Being forced to confront my buried feelings

I was given the opportunity to write a chapter in the collaboration of a wonderful bunch of ladies, describing their journeys through infertility, called: Infertility Success, Stories of Help and Hope for your Journey. The book is estimated to launch at the end of November.

I didn’t have much time to think it through, before the deadline loomed especially as I was busy with Fertility Show Africa at the time so, I just sat down and wrote. As it could be no more than 3000 words, it couldn’t describe our entire journey and so I decided to reference this blog to allow people to be able to read back and learn more about what we went through and some of what we have been through since.

A couple of weeks later, my subconscious began to gnaw at me and I had no idea why. A few days ago, I realised the reason.

Although I know that we did whatever we could to save Eloise, there will be people who will judge us for our decision and now I have put myself right out there, directly into their path and we all know that, hiding behind a keyboard seems to negate all the normal rules of human engagement. Since then, my anxiety levels have ramped up hugely.

When sharing my anguish with a friend of mine (and fellow contributing author), she asked me if I was perhaps projecting my guilt? Whether I blame myself and so I think others will blame me. She made me stop and think. All these years later and lots of psychologist sessions, why would I continue to blame myself, even though I know deep down that we did the best by Eloise?

Having spent some time analysing my feelings since then, I really do think that I underrated the amount of trauma the past 20 months of Covid has caused me emotionally and that the mental anguish that all the lockdowns, losses, fear and grief have caused, coupled with now going public with our story globally, has definitely brought all of these feelings to the surface. Common sence goes out the window and with those feelings now so raw, comes the doubt and the second guessing come hurtling back.

At least the realisation that this has caused, has forced me to ask for help once again. My first session was today. There is no shame in asking for help, sometimes doing that is the bravest thing you can do.

What didn’t come through in the book but, you can read a bit about in this blog, was that my faith did play a part in our decision. Eloise was christened by our Catholic priest, who went on to be the one to christen Ashton as well, a few months later. You will also read that we know that God forgave us our decision, simply due to the fact that he sent Ashton to us.

If you aren’t going to read my blog for the whole story, please at least read these 2 blog posts, written by my husband, about the birth of Eloise:
Part 1:
Part 2:

The human race is often quick to judge but, no one is really in a position to judge anyone else, if they haven’t trod their path, felt what was in their hearts at the time, been through their grief and their anguish or, have been a part of the fall out of what came next.

In closing, please remember that we often judge ourselves more harshly than anyone out there judges us so, when you have the choice to be anything, be kind.

40 good deeds at 40!

So, today I turn 40. We had beautiful rain in Joburg last night and it was very symbolic for me, washing away the remnants of my thirties and allowing my new decade to start fresh and with a clean slate.

I spent some time last night, letting the last remaining ghosts go and I woke up feeling happy and mentally light and ready to start this new chapter with a bang! I also got thoroughly spoilt by my 2 boys, both of whom I am so grateful for.

Today I am also revealing my pledge for this year…. to carry out 40 good deeds at 40. I am telling this to the blogosphere so I have some accountability ūüôā as it will pretty much need to be a good deed a week, to allow for some holidays and downtime etc.

I know what I am doing for my first good deed and will reveal it shortly. Just 39 more to think up! I really can’t wait to do some good in this tough and sometimes downright vicious world we live in today.

On the eve of my 40th Birthday

If I think back 10 years ago, as I stood on the cusp of my 30th birthday, I was not dealing with the thought of being 30, very well. In fact, we ended up going to America and spending my day in Disney World, immersed in the ultimate place for the young and young at heart, just so I could keep my mind off the fact that I was aging horribly.

There was only 1 reason for my fear of turning 30….my infertility.¬†

Turning 30 whilst still TTC, is hard, that’s all there is to it. The blueprint I had for my life, had worked out to a point:

  1. Travel the world – CHECK
  2. Find love of my life – CHECK
  3. Marry love of my life – CHECK
  4. Have babies before 30 – NO POSITIVE PREGNANCY TEST TO BE SEEN

And so, as I approached 30, we were stuck in the limbo that is infertility and, had already been there for 3 years. Little was I to know that, it would still be 5 long years until our journey came to an end and, another 5 years after that, to get over all the mental and physical issues, brought on by that roller coaster journey.

What I mean by that is,¬†you don’t ever avoid battle scars when travelling down the road of infertility. Some are physical ie: weight gain, laparoscopy scars, caesarean scars etc and, some are mental ie: guilt, anxiety and depression.

I only realised recently that I have kept myself 15kg overweight, ever since 2012, as some sort of punishment to myself, for what happened to Eloise. Only once I dealt with my guilt, head on, could I focus on a healthier lifestyle and, have since lost 12kg.

