Dear Baby

{CW: Miscarriage}

A year ago I was pregnant. A year ago I wrote another entry in my journal to the baby I was carrying. I’ve decided I’ll share that entry with you here. I think it helps show, that no matter how early someone miscarries, that baby was real and loved.

Dear Baby,

5 weeks yesterday πŸ™‚ Another week achieved. On Friday I figured you must be growing lots as I kept getting really really hungry. Then over the weekend I started really worrying about you. The few pregnancy symptoms I had (super smell, nausea & tiredness, oh and aches) seemed to disappear, which scared me! Made it hard for me to concentrate on studying thats for sure. I’ve had a bit of nausea today again, but the worry wobbles are still in full force 😦 tho I read in a pregnancy brochure today that most miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities – and we know from testing that your chromosomes are normal, so surely you’re ok!

I keep trying to daydream about you to get rid of the worries – I wonder if you’ll have curly hair like your Daddy, or if you’ll get blonde hair since we both have siblings with blonde hair. I wonder if you’ll have my blue eyes or your Daddy’s hazel eyes. I sure hope you get your Daddy’s eyesight rather than min!

Waiting for Thursday when I get another blood test to check you’re doing what you should! And by then, your Daddy will be home and he’ll help me worry less.

Daddy sends you a hug too.
Lots of Love,
Mummy xo

One of those weeks.

It hasn’t been a week where heaps of things have gone wrong as such….just a trying week. I’ve lost track of the number of pregnancy announcements I’ve seen, and then the media has been full of election turmoil, and a media frenzy about someone asking a female politician if/when the plan to have kids (I gave a lot of reckons on this, but I’m not going to go into it here).

On top of that it’s just been a week when grief hits you out of nowhere, particularly for Mr – so lots of compassion and support has been needed for each other and our marriage, and that takes quite a lot of energy.

I felt my mood sliding downwards this afternoon, so headed to the Mall. I don’t overly like the mall, but thought being around other people (without needing much energy for interacting/socialising) might help me feel like I’m not the only person in the work, rather than sitting at home on my own. Also though there might be a slim chance of finding a jumper to buy….and retail therapy can help sometimes right! Typical of course, the place was full if pregnant bumps and push chairs….just what I needed! Rapidly list any interest in shopping, so after buying myself fries & a cookie (desperately trying to find something to help!) I headed home again.

Got home to an email from a friend…..you’ve probably guessed already…..yep, another f’ing pregnancy announcement. Now there’s definitely different levels of coping/reactions when it comes to these announcements, depending on who they are and their story. This friend went through IVF for their first child, and had several unsuccessful cycles since trying for a second baby, and have now been blessed with a natural miracle, which of course is super awesome.

I started thinking her eating well, and seeing a naturopath obviously worked, maybe I should give it ago & see if I can stick to a similar healthy eating plan……and then swiftly fell headfirst into reality as I remembered there will be no natural miracles for us.

I think now might be a good time to return to my place under a rock with a supply of chocolate and hide from the real world for a bit.

Auntying

I have 8 niblings (not counting my friends kids that I think of as niblings) with another nibling planning to arrive later this year. I love being an Aunty and take my aunty role seriously – anything is acceptable to score favourite aunty points! (I don’t really expect my niblings to choose a favourite….just to have them like spending time with me is enough.)

Growing up I wasn’t particularly close to my aunts and uncles. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it when they came to visit, but for a start they didn’t live that close so visits weren’t that frequent, and secondly, my parents are the youngest of their families so my aunts & uncles were in their 40s when I was born, where as I was in my 20’s when my first 2 niblings arrived, which I think makes a difference to the relationships. It also meant when I became an Aunt, I decided I wanted to be an important part of their lives – I personally think kids can’t have too many adults that love them and want to spend time with them.

Another motivating factor to being a good aunty, was not having any adults I could talk to growing up. I wasn’t particularly close with my parents – not in a tell them everything/anything kind of way, and there were no other adults I felt I could go to if I needed someone. So I’ve always hoped I could be someone my niblings felt they could talk to, so if they needed another adult to have their back, they knew they could come to me.

Recently I had the privilege of hanging out with my teenage nibling – I was a bit worried they might be too cool for me, particularly with all my self-conscious, lacking in self-worth thoughts lately. But we have a fabulous time together, chatting about almost everything – even drugs and alcohol! The fact they felt they could talk to me about such things, maybe I have achieved what I wanted to – being an adult they trust. And then when their parent shared that this nibling felt they had a special bond with me……well, I might have cried a little bit.

I’ve read/heard comments in the past about how being an aunt is the best – cos you can hand them back at the end of the day, or when they get tired & ratty. And yes, to some extent this is true, it’s also the worst part of being an aunt – well an aunt thats childless at least. ‘Cos handing them back, saying goodbye, is often one of the hardest things, when you return to normal life, the house that’s no longer filled with the sounds of younger people, and the reality that you’re not going to experience parenting a teenager.

