Thursday, April 28, 2011

Embracing Infertility: Boys are strong, like King Kong

I know exactly when it happened. When I turned the corner and stood face to face with the fact:

I am infertile

I had spent years skirting around the issue, the word, the stigma. Years justifying it with:

"I get pregnant literally all the time, so we're obviously fertile."
"We've become parents once before, it will surely happen again. We don't need extra help."
"I'm not the infertile one with the *thing* causing the problems, it's my partner."

I want to explain something here that I have never dealt with - I don't think?? - on either of my blogs [aside: I had a different blog for two years before Sunny Side Up and it is this first blog that I intend to dissect and repost here over time]. It speaks to that need to belong. That feeling of wondering "where do I fit?" in the world of infertility and pregnancy loss. I thought infertility was one and the same. I thought it was something you either had... or you didn't.

Here's what happened to me:

One day several years ago, I sat with my growing folder of assisted conception paperwork all on IVF Clinic letterhead, browsing the information while I waited for my latest blood test with my nurse. Suddenly, I sat bolt upright. There, staring me in the face were the words "Infertile Couple" on some referral letter or another. After the initial feelings of shock and indignation wore me down and I sat with the label for the rest of the day, I supposed that if this was how the medical system viewed me and Steve then it simply had to be. If we had to be considered on paper as "infertile" in order to receive treatment to hopefully skirt our genetic factor, then so be it. At least it was feeling like it was getting us somewhere further in our seemingly never-ending journey to bring home a child. I made nothing much more of it.

A few months later. I was served a lesson that smacked me once and for all between the eyes.

Reading on a forum I used to frequent in my "trying for another baby" days/months/years, the deflection and denial turned into reflection and acceptance. I saw an exchange between two women - and I can't tell you with any great accuracy how much IVF drugs may or may not have played a part in how hotly this got debated and weighed in on - that basically went like this:

"Oh, it's not me with the problem. It's my husband." I began to nod along with what the woman was expressing, until I read the response...

"Honey, you're in a relationship with this man? And he is the infertile one? Then sorry, you are both infertile."

It was so harsh. My cheeks flushed instantly and I felt so indignant that I rose a little off my seat, so ready was I to bash out a retort on my overworked keyboard. The cursor blinked back at me in its sea of white. I sat there staring at the other member's words. And then, as the realisation finished all its connections I raised my eyes from the screen and focused somewhere off into the middle distance in front of me.

Holy shit. That's me.

I wanted to recoil. To cringe. To shy away from all that I had been merrily labelling my own husband with before tripping off into some fanciful "Get out of jail free" type card. I realised with a start that I had been absolutely fooling myself all along and it had taken a virtual stranger's words to stun me out of my oblivion.

Ever since the test results had come back, in 2002.
Ever since we had been given a Russian Roulette-style run-down by a geneticist with more statistics than a statistician.
Ever since we were told we were "lucky" we could "get pregnant easily" by the geneticists.
Ever since we discovered our choices were, if we wanted a child, to either keep conceiving and hoping for a "normal one" or we saved up for IVF. Very expensive pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) - biopsy of embryos after ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) - kind of IVF.

We had already welcomed our first child in to the world. Against ALL odds. We had also farewelled her just 31 days later. My realisation came many long months in to our continuing, angst-filled journey to conceive again. When I attempted to join in to online groups, I entered with the added confusing twist that I was already a mother. But technically, not "mothering". Mostly, I was invited in with welcome arms by fascinating, insightful and supportive women all going through the IVF mill and sharing the process and the journey with each other.

I had experienced the wonder of pregnancy and birth. I felt somewhat set apart from people who had not experienced either of those things. "Set apart" in that I felt guilty, somewhat of an imposter. Should I be chatting with these women, many of whom were yet to even fall pregnant, when I had experienced it time and again? How much knowledge should I impart to them? What was too much information? What was not enough sharing of my vast experience with pregnancy (to not share what I knew was equally irresponsible of me, in my books)?

It was a brilliant - absolutely invaluable - learning ground. I learned how and where and what to pitch about myself. I honed a sense of tact and diplomacy. I learned to recognise how exhausted I felt after I put too much of myself out for others to voyeuristically take from - a truly useful thing, given that the birth of my blog was just around the corner.

But I still wasn't entirely sure I shouldn't be in with the "secondary infertility mums" - those who were experiencing infertility but who already had at least one child. I'd go in there and they would be discussing the trials of IVF cycles around play dates and kinder meetings. I couldn't possibly do that, it gutted me. So I stayed with the first-timers. Those yet to become parents. And I cried countless times, privately, at how much I couldn't share about my daughter. It was well known on the forum that I had lost a child. I spoke about it in different areas of the board. But remained respectful on the IVF forum.

Once I had our second daughter, the LGBB, I was well and truly ousted. The "trying to get pregnant" crowd naturally booted me from the nest I was so safe in. I don't blame them, I would have done the same thing. I didn't know where to fit in after that. I was not someone who had come to motherhood in a relatively straightforward way, so I felt quite set apart from other new mothers - "normal" mothers, I considered them, in my hazy newborn-mind state. And I found I could not really handle reading about the change in some of the people who had struggled through the tedious nature of infertility (or otherwise just an unexplained "long time to conceive"), now mothers and complaining about it all the way. That was really hard. I floundered for a while, but left the community within the year.

I stayed with the one thing that accepted me how it found me: my blog. I made the rules there. I didn't need a label there. Eventually, I felt compelled to find and embrace my voice as a mother, a fully-fledged mother (regardless of my shattered journey to getting there eventually) and I began to flex my muscles - on the blog - about the hard parts of motherhood. I agonised for the first year of Lolly's life and it literally almost sent me mad. Oh the guilt at complaining! So I felt like I had well and truly alienated myself from any of my "IF sisters" from the online community I had joined. I struggled to join in with mothers who didn't have a deceased child anywhere in their brood. I straddled both worlds and felt accepted in neither.

But I digress. Back to the subject of embracing infertility.