I also drank too much and hung out with people who didn’t bring out the best in me as, on a subconscious level, I didn’t think I deserved anything more than that. Since looking at my demons right in the eye, I have finally rid my life of unhealthy “friendships” and am focusing on friends who build me up, instead of tearing me down.

And so, because of this long overdue transformation, turning 40, is a different beast altogether.¬†At last, I have been able to let go of the ghosts that haunted me throughout my thirties and I am finding my way back to me. I couldn’t be more excited about what this decade has in store for me. As cliche as it sounds, I really am feeling that my life will begin at 40.

If you are stuck in the cycle of grief, even after achieving your family, please make sure that you work through it sooner rather than later, for your sake and the sake of your family. Don’t beat yourself up for another 5 years like I did and, potentially miss out on some wonderful experiences with your family that you worked so hard for! Chat to a psychologist, or someone who has also been through infertility and/or loss. Join a support group, do a course, just do whatever you can to get back to you. Sending love to you xx

Losing a sense of oneself

I met with someone the other day, who is still firmly in the trenches of infertility and, talking about her experiences, forced me to go back to a place that I don’t often go back to these days, because it’s still too painful.

Talking about all the things that we women go through when trying for a baby and I am not even talking about the physical rigours, but rather the emotional ones, made me think: ¬†Can we really remain the same person we were at the beginning of the journey, when eventually we make it out the other side, all emotionally fucked and 15kgs heavier? The answer is easy….HELL NO WE CAN’T!

Now, although I quite like the person I am today, it has led me to wonder what kind of a person I would be without my infertility journey.

  1. Would I be less cynical? I am sure that I would be  and more naive about the horrors that are out there in this life. It is the one time in life when ignorance really would be bliss.
  2. Would I be slimmer? I was always slim growing up. Then I went to the UK and ate all the pies but, I was still at least 20kg less when I met my husband, than what I am today. Be it the drugs we pump into ourselves, or the comfort food we turn to when we are faced with yet another failed cycle, myself and some of my IF friends, look like we ate the people we were prior to IF!!
  3. Would I be happier with myself? Slimmer automatically equals happier with yourself so, ja, you do the math!
  4. Would I be as in love with my husband? I loved him madly before IF but, what we went through really cemented our relationship. I see friends going through horrible divorces, for some of the most arbitrary reasons and I know that that will never happen to D and I. Our bond deepened over the loss of Eloise and, once you get past something like that, nothing will tear you apart.
  5. Would I be as empathetic to others? I have always had a soft spot for animals and rescue case humans but, again, I think I have much more patience and willingness to help than I did before. Perhaps I could call it, being less selfish.

Apart from the cynicism and being a fatso, I guess I have changed for the better. Would I like to be a skinny and more positive chick? Of course yes but, then I would also lose all that I have gained too: My empathy, my loyalty, my need to give back and to help make others’ journeys not quite as tough (through IFAASA ) and, most importantly, my deep bond with my wonderful Hubby.

I guess that is why I have a good group of infertile friends. We each recognise a bit of ourselves in each other. The slightly broken and forever changed part.


Why are people still so weird about infertility?

My Facebook page is a hive of activity when I post pics of A (well, he is very photogenic!), or my horse but, God forbid I share a post with a meaningful message and……uuuuurk (sound of brakes), the interaction comes screeching to an abrupt halt.

Today marks the start of Reproductive Health Month in South Africa and, my NPC, IFAASA (I call it mine but, really there are 4 of us who run it), is running a massive campaign to try and get people to get checked out early by a Fertility Specialist and not waste years at a GP or non specialist Gynae.

We have been prepping for this campaign for a few weeks now, gathering personal stories to form part of our I am #1in6 Campaign, to try and make people feel less alone during their journey.

Last night, I was excitedly scheduling posts and reading stories from the bravest women you would ever meet. I know this campaign is going to be a huge success when it comes to raising awareness around Infertility and I am proud of what¬†we will achieve. So, I got caught up in the excitement and….. I shared the campaign to my Facebook Page.

This morning, it had 1 like.

The last post I did with A in it, garnered 50 likes and a bunch of comments. It’s not like I have thousands of FB friends, I have under 300, so 50 likes is good.

I can really only assume that my friends are still “grossed out” by infertility, like it may be catching or, perhaps they feel that it is still something to be ashamed of.

Do they not realise that, just by liking my post, one of their friends who desperately needs to know they aren’t alone, will see it and be helped? 1 in 6, people!!!! 1 IN 6!!!!!!!¬†

Do they not realise that, just by liking my post, they won’t catch infertility? Maybe they think that people will think they are infertile though and, how embarrassing that would be!?! *eye roll*

It annoys me but, it spurs me on to make this campaign a huge success. If I can convert just one of my shy Facebook friends to share, or just like the posts that I share and they have around 300 friends on their profiles then, potentially, I will reach another 50 Infertiles.

