Fifty and childless

Nicci and Andrew Fletcher

Image caption

Nicci and Andrew Fletcher are now in their 50s

“What people don’t realize is it’s a form of bereavement. There were days we couldn’t get out of bed. we just couldn’t face the world.”

Nicci Fletcher, 50, says she and her husband Andrew felt “real grief” at not having children together and wanted to help other people going by the same experience.

So they motionless to set up an online subscription repository directed only at other people who wanted children but couldn’t have them.

Nicci and Andrew met in their late 30s. When an random pregnancy finished in miscarriage they were ravaged but suspicion they would be means to detect again.

But Nicci after detected she had hereditary her mother’s endometriosis – a condition which can lead to infertility.

“My mom was suggested not to have any some-more children after me but I’d never asked why,” she said. “I kick myself now. we had no symptoms at all. My durations were like clockwork, no pain.

“If I’d famous then we could have finished something about it. we could have had my eggs harvested and frozen. When you’re in your 20s, you consider you’ve got all the time in the world.”

Childlessness on the rise

According to supervision statistics published in November, scarcely one in 5 women in England and Wales innate in 1971 have no children at all – compared to one in 10 of their mother’s generation.

Although there are no central statistics on how many childless women wanted children, an educational study from Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands suggested it could be as high as 90%.

The conditions hit Nicci hard. As good as the pain of not having children, she felt removed from her friends who were bustling with their immature families.

“Of my 20 close friends, we was the only one but a child,” she said. “I had such a feeling of being marginalised.

“They were understanding as much as they could be understanding but we were in denial, we didn’t ask for any support.”

Andrew, 52, became unhappy at not being means to solve the situation.

“It’s opposite for men. We don’t have the biological needed that women do – we can presumably have babies at any age,” he said.

“But we felt vexed at not being means to help Nicci. we can contend the right words, we can massage her back but we can’t fix it. Most blokes like to fix things.”

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He also distressed for the future he had planned.

“We bought the farmhouse in France since it would be a noble place to bring up children. As a couple you make decisions formed on the arrogance of having children. It’s unpleasant realising you’re not going to have the life you expected.”

Slowly, Nicci and Andrew began to repel from friends and family.

“I’d always been a companionable person, but we became utterly reclusive,” pronounced Andrew.

“Everything felt geared towards children – even adverts on the TV – and so we began to feel totally alone.”

Finding your tribe

For 4 years, the grief and basin impressed them.

It was only by apropos endangered in the annual World Childless Week, a global eventuality to bring childfree people together, that Nicci and Andrew realised there were thousands of other people going by accurately the same feelings.

“It really helped us,” pronounced Nicci. “For the first time in years we’re going around with smiles on her faces. We’re members of a bar nothing of us wanted to be partial of, but it’s a very understanding club.”

It was this feeling which done them confirm to launch their online subscription repository for other child-free people.

It’s just one of a series of ways childfree people are coming together to support any other.

Debbie Norman, aged 50, is a member of Gateway Women, an online village of childless women who meet up every month via the UK.

Before joining, she found it formidable to speak plainly about the pain she felt at being childless.

“People would say: ‘Why don’t you just adopt?’ They’d try and fix the problem or brush it under the carpet. It just done me feel worse since my feelings weren’t being validated.”

The friendships she’s done by Gateway Women have given her “permission” to work by her feelings and come to terms with her situation.

“It’s not a life sentence,” she said. “There is light at the finish of the tunnel. It’s not the future you designed but it’s still light and beautiful. It can still be lovely.”

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The Institute of Public Policy Research estimates that, by 2030, there will be two million people aged over 65 but adult children, up from 1.2 million in 2012.

Approximately 230,000 of them will be in need of some-more than 20 hours’ caring a week and will have no spontaneous support.

Ageing but Children, a campaign organisation founded by Kirsty Woodward for people over 50 who don’t have children, is endangered about who will take on the caring responsibilities for childless people as they grow old.

A commander scheme has been launched in Dorset which aims to plea how services devise for people confronting those circumstances.

Ms Woodward said: “Our caring complement still relies heavily on the younger era caring for its relatives – 95% of caring is picked up by the family.”

As for Nicci and Andrew, assisting and joining with other people means they can now demeanour brazen to the future.

“We’ve left from stone bottom to feeling so confident and certain about the future,” pronounced Nicci.

“Helping other people has helped us heal. We’ve got a reason to get out of bed in the morning – which isn’t simply to walk the 3 dogs.”

Listen to Andrew and Nicci on the Stephen Nolan programme on BBC Radio 5 live on Saturday 13 Jan or thereafter on iPlayer Radio.

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