We always thought we would have kids. We started trying when we believed we were ready. A month went by, then two months, six months, a year. Nothing happened.

Something was wrong, but nobody could tell us what - and they still can't to this day. We tried IVF three times but our results were not good. We were devastated.

Eighteen months after our last IVF cycle, we knew we would not be having our own children. And, somehow, we have moved to a life that is much different to the one we thought we'd have.

This blog is about what we do now we know we won't be having children - the thoughts, dreams, realities, sorrows, and joys that have become our new life path.

I hope you will enjoy what I will be sharing, and I hope that if you are at the point where life without children is a reality for you, that you might find some hope and inspiration here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yet another update on my book…

I am currently at the mercy of the IRS. In my blog entry of the 12th March 2014 I wrote that the publication of book would be delayed due to having to contact the IRS regarding some tax issues.

I filled out the relevant form (to obtain a Taxpayer Identifications Number (TIN)) and sent this off along with supporting documents to the IRS. But, my application has been rejected – with no real explanation as to why. So, I need to stay up late one night and give the IRS a call to find out more.

It’s frustrating, but it is important for me to get this all sorted out before I publish the book.

I’ll keep you updated!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Where I am...

I’m struggling. There’s no other way to put it. Every day I think about my life and how second rate it is, how I have done nothing, how I am nothing. I cry one or two times a day. I do feel sort of happy if I don’t think too much. I feel like the day is mine – at least before I get out of bed.

I look at my friends and family and I think about my life.

I never thought I would be in the situation that I am in now. When I was a kid I thought life had a certain trajectory and that I would follow that. I learnt in my twenties (through having serious illnesses) that this trajectory is not accurate – life doesn’t go from A to B to C etc. for most people. Still, I thought there were aspects of life that would be mine.

This expectation was amplified when I met Kirby. I had met my soul mate and I was in a job that I loved. So from then on I foresaw that I would have a career and my children would come along very soon.

That was almost ten years ago and life, at least in those two aspects, couldn’t be more different. I watch my friends and family having children and/or succeeding in their careers. I have neither. I have no children and I have no career.

What am I then? Who am I?

Honestly, I feel like I am nothing.

I know life isn’t perfect for anyone and that everyone goes through times when they feel like they aren’t worth anything – even if they have a career and/or children.

I also know that comparing my life to others is pointless as nobody knows the reality of another’s experiences and feelings. I know this, but I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I am not good enough, and I don’t even know where to start to try and find some meaning and purpose for me in the way that I can.

I’ve just turned 40, but I really don’t think my feelings have anything to do with this. I think it is more to do with Minerva (my fifteen year old cat) dying in May. It doesn’t seem like that long since I brought her home as a nine week old kitten and now she is gone. Fifteen years of my life with her and now she isn’t with me anymore. Maybe much of what I’m feeling right now is my grief for her.

It’s also because there is a possibility that she could still be alive today. I took her to a vet last year who didn’t diagnose her kidney condition, and should have, and also prescribed Minerva with a medication that should not be given to cats with kidney problems. Minerva, if diagnosed then, might have been put on medication that could have helped her live a longer and healthier life. I feel like that is my fault. I didn’t research what was happening to her. I didn’t find out for myself what her symptoms could mean. I let her down. At least I feel like I did.
Ten years ago...

The tenth anniversary of when Kirby and I met is coming up in October. I think this has a great deal to do with how I am feeling as well.  There was so much excitement about our children. But, they’re not here. They’ll never be here.

Dreams coming true...
I don’t have a career and I don’t have children. What am I doing with my life? What is the point of it? I am so confused right now. I get up and I think about what I could do and then I feel like a car that starts, but then just keeps on stalling on the driveway. And even if I got onto the road – I have no idea what direction I would, could, or should drive in.

I am utterly and completely lost. Am I not moving because I don’t know what direction to take, or am I not acknowledging or taking the direction I know is for me because I am afraid?

I’m in a pit. But damn it if I’m going to stay here. I’m going to find footholds, no matter how tiny they are, and I’m going to reach for the love and hands of other people to help me climb out again. I don’t know when, but I have to hold onto the hope that it will happen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The curse of the boys…

Last week ended up being busier than I expected and I didn’t manage to fit in the extra blog entry I had hoped to write.

So, here it is now!

