Tuesday, 18 December 2007

And it felt so different.....

My period was due two weeks ago.

Pre IVF I was more or less a clockwork girl. 28-29 days. I never used to keep track (I'm not the most organised person) so would still manage to get surprised each time they showed and then think "Ohhh so that's why I have been thinking my husband is the worst person in the world.....". But as you would know, when you discover all is not hunky dory you start paying alot of attention to these things.

Just to refresh your memory - I am actively NOT trying to fall pg naturally because of the high risk of having another child that will die. So i do IVF and test the embryos before they go back in.

But when my period was a week late, I started thinking...... well you know what I would have been thinking. It's ridiculous really. We don't have very much sex and we when we do we use condoms, but truley I got thinking. Not just thinking but believing. I looked up early pregnancy symptoms.... yep, I've got LOADS more zits then normal. Yep, my mood is waaay off. I did frequent bathroom runs to check my knickers and it was plain old CM...... I looked up statistics on the net of how often condoms don't work (surprisingly often I'll have you know)...... the evidence was clear. I was pregnant.


I bought it hook line and sinker. But I didn't want to go and pee on a stick in case I really was pregnant and then I would really have to think about if it was another baby that would die .......

But the thing was, it was my ticket out of hell. I would be OK. I would fall pregnant just like everyone else. It would be different this time. It would be a miracle baby and because of that it would be OK. It wouldn't die like my last baby. It would balance all the wrongs in my life, I could cope with my sisters pregnancy, with anyones. I could enter the New Year with it being truly a New Year and not just another lap of the IVF tread mill. NO MORE IVF. Yippeeee. No more...... and a baby. I would have a baby. I would hold a little bubba that would one day look at me and say the magic word "mum".

So when my period did actually come (10 days late) i was kind of shocked. And devestated. I cried. I cried alot.

And it came on my birthday. And me and my husband fought cause J thought it was unhealthy that I had let myself believe that I was actually pregnant against all reason. He tried to bring up the time when I swore I saw a platypus in this little creek but in the end it was just a stick. It was the movement of the water that made it look like it was moving.

I was really really sad.

But because it was my birthday I had organised lunch at a beautiful pub in the country and hour or so out of Sydney. And my friends came and brought me organic offerings from their gardens, and home made truffles, and hand printed t-shirts, and a cake. They gave me kisses and laughed at my jokes.

I realised that my friends still love me. Despite the serious drops in communication that happen from time to time. They forgive me for that. They know I am still doing it tough.

So somehow I became happy again, even though I was so darn sad.

It's weird isn't it. That despite everything, their is still to much beauty, too much love to let you sink into overwhelming despair. I feel like everything in my life turns to shit, that 2007 has not a redeeming moment in it..... but it isn't the whole truth. I've just had some really tough parts to it.

So that was what my birthday showed me.

That and one more thing. How much hope I have. I knew how much pain I had - it pops it head up often enough to assert it's presence. But I never give myself space to hope (for the reason that I might be let down). So I didn't know how much I carried until I gave it a moment.

Maybe one day my hope will be in something real.

I will see the platypus, and not just the stick.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

In full flight?

I got an email from a friend today...... asking me if my spirits had returned to full flight.

I love this friend. He's really more like an adopted uncle. He's been a bit of a mentor to me as someone that has worked in the community / Not for Profit sector for years. He's insanely idealistic and won't let cynicism and poor government policy or bad practice drag him down. Anyway, he took a holiday earlier this year to Alice Springs which is the town near (well nearest - it's still a couple of hundred kms away) Uluru (Ayers Rock).
The big red heart of this wide land.
When you are there you can understand why land is everything to our Indigenous peoples. It is their history, their law, their "dreaming". It carries their stories. It is their text - their bible.

You've never seen a sky as big as the one in the centre of Australia. If you tipped your head back as far as you could you wouldn't see the end of it. You have to turn in a circle to trace the unbroken horizon all the way round. The earth is red - not a clay red - it is almost like a blush - rust and ochre. It makes an insane contrast to the blue sky.
When you first catch sight of Uluru it almost looks fake. Like someone has stuck a fuzzy felt against the vast blue sky. But as you get closer you get more and more excited. And despite the bus loads of tourists buzzing around, you will still be taken in. In that moment it will own you.

I went to The Centre with my husband after our daughter died. A bunch of people chipped in to buy us a holiday and we flew to Alice. A friend there lent us her 4WD and a swag (it's like a made bed in a canvas casing that you roll out - no tent as it's so dry, so you fall asleep watching the desert sky). Two weeks after a c-section is probably not an ideal time to drive 700km from the nearest hospital on bumpy dirt roads and sleep out bush with not a soul around. But for me, and us, it was the best thing on earth. I could think of no better place to begin a journey of healing then in that heartland. The land was patient with me. I would cry and wail and work myself into knots..... and when I finally looked up, it would be there waiting.... offering it's stark and rather painful beauty as an answer to my many questions.

