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.

Fragility

For all that we talk about recognising and accepting our limits, and making choices that are best for ourselves – in reality it’s a lot harder to put this into action.

It’s easy to get caught up in expectations, society niceties and family responsibilities. Earlier this year I said (mostly to myself) that I wouldn’t go to gatherings such as family events, where all our niblings’ would be together, and wouldn’t go to friends kids birthday parties etc (self preservation right?!), but would make an exception for niblings’ birthdays…..so when a certain someones 3rd birthday came around, I agreed we’d be there, and despite Mr’s misgivings, convinced him to come too – partly out of duty and partly as moral support for me.

As the day got closer I recognised I was feeling pretty fragile…a bunch of triggers and a whole pile of stress does that to you I guess. But instead of acknowledging my fragility and changing plans accordingly, I stuck to my normal ways – do everything you’ve committed to, don’t let anyone down, and plaster a vague attempt at a smile on your face while faking it til you make it.

In hindsight I should have politely changed my mind about going to the party, and organised to see the birthday child at another time, when I was feeling more up to it and when I wouldn’t have to deal with the family gathering with all the kids together. I got caught up with not wanting to let anyone down, and still wanting to be a great Aunty, that I didn’t think about what worked for me…or even realise that a 3yr old wouldn’t remember if I came to their party or not – and actually children would probably prefer having time with an Aunty where said Aunty can smile and be more playful, than a token gesture.

And of course attending something like this when not in the mood just becomes a vicious cycle…feeling apprehensive, means I’m more socially awkward than normal, so interacting with anyone/everyone feels weird (whether or not anyone else notices that I have no idea) so then I leave the situation feeling weird & like I’ve let everyone down anyway! Sod’s law really, isn’t it? And being fragile going into a situation means that things like seeing cousins playing together hurts my heart more, and a certain child turning 3 is an even bigger reminder of our “what if” that would have been 3 a few weeks ago if they’d become more than just a “what if”…

It can be really difficult navigating all these social events – you never know how you’re going to cope, and you figure you have to start attending/participating in life eventually, so you try things again before you’re quite ready….think I’ll be avoiding these kind of gatherings for a while now (she says as she realises there’s another family birthday party coming up in a month or so, that will probably end up trapping her just the same!)

I hope you’re all finding ways to navigate this situations in a way that works for you – I think it’s a constantly evolving and changing combination of our coping abilities and the events characteristics, which means we might never have a perfected way of coping…but I guess we just have to keep trying don’t we?! xo

Where does Hope hide?

Hope is a funny thing, I don’t think any of us would go through as much fertility treatment as we do, if we didn’t have some glimmer of hope to hold on to. But when you decide to stop fertility treatment where does hope go? As far as I can tell the decision to stop is more complicated than just losing all hope. Being hopeful definitely becomes very difficult.

Often in the early days I scoured the internet for people’s success stories, reading about someone else’s miracle helped me feel hopeful……but as time went by, this hope tended to be replaced with envy. Envious of others success, envious of others BFP, envious of people getting natural BFPs, envious of people who didn’t need as many rounds of IVF, envious of others having more eggs, better eggs, less procedures, less side effects…..

And now that we’ve stopped fertility treatment….envious of those who are still going through treatment, envious of those who shill have hope. 

Over the weekend we were talking with people we know, who are embarking on a trip overseas for a donor egg cycle. They told us their plans, the process, the details, the sightseeing they’re going to fit in too. And through it all shone their hope. It was exciting and hopeful, I felt hopeful. 

And then I remembered…..we’re not sharing this process with them…..it’s not our hope.

That sneaky feeling of hope hadn’t gone anywhere….it was hiding all along…

Now I need to tuck it away again, and figure out how to be hopeful for others without feeling it for ourselves.

PS. Please don’t go suggesting we try donor eggs or any other options – those options aren’t for us.

Keeping the lid on the box.

Just like that, you suddenly find yourself back at the “crying yourself to sleep” stage. An unfortunate cocktail of stress, PMS and a random collection of unexpected triggers. Conversations with people about furniture their buying for their kids, pregnancy scans that show up in blog posts, over hearing someone talking about their friend who’s been through 4yrs of IVF, and a lecture on public health rationing for elective surgery to name a few. The last one definitely sent me down memory lane, thinking about my last elective surgery which was a D&C last year for the one we thought we’d got lucky with. I’m very grateful that in New Zealand we have publicly funded health care. My local hospital has 2 surgery slots a day kept for this of us needing a D&C – I was able to be seen quicker through the public system than by using my private health insurance, which is a very rare thing indeed! It does sadden me that though that there is the need for this many surgeries.

