Monday, 25 June 2018

Monday Miscellaneous

A reminder that Lesley Pyne launched her book for sale last week, so check out my review of Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness here, in case you missed it.

There were two babies born last week in my life: one, a third great-nephew, to a niece who had struggled to conceive, and the second, the Prime Miniature as she has been dubbed, to our Prime Minister, who also struggled to conceive. I am pleased to report that I was delighted to hear the news for both these young women, and didn't have any twinges or Ouch! moments.

I was talking retirement with someone the other day, and was surprised that I did have a real Ouch! moment comparing my need to make preparations for myself, and her ability to rely on her children who live in the same city, and perhaps her inability to understand my situation.

On my daily blog x365 Take Two, June's theme has been a month of getting things off our chest, or Whining, and I've written about No Kidding issues* already. I thought I'd continue the theme here, because I wanted to have a whine about parents who really don't stop to think about what they might say or how they might say something. I want to whine too at those who blindly assume that all infertile people - especially those who might be in the midst of trying to conceive - don't understand the realities of parenting. It drives me mad that I have to point out (on my behalf or, more recently, on behalf of others') that just because we don’t have children, it doesn’t mean we:
  • don’t understand them
  • think that every moment of parenthood is full of joy
  • don’t realise that children have melt-downs
  • don’t understand that it is hard
  • might not have some good ideas to share
  • are stupid!

  * You can read them here, and here.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Kiwi baby mania - or not?

Warning: Pregnancy mentioned. (Not mine! lol)

Yesterday was the due date of Jacinda, our 37-year-old Prime Minister. She will be only the second* female head of government ever to give birth in office.The country is about to go baby mad – or are they? Maybe we’re more concerned about the man** she’s had to leave in charge as Acting Prime Minister whilst she is on maternity leave.

I have been very thankful that her pregnancy has not dominated news, as she herself has clamped down on hype and hyperbole around the pregnancy and impending birth. Thankfully, she has not been a smug pregnant woman, and has always carried herself with dignity and awareness. So I haven't been at all bothered by her news, and in fact, have been happy for her and her partner, ever since she announced that they had realised they would probably need "help" to conceive. I do however have no doubt that her pregnancy news has been triggering to many infertile and No Kidding women in New Zealand, and I feel for them in the inevitable onslaught - because there will be one.

* after Benazir Bhutto in 1990 
** her coalition partner, and not someone I have ever supported

Friday, 15 June 2018

Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness: A review

As I mentioned in a blog earlier this week, Lesley Pyne has written a book called Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness. I’ve talked about Lesley on this blog before – I noted that she was a therapist who works with childless women, when I flagged a feature of me on her blog. What I failed to mention too was that she is one of us.

I personally love the title of her book. It shares my philosophy that there can be, and there usually is joy when we embrace our No Kidding lives. And it bodes well for what is inside.

In the Forward to the book, Jody Day of Gateway Women writes an inspiring message. Her message reflects the message of the book too, and again, of this blog. And that message is that you are not alone. You are not alone coming to the realisation that maybe you won’t get the children you wanted. You are not alone going through the grief and realisation that this is your life, and you are not alone when you come through the most difficult years, and look to the rest of your life without children. We are all there, as Jody says, “your childless sisters.” And this is exactly what I love about our No Kidding blogging community.

Lesley introduces her book by reinforcing her primary message. To be brief, and not nearly as eloquent as either Jody or Lesley, it is that she is okay, other women are okay, and you can be too.

When writing the book, Lesley interviewed 19 women from all over the world. I am one of them – the only New Zealander (although there is an English woman who now lives in NZ apparently who contributed, someone I’d love to meet) in the group. Lesley looks for and brings out the commonalities of our experiences, and talks about what helped her and what helped us. The point is of course that we are all different, and so different things helped us all. But there are always some commonalities in the steps we go through.

As Lesley is a therapist, her book is focused on helping people through the process. There is, therefore, plenty of homework and lots of thought-provoking exercises. There’s no prescriptive process, though, and the only requirement is that you are prepared to think honestly. And maybe write this down.

I haven’t done the homework exercises, but I have made a note of some of them, and once her book is out may blog some of my own results of these exercises.

