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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.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Minerva...

I haven’t written a blog entry for almost two weeks. My heart, soul, and mind have been inundated with sorrow and confusion.

Helping in the garden...
Just a month ago my cat, Minerva, would chase me down the hall, carry her blue mouse toy to me so that I would play with her, had an excellent appetite, followed me everywhere, helped me with the gardening, and loved to play hide and seek.

Just on two weeks ago I noticed a difference in her. She was vomiting up some funny clear foamy liquid. She seemed more tired than usual, and she wasn’t eating much. I took her to the vet who did tests which showed that her kidneys are not working very well at all. I was given tablets to lower her blood pressure so that her kidneys would be able to work better and I have changed her diet to include less protein and more wet food than dry.

About a week ago her breathing seemed to be more of an effort for her. It was labored and when she took in a breath her head actually wobbled. Kirby and I took her back to the vet and he did more tests and found that her heart wasn’t working as well as it should and fluid had built up around her heart and lungs. We were given another lot of medication to remove the fluid from around her lungs and help her to breathe easier.

She can have the new medication mixed with food that she likes which makes it easier, except her appetite is very low. She isn’t even interested in her once favorite food – yoghurt. So, we have to wrap her in a towel and administer it to her using a syringe into mouth. She hates it and cries and scratches. It breaks my heart and I can’t help but cry every time I do it – which is two times a day. We have to keep going though, because she may improve and her appetite may come back – we just don’t know at this stage and all we have is hope.

She had to be in our wedding photos too...
The weirdest part of all of this is that last year I had a premonition that Minerva was going to die while I was on my trip to Thailand. I leave for Thailand in a few weeks. At first, when Minerva became sick and I thought about the premonition, I believed she would definitely die while I was away, but I think about it differently now. Perhaps the premonition put me on alert, more than I might have been, to changes in her health, and now that we have her on medications she might improve and live longer.

I hope so.

Kirby and I have talked about what he will do if Minerva gets very sick while I am away and needs to be euthanized. One of the things we have agreed on is that he will not tell me should Minerva be euthanized until I return home from Thailand. The other thing is that we don’t want her to suffer. I have read of people whose cats have renal conditions and they need to have injections every day to prevent dehydration. I couldn’t do that to Minerva as she would be too stressed every time. If it came to that point then it would be time to let her go. It would also be time to let her go if she became very underweight, couldn’t control her bowels and bladder, couldn’t walk properly, or was in pain. Our vet is wonderful and we would discuss all of this with him and/or his staff as well.

I am so confused – one minute I have so much hope and the next minute I am full of fear and despair. I guess I am in a bit of shock as she has never had any health issues before and she has become sick so quickly.

I feel angry that she is sick now, when I am not going to be with her for a fortnight. I even feel angry at her sometimes. That seems cruel I guess, to be angry at her, but I’ve realized that this is part of grief. I am grieving even though she is still here. I am grieving the loss of her playing, her constant companionship, and her bundles of energy. I have tried to bargain that if she is to die that she doesn’t die while I am away, but when I am back and that she dies in her sleep lying next to me at night.
At nine weeks of age...

She might not die while I am away, but the chances of her dying in her sleep next to me, I know, are not great. Being a cat, she is hiding herself away – which they usually do when they are ill and when they are close to dying.

Minerva is fifteen years old and she has been my companion through the end of a five year relationship fourteen years ago, episodes of depression, meeting Kirby, our wedding, moving house four times, going through IVF, and grieving for our children. For two years it was Minerva and me against the world when I had my apartment before meeting Kirby.


My gorgeous girl...
She is my friend, my gorgeous girl, my Minerva Mouse. She is my fur baby. I am going to miss her more than I can put into words. 

How long have we got?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Remembering dates…

Last week I was berating myself because I realized I had mixed up the dates of my three IVF cycles and the due dates of the babies from those cycles if they had been born.

I didn’t think that we had worked out when our baby would be due for the first cycle because the cycle was cancelled. I figured out that the baby from the second cycle would have been due on, or around, the 8th of April (our wedding anniversary), and that the baby from the last cycle would have been due on, or around, the 14th of September (my Dad’s birthday).

I was certain about those dates, especially over the past few years. I remembered and even celebrated my children based on those dates. We have photos the two embryos that we created and I had one close by me on the 8th of April and the other on the 14th of September.  I reflected on what ages our children would be and what they might be like.

