Jessica Hepburn, founder of Fertility Fest and author of The Pursuit of Motherhood opens the festival with the publication of her new book 21 Miles: Swimming in search of the meaning of motherhood.
Chaired by presenter and writer Janet Ellis.
After a decade of trying to become a mother – eleven rounds of unsuccessful IVF, multiple miscarriages and a pregnancy which almost proved fatal – Jessica knew it was time to do something different. Something BIG.
So she decided to swim twenty-one miles from England to France across the English Channel – no easy feat for anyone but especially someone with an aversion to exercise who couldn’t swim very well. As her punishing training commenced, Jessica learned that you need to put on weight to stave off the cold. And this led to another idea: what if she were to write to a collection of inspiring women and ask if they would meet and eat with her, and answer the question does motherhood make you happy?
The response was overwhelming. From baronesses and professors to award winners and record breakers, amazing women from different walks of life – some mothers, some not – but all with compelling truths to tell about female fulfilment and the meaning of motherhood.
On 2 September 2015, Jessica set out from Dover beach in the dark, taking the words and wisdom that each of the women had given her, in her bid to answer the question.