I came to realise that Steve and I were in this together. That simply because my body was not the "issue", my reluctance to get on board and properly partner him - embrace the fact together - sent him a really awful, lonely, unintentional message on my part.

I embraced our infertility then. In fact, I took it on so much that an exasperated friend at one point asked me when I was going to "stop allowing" infertility (and loss) to define me. The truth is, it has defined me. If nothing else, I have grown my compassionate self, have championed the cause alongside others, have really discovered the depth and breadth of who I am because of our conception history, not in spite of it.

And as for Steve, well, I could not be more proud of him flying the flag. Hell, the guy has even had his sperm talked about on national radio (more than once)! You've gotta be okay within yourself to be down with that, don't you? When I stand back and have a look at our learning curve, together as a couple, it's a wonder we haven't run away and hidden under adjacent very big rocks. As facetious as it might sound, I am proud of my partner. Deeply respectful of the processing he has done, all on his own, to reach a point of acceptance in himself to be okay with our situation being discussed in public. In a book. And, of course, in depth in my book about our journey.


It's a very deeply personal and subjective, er, subject. So I would never rush to encourage anyone else to do anything other than what feels right for them. But if nothing else, above all, I feel more comfortable saying now that "we" are infertile - despite the fact that I am about to go and do the kinder run to collect our only surviving child - and I will never again look on infertility as being the issue of either the male or female. To me, it is a couple thing. At least, that's what worked for us.

If you would like to chat privately about this post, please feel free to email me. My contact information should be up there ^^^ in my profile.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Survival of the fittest

I'm not as fit as I thought. I ran out of steam just three days in to the two-week marathon that is

*cue the music in a minor key*

The School Holidaaaaaaays  mooo-hahahahaaaa.

I admit to finding it very hard this year so far, this one-on-one with the main beautiful 'thing' in my life that causes me to keep breathing and living - the LGBB - because if it's at all possible, she seems even more mentally voracious this year. I get up early just to be ready for her. She gets up moments after me. No matter WHAT time of day I rise. No kidding, if I get up at 5:15, there she is at 5:20. If I get up at 6:50, there she is at 6:51. HOW??? It's uncanny. She's always done it. Only on the rare occasion do I get a blissfully peaceful half hour or more to myself in the mornings. Usually, I have to grab a blanket and order her to lie next to me because "it's far too early for anyone to be up.... Er.... and uh, do as I say, not as I do...."

I've dropped from last year having 18-20 hours of child-free time per week to just 11. I've felt it. Keenly. And those extra hours when my child is home with me - my home is, obviously, where we live, but also my workplace as well as an ongoing renovation site - feel just a little more claustrophobic this year. Even though the LGBB is at the same time becoming more and more enjoyable (read: less whingey) to be around. She's a sheer delight. But even she needs something else other than her mother, one on one, for all these seemingly dragging hours every week.

I wish I could give her more. I wish siblings were not so unattainable.

This year, the weeks during Term 1 seemed even more tricky to navigate in terms of juggling the LGBB's needs, my needs, work life and home duties. I get just two days a week [she does two kinder sessions of 6 hours and 5.5 hours... sounds like lots of time, doesn't it? It's really not] to cram in as much relatively free-thinking Me-Time as I can. I class this Me-Time as anything that doesn't involve having to cater to a little person who is self-sufficient but who just chooses to come sit by me. And interrupt every. Two. Fecking. Minutes. Because I am awesome. Obviously. There is just no leaving me alooooooone.

So it's time for me to catch up on paid work. Time for me to clean a hole in clutter on the kitchen benches. Time for me to run a vacuum over the floor as fast as I can. Time for me to get grocery shopping done. Time for me to meal plan (Ha! hahahahaha, never happens). Time for me to at least consider what I should make for dinner.... Many things it's time for me to do. Which makes the time the LGBB away feel crammed and hectic, but at least I'm on my own to do them for that little while.

Funny. Ironic. Hypocritical of me. When just six years ago, I was lamenting being "alone, alone, alone" day after endless, mind-numbing, heart-searing day. Funny, also, when I am desperate for school to start - in both a "please, make it come so I can get lots of delicious hours to do my work and writing and study" and a "please, don't ever let the time come so I can keep her coccooned from this cruel world of taunts and opinions and judgements and Justin Bieber songs."

It seems I cannot be satisfied, I think is the point of this post.

As you were.

Oh, no wait. I did have one question before you go:

School Holidays - love 'em or hate 'em? And why?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I have the most-read blog in the WORLD, people

If a tree falls in the forest... does it make a sound?

If someone says something about you and you don't hear it, nor hear it from those who heard it first-hand, that is, you are never wised-up to the conversation.... have the words been spoken?

What happens in today's social media age when someone makes a faux pas? An honest hiccup of judgement, something they deem quite suitable for publication but another individual (the subject, most often likely) feels is highly inappropriate? Can the words be taken back? Unsaid? Unwritten? Unblogged, untweeted, un-...Facebook-statused...ded? Really?

Do we all think everyone is talking about us, or has the potential to, and is that making us paranoid? Are we too precious, too careful, too narcissistic because of the wide range of ways we are now "available" and able to be reached and heard about, talked about, contacted?

"That's why I'm not on Facebook," (the fictitious) she says proudly. "I keep out of all that."

Little does she know, "they" still probably talk about her on Facebook and - more fool her - she has no account with which to log in, befriend "them all" and keep "them" honest while she's at it. But is she really so harmed if she is none the wiser to "their" tattle? And their photos of her that "they" posted on their walls and shared around, all without her knowledge or approval?

"You need to take that off your blog, I did not go there and I was not with her," (the fictitious) he fumes at his friend, the blog owner. "You've taken it all out of context."

Little does he know, the world's blog reading audience does not have eyes firmly fixed on that blog. At that moment. In that hour. That the link to its latest post will be so far down that Twitter feed - just his Twitter feed, nobody else's in his network because none of his friends follow the blog so, therefore, don't get the notifications he gets - he would have missed it had he blinked at that moment. For let's not forget, he's only seeing that post because the link came up on his feed but because he clicked on it AND it involved him and named him, he automatically considers the post too public for "The World" now. Even though nobody knows him.

