Welcome

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.

Monday, December 7, 2015

His favourite food...

This is a conversation that my five year old nephew and I had a few weeks back when we were at a restaurant and I had ordered a vegetarian pizza. I love this little guy – and I’ll bet you can guess what his favourite food is!

Him: Aunty Kate – so you’re a vegetarian?

Me: Yes I am.
Him: Why are you a vegetarian?

Me: Because I’m healthier when I eat vegetarian food.

Him: Oh. You’re healthier. And is that the only reason?

Me: I also like vegetarian food.

Him: Hmmm….I find it hard to believe that you only eat vegetarian food.

Me: Well – I do.

Him: Well – lucky there’s vegetarian sausages then!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mirena and me...

Before I really start this entry I want to make it very clear that what I am writing applies to me only. In no way is this medical advice or suggesting that what happened to me will happen to everyone. Talk to your doctor about your situation and what is right for you.

Okay – now that’s out of the way!

A few months ago I wrote about how I have extremely heavy periods to the point of being borderline anaemic, and that I was going to try the Mirena (a new wave IUD) (you can read that entry here). Just over three weeks ago I had it put in and initially it was great. No bleeding, no pain (except when it was put in), and I was positive it was going to work for me.

Well – not so much.

 A few days later I started having slight mood swings – I would go from being happy to weeping for no reason that I could identify. It wasn’t nice, but I thought it was just an adjustment to the Mirena and would pass.

But, it didn’t. It got worse. I went from happy to weeping to happy to weeping. I didn’t know what was going on, but I was still determined to keep going with it until my review with my doctor just before Christmas.

But, then... Okay some back story first. I first got depression when I was 22 years of age (so almost 20 years ago). It started soon after a client at my work thought it might be a good idea to stab me when I went on a home visit and I had to fight them off. I ended up leaving that job, but depression came along with me.

Over the first ten years or so I tried many natural therapies and counselling and so on to try and overcome the depression – but, despite people trying to convince me otherwise, mine is a chemical imbalance and I have to be on medication. It took me a long time to accept this and only then was I able to work with my psychiatrist to find a medication regime that really suits me.

Until we found that regime I regularly had an episode of depression (perhaps two to three a year which lasted a month or more at a time). I would be in a black hole where I had no energy, I had no decision making ability (I would wear the same clothes day after day, eat only bread, and stare at the TV unable to change the channel because my brain just didn’t work properly).

Believe it or not – it was the in-between times that were often the hardest; those times when I was sinking into depression and I didn’t want to believe that I could possibly be having yet another episode.

This is still hard to reveal to people, but I did do self-harm. When I first became sick I attempted to take my own life (through overdose) and it was a rose that saved me. I took tablets, then looked out the window and saw the sun shining on a rose – and I realised I didn’t want to never see such a vision again – and I called for help. I also scratched myself on my thighs to the point that I bled, and there are scars where I did so.

Well – I haven’t had an episode for almost four years and I haven’t done self-harm in that time either. My life has been really good – I’ve learnt that I don’t have to be happy all the time and that I don’t have to fight all the so-called negative feelings. I used to be scared that any sadness or anger meant I was getting depressed – but I now realise that they are normal part of the spectrum of emotions (at least most of the time). I can sit with these feelings and not fight them, and I think this has helped, as trying to fight them was exhausting and I believe contributed to my depression.

Okay – back story finished.

Last week I was flipping backwards and forwards between being fine and weeping. I even cried when I was leaving to go to the shops and had to leave my pets – I felt like my heart was breaking. Then, mid last week I went into the bathroom feeling so sad, I picked up some tweezers, and ran them across my thigh. It was only a light scratch, but it shocked me so much. I called Kirby and told him straight away and then told my Mum as well. It was clear that the Mirena was messing with me.

Last Monday I went to my doctor and told her what happened. She immediately said that the Mirena was coming out and that it was going to come out straight away. I was so relieved – especially because she validated that it was the Mirena and I wasn’t going crazy.

The first day after it came out wasn’t easy as I still felt emotional, but now I feel like my usual self again, much to the delight of Kirby, my parents, my parents-in-law, and my dogs and cats too (and of course me!)

Now what is quite confronting is that the options available to me now are going to be much more invasive and more permanent. From what I understand, the options are a uterine ablation (where the lining of my uterus will be destroyed) or a hysterectomy.

I admit – I’m anxious. I have no idea which one the gynaecologist will recommend and which option I will take up.

But, I’ll know soon enough. I have an appointment with a gynaecologist two weeks today and with the one I hoped to see (as she specialises in peri-menopause and all the fun things associated with it).

Well – I think I’ve rambled on enough for today. I’ll certainly let you know how the appointment goes, and in particular how I’m feeling about it all, after my visit to the gynaecologist on the 17th.

Adieu till next time! And, are you ever going to laugh at my next entry!

Monday, November 23, 2015

New fish babies…

The sadness continued after my last entry as on the following weekend the last of the four babies I bought in recent months, Clancy, died. This left little Angel alone and quite despondent. I know that fish used to be thought of as quite brainless – but research is showing that they do have emotions and form types of friendships with other fish.

So, poor little Angel (who is normally quite outgoing) was hiding behind the rock in the pond, barely eating, and not coming out to see me when I called to him.

I couldn’t leave him all on his own and so I cleaned the pond thoroughly to make sure there were no remnants of whatever it was that made Clancy, Dickon, Ned, and Loki so sick – this even included wiping over the water snails so that there was as little algae as possible on them. Kirby and I then went to a pet shop (NOT the one I went to before!) to get three new babies.

I couldn’t decide between three different types, so I got one of each – an orange comet, a yellow comet, and a calico fantail.  After the staff member put the three fish into a bag for me to take them home I asked her if the fish all spoke the same language – you know, because they are different types. It took a moment for her to realise I was joking!

