26 April, 2021

What I want you to know

 ,,, about infertility and childlessness.

That's the hashtag for Resolve's National Infertility Awareness Week this year. I'm a little late, but better late than never, I think. This year, I posted on A Separate Life, as I feel my readers here know what I want you to know. Every week I blog about it. I've written blog projects on the issue, and made a small book, that let you know what I want you to know.

Summed up, it is that life is still good after infertility and childlessness. That you get through the loss and grief, and live a full, happy life. That our inability to have children (for whatever reason) is only a part of our lives, sometimes bigger than others, sometimes almost nonexistent. We are so much more than that. It gets better. I'm not kidding. That's what I want you to know.

Finally, this week is the second week of the April (end of first term) school holidays throughout New Zealand (and Australia). That time can be tough, with families out exploring the country and having a wonderful time. (Here's my survival guide to school holidays.) But next week ... Oh, next week we reclaim the shops and restaurants and roads and ferries and tourist spots, and secluded outdoor areas. Next week it's all for us! I can't wait.

19 April, 2021

Gratitude for the little things

I write a lot about how appreciating the little things enabled me to see that life was going to be okay, and to remember that there is joy even during the first throes of grief. The last few days I've been feeling a bit weepy, and I'm not sure why. It might be because the focus of our lives over the last few years is now over, as of Wednesday last week when the in-law's house officially left the family, and I don't know what to do with the relief. I don't know. I know it will pass. But it's a good time to remember the good things about life that are often so little. It helps with resilience, and sometimes I need that. I thought I'd share some of mine from the last day or so.

  • I baked bread for lunch, and that first crusty slice, slathered with avocado and topped with ripe tomato slices, had me groaning in ecstasy. A simple lunch, but it was soooo good.
  • I've been listening to the news today, with the first non-quarantine flights between Australia and New Zealand for a year arriving today, as our joint "travel bubble" opened today. So much joyful family reunification brought a tear (or two) to my eyes too.
  • The sun shining through the yellowing oak tree leaves this morning made the whole tree glow. Not a bad sight to see as I ate breakfast, I think?
  • A beautiful autumn walk along the foreshore last evening with my husband. I enjoyed the exercise, the sea was calm and blue, dozens of people (and dogs) were enjoying the beach, and the low light was just beautiful.
  • I wrote my #Microblog Monday post for A Separate Life yesterday, hitting Schedule 24 hours early. A very satisfying feeling. I should do it more often! lol
  • I learned a new knitting stitch last night, and I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment as it worked perfectly.
  • Reading some lovely heart-warming posts yesterday and today from fellow bloggers Klara, Jess, and Infertile Phoenix.

And now, for something unrelated but necessary:

Admin Notice: 

Blogger has advised that their email subscription service will be discontinued in July 2021.

After July 2021, my feeds will still continue to work, but the automated emails to my subscribers will no longer be supported. Maybe try Feedly to keep up to date with my posts here. Or subscribe to Instagram (@nokiddinginnz)where I will try and flag new posts more regularly. 


12 April, 2021

Inaccurate Thinking and Self-compassion

 Some time ago I read six words that I thought were terribly sad. The words were:

“I still wish I had children.”

I found them terribly sad not for the obvious reason. Yes, it is undeniably sad that they wanted children, and were not able to have them for whatever reason. I have enormous compassion for them because of this. I share in that experience. But that’s not the reason why I felt sad for the blogger. I felt sad because, years later, they have been unable to let go.

Sure, I’ve probably thought those words in the past. And yes, there are times when I feel the sadness of not having children, which is maybe what the person meant. That they wish their lives had been different. That they meant to say, “I wish I had had children.” This could all be my misunderstanding of a simple statement. Because I think we all understand that sentiment. I certainly do. Accepting what has happened, and moving into the future, doesn’t mean that we didn’t want something different, or that we occasionally wish it had been otherwise.

But I thought it was worth writing about, because what if this blogger actually does sit in their home, in the present day, years later, wishing they had children? I know there are people who feel this ways. I had an online (and then in real life) friend who would talk about bursting into tears in her 60s because she had seen children or pregnant women at the doctor’s office. She had moved on, but only to an extent.

And if that is the way this person feels, then I feel enormous compassion for them. Personally, I cannot imagine saying the words, “I still wish I had children” any more. I haven’t really felt that for years. The sentiment seems pointless to me. I never had children when I was younger. I’m never going to have them now. It would be a fantasy to wish I had something that is impossible. Why would I do that? There are enough instances in the average day or week that remind me I don’t have children, and remind me what my life could have looked like if I had had them. I don’t need to fantasise. Yet obviously, some people still do it.

