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. 


Lollipop Goldstein said...

Oh oh oh! There is so much in here, so much happiness and sadness and relief and sighs. First and foremost, congratulations on the new stage in your life. I came here thinking about Maya and found so much more. And then there is the ending at the end, which made my throat ache a bit. Maybe in a good way? To know that you're still out there, living your life, an email away. And yet always in my heart the Shifty Shadow.

Lori Lavender Luz said...

Oh, Barb. I will miss this space. I always loved when it popped up in my reader.

I am so happy to hear about Benjamin and Hannah. I know you will bring love and light to each other's lives.

I would love to keep in touch with you.


Michele said...

This has me in tears. I am both so happy for you and still feeling your journey with you. Barb, know that no matter whether you write here or not, that you and your family, especially Maya, will always be in Peter and my's hearts. Benjamin(Bobby's middle name!) and Hannah are little candles that I hope bring so much fire into your lives as you do so for them. Email whenever, if ever, you want to catch up.
Hugs- so many hugs

Pamela T. said...

It is wonderful to have you (and Jacob) as real life friends -- to know you're in a good place after sharing so many emotions online. You both have so much love to offer, and it makes me smile to know it's being reciprocated. I can hear the laughter now ... and look forward to staying in touch.

Catherine W said...

I am so pleased to read about the arrival of Benjamin and Hannah.

Always remembering Maya, happy birthday to your sweet girl x

luna said...

oh oh oh! (funny, this is what I was thinking, then I saw mel said the same thing!)

I have chills reading this. for many reasons.

first, remembering sweet maya with you. these anniversaries are so hard.

of course I am happy that you have found a sense of normalcy, reclaiming your lives from infertility and the loss of your sweet girl. it forever changes us, that's for sure. but rediscovering life is a wonderful thing.

and oh wow, I am blown away by the news of benjamin and hannah! I remember our walk and talk and thinking that you would be so wonderful as a foster mama. I am so thrilled that you all have each other. so very wonderful.

and yes, talking with other children about foster care/adoption leaves us forever mindful. it's excellent training for life.

sending so much love to you, barb. I will miss you in this space. but honestly I am so happy to see you move out of the shadow and into the light. xoxox

Heather said...

Here from LFCA... I am so glad that you have found a way through this, and I am excited for your news! Your post on "the garden" made a big impression on me. Best wishes to you and your new path..

Stinky said...

OMG aint that always the way? I just found your blog via jjiraffe and read/commented on your tree-planting story. Clicked to find your most recent post to find that you too have been dealing with BT (woohoo, another couple dealing with translocation, not that thats cause for celebration but hopefully you know what I mean?) and turns out you're done here!!

But seriously, I loved this post, not least becasue it gave me a nutshell idea of your path to now, and I love your description of fostering these little ones.

"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"

^this made me well up^. I wish I'd found this blog sooner, and wish you well for the future

lin741852 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
loribeth said...

I am sorry you won't be posting any more... your posts may not have been frequent but they were always worth waiting for! All the best to you & your new family! : )

Phoebe said...

Thanks for the update! I have considered you a soul sister. I know these little ones bring light into your life, while you'll always remember the light of your daughter and the love she brought you as well.

Super Mom said...


Genuine said...

I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. I cannot imagine. I will be praying for you ( Owner Hereditates

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