Monday, 9 July 2018

Miscellaneous No Kidding Thoughts

1. Another shout-out to Mel, who has hosted her 600th Roundup by inviting her readers to highlight particular posts (their own, or those of others) they have loved, and it is a celebration of infertility and No Kidding blogging. I encourage you to go over and read some of the posts* that are being featured. I wish my memory was better, because I have read so many posts from so many of you that have made me punch my fist and say "yes!"

2. I had a major eye-rolling even late last week when I was watching a news show talking about the Thai boys trapped in the cave, and someone commented that it was "the worst thing imaginable, being trapped in a cave in the dark with water rising."

"I'll tell you something worse - it's being the parent worrying about your kid trapped in a cave," said another guy.

As a parent, he was relating only to the grief and fears of the parents, whereas I (like the actual parents of the boys, I suspect) was worrying about the the boys and their young coach, thinking about what they were feeling, what it must have been like to spend ten days in utter darkness, the fear and hope, the hunger, the desperation.

3. My husband and I put the cat amongst the pigeons last week when we decided to give all his other siblings six month notice that we would not be spending Christmas with their parents (we have done so for the last three years in a row), and it was up to them to decide if they wanted their parents to be alone, and if not, who would be the ones to visit. They have hidden behind having Christmas with their children (or allowing their children to spend time with cousins) for years, implying that, because we don't have children, Christmas is less important to us, and also hinting - quite strongly - that the idea of enforcing their children to celebrate with us and/or the in-laws was just too cruel** to the kids. So this year we got in early, saying I want to visit MY family this year for a change, and we're sitting back and watching the fireworks!

 * and thank you to those who featured my posts, two of my personal favourites - Infertility's Waiting Room, and The Real Success Stories.

** despite one of the children telling me she didn't want to spend Christmas with all her cousins and aunts and uncles

Monday, 2 July 2018

A Thank You to Mel

Last week, Mel at Stirrup Queens reached a landmark, writing her 600th Friday Roundup, where she highlights posts from around the ALI (Adoption Loss Infertility) blogging community, and invites us to do the same in the comments. This is an amazing achievement, and has taken real commitment to read multiple blogs every week, and to then consistently post a Roundup of posts every Friday for the last eleven years (missing only one on average per year).

I know that many of you don’t read Mel’s blog, but I have noticed that increasingly the posts she is highlighting are from the No Kidding community, and increasingly, the posts highlighted in the comments are from our community too. In doing this, she helpfully brings our perspectives to the wider infertility blogging community, legitimises our choices and our lives, and also reminds us where we came from. And for that, I thank her.

Likewise, her Microblog Mondays project, has kept me blogging and writing about our No Kidding lives consistently, and succinctly, for some years now. I’m pretty sure I’d still be writing here, but probably not as regularly, especially as I keep this for No Kidding thoughts only, writing more generally on A Separate Life about my everyday life, and this year blogging daily on TakeTwo x365. So I am thankful for that too, as this space, and my interactions with you are all, are important to me.

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.