All or Nothing.

I generally think I’m an all or nothing kinda person – I’m either doing really well at sticking to my healthy eating plan, or I’m really not! And also, I grew up being told I never finish projects or stick to things, so often I feel I have to complete something because I said I was going to (being true to my word is really important to me!), and a lack of self-trust (and a lack of what some people call ‘gut instinct’) means I can easily keep going with a project or idea for longer than I should. Generally about the time I finally decide to stop doing something, I realise I should have made that decision earlier (fine example…going part time at Uni!). So despite the creator of Capture Your Grief, specifically saying, only do the days that feel right, and look after yourself etc., it wasn’t until TheEcoFeminist wrote this very wise post, that I gave my permission to stop doing this project. Part of me had felt maybe if I keep pushing through it, I’ll find some healing – you know ‘gets worse before it gets better’ kinda thing. But I was finding doing the project had me thinking about the babies we’ve lost, ALL THE TIME (and it’s not like I don’t think about them pretty much every day anyway) and looking at other people’s Capture Your Grief posts on various social media sights. It started negatively impacting my sleep, which is generally a bad sign, and brought on an all encompassing grief attack. Yep, I’d captured my grief all right, I was literally drowning in grief.

Of course, it may not have been this project at all that brought on this latest deep, dark grief attack. It may have been the lady who did my manicure (the one that was a birthday treat, supposed to be a nice experience of pampering)….the one who’s baby is due 2 days after the due date for our most recent miscarriage. Yeah, that was fun, sitting there captive, listening to her talk about going on maternity leave etc!

Or it could have been, just a normal, unexpected, wave of grief as sometimes happens. Whatever the trigger, it’s been a long lasting, smothering, horrible grief attack.

It’s really hard to keep your head above water, when none of your coping strategies seem to be making any difference, nothing seems to be changing, and then when it starts having a really noticeable impact on your marriage….well, combined with the general “don’t know whats going on with my life, everything is in limbo”…..it really feels like you’re a bunch of tiny pieces being tossed around in a horrible stormy sea (and believe me, I know how that feels to sail through an actual massive storm). There’s a decided feeling of ‘What’s the f%@king point?!’

It’s a real shame there’s not set of instructions for dealing with this kind of grief – follow these steps and you will start to feel better, or at least see some progress. Instead you try a bunch of different tips and tricks, and then try them all over again, and if something helps you keep  doing that, til it stops helping, and then you starting trying everything else all over again. All the while, trying to support your relationships and your partner to get through this safely too.

So in summary. Grief sucks. What ever you’re going through at the moment, I hope you’re taking care, and that you’re surround by people taking care of you too xx

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Where are the words?

I keep wanting to write, but don’t know what to say…seems the feelings don’t change so much and I mostly feel like I’m just being negative all the time – & I know how tedious that can make reading! I even struggle to find the words to reply to your comments with I love reading & really appreciate.

Irony is I’d like to improve my writing, and maybe start writing for magazines or something (something thats not a university essay at least!)….but I don’t know what to write about (that would be good enough!).

I wanted to write a post for World Childlessness Week last week, but had a few too many feels, and didn’t think I could add anything to the conversation already happening. Currently feeling like I’m in some weird no mans land – not in Treatment world, because we don’t know if we’ll actually do any more treatment (and when each person in a couple is on a different page this is a really tricky, fragile uncertainty)….but because we haven’t reached a definitive agreement on doing no more treatment, I don’t feel like I fit in the childless world. When infertility leaves you feeling like you don’t fit in the world, feeling like you don’t fit in the infertility world too is not a great space to fit in. Humans always want to feel like they belong somewhere.

To start with it felt like the counsellor was of the belief that we shouldn’t keep trying and therefore kept asking me the hard questions, but I’ve since realised over more sessions that she takes turns asking both of us the tough questions. I suspect that we both ignore these questions in between sessions, hoping that either they’ll go away or that an answer will come to us without us having to face the question. I’m starting to feel that I’m probably gonna have to be brave and face these questions, and the fear of the future, in order to actually heal some and be able to live with what ever decision we make – but with how quickly panic starts to rise if I even slightly glance in the direction of those questions, I fear facing them head on will find me falling apart even more than I already have….and I don’t know how I’ll be able to keep going with everyday life, if I let that happen…..it’s like I need to find a large chunk of time with no commitments so that I’ll have time to put myself back together before I need to function again. And in the meantime til I find a chunk of time, I’ll just keep looking the other way and hoping the question will go away. Or maybe, I’m slowly putting myself back together after all our losses, in order to fall fully apart again….

Uncovering Feelings

Recently I was thinking that I’d started to feel (a little bit) better….better/ok is all relative though, so having been feeling pretty shitty for so long it doesn’t take much to feel like an improvement. How quickly our bars for ‘ok’ are reduced!

