusing on my mental health problems as a result of having discovered that both my husband and I are infertile.   The subsequent treatment we received and the fact that this failed to result in us having a baby.  

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Booted or bare? Mental health and childlessness

I was very moved to receive a post from a mental health practitioner who writes about her experiences of childlessness and how it impacts on our mental wellbeing. It's an inspiring piece that I felt was very powerful in her observation of herself against her demanding work. It also moved me because it gives so much useful advice that we can apply to how we manage too.

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New ideas, new look!

You'll now find that the website loads to a brand, spanking new landing page so you can find your way around a lot easier! I hope you like it! You'll also see that I've put all the links into neat folders. Under 'Get In Touch' you can email me via the form, find writing tips, get the low down on why Walk In Our Shoes happened and nosey all about me! In Twitter and Facebook you'll get the links to the two support initiatives I've created. And finally, there is the blog. 

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When labels hurt

I feel I always start posts by saying this is painful or difficult! Much of our journeys are littered with difficult situations, painful treatment, hard decisions and loss. The loss is what binds anyone who falls under the banner of childless. To the outside world that term might seem relatively simple. Within our community, it can be fraught with misunderstandings and argument and I find myself witness to disagreements. 

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A superhero mission this Mother's Day.

At the time of writing, it has been seven hours since the first post to Morrisons and no reply. The social team, who are available 8am to 11pm, are more interested in comments on their cauliflowers. So me, Mr Walk In Our Shoes, has been on a super hero mission....

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Walk In Our Shoes, World Childless Week and a new look blog page!

The Walk In Our Shoes website has been so helpful this past week but for an entirely different reason to the ones you'd expect!

I've been working with Steph Phillips on World Childless Week. As you may remember, I wrote lots of posts and interviewed a number of Walk In Our Shoes supporters for the first World Childless Week last year and I was proud to support Steph on this venture....

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Clem's Garden

I met Vicky through the Walking Forward Inspiration Network and I was moved to find out more about the project she has created called Clem's Garden. Here she explains the story behind the garden.

"It's an obvious question and one we get asked a lot. Clem is the Christmas baby me and Dunc never got to meet. (S)he took a wrong turning and grew outside the womb... the flower that just rooted in the wrong place.

1 in 5 people over the age of 50 are childless - what a huge pool of care, creativity and experience that represents.  More often than not, people find themselves without families of their own because of the lotteries of life and biology rather than because of any active decision they made not to have kids. 

Everybody's story is different - people lose their children, families become estranged, or the opportunity to become a mum or dad just doesn't come along.

Childlessness is one of those subjects that just doesn't get talked about - it's personal, it's hard to know what to say, it's easier to gloss over.  And life moves on.....but we know through our own experiences that when the world is full of families, there are times when not having a family of your own isn’t easy; and it can be lonely, however strong and resourceful you are.

So we decided to create something.

We’re creating an alternative place for all that care, knowledge and talent to go to really good use. 

An alternative place to find a role and be part of a team. 

A place to share skills and experience.

A place to help shape our community with kindness.

Clem's Garden stretches to about an acre and sits in the grounds of a beautiful Arts and Crafts building called Briarcourt in Lindley.

Kirklees Council used to own the site and landscaped the garden so that it could be used by people with different levels of physical ability who attended their day centre.  There's a car park, outdoor loos, and two great polytunnels, as well as step-free access throughout.

When we 'adopted' Briarcourt after losing Clem, the garden had been left to go completely wild for a number of years, but the potential for it to be put to a shared use again was obvious.

With the help of many wonderful individuals and businesses who support our vision for Clem's Garden, we've been working to tame and transform the site into a proper commercial flower-growing plot.

As well as clearing loads of brambles and sedge, we've re-skinned the tattered polytunnels, built composting boxes, and are currently constructing raised beds, which are being filled with 200 tonnes of topsoil and compost!  One day, we hope to build a really fabulous potting shed too."

To get involved please follow Clem's Garden online or, if you're in the area, pop in and lend a hand. 

Childless Hour

Childless Hour has a new page on Walk In Our Shoes! If you'd love to join a weekly chat with those who simply 'get it', where you can share those life challenges that others may not understand and get some support in handling them, then please do join us. We love new faces and you don't have to be a Twitter expert to take part, in fact we think #childlesshour is a great place to learn as we're so friendly! We have weekly themes and also lots of time for general, freestyle chat to share our concerns and high-five those successes too.

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A look back

In between watching the Muppets Christmas Carol and having a sob at the Snowman and The Snow Dog, I put together a small video and though I'd share it here with you.

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Happy post Christmas!

It was only as I posted about my Christmas in the closed community of Gateway Women that I realised how I have started to take ownership of Christmas. We've once again spent the week by the seaside, this hasn't always worked for me but I did a few things that helped and I wanted to share them here.

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