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.

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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:

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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!

When are you going to have another child?

When did we, as humans, become so flippen judgmental?

Over the 6 years that we tried to conceive for, we were constantly judged on why we didn’t have kids yet, people did not hesitate to ask us personal questions regarding this fact, from literally the day we got married. When we came out of the closet regarding our infertility, the questions from those nearest and dearest to us stopped, strangers however, thought nothing about asking us when we were going to have kids.

Now that we have A, the questions have started about when we are going to be having a 2nd child. Even those who know all that we have been through, think nothing of asking us whether we are going to adopt again, or go through another cycle of IVF. Why cant people just leave us be?

Just yesterday, I faced the question in 3 different formats: Firstly at our Nanny and Toddlers group, the teacher said that we should “make another one” as A loves babies and other kids so much. Then some kids who came over to play, asked me if A had a brother. When I said no, he is our “only” child (still hard to say that, as he does have a sister, even if she is an Angel), they said “shame, he must be so lonely”. Thirdly, we had builders round to our house, as we are starting renovations and they asked us where we would be putting the bedroom for our next child.

For goodness sake, that was the last straw….we are not the only people in this world to have only 1 child. Some people cant afford more than 1, some don’t want more than 1…for us, we cannot have more than 1. We will not put ourselves through what we went through during those 6 years, for love nor money. Why is it anyone else’s business??

Can those people not just stop and think for a second, why it is OK to ask such a question? I already feel guilty that he will be an only child, but I know he will be fine. He has plenty of friends and cousins around to keep him happy, he wont miss out. Of course I feel bad for him BUT it is our choice, not anyone else’s and, even if we didn’t have the reasons that we do, it is still OUR decision to make and no one elses.

Stop judging others and the world would be such a nicer place to live in.

Hands up, I need help!!

19 Months since the horrific loss of our Beautiful Baby Girl, I have eventually reached the point that I have to admit to myself that I need help to process my feelings.

It has been a long time in coming and there have been many arguments and near breakdowns along the way but, last week I decided that enough was enough and today I went to my first appointment with a psychologist.

I have been keeping myself busy to the point of absolute mental exhaustion, to try and train my brain not to think or dwell on things that I dont want to think or dwell on but it has caught up to me (as everyone knows that it does) and now, even with 8 hours a night sleep, I barely make it through the day I am so tired…classic sign of a heavy depression.

What did I learn from today’s session? Hello my name is S and my middle name is GUILT! I am pretty much going through my life guilt ridden over any number of things incl: ending our pregnancy, not spending enough time with A, not spending my time at work doing what I am paid to do, rather I spend time on my “hobby”an NPC, spending too much time with K (friend going through a nasty divorce) and not enough time with D (hubby) etc etc. I am a people pleaser and I always have been… I just forget to please myself most of the time.

Not sure how to even start to fix things but, at least I have made the first step and, hopefully week by week, I will get stronger and stronger (and poorer and poorer 😉 ).

My mantra for the foreseeable future…NOT MY CIRCUS, NOT MY MONKEYS = I must not get involved in others’ dramas. So much easier said than done when you are a people pleaser….

Goodnight my dear Maverick <3

Yesterday, at 6:03pm our precious Maverick passed away. He was the most special soul, kind, loyal, happy, with an ever wagging tail and not 1 bad bone in his body. He was 5.5years old and died of Canine Lymphoma.

I am so angry that yet again we have to say goodbye to a part of our family and such a special one at that. I dont think I can put in writing how much I love my Mav…a huge hole has been left in our hearts and our home.

Please enough now, I just want a boring life, a normal life, a life with no more hurt…please, I am begging, I am done.

Maverick my beautiful boy, I hope that you are running and playing over the rainbow bridge. ..never stop wagging that tail,  just as you never stopped wagging it once down here. I loved you from the first second I saw you when you were 4 days old and I will not stop till I die. You found us at a time when we really needed cheering up… a couple of months after our first failed ivf and you made us smile every single day since then, even through the darkest days. I know now that you were sent to us for that reason and now someone else needs you, but that does not stop the tears from pouring down my face, or my heart from breaking into tiny pieces everytime I see your empty chair. A ‘thank you’ will never be enough, an ‘I love you forever’ doesnt seem enough, 5.5 years definitely wasnt enough but yet here we are.

Mommy loves you oh so very much my boy, you will forever occupy a special place in my heart. I will make sure that Ashton knows what a special boy you were to Mommy and Daddy, I am so so sad that you and he never got to properly play ball.

Run free and give Eloise lots of kisses from all of us and keep each other company, until we all meet again.

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xxx

Written in the Stars??

I am struggling a bit this month…I don’t know whether it is due to the fact that it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month or that I am weaning myself off the 6 month course of AD’s that I took…or both! Either way I am feeling lower than I have for the last 8 months or so. I am definitely not going to go back onto AD’s, it has been such a hard process to wean off them, so I am going to have to deal with this head on.

Another date which is creeping up on us, is our 8th Wedding Anniversary, which is on the 15th October…always a joyous day of celebration, until this year. The 15th October also happens to be Remembrance day for Infant and Pregnancy loss. 

On the 15th October 2003, my Gorgeous Man and I got engaged on the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town. We did swift calculations and worked out that the 15th October 2005 was a Saturday, so we set the date right there and then. This leads me to think, once again, that all that happened to us was written in the stars. I don’t know if that depresses me more or not, I am a bit confused by it all at the moment.

I kinda hate that the day we once spent remembering our happy day fondly, by watching our wedding video and flipping through the albums and talking about things long forgotten, has now been tainted by the worst thing that could ever happen to a couple. Now, instead of going out for a celebratory supper, I feel that I need to be home to light a candle as per http://www.october15th.com

 

Don’t take my upset as an unwillingness to celebrate Eloise’s life. I love her with all my heart and thinking about her brings me joy and sadness equally but, her anniversary is also creeping up on us and that is the day I wish to choose to spend with her and all things that remind me of her. I think what I am saying is, that I don’t need to be forced to remember her, but at the same time, I want to support others who have gone through the same thing, so I am torn.

Apparently the statistic is that 1 in 4 women will experience the loss of a child through infant and pregnancy loss.

That statistic breaks my heart into tiny little pieces and so, it is for all of us who have been to hell and back, that I will put my big girl panties on and take a stand on the 15th October. I can celebrate my marriage every day through hugs and kisses and time spent with my Lovely Man.

This day is bigger than just us….

I AM 1 IN 4

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Bok x