31 December, 2016

2016: Looking back on the blog

Life - and let’s face it, death – got in the way of blogging a bit this year. I’m very aware that my plan to get in guest posters from my ectopic days foundered almost from the outset, but I fully intend to get that going again this year. I’m also aware that my “Gifts of Infertility” series has languished for over a year now, but there are still a couple more I want to write. I don’t have any urge to shut down the blog, or to stop thinking or writing about living a no kidding life, but everything slowed this year, including commenting, and I’m neither pleased nor proud of that.

So rather than set specific resolutions requiring improved performance next year, which is just asking for failure, I thought I’d share some of my favourite posts I wrote this year.

There were a few short posts, just reminding us to look for joy, and to trust in ourselves.

I wrote a series about the idea that “you can achieve anything you put your mind to it.” These were some of my best posts, and were an important part of the message I wanted to give this year, especially the message at the very end of the series - that we too have privilege.

This is of course a nod to Mel who used to run the Crème de la Crème, where we would list our favourite post of the year, and always provided inspiring reading. So even though it doesn’t happen officially now, I hope that you too will list your favourite posts from your own blogs, on your blogs. 

Happy New Year!

27 December, 2016

A grateful Microblog Monday

As I noted on A Separate Life, yesterday I completely forgot about Microblog Monday, and so I sit here at my computer feeling a degree of urgency, and yet with a blank screen in front of me, and a blank mind behind my glasses!

Yet it occurs to me that there are things to be grateful for, and that’s very true.

  • I’m grateful that our Christmas Day passed peacefully, doing the right thing for my in-laws
  • I’m grateful that I didn’t have to cook, and so I wasn’t stressed or harried
  • I’m grateful that the weather was fine, and that we could see people at the beach, swimming and paddle-boarding, enjoying their Christmas Day in Wellington; it made me smile
  • I’m grateful that at the lunch, I met an inspiring woman of 93 who is still active in the community (she’s always been a local figure), spending her day helping people and visiting friends, with a unique ability to find something special in each person she met
  • I’m grateful that – even though this Christmas Day I was the youngest there (!! I know !!)  - I no longer feel trepidation about gatherings with lots of children, although the doting parents, depending on whether their demeanour is smug or harried, are sometimes another issue.
  • I’m grateful that a New Year is just around the corner, and we don’t know what that will hold, but for sure there will be some good things and some bad, but that’s okay, that’s just life.

22 December, 2016

My 2016 annual holiday post

Every year, I like to post about the holiday season that is practically on top of us already. I'm not sure I have anything new to say this year, so I thought I'd link to some of my previous posts.

Six years ago, I wrote my first post about Christmas (or another holiday) without children, and talked about my practice of reclaiming Christmas. I wrote,
But understanding the grief that we won't ever celebrate Christmas with our own children doesn't mean that Christmas has to be lost to us.  If it was important to you before children, it can be important to you afterwards.  It might not be what you always wanted, but let's face it, what in life is exactly as we had envisaged it, or just how we always wanted?  And so I stamp my feet a little, and say "Christmas is NOT just for children.  It's for all of us, to make our own."
I still feel that way, but would simply perhaps add, "if we wish." Because there's nothing wrong with not wanting to celebrate anything at this time of year, or choosing to celebrate life with friends or partners or even simply with yourself.

In 2011, I was staying at my mother's house in the south, and we were spending a quiet Christmas morning, and I was at peace, and hoping all you were at peace too.

In 2012, I remembered Decembers in the past that had been exceedingly painful, and delighted that the pohutukawa trees that previously always brought back memories of that time now brought me joy in their blooms.

In 2013, I wrote three posts inspired by the season. In the first, I caught myself when I felt a little jealous of a friend, and reminded myself that someone else's happiness does not affect my own. In the second, I talked about including childless relatives. And in the third, I reminded myself and us all that we are not alone.

In 2014, I wrote about my ideal holiday if money were no object, and what we actually to do in the real world.

Last year, I was relaxed on Christmas Eve, feeling a little melancholy, but about other things rather than about being childless and alone on Christmas.

This year I feel much the same - a bit (though not badly) melancholy. It's the first Christmas without my mother, and I feel sad about her last few years. Neither my husband nor I have any confirmed work for next year, so I feel uncertainty and a small degree of fear. I can't look back on 2016 with any satisfaction, other than simply (so far) surviving it. I feel a bit lonely too, as none of the overseas relatives are returning home this Christmas, the sons having rushed home when FIL had two heart attacks in April. Of course, I have just been at a celebration in the south with my family, so I can't complain about not seeing my sisters or nieces or great-nephew. Still, friends also tend to leave town at Christmas, going places with family or staying in the country or at the beach - anywhere where the weather is better - and so here there'll be just be us and some elderly relatives. And have I mentioned that this year I don't even get to control the Christmas menu? I have hardly even had any Christmas shopping to do, and although I sometimes find it stressful, I also find it very satisfying, and enjoy being able to buy gifts for people in my life.

