Infertility’s Language of Silence.

This post is a little different to my others – it’s once of my essays from a sociology paper I’ve just completed at Uni. If you’re interested in sociology, it’s kinda from a micro sociology perspective, hence the focus on language and words. I’ve mentioned this to a few of you on social media, so thought I’d post it here for anyone who’s interested – now that its been graded with an A I’m happy to share it lol. References are at the end too.

While infertility treatments have become more visible in mainstream media (de Lacey, 2002), infertility itself is still relatively invisible (Lee, 2016), almost a taboo topic despite the increasing numbers of people requiring fertility treatment (Sandelowski, 1991). A rise in Internet spaces, such as blogs, online forums and social media, has allowed those coping with infertility to connect with others having similar experiences, creating support networks and spaces where their experience is no longer invisible (Knoll & Bronstein, 2013). By looking at the language used to describe experiences of infertility, from those living with it, observers, and medical professionals involved in providing treatment we can see that language can end up unintentionally reinforcing the silence surrounding infertility. While language gives individuals ways of defining and understanding the experiences they are living through, language also reinforces social norms and cultural values (Becker, 1994). This results in the restriction of what narratives are socially acceptable to tell, and highlights by omission those narratives that are not expected to be shared. A discussion of the change in language due to the medicalization of infertility will draw attention to how this process has defined what spaces infertility may be visible in and those where it will remain invisible. Following on from this discussion, the use of metaphors as phrases to describe and explain the infertile’s experiences continues the argument that the language of infertility leads to continued silence on this topic which has a huge impact on individuals lives (Knoll & Bronstein, 2014).

Infertility is defined as being “involuntarily childless for at least 12 months due to the inability to become pregnant or carry a child to term” (Bell, 2014). Infertility has been through the medicalization process, where it has transitioned from a social issue to a medical problem, and therefore as a medical problem requires treating. Through this process the words used to describe infertility have changed from words such as sterile and barren, to infertile (Johnson, Quinlan & Myers, 2013). While the medicalization of infertility has made it easier for couples to access fertility treatments, the stigma associated with being sterile or barren has remained with the word infertile (Lee, 2016), as well as an added responsibility that those diagnosed as infertile must seek treatment. The increase in contraceptive technologies and fertility treatments has lead to the belief that people have more choice about when they will have children, and therefore are expected to make the most of these choices (Bell, 2010) – as long as they do choose to use the technologies available as required. This could be explained with Parson’s notion of the sick role (Varul, 2010) – the experience of infertility is legitimate as long as appropriate treatment is sort out, and the individual or couple is seen to be doing everything they can to get ‘well’, in this case to resolve the infertility by not only getting pregnant but also giving birth to a live child. Like other chronic illnesses where healing is not always possible, this leaves some experiences of infertility still invisible. If the infertility does not resolve quick enough, or does not resolve at all, the rights that come with the sick role are no longer available, and this results in infertility being silenced again. Therefore the use of the term infertility as a medical diagnosis leads to the silencing of peoples experiences in certain situations. If couples are not able to pursue treatment for what ever reason (financial, physical, individual beliefs to name a few) their infertility is not legitimized and therefore likely to remain invisible, as breaking the social norm of talking about infertility in this instance is not common (Lee, 2016). Another group of people who remain silenced by the medicalization of infertility are those for whom treatment is unsuccessful. While people are expected to pursue fertility treatment in the hope of a successful resolution, there is an unwritten point where they are judged as wasting time and money to continue going through treatment – this results in individuals and couples who continue passed this point being expected to remain silent about their experience (de Lacey, 2002), but also the pronatalist values of the Western world do not leave space for the narratives of those who do not end up with a baby (Lee, 2016).