Our family has many more boys than girls. When my Mum was pregnant with me she never entertained the idea that I might be a girl as the chances were I wouldn’t be. My Grandmother on my Mum’s side had eight children with only two being girls, and my Grandmother on my Dad’s side had four boys and no girls. Mum and Dad were thrilled and stunned when the doctor told them they had a daughter.

My cousin and I share my Grandmother on my Mum’s side, and until the girls were born last week there were five boys amongst my cousin and his siblings.

So, again, there wasn’t a great deal of expectation that the twins would be girls. But, they are!

My cousin announced the birth of the girls on Facebook and the comments that followed were congratulatory and full of love for the entire family. But, there were a couple of comments that I found hard to read.

They were “Yay you broke the all boy curse!!!” and “yay not more boys”. I realize these comments were made in partial jest, but I still don’t see the need to write them for two reasons.

The comments were directed at me – however, it is difficult to hear people inferring that having more children of one particular gender is part of a curse. No baby, regardless of gender, is part of a curse. Every baby is an incredible miracle – regardless of whether that baby is the sixth boy in a family with no girls, or a baby brother for a first born girl.

I would have been incredibly happy to have children of any gender. They could have been girls and boys, all boys, or all girls. It wouldn’t have mattered to us. I wouldn’t have seen any of our children as part of a curse. They would have each been special regardless of gender and we would have treated them as individuals with their own personalities and interests. After all, children can be the same gender, but that doesn’t make them the same as each other.

This leads me to the second concern. I wonder how the second, third, fourth, etc. child who is the same gender as their older siblings feel s when they hear or read comments that infer that the birth of a younger sibling of the opposite gender is the end of a curse. Do they feel they were not good enough because they were just another boy or just another girl? Do they think they are not special and unique? Do they feel that they weren’t really wanted? How many boys or girls in one family does it take to form a curse?

This bothers me. No child should feel they are less valued because of their gender.

It doesn’t take much for a child to feel insecure – and these kinds of comments put a child’s security, self-esteem, and happiness at risk.

Perhaps I am being too sensitive in thinking other people should be more sensitive in what they write and say, but these are my thoughts and concerns and I believe they have value.

To end on a humorous note – one of my friends was pregnant a few years ago. She and her husband already had a daughter and some people they know asked my friend if she was hoping for a boy. She replied that she was actually hoping for an elephant…I love it! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

What happened to my baby?

My cousin and his wife welcomed two gorgeous little girls into the world this past week. I haven’t met them yet, and I am very much looking forward to lots of cuddles!

I often dream about our own baby or babies around the time that a friend or family member had a child. This week was no exception.

I dreamt I was holding my baby boy. He was about six weeks old and we were in a temple-like building. There were a lot of people there and I didn’t recognise any of them. A group of about six men were standing on a platform next to an altar. The best way to describe these men was that each of them was a mix of a monk, a druid, and a grim reaper. They were dressed in dark brown robes with hoods that covered their heads and faces. I knew they were very old.

A ceremony started in which I was to hand over my son to the men so that they could take him to their monastery (for want of a better word) to teach him their “ways”.

I felt I had no choice in giving up my son, until a grey haired old woman with plenty of wrinkles and age spots quietly glided up to me and whispered “run”.

As often happens with dreams my son and I were instantaneously in another place. It was a road that actually exists and links the town I grew up in to one of the neighbouring towns. I was running up the gravelled verge of the road and trying to wave down cars. I held my baby boy out to get people to see that he needed their help.

The men from the temple were following me, but they were gliding rather than walking. Their robes were so long that I couldn’t see their feet, but I knew their feet weren’t touching the ground. I was terrified.

As they drew closer a yellow car pulled up to help us. I’m not very good in identifying cars but it looked like a Buick from the 1970s but it had four doors instead of two. The back door opened. I couldn’t see any of the occupants, but I started to get in the car anyway. It was the only option my son and I had left. The men from the temple were extremely close to us now.

That is where the dream ended. I don’t know if we made it into the car or whether the men caught us. I don’t know who the occupants of the car were. Were they dangerous? Were they going to help us? Were they part of the monastery and actually deceiving me? Was I going to lose my son?

I woke up in a state of panic and unsure where I was for a moment. Then, like all dreams about our children, I was sad and my arms felt empty.

