Thursday, 26 February 2009


While at my friends wedding recently, I was sitting on our big tongan picnic mat -at least 5 metres of woven coconut palm -under the spreading Morton Bay fig, and a little girl around 2 years old wandered up to me and plonked herself in my cross legged lap. I had spied her earlier. How could I not? Her dad was Sri Lankan and her mother a whitey like me...... Dark curls and big dark eyes........ and I thought "Can I borrow you for a little while? I just need to know what it is like to hold someone like you."

In truth I am sure that neither she nor her parents would particurlarly appreciate a stranger holding and kissing and crying over her.

But for that little moment, it felt, so ........ right.

Monday, 23 February 2009

A question of etiquette.

So. There I was. Coffee date with a friend. We were sitting at the bar at the window looking out onto the street in the last inner city suburb in Sydney that hasn't been completely overun by yuppies. The next place to be.

I'm staring out the window, tears dripping into my latte (decaf of course) as I tell my friend what's been going down. I spy my RE out the window, with his little posse of gay friends. I put my head down and tell my friend that that man out the window has spent many hours staring into my chimichanga*. I drop my head so my hair covers my face........ He walks past me in the window..... and then into the same cafe with his friends.

What does one do in such a circumstance?

Mrs. Spit. I needed you.

* I really have no idea why my friend and I now call it a chimichanga

Sunday, 22 February 2009


I ended up sending a copy of the post below to my family. They kind of have a vague idea that I connect with other loss mums over the internet but they don't ask that much about it.

I guess I sent it to them because, in a way, the last line - wishing they could see my invisible child - was directed towards them. Them, and my friends, and the people I interact with on a regular basis.

I got a very strong response from them. Mum and Dad rang the second they recieved it in tears. It was a little overwhelming as I was not trying to elecit that kind of response. They took my writing very literally, which my family is want to do, and focussed very much on the list of losses rather than the metaphor of carrying absence which was the most important part to me. I think they thought I was in a really bad space when I wrote it when in actual fact I was in quite a strong but reflective space, and was trying to express the feeling of the journey. I'm wondering if it was manipulative? It wasn't meant to be.

One good thing that came out of it is an email dialogue with my mother. Email you mother? you say. But yes, sadly we are not very good at face to face dialogue. I retreat and mum responds to my retreat by monologuing at me, and then I retreat some more. It is a pattern that has always hung around, but has spiralled way out of control during these last three years and try as I might, I've been unable to break it. Mum recognises it too and feels helpless in it. I guess were just not that great at discussing how we communicate - or not that willing - or something.

Thanks for the supportive comments. They mean a lot and are part of the strength I have been building and carrying this last week. That, and the lightness that comes from saying what you feel to the people around you.

I've also had the opportunity to connect and re-connect with some of my friends in real life (mums), and it has dissolved some of my anger. It has been humbling.

So. I'm back to knowing that "I'm going to be OK".

Saturday, 14 February 2009

A bundle of Absence

Sometimes, when on this horrid road, it is the loneliness that weighs on you. I am eternally grateful for the space created on the net to meet others and overcome this, but, at some point, each of us turns off our computer and takes our heavy heart out into the world.

I don't know anyone in real life, experiencing what I am experiencing. I know a few people who have had a stillborn child. I know a few people who have gone through IVF to build a family. I don't know anyone else (IRL) who has had a child live for a while and then die, or who subsequently has been unable to become pregnant. This is the world I take my battered heart in to day after day, in search of understanding, sympathy and healing.

The difficult thing is that I don't have anything to show for all my work, heartache, courage and pain. It is a burden that is carried silently. Unseen. The presence of a child (whilst not taking away from the individuality of the child and the importance of their experience) tells something, something of the experience of the parent. You know they have a birth story, wakeful nights, love, fear..... It offers an entry point for community. A point of connection, a place where experiences can be compared and contrasted, looked at from different points of view. 

The experience of absence of children is as significant as the experience of parenting, particularly following the death of a child. It is the lack of a presence that is part of what makes this experience so isolating. There is nothing that signifies my loss - and ongoing losses. Nothing to tell the world something of our experience. Our love, courage and heart ache. Nothing that shows years of thought, longing, hope and disappointment. Nothing that offers that point of connection, an entry place, through which people around me can understand a little of our experience. And so, it is largely unseen. Carried quietly, and invisibly with me into the chaos of community life - as many wounds are. I recognise that there are plenty of people with other sorts of internal wounds that I cannot see as I travel in this world. I also recognise that physical representations of trauma (such as burns victims, quadraplegia etc) bring a different set of isolation as many turn away at the sight of you. The pain is too much for some to even look at, and your body betrays your story before you even have a chance to smile at someone.