The babies have settled into the pond nicely. As soon as I put the bag in the pond Angel was out from hiding, doing crazy swims around the pond, coming up and looking through the plastic bag at the newcomers, doing another crazy swim, then peeking into the bag again, and so forth. Needless to say he is a happy little fish now with his new friends.

I named the yellow fish Uthai (which is Thai for rising sun), the calico fish Dana (which is Irish Gaelic for cheeky – which suits her well), and the orange fish Jupiter – just because it’s a cool name.

I won’t forget the other fish I had – and these new fish don’t replace them in my heart – I still love Clancy, Ned, Dickon, and Loki. But, there isn’t a quota on the love we can feel and so I can easily love my new babies as well as, and not instead of.

Beautiful Clancy

From top to bottom - Dana, Uthai, Angel, and Jupiter

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sadness...

I haven’t written a blog entry in the past few weeks as I have been too tired and too sad to do so.

It began about a month ago with the death of one of the four baby fish I bought to add to my small pond. I only had Ned for about a week and he just didn’t do well and eventually passed away. This was soon followed by the death of Loki (another baby) late last month due to mouth rot, and then Dickon, Saturday week ago, from rot around his tail. I tried everything I could to save them – putting them in a separating tank in the pond, antibiotics, water changes…nothing worked.

Then, on the 26th October the gorgeous Naamfon, an elephant who arrived after I went to Boon Lott’sElephant Sanctuary in May 2014 and who I was looking forward to meeting, died.

Then last week, it was 23 years on the 4th November since my cousin Ben died in a motor cycle accident. He was only 21 years old, and the older I get the more I realise just how young he was.

Also on the 4th November I found out about the further tragedies that had befallen BLES the day before. The beautiful bull, Somai, had died, and three of the dogs, Peanut Butter, Marmite, and Hugh (all of whom I spent many happy hours with at BLES) had been poisoned and had died as well – all on the same day.

Then, on the 5th November I found my beautiful fish, Harriet, ill in the big pond. Harriet was about eight years old, but always a little delicate thing. She died on Friday morning.

On Saturday, after I buried Harriet wrapped in a tissue, with a bit of plant from the pond, and two bits of food to take with her, I wept and I felt so empty.

So much loss. It was, and is, still so much to take in. I expect to see my babies in their ponds swimming happily along and coming up to me looking for food. I never imagined going back to BLES and not having Marmite, Peanut Butter, and Hugh escorting me around the place and coming on walks with the elephants. I never pictured Somai not walking sedately and regally along the track with his beloved mahout Phi Sot. And I always expected to meet Naamfon.

I’m sorry – I can’t write anymore just at the moment…my heart is broken.




Tuesday, October 20, 2015

No, no, no – and just - NO…

This week I came across two blogs by mothers who have children. Each mother has written an entry on other options available to those who can’t have kids – such as adoption, fostering, IVF, babysitting, and even becoming a primary school teacher.

I’m sure they are well-intentioned, but, no. No. NO!!!

Having someone who has had kids tell us how it’s not all that bad because there are other ways to “have kids” in our lives is just not right and completely inappropriate – to my mind.

I’ve had close friends and family talk to me about other options available to me and Kirby, but they know me and often the conversation has been started by me. And even when my friends or family were the ones to start the conversation, they understand me well enough to know, most of the time, when to talk about certain things about not having children and when not to.

The problem I have about blog entries such as the above is that these women are writing about something so personal to many of us, so painful to many of us, and they don’t know us. They have not had the experience of facing the truth that biological children are not going to come along.

One of the entries even ended with the phrase that “being told you can’t have kids is not the end of the world”. Well…yes it is. It’s the end of the world in which we will look into the eyes of our children – it is the end of the world in which we will watch them grow up – it is the end of the world in which we will get to hold them.

I do believe these women were well-intentioned, but no – they do NOT get to tell us that we have choices, and options, and that it’s not the end of the world.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Strange jealousy...

This week I want to talk about something that I experienced in the early months of us realising we would not be able to have children.

It seems a strange thing to have thought now, but then, when we are grieving our thoughts are often different to those we would normally have.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we only have photos of our children as embryos. Wow – this is hard to write about…as I feel a bit ashamed about it (although I tell myself I shouldn’t.) I used to be jealous of people who had children, of course, but I also was kind of jealous of people who had had a still born child.

I didn’t, and don’t, actually wish a still born child on anyone and certainly not on ourselves. I can’t even begin to know what it would be like to have a child and for them to have died before they took their first breath.

What I was jealous for is that they got to hold their baby and have photos with them and show the baby to their family and perhaps friends too. Their baby, their child, was real. Ours were just a flicker for a few days and nobody but us and the medical staff saw them. Our parents couldn’t hold them – we couldn’t say “look at this beautiful angel that we created.”

Even now my arms are aching to hold them.

It’s a strange kind of jealousy – actually I’m not even sure, now, that jealousy is the right word. Perhaps it’s more that I wished for something more than what we had – even if it was just to get to hold our child. To have those photos and to see their faces. I wanted to take every part of them into my memory.

We didn’t get to do that and sometimes I think that our loss is not even viewed as a loss because of that. But, we did lose something precious.

It’s impossible to compare losses and it’s certainly not a competition. What am I trying to say here? Perhaps that there was nothing for us to hold out and say “see what we have lost – we created this and we had dreams and hopes for this and we loved this…and now it’s gone.”

Our pain about our loss was ours and the pain my friends have felt about their loss was theirs. There’s no scale to measure which was stronger or bigger or worse – but both losses and the grieving for our children were, and remain, real.

I feel that this entry is a bit all over the place, so let me know if any of it doesn’t make sense. xxx


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Between awake and asleep...