Logically it makes sense to be back in this space, grief stages and all that. Emotionally it doesn’t help me on the coping side of things. Being so busy with Uni had lulled me into a false sense of security about my dealing levels. Now I feel more like I’m just keeping my feels stuffed in a box, with one foot on the lid trying to keep it shut, while the rest of me keeps trying to keep on doing what needs to be done. I have a strong suspicion that come the mid year break, I may just fall to pieces again.

In the mean time, I’ll keep on keeping on with the assistance of coffee & chocolate.

Definitions

Bit quiet here..buried under assignments. Has meant I have had time or energy to think or feel much which isn’t a bad thing….though today ended up a low after some random thoughts (not helped by barely sleeping last night!).

One of the assignments I’ve been working on recently was about infertility…..we had to hand a draft in & then the tutor gives feedback, we can make changes then hand it in for grading. One of the pieces of feedback was around a choice of word j used and it got me thinking. 

I described infertility as a chronic illness (I was relating to some of the similarities about it and other chronic illnesses, she reckoned it should be described as a chronic condition. But when I looked up the World Health Organisation definition of infertility….it called it a disease!

So then I’ve been trying to figure out what the differences between an illness, a diesease and a condition are…..seems everyone agrees their different, but not how they differ.

I’m no wondering, how do you think of infertility? Is it an illness, a disease or a condition (or something else) to you?

Brains can be silly.

Just the other day I was thinking to myself, maybe this is getting slightly easier….I should have known was would follow, as every time I think that, it seems to get harder to cope again. The day I thought this I then saw online that it was International Bereaved Mother’s Day and my eyes leaked a bit…then I decided to make things worse by having a look at Facebook (I tend to avoid this these days as generally when I log on I see something that annoys/upsets me) and looked at photos some friends had posted of their babies….dumb move really!

Then the other night as I lay in bed hoping to fall asleep, I started mulling things over (again) and wishing I could have done numerous things differently, all those food/drink/supplement choices I should or shouldn’t have had…..the thoughts were all going crazy & I was getting more awake instead of sleepy, until in the end I screamed (silently in my head because my husband was sleeping peacefully next to me) I DID NOTHING WRONG. Of course this didn’t stop the thoughts completely, but it paused them a bit before the voices started quietly arguing again….eventually though I managed to fall asleep….

Except, the next morning I saw an article online about the negative impacts of artificial sweeteners and caffeine….and it read so conclusively (even though I admit I didn’t go off and check the studies/sources cited) that yet again, I was back regretting my consumption of coffee (even though I mostly consumed decade!)…left me thinking that maybe the reason the last cycle failed so spectacularly was because of the coffee I drank in the couple of months beforehand (decafe didn’t seem to have made a difference in all the other cycles, & the specialist had said if having a coffee a day helped manage stress then it was probably better to have it than not…) so I was in a bugger it mood, I’ll drink the coffee….but what if that was what fucked that cycle up? what if it was my fault? I know I’ll never know, but I now just really wish I could have another go…one more cycle, another chance to hopefully have perfect health (i.e. meet all my standards about food, drink, supplements, exercise, weight) this time & hopefully get a better result.

Because I really don’t know how to reconcile all the things I didn’t do, or could have done better with this outcome……

All Those Shoulds

I keep meaning & wanting to post a blog post, but every time I set aside time to write one, I feel like I should be using that time for working on one of the many assignments I have on the go, so then time flies and still no blog post…..so I told myself that tonight I should write one at last…and hoping that I’ll finish it quickly & squeeze some assignment writing in before dinner!

A few days ago it was one of those dates filled with “what if’s” – it was the due date of our first miscarriage, so of course I kept thinking I should have been celebrating someones 3rd birthday. And then I thought to myself, it’s 3 years now, I probably should be getting over it by now, or should stop myself dwelling on it so much. But that is something I find hard…when our miscarriages are the closest things to success we’ve had from going through infertility treatment.