I’m still not completely sure what this dream means. It wasn’t a conglomeration of things that had happened in recent days or weeks – I certainly haven’t met any men recently that are a mix of druids, monks, and the grim reaper. I haven’t driven, let alone walked, the road between my home town and its neighbour.

The most obvious interpretation is that with the birth of my cousin’s daughters my mind is once again processing our loss and I still hold onto the wish that I could do something to keep my children from harm.

But I’m not sure that the dream is only about that. Lately I have been struggling with my work and my creativity. I have been wondering if writing is really what I want to do, and I’ve been close to giving it up and trying something else – something that might be easier. Is the baby perhaps a representation of my creativity?
I’m going to leave this entry here rather than ramble on about it. I will be reflecting on the dream some more, and will write about it again next week.

I would be very interested on any ideas you may have regarding what this dream could mean.

Later this week I want to write about another aspect of the birth of my cousin’s daughters.

So, til then…

Sunday, July 6, 2014

She keeps on growing…

“Slipping through my fingers all the time 

I try to capture every minute 
The feeling in it 
Slipping through my fingers all the time 

Do I really see what's in her mind 
Each time I think I'm close to knowing 
She keeps on growing 
Slipping through my fingers all the time 

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture 
And save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers all the time”

“Slipping Through My Fingers” - ABBA

I love this song. It provides a beautiful picture of a mother watching her daughter grow through the years – changing all the time. And it echoes just how quickly childhood goes, especially from the perspective of an adult watching a child grow.

If I had been blessed with a daughter I would have wanted, as much as I could, to teach her to be spiritually and physically strong, to be comfortable in her self and her skin, and to dare to follow her own path. I would have wanted to celebrate the milestones that come with passing from one stage of her life to another. One of the most important rites of passage that I would have liked to celebrate with her would have been her first cycle of menstruation.

Does that sound crazy? After all, a woman’s monthly periods can be annoying, painful, and can sometimes get in the way of life – such as stopping a woman from going swimming or wearing light coloured pants! What is there to celebrate?

There is much to celebrate. In many tribal cultures a woman’s first cycle is celebrated with rituals, with the gathering of women (mothers, grandmothers, aunts, female friends) to share advice, stories, and women’s wisdom. In the West we have lost that. The natural monthly cycle of a woman has been relegated to something that is annoying at best and abhorrent at worst – and definitely something to keep hidden away. I have even heard stories of girls believing they are dying when their first cycle began because they knew nothing about menstruation. It saddens me.

Obviously I don’t have a daughter and so I can’t organize a celebration for her with a group of women who are important to her. I can’t give her a gift from me to commemorate her change from a little girl to a young woman.

But, I do have many nieces, and one has recently started her menstrual cycle. I decided that I could do part of what I wanted to do for my own daughter for her. I wrote her a letter and I bought her a blue moonstone pendant.

Blue moonstone pendant
The pendant and photo is from Village Silversmith on Etsy

I chose the moonstone because there is an amazing connection between women and the moon that many people do not know about. The moon’s cycle, and most women’s cycles, are 28 days long. Many women will find that their period begins on or about the new moon or the full moon, and ovulation will occur on or about the new moon or the full moon. Unfortunately, because we use artificial lighting now, some women will find this is not true for them. There are “researchers” who deny that this link exists between women and the moon, but I don’t really care what their “research” says. I know it to be true for me and many others. And the ancient Greeks were onto it – the word menstruation comes from the Latin words menses (month) which comes from the Greek word mene, which means moon. So someone at some time realized there was a connection between women and the moon.

Well – now that I’ve explained all that I’ll get to the real meaning of this entry. I don’t have a daughter, and I can’t do the things that I hoped to do with her.  But I do have other children in my life that I can do these things, albeit adapted, with – such as giving the pendant to my niece and sharing some thoughts I have on menstruation.

I could give up and not do anything because I don’t have my own daughter, but I’d rather look at what I do have. I have so many opportunities to be in the lives of these precious children and to support them and share stories and wisdom (what I have thus far anyway) with them, and encourage them to share their stories and wisdom too. I’m very fortunate.

I just got a text from my niece thanking me for the pendant…she is my smart, wise, funny, and beautiful niece.

I don’t have a daughter, but I still feel the meaning of the song “Slipping through my fingers” when I think about my niece and the many other wonderful children in my life.