I've lost my way - I started with a friend who had visited Alice. My beautiful friend - well he got stuck there. He's just left everything ad made it his home. I knew he would. He loves being with Aboriginal people and there is plenty of work to anyone in the community sector. So he wrote me a little email just to let me know he was there and to ask after me. Asking if I had returned to "full flight". I was going to write about how far I was from full flight..... (I'm still free falling...) but my emotions carry no weight now that I have written about Uluru.

I have the feeling you get when you stare a huge starry sky. You feel small and yet not insignificant. Somehow the proportions work out and you see your place in the world.

Instead I'll leave you with some photos from our trip there.

I'll write about me another time.


Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Another one

My sister is pregnant.

She has already had one little one since my girl Maya died. And now she is having another (her third in all).

And I have been doing everything under the sun ever since to try and have a baby.

I have nothing new to say on this...... I've said it all when others got pregnant........ but darn it. It's killing me.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Full and empty

I haven't blogged in a while.

Sometimes it is too hard. My head is so full but I feel empty.

It's been a hard couple of weeks which I won't go into.... but the long and the short - my Nana died, and in the same week I was a bridesmaid and my best friends kid had his first birthday.

My Nan was cool. She wasn't the type of Nan to bundle you up in her ample body and stuff you with biscuits and cake. She was a skinny Nanna. My husband rekons no one actually told her that the depression had ended, she still cooked, ate and spent money like it was still here. It was a question of virtue for her. So biscuits at Nans place always had a musty flavour - and it wasn't until years later when my uncle explained that she used the leftover lard (from the bottom of the grill) instead of butter, that I realised that the musty flavour did taste a bit like a chop. Which is of course confusing in a biscuit. She grew her own lettuce and it was always leathery and purple and regularly contained a slug or snail. In the recent period of drought she confessed to me in an intimate moment that she only used cold water in the shower (she was 92) and she turned it off when lathering the soap on her body as a way to save water (the cold water was to avoid the temptation of standing under long hot showers)..... she remembers visiting farms in drought and this is what you had to do.

No... she wasn't extravagant, and spoiling kids was not part of her repertoire. Where my Nanna came into her own was in doing things. She lived down at Chinamens beach. There was a little bush track heading down from the bottom of the great sandstone rock the house was built on down to "the green" the hectare or so of grass and trees before you rose over the dune and onto the beach. Nannas beach - as we called it - was a inner harbour beach .... so no crashing surf except in the wildest of weather. It was perfect swimming for us kids and we spent a lot of time there. We walked up and down the beach studying the flotsam and jetsam. Nan would show me what a shark egg looked like. We'd collect witches fingernails - a long thin shell that we held over our own fingernails for as long as we remembered or until they got a bit cumbersome and in the way of our climbing. There was a rocky headland at either end of the beach. The southend is where we hung out. There was a bamboo patch behind the rocks and my cousin showed me how you could lift the bamboo edges and crawl into a big hollowed out section. This was cubbyhouses on a grand scale - 12 ft ceilings and soft leafy carpet. It was a place to conduct important kids business although I believe the passage to and from was the most exciting part of this cubby. Once there.... well we were ready to move on pretty soon.

You could make your way round the rocks at sea level to the next beach - but you had to time it to miss the tide. Going around the rocks was one of my favourite things. I remember the feeling of power in my body and trust in my agility as I ran over the rocks, always sure footed and doing what seemed like flying leaps over gaping chasms in the rock. The barnacles hurt but if you learnt to relax your feet over them rather then tensing up it wasn't so bad. When walking on the green weedy parts you had to grip with your toes in order not to slip. We were forever stopping to wait for the adults to catch up. So we'd holt our nimble progress where the waves were lapping the rocks and tread on the cunjevoies(sp?) to try and squirt water at each other.... or just into the air. A little geyser controlled by yours truly. Next you had to find the best rock pool which meant finding one with something you hadn't seen before, or, finding one with heaps of anenemies. You could stick your finger in the middle and feel the gentle suction of the fronds closing around your finger. It required a small tug to release.

I remember waiting for Nan to catch up one day. The spot I was waiting at required a decision to be made. The tide was coming in and we had three options... 1 to turn around and go home (not really and option) 2. to lift skirts and wade in the water to our waste, 3. to crawl on a rock ledge on our bellies to get to the next platform. My preference of course was to crawl on my tummy. I remember being surprised that Nan agreed to that one. I felt very proud looking behind me to see my (seemingly ancient) Nanna on her scrawny tummy crawling after me. I felt very very proud. This is MY Nanna. The one doing what kids do.