That to me is worth any “embarrassment” in the world.

I am out, I am proud, I am Infertile, I am #1in6

Was I born to you?

5 little words that broke my heart…

When A came home, I thought in my naivety that we would have at least 5-6 years before the understanding of adoption sunk in with him and the questions would begin.

I was wrong.

I severely underestimated the brain power our little boy has. Twice over the past 2 weeks, someone has spoken about his adoption in front of him. One was my niece, who has obviously been spending some time processing it herself and, when he was playing with his other cousin a few feet away, stated in her clear and loud 7 year old voice “Are you going to tell A he is adopted?” A paid no attention but, would have heard it at a sub conscious level. I answered that of course we were going to tell him and changed the subject.

Then, on Saturday we had a braai at our place and the boyfriend of a friend of ours asked innocently “where did he get those big eyes from”. I doubt he was meaning to be answered as literally as his GF did, when she said “oh, he’s adopted”!! A was again, just a few feet away.

So, I have kind of been expecting questions to come up but, again our little boy amazed us with his intellect. 2 nights ago, when his Daddy was bathing him and I was catching up on my guilty pleasure tv, he randomly asked the question “was I born to you?” I could almost hear D’s heart stop and his mind think “shit, why me, why now?” before he answered “no my Boy, you were born to a Tummy Mummy who brought you to us.” A thought for a fraction of a second and then replied “oh, do they do that?” D answered that yes they do do that and then the conversation returned to cars/snakes/dinosaurs. All through the short exchange, I sat paralysed by shock on the sofa, how did 2 mentions of adoption in his presence become “was I born to you?”

Fast forward to this morning, on our drive to school, before we are even out our complex and before I am actually fully awake, the question returned in a slightly different disguise. “Mommy, I wasn’t born to you, was I?” Dammit, I knew I should have had that 3rd cup of coffee!! “No my Boy, you were born to a Tummy Mummy” “What’s a Tummy Mummy?” “A Tummy Mummy is a very special kind of Mommy who grows babies in her tummy for Mommies who can’t.” Silence for a full minute. “Mommy, did you born Eloise?” Wow. “Yes my Boy.” Excited now he says “yay Mommy, so you are a Tummy Mummy too!!”

Bloody hell, 4 years old and so profound….I guess it has something to do with all those books we have read to him over the years, that deal with adoption in a soft way with bears adopting foxes etc, but how amazing what sinks in to his little sponge of a brain and that he translates it to “was I born to you?”

My boy, even though I wanted a little more time with you thinking I am your one and only Mommy, I couldn’t be more proud.

4 years since the most important call of my life…

Right this moment, 4 years ago, my cell phone rang. I was at home, having been signed off from work due to the loss of our precious Eloise, on the 22nd November, just 3 weeks previously. It was our Social Worker on the phone.

I thought she was phoning to check on me and to follow up on the mail I had sent her, detailing what had happened. She was but, after discussing how we were and how sorry she was, she uttered the words: There Is A Baby….and, once again, our lives changed forever.

You can read back on my blog to read about that call and what happened in the days just following it.

Today, however, I just want to put down in writing, how grateful I am to be sitting here with my 4 year old son. We are wrapping Christmas presents and I am telling him about the day that I received the most important phone call of my life. He doesnt really understand, of course, but he  is a clever boy and he understands that it is an important day.

Today I am counting my blessings.


Our boy is 4 tomorrow and 4 years ago we had no idea he existed.

How happy and sad that heading makes me.

Happy for my gorgeous boy to at last be 4, as he has been dying to be for the past few months and so very sad that, 4 years ago, we had no idea he existed.

There was no excitedly prepping a nursery, nor was there the packing of a hospital bag, the charging of a camera or the timing of contractions. However, I guess that there wasn’t most of that for his Birthmom either. Today I feel sad for both of us. Tomorrow I will be happy for both of us because, tomorrow, the boy that she made and that I get to grow and nourish, both physically and mentally, celebrates his special day.

But, for now, today, I am sad. As I write, he is at his Granny’s house, baking his birthday cake, with his cousins. Today school broke up and they are all super excited and happy. I know every inch of him so well and every day I revel in his cheeky, bright and questioning nature. I know where he is 24 hours a day, what he likes to eat/play with/watch on tv, how could I have missed those first few days of his life? His first breath, his first cry. It just really messes with my head that I missed such a big part of his life…the 9 months before he entered this world and then the 10 days after that.

I know how lucky I am that he came home to us at 10 days old, as that doesnt happen anymore in South Africa but I still mourn the time I missed.