Because for all that being the favourite aunt is something I strive for – I’d have done that anyway, even if I’d been luck enough to be a mother to children on Earth. For all that I love my niblings to bits, it doesn’t fill the gap left empty by not having children of our own. Auntying and Mothering are two different things.

Blog Community

Having you read my blog and comment/interact is such a lovely thing – sometimes it’s hard to feel like there’s a community I belong in, but connecting with people via blogging seems to be creating a new community for me to be part of.

And recently I’ve been nominated for some sweet blogging awards – so thanks to Dubliner In Deutschland, Post IVF World and Infertility and Life. The awards were slightly different with different rules, so instead of doing a post for each, I’m combining them and instead of me sharing the blogs I like reading (you can find them listed under Blogs I Follow) I’d love it if you commented below with a link to your favourite blog to read πŸ™‚

  • Why did I start this blog? Well, when I realised I was facing a childless life I went looking for other blogs of people going through similar things, and found only one written by a New Zealander (possibly the only one across Australia too), and that blog, while very interesting to read was in a very different space – having been blogging about their adjusting to living without children for many years. So I thought I’d write about my experiences incase anyone else on this side of the world was going through something similar and wanted to read some more recent thoughts/feelings. I’ve yet to connect with many New Zealand or Australian bloggers though, so if you know of any I’d love to know about them.
  • Top Blogging tip – be honest, share the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • I love travelling (though haven’t been doing as much as I’d like lately….cos you know, fertility treatments and $$). Off the top of my head the countries I have visited are: Australia, America, Vietnam, Taiwan, Croatia, Slovakia, France, UK, Scotland, Ireland, Mallorca, Gibraltar, Italy, Greece, Malta, Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands, Antigua, Trinidad & Tobago, & Norway.
  • Once upon a time I could play the flute quite well.
  • I spend way too much time on Twitter & Instagram.
  • I had 2 penpals from about 14yrs old – one of them I’ve lost touch with (after meeting several times in real life) and the other, we’ve switched to emails – but still send real mail for Birthdays and Christmas. (If you like getting real mail and want to exchange some real mail let me know!).
  • I’ve always dreamt of being in a netball team – but due to my lack of co-ordination, and not wanting to commit to something every weekend I’ve never actually been brave enough to join one!

Now its your turn πŸ™‚ Share a favourite blog and/or a random fact in the comments.

And a big thank you for continuing to help me be part of the blogging community.

Through the cracks.

After my last post, I was thinking I should see if I can actually find something positive to write for a change – and then a couple of (almost related) things have happened that I decided were share-worthy.

Growing up my family weren’t ones for saying they loved each other, hugs were fairly common (though I think as a child I had to be pretty demanding to get enough), though possibly not between me and my siblings. I think I was about 23 before either of my parents told me specifically that they loved me – as in verbally to my face, not like “Love, Mum” in a card or letter. So I also wasn’t in the habit of telling others I loved them. It’s like I had to teach myself to how.

My In-laws however, quite frequently tell each other that they love each other. My niblings on that side of the family have been told by their parents, grand parents, aunts/uncles ect from they day they were born that they’re loved. It took a long time before I told my niece that I loved her, not because I didn’t feel it, but because I didn’t feel comfortable saying so, and didn’t feel, being the uncle’s partner (so not married & not blood related), I was allowed to. I still remember the first time she said it back to me when she was about 3 – I almost cried.

As I wrote in a previous post I’ve been struggling to feel loved by others – I hear their words, and logically know its true, but actually feeling it….not really happening.

One of my closest friends has 2 beautiful little girls. I have loved those girls since the day they were born, in my mind they’re my nieces too (can’t have too many niblings can you?). They generally get pretty excited when I come to visit, running at me when I arrive, and climbing all over me, drawing pictures and snuggling in close. They’re pretty good at filling my hug tank up. The other day when I was visiting, the oldest was cuddled up on my lap, when out of the blue she turned in close and said “I love you”. Not only was I able to reply the same, without any thought, I noticed her words actually made their way through the protective wall to my poor beaten up heart. For a change I actually felt that someone loved me. And while I often leave my friends place with a bittersweet feeling (I’d so love to have a child as lovely and beautiful as my friend’s) for that small moment, it was perfect – and I’m claiming that as a win. A small movement in a healing direction.