This was the best of Nan. And I believe that she did not need her grand kids to be with her as an excuse for these things. In later years we'd swap travelling stories and where I would be struggling to remember the name of the port in Athens or which state of India Bahratpur was in, she would be able to remember the name of the plaka where she sat to drink coffee. She travelled more or less overland with Pop from Australia to England. Up through Australia, across to singapore, west through asia, the top of india, afghanistan, then i think a flight to turkey and overland from there.... This was well and truly before the invention of the Lonely Planet.

I visited her for 3 hours before she got suddenly sick. I think she knew. She was in a lot of pain and could barely stand up. She wasn't able to walk me to the door when I left, so she stood in the hallway of her home and waved and said "Goodbye" "Goodbye".

Goodbye Nan.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

An apology....... of sorts.

I am feeling kinda sheepish about the melodrama of my last post.

I don't really think I am cursed, or that God hates me. It was obviously a crap week. I would delete the whole thing except that would make something a lie.... this blog I guess.... so for the sake of truth in the personal annals of B I will keep it up there.

I just read a beautiful entry from msfitzia at http://peanutsmom.blogspot.com/ describing her experience on the night of October 15th. A visit, if you will, from her son. A message of love and of peace. A moment of stillness in the darkness and turbulence of greif.

i know those moments. You can't break your way into them. But they are all the more precious for the fact that they cannot be conjured. I know it has made me fall on me knees and weep tears of gratitude.... for the chance to have experienced love. To love the little person that was made in love by me and jake and the grace of God. To know that even in death, there is still love.

I went to church last week which I hardly ever do because sermons really give me the shits. I just can't think of any other time in life where I would subject myself to listening to someone telling me how to live in three alliterating points with a tacky metaphor thrown in for good measure - so why do it at church? But I went last week cause my friend Jo was preaching. As it turned out the passage she was preaching on was from Jeremiah where the Israelites had been taken captive and were living in exile in Babylon. It has the oft quoted passage of "I have plans to make you prosper" but starts with Jeremiah telling the Israelites to make there home in Babylon, to take wives and have children, to plant gardens and eat the crops..... It meant a lot to me that she spoke on this because she too is experiencing infertility (which is a kind of exile) and her husband has been living with depression and had been home from work for a couple of weeks because of this.

The bit about making your home in Babylon..... that is the thing that has been ticking around my head. The Isrealites didn't want to hear this, they wanted to be delivered from their conquerors and returned to Jerusalem. They did not want the permanence of planting crops, building houses, taking wives, having children.... and the command to seek the welfare of Babylon. I have been thinking about the wisdom of making this, where-we-are-now, our home. Of building a home in exile, rather then waiting for deliverance.

I have been reluctant to accept this. For one it is just too sad. To accept my present life. And there also seems a kind of resignation to "building homes" and "planting crops". It is what I think other people mean when they say things like "getting on with life". There seems a lack of hope. Or a feebleness, a refusal to fight for what is right.

And yet, this week I have been reviewing this. I don't know how long our "exile" will be. If I will ever be able to have living children. Maybe it is time to begin to look at this as my new life, rather than a lapse or a pause from the real business. Looking at this passage also made me realise that embracing the present and finding a way to plant and build and harvest in this painful, confusing time is not giving up on hope. Rather, there is a deep level of trust.... of trusting the future to itself, or to God (if you are so inclined), which lends true freedom to the present. I cannot be held ransom by my imagined future...... I must plan to live wholly, fully, now.


Am back teaching at school. That is a good thing. I held a little kid tight today as he was loosing it. The body wracking sobs and self harming gradually subsided to indignant outbursts (in Shem-speak) and then sorrowful mumurs. He looked me in the eyes and touched the tip of my nose with his pointing finger. He took a shuddering in-breath and crawled out of my lap and onto a bike.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

tis the season to be knocked up

I lied. God doesn't love me at all. He may even hate me, or curse me.

I am being a bridesmaid in three weeks. The bride just told me that my fellow bridesmaid is officially announcing her pregnancy..... and my response "wow. That's really great." and then get off the phone and bawl. I was already afraid because I know that my other pregnant friend will be there (you know... the one who ended up staying over at our house....) and I know that the day after the wedding I am going to a one year birthday/thanksgiving for my friends little bubba and there are going to be all these babies there born after my little girl. So its already an emotionally loaded weekend.....

No-ones knows how much it costs me to participate in their lives. I wouldn't make any other choice.... I just need a witness to my courage in continuing to participate. I need someone to see how hard it is, and how much courage it takes to be involved. Call me dependent. But I need a big fuckin "congratulations - on being a friend to your friends when the price is so high. you deserve an honorary degree in something"

Did I mention my next door neighbour who is pregnant? I stupidly spilled the beans about our last failed IVF cycle (the one before this) only to find out a month later that she was pregnant. We have been studiously avoiding each other which is hard given that there is only a few metres between her front door and mine. And it's (almost)summer so we all spend our time outside anyway. It's like when Maya died - 5 other cousins were pg, 2 workmates, 2 bestfriends and my sister.

