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

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

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 ๐Ÿ˜œ

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.

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 what 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 decafe!)…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 friendย 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?