Do we cringe at being a Nobody? Or do we cringe at potentially being found-out Somebody's? Is the world really that small a place? Or is social media turning us into out of control control freaks about our personal information? And I mean personal as in, common knowledge, the stuff of yesteryear's folklore, not tax file numbers and criminal/dental/medical records. Is it safer to use the word "allegedly" at the end of every statement, or at least every sentence? Just in case? Does that trick even work in the blog/Facebook/insert-social-media-forum-here world?

Put it this way:
Did Barry the Farrier from down Mill Lane get the shits up when Betsy the farm girl told Reginald at the pub about his embarrassing problem? You bet he did. You wouldn't blame him, would you? But see, only Betsy and now Reginald (well, and Barry as well) knew about it. That's as far as it went. Because the world was a smaller place. Without the internets. Oh, and electricity and cars and Google and whatnot.... Today, Betsy has a blog and she uses lots of air-quotes to "allegedly" get her out of any "legal trouble" with "someone whose name rhymes with Flarry" but whom she feels compelled to speak.

Is that fair of her? To decide?

Are there any rights, wrongs, happy mediums here?

If you had to stop writing about people, any people, any situation... what would your blog be like? Serious question. Even if you don't rely on the practice, can you honestly, truthfully say you don't talk about someone (what someone did, something someone said - whether positive or negative, in your words) on a daily or weekly basis? Do you never do it? You'd be rare if you can claim that. But if you could claim it, be proud of it! Huzzah to you! Long live your blog and your friend/family cred! And, have you just considered that serious question and waved it away with a swift "..but that's different when I do it. I don't use names, I never give away my location, I even blog under a pseudonym." How are you any different? How have we judged it fair and okay, when it is not our situation to share?

And please..... don't be thinking I am the pot calling the kettle a darker shade of pale here. I know I do it too. I have been firmly shaken awake and am now being made to smell the roses, thanks. They smell like shit today. Must be in the compost. Good for growth, wouldn't you say?

Does the most damage to relationships occur because of how the fallout from such a skuffle regarding an online faux pas is handled? Have you ever been in a maelstrom of twitterific proportions, whereby what you say - little old you - is classed as public and globally wide-reaching as CNN? Do you sometimes feel that people mistake you for a 24 hour news channel with a huge readership, when the reality is (come on, you can admit it) quite pitiful and about as non-newsworthy as they get? Does it strike you as ironic that the assumption is usually made by those unfamiliar with the vastness of blogs and other platforms of social media who don't realise the great unlikelihood of your blog coming across the computer screens of pretty much everyone they know... unless they themselves point people to it? To make their point of how dangerous blogs can be?

Deep breath.

But it still does beg the question: If you don't hear it, if it doesn't come up in your Google reader or on your Twitter stream, does that mean it hasn't been said? And if you do see it written, do you automatically assume the world's online masses are reading that very same thing (or at least, will read it at some point before they drop off this mortal coil)?

Am I asking far too many belligerent rambling questions? They're all rhetorical, please don't attempt to answer any/all of them ('tis your choice if you feel inclined, though). Am I even making any sense?

And finally, a statement:

I swear, sometimes I feel like I should have a head too large to fit through the door, such is the reach and influence my blog has. Allegedly.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Comments test

Please bear with me, I'm trialling a Blogger comment system (ironing out the bugs as we go... oh, how exciting/daunting to go live with this!) that enables threaded comments.

I found the tutorial here if you're game to give it a go. Please dear GOD don't ask me for any help! It's taken me much of the morning to tweak this baby. CSS and Javascript is tricky enough as it is when it's your own code, let alone when you're dabbling with someone else's hack for a script to run within a Blogger template. Yikes! But it's as good as any I've found and I'll bet the author ("Shams") will help if you give him a shout out in his comments on that post. He seems to really know his stuff.

You should notice that if you want to comment on a post, it will still give you a pop-up window. But if you have clicked to a dedicated post URL (ie. you are viewing just the one post on a page and its comments underneath), you will be able to reply to individual comments. I've just noticed, though, that if you reply to someone's comment, once it's published there's no link back to the post/blog. Er... bit of an oversight, that. Shall look at fixing.

A bit convoluted, but until Blogger joins the world party, it could be a good alternative. Save for moving my blog across to a completely new platform - I still have not seen enough benefits to outweigh the hassles and time involved in doing that, as I'm not a start-out blog... me n' Blogger, we've got a lot of history y'know! - I think this might just work. My housework is "exemplary" enough as it is, without me spending even more unnecessary time faffing about with my blog look. Small tweaks are all I have time for these days. I don't want to nurse a complete blog export. Perish the thought!

Use it, bear with it for a while, let me know what you think. Feedback welcome!

Colours.... I'm working on those too ;-)

Friday, April 22, 2011

One a penny, two a penny

Cannot believe how good these turned out!

I was neither hot nor cross making these beauties yesterday.

The LGBB doesn't like them, she's decided, I gather because they're probably not sweet enough even though they look like they ought to be. Poor deprived child.

Had a ball making them (and tweeting the photos during the process... yeah, sorry about that, just installed Instagram on my phone - I have previously used Steve's - so I'm still in that hot, heavy flurry of overdoing it). During the process, the rising of the dough and then the punching back down to size was terribly exciting - for me and for her - and at one point, looking in through the oven door while they were baking, the LGBB exclaimed, "I can't believe my EYES!" And I thought, "These better taste good or I am in deep trouble..."

Last time I attempted to make hot cross buns was in Mrs Stubbs' Home Ec class when I was fifteen. I was so put off by how they turned out that I haven't tried since. Back then, there was no diligent kneading for 10-15 minutes, certainly no embarrassing pounding of the risen dough. You wouldn't be caught dead following the "stupid recipe". Only lots of chatting, keeping our bowls out of harm's way - you had to watch that Dave, and Chris was even worse news - and trying not to get the daggy praise of Mrs Stubbs.

