Friday, June 1, 2012

It's not you... It's me. I've moved my blog

Well, hey there! If you're receiving this via your RSS feed... you have an old link! It's time to change!

Sunny Side Up is no longer on this old Blogger address and in due time, I will be removing these blog posts altogether.

But never fear!

I am still blogging the usual over at - but the thing is, if you are subscribed to the old feed, you won't be seeing any new posts.

So please head on over to Sunny Side Up's new home and re-follow (by clicking on the RSS link in the top right corner of the page, or click Follow pop-up at bottom right of every page).

Alternatively, go to your referred reader and ensure you have as the link to receive the correct feed for my future posts.

I do hope you join me for the continuing ride of my life....  If you do come across, please send me a cheerio via a comment! I fear over 3/4 of you, my regulars, are actually reading via your readers. I'm sorry to make you work, but it's really only a couple of moments of your time.

Looking forward to sharing more with you soon.

x Kirrily

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This is definitely not one of those times...

...where it would help to sing about "our favourite things."

This is one time when we must be very, very qwiet.....  Mostly because I am pacing impatiently. I am like an expectant parent. Anybody got any cigars? Gretel? Anybody?

The end is nigh, friends.

I have flicked the switch. My dear, faithful Blogspot will become no more in a matter of hours. For some, it may be less. For others it could be a day or more.

Right now, I'm just waiting. In that awful between-time.... I feel rather like a von Trapp holding my breath and silently waiting out Rolf's search of the cemetery. I can't breathe out yet. Not until I see the site up in its new spot on the new server.

In the meantime, can someone please hold my hand, bring me a very warm cup of strong tea and tell me I haven't made a most awfully huge mistake?

I do hope you find me.... nothing should change for the majority of you, if you have in your bookmarks, feeds, blogrolls, etc.

If you feel like you're missing me, please drop in to my Facebook page - I will always keep you up to date there if this all goes horribly wrong and the blog ends up completely down. Or find me on Twitter, of course, where I will continue to post bits of unnecessary and boring information in 140 characters or less.

Please come and join me at the new space, I am so excited about where it has the potential to head and I hope to hear from many more of you on the subject of your experience of your ancestors'/families' stories.

And thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you to every person who's ever read, commented, argued, gained at any time on this here blogspot. I'm the one who's most deeply honoured.

Watch this space....

Link currently inactive... sorry 'bout that!

So, I guess there's nothing for it but to bid you .... bid Blogger *sniff* *getting emotional now*....

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch....

This post has a point. A really important one. It's not lost on me that if I have come to the point of putting a disclaimer at the top because it's a really, really long wordy post, I ought to just shorten it instead of... writing more words in a pre-cursory warning-request note.

But then that wouldn't be me. I am Wordy. Kirrily Wordy Whatman. Deal.  And please read to the end, at least, of this post. It does have an important point. Not all about me this time....

When I was in Year 12, my best-best-best-of-the-best-bestie and I took Psychology together. Our teacher was the inimitable (well... that's not quite true, I used to do a cracking impersonation of her back in the day) Mrs McPherson. She would try and be all hip to the kids' jive and believe she was grabbing our attention. How did she do this? By attempting a good ol' bit of stereotypical reverse psychology - ironic, really.

If there was too much chatter amongst ourselves, she tried to regain our focus with a loudly interjected, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch...." from her position at the front of the classroom. She got our attention alright. We would smirk in her direction at the attempt as all lofty teens do. But damnit. It worked. Because it always stopped us in our tracks. Made us listen to what she had to say next, even if we were laughing at her only moments before.

I think about that teacher now and realise that the Mrs McPherson's of the world are the ones who stick their necks out to make change. Whether that change is on a world scale, or closer to home, or hey.... in a classroom of teenagers who just need to pull their heads in for two minutes so their teacher can hand out the course homework before the blessed bell goes.

So, without further ado, I want to direct you, dear reader, to focus your attention "back at the ranch" please.

Today, I have spent the most frustrating hours trying to make my new Wordpress site go live. Without complete control at the server side, at best this has been a stop-start affair. I am very keen to get it going, for several reasons.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. At the recent Digital Parents conference (DPCON12) I committed myself to a long-held personal project. The stirrings of this began about twelve months ago, when I decided "I really need to make this happen."

And then I did that thing I do so well. I procrastinated the crap out of that idea and talked myself into all the reasons why it was a stupid dream.

But that all changed the moment Brenda Gaddi told me that for services rendered (ie. stacking piles of freebies into swag bags), I could slip my card in to the mix - effectively reaching approximately two hundred conference delegates and sponsor representatives. I gulped down hard on my nerves and dived in head-first. As each bag was handed out, my heart flipped. What were they going to do with that card? Bin it? Bother reading it first? Hand it on to someone who might want it? Store it away for future reference???

