Saturday, October 29, 2005

People only do their best

I have to believe this, otherwise I just don't know how I could comprehend some people/situations, including my own.

I would assume that others have this view too. But perhaps not.

Perhaps it's difficult to walk a mile in someone's shoes. Perhaps I am talking from the dysfunctional stance of having had a childhood of emotional and mental abuse, scarred as I am by a mother who "knew no better and was only doing the very best she knew how." I had to trust, I had to just believe it would be better once I made it on my own, went my way, but constantly the learning was there in me: be forever obliged to do right by people, reserve your judgement of others, to each their own, take people at face value and don't guess where they're "at".

I am still like that. And yet now I struggle. I struggle because so many things seem so fucking futile since losing Ella. I mean, for God's sake, a client on the phone yesterday telling me they're concerned the colours on the last run of brochures doesn't "quite" match the new ones. And I just want to scream "IS IT SO IMPORTANT that your blues aren't identical when I haven't got my baby with me?"

But of course I can't. Not in the real world, oh no. You're not allowed to inflict such displays of selfishness on others when you're the parent of a deceased baby. It's all about making those in your presence comfortable. And it is completely tiring to live like this, knowing that people don't want to know, don't want to talk about, your child. So I turn here, to somewhere I used to deem relatively controlled, sort of private, bar the fleeting visits from browsers who haven't a clue who I am and couldn't give a toss.

And so I have made a few wrong turns, as all good people do, and I've ended up here. In a place where I am equally gagged and adored by people. How utterly bizarre!

You'd be forgiven for thinking I'm bored. I'm not. I am dreadfully taken up by work commitments, especially of late, and yet still nagging at me is the thought that I ought to be bouncing a bouncinette with one foot or warming a bottle - or prepping a boob, ok ok, for any BFA zealots - and quite frankly, WHERE I HAVE BEEN AND WHERE I HAVE COME FROM the vast majority of happeners across this space I have set up here have not and will not EVER be.

I am on a different plane now (or planet, some may argue, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that, sure). I am on a very new, separate road. It has massive opportunities for giving, seeing, healing, more than I ever had before Ella. And yet, it is such a devastatingly lonely place. I see the things people do in a far different light - and I do believe I am judging more harshly than I ever have in my life. The reason is this: I never before saw the butterfly effect of people actions/words/way of living and interacting with each other and Mother Nature. I see it now. In my own personal headspace, I am not letting people off as lightly as I used to. And I think it is shocking and scaring people who have known me for so long. Get to know me again, the new me now, and they will see someone with so much more depth than before. But all they see are these blips on the radar here and there, because they don't really want to look. Are they scared? Scared of how much I have changed, of how I am somewhere they'll never be?

It's a curse and a blessing, this suitcase of gifts my daughter has left me. I liken it to my version of other mothers' attempts to "learn as you go" with your baby/toddler/school child - how often have you thought you were doing it all wrong where your young charges are concerned? Imagine trying to figure it all out with the obvious lack of that child in your life! And then judge me again. There are a very few around me, who can't stand back and see the big picture, who may feel she should've taken her luggage with her and not entrusted it to me. But to be a trailblazer, I guess I have to start trusting that all this shit that's happening now is still going to pass. And good things do come to those who wait. I guess it's the choice of closing the lid and saying "Nah, thanks anyway, but I don't want to grow or change, I'd much rather wallow in my grief and never appear normal again". I've chosen to get in and rummage around and wow, the things I am finding in there are scary and confronting - but godammit, I am trying everything on to see if it fits.

What the HELL gives someone the right to think it is ok to invade, invade, invade every last bit of solace and comfort that I have? What? Do you want me to break? Look in my eyes, darling, you will see the mended canvass of a million pieces that have been put back together. You are not going to shatter me. Because nothing ever could again. Not after losing my girl. May you sleep soundly in your sheltered little fantasy.


Monday, October 24, 2005

When a good coffee experience goes bad

The other day I was visiting my "friend" Gloria (me and Gloria Jean, we're on first name basis) and my mind started to wander as I waited for my coffee.

It had been a perfectly normal morning, took the pup to "school", came home, did some pottering in the garden, chatted with Steve, all the usual stuff. A typical weekend day. My mood was good, chipper.

I'm setting the scene for you like this to try and convey what it's like, when it strikes, out of the blue. That instant nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach. I see a thousand prams go past me, a hundred pregnant women. I catch the eye of countless children. And it really IS ok, mostly, for me these days. As was the case waiting in line as my mind wandered.

There was nothing in particular that triggered the thought process I had, standing there. It was as quick as a flash, actually, remembering how I'd been standing there that day in January this year. Ella's birthday, the 13th. Steve had taken the day off work. We had both been going to scatter her ashes at the park where we held her memorial the week after she died, last February. And as I opened the front door that morning, Steve had frozen, the cold hard cliche funeral parlour bag complete with stork taking flight against a misty background, the canister containing our daughter's remains inside. He stood stock still and uttered simply, "I can't do it. She's too little! I can't..." We had agreed in the weeks leading up to her birthday that this is what we'd do. I alternately felt a pang of fear, frustration and agreeance - I was torn again. It had felt like the right decision to me, but now that I heard Steve say it out loud.... yes, how could we let her go?! Forever?