And to add to that….my now 9yr old niece ended a message to me today with “love you” – all on her own accord, not in response to me saying it first

 

Raw Honesty

So often we’re told to keep positive when going through shitty times, like infertility treatment etc, and while I know on some levels this helps, I think it’s also good to acknowledge the reality of unsuccessful treatment, and all that goes with dealing with the losses and disappointments. Lots of articles and blogs about people dealing with infertility talk about the silver linings, how much they’ve grown as a person, how they’re stronger now, more compassionate etc but often I find myself thinking that I haven’t grown or hot stronger –  and that maybe there’s something wrong with me. Sure, I get up out of bed everyday and do the things that are expected of me (like going to uni…possibly not things like going to baby showers!) but that doesn’t leave me feeling stronger. In fact most of the time I just feel tired, exhausted with life.

I appreciate the intent behind those articles and blogs – trying to give those of us struggling some hope and to feel like we’re not the only ones, but sometimes I just want to know how people are really feeling – the shitty, bitchy dark thoughts that take over when they’re not putting on a brave face and coping with the world. Because really, we spend most of our days in the offline world, trying to look like we’re doing ok, and surviving so I figure surely our blogs and articles are the places for that raw honesty. And I find I feel less alone when I read about others honest shitty thoughts, that maybe I’m not so bitchy after all. (Having said that I don’t want my blog to always be negative, and to sound like I’m a Moaning Minnie!). Because I think in sharing our pain we can create stronger connections with people – I know for myself its not easy showing my true thoughts and feelings to the world, especially now I’m well practiced at putting on a brave face and keeping on keeping on!

There are a few blog posts I’ve read in the past few months where I saw some more raw honesty, and while I wish these bloggers weren’t experiencing the pain, I was grateful they shared it with us readers – maybe you’d like to read them too, from The Ecofeminist, Delayed But Not Denied and Breathe, Write, Repeat.

Sharing our experiences with the world so honestly reminds me of this poem, which has always rung true to me….

So my request of you is, keep sharing your good days but share your honest shitty thoughts too 😊

Why me?

Studying sociology and anthropology is a good and bad thing. Good because it makes me think about the world from other peoples perspective, which we all should try to do. Bad, because when it comes to my infertility and childlessness, it’s all about me – so I don’t actually want to think about it from someone else’s perspective, I don’t really want to be aware of my privilege in this situation, because despite all my privilege, it didn’t f’ing help me did it?!

There’s a conversation happening round New Zealand at the moment that was started by a political party making a comment along the lines of “people shouldn’t have children if they can’t afford to raise them”. There is so much wrong with that statement I don’t really know where to start – there’s several essay’s worth of content there for sure. But the general idea coming from it is that ‘poor people’ aren’t desirable parents, it’s their fault they’re poor so therefore they don’t deserve to be parents.

I’m sure you’ve had similar thoughts, and I’m not proud of these, but through out disappointment after disappointment, I’d often make snap judgements about other people and their ability to reproduce: one night stands – how does everything align to make that even happen?! Those people that smoke, drink, eat unhealthily – how do they get pregnant so easily (cos of course I can tell this just by looking at them) when I give up every enjoyable food & drink in the vague hope that this might be the magic combo that works. People that have barely anything, and living on benefits etc – why do they get to have 6 kids when we have so much more to offer and we don’t even get one?!

These uncharitable thoughts continue, Why me? Why don’t I get to be a mother? Surely I deserve to be a parent? And particularly now that treatment is finished and we’re facing life without children, I often get caught in this cycle of Why me? What did we do to deserve this life we didn’t choose?

But actually, why not me? What makes me so special that I should be spared from experiencing life’s shittyness – why do I deserve parenthood more than anyone else? We all say we’d never wish infertility on our worst enemy – but making these judgements about other people that manage to get pregnant when we don’t, we’re (unintentionally) saying we don’t think those people should be allowed to experience the thing we most desire.

And it’s this awareness I don’t like – because really I’d like to wallow in my bubble of self pity and not face the ugly truth of those thoughts I already felt bad about.

But the reality is, for all that this childless outcome is pretty f’ing shitty, why not me?

PS: Despite this ‘annoying’ awareness I’ll probably still spend a decent amount of my time stamping my feet, yelling (possibly silently) “Why Me?” every time I have a bit of a meltdown 😜

Flowers in Winter

I wasn’t really planning on this being a metaphorical post, but now that I’ve created a title I can see how it could be one….

A few years ago someone close to us was given a Daphne bush when they had an ectopic pregnancy, and then when we had our miscarriage last year, they gave us one. I haven’t known anyone who’s had a miscarriage/baby loss since ours, but I’ve often thought it’d be a nice thing to do – who knows, maybe it would become a ‘thing’ to give a Daphne bush to someone grieving their baby and that future.

Last week I noticed that this Daphne bush had started flowering – it’s possibly a little early (but plants seem to be a bit confused with our weather here….I have hyacinths flowering already!), but it reminded me that in a couple of weeks it will be a year since our last transfer, and then a year since we lost our well loved embryo. And while nothing really takes a way that pain, I figure being reminded by a pretty flower (and I love the scent too) is one of the better ways to be reminded.