The cultural attitude of positivity extends to the way infertility is described and discussed. People going through infertility treatment are often urged to “stay positive” and “don’t give up” (de Lacey, 2002). Instead of acknowledging the person’s experience and feelings, of what is known to be an extremely stressful situation (Knoll & Bronstein, 2014), this call for positivity invalidates the lived experiences of infertility. It also highlights that the socially acceptable narrative is that of continued treatment – yet again silencing those who for what ever reason are unable to do so. This ties in with a common description of infertility being a journey with the destination being the arrival of a baby. A journey which goes through the hierarchical stages of treatment, from drugs to stimulate ovulation to In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) and then on to adoption (de Lacey, 2002). This description also claims that the destination, having a baby, makes all the pain, obstacles and disappointments encountered along the way worth the while (Lee, 2016). This metaphor of the journey suggests those going through infertility treatment need to show momentum, a sense of making progress towards the expected outcome. Lee (2016) shows this is the common discourse in infertility online forums, posited as a way of providing support for one another. This narrative is often reflected by observers (friends, family, peers etc., who are not going dealing with infertility themselves) making it visible what support is available when. As long as those dealing with infertility present themselves as ‘persistent patients’ as Lee (2016) terms them, constantly striving to make progress towards resolving their infertility with the arrival of a baby, they are allowed to share their lived experiences and be supported for it. However, the ways they share these experiences are restricted. Because of this expectation of maintaining a positive attitude, and that it will all be worth it in the end, the chance to express the difficulties and unpleasantness of treatment, as well as any loss/es experienced along the way, are limited (de Lacey, 2002). Sharing too much of these aspects would weaken or counteract any positive attitude and its benefits. Those individuals and couples, who break the social norm of presenting themselves as ‘persistent patients’, are therefore further silenced.

The expectation to continue treatment at all costs is also seen in the communication from the medical professionals providing infertility treatment. Peddie, Teijlingen and Bhattacharya (2005) reported the women they interviewed felt they had been given false hope about their likely success with infertility treatment, which encouraged them to continue treatment longer than they may otherwise have done. They also felt that once they had decided to end treatment, they lost access to any support from the fertility clinic and staff, and that doctors dismissed them quite quickly when they indicated they wanted to stop treatment resulting in patients not getting a chance to ask the questions they had. While there are clearly financial considerations involved in any after care offered, these patients experiences show the medical profession reinforces and/or replicates the common social narratives around infertility, resulting in a loss of legitimate space for those with different narratives to tell.

In contrast to the required positive attitude, which implies having the correct attitude will be more powerful than science and technology alone, a metaphor of gambling is commonly used in relation to infertility. This suggests that the success of infertility treatment is a lottery (de Lacey, 2002), luck of the draw – if an individual or couple is lucky they will get a healthy baby. This idea of infertility treatment being a lottery separates people into winners and losers (de Lacey, 2002) – which gives voice to those who are considered winners, and silences those who are classified as losers. This also adds weight to the concept that there is an unwritten line in the sand when individuals/couples should stop treatment even without being successful, as after that point they are considered to have a ‘gambling problem’ and to be throwing money away. This concern about throwing away money is particularly strong in places like Australia and New Zealand where the government funds some treatment options (de Lacey, 2002), as these people can be judged as throwing away public money. This also restricts what narratives about infertility treatments are acceptable, as it would be bad form to appear ungrateful for this financial support.

Opposing the negative impacts of the gambling metaphor, this concept also gives room for some individuals to explain their lack of success in certain circumstances. Running alongside the positivity narrative is the expectation that those dealing with infertility will do anything and everything in order to have a baby, despite the physical, emotional & financial impacts of these treatments (de Lacey, 2002). Yet despite people doing everything they possibly can, a large number of individuals do not have success in any one cycle (Sandelowski, 1991). Comparing results to that of a lottery, where some get lucky and others do not, allows people to remove the feelings of personal responsiblility for their lack of success. Having this explanation for lack of success is even more important considering the dominant social norms in Western societies, which suggest if an individual just works hard enough they will achieve what they set out to achieve (de Lacey, 2002). Living in a society where this is the expectation, leaves women (and probably men also) vulnerable to feeling as if they have failed when they do not manage to have a baby even though they have worked hard towards their goal. Use of the gambling metaphor gives them a space for their experience to be validated (Becker, 1994). However this is conditional, if they appear to not have been working hard towards their goal, the explanation of not doing their best dominates – thereby restricting when their experiences will be recognized, and silencing it in other situations.

Use of military metaphors in the medical arena is common, and these can be seen within infertility (de Lacey, 2002). An interviewee in Becker’s (1994) study said, “You feel like you have to fight until the last minute”, comparing infertility to a battle, one which must be fought until the end. This also gives support to the expectation that individuals and couples facing infertility must be doing everything they possibly can – in order to win the fight. One just needs to carry out a quick Internet search to see how people who are going through infertility treatment often refer to themselves and each other as ‘infertility warriors’ or ‘veterans’ (Lee, 2016) again referencing infertility as a battle that must be won. While this metaphor gives those going through infertility treatment a way of expressing the seriousness of their experience, it also gives an explanation for why they continue to pursue treatment. However, like the other descriptions presented above, this narrative places restrictions on what aspects of the infertility experience people are allowed to share but also continues to silence those who are unable to pursue treatment and those who stop treatment before ‘winning the battle’ as it were.

