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.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The garden…

There has been a lot of progress in our garden since I last wrote about it in the entry of 4th March 2014. The baby plants have grown steadily, the creek beds are finished on both sides of the drive way, and we finally have mulch!

It has been a stop and start process, but I am really pleased with the oasis that we have created in our front yard.

The last time I wrote about the garden I had just put in the plants – a wattle, a knobby club rush, a black anther lily, and a pig face. They were tiny, as you can see by the photos below. I was quite harsh on them. We had a week or so of hot weather (around 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit)), but I didn’t let that deter me from strengthening up the plants. I watered them three times a week for about two weeks and then they were on their own. And they thrived! All of the plants are indigenous to our area and so they are perfectly suited to growing on their own with little assistance from us.

I ordered the mulch about a fortnight ago. When I ordered mulch for our front yard at our old house, before we sold it, I made a mistake and ordered enough for three gardens…so this time I gave the dimensions to the supplier and asked them how much we needed. Two metres cubed of mulch was delivered to us on a Thursday afternoon. I had ordered forest mulch instead of bark chips as I want our front yard to be as natural as possible. The first thing I noticed when I went out to greet the delivery person was how much the mulch stunk. I thought I had made a big mistake.

Not to worry though – the smell was due to the mulch being compacted and in the sun when stored at the garden centre. The smell went away once the mulch was placed over the garden.

I set about mulching on the morning following delivery. I thought I would get it all done by lunchtime and then I could do other things in the afternoon (like take a long bath with Epsom salts in it!). I have a tendency to underestimate how long things will take. I started at 9.30am and finally finished at 4.30pm…

Laying newspaper under the mulch took the most time. Newspaper is brilliant at stopping weeds growing, and along with the mulch I do not envisage much weeding in the front yard in the near future. Yay!

It was quite an enjoyable day. It’s nice to get out in the sunshine and do some physical work when most days I sit inside writing or editing. Our neighbours were having pavers laid on the same day, and mid-morning I wanted coffee so I offered them a tea or coffee too. They didn’t want to be a bother, but I was putting the kettle on anyway, so they accepted. One of the men is from Vietnam and the other is from Afghanistan. The man from Afghanistan was hesitant to tell me where he was from when I asked. I find this very sad as it is very likely his caution comes from negative experiences he has had here. To me, he is a person, but I know there would be people who would immediately assume because he is Muslim and from Afghanistan he must be a terrorist. It’s ridiculous. I said how sorry I am about what is happening in Afghanistan. He said that most of the people want peace, but there are men who like to fight and he doesn’t understand it.

Later on, when the man from Afghanistan was having a break, he came over to our yard and offered to help me for a while. I had no expectation or even thought that I would get help from him, so it was a pleasant surprise. I have only recently learnt to accept help from others and realised that I don’t have to do everything by myself. It has been a tough lesson because it has meant letting go of the need to try and control everything and also letting go of the belief that I have to do everything on my own to prove that I am good enough. So, I accepted his help. I laid the paper and he brought wheelbarrows full of mulch to the sections of the yard I was working in.

It was a lovely time of neighbour helping neighbour and neighbour sharing with neighbour.

So, the garden is looking great, if I do say so myself. Have a look at the photos below which show the changes from August last year to March this year to now. We have created a place for life from the dreariness that our front yard once was.

I can’t wait to go to the nursery and buy more plants this weekend. Yay!

The creek bed August 2013, March 2014, and August 2014

The side creek bed and ponds August 2013 and August 2014

The front yard August 2013, March 2014, and August 2014

At one stage I thought we would lose the Black Anther Lily, after planting it in March, but it is a determined little plant

The Knobby Club Rush was barely visible in March, but now it is a healthy grass and has tiny flowers on it

The Pig Face has grown from a spread of just a few centimeters to more than one meter since March

The Wattle now almost covers the stick that dwarfed it in March. I can't wait til it flowers...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Puppy love...

Time really does pass by quickly! I thought I’d only missed a week of blog entries, but it seems it’s getting close to three weeks…whoops!

The truth is that I haven’t been feeling well lately in terms of mental and physical health. Struggling is a word that comes to mind. I won’t go into all of it as the blog entry “Where I am…” on the 28th of July says it all. The feelings and thoughts I wrote about in that entry became more intense in early August and I’ve been to see a psychologist who has helped me immensely. I do want to share with you my revelations and the changes in my thinking…but not today…
Today I want to write about a little puppy who has kind of broken my heart this week.

Three good boys...Odi, Ari, and Charlie
We have been looking after my sister-in-law’s puppy, Charlie, for the past ten nights. Charlie is ten months old, extremely wriggly, and very, very cheeky. Our dogs, Ari and Odi, adore him. Our cats, Felix and Frankie, on the other hand, aren’t so impressed with Charlie being in the house. Frankie taught Charlie all about claws when he got too close to her. Luckily Charlie is smart and went out of his way to avoid her from then on.

As the nights passed I realised that I was regularly counting how many more nights Charlie was staying. It was six nights, now five, now only four. It was going way too quickly. I didn’t want to give Charlie back. It wasn’t “Oh, Charlie is so cute – I want to keep him” in a joking way. I couldn’t even think about giving him back. I didn’t want to and I feared my heart would break if we did. I tried to think of ways that we might be able to keep him, while knowing all along that it wasn’t an option.

Even the thought of Charlie not being here with us made me cry.

I couldn’t understand why I felt so passionate about keeping him and so desolate at the thought of Charlie going home. It wasn’t like we would never see him again and we had our four fur-kids to look after and love.

It was in the psychologist’s office, after she had asked me why I was feeling sad, that I had a revelation.  I burst into tears and said that I didn’t want to give Charlie back because it made me think of Minerva and losing her (see blog entry "Sweet Dreams..."). I miss her so much and giving Charlie back, while not the same as Minerva dying, brought up intense feelings of loss.

Charlie in his bed...
Then there was the realisation about how nice it was to have a baby in the house. Okay, I know Charlie is a dog, but he is also a puppy. He needed to be comforted more than Ari and Odi (who are seven and eight respectively) and he wanted to come inside and go to his bed to have naps. Charlie has a bed that has zippered flaps to keep him in, but he’s managed to chew a hole through the front flap. As such we put the front of the bed to the wall and put him in his bed using the flap at the top of the bed. 

When I picked Charlie up and put him in his bed it felt like I was placing a baby in its cradle.

So, Charlie filled some of the missing pieces in my heart from losing Minerva and wanting a baby. It was comforting and I didn’t want it to end. I feared that the feelings of sadness, loss, and even the anger, associated with these two losses would rise again.

It seems we never truly “get over” any loss that we experience and that grief can return, even if only slightly, with every loss that occurs in the future. And this loss might be as simple as having to give a puppy back to his owners after ten nights of caring for him.

Charlie's close up...
Charlie went home last night. I miss him so much, and Ari is very lost without his little minion, but it was heart-warming to see Charlie so excited to see his (human) mummy and (human) brother after so long. It was as it should be to take Charlie home.

And now I know that my grief about Minerva and my grief about not having a baby linger still.