Of course, it may work for them. We all cope differently. They may have a moment or a minute or an hour wishing they had children, have a bit of a cry, and then move on with their life. Of course, if they feel better after that, then they have found a way to mourn and to live. It may work for them, but it wouldn’t work for me. If I did that, I would be only focusing on what was bad about my life without children, and I would be thinking about only the good things about having children. It would be negative thinking, not accurate thinking. It would be living in a fantasy world, rather than acknowledging the good things in my life today. Some of those good things are a result of not having children. But worst of all, if I felt that way and allowed myself to regularly feel that way, it would be extremely emotionally difficult, and incredibly unkind to myself. I can’t imagine letting myself feel that way, and then wrenching myself away from the fantasy back to real life. A form of self-torture!

Teaching myself NOT to wish that things were different was a major step in healing. It was the beginnings of acceptance, and was, in reality, the first step of that process. I remember opening a cupboard where I used to keep the folic acid. There were still some tablets left, and I thought, “maybe, just in case, I should keep them.” Then my logical brain kicked in. “That’s not going to happen,” I realised. I remember repeating it to myself to make sure I fully registered the meaning. It hurt. That first time it really hurt. But I picked up the folic acid bottle, and threw it away. And the next time a thought like that slipped through, it was a tiny bit easier. It is the same as denying those negative thoughts I’ve written about before. I learned to address them and then dismiss them, and I am so pleased I did.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, indulging in wishful thinking when all doors were now closed to me would be inaccurate thinking at best. At worst, it would be self-punishment and denial. I have not been perfect at learning not to do it. But gradually I was able to recognise it for what it was, and to turn away from it. This helped me enormously. It was an act of self-compassion. And it became habit. And it allowed me to look forward, to breathe, and to live in the present and think about my future, rather than staying in the past.



05 April, 2021

Privacy, shame, and childlessness

 Last week, Sue at Childless by Marriage, wrote a post asking if her readers needed to read her blog in secret. It took me back to my very first forays into the internet world looking at pregnancy loss and ectopic loss. I was lucky. I found a home at the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust messageboards relatively quickly. Well, let's say I found the site quickly. I lurked through my first ectopic, but read it avidly and got to know some people who are still friends almost 20 years later. Then about six months later, I started reading and posting on their Trying to Conceive boards. I learned all about cycle monitoring, ovulation tracking etc. It took me a long time to confess (because that's what it felt like) to my husband that I was doing this. 

By the time I had my second ectopic a year later, he knew that I was well into this online community, but he never had any urge (as far as I know) to see what I was reading or saying. He knew it helped me, and that was enough for him.

So I remember the feeling of wanting to hide what I was reading and what my thoughts were. Perhaps it was because I was trying to figure out what it was I was thinking and feeling before I discussed it with him, or anyone? Perhaps it was shame? Perhaps it was nervousness that he (or others) wouldn't understand, or would mock it? It took longer for me to open up about that to friends or family. A lot longer. Even now, I don't tell many people about this blog unless it is relevant to our conversation.

Of course, I know full well that anyone could search my real name and they'd find this blog. I bumped into a woman I worked with 34 years ago at the supermarket doing pre-Easter shopping. We had a lovely long chat and catch-up, and she noted that she had read something I'd written (directed to it by an article in a women's magazine where I had been quoted) and had liked it. I will admit, I write here as if I am still anonymous! The head-in-the-sand attitude helped when I first "came out" publicly. I was worried about people being mean, judgemental, mocking. But now, I just shrug. I am confident in what I write and who I am. But it has taken time.

And I can understand that anyone first dipping their toes into the No Kidding/childless world of writing here or elsewhere around the internet might want to stay anonymous, or lurk for a while, or always use a pseudonym. Because it takes us time to discover what we think, where we belong, and who we are. It takes time to figure that out and feel free to mention it to even those who are closest, let alone in more casual relationships or with more distant acquaintances. Protecting yourself, your privacy, and feeling safe as you're going through some major life adjustments is not wrong, and it's not shameful. It can give you the freedom to be who you are, as you figure that out. And that's pretty wonderful.

Time makes it a lot easier. Then one day, you'll find that privacy doesn't matter quite so much any more. You might feel your shoulders relax, hold your head higher, and puff out your chest, proud of who you are, and how far you've come.