27 April, 2012

We're not being ignored this week

The other day I read Nicole's post "My blog featured on The Huffington Post" and was so excited for her.  It was one of my favourite posts, and had prompted a lot of discussion in our community.  Later when I was lounging downstairs in an armchair with my iPad, I opened my HuffPost ap, and there, the first item on the Women's section, was Nicole's post.  I felt an overwhelming pride that I "knew" her.

Then last night I had a look again, and smiled.  There was Lisa, from Life Without Baby!  I laughed in delight, the same warm feeling of pride I feel when I see Pamela quoted. And I realised that I really do feel part of this community, especially this small group of amazing women who are courageously forging happy and fulfilling lives without children in a children-focused world.  I realised I see their successes as my successes, and was so happy for them.

Then I got an email that astounded me.  And now I too am featured on The Huffington Post, a post I originally wrote for Pamela's Silent Sorority blog.   It's all a bit scary - I have explained why on A Separate Life here (as it seemed appropriate to the Don't Ignore theme of NIAW) - not least because there is a photo and my real name.  No longer am I exotic Mali, but boring ... well ... you'll have to read my Huff Post piece.

25 April, 2012

Seven random things about me

  1. When I concentrate (particularly when playing the piano) I stick my tongue out … just a bit.
  2.  I’m addicted to Sudoku – one a day keeps the Alzheimers away.  I'm counting on it.
  3. I’m a secret Dr Who fan.
  4. I’m the classic middle child, but I’m ready to rebel against that, as long as it doesn’t upset anyone.
  5. I operate the VPMS (Volcano Paper Management System) on my desk.  Pile things high.  What’s important will rise to the top, what is not will slide off the side.  It’s not deliberate, it doesn’t always work, and I wish I was tidier, much much tidier.
  6. I wear glasses.
  7. Mali is not my real name.  (But you probably guessed that, didn’t you?)
Storkchaser tagged me - thanks!  Although I don't usually do the award thing, I usually can't resist answering the questions.  I love a good list (random fact # 8 - a bonus).

23 April, 2012

The harbour, coffee and kids

I stopped at the Tug Boat today for coffee, after venturing back to the gym for the first time in weeks. It was a typical Wellington day. The sun was shining, clouds racing across the sky, and there was a brisk northerly, chopping up the harbour, bright white tips to the waves. The Tug Boat was set up about 15 years ago (maybe more) at a permanent mooring as a restaurant. It has had numerous incarnations over that time, but now – thanks to the demolition of the building over the road, the popular cafe and Wellington institution The Parade Cafe has moved into the tug boat. They’ve brought all their successful notes – outside seating, protected from the southerly, that now looks over a small beach and playground where this morning a little girl in pink fluffy coat and hat played, high tables and stools downstairs looking out to the view, good coffee, great salads, excellent service, and lots of other yummy things I try to ignore. They’ve installed booth seating in the centre of the cafe, and two fireplaces that bring a really cosy atmosphere in a wild winter storm.

I like the booth seating, but today they were dominated by lots of mothers and little children, and I wanted some peace and quiet, so I headed into the nose of the cafe, with a 180% degree view of the harbour, hills and Oriental Parade. I pulled out my e-reader, but took time to look around. To the north, a huge container ship, shaped like a brick, was being pushed into a wharf, ready to load up with – most likely – pine logs. Several other freighters were anchored in the harbour, and the navy frigate HMNZS Canterbury was moored at Queen’s wharf.  I turned south, and admired the boat-sheds lining the beginning of the Parade; bright and blue in the sun, the masts from the yachts in the marina waving in front of them produced interesting geometric patterns.

Suddenly I felt a jolt, then a gentle swaying. It wasn’t an earthquake, and it made me smile. The wind and waves created a very gentle rocking, reminding me I was on a boat, and producing in me a happy and relaxed feeling. That was odd – I’m not usually a lover of the sea, but perhaps memories of the big ship in the Mediterranean rushed back and filled me with pleasure.

I turned to look back at the city, and suddenly realised that all this time I had been looking past the Overseas Terminal – the long pier where my brother-in-law and his new (first) American wife held a reception on their return to New Zealand back in the 1980s, where we enjoyed a casual Italian pizza restaurant for a short time in the 90s, and where most recently – operating as a conference centre – where I taught a course to a small company on developing and maintaining their client relationships.   I suddenly noticed that the building had disappeared.  It was now filled with construction workers, and soon will become an apartment building. The views will be wonderful – but I wonder if I could live there given the fear of a tsunami. (Mind you, is it any worse than the fear of an earthquake living in a house on stilts on the side of a hill?)

Suddenly a piercing, high-pitched, mega-decibel sound broke my reverie and hurt my ears.  “Fire?” I wondered, thinking it must have been an alarm. No, it was one of the children in the booth area. I sighed, wondering if it would be rude to shut the door to my section of the cafe. When a second scream was emitted, longer and louder, I stood. As pleasant as the view, as mellow as the coffee, and with no other concerns or emotions other than concern for my ears, it was time to go.  

Walking back to my car, I saw a mother and toddler heading to the beach, the little girl dressed in the very un-beachlike attire of a fluffy pink jacket, skirt and tights, and a purple hat.  I passed a pregnant woman.  And realised as I got into my car I wasn't at all bothered by the onslaught of fertility I had observed this morning.

Note:  Yes, I've cheated, this is very similar to my post on A Separate Life.