Mrs Stubbs was so gorgeous. She was like a mother hen, a tall stately woman in her 50's with a short, bouffant hair do and tiny spectacles that perched right at the end of her nose, which she would peer over to tell you kindly "this is the last needle I have, dear, so please don't break another" as she fixed a new needle to your sewing machine, or "you'll be thankful you've learned the difference between dicing, chopping and slicing" as if we cared. We did. I'll bet, right now, there are dozens of women (if not men) grateful of her careful nurture - as best you can with teens who think home economics is the "easy/slack-off" class where they didn't even try to pay attention. She's one of those teachers who I wonder what happened to, someone I'd like to bump into somewhere someday (if she's still alive) to just say, "Thanks." Oh, and, "Er..... sorry. For not listening. For rolling my eyes. For... just sorry. For everything."

It. Has. Risen!

Ready for the oven.
Easter is my favourite holiday of the year. There is a very concentrated feeling of stillness and peace about this holiday, I have felt it for a number of years now, probably since I was a child actually, now I think about it. I don't know what it is, but I gather it comes from prayer. Those who know me will be aware that I am not a religious person, which to me means I belong to no one religion. However, I have a faith. I believe in the divine will of the individual. I believe in the power of positive, thoughtful prayer. And peace.

This weekend, with the countless prayer services or quiet reflective spaces all around the world as well as close to home, it's no wonder one can't help but feel some of that. Now, while I believe in no one doctrine, as I said, I do respectfully observe the existence Jesus Christ. The stories about the man... well, about that I'm not so sure (and I'm not wanting convincing!). But it's this Christian holiday we are forced to observe, even more than at Christmas, that I really do appreciate. I was raised CofE, I've been to the services, I learned about it at school and at home. But by the time I was about 10, I learned no more. I got distracted, then I got rebellious, then I found my own way to a place of purposeful existence. But if you have ever been exposed to or learned these teachings, they stay with you for life. Or so I have found, so far. I think there is something quite profound in that.

Can you feel it, wherever you are?
Do you slow to a stop at Easter?
Do you catch the peaceful wave, however small, in your world?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A question on old posts: Feedback sought please!

I have been giving a lot of thought recently to resurrecting (well, more technically, just reposting) a lot of my old posts from my first blog - Musings - to here. There is a lot of useful information in them, a lot of "working through thoughts" that, while no longer relevant to me where I am "at" today, here and now, is still very real and pertinent to people going through the hoops of infertility/parenthood after loss, etc., and that will never change.

Without puffing my chest out too much, there's quite a bit of good stuff. And we all know how that goes: You're kinda only as good as your last blog post, aren't you! The good ones just get buried. A blogger who has been around as long as I have, posting pretty much daily for almost six years, is going to have LOOOOOADS of posts, at probably a 70/30 "crap/good stuff" split.

I have been hesitant to do this, though, on two main counts:  1) I don't want to stuff up anyone's blog roll/reader thing, and 2) as I assume they won't appear as the latest posts because I will keep them date stamped the same (ie. back in 2005-2007), they will probably just tuck neatly in to the blog's archives, meaning they won't be seen anyway. Aaargh! What to do?

I've been thinking I might move them across and then create a page - in fact, a whole new blog platform is in the (very fledgling stage) works - that contains links to the posts. Grouped in some sort of categorical order.

What do you think? Should I be bothered?
If you are a reader who is going through the throes of the crap associated with infertility/family and friends not getting you, or if you are recovering from the loss of a child or pregnancy... would this help?
If none of these categories sounds like you, but you read this blog, would you have any interest whatsoever in reading posts that are long in my past?

Just benchmarking today. Any and all feedback, opinions and suggestions welcome! Many thanks in advance for your input.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why I will never be a good jogger

It occurred to me this morning, as I jogged around the local park, that I will never be a jogger.

Hmmmm, what's that you say? Wasn't I jogging as I realised I would never make a good jogger? Well, yes. Of course. I mean, most of my realisations and "good ideas" come to me when I am jogging. I had a whole list of reasons why I was not going to make a good jogger by the time I had finished my run. And I was absolutely convinced of it by the time I had stopped, too.

Here, I'll give you the list I made and we'll see if you can guess what it was that so thoroughly convinced me:

• Location?  No, I am spoiled for choice about where I can go, including a grassy well-lit oval that's good all year round, no matter the time of day.

• Improper sports bra?  Well, yes. But no. I can get around the issue by wearing two. So that's not a good enough reason.

• Shin splints? Hell yeah. That's a good reason right there. Anyone who doesn't know what shin splints means obviously doesn't have the problem - let's just say, it is cross-eyed, blinding pain down your shin bones and aaaargh... I get them if I walk too powerfully. But I've discovered if I walk/run on grass, I'm good to go. And go. And go. So, no. This isn't the reason.

• It makes you stinky? Well, of course it does. But it's a goooood sweat. An invigorating sweat. And it's not a good enough reason for me not to jog. Pffft!

• Lack of music? I could always rectify this problem by taking the iPod out. I just forget and don't get organised. So, no. It's not that.

• I don't own any Lycra?  Nahh. The lack of spandex or purpose-bought running gear is not something I find makes me feel lacking at all. I can get by with a pair of long shorts and a manky singlet. Who's going to see me at 6 o'clock in the morning, anyway? Especially at this time of year? Let's face it, if I wasn't such an endorphin junkie, I would be tucked up in bed like the rest of you.

• I despise getting up early?  Pah! Poppycock! If any of you think it's this, you don't know me well enough. Early morning is my faaaaavourite time of the day. I feel cheated if I "sleep in", such a waste of that superb new-day vibe you get from being up and conscious before 7am (preferably before 6am! No, really!)

Look, all these things have merit on their own to be considered. But even put together, they are not nearly enough reason for me to stop persevering with the jogging.

No. There is one other thing that has me very close to stopping.

It's that gangly, boundy, slobbering, enthusiastic, hopeful eejit that gets under my feet in the hopes of getting my attention that does it. And I'm not talking about Steve when I'm trying to clean or cook in the kitchen, either.

