Monday, 21 May 2012

An end and a beginning

Dear friends

As many of you know, this last week has been the anniversary of my daughters life and death. She would have been six, although I don't think of her as anything but a tiny little baby. Her construction was such that she wasn't built for this world. She just didn't have what she needed for a long life. To wish her to be alive also means to wish her to be other than who she was, and I loved her, as she was.

This year has been a significantly different anniversary for Jacob and me. During last year we decided to give up treatments after a ridiculous amount of IVF. I gave up counting cause it was too depressing but I know it was somewhere between 12 and 15 cycles, each one easier in some ways, as we knew what was coming and felt more in control of the process, but harder to find the courage to go back in, and open yourself to hope each time. In the end, it became harder to keep going then to stop. It wasn't easy to stop, just harder to keep going.

It actually took me over a year to make the decision to stop IVF and I kept doing cycles as I fought the idea that this could be it and finally realised I had nothing left. We'd walked to the bitter end of that road, and for unexplainable reasons, it never worked.

So Jacob and I stopped. And then felt sad.... we felt sad the whole way through, so this was nothing new. At least we had a bit more control in choosing to stop than in trying to keep going. We set about rebuilding, figuring out how to be a happy family of two. No mean feat but I think we did a good job. Time out together, boozy dinners with good friends, dog walking, yoga, beach swimming......
We planned a big holiday. Something fun to spend money on instead of IVF and we ended up spending 3 weeks in Sth America and then a week in San Francisco to visit Jakes friend. I also had the delightful experience of meeting bloggers in the real (nod to PJ and Luna!). Wise women a little ahead of me on this road, although each on a different path in terms of family. Hearing them both speak, and being heard melted some of the ice cold loneliness that loss and infertility brings when everyone around you is having babies. I can't really express enough gratitude for this. Big sisters who look me in the eye and are not afraid of what they see - the sadness, or anger, or heaviness, and who can see more than just those things.

Enjoyment crept back into our lives. Really, it had been there throughout although we had to work hard for it previously. It started coming more easily. The energy and momentum to do other things returned and we got stuck into life. I went back to work full time (first time in  since Maya died) and was doing some travelling to rural areas to support remote schools who had students with autism which was just lovely. I still had a few days in the classroom in the city so had a great city/country thing going on. Jake had a new job nearer home and started cycling to work. Nothing huge, just feeling free in doing normal things.

You may be wondering why I'm describing these things in a past tense. We were thinking about becoming foster carers for a while although it was on the back burner for a long time as we went through IVF. It was kind of there though, I'd notice articles in the paper, or stories others told me. Maybe???  Before our Sth America trip we quickly sent off an application to a foster care agency and they were in contact with us before we returned. The long and short is that we have become foster care parents for 2 kids under 2 (not twins). They're brother and sister. The older has already moved in, and the younger (2 months old) will be with us soon. They're in long term care so we'll be patching a family together. 

My 8 yr old friend Ruby asked me all the important questions when she was trying to get her head around what foster care was and why some kids would just move in with us. "What if they don't like you?" (We'll hang out and do fun things together and hopefully they'll get used to us) "What if you don't like them? (ditto) What if they don't like the dog? (let's hope they do cause I don't want to contemplate that one...) and, most obvious to a child and asked a number of times with some panic, "Where is their mum?" There is no easy answer to that, and being an incredibly empathetic child, I could see fear rising in her at the thought that possibly her  mum might not always be there for her and she might have to live with someone else. It kind of puts the right perspective on the process from a child's point of view.

Fortunately, I can say at this point, that little Benjamin does like us and we certainly like him. He also likes the dog (phew) who has proved a useful distraction when he is sad or cranky. We like his sister Hannah too although we are just getting to know her. Its hard to say whether a baby likes you back.

I was a little apprehensive about being asked if we could take in a baby girl. I have spent the last five years avoiding babies wherever possible. I know my triggers. It took me a while to realise that perhaps I wouldn't need to protect myself from a baby that was here to stay, rather than one I had to hand back and excuse myself as I ran off to cry. 

There are still scars that show themselves. I feel like I need a t-shirt with "imposter" written on it when I go to the park. I don't really identify with muminess and refuse point blank to join a mother's group although people tell me it would be good for me to do. I'm still terrified of gatherings of mums, and am not interested one bit in baby gear. I don't have a "philosophy" on how to care for a baby and am not  going to obtain one (other than the non articulated one that comes from who Jacob and I are) There are some things however that have been very easy. I am a good carer. I have always known that and it's a relief to have a place to put that energy and love. I'm also good at play which is serving us well. It's nice to see Jake be a dad to someone and there's a lot of joy that a two year old and their constant experiments (Can I put a chip in my toes and walk?)bring to a home. I sometimes hear Jake laughing at Benjamin and it makes me happy.

I also feel humbled when I spend time thinking about how others resolve infertility. I particularly feel grateful for those who have put the energy and love they have into looking after younger sisters on the road. I'm particularly thinking of Pamela (A Fresh Start) who has been so generous and such a strong advocate for those of us struggling with the king hit that is infertility. But many others, who write names in the sand, or inspire others to acts of kindness, write blogs, organise a blog roll or go off and live amazing creative lives in ways they may not have done. 

I guess I am trying to express my gratitude to you all, particularly those who have become friends, for helping me through what I desperately hope will be the worst days of my life. I am moved to tears when I think about what you have given me in sharing of yourself. I hope my blog and comments may have offered you something in return.

I'll be signing off from this blog. I have done what I needed to do.

Please be in touch with me at if you choose, or if you are coming my way. 

I'd love to share a drink with you.

All my love

and happy birthday to my sweet girl.