He is in the realm between awake and asleep
Milky eyes try not to slip behind billowy lids
His gossamer hair plays upon my cheek
As I breathe in the smell of him
That precious newly born scent of him

I trace his face with my finger
Drawing his cheeks, his lips, his nose
Into a comfort for when I must yearn

I raise him up higher than I am
Bring him down to nestle at my breast
My heart beats for both of us
My soul is ever bound to his

It is then that they appear
Those angelic diaphanous beings
To gather him into themselves again

I cannot keep him

I beg for just one more moment
But he is already transforming
From the shape of my child
Into a being of dancing mist

I reach out for his tiny hand
Before it disappears
But he slips through my fingers
And back into their light

My own cry awakens me
My arms reaching out for our son
But he has stayed behind
In the realm between
Awake and asleep

Thursday, September 17, 2015

They have your eyes...

This week (give or take) the baby from our final round of IVF would have turned six years old. They most likely would have loved riding bikes with their cousin, played every day with our dogs, and perhaps been interested in music like me, computers like their Dad, or both. Today they would have been waiting in excitement to see their older cousins this afternoon, who arrived from Sydney yesterday for Dad’s 70th birthday, and they would have been a handful and an angel at the same time.

I’ve long wondered what our children might have looked like. So, yesterday I used one of those programs online to “morph” Kirby and my faces to find out what our babies might have looked like.

Here they are:

Jacob Arthur
Ruby Grace


I think they are adorable of course!

I know that these programs are not entirely accurate, but it’s kind of bitter-sweet to have a picture of what our children might have looked like. The only photos we ever got of them were these:




So, call me silly for using the program, but I like having those pictures to look at and wonder about.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

We are family...

Last night I was remembering the trip that Kirby and I took to the United States in June and July of 2009. It was fantastic – Connecticut and New York are amazing places. So different from each other and each with its own character.

It was a very long trip from Adelaide, Australia to New York. It was about seventeen hours in planes all up with a stopover of a couple of hours in Sydney and about a six hour stopover in LA. Needless to say we were extremely tired by the time we boarded the American Airlines plane to New York.

We collected our boarding passes in LA and I noticed that Kirby and I were not seated together for the next leg of our journey to New York. We went to the American Airlines counter and questioned this and we were told to talk to the steward as we boarded the plane.

So we did. And the response we got?

“We seat families together first.”

Hmmm…

My response?

“We are a family too.”

It was clear that the steward wasn’t prepared to help us, and I was almost in tears. Fortunately a lovely woman swapped seats with me so that Kirby and I could sit together.

Before our IVF round in December, 2008, we had decided that if that round didn’t work we would take a holiday to the United States and then talk about IVF further when we got home. The wound of another IVF cycle which didn’t bring us our baby was still raw when we went to America – and being told we weren’t considered a family was like knitting needle being plunged into my heart.

It really hurt – and I was really angry and defensive. And I questioned whether Kirby and I were really a family if we didn’t have children.

Years have passed and I no longer have the same doubts. We are a family. There is no doubt in my mind about that now. But, it still hurts sometimes to think that other people might consider us as less of a family than those families which include children. That is their problem though.

I often take a moment to look at Kirby, and at our Felix, Frankie, Odi, and Ari, and I feel quite content with our little family.

You know the funny thing? We were seated separately on the way from New York back to LA as well. And, yet again, a kind person offered to swap with me.

Some airlines may not understand that Kirby and I are a family – but it seems there are people out there who do.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Changes...

I went to the doctor recently as I was bleeding excessively around that time…you know what I mean…

I had blood tests and found out that I am on the border line of being anaemic – which, in case you don’t know, means my iron levels are very low and I get very tired. I’m on big time iron tablets now and already, in just a week, I am feeling so much better. It’s only now that I look back that I realise just how awfully tired I have been. It’s a relief, really, to find out that there is a reason as to why I have been so lacking in energy for so long – and that there is something that can be done about it.

The diagnosis I was not expecting, though, is that I am now considered to be in the initial stages of perimenopause. Perimenopause is “around the time of” menopause. It’s like you’re heading toward the ocean for a swim, you’re not quite there yet, but you start to smell the salty air of the sea (but just not as much fun…).

I had actually suspected for a while that something was going on. I’m 41 years old and therefore at the age when things usually start winding down for women.

Ironically – one way to control the excessive blood loss is to have a Mirena (a contraceptive device). Look it up if you want to. Personally, I don’t like the idea much myself and I’ll be looking at other ways first – such as acupuncture. At least now there are choices for me other than to have a full hysterectomy as would have been the case just 15 years ago!

Anyway – I’ve gone off topic as to what I really wanted to write about.

The emotional side.

There’s always been a part of me that believes I could try for a baby again if I chose to. There was still time. I could simply change my mind. Now that choice is being taken away from me bit by bit. I’m getting older and my body is changing and saying to me that the option of having a baby is being removed.

I’ve known for a long time, now, that I won’t be having children – but being able to think that the possibility still exists has provided me with an odd sense of comfort.

I thought I was fine with the whole perimenopause thing – until I started to cry last night after dreaming that we had a child. They were about two years old and I was holding them in my arms as they drifted off to sleep. Our little Jacob had come to visit me in my dreams again.

I woke up with that familiar empty feeling and even reached out in a bit of a panic to try and find our son.

But he wasn’t there.

There are people who say that you “get over” being unable to have children.

But I don’t know that I ever really will. And so long as Jacob keeps visiting me in my dreams I don’t know that I would want to – however bitter-sweet those dreams might be.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Stuck in a rut...

When I started this blog I made the conscious decision that I would be honest in sharing the different things I experienced – including emotions and thoughts that might be considered negative.

Well – a few weeks ago I had a meltdown. I was going to write about it just after it happened, but instead I have waited until my thoughts have become clearer and the emotions I felt are not so intense.