However, I also recognised that this was the time for some healing to occur, when there’s a tiny glimmer of emotional energy to process things. So we made an appointment with a grief counsellor, someone neither of us had seen so that we could have a clean slate to start healing as a couple, not just working through things individually – things had become a bit fragile with our relationship so strengthening our marriage is also important at this stage.

We had our first session yesterday. It was quite confronting, the therapist asked some hard questions – ones I at least struggled to answer. While logically I realise I need her to ask the tough questions so I can process and accept my feelings….emotionally it’s terrifying. Made me realise how much I’ve boxed my emotions up in order to feel less pain. Flip side is you feel less anything. But now her questions have started making gaps for feelings to escape. I’m not sure I really want to feel them even in order to find a way to start actually living again.

She also was surprised at the amount of treatment and loss we’d been through, and that I’m still wanting to keep going. While its obviously always been still there as a big possibility, I’d been ignoring the fact that it’s most likely we are still facing a childless life – grieving our baby boy was enough, I didn’t want to feel the feels of facing a childless life too. But now the therapist has started asking questions, that reality has been shoved in front of me again. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want that to be my future. The few thoughts I’ve had about it since yesterdays session has already started the feelings of panic and absolute terror welling up. Utter lack of control and powerlessness, overwhelming fear of the future. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to face these feelings full on, they seem to big for me to handle.

I learnt pretty young that life isn’t fair….but this, this losing a dream, is a whole other level of unfairness!

Another Rollercoaster Ride

I’m sorry it’s been a while since I wrote….have been meaning to write this post for ages, but life & feelings keep getting in the way. I’ve um’d and ah’d about whether to write this post or not…..I feel a little like a fraud after everything I’ve written before now….but then I also realise I said I wanted to show the reality of life after fertility treatment….and it doesn’t always go the way we expect, so being open about that is probably a good thing too. Fully away also that not everyone reading this will get or understand or agree with our decisions – and that’s ok, if this post is triggering for you I’m sorry & I understand you moving away from the blog….but I’ll also put up front (in case you don’t want to read til the end) this is not a happy blog post.

Towards the end of last year, while we were still struggling to come to terms with a childless life, we somehow stumbled ourselves on to a page where both of us realised we weren’t ready to be done with fertility treatment. As much as we knew fertility treatment was painful, last year was painful too and we didn’t feel like we were making any progress in accepting it (despite spending lots of $$ on therapy!) – so suddenly we found ourselves looking into treatment options we hadn’t considered before.

And before we knew it, we’d remortgaged paid a deposit & booked flights to Europe….we were going to try again, with different treatment in a different country – surely that boded well for us, taking a different approach to all the other times…..the healthy eating & taking tonnes of supplements kicked in – though tripping around Europe with all the cakes and baked goodies did mean there was some (lots of) indulgences! Treatment went surprisingly well – was hard to believe….and was interesting watching my anxiety responses kick in before I even had any news on the days we talked to the clinic – trauma responses take a while to get rid of I guess!

Once we returned home, life was a whirlwind – sold our house, bought a new house, Uni started (which involved going out of town for a course)…..it was quite hard to cope with this much Life going on, all the while wondering if I was pregnant….when we finally got the blood test results it was positive…the pain of all previous times over rode any excitement and all I had was tears….I hoped that further into the pregnancy my worries would be more manageable and that there would be space for excitement…..We made it to our first scan at 6 1/2 weeks….the anxiety levels before this appointment skyrocketed….last time we had this scan it hadn’t been good, I’d had some spotting leading up to this time, so I wasn’t feeling super positive…..but there was a heart beat….I cried, there was a baby growing in me….it was amazing….it still didn’t feel real…I still wasn’t excited….I was so scared….I kept having words with myself…there was a heartbeat…all the signs suggested everything was going fine….I just needed to keep breathing….

We made an appointment with a midwife, we moved into our new house, I kept trying to do some Uni work, I felt uncomfortable in my own skin but mostly I could remind myself it was all for the greater good…it’d all be worth it……

We went to our 9 week scan, both of us pretty sure everything was fine….the anxiety didn’t really get too high this time, surprisingly….we were in new territory….but it would be ok.

Except it wasn’t. There was no heartbeat. Our baby had stopped growing a few days after our last scan. Our world was falling apart all over again. We swore & cried, & left the appointment….and just as we hopped back into our car, someone trying to park next to us, drove into us – nothing major just frustrating, we held it together, exchanged details….and as we drove off…the driver got her baby out of the car…..F’ing hell, she got lucky and drove into us….we got nothing.

That was a week ago….feels like yesterday and forever all at once. I went to hospital a few days ago for surgery….at least now physically I can start to return to normal. I’m not sure how to heal our hearts thought. And as for what’s next who knows….everything seems a bit pointless at the moment, so we’re focussing on breathing, holding each other close & medicating with chocolate.

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?

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.

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 😊