Jazz. She is the singular cause for me jarring my body, doing quick leaps, dodging and just generally probably looking like I can't run a straight line to save myself to anyone watching from afar who hasn't spied the 50-odd pounds of flesh wrapped up in a chocolate brown fur coat that insists on placing tennis balls in my path. And then after she does that, she runs backwards - not terribly fast, as you might imagine - looking at me with those hopeful, pleading eyes.

I've half a mind to leave her at home. I can't, though. I simply cannot cheat her out of her chance to sniff and explore the world outside the gates. But maaaan, oh man, am I close.

How ever would I break it to her?

"Ball? My? Ball? You want? My ball? Ball? PLAY BALL? BALL????"

Sunday, April 17, 2011

And just like that...

... another bargain shoe shopper is born.

These are the ones she wanted. How could I argue with the price?

Thank you very much: This pair of girls' size 11's, down from $29.95

Nabbed yourself any bargains lately??


Today's post is a copy of one from May 22, 2008. The LGBB was just 22 months old. And I marvel now, looking back, at the character that she had already developed. If that's what one can call it. Nobody commented back then, when I had waaaay less readers than now. So I thought I'd do the whole repost shebang. I'm rewinding with the Fibro this weekend. The topic is 'Waiting'.... And as tenuous a link as this is, I was deep in the throes of waiting for our child to walk. Yes. At 22 months. (she did eventually get there just 3 weeks shy of her second birthday, but when you're putting this much effort into speaking - see below - I guess it's no wonder walking comes a pissy second in your importance)

We're still waiting for the walking to happen. But in the meantime, boy, has this kid got assertiveness all sewn up...

Last night, Steve was walking the LGBB to the bathroom. She was trailing behind taking her baby for a walk in the pusher.

S: C'mon, it's time for a bath.
L: *stops, busies herself* Wait a minute.

With this, the LGBB got to her knees and 'walked'* to the rug, where she had left her "pretty" (her headband is called pretty for some reason), shoved it on her head, smooshed it around a bit so it wasn't doing any of its intended purpose - ie. keeping hair out of ones eyes - and stood back up at the pram saying "Okay" and walked on.

And last night, standing at her table, the all too familiar smell wafted to me as I was starting tea in the kitchen. Yeah. I know. One of those ones if you can smell it from ten paces while you're preparing food. So I call out to her

Me: Hey, Lolly.
LGBB: Yeah? *turns to look at me happily*
Me: Do we need to change your nappy?
LGBB: *pausing, cogs visibly whirring in brain* No?
Me: Are you suuuuuure?
LGBB: *adamantly* NO!
Me: That means you're not sure. So we need to, I think (God I'm mean, catching her out on a slip-up of double negatives)
(now, this is where she would normally just accede and allow me to change her, but I dunno, the combination of little biscuits, her dolls house, The Jackson Five - did I mention? She's a psycho for a high-singin' bit o' young Michael - just about presented her heaven on Earth, apparently)
LGBB: Mummeh! *holds hand out in Stop sign* You go..... Bye Mummy, bye. *I paused* Go-orn, Mummy. In. You go. In kitchen. Go-orn!
(and then she actually pointed to the kitchen and motioned for me to get back in there like she was telling Jazz to get outside)

Steve walked in the door then. What timing! He bundled the LGBB up and I said "We were just going to change Lolly because she's finished her last biscuit now." And before Steve could answer, the LGBB pipes up, "No, Mummy. Kitchen." She stared me down. From the arms of her tall father, my daughter actually stared me down. So I pushed it, didn't I?

Me: But.... your nappy *ok so I was really teasing now*
LGBB: *slight frown, staring at me as if warning me not to explain to Daddy and give her game away - er, as if the stench didn't do that for me* KITCH-EN.

I guess I get the 'tude I deserve. To be perfectly frank, she scares me a little. Absolutely gorgeous and lovely and compassionate and funny. But.... just a spoonful of scary.

So there you have it. A day in the life of Lolly and me at the moment. She's running the rings and I'm in the kitchen.

* Oh, did I mention? "We" are still not walking. First steps is all I could have called what she did a few weeks ago, judging by the knee-'walking' still going on here. Eughhhhhh *sigh*

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Because getting there is half the fun!"

"Why aren't we flying? Because getting there is half the fun! You know thaaaat!"

I'm thoroughly enjoying documenting some home movies for the LGBB... a slightly less boring way than that which we had to endure. Anyone remember Super-8's using a projector and a blank internal wall as a screen and being forced to watch silent movie after silent movie? Nails. Down. A. Blackboard.

We took a camping trip a couple of weekends back. Our fate was unknown.

See, I've been trying to get Steve to go camping for the better part of, oh, about eighteen years and never once (apart from an awful frozen night up in Dargo - high country - where our little 2-man tent and pitiful preparations saw us greeted in the morning by a caved-in tent "roof" and a herd of cows that all but dragged our sorry excuse for a tent off with them.. while we were still inside) have we been camping. Proper, under the ti-trees, next to a beach, in a camping ground camping.

Until now.

We had the tent already - we bought this with a firm plan back in 2002 but as our special brand of luck would have it, that was the year I got pregnant three times and each time, we just postponed our trip (we were going to go through the Flinders Ranges in South Australia). We've never gone. Maybe one day. Now with the LGBB.

So we had the tent but nothing else. In the week before we left (the week after the Aussie Bloggers Conference), we scrambled to buy the necessities. We stuffed everything in to the car (just) and prayed they wouldn't identify us as newbies when we turned up, scraping off price stickers and cutting off tags from all our gear as we pulled in to the camping ground.

Lucky for us and possibly best of all, my Kleenex Mums win arrived in the nick of time and we were able to pack this beaut little camcorder in with us as well.

Listen, I'm honestly not being held to mentioning this again [side note: geez, those guys at Canon Australia - that's... @CanonAustralia if you're on Twitter - are so gentle when they twist your arm behind your back..... JOKES!] but this is a seriously impressive little hand-held camera. The thing even seems to reduce movement - you know when you're trying to film and keep getting bumped? Like in a crowded concert hall watching end of term dance concerts and parents are all jostling with each other for viewing space and trying to wrangle younger siblings who keep knocking the arm you're holding your camera in? Yeah. That happened to me. The video hardly captured the wobble! Amazing.