The instigator to this meltdown was hearing one too many times from mums that their lives were never-ending chores, and day after day they had to do the same stuff. Clean the bathroom, go to work, and feed the kids...being busy, busy, busy…

It’s true that the lives of parents can be insanely busy, and that days seem to go past in a blur of doing the same things again and again. But, just because I don’t have children does not mean that my life does not do the same. The never-ending dishes, the floors that need sweeping, the bills that have to be paid.

Some might say that I have it easier as I have more time than parents do, although this is, in some cases debatable, given I have numerous health issues that have made me exceptionally tired a lot of the time (although recent good news is that there might be an answer to my tiredness!!).

The contest between who has the most to do is not really the point of this blog entry. The meltdown came to the fore when I had an adult tantrum and cried and asked Kirby how parents could really say that their lives were the same day after day when every day they get to see their children develop and grow a little bit more, and they get to watch as their kids learn new skills and become their own people. “At least they get something out of it! They have no idea!” I remember saying as tears rolled down my cheeks.

If anything – I said to Kirby in far more angry words than I am writing here – we are the ones that have the same drudgery day after day because we do all the housework and the bill paying and this and this and this, for what?

Is that the truth though? After some reflection I realised it is not – or at least it doesn’t have to be. Kirby and I can choose to have the same day over and over again and get stuck in a rut of our own making – or we can choose to seek new activities and adventures.

We can also choose to watch with delight, wonder, and interest as, not only the children in our lives, but all the people we care about and ourselves develop and grow and have adventures and become more authentic (all of which never stops as long as we live).

Just in the past few months:
  • One of my nieces has achieved top grades in maths (we definitely do not share that talent – one plus three equals eleven, right?)
  • Another of my nieces has been put up a level in swimming (she is part dolphin just like her Dad!)
  • Our nephew, now five years of age, created a card game for us to play (I love his imagination!)
  • Our friends have been on a holiday throughout Europe (I can’t wait to see their photos!)
  • Kirby has done up another BMX bike (before and after photos below)
  • And Kirby and I have both started mountain biking (I fell off and bruised my leg the first time I tried it!)
Before...

After...

Even just writing those four examples has put a smile on my face and a sense of excitement in my heart.

Life doesn’t have to be a rut if we make it an adventure!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

All grown up…

Last year I redid our front yard to use only plants that are indigenous to our area. I wrote a blog post about it on the 3rd of March 2014.

One of the shrubs I chose was a wattle.

These photos show just how much it has grown and how beautiful its flowers are.

As a baby...
All grown up...
Beautiful flowers...

 As I’ve written before – while I can’t create a baby, I can create through words, through gardening, and in many other ways.

I sincerely believe it is important for people who want children but are unable to have them to find a creative outlet of some kind. This doesn’t necessarily mean something that is considered traditionally artistic. You could do up cars, you could nurture relationships with your loved ones, you could create adventures to go on with your family or friends.

The joy from seeing something come about because of you is an incredible feeling.

I often go out the front just to touch the wattle's leaves and flowers, and to talk to it. If that makes me sound strange then I’m proud to be strange...it seems I’ve always had an affinity with nature (maybe because I’m part Celtic?).

When I was about two years of age I was visiting the hospital where I was born. My Mum found me out in the garden where there were some stately old gum trees. I was standing quietly and Mum asked me what I was doing. I told her that the trees were talking to me (in the words of a two year old course).

I don’t hear my wattle talk, but I do believe it is part of me and I love my baby.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

What Mali said...

One of my regular readers, Mali, made a comment on my last blog entry about losing friends.

Here it is in its entirety:

“You're right - there's no real reason for this. But I had one friend - the last person I would have thought I would have lost - who withdrew from me when her children started school. A few years later I was invited to a dinner, and there were all these new friends I'd never met - all parents of her kids' friends. None of the friends she'd had five or ten years earlier.

I'm lucky though - the friends I have who have children have mostly not changed. And you'll find that once their kids are older, they start to come back too. Case in point - I'm going to my aforementioned friend's new house for dinner this week.”

It’s the last two sentences of the comment that had me really thinking.

I hope that the friends that have disappeared from my life after they’ve had kids do come back to me one day.

And I do believe I’ll be there to welcome them with open arms, a smile, and, of course, a coffee!

Thank you, Mali, for your comment, your continued support, and for how you have a way of making me reflect more deeply than I otherwise might about the issues we face when we can’t have kids.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lost friends...

I never expected that it would happen to me. I always thought that the friends I cared about most would be my friends throughout any situation – including when they had children. I imagined being there for them, spending time with them and their kids, listening to funny stories about what their sons and/or daughters had done, and being a sounding board whenever they needed one.

The truth is – when you can’t have kids, and your friends who were without children when you met them have their babies, you may find yourself on the outer edges of their world, or not even in their world at all.

This has happened to me. Fortunately I still see most of my friends who have had children and I am so grateful and blessed for this. But, there have been a few that no longer contact me or make any effort to try and catch up. I’ve tried a couple of times to organise coffees or a trip to a local play cafĂ© so their kids could come too, but to no avail.

I don’t know why this happens. Some people have told me that it is because my friends have children now and they will have made friends with other mums – women who have more in common with my friends and understand their situation more than I do.

Maybe that’s true. But, I have friends from a range of different situations – from single to partnered or married, to divorced or widowed; friends with and without children (some children are young and some are adults); people in their twenties to people in their seventies; people who are gay and people who are straight; people from all different cultures…I don’t see why becoming a mum means you can’t have a range of friends from all walks of life as well.

Especially when a friend outside of the parenting community is willing to drive for 45 minutes just to have a five minute coffee, if that’s all the time their parent friend has to catch up.

I don’t get it. Maybe they no longer contact me for some other reason – something I’m not aware of that has upset them perhaps.

Anyway – I need to remember the friends and family I do have that are amazing, that seek me out as much as I do them, and for whom I have such love and admiration – family who are my blood relatives, and friends who are my soul family.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

On being invisible...

