Real Messy Life

It’s been a bit quiet round here, I’ve been severely lacking in energy and motivation for anything – so what little I have had has been saved for getting myself out of bed and to Uni, and doing assignments. I’d been thinking to myself I should just wait til I had time to write a proper post, about one of the ideas on my list of Blog Post Ideas, but I’ve always tried to keep this blog real, to show what it’s really like learning to live again after IVF, not just profound, wise posts that offer advice or learnings. So that means I need to share the messy real life…..and to be honest it’s all just f’cking hard at the moment. Motivation & energy levels are still really low (and now to make things even better I have a nasty cold too #woeisme), there are triggers everywhere (favourite TV show had a stillbirth & ended with a pregnancy announcement last night…resulting in me becoming a soggy puddle on the couch!). It’s hard to make plans for the future, when all your dreams have been dashed, when nothing really excites you. We’re both really struggling, which adds another level of difficulty to it all too – how do you support each other, and your marriage, when you can barely get through each day? Seeing the pain in his eyes, as he voices his bewilderment about feeling so low is really tough, I just want to make it all better, but I don’t know how to fix this.

It’s all so f’cking unfair. They say going through things like this makes you stronger….well I’d like to know where it is, as it’d be nice to have a bit more strength than just what’s required to get out of bed in the morning!

So that’s the raw messy truth of how I’m doing, let me ask – how are you doing today?

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Asking for help.

A few weeks ago I womaned up, and booked an appointment with a psychologist. Just getting the appointment is not that easy, as most of them have a couple of months waitlist here! I was a bit unsure of going, meeting someone new, having to talk about myself, and I thought I was doing ok – but I’d said I’d get some help once I got to the quieter part of the year, so I made myself go ahead with it. And I figured, even if I didn’t get anything out of it, I’d at least get the experience of being on the receiving side, which would be useful since I want to be a psychologist when I finish studying.

I’m glad I did – I’ve been back a second time now, and have some more sessions booked. I have a suspicion I’ll need to go for a while. It’s not easy, but sometimes the best self-care is doing the hard things, what needs to be done, not what is the most comfortable.

I think particularly when dealing with fertility treatment, we get so used to just keeping on keeping on. We survive, we put one foot in front of the other. Tick another appointment off, another cycle off, keep plastering that smile on, keep doing whats expected of us. It takes a bit of time after treatment to realise that that doesn’t have to be how it is all the time. Asking for help doesn’t come naturally for me, but I realised that while I could keep on keeping on, I’d done it for years after all, now it was time to stop focussing on surviving, and figure out how to start thriving.

Hindsight also has me thinking, I probably should have made more use of the counselling services offered through out treatment – so if you’re going through treatment, or coming out the other side (what ever that looks like), I’d recommend taking care of yourself by finding a good counsellor or psychologist – for you and your partner, together and individually. Because infertility takes a toll on all aspects of life, and you deserve to have a life thats more than just surviving xo

On this day.

{CW: Miscarriage}

A year ago today, 22 August 2016, we had one of, if not the, worst days of our lives. It was the day of our 7week scan. All the blood tests said I was still pregnant with our last embryo, the one out of the 4 we had pre-genetic screening on that was chromosomally normal. We’d not made it to the scan day with any of our previous pregnancies so we thought we had finally got lucky. The excitement and desire to see our babies heartbeat was high, even though I had some serious doubts due to symptom changes a week or so earlier.
I remember being incredibly nervous, sitting in the waiting room at the clinic, waiting for our specialist to call our name. I remember going into our appointment, getting myself up on the bed, with the ultrasound wand in place, watching the screen as the specialist moved it around trying to get a good view…..and still moving it around trying to find the foetal pole, a heart beat, anything to show a sign of life. I remember thinking, this is bad, its not supposed to look like this. And I remember Mr not having any idea of what was happening, til the specialist said “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat, its a blighted ovum”. I remember just going numb, staring at that screen, as my husband held my hand and started to cry. The specialist left us “I’ll give you a moment”. We held each other tight, he cried, I was numb, frozen, barely able to form thoughts let alone words. After I was dressed, and the specialist returned, he tried to explain. Bad luck basically. The worst luck ever. I remember the specialist looked like he was trying not to cry too, he said he’d been looking forward to our scan all day. It’s easy to feel like just a number in the process some of the time, but for that moment I knew the specialist genuinely cared.

We talked through options for how to manage the next steps, and he gave us time to think about the decision, letting us text in later what we wanted to do, so we didn’t have to actually have a conversation about it.

And then we went home. I remember holding hands the whole drive home, I just stared blankly in front of me, random thoughts floating through like “Why us? How will I survive this? Why aren’t I crying?” I remember sitting on the couch when we got home, still staring in front of me, Mr held me close, I didn’t want to be held or touched, but I knew at some level that for the future of our marriage, I couldn’t block him out at this point. He needed me too. I remember thinking a blighted ovum was super cruel, here we were in love with our baby, and it had never even been there. I felt like such a failure, betrayed by my own body.

Somehow we made it through the evening, I think I cried eventually. We somehow found a way to tell our family. The next day we drove out of town for the day, trying to escape our world for a moment, in the hope we’d find a way to breathe again. Somewhere in there we made the decision of what to do next – I wanted on a D&C, Mr thought I’d already had enough drugs & intervention so maybe we should let it happen naturally, but after the last time I didn’t want to go through that trauma again. I also, however bad this sounds, just wanted the drugs, wanted the general anaesthetic so I could escape this pain for just a bit. I also just wanted someone to look after me for a change with no expectations in return. Fortunately (as fortunate as one can be in this situation) we only had to wait a few days before the hospital had a space for us. What should have been a half day at the hospital ended up almost a full day there – thanks body for being more weird again. And a day or so later we went away out of town for a few nights, we just needed to leave our life for a little bit….except you can’t ever escape that pain.

While I remained numb for weeks after, it wasn’t a numbness that means no feeling, it was more a freezing of the emotion. It didn’t change, there was no ebb or flow, there was no escape, and no release or respite. Just so much heaviness, so much pain.

A year on, I still hold the memory of our baby close, I might not have got to hold them in my arms, but for a few weeks there I was pregnant, the pain is still strong, I miss our baby so much. I’m guessing over time the memories of the days themselves will fade, but our love for that wee embryo never will.

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 🙂 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 🙂

  • 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 🙂 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 😜