And while I don’t really feel like I’m blooming, I’m still alive, taking one day at a time, so I guess a bush that flowers most in winter shows its possible to survive the dark days.

Do you have any special reminders of your losses?

Magnetism

We caught up with friends today who are here visiting from overseas. We hadn’t seen them or their 2 girls for about 3 years (and they don’t know about our struggles). It was barely a split second before the girls stopped being shy and decided Mr & I were their new best friends (possibly helped along by the unicorn gifts!), snuggling on our laps, holding our hands as we walked around the nature reserve and asking us to carry them.

It was nice to see my child magnetism might be returning – and that these kids at least don’t think I’m a bitter old women. Β And I even managed to actually play and have fun with the girls #winning

But seeing this lovely family, with great family dynamics, building wonderful memories together, seeing my husband playing so nicely with the girls and being so loved by them – reminded me so strongly of why I want a family of our own.

That’s the thing isn’t it….just because the treatment is over, doesn’t mean the dream is.

Can you feel the love tonight?

Have I given you all an ear worm now? I started out with LeAnne Rimes lyrics “loving you, isn’t something I should really do” – but it didn’t quite fit with what I want to write…so now I have both songs mingling in my head!

A few weeks ago, I was watching a conversation on Twitter, someone was being open about the depressive episode they were going through at the time, and many others were sending (virtual) hugs and other words of support. This particular tweep commented that while they appreciated the thought, real hugs weren’t actually something they wanted right then, and another person responded that they’d felt the same when they were grieving the loss of a loved one – they didn’t want the contact, and couldn’t feel the support even though they knew it was well intentioned. But they did say, once they’d got out of the deepest depths of grief, they were really grateful for the love, support and hugs that were still given to them during that time, and that that was what got them through.

It got me thinking about how I felt after my miscarriage last year, and after that day earlier this year when my world fell apart. I didn’t want to be hugged by anyone, not even my husband, and to be honest months down the track there are still only a select few that I’m happy to be hugged by (and of course that changes with each situation). And when people told me they loved me, or were sending love to me, it didn’t mean anything to me – logically I knew it was a kind thing to say, but I just couldn’t feel it. Again, even with my husband I couldn’t feel the love when I told him I loved him or if he’d said it to me – but on some logical level, I knew my survival, and our marriages survival was relying on me to say and do these things even though I couldn’t feel them. So I made myself say them, and made myself hug my husband and a select few others, hoping that one day it would stop being an effort, and I’d actually feel the love that I was told surrounded me.

In my foggy grief stricken haze I could vaguely see that I was closing in on myself, and blocking everyone else away – it’s a common survival mechanism after all. The thing that struck me most though, was that not many people could see (or at least acknowledge) that that’s what I was doing. So they allowed themselves to be pushed away, gave me time and space to heal & grieve my way. But what I realised on some level then, and even more so in hindsight, was that the few connections that remained were vitally important. And I could have done with more. If everyone lets themselves be pushed away, then the result…..is I’m left alone, with only my head for company. Humans are social creatures, we need connections with others, loneliness causes as many if not more health issues as things like smoking. Yet, we are so quick to think “I don’t know what to do, I’ll just leave them, give them time to heal”, waiting until the person dealing with grieve, depression etc is ready to connect again.

Now I realise there’s a fine line between not giving someone space so they’re not lonely, and overcrowding them. But I’d suggest risk the over crowding, because you might be the only one stepping into that space and giving them a life line to hold on to while dealing with their pain.

So if you know someone grieving I suggest you find ways no matter how small, to maintain some connection with them, so if they want to talk or need company the space is not too big for them to cross. Tell them you don’t know what to say or do – they probably have no idea either, because when you’re that down you have no idea whats going to help. But acknowledging that, helps being people together. Send little texts every few days, so they’re not alone. Drop off baking or a meal – home cooking is often loaded with love, and that sometimes gets through….knowing someone did something specially for you, might not seem to make it through the clouds of pain right then….but it will be remembered, like a glimmer of light, later. Send them a card, treat them like you did before what ever happened – as in don’t contact them less, don’t stop inviting them to things etc. Even just saying ‘you might not be up for it, but if you are we’d love to see your face” or words to that effect. Tell them you want to visit, or go out for coffee etc, and then ask when – if action is reduced to one decision its so much easier to handle.

And by doing these little things, you make it easy for them to dip their toes back into life again when they’re ready, the space around them isn’t so big it feels scary to step across, you minimise any awkwardness they might be feeling, and most of all you keep them wrapped in a bubble of connection and love….that one day will break through that protective ice barrier, and they’ll learn to feel love again and to give love again.

Please, what ever you do, don’t let someone grieve alone – even when they push you away.