And off and on over the past while, I’ve been thinking about a friend (and friendships in general), the one I mentioned in an earlier post. I haven’t visited her at all since she had her baby, and have barely had any contact with her. I feel like I should have. But then I think, she could contact me, she doesn’t ask how I’m doing (even though she knows our general story), she didn’t pay attention when I said keeping texting & emailing would help us get closer again. I supported her through episodes of depression, and challenges living away over seas etc etc, she should make an effort to support me. And then I think to myself, I should be more compassionate. I should make more of an effort (it’s what I’ve always done). She has a new baby after all, she’ll be busy with all that newborn parenting stuff, she probably doesn’t understand how things are for me, she probably doesn’t know how to be supportive, she probably feels awkward or worried she’ll cause more pain. So if I’m being more compassionate & understanding, then I really should make an effort & reach out to her….

And then I thought some more, & realised maybe I should cut myself some slack. Maybe I just need to accept that for this period of my life, I might not live up to the standards I’ve set myself, maybe it’s ok to not be the perfect friend all the time….’cos really, right at the moment, what I need is friends, and to be my own friend, and honestly, I don’t really know how to be a good friend to myself just now, so maybe I should be figuring that out for starters – when I have any spare energy beyond surviving university.

But then the vicious cycle starts once again, as my brain tells me I should be able to cope and I should be the perfect friend still, because being a good friendĀ has always been a big part of my identity, and I don’t want to lose any more of who I am.

And on and on the Shoulds continue…..what do you tell yourself you should do or be?

What does a Day mean?

In New Zealand Mother’s Day is just a few days away. I’m trying to mute the phrase on various social media platforms in an attempt to reduce the triggers – Radio & TV advertising is more than enough for me to deal with!

When reading various infertility blogs I’ve seen different schools of thought when it comes to this day – some people hate it, attempt to hide from the world and look forward to the day its passed….others like it, using it as a time to celebrate their own mother, not personally feeling the pain of it themselves. Me….I think I’m in the first category at the moment (I think it’s likely that most peoples reactions to the day will be fluid depending on what is happening in their own life at the time).

I’ve also seen suggestions of sending cards to women going through fertility treatment, or those who have experience miscarriage or baby loss to acknowledge the fact that while they might not have a baby to hold in their arms, they have a Mother’s heart, as CarlyMarie phrased it.

But I’ve heard of others who think sending a Mother’s Day card to someone who doesn’t have a child to hold in their arms is hurtful & insensitive.

Sometimes I think I’d like it if a friend or family member thought about the situation enough to send a card acknowledging my situation, but I also fear that if I did get one I’d actually find it too painful…..What are your thoughts? How do you feel about Mother’s Day and the idea of sending cards to someone that isn’t your mum?

Found on the Interwebs…

Uni is kicking my butt at the moment so not much time for blogging. On a positive note it means not enough time for thinking (ie crying), but the flip side is there’s not spare energy or resources for anything other than uni, so I’m basically avoiding any other aspect of life until I’ve got on top of my uni work load.

In the mean time I thought I’d leave these images I found on Pinterest here for your viewing pleasure.

MIA: A Piece of My Heart

{CW: Miscarriage}

Dear Baby,

Today would have been your due date. We would have been eagerly awaiting meeting you if we hadn’t already met you. We really thought you were the one that we were going to get to hold in our arms. We did everything we could in the hope of you – I had another hysteroscopy to check there was nothing that would prevent you from getting all comfy, I took extra drugs, had intralipids, and we had pre-genetic screening of the batch of embryos you came from. You were the one that had all the right number of chromosomes. But still during the TWW, we worried. We’d nearly run out of hope, and could hardly comprehend that this time we might get a positive pregnancy result.

When we found out we’d got our BFP, we were so happy. The joy on your Dad’s face was a sight to see. We told our friends and family – wanting to enjoy the moment as much as possible for as long as possible, you see when you’ve already experienced a loss it’s hard to take a BFP as definite. But this time, we dared to dream. We wondered what you’d look like, we imagined our life with you, we started discussing if we’d choose a midwife or an obstetrician to look after you and me. I wrote letters to you, we talked to you. We talked about you with those who knew, helping to ease the anxiety that comes with such an exciting and scary time. I started a Pinterest board, thinking about what we’d need to get in anticipation for your arrival. I watched your cousins play, imagining you playing with them too.

And most of all, we dared to love you.

We really thought we were going to get to meet you, dearest baby. We’d never made it to a 7week scan before, so were super excited to see the flicker of your heart.

Instead, we found you’d gone…..and with you, had gone pieces of our hearts.

We will always love & miss you Baby.

xoxo

PS we left these flowers for you and your siblings today. šŸ˜˜