This is the first year that these feelings have come to the fore and I acknowledge that every year, from now on, they probably will too. It is part of the adoption process and the emotions that go along with it. I am fiercely protective of my boy, even to the point of walking away from friendships, if I feel that he has been dissed/rejected in any way. I described it to a friend the other day as my mama bear instinct. I won’t be able to protect him from feeling feelings of rejection when he can understand about his adoption, but my God, I will protect his feelings while I still can, with every fibre of my being.

Today, more than ever, I wish I could make contact with his Birthmom, to compare notes about our boy and find out what I missed. I know that she has missed out on so very much more than I have, does she think of it like that? I suppose that she would drive herself mad if she did. I will, however, take some time out of tomorrow, as I always do, to silently thank her for what she gave us and the world. There is no doubt in my mind that very many people’s lives would be that much more dreary without him in it. Ours, my parents, our friends, his teachers and his friends, just to name a few. How could you not smile when you look at this face:


Busy busy busy!

Our boy is the busiest bee around! On the go from morning to night, except during his 2hr nap. He doesnt even sit down to eat, preferring to eat on the go!

Comparing him to his cousin, who is very careful and happy to sit in front of the tv, our little whirlwind is leaps and bounds ahead of L physically and mentally! However, he doesnt have a “danger sensor” at all! He will quite happily run headlong into any body of water, climb out his cot, up onto a table etc…he gives his Mommy grey hairs, that is for sure!!

The upside of this, is that he is a brilliant sleeper…except for this past weekend. We went away with friends, to their holiday home on a dam. The house has been made kid friendly, as her children first started going there when they were babies. The garden is fenced off, as it is in front of the dam, so we thought all would be fine. We were wrong! The first evening there, he was running around the garden and he spotted a mongoose. Now, he loves our dogs and missed them terribly while we were away and, in his little boy mind, the mongoose was a dog! So, he took off at a run, after the mongoose shouting “Goga, Gogaaaaa” (his name for dogs)! The mongoose escaped through the fence but that didn’t deter him one little bit, he just climbed over the fence and carried on running! We have never moved so fast in our lives as he raced down the pier as fast as his little legs would carry him! Neither of my friends little girls had ever tried climbing the fence….guess little boys are different (although I doubt L would climb over either!).

Anyway, back to the sleeping… at the house my friend had her 2 girls there, now 8 and 6 and 2 other friends bought their kids, a girl of 6 and a boy of 11. Well, A was in his element! He loves older boys especially and so Matt was his hero! Therefore 5am became his new wake up time and no naps were taken in the day…he suffered from complete FOMO (Fear of missing out). He did sleep for 3 hours yesterday afternoon to catch up though!

All through the weekend, I was in prime position to witness many sibling arguments, between the 2 sets of siblings and, it occurred to me that, that is another bonus to having 1 child…no fighting! So, long may these weekends away continue, so A can get his fill of having ‘siblings’ and Mommy can remember, once again, why 1 child is the way to go…¬†without even taking into account all the nasty IF treatments and losses along the way!

LABELED: Adopted!!

It is a big worry of mine that A will go through his life with a big label on his forehead that states ADOPTED! It is never going to be a secret in our household, never something to be ashamed about, but I have to come to terms with the fact that I cant control other people’s actions.

I am enrolling him into a pre school, to start in January, when he is 2 years old. It is a teeny place, run from a ladies’ home and he will initially be going for 3 days a week to get him into the swing of things before I send him to a more school-like place in 2016. I have just received the enrollment paperwork and the questions on the forms have made me spitting mad.

Is your child Own/Adopted
Has your child lost a parent, brother or sister to death? (How the hell to I answer that one?)
Birth: Normal/Caesarean/Forceps
Was Labour Long/Average/Quick?
Complications during/after birth?
Was baby Premature/Normal/Late?
Apgar rating?

And it goes on and on about milestones etc.

I mean WTF? It states above the questions that “the following information is necessary to get to know and understand your child”! What happened to asking questions and spending time with a child and getting to know them that way? The way I see it is that the teachers nowadays are lazy and want to pre empt any problems which may arise. Fair enough but, don’t they see how they are going to attach the label to the child that isn’t necessarily the correct label for that child? Just because of the way that child was brought into this world/came to live with his family/put his mom through a 24 hour labour. Seriously now, this is ridiculous!

I understand that these days this is the norm for schools, I cannot quite understand the need for it to be at a playgroup type school for 2 year olds, when A doesnt yet understand what it means to be adopted, but I expect it for “big school”. However, I am not going to be accepting of it there either, I will certainly be sitting down with the teachers and explaining in no uncertain terms that they will not be labeling my child just because of his circumstances, they will take the time to get to know our happy and bright and loved little boy, first.

What worries me most is that he wont even get into the school that we have chosen, because he will pre labeled as a problem child and they wont even allow him in…guess I had better get his name down at a few other schools. *sigh*