Man it hurts. And i hate to say it but it is getting worse. I have been desperate to have a child since Maya died. Each new pregnancy feels like a nose rub in the shit.

And I voice my protest to whoever cares to listen.... actually... just to God and you and my husband.

But God doesn't hear and you guys and husband can't change it (I know you would).

Excuse the lack of imagination in this post..... somedays there is just no love.

Monday, 8 October 2007


I never did get my vision.... my midnight encounter with God.

But the week went on moving and once again I am caught in it's flow. And I persist in believing that LOVE is the force that creates and sustains each molecule and moment of this crazy world. And I believe that God and LOVE are one and the same. And therfore I persist in believing that God loves me.

Here's this weeks proof.

My friend Ruby dancing.

Love in beauty.


And I love my husband and he loves me. Which means...... everything.

I spent the week wondering why I did not feel worse, thinking that maybe all the greif and anger would hit me when I got my period. But the anger never came, or is still yet to come. I don't get it. I think I'll give up trying to get it. Maybe understanding yourself is not as important as I think it is.

Monday, 1 October 2007

What is this thing?

I don't normally go in for denial. It's a stage of grief I've never really bothered with. Let me tell you, I know grief..... I know how I grieve... well I think I do.

I'm having this new things happen. And it's scaring me shitless.

I found out on Saturday that there were no helathy little embryos to transfer. The fact that I had remained so positive through the cycle (except for the tiny wee hour on Friday which is when you happened to catch me last), the fact that the daisy whose petals I pulled told me I would have a healthy one, the fact that I was on my knees before God asking Him to see me, just see me this once....... these things didn't count for anything. As if i needed my lack of control reinforced.

I didn't even make it to transfer this time. Shit.

But this new thing.... I seem to have shut down completely emotionally. Yesterday I had a tiny cry, went to the pub for a beer and yes a cigarette, and came home and played jenga (can you pick a more nerve wracking game than waiting for a tower of blocks to fall?) then went to bed and more or less slept. Did I mention that we made love? for the first in unaccountable days/months. Who knows? It's hard to reenter your body when you have spent the last month and a half trying to remove yourself from it while needles, ultrasounds, hormones, pessaries, tablets get put in you. It was hard. It was clumsy. I didn't know what to do. The thing is.... we didn't use contraception (which we never do- it is playing with death). I woke up this morning with this strong feeling that I would become pregnant and it would be a miracle baby (you can't get pregnant 6 days after an egg retreival can you? you know.... if they missed and egg) and because it would be a miracle baby it would be healthy and I would have a child in my arms at last and we could be parents at last. And then I thought about donor embryos and maybe someone would want to donate their embryos to ME. You can't use money in that kind of exchange in OZ (I guess its not an exchange, that is why they call it a donation) so I don't know how you go about finding a donor. But I felt sure that anyone who met us would realise exactly how much love we were able to give and would be happy for their little embies to go to sorrowing couple. We would send them photos and updates. School reports and paintings. They could have as much or little contact as worked. I thought it all through...... "Yes" I thought "we will have kids". So simple.

I went for a two hour walk. We went to Oktoberfest at the daggy German club across the park. I laughed, danced and ate strudel and drank too much beer (obviously didn't have that much faith in being pregnant..... but it is a miracle baby, it can survive anything). I came home and read. The only thing to tell me I am actually "grieving" right now is this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and the clenching of my jaws.

So can your body take over your mind? Can it make the decision that enough pain is enough and just take over and let you not feel things anymore? That is what makes me scared.... It's never happened before and so I am worried that when it comes it will be unbearable. I am more worried about my anger.... I swear I find that more unbearable than sorrow and pain. I am scared I will be unsafe. The thoughts I have terrify me so much I wil not even tell you. I mentionted them to Jake and he said "That is not OK".

I lay in bed and prayed and prayed for a sign that God loves me (I'm not normally into "signs and wonders"). I asked him to give me a vision. To come to me. To let me know that he can see this terrifying mess that I am in.

And it is four in the morning and I am not even asleep. Can God come to you when you are awake?

Will I (and we) withstand the storm when it comes?

How can I shelter myself?

Friday, 28 September 2007

The love affair

......... and while I am flipping the bird to The Universe.......... there is a famous love affair between it and my garden.

Spring will have its way.