I wonder though, what would it be like for a parent to have a child that was invisible to everyone else? To live in a world where no-one else had children, and the parents tried to tell the stories of their invisible child to the people in this world. You can see the disjunct. You can see how much people would not understand their experience. You can imagine an invisible child mum meeting someone else who had an invisible child and them huddling in the corner for hours, swapping stories of progress and pain. You can imagine an increasing frustration with a world that while somewhat sympathetic, did not really understand the cause of their extreme tiredness and occasional dysfunction. Frustration at people who could not celebrate their small victories of parenting.

That's how it is for me, carrying Absence, so heavy and obvious to me, but invisible to the world. I am grateful for the few that try to listen and understand, but, ultimately, only my husband and I  can see our "invisible child". I am not talking about Maya, although the loss of her is part of it. It is also all the other losses, the times of opening myself to possibility and stinging from the smart of those possibilities crushed, the friendships that have dissolved, the loss of connection, loss of community, the losing and re-finding and re-losing of faith, the pressure on the relationships I hold most dear....  These are the things that make up my bundle of Absence, so burdensome and so precious, that goes with me into the world.

I wish you could see my invisible child.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

For those that asked

This is the cookbook that I got most of the recipes from for the fantastic FAG dinner. (see two posts below)

It is a restaurant I went to while on holiday a few years ago and we also went to the cooking school for a day. The restaurant is in a beautiful tropical garden. They grow a lot of their own produce. It's really a lovely experience if you are ever in the area.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Can you begin to imagine it?

Have you seen the horrendous news about the bushfires?

And an interesting reflection on trauma survivors here - it may resonate with some loss mammas.

Please keep these people in your hearts and prayers (if so inclined). It seems hard to maintain faith in such bizarre and terrifying circumstances.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Blowing my trumpet.

Well everybody. I say pat me on the back. 

Thank you, yes thank you. I agree. I think I'm awesome too.

(afterall, it's my blog and I can brag if I want to)

Now let me tell you why.

Important things first. My sister's baby is OK but small. They had to help it along in a rather sudden way with the suction cap as it was getting distressed during the birth. My sister is OK now but had the thing where the placenta only half comes away and you loose blood at a very very rapid rate. I think she lost 3 lt which is rather alarming but thanks to some transfusions  and emergency surgery to remove the placenta she was OK. Her poor husband sat there with a little baby in his hands watching her get whisked away. she was fine when I saw her.

Yesterday... I went to a counseling session which was good but tiring. Then I cam home and did stuff. And then I went to see my sister in hospital with her new baby girl. That in itself is quite an achievement but the things is, she was in THE SAME hospital that I gave birth to Maya in. So I just walked right on in (little panic attack) to the maternity ward (bigger panic attack) past the fancy double room they gave us to be with Maya in after she had died..... and stopped a few doors up. I could see my sisters shoes below the curtain, and her husbands, and someone elses. Bugger. What is it with visitors to maternity wards who think it is fine to just drop in unannounced? HELLO PEOPLE. THIS WOMAN GAVE BIRTH YESTERDAY. IT WAS VERY TRAUMATIC. SHE LOST ALOT OF BLOOD. You don't just wander in when you're not even in the top 20! So, I found a chair in the corridor to wait for her to leave. I waited 20 min. Apparantly unannounced visitors are also stayers and treat the place like a public lounge room. After 20 min I went in anyway and she made no sign of leaving. Eventually bro in law asked her to go so we could spend some time together. I held their little girl. I wept and wept. (She stopped crying when I started). I kept thinking about the story my brother in law's father told at the wedding. He spoke of the day they adopted Matt. A cold winter day, they'd flown into Sydney and had gotten a call to go and collect the child. They caught the train out to Penrith and just picked up this baby - no sling or pram - and carried this baby back. On the way home the trains had broken down so they had to walk for an hour in the cold with this baby in their arms, back to the hotel they were staying in. It was a beautiful image.