I’ll finish off with two more lines from the song…

“I'm glad whenever I can share her laughter 

That funny little girl.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Realization and my weasel…

The subconscious mind is powerful. It can bring up old feelings and pain without actually letting you know that this is what it is doing. You feel anxious, sad, unsure, and sometimes angry, but you don’t know why.

That is how I was feeling last week. All I wanted to do was run to get away from the feelings of inadequacy and pain that I was experiencing. I couldn’t picture how I could be happy.  And I didn’t know why. Life is good – I have a wonderful husband, I have the opportunity to follow my dreams of being a full-time writer, I have amazing friends and family, and I have just been to Thailand and fulfilled a dream.

Last week I felt quite pathetic. I had intended to experience life with more gratitude and simplicity, to remain inspired by what I experienced in Thailand, but last week I felt far from where I hoped I would be when I came home in May.

One of the dogs from BLES died in the last month, but I only just heard about his death this week. The news that the dog had died opened the way for the realization that my subconscious had been pushing something important up and I just wasn’t receptive to it. July is a wonderful month as it is the month in which Hugo was born. But, it is also the month of anniversaries of some losses. It is the month in which my beautiful Nan died three years ago and it is the month, six years ago, that we started IVF with the expectation that we would become parents. It’s true that no embryos were created from the first round of IVF, but with the cancellation of that cycle came the beginning of the death of hope that came more real with each cycle.

Anniversaries of deaths, in particular, bring with them memories and feelings about other losses that have happened as well. One of the most obvious is the loss of my cat, Minerva, just this past May. There is also the memory of my cousin who died in a motorcycle crash when I was eighteen and he was twenty one. 

There are other losses throughout my life, just like there are in everyone’s lives.

And, so, onto the weasel…

I have a weasel that turns mutant sometimes. Okay, not really, but I do have a part of me that when I am feeling melancholy and unsure seems to sense my weakness and rushes over to me to make sure I know just how useless and horrible I am. That is what was happening last week.

I felt fragile and with it came the thoughts of “you are stupid”, “you can’t do anything so why try?”, “anything you do will fail”, and the big one – “you can’t even have a child.” There was also one that relates to my concern that some treasured friendships seem to be falling away and I have no idea why.  Communication from their side has stopped. So, there were also the thoughts of “people don’t really like you”, and “you are not likeable – people just pretend to like you.”

I used to fight these feelings. I put all my effort into trying to overcome them, but all that happened was that the thoughts got stronger. There was no way I could defeat these kinds of torments and when I failed it just gave more ammunition for the thoughts that I am useless and no good.

I now have a strategy that I use where I imagine that there is a weasel in my mind. Normally it is well behaved and even useful, but every now and then it goes crazy and becomes a mutant that pours forth negative and unfounded judgments about me. If I try to make it go away completely it just gets more out of control. I have now given it an imaginary place where it gets a “time out” until it calms down. I imagine it as kind of a dog bed in the corner of the room.

This really does work for me. It’s like dealing with a child that is having a tantrum. I give it space, I don’t engage in its attempt to bring me down even though it keeps trying, and I ignore it until it calms down. Sometimes I even thank it after my thoughts return to being healthier.

Why would I thank this mutant weasel? Because sometimes it can be helpful. Telling me I am no good at anything is not a good thing, but helping me to recognize when I need to let go of something that I have tried and really have little talent for (and am even not enjoying) is beneficial. Saying people don’t really like me is something I don’t like, but helping me to think about whether I have done something that hurt someone can be a positive step in rescuing a friendship that is important to me.

Sometimes there is nothing positive that I can find in what the mutant weasel is saying. “You can’t even have a child” is one in particular. All I can say to the weasel then is “yep – that’s true…so what?”, or, even better, I ignore the weasel as it plays up in the corner.

While the weasel has its tantrum I get on with life.

With time the weasel calms down and stops the negative attacks. Then it returns to being a helpful and quite cuddly little creature.

I forgot about all of this last week. Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns now that I have remembered, but it is certainly better…and I am free to think of the people and animals that have come and gone in my life with love and tears and laughter, and sometimes anger, without feeling that I am no good.

And I am free to think through the concerns of last week without being overwhelmed by them, and I can move forward instead of being stuck.

Me and Nan on the last day I saw her