Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Getting lots of rest

Having recovered (mostly) from the surgery, headed back to the gym (starting out gently), and got into a head space where I can start focusing on getting some contract work, I came down with a cold – my first for a year or two.  I headed down to the pharmacy to get some medication that would help me deal with the symptoms, and maybe help me sleep too.  The assistant went through the usual questions – was I on any medication, etc – and then gave the usual advice – take in plenty of  fluids, get lots of rest. 

“That is, get lots of rest if you can,” the kindly shop assistant emphasised.  (Perhaps I looked tired?)

“Yes, I can, actually.  And I will,” I said. 

She looked surprised.  I guess it is unusual – a woman able to take time for herself and rest and recover appropriately from an illness, especially in the middle of the school holidays.

And I reflected that this is one of the advantages of not having children.  First, I don’t get sick very often, as I don’t have children bringing home all the illnesses from school.  (The reason I got sick I assume was that my 6-year-old niece was sick when she visited).  Second, when or if I do get sick, or need surgery, I am able to follow doctor’s orders, and get rest and take things easy.  This certainly helped my recovery from surgery – and I think it helped my recovery from the cold. Afternoon naps were possible, and so was sleeping late in the morning.  My cold is largely gone now, ten days later, and I'm heading back to the gym in an hour or two.

When it is cold and I'm feeling physically and emotionally miserable, I have to say that sometimes, not having children is a big advantage!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A rash impulse or a sound commitment?

As you can see on the sidebar, I have signed up to ComLeavWe, or International Comment Leaving Week.  It means I've committed to a week in August (21-28) of leaving six comments a day on blogs.  Now, many of you may do this every month, and will roll your eyes at both my enthusiasm and trepidation.  Feel free!  I have only done IComLeavWe a few times, though, so this is a big deal!

I do try to comment regularly, I probably average a couple of comments every day, but committing to six is going to be a stretch, especially with the issues I have commenting using the combination of an iPad and Feedly and an occasional dodgy internet connection. But it is good to commit to something.  

One of the reasons I don't do this regularly is that I don't hang out on infertility blogs - the women still trying to conceive, or going through an adoption process, unless I've known them for a while.  It's been many years since I was trying to conceive, and so their world is not my own.  Not any more.  Finding new blogs of interest to me, or where I might have something cogent to say, is therefore not always easy.  But I realised I haven't hunted around for new blogs to follow for a while now, and there may be other blogs that I read regularly but where I don't comment, and so I'm embracing the spirit of this.

And after all my discussions about role models and hidden doorways and different paths, and after reading a post today about our path being dimly lit, I've decided it's time to shine a bit more light on a no kidding life.  And to stop just doing it here where I'm cosy and comfortable, but to reach out and maybe do it elsewhere too.  Even if all I am doing is showing that we won't lash out in bitterness or jealousy, and that others don't have to censor themselves around us, and that in due course, we can cope with their journeys, even if they are on the path that we once wanted to tread.
I just hope I remember come 21 August!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

An Important Moment (Role Model Series IV)

In the last (at this stage) of my role models series, I want to honour another woman I met on-line.  She was older than me, having gone through IVF in the early days of the technology, working with some of those early pioneers, including Lord Robert Winston.  I always remember her talking about his compassion. In those days, women were hospitalised for the entire IVF cycle.  Another woman, his patient, had miscarried after IVF, and my friend observed him sit by the bereaved woman's bedside, holding her hand for hours.  How many doctors would do that now?  

Anyway, by the time I knew my friend, it had been many years since the doors had closed on her journey to have children.  She and her husband could not adopt, and they were living a vibrant life without children.  She had nurtured children in her community, and treasured close relationships with a few.  She still grieved - perhaps because she had never had an outlet for her grief at the time she went through multiple pregnancy losses and trauma - and an on-line community both helped her with this, and gave her an outlet for her nurturing instincts.  

