I have enjoyed a number of very special opportunities and experiences as a result of my infertility and loss. They range from simply meeting people I would not have otherwise met, to some fun experiences overseas:
- That first raucous evening in an Italian restaurant in London back in January 2005, or a more recent meeting with friends at a pub in Reading
- My adventures in Coventry, Gloucestershire and Leicester, where I threw caution to the wind and stayed with people I had only ever met on the internet ... having invited myself! (“They could be axe murderers for all you know,” said my slightly concerned husband.)
- A cream tea (I LOVE clotted cream) after exploring Warwick Castle with two of the axe murderers
- Not-as-civilised-as-it-sounds-but-way-more-fun wine tasting in London with Sarah and Ruth on a warm summery day a few years later
- A day with the lovely Laura, exploring Westminster Abbey, pretending to shop for 4000 pound handbags in Harrods, and a champagne afternoon tea at Claridges (now one of my “must-dos” in London)
- Discovering the charms of English village life with Kathryn and her family, including a little one who shared a due date with my second lost little one
- Walking through a market in France with my internet friend who had flown in to Geneva specifically to spend a weekend with me and my Kiwi friend who was living there
- Discovering Slovenia, a country I may never have visited if it hadn’t been for Klara (and enjoying the delicious Lake Bled cream cake that it turns out is very similar to the Denheath custard square near my home town)
- A spectacular detour through the Dolomites a week or so later, as recommended by Klara’s husband.
One of the most special experiences, though, was attendance at the ectopic charity's ten-year birthday party in the House of Commons in London. It was very cool to be allowed into the Houses of Parliament, to stand in a room and look out of those windows at the river Thames, when normally I am on the other side, with a camera, photographing it from within. I loved emerging from the House of Commons as night fell, to take a photograph from inside the walls. And I was amused to see how the English love an afternoon tea, tucking in with relish! But of course what made this experience so special was that most (not all) my special friends were there. Some of us had a drink in the ancient pub on the corner beforehand, and later some of us squeezed into a taxi and headed off for dinner.
These are special memories, experiences I would never have had otherwise. And I hope for many return visits. But I hope there will be new experiences too, in the future, with some of you, in Canada and the US (California, Oregon and the East Coast), or Amsterdam, Sweden and Finland too. And I have hosted visitors here in New Zealand too. The fact that I hope to do this more in the future might seem obvious, but I have to say it too.
The key thing though is what brought us together. We were more alike than we were different. Infertility and loss has made the world seem smaller. And that’s a wonderful thing.