20 April, 2012

Grateful Friday

So much discussion around infertility is about what we’ve lost, about pain and grief.  But we don’t have a monopoly on that.  No, this isn’t another Pain Olympics discussion.  This is simply a fact of life.  Yesterday my husband heard that a friend of his, who we knew has been battling the return of melanoma, is to be given no further treatment against this very aggressive (and sadly very prevalent) cancer.  She said “it’s a case of each day as it comes, sorting my stuff out, and setting up X (her son) for the future.”  And so last night, as I was frying onions and revelling in that delicious aroma, I knew she was figuring out how to tell her son.  And I thought that I owed it to her to do as she is doing – to take each day as it comes, and to be grateful for what I have.

So today, on this autumn Friday, I am grateful for :

  1. My husband
  2. Frying onions
  3. This lovely autumn we are having
  4. The tui chattering away in the trees outside my window
  5. The morepork I heard in the trees last night
  6. The fact I can see and hear our native birds
  7. Our slightly wacky, in-need-of-maintenance, but interesting house
  8. The sun streaming through the windows, warming the house
  9. The beautiful views from my house (check out the header image on A Separate Life)
  10. Friends – in real life and virtual
  11. The fact that my last post resonated with so many people
  12. That after a few years of hard work and investment, the company I used to Chair is on the verge of a big contract
  13. My health – because I’m feeling okay right now, and I will not under-estimate the importance of this, not now
  14. The fact I could – if I chose - buy whatever I wanted at the supermarket today
  15. The good quality, reasonably-priced, delicious Sauvignon Blanc that I plan on drinking tonight ...
... and much, much more ...

11 April, 2012

The real success stories

There’s been much discussion about women in the infertility blogging community recently, and about how they feel their place changes in this community as they get through to the “other side,” when they have “crossed over.”  It sounds like a death, but it isn’t.  This term is used by almost everyone to describe those who have become pregnant and had babies after infertility.  They talk about those still trying to conceive as “yet to cross to the other side.”  Those are, as far as most of these women are concerned, the only two categories.  The use of the word “graduation” particularly bothers me, because it implies that there has been a degree of application, skill and talent to get to the other side, which should be congratulated, when we know that unfortunately none of these have any bearing on whether our bodies conceive or not.  There is no acknowledgement of those who don’t have children, of those who are no longer trying to conceive.  They don't want to think about us, they don't want to contemplate our futures.

It is the same in the ectopic pregnancy boards I visit.  People talk about “success stories” meaning those who have gone on to have a successful pregnancy, in the right place, after an ectopic.  I have no problem with newly bereaved, shocked, traumatised women asking for success stories.  They are desperate to know that everything will be okay.  (Of course, there is a 90% chance that their next pregnancy will be in the right place, but as we all know, loss or infertility can cause us to lose faith in our bodies and distrust statistics).  But when those who have been around the boards start using the term “success stories” it bothers me.  Because if they are a success, then by implication, it must mean that I am a failure.

An aside here:  I started to write this before the Salons suggested by Mel, and here on my own blog I was prepared to be far more honest, and blunt, than I was in my comments on the Salons.  My draft post said “This irritates me.”  Even then I was, as you can see, self-editing!

I acknowledge that those of us following our path are scary, we’re the worst nightmare of the women going through infertility, and they see our lives through grey-tinted glasses, feeling that they are full of gloom, of loss, of despair.  They are focused so much on what they want, that they can’t see there are benefits.  They see us as childLESS. I know, because I was there once.  I remember a very dark moment, wondering what I would do if we couldn't have children, and I really just didn’t see the point  in anything anymore.  That didn’t last long – I think I’ve always understood there was more to life than children – but it was frightening even to cross my mind, and remembering that helps me understand those who are so fearful of us.

But you know, I’m going to speak out now.    I think that – of all of us who go through loss or infertility – we here on the no kidding path are the true success stories.  We are living a life that we never expected to be living. We’re not getting the reward we had hoped for.  We don’t win the lottery.  We had – at least at one stage of our lives, or perhaps all of our lives – expected children, expected to be mothers.  And we’re not.  But that is where our very success lies.  To forge ahead, to live good lives which are different to what we had expected, to me that is courage, that is real success.

We are not failures.  Yes, our bodies may have failed to conceive, but I don’t view an accidentally-pregnant-after-a-drunken-grope-in-the-backseat-of-a-car woman as a success.  So I certainly don’t consider myself to be a failure either.  I am someone who knew when it was right for her (and her husband) to stop  (ie I listened to my doctor!!), someone who accepted that life without children could be good.  Someone who decided that her relationships and sanity and life were all just as important – or collectively more so – than her need to have children.  Someone who could balance her need and desire to have children with the options that were available, assessing which were realistic and which weren’t.  To be honest, when I was faced with all this, it didn’t really feel like a choice.  (I was shocked to find myself shocked when someone on the healing salons commented on my “choice to be childfree.”)  But I could have tried to pursue additional treatments or explore adoption even when they were less than viable options for us.  I could have, but I chose not to, because I knew it was not right for me, for us.

So, in my humble opinion, my fellow no kidding friends and I are the real successes of the ALI community.  We are loving our lives.  We are busy, active in our communities, aiding family and friends, and even helping strangers through volunteer activities.  We are kind and compassionate, funny and strong.  And yes, we get to sleep in on the weekend!  We have a small part of our being that holds grief and loss and sadness, but this small part doesn't dominate our lives.  We are in fact living lives every bit as successful, every bit as fulfilled as those who have gone on to be parents.   

Our path is a very legitimate, and potentially very happy, outcome of infertility.  It is time it was recognised as such, rather than hidden away, ignored, and feared.  Surely our stories, showing the truth, the pain, and the joys, should help those going through infertility, should give them confidence that no matter what, they will be okay.  They WILL be okay, because we are okay.  Surely stories like ours should help take away their fear, not reinforce it?