Here's the card they received:

2. It seems Sunny Side Up has received a few nominations for the latest big-deal Aussie Best Blogs competition. This is probably a good juncture to introduce you to the button I might plug a couple of times between now and May 9th (there are two streams to this competition if I understand correctly - the People's Choice vote and a panel-judged award).
People's Choice Award

You only get one chance to vote but can give the voting love to more than one blog. SO.... Look, it'd be great if you could use your voting power to check the box next to my little ol' blog title while you're in there. But I'm not expecting any great movement. Over 1,000 blogs have entered this year. I'm gasping in a sea of spectacular writing.

However, there is nothing that can take away the feeling of honour at receiving the recognition of nominations in the first place.

As an aside, I have never loved the word "multiple" more than when Rose from Sydney Writers' Centre used it to encourage me not to let a dicky website glitch turn me off completing the process. What's not to love about that, as a writer?!

Now.... this is where we come to the big stumbling block.

3. Deciding to ride the wave of this encouragement to make my blog the best it can possibly be, I worded Steve up and began to take the plunge into the world of WordPress.

Never before have I been so serious to move across. I have even bought the hosting this time. I have big plans. The biggest being, a dedicated stream to the stories of the babies in our families' past who never made it. There are SO MANY stories out there, layered by generations now. Women who still grieve, believing they have no right, no place to bring up their lost little loves.

Oh how I yearn to give them a place to have a mainstream voice.

WordPress is my go-to for that. I have it all set up. The pages are created! The categories are good to go. The import of this blog's posts is complete. It is all ready to be seen. But..... the server my new hosting is stored on has gone down over this weekend. Cue a slow-motion long-winded "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" escaping from me as I lunge forward at my computer.

Still no new WordPress version of Sunny Side Up. Will it affect the voting? Meh. It's out of my hands now and in the laps of the Internet Gods.

Never choosing to see obstacles in life as mere coincidences, this is where you guys come in. It's obvious to me that this is appropriate biding time. These stories, the ones buried by years of life, they are not easily extracted from the depths of minds and hearts. The soul searching and contemplation about whether or not the sharing of their family's (or baby/ies') story is a process that I realise will take some time.

In my contact with the few over-60's parents so far who have come forward from these older generations, the very idea that anyone would want to hear about their experience has been a surprise to these mothers whose children did not live. Just pause for a moment and contemplate that.... If you had a child about whom you were so pressed to tell someone, anyone, but you couldn't because you weren't allowed to for decades.... Sad doesn't begin to cover it.

While I'm stuck in this Blogger-WordPress-hosting hell, will you spread the word out there with me? That I am working hard to create the space for their stories to be told, shared, responded to in a supportive and uplifting online environment? That they can be shared anonymously if they wish?

I am starting to see that if it's just me on my own working one-on-one with those I contact - or who find the conference card and respond to me - this will be a very slow project. One I am prepared to stay with. But if any of you carry a similar passion to hear in the words of those women (and men) who have gone before us, I urge you to help me spread the word that they can submit their stories to Sunny Side Up - before these stories are lost back to the earth too, like my grandmother and so many others' grandmothers who have now passed on, leaving their younger generation relatives desperate to hear in their own words their feelings of the grief of losing their children.

It makes a difference. Believe me. It makes such a huge difference to hear it in the words of our forebears before it's too late. It causes me such distress to know that there are so many who think nobody cares or wants to listen because it happened so long ago.

If you can help, I am willing to post out some of the cards, anywhere in the world. Feel free to share this post, or retell in your own words and direct people to email or contact me via my blog, Twitter or Facebook. Everyone is different - I am happy to work in any way they are comfortable: interview style, written short story (maximum 1,000 words or spread over more than one post, etc., if it is longer), whatever they need.

If they have a compulsion from inside them, these mothers and fathers, then they deserve the space to say it.

So here it is. 
An open invitation to all older generation pregnancy, infertility, infant loss survivors: please feel free and safe to come forward.

Now, I have a ranch to get back to..... She's requesting dinner.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

This guy deserves a medal

All of the why’s and damnations would come later. For now, I was witnessing my husband holding his baby for the last time. I stared at him intently as I sat next to him. His entire face was wet and swollen with tears and emotion. The quiet, gentle, geeky teenager who became the funny, gorgeous man I married, now looking like a broken little boy.
“I just thought if I could get her outside and let her feel the sun, she would be alright,” he looked at me imploringly, almost as if by saying it and meaning it hard enough it might change things and allow her to come back. “If I could just hold her, outside, out of here…” 
from "Into The Bliss: Having & Holding Ellanor", by K.A. Whatman

It's Steve's 40th today.

This means he has devoted half of his life to me, and to our two daughters. He's amazing.

