It’s not only having children, but also trying to conceive them or deciding not to have them at all that can throw your working life up in the air for reappraisal.
You may feel others start to question your career, while you question your bigger purpose in life and what you really want.
This can be particularly true if family plans don’t come together the way you hoped, or how others close to you had hoped.
Today’s blog is for women who are struggling with conceiving and/or carrying a baby, those who decide parenthood isn’t for them and everyone else who would like to support them.
So first things first, don’t ask people about when they are having children.
Being able to have a baby is anything but a given, but being asked when you’re having children pretty much is.
So why do so many think asking about children is everyone’s business?
I guess many of us have grown up in settings where it’s the norm. It’s also (meant to be) an easy and happy conversation or at least a bit of gossip – everyone loves feeling like an insider. BUT given that we have the option of being more considered and empowered, let’s make more interesting and less intrusive conversations, shall we?
In a work setting, it is actually against the law in Australia to ask about a woman’s intention to have children.
So there’s that. Don’t break the law. But what asking more broadly?
Yep. It’s time to stop asking.
You will be told if you are a close friend, confidante or the person is up for telling you that day.
Stop asking when someone is thinking of having children and especially don’t try to hurry them along or mention their age and fertility.
I’ve heard all of these things, in fact, all have been said to me and much worse, to people I love going through IVF, miscarriages and other fertility struggles privately, in addition to those who decide they simply just don’t want to be parents (and yay for them! To have choice is a wonderful thing).
Hearing these struggles is excruciating to witness (I’ve tried to divert and change subjects many times) and I can’t even start to imagine how awful it is to experience.
Here’s the reality: You have no idea what others are dealing with.
The shear number of women going through IVF (I mean 1 in 6 couples have trouble conceiving) or miscarrying (1 in 4 pregnancies) is staggering. Do the maths and assume that everyone has a story, or at least that they could.
When it comes to people who are struggling with falling or staying pregnant.
Fertility, conceiving and bringing a child into the world is one of the clearest examples where you can give your heart, soul and wallet out and not get the outcome you want.
The yearning for children can be so loud it screams in your ears (it was for me).
If you are reading this and going through the struggle or come to the end of the road with trying, you have my heart.
Here’s what I want you to know, because I know you may forget or be hard on yourself.
Firstly, you are not broken or faulty. Not even one bit. You are divine and precious.
Life is not fair and you have done nothing to deserve this challenge, grief and pain.
Also, no one did anything to ‘earn’ their children. I think by now we can all agree that getting and staying pregnant is a combination of dumb luck and a miracle (I say this as a scientist!).
You don’t have to be okay about it (in case you think you have to be fine about it).
Please don’t let yourself become isolated. It’s likely that you’ll have some very dear friends with or without children who will love and support you til the end of time. Tell them how you feel – that sometimes you enjoy seeing families with children and other times you resent them like crazy, your stomach sinks when you see them and you want to burst into tears.
They’ll get it as much as they can and your friendship will not just survive, it will in most cases become stronger. The bonus is that they can be a source of change too and make others aware of not asking assumptions about other people’s reproduction!!
But most of all, I want you to know that you are much, much more than your ability to conceive or whether or not you become a parent.
Your life is about much more than parenting (as mentioned earlier, at a deep level women have not been socialised to believe this truth).
You’re whole life matters. You are a gift to the world.
So I invite you to feel all your feelings and to feel hope twice or three times as much as you currently do.
Hope for how spectacularly beautiful your life will be with or without children.
Hope for the incredible impact you will make in the world.
Hope for your capacity to cope with anything life throws at you with time, love and tenderness.
Hope that the best is yet to come.
Conscious ambition is all about embracing where we are and our unique blend of talents, passions and skills to live with purpose and maximise our fulfilment.
Whilst I can’t help your family dreams come true* or stop that annoying colleague who thinks they can talk you into having children, I’d love to help you shine and to use your brilliance to get the most from your working life.
What do you say? Feel free to make an appointment for a free one hour coaching session below.
*Support helplines (thanks to Andrology Australia)
Australia’s National Infertility Network is a independent, non-profit consumer based organisation who represent a national voice for infertile men and women.
Phone: 1800 888 896
The Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association represents the views of infertility counsellors to the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee, Fertility Society of Australia and the New Zealand Infertility Society.
Mensline Australia supports men who are dealing with relationship difficulties, particularly surrounding family break-down or separation. The service offers anonymous telephone support, information and referral for men around Australia.
Phone: 1300 789 978
Relationships Australia is an organisation that offers resources to couples, individuals and families to help enhance and support relationships. Offices are located in each state.
Phone: 1300 364 277
P.S. Did you see that I've made a free video series to help you make your next career move with confidence? Five Steps to Career Clarity will come straight to your email, complete with new tools and insights for you. Just sign up in the form below - you can also click below to see yours truly introducing the series!