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, March 14, 2012

Wear a Star Day

I’ve often thought about ways that I could honour the memory of our babies – the two I lost in early miscarriage and the two that didn’t stay during IVF. There was nothing I could think of that seemed right. I thought about having a ceremony somewhere and inviting family and friends, but I’ve never got around to organising it and the more time that passes the less appealing that idea has become.
I even thought about getting a tattoo of two little hands holding one another, but again it just didn’t feel right. I don’t need something like a tattoo to remember them.

Still – the yearning for some way I could remember them remained.
One of my friends invited me to check out a Facebook page called “Wear a Star Day.” I had no idea what it was about and wasn’t that fussed about going to the page (I get a lot of suggestions for pages I should look at!), but I did and I was blown away.

The creators of this page have set aside the 12th April as “Wear a Star Day”, where people who have been affected by the loss of a child can wear a star to remember them. This means the loss of any child, from miscarriage to stillbirth to losing a child any time during their lives. The creators of the page were hoping for 10,000 people to sign up, but there are already 22,000 – this, to me, just shows how many people are affected by the loss of a child.

For me it is a way that I can remember and celebrate our babies once a year.
People can wear any type of star (necklace, earrings, brooch, sticker…) and I’ve chosen to wear a brooch that I’ve bought off of a website called Etsy.

I’ll finish with the comment I put on the “Wear a Start Day” page:

“Thank you for giving us a day where we can say they were here and they were loved.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Baby Shower

Last Sunday afternoon I found myself outside under our big gum tree being comforted by my dogs Ari and Odi. Ari had his head on my lap sighing every now and then and Odi was on the bench next to me snuggling as close as possible. I was sad.

Two of my favourite people in the world are having a baby in April and it was the baby shower. All of the other people there, bar one of my other beautiful friends, were pregnant, had children, or were children! I love baby showers – I love babies, I love seeing all the cute little outfits and toys, and I love joining in the celebration of the impending arrival.

But, it is really hard too. I see how beautiful my friend is carrying her child and how excited her Mum is and her husband, and her sweetheart little daughter, and I realise that will never experience that. I will never know what it is like to carry a child in my body – to feel it grow and move. I’ll never be the centre of a celebration like a baby shower.

I will never know what it is like to be pregnant. Okay, I was pregnant twice, but I lost them both very, very early. It is magical to me how a baby grows and develops from a microscopic thing into a human being in just nine months, and how that growth changes and shapes a woman’s body. I guess, in a way, it will always stay completely magical to me because I will never experience it.

I am really thankful that my friends include us in events like the baby shower, because they could easily not, given we don’t have children. But, our friends know how important they and their children are to us. We wouldn’t miss any of it – even if it is hard sometimes.

By the way - Ari and Odi did not look like their photos here when they gave me cuddles....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Moving house...

We’re moving house soon. Probably within the next two to three months. Sometimes I feel sad about it; even though I know that it will be a positive step for us.

The house we live in now was the house we planned to bring our babies home to. The front room decked out in blues and greens for them (because we wouldn’t have wanted to know what gender they were going to be before they were born). I can even picture what the room would have been like – what kind of cot we would have, what kind of frieze around the walls, what kind of light fitting. It was all sorted.
We just never counted on our babies not turning up.

So, we have decided that we will move to a new home – it will be a psychological shift for us in moving from a home we would have had children in to a home that will be ours as a couple.

In moving house, we will be making a new start. A fresh start. And sometimes that’s hard to acknowledge. Despite us being relatively okay with the fact that we won’t be having children, the pain of it never really completely goes away, and even after we move I don’t think it will disappear entirely. It’s like there is a hole in my heart that will never fully heal.

Moving to a new home will help – I won’t imagine every time I walk down the hallway of how I thought our babies would learn to walk up and down it. I won’t picture the cubby house we had planned to build in the back yard. I won’t walk into ‘their’ room and feel that emptiness.

Goodness! I’m starting to get teary!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Funeral

This week Kirby and I attended the funeral of my Aunty’s father. He was a lovely man – very kind and patient and full of good humour. The funeral was beautiful. Two of my cousins spoke and it brought tears to many an eye. I was really proud of them – they are strong and intelligent men and very much take after their Grandfather.

The chapel was full of people who loved my Aunty’s father – children, grandchildren, friends and extended family. It made me think – who will be at my funeral? I won’t have children and grandchildren to talk about me and how my life has influenced them. It made me feel sad. Will there be anyone to see me off? Will there be anyone to say I’ve been a positive influence on their lives and that they will miss me?

It was easy to sit back and do a bit of self-pitying, but then when I thought about it seriously I realised that there are children in my life and that they might very well be the ones who care about me and attend my funeral. What I need to do is to continue to care for them and to be an important part of their lives. My nieces and nephews are as close to my own children as I will get, but they will only care enough to be at my funeral if I give them all I can of me.

So, enough self-pitying for me and I need to get my butt into gear and show my babies how much I care for them. And I do. I love Hannah, Ella and Hugo. I also love Jessica, Amelia, Oscar, Oliver and all the other children who may not be related to me, but I would give anything to protect.

