Monday, 16 January 2017

Reflecting on our days “in the infertility trenches”

When writing here, I sometimes reflect on what it was like when I was trying to conceive and carry a child, and I frequently (as I am sure, other No Kidding bloggers do this too) recognise myself in those who are still trying to conceive or resolve their infertility. This recognition, this hindsight - knowing now what I wished I had known then – causes me to reflect, to think about what would have helped, and to be – at times – brutally honest about my emotions and thoughts at the time.

I don’t believe that, in reflecting on and analysing our own feelings and experiences, there is any actual or intended judgement of the actively infertile, but I do understand that our thoughts and discussions (in blog posts and comment threads) can at times feel judgemental to those who are still stressed and emotional, still vulnerable and fearful, who feel perhaps that their choices are under attack, even though many or most of us made those same choices, and trod the same path.

Yet I firmly believe that we make these comments as a recognition of ourselves, of what we didn’t and indeed couldn’t understand at the time, and from the benefit of knowledge and experience and hindsight and time. I think that we look at these issues in an effort to understand not only ourselves, but often also the commercial and societal environments in which we are living, and in an effort to improve the environment or to ease the process for those who come after us.

Saying, for example, that it is possible to be scared or stuck on the treadmill or immersed in grief (as examples of words I have used) is not an insult, although it can be and has been taken as such, just as recognising societal pressures or problems in the fertility industry is a systemic discussion and indictment of structural and societal issues, not of the patients who, of necessity, use the industry’s services.

My intention at least is that when I think of those still on their infertility journey, I do so with love and empathy, having been there myself, knowing how hard it can be, understanding the pain they are going through right now, the pressure, the doubts, the fear, and that I write with the hope that their paths might be eased as a result of our discussions, our reflections, and our sometimes unwelcome honesty.

But I wonder, how successful do you think I am, and perhaps the No Kidding blogging community is as a whole, in remembering where we have been?

Monday, 9 January 2017

Swimming between the currents

Many years ago, a Thai friend gave me a copy of The Miracle of Being Awake, by Thich Nhat Hanh, which is about mindfulness, before the concept of mindfulness entered popular culture, and I have always carried a number of concepts from this book with me.

One, which I particularly love, is the idea that we should nourish and celebrate the differences between cultures, making these differences simply part of our experiences in the world. There is no bridge between cultures that we must cross - rather, we become like fish who swim between currents, moving into and out of different cultures with ease.

Today, as I picked up the book looking for some words that might explain how I feel we can embrace our lives without children, I realised of course that this analogy works perfectly in the No Kidding culture too, and also, of course, for those residing in Parentland. None of us have to be in just one group, feeling isolated and rejected from the other, feeling we have to prove ourselves as worthy. We can simply swim between these groups, appreciating the differences and laughing in the good times, supporting and being supported in the bad. We may find succour more in one culture than another, especially at first, but we can find joy in them all. We can nourish the differences between us, recognising that while we experience things differently, we are still part of one, overall, experience of life.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Inspiration and expectations

For my first blog of 2017, I thought I'd share some words from a TV series I watched recently, finally, after recording it some months ago. The series was a dramatisation of the life of Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Everest, who then gave so much back to the people of Nepal by building schools and hospitals. He lost his wife and daughter in a plane crash in Nepal, and grieved deeply. I don't know if the words his character said were his own, or were dreamed up by the screenwriter, and I can't remember them perfectly, but they touched me nonetheless.

"I have been a lucky man," he said, as he came out of his grief and started looking to the future again. "I've achieved my dreams, and we don't expect* that to happen to many men (sic)."

Stretching for our dreams is a good thing, of course, as Sir Ed would 100% agree. But assuming we will achieve them, or on a lesser scale, simply assuming we will always get what we want, can set us up for difficulty and failure. Recovery when we feel cheated or denied is difficult. But I think that appreciating what we have, even after awful grief and loss, helps us move on.

* or something along those lines

Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016: Looking back on the blog

Life - and let’s face it, death – got in the way of blogging a bit this year. I’m very aware that my plan to get in guest posters from my ectopic days foundered almost from the outset, but I fully intend to get that going again this year. I’m also aware that my “Gifts of Infertility” series has languished for over a year now, but there are still a couple more I want to write. I don’t have any urge to shut down the blog, or to stop thinking or writing about living a no kidding life, but everything slowed this year, including commenting, and I’m neither pleased nor proud of that.

So rather than set specific resolutions requiring improved performance next year, which is just asking for failure, I thought I’d share some of my favourite posts I wrote this year.

There were a few short posts, just reminding us to look for joy, and to trust in ourselves.

I wrote a series about the idea that “you can achieve anything you put your mind to it.” These were some of my best posts, and were an important part of the message I wanted to give this year, especially the message at the very end of the series - that we too have privilege.

This is of course a nod to Mel who used to run the Crème de la Crème, where we would list our favourite post of the year, and always provided inspiring reading. So even though it doesn’t happen officially now, I hope that you too will list your favourite posts from your own blogs, on your blogs. 

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

A grateful Microblog Monday

As I noted on A Separate Life, yesterday I completely forgot about Microblog Monday, and so I sit here at my computer feeling a degree of urgency, and yet with a blank screen in front of me, and a blank mind behind my glasses!

Yet it occurs to me that there are things to be grateful for, and that’s very true.

  • I’m grateful that our Christmas Day passed peacefully, doing the right thing for my in-laws
  • I’m grateful that I didn’t have to cook, and so I wasn’t stressed or harried
  • I’m grateful that the weather was fine, and that we could see people at the beach, swimming and paddle-boarding, enjoying their Christmas Day in Wellington; it made me smile
  • I’m grateful that at the lunch, I met an inspiring woman of 93 who is still active in the community (she’s always been a local figure), spending her day helping people and visiting friends, with a unique ability to find something special in each person she met
  • I’m grateful that – even though this Christmas Day I was the youngest there (!! I know !!)  - I no longer feel trepidation about gatherings with lots of children, although the doting parents, depending on whether their demeanour is smug or harried, are sometimes another issue.
  • I’m grateful that a New Year is just around the corner, and we don’t know what that will hold, but for sure there will be some good things and some bad, but that’s okay, that’s just life.