I recently obtained my clinical records from when we did IVF. They were rather confusing to read, but what was clear were the dates of the cycles we did, and they differed from my recollections.

The baby from the first cycle, had the cycle not been cancelled, would have been due around the 8th of April. The baby from the second cycle would have been due on or around the 5th of June. I did have the date of the final round of IVF correct and the baby would have been due around my Dad’s birthday.

I was upset at myself last week, but I am not anymore for the following reasons.

Going through IVF is incredibly stressful. It consumes your life. Everything is put into trying to have a baby. There are injections and medications to keep up with, regular appointments with doctors and nurses, and everything has to fit in amongst keeping a regular life. There are massive fluctuations in hormones that are a side effect of the medications. Wave upon wave of emotions such as hope, despair, anger, and excitement can flatten or elate you. It is one of the hardest experiences we have ever gone through. Is it any wonder I might have mixed up the dates? I didn’t have any records until recently and had to rely on my memory. I hadn’t kept a journal for the entire experience as I initially thought I would. At times, when we were doing IVF, I didn’t know what day it was or what I was doing or even how I was feeling.  Much of the time was just a confusing blur.

I can’t berate myself for mixing up the dates during the most stressful time I have had in my life. It is not fair on me to do so.

To me intention is important. If someone says or does something that upsets me or I don’t agree with I will consider what their intention was. If their intention was good hearted then I focus on that rather than the words said or the actions taken. Of course, this is always to a point and sometimes I will let the person concerned know if I am hurt by their words or actions, but mostly I let it go.

My intention has always been to remember our children. I don’t want them to fade away to nothing, but to stay in my memory. I got the dates wrong, but my intention was based on my love for my children. I can’t berate myself for that. I remember them regularly and I have had specific dates during the year that I take extra time to reflect on them and wear my star of remembrance. My kids know that I love them.

Now I know the actual dates of our IVF cycles I can change the dates during the year that I especially reflect upon my children. If there had been a baby created from the first cycle of IVF it would have been due on the 8th of April, but there was not even a spark of life created. This date has returned to being our wedding anniversary only.

I now have the 5th of June to reflect on our second cycle and the embryo that was created then. And, the 14th of September remains as the day for reflection for the embryo from the third cycle.

I have changed the dates, my children know I have kept on loving them and will always love them, and there is no need, and never was, any reason to berate myself. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wear a Star Day – after thinking for a day…

After yesterday’s blog entry I did a lot of thinking about “Wear a Star” day and how it seems not to include infertility anymore.

Before I wrote the blog entry I put a message on the “Wear a Star” Facebook page asking why changes were made to the day to become more religion based and to no longer include infertility. I received a response from a woman, which was:

“Don't feel excluded... Wear a Star for any little angel baby you want to represent  And its not about "religion" its just about loving people the way Jesus did... unconditionally and whole heartedly  So WEAR a STAR proudly because ALL are WELCOME!!!”

I really appreciate this comment. My fear, as often comes along, is that my loss of my babies is considered unimportant in relation to people who have had miscarriages or lost a child after birth. The loss of my babies is different to losses through miscarriage or the death of a child, but it is my pain. The comment by this woman has brought me back to realizing that other people do understand that I grieve for my children.

And with regard to mentioning Jesus – I do believe that Jesus was one incredible person with a deep heart and soul, and with a true understanding of love. So, to love like Jesus did doesn’t have to be religious – it just means to strive to care for one another and show compassion. I like that.

I’ve also realized that it is up to me and to Kirby how we remember and love our children. They are our stars when the night is dark. They shine for us.

So, tomorrow I will wear the star for my babies with love for them, with compassion for everyone who has lost children, and to honour all the babies and children who were taken too soon.

Wear a Star Day 2014...

I am feeling quite hurt and angry just at the moment.

I first wrote about “Wear a Star” day over two years ago. I was so thrilled to find a movement which I could be a part of that would give me a way to honour our babies. The day was for people who had lost children, including, I thought, people who were unable to have children.

I bought a beautiful, antique brooch especially for “Wear a Star” day on the 12th of April that year, 2012. I also wore the brooch the following year, and up until today I had every intention of wearing it this coming Saturday. This post was going to be about "Wear a Star" day and how important it was to me.