Of course, just because I have the camera doesn't mean I can use the camera. Mind you, the editing capabilities of iMovie are pretty good so I decided to go all Peter Weir-ish with the footage when we got home. Not sure if I'll ever be giving Scorcese a run for his money, but dang it's fun to try.

So sit back and enjoy this. Let me know what you think. It's okay, you can tell me it bored you until you squeezed out some angst-ridden tears if you need to.

Things you need to know to, you know... prepare you:

• There are copious scenes of my child in this. If this is going to bore or offend you in any way, just don't watch it. 'kay? 'kay, good.
• Windsor is an inner city suburb of Melbourne. She never had a chance of seeing the beach from there but it didn't stop the LGBB looking for it
• "Her building" is Eureka Tower, ever since we took a trip up to Eureka Sykdeck. Two years ago. Kid has a memory like an elephant
• Lolly sometimes laughs hysterically when excited
• I'm the only one in our family who throws their voice. Therefore, everyone else talks like a mouse. That's my excuse for the awful sound quality, anyway, cos that baby is cranked up as loud as she'll go.
• There is no such place as Angle Street. She is such a liar.

World's Longest Intro from Lolly Lovers on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Up yours, Dad!

Here's what happens when you let a toddler choose a card for her father on his birthday.

I have had this card for almost a year, waiting for the day I could let the LGBB proudly hand it to Steve. See, she thinks this is him. Some artist's impression of her dear Dad. The hair colour, the manly hand and the work shirt collar has convinced her it is him.

In the shop last year, choosing a card for someone else, she grabbed this and would not put it away. Quite unlike her (and most unlike me, too, giving in to an impulse-buy demand of my child's) she insisted until she cried that it was Daddy's birthday card, despite the fact that his birthday was still nearly twelve months away. I had to buy it.

Steve was suitably tickled that Lolly thought him so suave, debonaire. And downright arrogant. Ah, the joy of birthdays.

Happy 39th Birthday, Lenny*!

* Lenny is Steve. Long story. Boring story. He's just Lenny, 'kay?

Monday, April 11, 2011

On the importance of Friends and Online Connections

Over the past week or so, I have been thinking back over the past ten or so years of my life. Specifically, looking at the friendship and/or support circles I have been amongst and how these have grown, evolved, shattered and, ultimately, become something I am able to be genuine and my authentic Self amongst.

The brief rundown goes like this:

• High school - never properly fit in. I eventually found a group of 'safe' girls (who still had moments of excluding me and I was never "in" with any of the groups in any way that I felt properly safe, never to be "dropped") and we muddled through to the end of our school days together. Mostly at high school, I was the target of the bitches. I don't know why. I suppose I was a bit of a soft/easy target. When I was cut with their words, I bled noticeably. When I defended myself, I was ridiculed even more. It was not a comfortable time for me, high school.
Note to self:  Remember to execute healthy level of detachment from personal memories of school when helping the LGBB through her school years.

• Post-school years - My first job didn't yield any more personal friendships. I worked with Steve for four years during the mid-'90s. It made the two of us tighter, but my 'circle' didn't increase. Those same high school buddies were my only friends during those years, but I rarely saw them. Mostly due to our vastly different lifestyles. I had the house and the picket fence already, by the time I was 21. My friends were house sharing in the inner city and studying. Their first jobs were highly paid and saw them spending as much money on a pair of shoes as I was putting towards my share of the mortgage for the week.

• By the year 2000, I had had and lost my first pregnancy. This shot me right out into the stratosphere, way beyond my friends and their concerns. They couldn't understand if they tried (and I'm not certain they did put much mind to it). In my youth and confusion, I withdrew from them completely and we parted ways. It was long overdue, but I finally admitted that we just weren't in the same place and my friends, therefore, probably weren't doing me any favours (nor I them, being a bit like a dragging ball and chain already amongst their partying, uni-style, carefree youth).

• During the years between 1998 and 2003, I held jobs that brought me a few very firm, enduring friendships with co-workers. Several of these remain to this day. Some of them did not outlast what was to happen to me in 2004. And that's okay.

• After we lost Ellanor in early 2004, reality kicked in. After spending 12 months floundering in a sea of unknowns - who was I now, how difficult was I to be 'friends with', how the hell could I go back to who I was before knowing Ella and, therefore, what did that mean for existing friendships and relationships - I emerged in 2005 with a refreshing new arsenal:  The Internet. Forums. Blogging.

• Firm friendships formed from expressing myself online. And while I lost a relationship or two along the way through that same sharing and expression, the benefits and return have been inconceivable. Far more than I could possibly have imagined. What began as an investigation into what I was in for with my first IVF cycle in early 2005 turned into membership of an online community/forum that sealed the friendships of at least half a dozen wonderful people who, to this day, I call my friends.

People who know my struggles, are willing to stay in touch and go through them with me - many people who have themselves lost a child or been through miscarriage/s - and don't see me as some social leper because of all the loss I have experienced.

These are women who, although a year had passed since Ellanor's passing, treated me as they found me. Used compassion, a sense of knowing innately what they would have wanted if it had been them in that situation. They matched me better. We fit. It was worlds away from what had been my reality for the previous 12 months - which was, basically, "get on with it, I can't keep listening to you, I have to talk about me and my life and my children... you're, frankly, cramping my style and boring me with all your infertility and loss talk... come over and play with my kids, entertain me! Entertain them! Like you used to... Oh, what's WRONG now??" My newfound, unexpected friends sent me little gifts in the post, I arrived home to flowers on my doorstep on Ella's birthday in 2006 from several people, I got to start meeting some of these fabulous fellow online buddies, some of whom were following a similar path to me, others sharing only the similarity of desiring another child and chatting the days away as we all waited.

The point is, where once I was conditioned to think that I was not a decent friend now that I had too many burdens and opinions to share, I've actually made the healthier choice. This is not to say that I haven't had a baptism of fire - I've been burned and have burned others with some of my choices and opinions - but I have grown from this. I am very grateful to have seen this early on, even through my grief-stricken, low self-worth eyes, because had I not, I would have closed this blog and run away from this online life forever.

