Monday, 8 February 2016

Blog posts I won't be writing

Here is another selection of the “parent” posts I won’t be writing, with - where possible - my suggestions of an alternative title, creating a suggested post that one day I might write:
  1. How is was Summer Vacation different for your kids than it was for you growing up?
  2. What grade is your child going to be in? Share a memory you have of yourself as a child at that same age at this time of year.
  3. List eight things you’re looking forward to at this time of year after the kids return back to school, and/or
  4. List eight things you are dreading about sending the kids back to school this time of year.
  5. Write a blog post from your dog’s perspective about how he/she feels about your kids going back to school.
  6. If you had more time, what is one last summer excursion you would plan for your family

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Those unwanted reminders

Last night, I opened up Facebook, and saw photos of my friend’s sons, as her eldest headed off for his first day at high school. He is the same age (give or take a month) as my great-nephew. I was pregnant, briefly, at the same time as their mothers, 13 years ago.

I’m not often floored by photos, or stories. I actually love knowing or talking with these boys – though I know one much better than the other – and seeing them grow. Occasionally I think about the fact that we could have a son (or daughter) the same age. But that thought comes only as a theoretical reminder, and doesn't bring pain with it. I don't let it.

But for some reason last night - perhaps because it is on the eve of my wedding anniversary that my husband and I will today celebrate on our own - I was struck by what we could have had, and what we don’t. Emotionally, and completely unexpectedly, it bowled me over.

Though it will pass, too. This I know.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Withdrawing after loss

Jjiraffe wrote an interesting post about relationships and her social life, in which she wrote the phrase: “I just kind of withdrew and recharged.

It is easy to feel vulnerable and weak when we withdraw. I felt as if I was hiding, as if I was a coward, I questioned whether I was wallowing in my grief, and I spent a lot of time beating myself up for feeling different.

Yet now, having been taught by wise people like Sarahg (see my previous post if you haven't already), I know that it is far more accurate to say that what I actually did was withdraw to take care of myself, and protect myself from the world. In doing that, I too was able to recharge. By changing my perspective, by showing myself some compassion, I experience compassion, and I'm better able to show it to someone else. That change of perspective was (and still is) empowering.

Like jjiraffe, I don’t regret withdrawing and recharging - in fact, I am glad I did.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Guest Post: Sarahg on living life

When I first joined the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust message board fifteen or so years ago, there was a special, shining light on the board, guiding people through the tough times, making us smile with her wicked sense of humour, and giving us practical, sound information. Sarahg (as she was known on the boards, and always will be to me) was then working for the Trust as a message board coordinator, having been through her own losses and pain. In that role, she touched not just my life, but the lives of hundreds of other women. To say she touched my life though is a major understatement. She enveloped me - all of us - in a huge, comforting hug.

This isn't the first time I've mentioned her. I talked about her here, when I commented that the best people I know were women without children. She has continued to inspire me, facing additional difficulties with courage and spirit. I’m so proud she’s my friend, and so pleased I can introduce her to you. I asked her to write something for my blog, and - as my first ever internet contact - it seems appropriate that she is the first to do so.

These are her words:
“Ironically, next month it'll be 20 years since my first ever pregnancy. I always wanted to be a Mum. It was my biggest ambition, something I instinctively believed I'd be good at. I met my husband when I was 20, we married when I was 23 and moved to the opposite side of the country from our families following job opportunities - yes, we 'got on our bikes.' We bought a one-bedroomed house which promptly turned to poop as the market crashed leaving us stuck paying 15% interest for a house in negative equity. Yes, kids, that's 15%! Our mortgage payment was equivalent to my monthly wage. After a shed load of hard work and five years, we managed to move to a bigger place so finally we could start a family.

Three years later the pregnancy test showed a faint positive. I went weak at the knees and felt physically shocked with fear and excitement. My husband was thrilled. My in-laws were delighted, my Dad was chuffed. My Mum was a picture of worry. My sister was already leaving the first trimester of her pregnancy. Wow, how cool was that, cousins close in age! Here the story turns upside down. Misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis - I finally ended up in hospital having my ruptured fallopian tube removed along with my precious baby. Scroll on almost five years, and I am back in hospital two weeks before Christmas, losing my second baby and my remaining fallopian tube.

Everything I had hoped for and dreamed of had evaporated. Alienated, confused, grieving, hurting, desperate. No blueprint, no idea what to do, cut adrift. I began searching for answers, and in 2002 stumbled upon a new-fangled message board on the internet, a place for other women who'd also experienced what I was going through. I was hooked, addicted to chatting and unpicking what was happening to us. I found myself and my purpose.
My life hasn't turned out the way I expected. We decided neither IVF nor adoption was for us. They were hard decisions. We knew they were the right ones for us.
My biggest fear was how it would hit me after menopause. With typical predictability, it came early, and although I did ask myself if I had regrets, the truth is I know I did the right thing. So for me, no regrets.

My happy ending has required a massive rewrite - it has been very hard. However, I've stopped leaving my happiness to chance, stopped waiting and started to live my life to the best of my ability. I have met so many extraordinary women, my peers, people who understand what it's like because they've walked in my shoes. People who share the deepest pain and the most exquisite joy of being able to laugh again, laugh at ourselves. I feel alive. I would never have worked with teenagers if not for my losses. Worked with amazing colleagues who will always be my friends.

As it turns out I got sick, diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Arthritis eight years ago. Suffered a fractured hip 3 years ago, ended up disabled, walking with sticks. But guess what? I learnt my lessons, the ones my babies taught me:
  • Live life, it's not optional, it's obligatory.
  • There's too much pain in the world so we must ferret out joy
  • One of those joys is being an aunty
  • Having access to young folks helps us to live a full life
  • We shouldn't be afraid to open up our hearts 
  • We must use our compassion
  • We must laugh harder, and 
  • Cry uninhibited with those who are hurting.
  • Don't go through life holding your breath, waiting to be saved, hoping for that metaphorical white knight. Be your own hero.
I turn 50 this year and I am not done being young.”

Life Life - it's not optional, it's obligatory

Monday, 25 January 2016

Looking for joy

I often talk about the importance of finding joy amidst grief and loss, and apologise if I am too repetitive. For me, the momentary pleasure of a rush of joy or bursting into laughter or feeling love is very important when I am feeling sad or alone. It connects me to others through laughter or love, to nature when I see or smell or hear something beautiful, and to myself, simply by recognising I can still feel joy.

One of the hardest times in my life, when I was in hospital with my second ectopic, when it seemed it would never resolve and there was a prospect it had turned cancerous, almost always brings memories of the brilliance of the red flowers on the pohutukawa trees by the hospital carpark. I could see them from my hospital room, and took pleasure in the blooms, just as whenever I see cherry blossoms now, I remember how they gave me moments of joy during the days of visiting the hospice and sitting with my father as he was dying.

The joy doesn’t mean the pain isn’t there, or that it goes away never to return. But joy provides a blessed moment of relief from pain. It is a promise that I can feel happiness, and will again. If I’m repetitive here, perhaps it is because I need to remind myself regularly that there is always joy in this life, and I should never forget to look for it.