However, it's not all doom and gloom. I'm going to do some Christmas baking soon, and will give that as gifts. My Christmas tree is up, and looks great. I'll arrange to catch up with the friend who is going to be remaining in town, and perhaps we'll do some overnight visits to other friends. I think I'll do a meal of our favourite things, just for my husband and I, on Christmas Eve, to make up for not choosing the menu on Christmas Day. And I have had a wonderful offer of accommodation somewhere exotic for Christmas 2017, so I can start thinking about if we can afford that, or at least do it cheaply. Enjoying and making the most of what I have - this is what I mean about reclaiming Christmas.

Besides, by this time next week it will be a distant memory, and I can focus on going on summer walks and picnics and playing with my camera outside, and having some friends over for barbecues, and fixing our house, and enjoying the summer, and maybe planning a road trip to visit my sister up north, and planning an international trip in May, and maybe getting a project finished that has been on hold all year, and maybe kicking off a small business that I don't expect will ever make much money, as long as it will make enough to make a few things tax deductible, and thinking about the New Year always makes me feel a little enthusiastic about the unknown opportunities that might come to us, allowing me to wipe the slate clean.

It seems that I did have some things to say after all.

20 December, 2016

Roll on Boxing Day

My key survival tip for the holidays is that actually (for me at least), it is just one day. After that, life takes over again, and even if we're travelling the focus on family and children shrinks quickly back to normal levels, which we can deal with. It is just one day. We can cope with a lot for just one day.

A few months ago, when we had my niece Charlie staying, we went to the movies. Moana, the new Disney movie, was advertised, and Charlie informed us that she really, really, really (!) wanted to see it. (In general, New Zealand and Pacific kids are very excited about this, because it represents a Pacific culture they can relate to.) I wondered aloud when it was going to start.

"Boxing Day!" she declared confidently. Then she looked at me. "I have no idea when that is!"

Roll on Boxing Day.

Infertility in the news

It was refreshing, yet saddening, to see the front page of my newspaper this morning talking about infertility. As we are the capital city of New Zealand, politics usually dominates, so I was surprised to see fertility issues highlighted on the front page, dwarfing the article next to it on the latest Cabinet reshuffle. Specifically, the article mentioned that there is now a shortage in funding for fertility treatments, as a result of dramatically increased demand just over the last couple of years, and the resulting long waiting lists for even an initial assessment. I’m not sure why the demand has increased so much (by about 25% in some centres) in such a short time, and they didn’t delve into it, which I thought was poor journalism, but then it wasn’t a feature article in a magazine.

Typically, and annoyingly, they included an example of a couple which had a natural pregnancy whilst waiting for IVF, but the paper did get criticised for this in the online comments.

What was heartening though, was the open discussion both in the article and in the comments of how stressful and difficult infertility can be, how expensive IVF is, how IVF isn’t the only fertility treatment, how we can’t “just adopt” here in New Zealand, and how easily the fertile dismiss this as unimportant, at the same time as they laud the crucial role of being parents in society. There were usual comments about “this isn’t life-threatening so why are we funding it” or “just adopt” or “if you can’t conceive naturally then you shouldn’t be allowed to under IVF because it perpetrates defective genes,” but the responses to these pointed out the issues and inaccuracies with these arguments clearly and succinctly.

In general it seemed to be a reasonably civilised conversation about the issue, which highlighted fertility as an issue that affects a lot of people and can be very distressing, and that, I guess, is all we can ever ask for.

12 December, 2016

Beware comparison

This time fifteen years ago, I was going through my first pregnancy loss, finding pain in every mother/child/grandchild relationship I saw. Fifteen years later, I’ve just spent the weekend with my sisters and nieces, one of whom was heavily pregnant. I’m very pleased for her – she had thought it wasn’t going to happen, and so is not taking it for granted.

I love my nieces, and I’m very proud of the women they have become, and I am now very accustomed to seeing my sister as a doting grandmother - though she’s less doting as he grows into a cheeky teenager! Initially that was hard, as it was a reminder of what I wouldn’t have. But I am now secure knowing that my relationships with my nieces, and with my great-nephew, fill different needs and a different niche, and are all important in their own right.   

There’s no point in comparing my relationships with them with my sister’s role in their lives. Comparison is after all the thief of joy - and there is so much joy in being an aunt, and a great aunt, and in accepting those roles.

06 December, 2016

It's December again

December is here. As much as I like December for the warming temperatures, the prospect of several weeks break with (for this self/un-employed person) no obligation even to seek work because the rest of New Zealand is out on their summer holiday, and the joys of summer, it always brings memories.

Along with the inevitable reminders of my parents, December, for me, will always be my pregnancy loss month. Looking back at previous writings, I can confirm that now I simply remember it as a fact of life, and something that doesn't upset me now. However, a particular incident a week or so ago reminded me how easy it is to feel very lonely as a No Kidding couple. I felt extraneous to much of the world, and this brought a real feeling of helplessness, and worthlessness. Fortunately that faded quickly, and I'm now looking forward to the bright side of this particular situation (there is one).

So although it was a painful reminder of my vulnerability, it was also a reminder of my hard-won strength and resilience.