One to One Coaching

I offer free 30 minute telephone/Skype consultations for people wanting to find out more about coaching on the 'baby decision'. Email me at and assistant Laura will respond and arrange an appointment with you. Visit for more information about my coaching services.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Book Review: Couldn't Wouldn't Didn't: Insights into the Lives of Women Who Never Gave Birth

A few months ago, I was sent a copy of this book -  a compilation of interviews with women who never had children.  The author Wilamina Falkenhagen describes herself as a '30-Something Australian woman doing her best to navigate the world of relationships, careers and babies.'

The main question Falkenhagen is seeking to answer - both for herself and for other people is

'What if you never have a baby? Will you live a perfectly fulfilled life or will you regret it?'

Very cleverly, Falkenhagen seeks to address this through looking at the lives of 10 woman -ranging in ages and professions who either through choice or circumstance have one thing in common; they have not had children.   It's an approach I think is a fantastic way to look at the question of regret about not having children.  I also interviewed a number of women and one of my interviewees Margaret who never had children and who was looking back on her life when she was in her 60's had a lovely and poignant story about her decision - you can read about her story here in this blog post on Looking back on a life without children 

One woman featured in the book is Freda who at 95 is still determined to lead an independent life.   Freda explains that she just never met a man she wanted to settle down with.  Did she feel like she missed out, did she regret not having children?  No says Freda, she feels she had a good life and was fortunate to have her own house and was able to make a good living.  She also was able to be involved in the lives of her nephews and nieces.

Another is Sarah who is 54 and who at different points in her life did feel flooded with hormones that did make her explore options for having a baby.  But her initial plans never worked out and when she adopted a puppy, her desire to have a child on her own also died off.  Sarah also describes her life as being lived without regret.  She is involved with the lives of the children of friends and feels very fulfilled and happy with her life choices.

A couple of the women featured did have children that they had adopted or who came via surrogate mothers.  Jade was a foster carer and an adoptive mother.  Although it was challenging, she would not change a thing and feels that there is great fulfilment in providing a loving and caring home to children who would otherwise not experience this.

At the end of the book, we hear Wilamina's own story.  Still undecided, Wilamina is still considering the issue, but it feels that she has more trust in the future, more trust that whatever happens, she will make it work.

I think that this book in an interesting addition to subject of having or not having children.  You can order the book here at Vivid Publishing.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Reflection: Opening our hearts to hear each other

For the past week, I have recovering from a cold and feeling rather miserable about it.  Particularly as I had to cancel two clients on Friday who I was really looking forward to coaching.

And then, yesterday out of the blue, came an email from a client I had worked with a year ago that really shifted me out of my funk!  It was from a woman who came to me feeling like she was in an impossible place.  Her husband really wanted a child but she was very unsure.   While the coaching primarily focused on her,  I also gave her some exercises to work on with her husband.  Often, when people come to me and the crux of the dilemma is very connected to their partner or husband, I have found it is crucial to facilitate my client to find ways to communicate more effectively with their partner.  When we find ways to connect and speak from our heart, then it can allow the other person to do the same, to open their heart and have a real, authentic conversation about their fears around having children or not having children.

What I have found over the years is clients who find themselves at odds with partners around the decision to have kids or not  is that they and their partners get into entrenched positions and it become very difficult to see a way forward.  Sometimes, it may be necessary to see a specialist couples therapist in order to resolve the issue.   In one of my most popular posts on this blog, you can see in the comments section, many women who are in a very painful situation with a partner who does not want children.  And as I pointed out before, loving someone who doesn't want kids (when you do) is a very painful place to be.  On the other side, it can also be very painful if you are the one who doesn't doesn't want children.

But I have found that just giving my clients simple questions to ask each other and giving ourselves the space to truly listen to the other, can make all the difference.  My client who emailed me put it beautifully, 'the questions you had us asked helped ups to open our hearts to hear each other'

What would it if we could open our hearts to hear each other just a little bit more? I wonder how many other problems would resolve themselves if we could do this?