He is gentle, mild, extremely funny and intelligent. And he allowed me to convince him to cut off his mullet and stop wearing the moccassins in public.

Thank. God.

Trawling through photos that his parents gave me last week, I found a photo of us with Ella I have never seen before. My breath caught in my throat.

Two weeks old, only two weeks left unbeknownst to us

As I was going through our own collection to look for all the shots Steve had been in, I found photos I've seen before - of him, being him... being goofy, being an uncle, grinning widely with our siblings' children - and this time, I checked the dates. It struck me how often we had photos taken of us, smiling and involved, so soon after Ellanor's passing.

It seems life really does go on, regardless of whether you're in pain. It's ludicrous how soon the gap is expected to close over.

And this man has made damn sure that as much as he could, our nieces' and nephews' experience of us was as seamless as he could make it. Even during our trials.

For instance, this was taken on Boxing Day - what should have been our first with Ella.

Yes, he is really one in a million. To me and to the family who love him.

I made him this. Look out for the chicken feet slippers that he "HAD to have"....:

Monday, April 9, 2012

This week's To Do list in no particular order

Right.... don't mind me while I just make a little list here for myself, mmkay?

• Celebrate Steve's 40th on Thursday! (As in, actually remember to say something to mark the momentous occasions because, y'know, I could very well forget given my over-worked brain's track record of late)

• Finish this ruddy slideshow of Steve from the moment he was born to the moment he declared trackies and moccassins appropriate attire.

• Lose the 2kg that has somehow crept back on in this past month. I blame all the chocolate of late.

• Make jelly cups for the party on Saturday.

• Finish the blog migration from Blogger to Wordpress.

• Try to stay out of the foetal position while I iron out any bugs and wonder what the HELL I was thinking when I made such a bold move as moving my beloved blog from Blogger to Wordpress.

• Find out how to transfer my feedburner from the old blogger address to my new domain.

• Ask myself if I need another easter egg. Really. The answer will be yes.

• Pray that my plan to make a tetris cake for Steve's party actually works as good as I imagine it might.

• Resist the urge to slap him if he so much as suggests it's not spatially accurate if I do too many of the same piece colour (it's a Tetris thing, you'll get it if you know it)

• Sleep some? Clean some? Remember to feed the fish?

• Remind myself that simply looking pretty is not the same as working well. If it doesn't work, there's no point it looking like this:

What it MIGHT actually look like if I play my css/html cards right....

Most importantly, please oh please come looking for me if my blog suddenly falls off the face of the Blogosphere. Promise me you'll come tap on my shoulder on Twitter or Facebook or something? Still not convinced but here goes, gang!

I'm switching over to Wordpress (hopefully) by this Friday!  Gulp!

(p.s. I have some questions to ask you when you get there - most pressing right now for me is that I won't see all your faces and avitars any more over there in comments on WP! I'm not impressed about that at ALL, I need to see your pictures! It's all going to be topsy-turvy Grey-Man Land!)

And just lastly....

Steve's turning 40!!! My little (incredibly tall) Lenny!  I've been with him since he was 20..... how is this possible? Mercy, me.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday, bloody Sunday

Easter Sunday and my waking thought today is, "That carpark was so familiar to me and now I don't visit it any more."

The hospital carpark. The one I knew like the back of my hand. The timing required to find a park in the rare as hens' teeth undercover spaces. The best tree shade in the vast lot. Where the ring road went and how it's better to cut through between buildings if you have a careful driver in front because it means they will go all the way around and you'll make it to the gate before they do. The distance to the entrances. All of them - the one to the lift and then the undercover breezeway, the one that most visitors use, the entries that are less commonly used except for the serious visitors - the long term ones like you.

I woke up gradually, after startling somewhat that this thought - out of any number I could have had - was the one my brain chose to lay out before me as dawn crept into our bedroom. What purpose could that thought have? Why have it if not to change a perspective, find some kernel in it that is useful to me (or better yet, someone else)? Do I have all the ingredients to make pancakes for breakfast this morning? Did any mice get the Easter eggs that were carelessly dropped by a less than stealthy Easter bunny last night as he hopped clumsily from the LGBB's bedroom and out the front door?

Thoughts are mercifully funny like that. They can change on a whim and distract you from yourself.

~ • ~

After my dog Pepper was cremated in February, her body was returned to us in the most exquisite carved heavy wooden box. Nailed shut. Tamper-proof. Amazing. So respectfully and tastefully done. These were animal lovers, they understood what it means to lose a beloved faithful pet. I could just tell. It was a stark and sobering contrast to what we were confronted by at the end of 2004.

See, when Steve finally plucked up the courage to collect Ellanor from the funeral parlour after almost ten months had passed - we just couldn't, could not face the scenario.... would you race down there do you think? I don't know, I still don't know what I would do and I've already done it! - he returned home with her ashes. In a plastic cannister.