Once again I haven’t written a blog entry for a while – due to bits and pieces in life and due to wallowing in self-pity for the past few weeks (I admit it! I did!).

Part of that wallowing and that “It’s not fair!” attitude that I’ve had has been related to what I believed was an increase in advertising aimed at, and other media (such as on-line groups to share  recipes and household tips, and opportunities to review products such as cars) reserved for, women who are mums.

I have been in tears. I have felt as though I am not worth anything because there appeared to be so many aspects of life that I cannot participate in due to not having children, and where I am invisible. It seemed that the world was pushing a toothpick into a wound that was almost healed, and it hurt.

I became particularly angry at one post on a car manufacturer’s Facebook page where “real” mums were providing reviews on a new model of car that had just been released. I posted on the page asking what was with all the reviews by mums for seemingly every product on the market.

Well I sure got it from the mums... How dare I say that mums shouldn’t do reviews – although that wasn’t what I meant – I was just wondering why the views of people who weren’t mums was being overlooked. Some of the mums pointed out that they have special criteria, as mums, that they require from cars – such as safety, space, easy to drive, fuel efficiency, etc.

Ow! There goes the toothpick jabbing my wound just a little bit more. My next response on the page  was that these criteria were equally important to me and to many other non-mum people – such as grandparents, dads, people with fur-kids, uncles, aunts, friends of people with kids, and even people who have nothing to with kids at all. After all, who wants a car that isn’t safe, doesn’t have enough space for their lifestyle, is horrible to drive, and costs a lot of money to run?

This, too, did not go down well. How dare I suggest that my needs in a car were the same as that of a mum?

The toothpick…well…

I realised something important and decided to pull out the toothpick and put a strong bandage over my wound.

It was a sudden epiphany that the opinions of those particularly mums was completely inconsequential to me. I know who I am. I know what I like and what I don’t regarding many different products. I care about my nephews and nieces and their safety – just as much as their mums do. And I have the choice to not allow the mum-focussed marketing to hurt me. It doesn’t actively hurt me – I hurt myself. I let the toothpick in – and often the toothpick is one I selected for myself.

And most mums – and especially the ones that are my friends and family – don’t think of me as unimportant. They see me as I am, without children, and seek my company and want to know what I think about all sorts of things.

I am not invisible to them. And that is what matters.

Friday, July 10, 2015

When a puppy comes for Christmas – it can change your life…

About three weeks ago I was looking at the Infertility Network UK newsletter and I saw a review of a book called “The Puppy that Came for Christmas and Stayed Forever” by Megan Rix.

There was a puppy on the cover. So of course I had to buy it. And I am so glad I did.

“The Puppy that Came for Christmas” is about Megan and her husband Ian’s journey to try and have a child. It is a story about the emotional rollercoaster that infertility is – and the challenges that so many of us are familiar with. Hearing the news that having a baby is not going to be easy, or may not even be possible, is so heart wrenching. Spending time with people who have children, and particularly with those who have just had a baby, can be so difficult to bear. I could relate to so much of what Megan and Ian went through.

What was different about this book from many personal stories of infertility is that through all of this the focus was very much on how Megan and Ian found a new way of living – a new way of having a family and a life that they value and love.

I won’t give too much away, but that new kind of life started when Megan and Ian volunteered to foster a puppy that would eventually become a helper dog. They took Emma in from when she was eight weeks old to when she was around six months old, when she went on to do her advanced helper dog training.

Emma introduced a whole new way of life that gave so much to Megan and Ian. And even though there was heartbreak when they had to let Emma go at six months of age (something I don’t think I could do – and was unbelievable selfless of Megan and Ian), she started something special.

It’s how I feel about my life now. Although there are times when I still grieve for our babies, and I feel the emotions of jealousy and anger, and the question rises once more of “why us?”, Kirby and I have a life we love. We have our dogs and cats and fish, and our nieces and nephews, we have us, we have travelling to do, and we have a freedom which we wouldn’t have if we had children. Our life is not better than if we had children – it’s our situation, it’s different, and we’ve decided to embrace it as much as possible.

When the end of the book was drawing near I found it hard to finish – I must admit. This wasn’t because it was poorly written, but because I didn’t want to say “goodbye” to my new “friends”. I had been on a journey with people (as well as their dogs) that I related to – and I felt as though Megan and Ian had become my friends. This is something unique, and a testament to Megan and Ian’s story, and the way Megan has written about it.

If – or, I hope, when – you read “The Puppy that Came for Christmas”, you will read about an incident in the book that left me furious when I read it. I think you will know it when you find it, and perhaps, like me, you will wish you could be there to put the particular woman involved in her place and wrap your arms around Megan to comfort and protect her. It happened during a puppy training session and it’s to do with just who makes the best puppy parents…that’s all I’m going to say…

If you have experienced infertility and love dogs I am certain you will love this book.

Actually, even if you’ve never experienced infertility, but you love dogs – you will love this book.

Get ready to fall in love…

And finally here are our boys…who we love so very much…



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Baby girl...

In the past month my cousin has given birth to her and her husband’s first child – a baby girl.

And I have been thrown around in a sea of emotions in a way that hasn’t happened in quite some time. I was on edge even before my little second cousin was born.

I had dreams about holding my own baby daughter, and one night I awoke in a panic because I reached out and couldn’t find her crib at the side of our bed.

Another night I sat bolt upright in bed and said aloud “I want to try again.”

I felt angry that we didn’t have a child that would be an elder cousin to the new little baby that was about to be born. I wanted our child to be there to play with her and cuddle her and show her how to get away with as much mischief as possible.

I wondered what it would be like to feel life growing inside of me, to feel those kicks and movements, and to give birth and experience that pain that would bring our child into the world.

Would our cousins’ baby and ours share any features like my cousins and I do? Perhaps eye shape or hair colour or love of animals or interests in music or art or who knows – and we will never know.