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Delaying the baby decision

I saw this interesting article So Why Didn't I Worry About My Own Fertility? yesterday in the Washington Post - written by a doctor who had a personal experience struggling to have a child when she was in her late 30's.   The author explains why she delayed having children.

'I had a perfectly good reason to delay childbearing, one that would seem familiar to many of my patients: I was focused on my career. My sister and I were the first in our family to graduate from high school and the first to go to college. I just kept going. My medical degree and specialty added 11 more years to my training, and I simply didn’t allow myself much time for meeting a partner. I convinced myself that my career would be enough; my career would be my child. That all changed when I was 38 years old and my now-husband walked into the room. I don’t regret my decisions, and I am grateful for a job I’m passionate about. I’m glad I waited to find my soul mate. I just never anticipated the sacrifice it would require.'

One of the issues that some women bring to me is “when is the ‘right time’ to have children – should they wait till a certain stage in their career?”.   The blogger Grad Mommy addresses this issue in her blog entry on the 20 April 2008:

“There is so much consternation amongst graduate students about   when the best time to start a family is. I’ve heard it everywhere along the grad student - tenure continuum: wait until after classes are done, no, wait until you’ve defended your proposal, no, wait until you’ve landed your first position, no, wait until after you’ve gotten tenure. I remember a professor back in my freshman year of college saying, 'There’s never a good time to get married or have children. Just do it.' I followed his advice.”

I agree with this advice.  I can understand you might want to defer the decision to have children until you are in a better financial position or more secure in your job, but there is a danger you are waiting for an ideal situation that may never materialize

The reality is something does have to give when you are a working parent.  We can all have a working life and a family life.  But I’m not going to kid you.  You’ll have to make a compromise somewhere along the line.  I was speaking to a colleague who has pretty much decided not to have children, but she is interested in fostering.  She asked me if I thought she would have to cut down on her weekend working (she is a trainer who trains often at weekend workshops).  As much as I wanted to say “Hey, no, of course you’ll be able to foster and keep on working as you’d like.”  I had to say yes, if you are going to be a foster parent, it is unlikely you’d be able to work every other weekend.   

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

'Oops... I forgot to have children'

A common misconception of women who are struggling with the baby decision is that they have been 'absentminded' in their planning to have children and have woken up when it is almost ‘too late’ to have kids. For my book, Baby or Not, I interviewed many women who were all too aware of the biological clock and the problems that she might have in conceiving.

“At 32 I wanted to be in the position of at least trying to conceive. It’s a very practical decision – I want more than one child and if we don’t start conceiving the first until my mid thirties, then I will be older when we conceive the second.” Said one of my interviewee’s Janet

 For Janet, the problem is around the unpredictability of what may or may not happen.

“You don’t know how long it will take – it took a friend only two or three months to conceive. If I was to conceive now, it would be too soon. Yet, I know it could take much longer and then if there were complications, we’d have to go for tests and procedures.”

Today, we live in a culture where the concept of “youth” has extended from the teenage/college years right into our mid-thirties and early forties. Clubbing is no longer something that is just done by students – clubbers range in age from 18 to 40.  Walking along my local high street in a boho area of London, I see 30-year-olds wearing the same gear as 18-year-olds at the next table.  Flipping open my Sunday paper, I see that Mick Jagger and the Sex Pistols are still rocking out in their 60’s.

That’s all well and good – hey it’s fun!!  We’re not as restricted as our parents’ generation – we’re not limited in our interests or dress sense.  We can have responsible jobs and feel like we are part of the urban, cool youth street culture!

The problem is while we live in a culture that blurs the boundaries between youth and middle age, our biology hasn’t shifted.  And as another one of my interviewees Emma points out:

“It’s difficult because supposedly we have all these choices – we can do anything.  Yet, ironically we have less choice when it comes to having children.  Despite IVF, our fertility is still as restricted as it was 40 years ago.”