Tuesday, 2 December 2014

I believe in Santa

I believe in Santa.

Well, I did as a child, until I busted my grandmother being the tooth fairy when I was about 6 or 7 and the whole fantasy-land part of my childhood died in seconds.  No Easter Bunny.  No fairies.  No Santa.  It was sad because it was the end of a really special part of my childhood, where magic was not just possible, but REAL - where I'd stare up in the sky on Christmas Eve just willing myself to see Santa's sleigh; where I could barely get to sleep the nights I lost a tooth because a REAL toothfairy was going to visit my room that night to take my tooth away and leave me 20 cents (it was the 80s and I was cheap to please).  I think once I even made a little 'bathroom' out of my doll's house furniture for the toothfairy in case she needed to use the toilet, wash her face or have a drink of water on her rounds!  I was a sweetie.
My mum did a wonderful job of nurturing and growing this fantasy land part of my childhood.  She wrote a letter from the toothfairy for every tooth I lost (until I busted grandma), sprinkled in some glitter and came up with beautifully magical names, like Moonbeam and Twinkle Toes (well, they were beautiful and magical to me at the time!)  She diligently ate half the raw carrot we put out every Easter for the Easter bunny.  She drank the milk and biscuits left out for Santa (an easier task than raw carrot) and even let me collect lawn clippings to leave for the reindeer and sprinkled them down the hallway and out the front door to make it look like the reindeer had to eat it on the run.  I cringe at the mess she made, all to make my Christmas morning that year more... magical.  I think my oldest sister and brother even got in on the action one year and rolled their bikes back and forth on the front yard to make sleigh tracks in our dead, brown and crunchy North Queensland drought-affected lawn.
My childhood rocked in that regard.
So let me tell you why I will be working my butt off over the coming several years to make sure my darling daughter and her little brother/sister have that same magical wonder I enjoyed, thanks to my mum and despite the scoffing of my dad (and no doubt others).
That age of magical wonder and innocence is so freakin' short!  Poof - gone!  All too soon, my babies will be grown up and slowly understand the realities of life and being a human in this world.  They will know that bad things happen all too often, and to good people.  They will know that people can be mean.  They will learn about poverty and homelessness.  They will know they will be expected to work hard at school, only to leave school and work hard in some area to make a living and pay a never-ending slew of bills.  They will have their heart broken.  They will make friends and lose friends.  And yes, they will fall wonderfully in love.  They will see real miracles happen, and how kind and wonderful people can be.  As well as the ugly in the world, they will see the beautiful, too, I know.  BUT, that magical wonder - the magic and fantasy and innocence and excitement and wonder of childhood - only lasts a few precious years.  I want my children to have that.
Hearing a five-year-old tell my two-year-old, "Santa's not real!  It's just mum and dad!" makes me sad.  So while you may teach your child/ren that Santa isn't real and Christmas is just about presents and food and being with family (and the fact that the whole reason for Christmas is to celebrate the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ - that's a whole other blog), please also tell them to keep their mouths shut when they're playing with other children.  You might not want to "lie to them and deceive them", but I bloody well am and will continue to, to foster my childrens' wonder and imagination and excitement and magical view of life and the world for as long as I can.
The world needs more magic and wonder.  Not less.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Mumsy's the word

Mumsy. adjective. Giving an impression of dull domesticity; dowdy or unfashionable

I've always been a bit of a dork.  I've never had much time for make-up and usually only wear it when required - whether it's work or blemishes or late-night dark circles.  I have never been able to style my hair past the ponytail or tussled-dry looks so I steer clear of hairstyles that require appliances, and the greys are starting to take over.  We don't have much money (especially now that we're expecting our second baby and will be dropping to one income soon) so I don't buy clothes for myself.  New injections to my wardrobe come via two means - hand-me-downs from my beautiful sisters, and things my mum buys me out of pity (bless her!), which are usually smaller versions of the clothes she buys herself. These aren't usually clothes I would buy myself but I really do appreciate them.  And while I could buy myself quality pieces as the budget allows, I find myself overwhelmed and lost, so by default go back to the same dorky options from the same cheap shops.

Last year I went to a friend's hen's party and there was nothing, a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y nothing, in my wardrobe that was suitable to wear out to a bar or nightclub.  Not even a top to pair with basic jeans!  Not even with accessorising!  And earlier this year, my husband and I were able to get away for the night to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary at a very swanky hotel and I had nothing suitable to wear to waltz through the doors of said swanky hotel and sit stylishly in their marble and polished timber foyer.  I put on the dress I chose, looked in the mirror and asked my husband, "Does this look too mumsy?"  He shrugged, meaning "Yes, I agree with you that it is but I can't really say anything about it."  He's a smart man.  I looked like a haggered mum from the suburbs wearing a dress she got from a $2 clothes swap.  Because I was.