She had talked too about a tremendous feeling of relief that came over her when she knew that she had been through her final cycle, that it was all over.  She said that this wave of relief reassured her that she would be okay.  At the time, I was still trying to conceive, still hopeful, and somewhat sceptical frankly, that she actually had felt good at that precise moment that she knew it was all over.  But then, one day, between IVF cycles, I was driving with my husband.  I can't remember our conversation, but I remember for the first time contemplating that the next cycle would be our last, and that after it failed (as I assumed), we could get back to our lives.  I was flooded with relief, almost euphoric with enthusiasm for the future.  All the things I could do suddenly seemed so appealing!  I could plan ahead beyond a week or two, do things with friends, commit to caring for my mother (instead of worrying about cycles and whether I could fly if I was pregnant, etc), travel, commit to work ... start to live again.  It was overwhelming.  

It didn't last, of course.  She had warned me that it wouldn't, and she was right.  The fear and depression returned very quickly, and grief and pain hit me hard when those doors to motherhood were finally closed a few months later.  But the memory of that feeling of relief and euphoria helped me through those very hard days when I knew it was all over.  And I often think of that as we drive over the same highway these days.

I am grateful to these four women in this series, for their honest lives that gave me inspiration at different times of my life, that helped me through difficult situations, and that gave me hope for the future. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Remembering a casual conversation (Role Model Series III)

When I was in my 30s, I remember chatting to a colleague over Friday evening drinks.  (I confess, I cannot even remember her name).  She was around 50, and commented on the fact I didn't have children.  She shared with me that she had desperately wanted children in her late 30s and early 40s, and that it had tormented her that she couldn't.  

But then she insisted that now, in her 50s, she was very happy without them, and in fact in many ways she was pleased that she never had children.  In particular, she talked about how strong her relationship was, and how the freedom from focusing on raising children allowed her and her husband to focus on each other.  Together their relationship was much stronger, and she was grateful for this every day.

Whilst I ignored her warning to ignore my biological clock (it was ticking loudly by then), I think the knowledge that she was happy, despite having dearly wanted children, helped me when it became apparent that we too could never have children.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Grace under pressure (Role Model Series II)

Living in Thailand in the early 90s, I became close to a Thai staff member, Wilai, who had never had children. 

 "We waited for the right time to have the baby, then the baby never came," is how she described her life.  She had done everything right, waited till they were educated and financially sound, and living in the same country.  But maybe she had waited too long.  Or maybe it would never have happened.  She was sad about the outcome, there was no denying that, but accepting.  When I knew her she was 40, so only really beginning to come to terms that her dream wouldn't be followed through.  She stressed to me that if I wanted children, I shouldn't leave it too late.  Maybe I should have listened to her?

We worked very closely together.  She helped and encouraged me speaking Thai, tolerated my long conversations with her husband about Thai politics, and got me into exclusive meetings with prominent political figures where I was (thanks to my background as an AFS exchange student) the only foreigner there.  When the frustration of work or head office got too much, we had lots and lots of laughs together.  She helped my husband throw a surprise 30th birthday party, and ensured the local staff always included me when they were having khaoneeo, somdum and gai yang for lunch.  She also said one of the nicest things to me that anyone has ever said, and I'll always cherish her for that.

Her reach was far greater than just helping me, though.  Wilai was one of the most compassionate, wonderful women I have ever met. She delighted in the children of friends and colleagues.  She adopted dogs (and in Thailand, there are a lot), was kind to the more needy in society (and in Thailand, there are a lot), and treated everyone - whether they were an Ambassador, a high ranking government official, in high society, or the driver or cleaners at work - with love and respect and dignity.  She was not a mother, but she was still making her mark on life, affecting many individuals for the better.  By setting such an example, she made us all better people just by knowing her.

Note:  If you'd like to follow links to A Summer Afternoon, email me on malinzblog at yahoodotcodotnz and I'll add you to the list of readers.  
Update:  Having seen the click-through stats, I've take A Summer Afternoon public but will do so only for a week or so.