We stood at the front door in mid step, big hot tears rolling slowly down our cheeks. I can still feel them. I can still remember the indecision, the discussion that no parents should have to have with each other. At any rate, I mentioned, I wanted her put to rest by the end of her birthday so we had til midnight that night. I felt very strongly that another year could not pass with my daughter inside a plastic container in my buffet in the dining room. Holy fuck.

So we decided to go to our local shopping centre, to a very favourite shop of mine (Beacon Cove, if you know it) which I love to browse occasionally. It's full of very lovely dark wood furnishings, oriental-themed decor, artificial blossom on sticks, you know the usual... I look around in there but never really look carefully at every item, I think I just like going in there to imagine myself with the money to decorate my home with all their things. I think I've made about 3 purchases there in as many years - their prices are a tad exy.

As soon as we walked in, we gravitated to a shelf. Neither of us really knew what we were looking for, but Steve saw it first. It was a rectangular-shaped cube, with three sides with spaces for a photo and a hinged lid, also with an inset for a photo. Inside, a beautiful set of lift-out photo sleeves, each with their own wooden spine, allowed for 120 photos in total. It was like its very own complete little filing system. And we thought it was breathtaking for our purpose. There was enough clearance beneath the photo sleeves to create a false bottom, into which we planned to spread Ella's ashes.

And it all turned out perfectly. On the day when we should have had our little cherub with us, balloons, streamers, high-fives for each other on surviving the first year of parenthood, a cake... instead we were purchasing the monument in which we were going to entomb our little one. Joy!

Around the corner from Beacon Cove is Gloria Jean's. Steve hates coffee, can't even walk past the place without getting an instant headache. But he insisted on that day that I should "go visit your friend" for a comfort beverage. The girl behind the counter, on seeing my glassy eyes, gave me an extra free stamp on my loyalty card.... a simple gesture that rendered me blubbering at her kindness. "You look like you need a double free one", she said. Funny the things that set me off crying these days. I really am quite hopeless.

So. Back to the present. Standing again in the same shop, buying the same old fave (skinny mocha truffle, in case you're shouting me next time *wink*), my thoughts had turned to wondering what Steve and I would do for Ella's "second" birthday. I can't believe it's coming up. Again, now, as I type, I feel the familiar stomach-churning nausea and the pounding heart in my chest at the sheer unfairness of it all, that hopefully, maybe, this year my tummy will be growing with a new bub (as it should have been on her first birthday, had we not had to stop the pregnancy that would have been well into the second trimester as we remembered Ella earlier this year). I thought, amidst the noise of the coffee machines and the loud chatter of the patrons, 'I suppose Steve will make a ritual of taking the day of work on the 13th of January each year, how could he not' and I wondered what we, as a couple and until we welcome new little people into it, would do to commemorate the day together.

And then, as I was pondering all this, I surprised myself by feeling the familiar hot sting of tears. They filled my eyes until gravity forced them down my face. I'm very used to crying in public now and think nothing of it. There is no way to control showing the emotion, not when it cuts so deeply into your daily thoughts so suddenly and unexpectedly. Right there, 20+ months on, here I was uncontrollably having a 'moment' close to the memory of my girl. It happens so rarely now, I allow myself to be consumed by it wherever I am. Usually it's at home. But when I'm out, pah, so be it.

And then I heard it. Faintly at first, so faint I thought I was just imagining it up for good effect. But straining my hearing a bit more, I distinctly caught the tune and heard the words. They were playing our song. Ella's and my song. I sang it to her every day when she was still in my womb and it was the only thing that settled her in those times when she was restless in the NICU. It was Dream A Little Dream. How ironic the words seemed to me after I had met her, the tune I'd been happily singing because I loved the song... and now I was comforting her with them and they seemed so goddamn fitting it tore (still tears) my heart out to hear them. But still I sang. I sang and sang and sang it to her because I could see, the nurses and Steve could see too, that it settled her beautifully.

Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper "I love you"
Birds singing in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me

Say "Night-ie night" and kiss me
Just hold me tight and tell me you'll miss me
While I'm alone and blue as can be
Dream a little dream of me

Stars fading but I linger on, dear
Still craving your kiss
I'm longing to linger till dawn, dear
Just saying this

Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me

I know it was coincidence, even though this particular Gloria's outlet normally played some sort of modern rubbish (ooh showing my age) that was indiscernible and certainly not familiar; I know it must have been coincidence that the strains of this particular song came filtering through all the loud noise around me right at that very moment when I was thinking of Ellanor and felt so close to her and the time we spent together.

It must have been, mustn't it? Do you believe?

Saturday, October 8, 2005

"How's the baby thing going?"