Mumsy. adjective. Giving an impression of dull domesticity; dowdy or unfashionable

While I've always been a bit of a dork, I seem to have gotten worse in the last six or seven years, since I've been with my wonderful husband.  Now, my current 'mumsy' appearance has nothing to do with him (he doesn't have anything to do with what's in my wardrobe!), but I think the reason behind the change in my appearance just happened to coincide with the time he entered my life. 

Let me explain.

I've written previously about how before I was a Christian, I slept around because a) I didn't know any better and b) I just wanted someone to love me so badly and thought that's how I'd find it. After all, sex = love, surely!  (http://beingjenkerr.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/dear-20-year-old-me.html) So after almost 10 years worth of letting myself be treated like a play thing and of dressing to attract the opposite sex (albeit in a relatively modest fashion compared to what you see these days), I found God.  Then I found real love with my now husband.  And then I unconsciously started to go out the other side - waaaaay out the other side.  I chose and accepted clothes of a style too old for me, that were ill-fitting, ultra conservative, boring.  And floral.  Lots of floral.

I realised this morning that all of this was a reaction to - in retaliation of - those 10 years of dressing for attention.  I was dressing to hide. To repel attention.  To blend into the background (of a couch from the 1960s?)  Almost like women who've been abused who put on weight as a way of protecting themselves and making themselves feel invisible.  I started dressing in a way that wouldn't draw any male attention at all.

But now I catch sight of myself and wonder where the hec I've gone! "Where's the Jen I feel on the inside, and why doesn't she show on the outside?"  Now more time has passed and I'm stronger and in a better and genuinely loving place, I want to find the new me.  We still don't have the money for shopping sprees and wardrobe make-overs, but I could at least clean out my cupboard of the worst offenders.  I could start looking through magazines at the dentist or hairdresser (actually go to an actual hairdresser) and get ideas of what style could suit me.  I could start paying attention to women around me who are my age to get ideas.  I could go into shops and try lots of things on to find out what does suit me.  And I could start loving myself more and realising that I am worth a $100 dress or pair of shoes every now and then - hec, anything from a shop that doesn't have shopping trolley bays at the entrance!

I am beautiful.  I am worthy.  I am forgiven.  I am safe.  I am loved.  It's okay.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Mr Judgey McJudge

The great thing about living in Australia is that our Federal Government can pay the primary caregiver of a new baby (born or adopted) up to 18 weeks Paid Parental Leave (PPL) at the national minimum wage rate to allow them to be home with and spend time with their new little one.  What a blessing.

The problem though, is navigating the MINEFIELD of paperwork and questions and forms and links, tucks and half-pikes with a double twist required to submit your application!  So I had a little vent on Facebook (as you do) about equally needing and loathing applying for PPL.  Paperwork and I hate each other, but I'm the only one who ends up in tears!  It's a dysfunctional relationship.

So how very dare one childless Facebook 'friend' judge me for applying for the government's PPL!  A man who has no idea what it's like to have a mortgage and raise a family and make ends meet!  A man who doesn't think twice about money!  How very dare he look down his nose at me for applying for government assistance so I can spend more time with my new baby!

I sure do envy those women who either have a big fat savings account and don't need PPL, or who have a partner who earns enough money that they don't need it. We, however, need it! We need it so badly that if the government didn't offer such a great deal, I would have to go back to work very shortly after baby's birth just to afford our modest mortgage, rates and insurance bills. And I don't want that!

I want to be home with my new baby for as long as I possibly can so I can bond with them, love on them, get to know them, encourage them, and spend time with them while I have the chance - for them and for me. I want that block of time to be as big as financially possible. And as stressful and anxiety-causing as this financial position may be, I wouldn't change having our baby for the world. The Lord knows we wanted them!

Yes, it's my choice to have a baby. Yes it's my choice to have a mortgage now instead of rent because I grew sick of the uncertainty, instability and hoop-jumping of renting. And yes it's my choice to take advantage of our Federal Government's Paid Parental Leave scheme to help me stay with our new baby for 18 weeks longer than I would normally have been able to, because I want to be a good mum, which to me equals time.  Before I turn around twice bub will be cared for by someone else three days a week so I can go back to work to keep paying off our worst-house-in-the-best-street, in-need-of-renovation house, full-of-love, warm and cosy little house that I hope to grow old in.  And I'm blessed that I can choose to go back only part-time, even though it means our life in simple and not extravegant.