In writing that last sentence I have just realised something. We will never know, but I will think about it from time to time and I like the thought of that. As our new baby cousin grows and starts showing her own personality (although I suspect she is already doing that…), and we learn what she likes and what she doesn’t, I will think about what interests our baby might have shared with her.

Of course our baby would no longer be a little child – they would be seven years old if the second round of IVF had worked (where we had an embryo put into my womb) or six years old if the third round had worked. I love the thought of our child, our nephew (almost five years old), and the new baby spending time together. I think my cousins’ little girl would have been quite well looked after and spoilt by her two older boy cousins.

I don’t really know if our baby would have been a boy, but I always thought that it would be – our little Jacob Arthur, Samuel Kirby, or Caleb Maxwell. It’s odd, therefore, that I dreamt about having a daughter before my cousins’ baby was born, but my cousins did know their baby was going to be a girl before she was born and I guess my subconscious decided that in my dreams we would have a girl as well.

I felt guilty, at first, about some of the feelings of anger and, I’ll say it, jealousy I had, but I have remembered, yet again, that it is quite normal to have them. And it is also true that, at least for me, I will, from time to time, feel let down by life and sad about not having our own child.

I want you all to know that as well, and that way when you experience those emotions that you feel are wrong or even shameful perhaps you will recognise that they are actually quite normal and then not be so hard on yourself – as I have been somewhat hard on myself lately.

I met my little baby girl cousin just over a week and a half ago, and to say I am smitten is a complete understatement. I am completely and totally head over heels in love and besotted…which I think might be quite obvious in the photo below…

Me and my new cousin...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Friends without kids...

Yet again I’ve been a bit slack with writing blog posts…but I have a good reason…

I’ve had whiplash…from slipping over in the shower…not the smartest thing to do, but I now know that our shower screen is rather strong and our bathroom tiles are rather hard!!

And onto today’s post…

Over the past four to five years we have “collected” a group of friends who don’t have children. 

Together we are four couples of around the same age – more or less. We have dinner at one of our homes every six months or so – although we will now be adding some hikes on the Waterfall Gully to Mt Lofty Summit trail which I am really excited about!

The interesting part of this group of friends is that I have no idea what the story is behind each of the other three couples not having children. Could they not have them? Did they decide not to have them? I don’t know and it’s not something that we’ve talked about or felt the need, so far, to bring up.

I think they know our story, but again we haven’t talked about it directly with them.

It’s clear that all of us love children. Much of the conversation together is about our respective nieces and nephews and how we much we adore them…so it sometimes seems odd that we haven’t talked directly about our own situations.

I would absolutely be happy to talk should any of our friends wish to, but at the same time it’s nice to have a group of friends who don’t have children and with whom we talk about many other things other than why we don’t have children – topics such as travel, hobbies, and so forth. And that we are not “distracted” (that sounds horrible, but I can’t think of another word at the moment) by children.

Does that make sense?

It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with my friends who have children – I most certainly do – but having this group of friends kind of makes it feel like it’s completely normal to not have them.

I am very, very grateful for this group of people!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Aunty Bev...

This post isn’t technically about not have children, but it is about life.

It’s strange that I wrote about all the small things in life last week and posted a collage of some of those small things that are important parts of my life, for this week has made me realise even more how important those seemingly small things are.

Last Wednesday night, the 6th of May, my Aunty Bev had a massive stroke and collapsed at her home. She never regained consciousness and within a few days the doctors determined that she was brain dead. Life support was removed on Sunday night and she died about fifteen minutes later. She was only 65 years old which is far too young.

Aunty Bev lived in Sydney, New South Wales (which is over 1100 kilometres (or 700 miles) away) with my Uncle Trev. We didn’t get to see her as much I would have liked, but distance and time apart didn’t affect how much she meant (and means) to me.

I’m finding it hard to write at the moment…so instead I will share what I wrote about Aunty Bev on Facebook…

Aunty Bev always believed in me. She told me she was proud of me and loved my writing. She had a way of making me feel that I was just right just as I am, because she loved me just as I am. It's unbelievable, it's not fair, and it is so hard to think about. But, already I know that her legacy will live on - because she had a way of getting me to see the preciousness of family, friends, and life. And I hope I can pass this on to my nieces and nephews. I love you and miss you Aunty Bev xxx”

It’s the little things that matter – a smile, a voice, a laugh, a hug, and memories that will never fade away.

Uncle Trev and Aunty Bev with my nieces Ella and Hannah

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

All the small things...

On Sunday it was a year since we put our beautiful cat Minerva down. She was 15 years old, and her kidneys were failing and she only had about 10 percent lung capacity. We didn’t want her to suffer. It was an honour to be there for her as she took her last breath and passed away while we told her over and over again that we loved her – and we still do love her.

In honour of her and the one year anniversary of her death I put her urn with her ashes in the sunshine. I lit some incense and Kirby and I sat and remembered all the funny things she used to do.

We laughed a lot recalling different things. Such as the time when I was blowing on the top of a bottle to make musical sounds, and she came running in, jumped on my lap, smacked me in the face with her paw, then got down and ran back up the hallway. I guess she didn’t like the music I was making! I recall sitting there stunned and then bursting out laughing hysterically – as did Kirby as he was a witness to it.

Thinking about Minerva and all the little things she used to do got me thinking about all the small things in my life that make life interesting, fun, humbling, and sometimes have me feeling wistful.
All the small things that I am honoured to have in my life.

So instead of writing more – here is a collage of just some of the small things I love.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

If I can only visualise hard enough...

I guess at some point most of us think that we can have whatever we want in life. I know I used to. I looked for the magical answer that would bring me the life I wanted. You name it – I tried it. Crystals, Feng Shui, prayer and meditation, and visualisation.

Visualisation – that’s a big one. But I’ll write more about that later.