While this discussion portrays clearly how the use of different infertility descriptions allows and disallows particular narratives in different situations, there are some limitations to this discussion and the research used to support it. The experiences documented are predominantly from the female perspective. It is possible that language used more frequently by men (and possibly by partners who are not going through the treatment themselves, for example lesbian couples or in surrogacy situations) may be experienced in a less restrictive way, resulting in individuals not feeling silenced. The language use is also studied in a static way – through analyzing text in online forums, survey responses or the answers given in interviews. This fails to scrutinize the interactive qualities of language, how these conversations are navigated using different aspects of language, or lack of language. It also misses out on bodily cues that may give much richer detail in to the aspects of the narratives being told. Examination of interactions between fertility specialists and patients also appears weak. Deepening understanding of the language use in consultations between both parties could be informative, opening up another area where narratives are contradicted or reinforced. If research could be carried out as it happens rather than retrospectively, for example videoing interactions, a greater understanding of how language gives voice to or silences particular descriptions of infertility experiences could be gained. This would allow for data to be analyzed in context (Heath, Luff & Sanches Svensson, 2007), and give the ability to look at the organization of language use in these social interactions.

Investigating the details of how people interact and share their experiences allows us to understand how certain narratives come to dominate while others are silenced or restricted. People’s choices of language used, is one such detail that allows us to do this, and gives us a clearer understanding of how people present their lived experiences of infertility and infertility treatment. By looking at how processes such as medicalization change issues such as infertility and therefor influence the language used to describe them, we can see how this impacts the day-to-day experiences of individuals. It is through this study of the details we can see, that while public awareness surrounding infertility and the available treatments seems to have increased, the language used to describe these results in reinforced silence of the issue. Infertility is highly stressful for those experiencing it, having wide, and long lasting mental, emotional, financial and physical implications. Understanding the way narratives dominate or are silenced, help us to understand these experiences better, and how individuals process their stories.

References

Becker, G. (1994). Metaphors in disrupted lives: Infertility and cultural constructions of continuity. Medical Anthropology Quarterly8(4), 383-410.

Bell, A. V. (2010). Beyond (financial) accessibility: Inequalities within the medicalization of infertility. Sociology of health & illness, 32(4), 631-646.

Bell, A. V. (2014). Diagnostic diversity: The role of social class in diagnostic experiences of infertility. Sociology of health & illness, 36(4), 516-530.

De Lacey, S. (2002). IVF as lottery or investment: contesting metaphors in discourses of infertility. Nursing inquiry9(1), 43-51.

Heath, C., Luff, P., & Sanchez Svensson, M. (2007). Video and qualitative research: analyzing medical practice and interaction. Medical education41(1), 109-116.

Johnson, B., Quinlan, M. M., & Myers, J. (2017). Commerce, Industry, and Security: Biomedicalization Theory and the Use of Metaphor to Describe Practitioner–Patient Communication Within Fertility, Inc. Women’s Reproductive Health4(2), 89-105.

Knoll, M., & Bronstein, J. (2014). An examination of the information disclosure behavior of infertility bloggers: Patterns of self-disclosure and anonymity. Aslib Journal of Information Management66(2), 175-201.

Lee, M. (2017). Don’t Give Up! A Cyber-ethnography and Discourse Analysis of an Online Infertility Patient Forum. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, 1-27.

Peddie, V. L., van Teijlingen, E., & Bhattacharya, S. (2005). A qualitative study of women’s decision-making at the end of IVF treatment. Human Reproduction20(7), 1944-1951.

Sandelowski, M. (1991). Compelled to Try: The Never‐Enough Quality of Conceptive Technology. Medical Anthropology Quarterly5(1), 29-47.

Varul, M. Z. (2010). Talcott Parsons, the sick role and chronic illness. Body & Society16(2), 72-94.

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The Grinch of Halloween

I’m currently hiding away, pretending not to be home and feeling like a right party pooper. The neighbourhood is filled with happy families and noisy kids going trick or treating.

For a start, this was never something that was done when I was a kid, so I’ve never participated & it’s never really been my thing….it’s possible it’d have grown on me if I had my own kids begging to play. Instead, I’m wishing everyone would shut up & go home. I don’t want to listen to their happiness & I don’t want to sit here anxiously hoping no one rings the door bell. I closed the gate (which we don’t normally close) and had meant to hang a sign on it saying No Trick or Treaters, but I got home a bit later than planned and everything was in full swing, there’s been no chance to dash to the gate without being accosted by various creatures.

