University of Nottingham

Childless not by choice: a fertility, pregnancy and infant loss, and unwanted childlessness support session

Online (Microsoft Teams)
Friday 19th March 2021 (11:00-12:00)
Women's Staff Network Committee

The Women’s Staff Network would like to invite anyone of any gender for whom this would be helpful to attend a support session on mourning the loss of a child or pregnancy at any stage, experiencing fertility challenges, or otherwise facing a future which is ‘childless not by choice’. 

You may have encountered such experiences due to fertility challenges, miscarriage, termination including for medical reasons, stillbirth, neonatal or child death.  Alternatively your life circumstances, such as your relationship status or access to resources, might have made it more difficult to start a family whether through spontaneous conception, assisted conception, adoption or any other means.  These experiences might have been recent, affected by Covid-19 or in the long past but all are welcome to be brought to the session. Anyone who would like to share their experience of egg or sperm donation or of host surrogacy would also be welcomed.

This session is intended as a safe space for people to confidentially share stories, find out more about support resources for fertility, loss, reproductive trauma and unwanted childlessness, or just to have a refuge from workplace conversations about parenting which may be experienced as painful for some.  The hope and intention is that the WSN will start to build ongoing support network(s), a buddying system and resources for staff.  We would like to spend some time chatting about what might be helpful within the workplace in terms of ongoing support, community and manager guidance. 

People who have living children or are pregnant but who also identify as having experienced difficulty in conceiving or have experienced the loss of a pregnancy or child are very welcome to attend, although we would request that such colleagues are sensitive that the topic or presence of living children could be triggering or difficult for some attendees who may be childless and/or have experienced trauma connected to pregnancy or parenthood.  Colleagues who have living children or are pregnant and who have not encountered these challenges may wish to attend the Parents Café as an alternative.

The session will be facilitated by Charlotte Kingsbury and Denise Mclean, members of staff who have experience in some of these areas (see below) but who are not trained counsellors.  Please be aware that topics could be emotionally challenging and that safe space principles will need to be committed to by all attendees.  The session will not be recorded and staff will be expected to honour the confidentiality of all members.  Any colleagues that cannot attend but who would be interested in accessing support on these topics are invited to contact Charlotte or Denise. 

Charlotte and Denise’s preferred pronouns are she/her.  Any male colleagues or colleagues of other genders who would be willing to help ensure that diverse experiences are represented and supported within this or potential future sessions are also warmly invited to contact Charlotte or Denise.  Additionally, we do have a male member of staff with experience of male fertility challenges and assisted conception who is available to offer one-to-one listening and support if this is what you need at the moment.   Charlotte or Denise can put you in touch in the strictest confidence if so.

A bit about Charlotte

Charlotte spent the best (actually, the worst) part of a decade trying to start a family, and experienced unexplained infertility, multiple attempts at assisted conception, and eight miscarriages before welcoming her living child last summer.  Charlotte has featured in the media talking about her experiences, including the post-traumatic stress disorder that she developed (and still lives with) as a result of long term reproductive trauma.  Charlotte is committed to raising awareness of the devastating impact on mental health that unwanted childlessness and reproductive trauma can bring, and to educating friends and families of those affected on how to better support loved ones living with these circumstances.  

Charlotte’s media links:

NB: Content warning that my ‘rainbow baby’ (a living child born after previous pregnancy or infant loss) is featured, along with reference to pregnancy loss.

  • My story of long term infertility, recurrent miscarriage and related PTSD was published by the BBC in November and later re-featured after Meghan Markle’s sad miscarriage news.
  • I was featured on Notts TV (starting at 1 minute 55 seconds, until 5 minutes 15 seconds).
  • The BBC piece was ‘borrowed’ by the Daily Mail Online.
  • I spoke to the Nottingham Post for 2020 Baby Loss Awareness week.
  • I was also interviewed by BBC Radio Nottingham on 14th November and again on 25th November when Meghan Markle shared her sad story of miscarriage – I have them as audio files which I can share if helpful with colleagues.

A bit about Denise

Denise endured over five years of heart wrenching anguish in the pursuit of fulfilling her and her husband’s desire to have a family. Her painful encounters included two miscarriages, an ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, myomectomy and IVF treatment. After great perseverance, tears and prayers they were blessed with a son, who is now sixteen years old.

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