I couldn't let myself hold their girl close to me. I knew if I did, I would just want to walk out. Walk out of that hospital with a baby girl in my arms.... walk out and just keep on walking. The way it should have been. So instead, I just held her out in front of me, and cried and cried, and then gave her back. Next guest unannounced guest arrived and I took my leave. (So - that's the first pat on the back). 

Being a clever girl, I knew I would probably be pretty wobbly at this point and had planned ahead. Yes, very unlike me, but I had. My reward/remedy to myself for such bravery was to go to the beach. The rest of Sydney, experiencing the same heat wave as me (meant to top 44 today which is 112) was also there. So, excellent waves again but I could feel a lot of arms/legs and heads as we got tossed in the same wash. Still it was very fun and very cooling and no wardrobe malfunction this time. (Pat on back 2 for being very strategic).

And now........ for the stuff I did in between the counseling session and the hospital visit and the beach. Some people sing, some play, some knit, me...... my true spiritual gift is cooking. There is nothing I enjoy more than spending hours and hours on a ridiculously fiddly little dish and then watching it get eaten in 2 min of enjoyment. I love that all that thinking and work just vanishes into a moment of pleasure. I guess it's like a recital, or a play. Vanished and nothing but a big pile of dishes to show for it. 

Let me tell you about last nights dinner. This was my response to Mrs Spits Challenge to host a dinner party. The guests was a group of 6 friends collectively known as FAG (Food Appreciation Guild). Frankly, in search of "authentic" cuisine we have ended up at possibly some of the worst restaurants in sydney. Eat with courage and gusto - that's our motto. 

Knowing I would need some cooking therapy to get me through this week I decided on a five course meal that was ridiculously fancy. I have to say, I'm really getting quite good. Take a look at this.

Course 1.   Stuffed Lemongrass.

Course 2. Tom Yum Goong - Hot and Sour Prawn Soup

Course 3. Som Tam (green papaya) salad and sticky rice with sweet pork

Course 4. Red Curry of Duck and Lychees with Jasmin rice

Course 5. Cut dragon fruit - which I don't have a picture of because it was well past midnight and we were all quite merry. But here is one i stole from the net.

In between all this is lovely photos of the six FAGsters sipping wine bought on our cellar door weekend, laughing and making rude jokes a bit too loudly (we were sitting outside and the neighbours are quite close in this suburb). I was so unstressed it was ridiculous - it seemed magical, even to me, that these amazing dishes kept appearing without any fuss or bother, There they were out on the table being enjoyed. And i had done everything from scratch - the stock, the curry pastes - all of it with the assistance of a very good cook book and my local asian grocery stores.

The only down side of hosting a meal like this is that it pretty much garuntees that no-one will ever ask you to dinner again. Which means you have to become good at saying "You should ask me for dinner" in which case they have to. That is my third pat on the back for the day, and frankly, I think the day deserves a standing ovation for me being great. Thank you thank you. I'll go eat some humble pie now.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Torn. Sad. Happy.

This baby arrived last week and this one is being born as we speak. Well, I assume so, my sister was being induced this morning. I hope it will be OK. I think it will be.

I'm fighting depression. I understand that I have to fight it so it doesn't push me down further. I hate that it is hard work and so very tiring. Being  a fighter is not really my style. I'm better at mosey-ing and day dreaming. Unfortunately that can't work for me at the moment cause I only daydream about unhelpful and depressing things. So I'm on brain patrol again. And when I'm winning that, Depression - the bugger - justs by-passes my brain and goes for my body. Not great sleep, wierd tummy - you probably know the drill. It's managable, but tedious, BORING, and I don't want it.


But there are things that help. One of the things that helped this weekend was the wedding of my beautiful friend Ali. She's a phd student/disability activist/community building/rock chick friend who knows how to love. In fact, she's one of the few people in this world who seems to need to love more than she needs to be loved. She falls in love often and with a very wide range of people - which is not to say that she is not loyal, she recognises a crush for what it is and doesn't pay it too much attention  - she is just really into people.  The wedding was at a beach 5 hours drive from Sydney and was a mini music festival. There were at least 3 double bases and someone had dragged (how?) a piano into the middle of the paddock the wedding was on. She sang with her band, he played with his (YES they are both muso's). And there was a lot of love. A LOT OF LOVE. and it made me feel great.

So here are some photos from the wedding. Jumbled, sideways and completely out of order because me and html are not yet friends. 

Girl with my lovely hula hoop.

bride, groom and minister

a lovely moment with a dad and his 4 yr old playing blues harmonica

more music