A plastic cannister. Not unlike the kind you'd store your spaghetti in.

It was up to us, the parents, to transfer the contents of that unnatural vessel into a new place. Something we had to go out and choose and create for ourselves. A job I would neither recommend nor ever wish to do again. But on the other hand, an ultimately cathartic one.

We laid our daughter's remains to rest exactly one year to the day after she was born.

I've been awake for an hour now. And the longer I'm awake, surrounded by dusted bunny feet that I am just itching to vacuum off my otherwise clean floors, the more horrified I am becoming that a funeral parlour - just any old one, who KNOWS who they are? - were entrusted with the body of my firstborn child and returned her to me in a plastic container with a screw-top lid. Thanks for coming, so sad she couldn't make it. And yet, our dog is given the respect she deserves; someone who knows the profound importance of a long-time companion and gets that you want their remains treated with care and compassion made sure that they were.

It's harsh and it's hard. If it's hard to read, you can guarantee it's pretty difficult to reconcile with as the parent. These are the things that aren't considered. But sometimes it's just the little details that would make all the difference. You know?

That right there. That is why society has to collectively pull its socks up. Understand that these babies are people. Important. Equal to those of us who live. Sure, we've come a long way since the days of whisking a stillborn child from its mother and not allowing her to see him or her. But have we really done all we can?

This may be a privileged world we westerners live in, but it is the corner of the world we live in. If we can walk in to a shop and buy pretty much anything we desire, then we should also reserve the right to have our deceased loved ones - no matter what their size or age - treated with dignity and respect.

My daughter came home in a temporary jar. That's what my thoughts are stuck on today.

~ • ~

Please oh please, sweet mercy, let Lolly wake up soon.


I need to escape.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Quieted into prayerful hope

It was 8 o'clock last night when I sat down to write my personal highlights post from the Digital Parents Conference. I thought I might just check out one or two (or eight.... or maybe ten) other posts from some favourite bloggers of mine before I got started.

And that was my first mistake.

At 8:15pm, the LGBB wandered up for last hugs (she's all out of sorts, part first school-holiday-funk, part daylight savings over-tired emotional confusion). I tried to discretely wipe away my flowing tears. She came over to me from hugging her Dad and looked into my eyes before she held me tight. She was all soft and warm from the comfort of her cosy bed and pretty nightie. We didn't let go of each other for at least a minute. The whole time, I was offering up grateful thanks to the unseen Master of Ceremonies, that my child would never know starvation - beyond what she deems as "starving of deaf" when her tummy is so hungry it growls - and that we had the capacity and the facilities around us to provide safety, comfort and nourishment.

You see, one of those blogs visited was Edenland. If you didn't know already, Eden and two other mum bloggers (Kim from South Korea and Stephy from Germany) have travelled to Niger in Africa with World Vision. There is a food crisis so severe there that people have been working hard for months to slow the effect. But we all know how these things go. There is malnutrition. There is displacement. There is famine. There is death.

Lolly broke away from me and checked my eyes again. I smiled wanly at her but the kid wasn't buying it. My thoughts were too loud for her not to hear something. She does that sometimes. Cheeky minx. "Oh Mummy, you need a tissue. I'll get you one." I watched as she climbed up onto the desk behind me and reached past the iPad, beside the iMac, over the two hard drives that store our movies and photos, and grabbed a tissue. She handed it to me with an endearing smile and then followed her father back to bed. Thank God. I didn't want to have to explain my way out of my tears. Not tonight.

When we first received the sponsor child information for Miriam in Peru, I cried similar tears. This child with the wild hair, hard face and aged eyes was my hope in 2005. Hope that babies and children do live in this world. Not just live. Thrive. Off the back of losing my own child in privileged circumstances, Miriam brought me so much joy - she was alive! Our money and basic luxuries may not have saved our own child, for no amount would, but it seemed almost too easy to give if money was virtually all that stood in the way of Miriam's village receiving basic services that would help everyone.

Survival is a basic right, certainly a natural instinct, but it does not befall everyone in this world. Losing a child is a reality for a woman sitting in a hospital NICU just as much as it is for one sitting exhausted under a tree giving the only shade in a dry, foodless wasteland. And I feel guilty. So, so, so guilty with my lot. That I would even call it a "lot".

So, I can't quite yet muster up that DPCON12 post I was hoping to bash out on these weary keys - did you know, I've typed so much on this lappy that I have worn through my second keyboard? And yes, they can be replaced! Who knew??

Perhaps the wrap-up post will come a week out from the day. It feels right to let it sit a while longer. And wrong to force it if my energy and attention are elsewhere for the moment. And right now, they are with the beautiful mothers who took my breath away and made the tears fall faster and harder.

From Eden's latest post.

To keep up to date, you can follow the hashtag #edeninNiger on Twitter.


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