Perhaps this sounds like a bit of dreary post – talking about my own funeral – but really it makes me think about truly living. And I plan to be living for a long, long time yet. I want to be the crazy old cat lady at 70 or 80 dancing at my babies’ fiftieth birthdays…

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why, Oh Why?

Okay – so adding onto last week as promised. Last week I wrote that there are other reasons, other than the low chance of us becoming pregnant, that have made us decide not to try IVF again. And IVF is really the only way we could expect to get pregnant.

One of the reasons, in all honesty, is the money that it costs to do a round of IVF. It costs thousands of dollars. We could save up for it, but by the time we did I would be just that little bit older (closer to 40), and the risks to any baby we might conceive would have increased significantly. After 40 the risk of having a baby with Down Syndrome is one in 60 compared to one in 1500 at 25 years of age. The risk of complications in pregnancy is also significantly higher. There is a good website that explains it all, so I won’t go into it further here. http://www.babycenter.com.au/pregnancy/antenatalhealth/ageandpregnancy/.

This is something that we do need to take into account, and there is an additional risk to any baby we might conceive due to health issues that I have. I am currently on five different medications for blood pressure, depression and epilepsy. Epilepsy medication in particular has a significant risk of causing harm to a baby – basically I’ve been told not to get pregnant while on it as the risks are so high. I could go off of the medication while trying to get pregnant, but the risk epilepsy has on an unborn child is also significant – talk about a catch 22!

So these are extra reasons why we aren’t going to do another round of IVF – the cost, my age, and the risks of medications and/or conditions on an unborn child.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Feeling bad and being okay

here’s a book called ‘The Happiness Trap’ that my Mum has ordered and is about to read. I checked it out on Amazon and it seems to be about the myth that we have to be happy all the time. I couldn’t agree more that it is a myth, and I also agree that society repeats this myth to us far too often. One part of the book talks about fairy tales and how they always end in ‘happily ever after’.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve realised that I don’t have to be happy all the time, and I can feel like shit and still be okay. I can feel angry and still be okay. I can feel down and depressed and still be okay. I don’t have to put on a brave face if I don’t want to. I can have my heart torn apart and still I am okay.

The myth of being happy all the time, I believe, does far more damage than good. It puts a pressure on people (particularly when they are already under pressure) to be something that is just not always possible.

I’m not saying that thinking positively is not worthwhile in some cases, but sometimes it just doesn’t cut it. I can think positively all I want – it still doesn’t mean we will have a baby.

I went to a course on writing last year and a lot of it was really about self-help and the power of positive thinking. Their basic message was that with the power of the mind you can achieve anything you set your mind to. I don’t want to completely disregard this opinion, but it truly is not always the case. Think about all the people who are training hard and positively thinking about winning gold in the 100 metre swimming at the upcoming Olympics – clearly not all of them are going to win it, so it kind of blows the idea that positive thinking will get you where you want to be out of the water.

I don’t want to sound negative, and I do believe that positive thinking, along with being realistic, can get you a long way. For example, I am hoping to become a published writer, and I keep envisioning my book written and published and selling. I’m giving it the best shot that I can.

With regard to babies, however, while there is a minute chance that perhaps we could have one, we have come to the realisation that it won’t happen for us, and that it is okay for us to grieve about it.

I think I will leave it there and talk more about why we won’t be trying for a child again next week. There are more reasons than our chances being slim.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What If?

The other night I was lying on the couch watching telly when I had an overwhelming urge to tell Kirby that I wanted to try IVF again. It was completely out of the blue – and it felt desperate, like if we didn’t try again I couldn’t move forward in anything.

I pictured my abdomen getting larger over time, our baby when we first met it, watching the baby grow, take its first steps, speak its first words. Everything would be perfect. And, of course, the IVF cycle would work.

I sat with the feeling for a while – enjoying the possibilities of a child in our lives. I thought about Hugo having a cousin here in Australia (he doesn’t have any and we are his only option for having one – all of his cousins are in Africa). They could pretty much grow up together as they would only be about two years apart.

The feelings I was having – the desperation, the longing – soon began to fade a little, and reality drove its way straight into the lounge room. I had a bit of a cry and a hug from Kirby as I realised that it wasn’t going to happen. For many reasons it wasn’t going to happen – some of these being the cost of IVF now, the impact on my health of doing another round, and that time spent with our child would be time spent away from Hugo. This is aside from the fact that the chances of another cycle being successful were extremely low.

I guess I’m realising that the grief and longing never truly go away. That inner need to have a child will probably be there until I die. I will always wonder about it – about what could have been. But, then, isn’t that true of many things in life, both good and bad. I wonder whether we would have bought our house at all if we’d realised we weren’t going to have children, I wonder what my life would have been like if I’d studied environmental science, I wonder where I would be now if I hadn’t met Kirby.

I guess it’s the mind’s way of showing us what could have been, so we can see what is, and in a way the feelings and grief about not having children do make me see, eventually, what we do have. We have Hugo. I’m guessing by now you’re realising just how important he is to me and how much I love that little guy. I wouldn’t swap him for the world.