And because there’s no sign out, I don’t want anyone to see I’m home – which means I haven’t had dinner, as when I’m in the kitchen I’m in full view of anyone walking down the street. Also means I can’t do the things on my to-do-list I’d planned to do tonight, because its all set up in the spare room – also in full view of the street. So I sit here getting crankier, and hangry, and pissed off at the world at yet another occasion stolen from my by infertility. Yet another day of the year I’m reminded I don’t belong, and get my grief thrown back in my face.

One day hopefully I’ll be able to willingly hand out lollies to random kids….but for now I just hope I get some dinner soon.

Decisions, decisions.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages, finally found a little free time and having handed in my last assignment a smidge of energy. Please note up front, this post is not asking for advice.

We didn’t go into fertility treatment with a pre-arranged limit, to be honest at the time it felt like we levelled up before we’d even started – we’d only be TTCing naturally for about 6mths when we found out we would need IVF. And then our Dr. told us we were the ideal couple, the one IVF was designed for – our only issue was tubal damage, and as IVF bypasses the tubes we’d be all good. In fact, the Dr told us about a family who got their whole family (3 or so kids!) off one cycle – as our first cycle was publicly funded, the idea of getting more than one child of one cycle was perfect. We’d get our family without financial considerations having to be a big part of deciding whether or not we’d try.

Potentially our doctor set us up with false expectations, but as we got 6 embryos in the freezer (no fresh transfer) off our first cycle, we though we were on to a good thing. 7 transfers laters, several cancelled cycles, another surgery, a chemical pregnancy and a miscarriage we’d used up our allocation of public funding. We had to decide if we were going to continue, and if so where would we find the $$, or if we were going to call it quits. The doctor told us it was a numbers game, more times you try the more likelihood there is of success. Some lovely family offered us some financial support so we decided to continue.

We signed up for a package deal – 3 cycles for the price of 2 and a bit….and if you get to the end with no success a refund equivalent to about 2 cycles. We figured we wouldn’t need 3 cycles, but thought’s Sod’s law would have it that if we signed up for 3 we’d get luck on our first cycle. Another 3 transfers later (2 of them were transfers of 2 embryos at once), another chemical pregnancy and another miscarriage, and we’d reached the end.

We were devastated. We got our refund. It didn’t mean anything to us. The arrangement was it’d go back to those who’d helped us out, so we couldn’t even have a fancy holiday to cheer ourselves up. We’d thought that was the end, we were tired, heartbroken and out of mental & emotional resources. We were struggling. We’d said that was our last try, but were tempted to try again. We were told we could use the refund to try again if we wanted to.

We decided we would. It would be setting us up for at 13th embryo to be transferred….in my family 13 has been a winning number for us before, so surely that meant this time it’d be our turn….it was a numbers game after all, as the doctor kept saying.

We started our 6th round of IVF as the New Year rolled in. This was going to be our lucky year. We got a good number of eggs, it was going to be our turn.

None of them fertilised. It was all over.

Apparently, its really common for couples to not be on the same page at this stage. One wanting to continue or to try other options, one wanting to stop treatment all together. Both view points valid – its either the devil you know or the devil you don’t really. Both options scary and full of emotion. It’s really tough when you’re not on the same page. It’s not like there’s a solution that’s a compromise, either way one person is going to get what they want and the other isn’t.

But we’d gone into the final cycle saying that was it, we were drawing a line in the sand, if it didn’t work we’d walk away and start trying to learn to live again in a life we didn’t choose. It was tough, we were broken and lost. People tried to convince us to change the plan, they didn’t understand. They couldn’t grasp that being on a different page from each other at that point, could be a breaking point for our relationship. We had to choose our marriage over the idea of a family. We had to try and find a way to keep that strong, but somehow find a way to not dissolve under the weight of a decision we didn’t agree on nor wanted to make.

And now we’re nearly at the other end of the year, and it doesn’t feel like we’ve healed much. It’s been months purely focussed on survival. It might be common for couples to not be on the same page when it comes to making the decision to stop fertility treatment, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

If you’re facing a decision like this, I’m really sorry. It’s painful and tough, be gentle with yourself and each other. Take your time. Feel the feels. xo

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?

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.