If I was as good at comebacks as I am at getting pregnant, I'd be the Donald Trump of the comeback world. I'd be savvy. Smooth. Cool, calm, collected. Unphazable (I made that word up. I'm a Trump. I can do what I like). Unlike George "that's what I shoulda said!" Costanza.

Our next door neighbours moved out this week. They'll be sorely missed. They and their two young boys have been the quietest, most respectful people you could hope to live next to. Hell, even their dog barks quietly (no kidding). Last week, knowing their settlement date was drawing to a close, I stopped for a rare chat with Stu as he busied himself with moving things out.

"How's all the baby stuff going?", he asked innocently, pointing to my belly. Wow, what an opener! No "How's this weather", "Are you well", "Did you catch last night's ep of The Alice" (er... and the answer to THAT one would be an emphatic "NOOOOOO! Don't even make me think about the show la la la, I can't hear you I can't hear you, bad show, bad show"). I just started replying politely, going into a fair bit of detail for the increasingly wide-eyed nice man. Well, he asked! I should have thought of a socially acceptable reply that enabled me to get out of divulging anything at all. Something to respectfully and firmly crush him and all others like him who have the balls to come right out and ask so boldly. But I didn't. Why? Because I didn't want to see him crushed, is why.

Why is it that I can be unoffended by my neighbour, whom I barely speak to or see, asking me such personal and forthright questions, and yet I don't let others close to me off the hook when they say misplaced things that are purely meant to comfort?

But I digress. Big-time.

I wanted to explain just how great the baby "thing" is going. I'm all smiles at the moment, I don't know what's wrong with me. What's this, I keep asking myself. Then I realise it's my cheek muscles flexing into a grin. Oh! Nice, different, 's unewesual.

I bought the VIP membership on Fertility Friend yesterday, thanks to my good buddies over at the fertility charting forum I frequent. I am a new girl! I'm pissing on sticks (ovulation predictor ones) like they're going out of fashion - oh, holy shit, I hope they don't ever go out of fashion... imagine it. I'm surrounded by my temperature chart, cover lines, cervical mucus, the works. By purchasing this membership, somehow my ovulation date changed from Saturday last to "possibly" today. Hmmmmm. I've heard of stress, illness, miscarriage, etc., affecting ovulation. But never money.

What a difference a Visa makes.

Ok, I was gonna leave it there but in all fairness to my Friend, Mr, I have to explain to all you non-charting bods out there. There are several charting "methods" by which the computerised software plots your course through your daily basal body temp readings. I was using the basic kind of "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" cutting edge one, not really founded much in facts and proven method, but more the trailblazing type method. I changed it to the more sedate, tried and true method. And when I did, my coverline (the magical red line that indicates the point at which you've ovulated that all good charting obsessors aspire to during the first half of their cycle each month) disappeared. I was so relieved! It's made the mystery of my Himalayan-horizon of a chart look far more understandable. I thought my progesterone had dropped off the face of the earth, shamed and offended into obscurity by the fact that I dissed its effectiveness when I was taking the IVF clinic-prescribed progesterone support for the last couple of cycles.

But no! Methinks the progesterone lives! All hail my progesterone!

Friday, October 7, 2005

"InfertileWorld" - sounds like a weird gym

(NB: The website "" that was quoted and linked to in this post originally published on my blog in 2005, appears to be now obsolete)

This is quite a good article. It covers some of the many very valid points. These in particular really spoke to me:

Don't say, "Isn't it time you got over this and moved on?" It is not as easy as it seems, to just ‘move on’ If you lost a parent, would you be able to move on and forget so easily? I will feel better in time, but I will never forget my baby.

Don't say, "Now you have an angel watching over you." I never wanted an Angel. I wanted to hold my child in my arms, and never let him or her go. Knowing she is an angel doesn’t help me.

Don't tell me horror stories you’ve heard. I really don’t need to hear right now that someone else has had it ‘worse’ than me, even if their story has a happy ending. Hearing about someone else’s pain does not lessen my own pain.

Don't pretend it didn't happen and don't change the subject when I bring it up. If I say, "Before the baby died..." or "when I was pregnant..." don't get scared. If I'm talking about it, it means I want to. Let me. Pretending it didn't happen will only make me feel utterly alone. It actually helps me to talk about it sometimes.

I thought the "angel" thing was just me... so many people seem to get comfort from it, but perhaps they don't! Maybe they're being gracious in the face of people saying "Oh you have an angel on your shoulder now." Bugger off, I'd rather a baby with Vegemite smeared all over her face, thanks all the same *smile sweetly*.

The only thing that strikes me about this kind of article, though, is... why are they always on websites called things like Aren't they better placed on, er, Because really, it's kinda like preaching to the converted and that's fairly defunct, I'd say. The same thing I found funny about my IVF Newsletters - yeah, sure, it's nice to know there are others in the same boat so you can nod your head along with it... but tucking them away inside Infertility publications is not the way to educate the people who really ought to be reading about this kind of thing.

Get out there and EDUCATE THE MASSES! Stick it on a banner ad on Ebay, off a flag hanging from the Harbour Bridge, on a St Kilda Road billboard, on a parenting forum......


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