(actually this one was taken when we planted the garden in winter but it has my doggilypog)

Merciless tease

Have you ever seen a bully hold a thing of value above a small kids head. You know, just wave it there, lift it a little higher as the kid tries to jump for it, watch the kid go red, scream, swear, beg, plead, cry ........ and maybe, eventually, loose hope. At which point the bully walks away and either tosses the kid the thing they want or throws it away.

I feel like that kid.

Today is day five post transfer....... and non of my embies have turned into blasts. That means no pgd testing today. Those sweet little things seem to be dying by the hour.....

I wonder if any will make it through the testing tomorrow.

I am in the rage part of being a victim of universal bullying. Of having the universe tease me.

It is hard to be angry at the universe, its too sloppy a thing to punch. So I am angry at my ovaries. I am angry at my friends who have kids. I am kinda angry at my husband although my heart is not really in that one. And I assure you if you were brave enough to stand in front of me..... I would probably want to blast you too.

I could reduce a happy family to a pile of cinders with the force of my gaze.

That kind of anger scares me. It still feels new. And boundless. I am scared because I don't know where it will end.

Monday, 24 September 2007

More waiting.

Do you think it could work?

Today I think... well.... maybe it might just.

I'm waiting. Again. Different kind of waiting today. A waiting that will make any PGD (preimplantaion genetic diagnosis) veteran tremble in their boots and feel sick to the stomach. I'm in the 5 day wait. Which is even worse then the famous two week wait. The five day wait is the time between egg retrieval and fertilisation, and the testing of 5 day old embies to see if they carry the inherited genetic disorder that my stupid chromosomes carry. Literally, we are waiting to see if there are any good eggs.

Can't write anymore now. It makes me feel sick.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

The chicken

Well I did it as I promised myself.

I cooked. I woke up the other thursday (day off for me) and thought.... well..... I can cook or I can mope.

So i cooked. And it was jerk chicken. Couldn't find scotch bonnet peppers in sydney so I had to go with regular chillies. It still tasted darn good to me.

The bbq

The diners

The remains.

And this week I made a strawberry tart (although no photos of these sweet things).

Which might lead you to believe that I am OK. But actually, today, I feel like (to borrow a hyperbole from my friend Vic) "pooh-on-wheels". It must be the hormones. They make me cry - the only benefit of that is that I have a sinus infection and it helps move the goop out.

I think I will go back to bed now. It's midday.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

A little ironic

I guess this post is really a post-script to the earlier post about fertile friends.

There has been one friend in particular that I have been dreading interacting with. She is a beautiful and supportive friend and has been a fallback "safe place" for me while other close friends have been pregnant and then mothers. Which was partly why it tipped me so much when she told me she was pg. My safe place wasn't safe anymore.

She told me she was pg a few days before I was due for a frozen embryo transfer. As it happened, I had the "tottaly unexpected" horror of having neither of my two embryos survive the thaw and thus the transfer never went ahead and I was back at square one and further away then ever from having a living child. So, I guess the timing wasn't that great either. Along with her "it's only a matter of time" comment. Which we all know is a lie. But it was very uncharacteristic of her to say something to make the situation emotionally comfortable for herself.

Well I was getting more and more worked up about having to see her. I was trying to think of the things I can do (as per suggestioni from my counselor) and I had sent her a card to say I was thinking of her. In particularly, I was dreading the engagement party of a mutual good friend. A "happy" occasion. And one that is definately not about me. But an occasion when I knew I would see my pg friend.

Tuesday night my husband and I were driving to a friends place for dinner and I was discussing/ crying/ wondering how to cope. Should I call her and arrange to hang out before hand? Should I tell her how hard it is for me to be around her? But it's not really anything to do with her, the problem is pretty much on my side etc etc blah blah blah ( I am sure you all know the drill). In the middle of dinner that evening I got a message from her hubbie asking if they could come and stay the night as they had had builders in and the long and short of the story was that they were unexpectedly unable to sleep at home.

So they came over. And funnily enough my friend hadn't turned into a scary monster - she was still the same person. And I avoided all conversation about pregnancy until late in the evening when I asked a very general question about how it was going then retired to bed about a minute later.

I still had bad sleep and wierd dreams after this interaction (why is it so God damn hard?) and I don't know how I'll be in future interactions. But I feel kinda glad my hand was forced in this situation.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

It's official

Starting IVF on Aug 29th.

Which calls for a plan of attack. I am not known for being a strategic person. I rely on my intuitive reactions which can serve me well in an event where everyone else is unravelling (eg. lose someone on an excursion) but is not great when you know there is something momentous ahead.

So - against the grain, I am trying to PLAN for my and my husbands emotional stability over coming weeks and months.

Strategy 1. To remember "this is a new event. I have not done IVF in Aug 07 before. I do not know the outcome. I do not even know how good/bad I will find it. I will take each day as it comes". Gotta get a good start with that self talk huh.