Even since I knew Kirby and I would never have children I thought I could have the life I wanted. I negotiated with life, I thought if I can’t have kids then I would compromise and think about what else I wanted and then I could have a life that encompassed that instead.

It seems crazy to me now. I don’t, personally, believe that things happen to us on purpose to teach us things, but sometimes you can learn something anyway and I know one of the lessons I took away from not having children is that life isn’t going to hand me what I want just because I want it. It has just taken me a while to really understand this.

And back to visualisation. There are many self-help “gurus” around who say that we can have the life we want by using visualisation and just making it happen. It’s curious that the lives they suggest we can have all involve big houses, expensive cars, and a lot of money – and how the tickets for the seminars these people run are generally a couple of hundred dollars each, if not more.

To me – it’s kind of cultish. It’s getting people to pay lots of money to someone who is going to tell them they can have it all – when no one, ever, can really have it all. So, they are selling a lie.

Wow! That sucks...

We who have not been able to have children know very well that we can’t have it all no matter what we do or try or visualise. And, this means there are quite possibly other things we can’t have either – for example, a dream of mine is to climb Mount Everest (seriously!), but I am unlikely to ever do it because I have a heart murmur and a hole in my heart.

I would like to travel the world for a year or two, but that means I couldn’t have my pets – I want both! But, I can’t have both.

I want people I care about to get better – but some of them never will again.

Now that I’ve accepted that I can’t control every aspect of my life and there will never be a point where I have everything I want and I will live happily ever after I have found a sense of happiness I didn’t expect. Sounds strange, doesn’t it…

I’ve read a book recently called “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand PositiveThinking” by Oliver Burkeman. And I get it. By being realistic I can focus on what is here, now, rather than waiting or striving for something that is never going to happen. And by focussing on what is here and now I appreciate the smaller things rather than constantly waiting and hoping for the bigger things to happen.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have goals or don’t push myself in certain directions – for example, I might not be able to climb Mount Everest, but I fully intend to go on treks in Tasmania, and in the Himalayas at a lower altitude. I’m starting training to do this very soon.

I’ve put a short poem about my feelings about not having it all on a postcard which you can feel free to download and share.

This is what not having children has taught me – and blessed me with.




Monday, April 6, 2015

Time heals all...

At least I was thinking maybe this was the case…

I realised a couple of weeks ago that I hadn’t been thinking about babies and IVF and infertility. And it surprised me, because in previous years I had always experienced feelings of sorrow, guilt, and even anger, as April approached.

I was positive that this lack of conscious thought about April meant the wound of not being able to have children had healed. The scar tissue had become so strong that it wouldn’t tear open again this year to leave my heart and arms empty.

It crossed my mind that perhaps the souls of my babies had moved on. Maybe they had let me go and I had let them go too.

I felt strong.  It was over it. Time truly does heal all.

Then I went to the supermarket.

There were prams everywhere. There were babies everywhere from newborns to almost toddlers.

Parents held the hands of older children, corrected their behaviour, laughed with their children, called them back to their sides when their kids had wandered of, and, sadly, there were also “parents” who seemed to take great joy in belittling their children in public.

That old familiar loneliness and emptiness arrived so suddenly that I struggled to keep the tears in my eyes from falling down my cheeks.  

We didn’t even get to the stage of egg collection with our first round of IVF. No embryo was created. Still, I think about the child we could have had – the little boy or girl who would be turning six this month.

Who would that little person have been?

We’ll never know.

I tend to think about the child that could have been from our first IVF round as their due date would have been our wedding anniversary.

When we married we had a picture of what our lives would be like – and that included having children and raising them as best we could. There were no doubts that this dream would become a reality. After all, our friends and family were having children and never had any problems – so why would we? It never even crossed our minds that we would.

Our wedding day...
And I can never forget those dreams or that potential child, and I don’t think a time will ever come when I feel all okay about it. I will never be “over it”, and time doesn’t really heal all.

I also know that missing my child doesn’t mean I’m not strong. Perhaps it actually means I am strong – because I can think about our children, grieve for them, while still being able to love and feel and live.

Happy sixth birthday angel child.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hugo and planes...

I was going to do a rather serious and contemplative entry today, but I’ve decided not to. Instead, I’m going to write about Hugo. I can’t believe he is going to be five soon – he’s certainly grown from the photo to the right!

We’ve looked after Hugo for the last two Sundays in the morning, which has been awesome. Each time Hugo brought over DVDs, but only once did we actually sit and watch a ½ hour episode of a show based on the kids’ movie” Madagascar”. The rest of the time we talked and played and had loads of fun.

And both times we made paper planes.

Last weekend we made paper planes from a kit that said “one minute” planes – which we thought meant they would take about a minute to make. Nope! It took us (well, Kirby) about 30 minutes to make the plane that Hugo had chosen. It was a fabulous red jet!

We planned to take the planes to a park a short walk away, which has a large open area. Instead we decided to go to the smaller park just two doors away.

I had also made a paper plane and I think I was almost as excited as Hugo as we headed to the park.
Hugo threw his plane and it went a fair distance across – he was delighted!

Then Kirby decided to have a go flying Hugo’s plane.

He picked it up and threw it.

A gust of wind came at the same moment.

And we stood and watched as the plane was taken by the wind, rose into the air, and flew off out of our sight.

Hugo wanted us to go and get it, but we explained to him that we didn’t know where it had gone. He’s a top little guy and accepted this and then we shared my plane for the rest of the time we were at the park.

I think what they meant, by “one minute” planes, wasn’t that it would take only one minute to make them, but rather it would only be one minute until they would be lost!

We are so blessed to have Hugo, to spend time with him, to watch him grow and develop – and to hear and watch the funny things he comes up with.