My star brooch
I just looked at the Facebook page for “Wear a Star” and I noticed that there was no mention of people who are unable to have children and it is also run by a Christian organization – The R Project. I don’t recall any religious organization being involved in the first “Wear a Star” day, although I might have just missed it in the details. The wording on the Facebook page and the website of “The R Project” is certainly more religious based.

I am sitting here feeling really unsure and confused. I am not overly religious and I don’t hold the same beliefs as the organization behind “Wear a Star” day and that they promote as important to “Wear a Star” day. Therefore, how can I be a part of the day now?

Also, my children only got to the point of being a “bunch of cells” (I hate writing that), but they were the closest I ever got to my children. I was never clinically pregnant, but when I saw those little beings flickering with life on the screen at the IVF clinic, just  before they were transferred into me, I fell in love. Whatever they were to be was already there – hair colour, eye colour, gender, tendencies toward certain interests and hobbies. Would they be messy like me? Would they love computers like Kirby? They were real – they existed.

But they are now no longer worthy of being remembered on “Wear a Star” day. 

That really hurts. I have to think about all of this…

Monday, April 7, 2014

Anniversaries...

Eight years ago I was having a breakfast of croissants, juice, and coffee with my Mum and Dad and three of my closest friends at the old house Kirby and I used to own. After our breakfast we were going to the hairdresser where my friends and I would have our hair and make-up done.

After that we would come back home and I would put on my beautiful white dress which reminded me of autumn, and my friends would put on their stunning pale green dresses.

Dad and I would then get into a 1957 Bentley and my friends would get into a Royal Daimler Limousine which would take us to the Adelaide Town Hall where Kirby and I would be married in front of our family and friends.



I can’t believe it has been eight years already, but at the same time when I think of everything that has happened it couldn’t possibly be less than eight years because there wouldn’t have been time for it all.

Our anniversary is always a strange kind of day. A celebration mixed with tinges of wistfulness. I love Kirby so much and the 8th of April is a celebration of that love and the day that we committed to each other for exactly who we were and who we were to become. But there are two shades of wistfulness that come about as well, and one of them I’ve only realized exists in the past year or two.

The most obvious source of wistfulness is that if we had been successful with our very first round of IVF our baby would have been due on about the 8th of April 2009. We did not get to the stage of egg collection and there was no embryo transfer, but nevertheless I think about the “what if”. It would have been awesome to be celebrating the fifth birthday of our child as we celebrate the eighth anniversary of our marriage.

The other font of wistfulness, which I have only realized in the past few years, is that our anniversary is cause to look back at a time when we were certain about what our lives would be like today.

We were sure that by now we would have children, that we would still be in our old house and have renovated it, and that we would both have satisfying careers (I thought at the time that I could be working in human resources) which would also give us a work/life balance for our kids. We saw family holidays, children’s birthday parties, kindergarten, mess, finger paintings on the fridge, little tiny beds and teddy bears, and toys everywhere.

Sometimes I think we were very na├»ve when we got married, but we weren’t really. There was no reason for us to think that we wouldn’t have children. We actually still have no reason as to why we couldn’t have children. We assumed that it would happen, just like it had for so many couples we knew.

We really had a fairy tale romance during those first two years. After so much time searching we had found each other. We bought a house together within three months, were engaged two months after that, and we were married within eighteen months of meeting each other. Our families got along so well, and I felt I belonged with Kirby’s friends immediately, as did he with mine.

Why would we even dream, when everything was so amazing and we knew we were soul mates, that we wouldn’t be able to have children?

Yet, here we are. Eight years later and we don’t have the children and the life we thought we would have.
We are happy with our lot. We have an honest, trusting, and loving relationship. We have wonderfully supportive family and friends. We have new dreams and plans. We have our crazy fur and fin kids. We have our nephews and nieces. We have our friends’ children. We have a lovely home, live in a beautiful area, and we have food on the table. Life, compared with those of so many, is good.

Still, I think it is okay to feel happy for our anniversary and wistful for our children every year on the 8th of April.

I will be writing two more blog entries this week as there are two other topics I want to talk about. One will be about dates and the other will be about stars.

Before I end this blog entry I want to share something beautiful that happened in this past week. My friend was over with her three year old daughter. Out of nowhere the little girl threw her arms around my neck and said “I love you”. This is what makes life good.