Strategy 2. And here I am drawing a short straw. I can't think of a strategy number 2. How the hell do we do it?

Well...... that post was short lived.

Mmmmmm maybe I could at least think of a few "thou shalt nots". 10 commandment style.

Thou shalt not try and predict outcome but will take each day as it comes (yeah right).

Thou shalt not fight with husband (yeah right)

Thou shalt not withdraw and isolate self

Thou shalt not go loopy

Thou shalt not stay in bed every thursday - but every second thursday is oK

Thou shalt do reading on anxiety and panic disorders and how to manage it

Thou shalt buy series 6 of Northern Exposure and hang out with thine Alaskan friends.

Thou shalt cook something excellent at least once a week. (starting with jerk chicken)

Thou shalt sit in the garden with the dog.

Thou shalt have a wee sip of wine from time to time

Thou shalt tell thine husband when thouest is blue or down

IS that 12 yet? Or is it only meant to be 10? And I call myself a preacher's kid.

Anyone want to add something to my list of commandments?

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

What a little sweetheart.

Cute moment alert.

At school today a little autie kid was getting excited and flapping and buzzing in front of me. He's a good looking kid with these beautiful big floppy curls that looked so darned sweet when backlit by the sun. This kid has a big vocabularly but almost never uses words functionally - just to provide momentum to his incredibly complex inner world. I did the super-nanny thing and got down to his level and said "hey sweetheart. What do you want? What do you want?" and he goes "love" and offers me his head to hug.

Ohh bless

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Infertility and fertile friends

I guess you could say any friendship is fertile - if it's a good one - but I'm not really using the word in that way. I'm using it in the baby making way. I hate that my beautiful daughter Maya died. I hate that she is not here with our family like she should be. I hate the fact that I have balanced translocation. I hate IVF. I hate failed IVF cycles. And I hate the effect that all that has on my relationship with fertile friends.

The fact is - I feel alone.

I know eveyone is alone when it comes down to it.... that is what my friend K was trying to tell me..... "you're not alone in that". But it is different. She told me that becoming a mother did not change her friendships with other women who are mothers. If that is so, why does becoming a mother of a child that has died, and not being able to conceive again, change all my friendships with other mothers? K admitted it. There is a big gaping hole between us. Not because either of us put it there or want it.... it's just there because of circumstances. But the thing is, while she is angry about the effect it has on our relationship (me too - we are good friends) I am angry because I now have that gaping hole in all my friendships. My sister who has recently had a child, my close friends have both had babies, and now another close friend is pregnant.

What is that hole? What is that seemingly unbridgeable distance that has appeared now?

It is many things. From the side of my friends (I speak only from what people have said to me) they have to overcome their own feelings of non-worthiness ("I don't deserve to be pregnant/have a child"), of clumsiness ("I don't know what to say/how to be around you"), of questioning how to make a space for their celebration or day to day life with baby ('how much should I say about my pregnancy/child?") and though no-one says it this bluntly, their's the good old guilt. ("Being around you makes me feel guilty for being pregnant")

From my side, I have to overcome the deep pain at being around someone who is pregnant or with a child. Let's call a spade a spade - it fuckin hurts and I have to pretend in front of you that I am OK when I am so not OK, you don't see it but I always go home and cry on my own after seeing you. I have to deal with your clumsiness which never used to be there... that hurts too. I have to find a way to handle all the comparisons that continually rear their ugly head. When I see your child, I only think how big my daughter would have been. When I see your belly I think how far pregnant I should be if my last IVF attempt had worked.... I am sorry my friends.... but I struggle to see you on your own terms. I see, or more accurately, I feel your life as the photo of my negative...... What is a baby in your arms is a dark hole in the negative. What is a pregnant belly in your photo is deep blackness in my image.

And what of being a mother? To you breast feeding is OK/a pain/ have I drunk enough water?/ my nipples hurt. To me - who has had milk stream from my breasts but never had the experience of holding a child to it, breastfeeding is pretty amazing. I long to be able to give to a baby in that way. It seems mystical and profound. I could go on in the difference of my perception of being a mother and your experience. And you can't tell me my perception is not true -even though it may not be your day to day experience. Some truths you only know in absence rather than presence. But it is another part of the gap that now exists between us.

So my question is this? How do we be friends? How do we find a way to continue to participate in each others lives? I find it so hard. It hurts me to the core seeing the difference between your life and mine. Seeing things move forward in your life where I have stalled. Seeing your child grow while my experience of being a mother is visiting the grave of my daughter and looking at photos that are now a year old. Watching your family get bigger (and with such ease!) while we struggle to have one living child. Trying to be genuine in my sympathy for your day to day drama's, while in my head i think "well it's not that bad" and "I would give anything for that to be my problem"..

I do not know the answers to these things.