While he was at our house he announced to us that he and we had forgotten his four and a half year old birthday party. He was adamant that there should have been a party.
Me and Hugo on a dolphin cruise

Kids seem to go through an age where they believe they know everything. Hugo is at that stage at the moment and he announced to me that he knows everything. I told him he doesn’t and he repeated that he did. I then asked him what the capital city of Nepal is. He thought for a moment and said he didn’t know. Perhaps it sounds mean, but I said “see, you don’t know everything.”

But, I then told him that neither did I and that this is what makes life so much fun, because you always get to find new stuff out and learn new things, and that this is pretty cool. Hugo agreed – but the next time I saw him he again told me that he knows everything.

Hugo and our niece Ella
What can you do!

He is a cool little guy


.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dreaming…

I had a dream the other night that Kirby and I were looking after a nine month old girl for some friends (the friends don’t actually exist in real life). Kirby went home at one point and I stayed with the baby. I changed her nappy, tucked her into bed with her bottle, and left. I went home too.

When I got home I realised what I had done and I was mortified. I had left the baby alone. My main fear was that I wouldn’t be able to get back to our friends’ house before they got home and they would be angry that I had left their child, and it would confirm to them that I don’t know how to look after children.  I didn’t want them to know about my mistake and I didn’t want them to think poorly of me.

It’s interesting that my concern was partially for the baby, but mainly about what the parents would think of me. I thought I would get into trouble and the truth would come out that I was self-centred and thought only about my own need (that being going home and in the process forgetting about the baby).

That night I had two other uncomfortable dreams. It tends to be the way with me – I won’t have any uncomfortable dreams for a while and then I’ll have two or three in one night.

The other two dreams were also along the lines of not being good enough and worrying that I had been, or would be, caught out in my failings. I prefer not to give the details of these dreams due to some of the details being potentially sensitive for my friends and family.

I really don’t get it – the point of those dreams. Or, on writing this entry, perhaps I do.

I’ve been feeling really good these past two weeks. Quite a few things have been going well and, while I know not so good times will happen, I feel stronger and more content than I have for a while.

I don’t think my ego likes this situation. It is coming through in my dreams to tell me that I am not good enough and that I will likely get caught out as a bit of a fraud. It seems my ego likes to aim straight for a fragile part of my psyche as well – that of not being able to have children and that of wondering what kind of parent I would have been. Would I have been any good?

This is a representation of what my ego is trying to say about my broader life. Am I any good at what I do? Am I a fraud? Will I get caught out?

Well – you know what I say to my ego?

I say “Whatever!”

My ego clearly doesn’t like the fact that I am feeling more confident, that I have more of an idea (at least for this part of my life) what my skills and strengths are and what they are not, and that I am challenging myself to be involved in life and to take risks than I have before.

My ego can blabber on all it likes, it can invade my dreams with its doubts and fears, and it can insinuate that I wouldn’t have been a good mother.

But, while my ego sometimes has helpful things to say, I’m not going to listen to anything that is absolute rubbish.

My ego can just go and sit in the corner until it can behave itself and until it has something constructive to say.

So there ego! So there!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bathurst with our boys...

Kirby, my husband, could possibly be the biggest motor racing fan in the world. You name the race and he will be there – and if he can’t be there then he will be watching it on the television.

For his fortieth birthday Kirby wanted to go to the Bathurst 12 hour race in New South Wales, and this is precisely what we did in the past fortnight. Some people may think I was dragged along to the race, but I actually enjoy motor sport too – although after three days of it in a row I could quite happily not see any motor sports for a while.

We had a fantastic time watching the cars, meeting some of the drivers, walking around the Bathurst circuit including going to the top of Mount Panorama. I do not know where the drivers get the nerves to drive down that part of the track! It is so steep!

We were sitting in the grandstand on the first day watching the enhanced performance cars in their qualifying race. A man and a woman walked by in front of the grandstand with two little boys in tow. I looked at Kirby and said “we would have been good parents to boys – how much would they have loved this?!” Then started to cry a little and Kirby sat and held my hand for a minute.

Six years since our last IVF round and I still get those moments when the reality of not having children is like a raw wound. I still wonder “what if”, I am sad that we don’t have our own children to share experiences like Bathurst with.

So, the more the years go on, the more I know that not having children is going to come back and sting me from time to time. I will cry and I may feel angry because we don’t have kids or guilt because I am enjoying my life even though we don’t have children.

It’s something I am going to have to accept, and in some ways embrace if I can. After I stopped being upset I thought about how it would have been to have our children with us. I imagined their faces lighting up as the cars roared down the track, how they would have had the energy to run about on the top of Mount Panorama while Kirby and I struggled on behind them, and the photos we would have got of them with their favourite drivers. It made me smile.

I can’t have my children in my real life, but I can have them in my dreams.

Bathurst was brilliant...



Going down Mount Panorama
- and this is not the steep part...
The 12 hour race is about to start...
Cookies...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Compassion for a dove…

I haven’t posted much this year…actually I haven’t posted at all. 2015 has not started well for us in many respects, and we are facing many struggles, but, as I promised last year, I will write posts when I can.

Today’s is all about doves…

There is a pair of beautiful Spotted Turtle Doves who arrive at our house every spring. They build a flimsy stick nest on the top of our pergola and then share the incubation of the eggs for around two weeks.

Every year I will find eggs on the ground with dead chicks in them. We have been here for three springs and there have never been any live chicks born to the pair.

 I often go out and look at whomever is in the nest and they look back at me with those bright little eyes and I wonder if they know that I too have never brought a baby into this world. I often sit and shed a few tears for them and for me. I keep hoping, every time I see that they have returned, that this will be the year when they have little ones.

I’ve read somewhere that less than five percent of all birds make it to adulthood, and I know nature is harsh. Still, I feel for the pair. Do they grieve for their babies? Do they wonder why not them when they see other doves feeding their young?

I think they know I'm writing this as one of them is out cooing in the nest right at the moment. I think I will go and see them and hope that they know I love them and feel for them so very deeply.


The doves' nest...

Beautiful bird...