Many women grow up wanting to get married and have children, and some feel pressure from society to have families. Ultimately, the perfect marriage and family, isn’t every woman’s reality–for a variety of reasons from infertility issues to choice. Journalist Nichelle Polston has shared her own journey to self-compassion online and on social media. She helps empower others to acknowledge their truth, whether they are single, childless, or having fertility challenges–because everyone’s story is different and deserves to be honored.
We talked with Nichelle about her fertility story and her work developing the #HerNormal platform for women to feel supported and strong, wherever they are in their lives.
Q: What’s your fertility/infertility story in a nutshell?
My story is ultimately one of thanksgiving. At one time, I thought I had life all figured out and planned. I checked off college, a lucrative career, and marriage in a timely manner. By age 32, I was ready for a child. However, after several years of facing many fertility hurdles, I decided to open up about my journey through the website, Give Me a Ring and a Baby. It became a space specifically designed for the woman in the race against her biological clock to either get married or have children.
Eventually, sharing funny and serious moments that highlighted my story helped me to embrace my new normal. I created #HerNormal to further empower women. I truly understand the strong desire to get married and have children. However, it’s important to recognize that everyone’s normal is NOT the same. Let us all accept, support, and embrace the stories of our fellow sisters and refrain from questioning their relationships or childless status.
Today, I’m quite thankful for my fertility journey. I find joy in encouraging women who struggle with infertility as well as being the “bonus” mom to all children who need extra love and support.
Let us all accept, support, and embrace the stories of our fellow sisters and refrain from questioning their relationships or childless status.
Q: Why did you decide to share your journey of being a “married, childless woman,” as you described it, with the public? How has the response been?
I have a really good support system so in everything I do, people have showered me with nothing but love. I’m able to share with the public because of my support system and I’m blessed with people who are determined to keep me strong. In the words of a dear friend: “Not everyone is meant to be in your circle. Some belong in the crowd, so choose wisely.” As a result, my circle is one that’s small, supportive, and loving.
Q: What do you think are some of the misconceptions around women who do not have children?
I believe the biggest one is that all childless women are infertile. Resolve, the National Infertility Association, reports that 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility. According to experts, one third of those cases are attributed to men, one third to women, and another one-third is attributed to a combination of problems in both partners. Also, keep in mind that those numbers do not reflect miscarriages or women who decide not to have children in the first place.
Infertility isn’t a life sentence. Your story is unique, and sharing your truth is what makes you strong and a blessing to others.
Q: One thing you mention on your site is that you started to rethink the questions you ask people about their single status and having kids. Why do you think people still feel the need to ask those questions and how can we change attitudes about such sensitive inquiries?
Simply being honest during conversations that make you feel uncomfortable is the best approach. Whenever I feel that a question is inappropriate, I say just that. Expressing your feelings in a polite manner, of course, is what I call self-care. Right now, I’m committed to my mental wellness and support others who do the same.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is married and/or single without children, who may be sensitive about it?
Stand in your truth and create a support system of loved ones who will help you get through those tough days. Infertility isn’t a life sentence. Your story is unique, and sharing your truth is what makes you strong and a blessing to others. There are a number of options to help women become mothers and taking advantage of those options will not make you less of a woman.
Q: Is there anything else you want to add?
To be completely honest, I felt a strong pressure from society to become a mother, but I’m actually fine if children are never a part of my story. I believe my life is still very meaningful and has a huge purpose. As a little girl, I played with dolls and imagined my life as an adult with babies. Today, my vision is different. In fact, I love helping others get to that point, and encourage ladies to follow me on Instagram @her_normal and on Twitter @HerNormal.