I do know that I do love you and do not want to loose your friendship. I just don't know how to keep it.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

It's 12 o'clock in the midnight

to borrow a phrase from my sweet mother in law. Her first language is Malayalam.

I'm up not because I am having "infertile thoughts" or greif thoughts, which is the usual cause of late night cyber-gazing, but because I have a shitty cough that won't leave me alone and it seems to be worse when I lie down. So I need to sit up.

I just watched some films on the International Infertility Film Festival with some beautiul little numbers by Mel who writes sweet sweet songs - a little bit sad too. It is good to see the energy of this journey being put into something beautiful. I made a "film" - I guess you would call it taht. I will try and put it up here one day. I made it around the one year anniversary of Maya's death. It was a film that tried to hold the tension of faith in the face of imense greif. Doubting God's love because of pain while being renewed by God-given beauty. It was a series of photos and images that I both taken and downloaded, set to a piece by Gavin Bryar called "Jesus' blood never fails me yet". The music is a voice of a tramp singing a line from a hymn "Jesus' blood never failed me yet, never failed me yet, never failed me yet. For one thing I know, that he loves me so." The sample is looped and an ochestral piece is built behind this loop into a very powerful piece that holds faith and pain and beauty.

I'll put it up sometime.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

The closure of Spuds Bistro

Do you know how hard it is to find a good local in Sydney?

Well. We had the perfect one. The Harp at Tempe. Walking distance (extremely important for a watering hole), live music, nice range of beers on tap, and the all important quality-yet-not-pretentious-food at Spud's bistro, served by the affable but slightly distant Pete. It was what I look for in an evening at the pub and it came up trumps every time.

When traveling along the very bumpy and unpredictable road - life post the death of your child and inability to conceive again - one looks for landmarks to assure oneself that you really and truly are on earth and although it is much darker and harder than you remember, it is the real deal. In short, predictability. Like the kids with autism at school. Life is coming at a pace that I am not sure I can cope with, so I'm going to hold on to all things comforting and well..... predictable. Which is why it is soo confronting when the Bistro at your local changes hands. I AM SORRY BUT I DID NOT GIVE PERMISSION FOR THIS! And (because it always is about me) I take great offence at a lack of community consultation about this.

So now I feel that another one of my little props that supports me through my life has melted, dissappeared, been knocked from under me. Spud's was a garuntee man. It was perfect - the emotional comfort of an Irish stew and mashed potatoes cannot be underestimated. And the fact that it was always going to be there when I needed it was an anchor in turbulent seas.

I just can't believe that Pete would pack up and leave me like this!

Monday, 23 July 2007

Coming 'round the mountain

If the mountain is that unbearable depressions I've been in. Today i think I came round it. Scusi for citing a ridiculous song but I have just spent my afternoon creating some visual representations of songs for the kids with autism that I work with. Including that song. I carefully cut around the legs of 6 white horses (what would we do without google images?) and you should see the princess with the pink pajamas!

THe point being..... I actually felt GOOD today. Not just OK, but good. It was very strange. So strange that i actually felt elated by the experience. Maybe that is what one of the other teachers was trying to say to me. What she actually said was "you look inflated" and I wasn't quite sure how to receive that one. She did clarify by saying "well last week you looked deflated". Ahhhhh, my life as a balloon. I don't know why today was good. I mean, I have a cold coming on and got a nasty headache half way through the day. But it was just good. I felt like i knew how to do life. Not just survive it, but enjoy it the way you're meant to.

Some sweet moments from school today..... the little lovelies really got into the music I did with them. Singing "I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor" whilst pulling a collapsable tunnel up over their little skinny bodies was quite fun. There favourite was when i jumped in the tunnel with at least a couple of kids (squishy) and we all did it together. They thought it was hilarious - which was a bit of a win seeing as kids with autism aren't meant to be that social.

ONly had a tiny wee cry while walking the dog. But it didn't stick. The good mood came back.

Must be God or something.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Hope for Restoration

"In that day" says the Lord, "I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people. I will care for the survivors as they travel through the wilderness. I will again come to give rest to the people of Israel."
Long ago the Lord said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel. You will again be happy and dance"

Jeremiah 31

Did I mention I hate waiting?

Not that i am really "waiting" at the moment. I am in a way. It's the category the sweet person who neatly draws up the list of who's-doing-what on the infertility board I post on puts me in. Waiting. Again. My respite from waiting was short lived. I had a hopeful few weeks preparing for a Frozen Embryo Transfer and then the shifty shadow passed over and both little embryos didn't survive that thaw. There was a 1 in 100 chance of that one happening and it seems I managed to hit that jackpot again.