But I have stayed. I have learned. And I have grown.

And now, I have so many cherished blogging friends that I can't possibly link to them all! Some are very dear to me for personal reasons, others are dear because they are always here with a helpful word or dose of reality, a unique perspective on something I have written, or a bloody good laugh (and I always love doing that!). I was only able to meet up with and spend time with a very small portion of those bloggers - some of them were unexpectedly kindred and they were some of the most pleasant surprises of all to come out of the Conference for me - but I learned to let go and accept my Self even more after that weekend in March.

Me (left) with adorable Seven7Cherubs, the inimitable Glowless and the ravishing Diminishing Lucy

If you read my blog, you pretty much know who I am. Blogging has helped me stay on the straight and narrow. It has shown me so many things about myself, most importantly how to get real with my writing and expression. About the reality of not knowing ANYTHING about anything. About broadening my love and acceptance of All - my Self included ;-) - and about the things that keep me ticking. I know more about myself now, having been through this weeding out of my close circle and have come to realise a few things that I need to do to remain balanced in my life.

To keep writing

To keep sharing and expressing

To always remember the Bigger Picture

To get off the computer and get amongst the reality around me (whether it's a messy kitchen, a weed-filled garden, a needy house with four pairs of eyes following me wherever I go - that being, my child, the cat and the two dogs...)

To never, ever write anything here (or in comments) that I would not be comfortable saying out loud

To never forget why I started this in the first place and to be thankful, eternally, to that guiding light of mine. Wherever she is now.

So, what about you? Have you ever had a complete friendship cull? Have you shed the layers of your outer reality and found that your real Self needed to seek more like-minded souls? Have you never done it and perhaps grown together with the same people you've known since childhood/early adulthood? 
I'd love to hear from you! Email me instead if you wish, I always love to learn more.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Renovation Rewind reminder

I have no idea how fifteen months have passed since I posted about the ongoing, daunting, exciting home renovations we began in October 2009.

I can thank Altait from Life In A Pink Fibro for rewinding this weekend to December (of any year), because now I have been given a little boot up the backside about taking some After shots.  For now, though, please be my guest and come and see (or be reminded) what we were living in - December 2009.

I promise I will do some before and after shots this month sometime using the photos in that old December post, so you can see how far we've come .... and how much painting we still have to do *groaaaaaan*

Friday, April 8, 2011

But wait, there's more

The thought occurred to me that the final frames from my first vlog (in which I am chopped liver and my daughter steals all the scenes, as is her birth right... you know how it goes) were very similar to that of one of my all-time favourite lines of one of the funniest (I think) movies of all time.

Don'tcha think? The LGBB's forlorn wistful longing about wanting to be a cat was akin to the masterful Gene Hackman's desires to "make espress-ho" for his vanished friend. Ahhhh, my sides. How they hurt with wheezing at the similarities. But then.... you probably a) have to be her mother to appreciate the theatrical undertones of what you witnessed in that vlog, and b) have to be a huge fan from way back of Mel Brooks'/Gene Wilder's Young Frankenstein to fully get why it makes me laugh so hard.

So, anyway, I've been holding out on you. There was actually more to the video but I didn't want my first vlog to go on and on and on.... I save that especially for my posts, in writing. But there's, like, a whole further 20 seconds of the conversation. Wherein, the LGBB (that's the Lolly Gobble Bliss Bomb for all those newbies who have no clue what the acronym for our daughter stands for) tries to convince me to do her whiskers for her this time. And then does the silly four year-old dance that they all eventually break out into at one point or another. Every day. You know the one.

Far be it from me to offer up another tiny portion of 'umour.... Would you like me to splice something together over the weekend and get back to you with it?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Warning, warning! First Vlog attempt...

Well, after five years of blogging and never EVERRRRRR expecting I would be happy to do any sort of vlog.... today, I attempted my first one.

I had to. This Canon HV40 is just too darn cool not to play with.

All hail the people at Canon Australia for offering up this beauty to be snapped up by the winner of Kleenex Mum's Best Blog Post of 2010! Still can't believe I won *shaking head*

But, try as I might, the vlog I had planned actually didn't happen. Well... not how I expected it to anyway.

Are you ready? This is a monumental moment for me! For this blog. I've come a long way, baby. I could get used to this. It's a whole new level of ... whatever the opposite of my previous lock-down on privacy views is.

Okay. Quick unnecessary disclaimers: The windows are foul and dirty. The garden is so overgrown that our weeds are our plants. I didn't even brush my hair. There ain't no makeup (at least..... not on me). So I warn you. But this is it. This is the best of what I captured today.

I'll do better next time. Promises, promises........

Untitled from Lolly Lovers on Vimeo.

A dose of reality on a sunny day

They say (possibly awkward) laughter is the best medicine.

I give you a Facebook comment from my brother, the one who has called Japan "home" for the past two decades:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The World: In My End Is My Beginning

Image sourced from here

I sat back down at the computer this afternoon to continue my editing work. I am currently going back through the Green Ray manual.

I had left the document and gone about doing other things. Grocery shopping, hanging out washing, being distracted by Twitter and my Ebay auctions, picking up the LGBB from preschool, reading even more blog posts about people feeling left out. I had a lengthy phone conversation with a one-time colleague and mentor. Basically, about how I felt not one but two of "my communities" were in a period of flux. Change and growth. Where to from here.

All that sort of real "these here are changing times" stuff that comes around. You know? And suddenly, everything that once felt all sorted has suddenly gone and shed another layer of skin. And who you thought you were - or at least, where you thought you were headed - along with it.

