27 December, 2021
Out of Office reply
20 December, 2021
After writing last week's post, when I realised that this December was the 20th anniversary of my first pregnancy and loss, I had a period of remembrance. I let myself remember the hope after the first positive pregnancy test, the shock I felt from that, then the shock of learning I'd lost the pregnancy. In fact, there was a lot of shock, because I was shocked at how shocked I was, shocked at how strongly I felt the emotions. So last week, I let myself remember a lot, thinking I would post it today, and wrote a draft post. But then the rest of the week happened, the weekend passed and life moved on, and by today, it only seems worth noting two things.
The first is that it has been 20 years. That's worth noting, I think. Yet I can remember it as if it were yesterday. Secondly, although the losses can still hit me and make me sad, that sadness doesn't stay very long. In that way, it feels like a lifetime ago.
13 December, 2021
Some seasonal thoughts
I was going to start a campaign in today’s blog, but Jess
beat me to it, by getting a publisher to change an image of a pregnant woman to
highlight an article about fabulous No Kidding women embracing their lives. Go
read her story on her
blog – and a link to the article – here. So instead, I've turned my thoughts to December, and what it brings.
There has been quite a bit of activity around the place about dealing with the holidays when we have no children. Gateway Women have highlighted a conversation about reclaiming a childless holiday and Infertile Phoenix has reviewed it here, and has talked about following the advice she heard there.
I’ve written and talked about reclaiming Christmas (which is the prevalent holiday here in NZ, but applies to any holiday) for over a decade, and was interviewed about it a few years ago here, though to my disappointment, the phrase was edited out of the article. The journalist was most put out, as she really liked my approach, and wanted to emphasise that Christmas (in this case) is for all of us. I’ve joked recently that I should have trademarked the phrase “reclaiming Christmas!” But really, I’m just glad to see that it is reaching new people, and that they are all finding strength from the idea.
I’ve written about it before in these posts, as well as other issues around this difficult season:
Christmas – written back in December 2010, only my second month of blogging
(though my seventh year of No Kidding Christmases)
Season: If Money were No Object
Four Rules of Surviving Christmas for No Kidding women
This year, Christmas is going to be low key. Our second Christmas without either my parents or my husband’s parents still feels a little weird, as we are so used to having others to care for at this time of year. But it means I have to follow my own advice. And so, I have my tree up already in honour of hosting some friends last week, and I have enjoyed doing the very limited amount of gift shopping that I need to do this year. (With two family birthdays on the 20th, I almost have to do as much birthday shopping as Christmas shopping!) I just have to pick up a book for someone, and something for my niece. Actually, that last item will be the most difficult! But at least I’ll get to deliver it personally. And lastly, I’m planning to do my Christmas baking this week. I usually make mini mince pies, and will do that, as they are little mouthfuls of scrumminess. But one of my friend’s brought a fruit mince baclava on Thursday and it was so good, I’m stealing the idea and will make some to take to my sister’s house, and to give to an aged uncle-in-law, and some friends who are probably tired of getting the mince pies. Neither my husband nor I are into big Christmas presents, so the emphasis is on food and relaxation.
In fact, this time of year, I like to focus on:
- My tree and all my ornaments collected from all over the world that I love dearly.
- Food traditions – old, and new, experiments successful or not.
- Compassion for others who might feel alone and sad at this time of year.
- The coming summer shut-down that occurs this time every year in NZ, and brings a very relaxed sense to the season.
- Summer food and drink!
- A very low-key and casual Wellington, a government city that empties out as the workers all go to the beach or the bush for a few weeks over Christmas and the New Year.
- The year gone and the year to come, forever hopeful that it will be better.
- Celebrating relationships in person, online, and on zoom.
That is not to say it’s all fine. Twenty years later, December is filled with memories of positive pregnancy tests, losses, hospital treatment for ectopic pregnancies, and disappointment. They usually pass quickly for me now, or hover without much pain, watching me navigate the month. I like to honour those little sparks of life who never made it here, but who helped make me who I am today. The best way I can do that is to embrace the life I have now, and live a good life. I know so many of you are doing this, and are shining the light for others. I hope that will be the case for you all.
07 December, 2021
Finding understanding unexpectedly
I love it when bloggers review books. It sometimes leads me
to wonderful books I would never have read. Thanks to Loribeth’s
review of Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, I had it on my library wish
list, and it popped up in the last week, so I read it. (Given that I have only
read 22 books this year, when I had been aiming at 35 at least, that was quite
a feat in itself!)
I won’t review it here (Loribeth did such a good job of that), except to say that although it was dark, it was very readable, and not too depressing. There were moments of humour, and some very likeable characters (and some much less likeable, though the reasons for that became apparent at the end), and I read it in just a few days. The reason I am mentioning it here though, is because the issue of wanting or not wanting, having or not having, children became a key point of the book as it went on. And there were a few quotes that I thought were exactly right.
This paragraph, written in the words of the main character, is so perfect. It reflects a number of my experiences in telling people I didn’t have children. It was lovely to read, to laugh at the parented people who apparently say the same things the world over, and to, completely unexpectedly, feel that someone else understands.
“When you are a woman over thirty, with a husband but without children, married couples at parties are interested to know why. They agree with each other that having children is the best thing they have ever done. According to the husband, you should just get on with it; the wife says you don’t want to leave it too late. Privately, they are wondering if there is something medically wrong with you. They wish they could ask directly. Perhaps, if they can outlast your silence, you will offer it up of your own accord. But the wife can’t resist – she has to tell you about a friend of hers who was told the same thing but as soon as she gave up hope … the husband says bingo. In the beginning, I told strangers I couldn’t have children because I thought it would stop them from continuing beyond their initial enquiry. It is better to say you don’t want them. Then they know straight away that there is something wrong with you, but at least not in a medical sense. So the husband can say, oh well, good for you, focusing on your career, even if, to that point, there had been so little evidence of a career being focused on. The wife doesn’t say anything, she is already looking around.”
That last line is a killer. Ten simple words perfectly explaining our isolation, regardless of the reasons why we don’t have children.
Another quote talked about coming out of grief and loss, and putting it in some perspective:
“I could see what I’d had now. Everything people want in books, a home, money, to not be alone, all there in the shadow of the one thing I didn’t have.”
I think most of us can recall being “in the shadow” of the one thing we didn’t have, the thing that had taken over our lives. It’s why I don’t really like the explanation that grief doesn't diminish, that it stays with you but you learn to live with it, as life grows around it. I think our lives are always there. But for varying lengths of time, grief can be so large and so dark that it puts everything else into shadows, in the shade, and we forget what we have. Eventually, as time passes and as we allow ourselves to heal, the shadow begins to clear, and our losses take their place with all the other aspects of our lives.
Finally, I loved this so much, because it is, essentially, the message of this blog.
“You were done being hopeless.You were done, you were done, you were done being hopeless.”
I've been there. I hope you have all been there. And the best thing is that we all found new hope elsewhere.