Sunday, 30 June 2013

Fitting the stereotype

I've never liked stereotypes.  When I was a little girl, I didn't like playing with dolls, and hated it when people assumed I did.  I also hated it if people assumed that boys were better than girls, stronger than girls, and I well remember my confused indignation when my mother told me that girls had to sit with their knees together! 

Ironically, it has been infertility - a non-sterotypical condition - where I have fitted many of the stereotypes.  I was a late starter to the conception business, and discovered that late actually meant too late.  I discovered too that a biological clock - whether it is biological, or social, or simply a stereotype we conform to - is real.  And it ticks, loudly.  In my case at times, deafeningly.  My emotions over infertility and pregnancy loss fitted many stereotypes  and cliches - but perhaps some of these are stereotypes and cliches because they're true.  And yes, time really does heal.

So now I find myself filling another stereotype.  That of the childless couple, travelling the world.  I know this stereotype can create uncomfortable expectations on others, who don't wish to do this, and I'm sorry if I'm contributing to that.  But I know that since I was a small girl, just learning to read, I have wanted to travel.  The fact that I have been able to do so, both for work and pleasure, and now in glorious unemployment, makes me very lucky.  If that's a stereotype, then I'm prepared to own it!

Saturday, 29 June 2013

We do know a mother's love

I'm sitting in Aqaba, Jordan, looking out my hotel window at the Red Sea.  The classic "childless couple travelling the world" thing.  I know one thing - we wouldn't be doing this if either of our babies had survived, or if either of our IVFs had worked.  But we are doing it, and even though it is 46 degrees C outside (yes, that's about 115 F), it is extraordinary.

But we had some hours to relax and rewind, and so I came online.  I found a link to this post by Em.  She expresses her feelings about parenting post-infertility, and how infertility defines how she feels, and how the hardships of parenthood are similar to those of infertility.  I take issue with, but understand (sighing)  her comment about "those who aren't parents YET" and her desire to "fill our empty arms" which in itself doesn't  acknowledge the realities that for some women, their infertility outcome will be living with no kids.  (But we all know how taboo it is to mention a "childless" outcome in the IF community.)  However, that was a minor irritant in a very interesting, honest, and heartfelt post.  I have never felt that those who parent after infertility need to apologise for it, and hope very much that she didn't write her post out of survivor's guilt.  I have always just hoped that women who parent after infertility recognise the journey they have been through, and recognise the journeys of others.  And she does this. 

I particularly loved this paragraph, and wanted to reproduce it here:
"When my love for my daughter literally steals my breath and makes my heart feel like it's going to explode, when the fear of something happening to her rises to the level of spiritual warfare ... I remind myself that my infertile friends do know that love and that fear.  Many of their worst fears have been realized.  They love their miscarried and stillborn babies every day of their lives.  Many others know the agonizingly ambiguous loss of their dreams.  They love the children in their imaginations.  It is a real, powerful, mama bear love that should never be dismissed or minimized."
I love her for those last two sentences, and those last few words.  She is the first person who I feel has ever said what is in my heart.  And I thank her wholeheartedly for that.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Teenage boys

I was surprised in Jerusalem to see so many families travelling together, but I guess if school is out in the US, then that explains it.  At breakfast one morning, there was a son sitting with his father.  They were chatting, so this teenager (around 13-14 I would guess) was at least better than monosyllabic, as are most teenage boys - or so I have been led to believe.  He reminded me of my nephew (mentioned in my previous post).  They both talked, seemingly willingly, but they both looked as if they're about to cry.

I laughed and said to my husband, "that would drive me crazy.  I would perpetually be worried they were miserable."

And then we turned to the business of planning our day.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Checking In

Spent the last few days with family in Qatar.  It is always odd seeing ordinary family life going on somewhere exotic, somewhere so foreign.  Of course, we've done it too, in Thailand, but that was a long time ago.  It is just proof that home and family can be wherever you make it.  However you make it.

It was lovely to see BIL and SIL again, and of course, our 13-year-old nephew too.  We don't know him that well - over the years have only seen him a few times, and being a boy he's a bit more reticent with us than his sister (who had the advantage of knowing us well before she left the country).  We had the opportunity to attend a major milestone for my nephew, and whilst he may not have realised it, it meant a lot to me that we could be there for it - supporting him, supporting his parents, and being part of the family.  I talked to his mother about it.  She acknowledges that she misses her family, having community and family around her for such events, so she appreciated us being there.  And I said to her too, that the childless aunt and uncle appreciated being there, as we don't get to be part of milestones like this.  It is one of my major sadnesses - that most of my nieces and nephews live so far away, and only know me as a theoretical name, the mysterious "Auntie (Mali)." 

But at least this day wasn't sad.  And I was glad to kick off our trip in this way.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Hitting the road

As of tomorrow, I will be on the road for a couple of weeks, before settling in to our temporary home in Rome.  So blogging will be intermittent, maybe non-existent, and commenting might be too.   Just rest assured I will be back.

And in the meantime, I will try to post to my specific trip blog here.

Right now, the evening before we leave, I am feeling stressed:

  • Office not tidy
  • House still to be cleaned
  • Pile of ironing to do
  • Bags packed but overweight, and I really don't want to take out those shoes but probably have to
  • Suffering from lack of sleep already, even before we set off tomorrow on a 25 hour, three-flight trip


This is the storm before the calm.  I hope.  I cannot imagine doing all this with a child.  (Head is about to explode as it is.)

Au revoir, adios, cheerio, and ciao!