So I came back to my computer, as I was saying. And I did something I rarely do: I read the work. There are so many words to align, correct, space properly.... I don't often take time to actually read what it is I'm formatting. It was with more than a little interest, then, that with all these thoughts swirling in my head marked "For Later" I read the following (and could not have been more buoyed and comforted about my place in The World):

Card #21.  THE WORLD (sits on Green Ray) - Tarot Card
THE WORLD is about supreme happiness that can be derived from living in the physical world.   
“So the darkness shall be the light and the stillness the dancing.”
The Fool has come to the end of his journey—or at least this part of it.  His lessons and experiences depicted throughout the Major Arcana have now been synthesised and absorbed into a completion so that physical life on Earth can be lived as it was meant to be lived.
No longer clothed with hopes and expectations of what the journey will hold but dancing the eternal dance within the ellipse of the “cosmic” egg, the Fool embodies the truth that
“what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not."
and that
“In my end is my beginning”
The Dance of Life continues in a never-ending cycle of birth and death and birth and death and so the Fool can look back at the past while dancing into the future.  Naked and free from all fear and falsehood, the Fool has become one with his Higher Self.  Our outer person and our inner person are one and we carry the World within us, each of our life experiences contributing to Eternity, each one of them journeying us, as part of the Infinite Whole, back to Source.  Our Soul and the Soul of the World are one and we know, with total certainty, that all we will ever need will be given to us.
This is the end of a cycle and the beginning of another—success and fulfilment are ours.  We are released from past responsibilities and are free now to experience anew.
Number Significance:
The Number 21 signifies the Active Mystic who dwells not in grief, guilt or grievance, but goes forth in faith and courage.

All quotations from T.S. Elliot’s Four Quartets, “East Coker”.
Intellectual copyright:  Peace Space 2011 

How does your place in your world feel for you right now? "They" say these things happen in collective energetic ways. I'd be interested in your stories. Email me if you feel more inclined than leaving a public comment below :)

(and equally as importantly.... does anyone know how the eff I get this 'Like' button to stop kissing the last line of all my blog posts?? It's disturbing me, for no real reason other than it's displeasing to my eye. Harumph)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dejectedly Yours...

Please congratulate me.

I feel like a true author.

I have my first proper, formal rejection in my hand. My first properly stamped, self-addressed envelope-returned submission to an agent. Boomerang, straight back at me.

The pages look barely turned (certainly not dog-eared in any way and I'd be forgiven for mistaking that they had actually read through all of it, even though it was way less than what they allowed).  It's a standard slip that has been hastily stuffed in with it. They're really not confident they could properly represent me at any publishers. Another agent may disagree. So I guess what they're saying is, "Good luck finding anyone to print that load of codswallop."

I understand everyone gets rejected. We all know the tale of J. K. Rowling and her famous rejection after rejection. I get that I could be doing this for years yet. And if I want to see my hard slog, sweat and tears (all quite literally) come into proper bound print, then I'd better get used to it. I know all this.

It's just blindingly frustrating to get close a couple of times and then... nothing comes of it. I feel further than I ever was. Even further, actually! Because at least, before, I had a couple of leads. Now those have fizzled into nothing.

And yet, still, I have some sort of following of readers who know a little of me (or a lot), a little of my story (or a lot) and are familiar with my writing. They all - you all - seem to want to read it. Everyone I speak to about my book is desperate for it to be "out" so they can "get their hands on it and read it and tell everyone they know to read it too."

I know it's pretty kick-ass. One reader even went so far - unprompted (yeah! I didn't even bribe her!) - as to tell me:

I enjoy all sorts of texts be they narrative or non-fiction. But it is with true life narratives that I am very good at detecting a "wanker" tone, if you know what I mean. Zealousy that borders on self-obsession and self-indulgence. I can honestly say I do NOT detect that tone in your extract :) An example of the tone I am talking about is in the book "Eat, Pray, Love"...

I love that feedback! I want that sort of feedback. Mind you, it hasn't all been rosy with my focus group readers. Some have said outright that they "don't do sad endings."

I'm not sure if you'd call mine sad or happy. I'd like to think it's happy! But I wouldn't want to exhaust a reader and make them feel like they've run an emotional marathon. So I have paced it quite well, I think, for that very reason.

I mean, yes, it has faults - what draft manuscript hasn't? But this thing is packed with realism, a true window into someone's private life on the journey to conceiving (and losing). The lessons I have learned on this journey are too universal for me not to share them with others. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. It's not a witty cynical look at death - those books are out there, they are in the market and they make a refreshing change and they have their own place on the shelf.

My book is not a piss-take. Sometimes, with the influx recently of these sorts of books (the ones that don't take themselves very seriously), I wonder if that's why I'll never get anywhere. I haven't turned Ella's death into a bit of a jolly laugh through the steps of grief. But then, that's just me being cynical. My book is not trying to be those books. But I know it's up against them, competing with agents who are reading these other submissions and, compared to them, I bet mine feels like an intense drag.

Real does that sometimes.

My book is a true "What I did to turn the massive juggernaut of death and self-woe around", because it's what everyone (who knew me Back Then) wanted to know: How the hell did I do it? How am I not only still standing, but actually thriving and supporting others, to boot?

It took me for-ev-er to stop hiding my light under the so-called bushel (and why is it so-called, by the way??). Now that I have gotten over that and spoken up and said, "Yeah, I guess I do have a story here and a useful, readable one at that", I have to line myself up to get my head lopped not once, or twice, but possibly a dozen or more times.

I don't know if I have enough in me to be bothered, frankly.

And then... I think of her. And I know I will do it all, over and again. And again. I must. For her.

My Boo.

But..... I can't help wondering if everyone isn't collectively just pissing in my pocket. I mean, really. There are soooooo many books flooding the marketplace. Everyone knows how hard it is to get a book published, every writer has read countless stories of people who "think they're writers". Am I one of them?

I am getting confused. I am flagging in my own faith. And I know that is one of the biggest no-no's in this game. If I falter in my self-belief, I'll not have a hope in flaming hell of finding an agent. Or a publisher. I couldn't be arsed looking into self-publishing just yet. I just have to suck it up and keep sending it out.

I'm just.... ahhh... flat about this cold-faced rejection. Let's face it, this kinda isn't what I needed to get my blogging/writing mojo back, now, is it??! Couldn't it have waited at least one business day after I returned?

So here I go again. Preparing some sample chapters to send out again. Wish me luck. Again?

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