So I am back to waiting. Waiting for another chance to try to make a baby. I felt very reckless after hearing the two little frozen beauties hadn't survived. I felt so reckless that I thought I would try and fall pregnant "naturally". It breaks my heart. That baby making sex with my husband is the most reckless thing I can think to do. Forget drugs and self harm. They are soft compared to the terror that I experience at the thought that I might fall pregnant naturally..... What if I fall pregnant with another baby that will die??? I cannot live through that again. And the thought of terminting after an amnio (12 - 13 weeks) when i so desperately want to have a child..... it is more than I can bare.

But, this road also feels like more than I can bare. I want it done. Today i actually told my dad the ugliest thought I have had yet. Well one of them. I told him that if I could, I would pass this burden on to anyone, my sister, my best friend, anyone. As long as it meant IT WASN'T ME living this recurring nightmare. How many times can Hope pick you up like a rag-doll and then toss you down again. Throw you down. Kick you while you are still down. I know what the bottom looks like. I know what the taste of dirt in my mouth is. There is no more lessons for me down here.

Yesterday I did self harm. Not badly. i just cracked my head into the door frame a couple of times. It felt good actually although I ended up with a headache when I went to bed. I did it after I talked to a friend who has recently become pregnant. I love her. But I don't know if I can be with her. Nothing to do with her. It is the shitty circumstances that I seem to not be dealing with too well. And being with a pregnant person is a bit of a nose rub in the shit. I don't even feel that guilty about not wanting to be with her. But sometimes I wonder what the cost of this journey will be. if I will have any friends at the end of it. I seem to be pulling away alot. Not returning calls. Not answering messages. I keep thinking that I will get around to it but I often don't. In truth i forget people have even tried to make contact. That's bad isn't it. But when I stop to think about it, I forget a lot of things. I forget if I have taken medication, locked the door, fed the dog. I forget within seconds of doing it. That's pretty bad. Is this a sign that it is time for drugs?

It was cold today. But a beautiful clear sky. My dad came and spent the day with me again. He listened to me cry and rant again. He didn't know what to say. That's because no-one knows what to say. They all just feel sad around me and I feel sad around me too. Only I can't get away from me. We went for a long walk with the dog. I can at least say that the dog had a good day. A long walk. Lots of rolling in scratchy grass and smelly dirt, a swim in the creek, and me at home all day. The only improvement would have been if I gave him a bone. Oh to be so easily pleased. What is the secret of that one silly Tima? Is it just being dumb? I like seeing his waggy tail. At least someone thinks this world is good.

I wish it were me. I used to think that. I am even finding it hard to notice beauty around me. That is a large part of what has sustained me on this awful awful road, and i am even failing to see that.

When will this end??

Monday, 16 July 2007

Statistics and Fear

When you hear someone tell you "You have a 1 in 1000 chance." You think to yourself - "One in a thousand, that means I only need to have a little worry about that". But what it really means, is that 999 people don't have to worry at all, and one person not only has to worry about it, they have to deal with it. Fully. And on their own.

So here are the statistics that i live by.

3 in 1000 live births end in neonatal death. (That was our daughter).

1 in 500 people (estimated) have balanced translocation. (That's me)

If I fall pregnant naturally I have a 3/4 chance of falling pregnant with a baby that will die (during the pregnancy or birth) but only a 1 / 100 chance of having a baby that has unbalanced translocation (ubt) make it to a live birth (well.... it has been 1/1 for me).

I can do IVF and do preimplantation genetic diagnosis to see if an embryo carries the UBT. I have a 1/4 chance of falling pregnant with a baby that can live on a fresh IVF cycle, and a 7/10 chance if I get a few healthy embryos so they can freeze some.

The healthy embryos have a 9/10 chance of surviving the thaw and if they do survive i then have a 4/10 chance of becoming pregnant per embryo.


Me too.

My problem is, I can't just ignore this kind of information like I used to. I used to be able to reign in those terrifying thoughts of "what if" with the logical response of "there is only the tiniest chance". Not any more. I seem to be hitting the jackpot each time. I AM THE ONE. The one that lives out those nightmares that everyone else tucks away "It won't happen to me" "God will protect me". So I live now with fear. Fear of all the statistics that have been given to me..... and it is not an unknown fear. I know precisely the pain of holding a little girl, my daughter, and watch the breath of life leave her. So I fear having it happen again. I fear having another child in case it happens again. I fear that I will not be able to have a living child. I fear all the statistics I don't know anything about. What are the chances of my husband dying too? of getting a terminal illness? carcrash? Don't tell me it can't happen.

How do I live fully when I am so swamped by these fears? I struggle taking my husband to the airport for a work trip. (I fearsaying goodbye) I find the risk of trying to have a baby through IVF almost unbareable. I get diahhorhea, and heart palpitations. I can't remember anything. I struggle to be with people. Sometimes I struggle to eat or sleep.

My question is, how can I be free? How do I live with this?