Lesley talks about her own experiences with infertility and childlessness. She came from a family where emotion was not encouraged. I completely recognised her experiences there in my own upbringing, remembering falling off my bike, badly winding myself, and being told not to cry. My husband came from the same sort of background. Stoic, stiff upper lip families, where feelings were foreigners. As a result of this, Lesley says that she thought she didn’t need to grieve. After all, she thought, “doesn’t time heal?” I had to laugh at this. It’s such a logical thought – that if you hold it in enough, and time heals, that eventually you’ll be able to emerge recovered from grief. But we all know – now – that it doesn’t work like that. Fortunately, Lesley had some friends who pointed out that “grief was not an enemy, but a friend.” I love this. It totally reflects my own feelings – and is a belief I follow in my own life, and that has subsequently helped me through the deaths of both my parents. I didn’t know it before infertility though.

Another quote in this section that I love is her conclusion that “Expressing your feelings is a sign of strength.” I’ve written about this myself, both in terms of No Kidding women being success stories, and in terms of the different ways women and men process emotions. Feelings are really hard. Facing them, feeling them, and expressing them is courageous. When we can do this, we should stand proud and strong.

Lesley points out some of the things that helped her most strongly. Facing her grief and her feelings was of course the primary issue, but she has moves on to the issues of mindfulness, and of reconnecting with your body. Mindfulness really helped me personally, and I’ve more recently discovered the power of yoga and simple breathing to calm me and reduce stress. Others I know connected with their bodies differently. It’s an important step, I think, because I’ve seen many women come out of infertility hating their bodies. So I’m glad that Lesley talked about these topics too.

I wanted to cheer when I saw the chapter on Letting Go to Let In. Because this is something we often talk about in the No Kidding community. It is the opposite of giving up, and it is letting go of the grief, not because it didn’t matter that we have experienced loss, but because our futures matter more.

Love and self-acceptance, gratitude and reclaiming joy are, appropriately, all given their own chapters in the book, leading to a conclusion full of hope that you can get there, and a feeling of victory that so many of us, including Lesley, have indeed found our own Joy Beyond Childlessness.

Lesley’s book is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK for pre-order, formally out on Monday 18 June, as both an ebook and a paperback.

Monday, 11 June 2018

No fast forward button to healing

During my years of infertility, I only ever saw a counsellor once – via my IVF clinic, and after my second ectopic, as it was resolving. I remember thinking she could give me some coping mechanisms that would help me cope with this. To my disgust, she didn’t. I figured out why though - there are no easy answers to grief.

On the message board I visited, the lovely Sarahg (who guestposted here) told me there was no “Get out of Jail Free” card simply because I’d been through an ectopic before – and that’s the hard part of loss, and of beginning a No Kidding life. Just because we might get to the stage where we might hope that we might be okay in the long run (or believe people like me who keep reassuring others they will be okay), we can’t fast forward through the mourning period, the healing, the adjustments, and the two steps forward one step back dance that we all must go through, in our own way.

But doing it with help, gentle guidance, and loving encouragement, whether it is through blogging ourselves, reading other blogs, belonging to social media groups or support groups in real life, makes it a lot easier. That’s why I blog; and that’s also why, later this week, I will be reviewing Lesley Pyne’s new book, Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Gifts of Infertility (and Childlessness) - The Series

Later this year, it will be 15 years since I learned I’d never have children. I have learned a lot of lessons (see Friday’s post here as an example), and have discovered, and now written about, at least  25 Gifts of Infertility and Childlessness. I would never have thought, back in 2003, that I’d be able to come up with more than one or two gifts from my infertility and childlessness. I probably knew even then that “travel” and “sleeping in” were always going to be advantages of a no kidding life! But in the midst of grief and anger and denial, it was hard to admit that there would ever be any gifts to this life.
Obviously, given that I’ve found 25 different issues to write about (and finally finished the series), there are many gifts of this life, of this journey I’ve been going through. By recognising these gifts, I am not denying the pain we’ve been through, or what we’ve lost, and I’m certainly not denying the pain others might be going through today. I am merely being honest, looking back at what I’ve learned, what I value, and what I am grateful for now.