The mean and nasty side of me hopes Mr Judgey McJudge, who took a dig at anyone who needs any government assistance, one day finds himself standing in line at Centrelink in need of help, advice or guidance like me, and he can see with his own eyes that he's no different to anyone else there. But the kinder part of me... shoot, she hasn't shown up yet!  But I'm sure it's something along the lines of I hope this man is blessed enough that he can continue living life to the level he's become accustomed, and that he never knows what it is to be in lack.  I hope that when he's one one of his international holidays and sees people in need and expresses compassion for them, he realises tha tthey're just like some people in his own country who are also in need, but are blessed with a governmental system who can help them.

Don't ever judge another's journey unless you've been there too.  Hec, even then!  Don't ever judge someone if you're not willing to talk to them and find out their story.  And certainly, don't you dare look down on anyone, unless you're helping them up!  WORD!

(Note: Yes, I do know there are people who rorte the system and that's not fair and I disagree with that too.  But for the purposes of this post, I am referring to people who are genuine.)

Hey, baby!

My goodness it has been a long time between drinks, and there is much to catch you up on.
My last post was about going for our last and final round of IUI because I couldn't keep putting myself and my marriage through the financial and emotional stress of it all.  But by the grace of God, that last attempt worked and I'm now 31 weeks pregnant with a beautiful baby we're calling 'Titch' for now because we've chosen not to find out the sex - how I do love surprises!  It was a conception unlike our first - very unfun and unromantic - but at least my husband was in the room with me!

But as soon as those two pink lines appeared, I started freaking out.  About everything!  "Am I really ready to do this?" "What was I thinking!!?!" "I've waited so long for this, I just know something is going to go wrong"!  I didn't write an update before now because I was worried (read: convinced) something was going to go wrong; and then I just got busy with life and ignored my online journal journey. 

And honestly, it's only been recently that I've started to chill out a bit (a bit) because I can feel baby moving around, and if they needed to be born now, there's a really good chance that they'd be okay (though I am glad I live in a big city, with my hospital only 20 minutes from home... and I reckon an ambulance could do it in under 15).  But I know I won't truly relax until I'm holding Titch in my arms, happy, healthy and strong.  That is my prayer.  My due date is in early January, so we'll wait and see when Titch wants to arrive!

It's been a bit of a rough ride, but nothing compared to some (hello long-distance friend! You know who you are) - faint and light-headed spells, hip pain, back pain, insomnia, muscle cramps, anaemia, low blood pressure... you know, the usual.  But carrying around an extra 12kg will do that to a person.  

I make noises when I sit down and stand up now.  I have to sit on the bathroom floor to brush my teeth because my legs get too tired to hold me up.  I can't stand too close to the kitchen bench to cook comfortably, and need to sit back from the dining table to make room for my tummy.  My feet swell and ache on my busy home days when I do my washing and cleaning jobs.  I've had to take my wedding rings off because my fingers swell so much in the heat I fear losing my ring finger due to lack of circulation!  But I'm embracing all of it (so far) because I'm pretty sure this will be our last baby.  There is no way I am going through that fertility doctor process again (to a sigh of relief from my husband and our bank account), but I think we're going to save a lot of money on birth control from now on!  Ha!

So stand by as this blog changes direction again - from struggling with wanting to study but not knowing what (definitely settled on social work) or having the money (still waiting for that lotto win!); to whether or not I'd lose my job through 'future proofing' the company (didn't happen and thankfully no new rumblings among the water-cooler whisperers); to struggling with infertility; now pregnant; and hopefully out the other side to being a mum of two on maternity leave, navigating the world of cloth nappies and how not to lose my mind, while Miss 3 starts kindy and I try to take my baby back to work with me!  Yep, wish me luck on that one!
I hope you still want to join me on the ride. Peace out.

Friday, 18 April 2014

I want myself back!

I’m really struggling at the moment.  I feel like crying most of the time, which is not like me.  I’m not always rainbows and butterflies, but I am usually more upbeat and get-it-done than melancholy and down-in-the-dumps.  It could be the fertility drugs I’m on, which have an impressive line-up of side effects, but it’s also circumstantial.  More baby announcements, hearing a pregnant work colleague talk to another, whose wife is expecting their second baby, about feeling the baby move and how exciting it all is.  At my desk.  I had to get up and leave with the plan of having a good cry-it-out in the ladies, but given the acoustics in the bathroom I opted for a quiet office to take some deep breaths and pray.  They were gone when I got back – praise Jesus!

Usually going for a run helps me when I’m feeling down or upset or angry, but I’ve been advised not to while we’re trying to get pregnant – and after all the effort everyone’s going to to try and get me up the duff, I dare not.  After we’re done I can go back to it with wild abandon.  But I could really use a good 5km right now.

Another fact getting me down is my past.  Every so often the choices I made and the things I’ve done rear their ugly heads in my ‘new’ life.  I usually push it out, but given my current mental state, those thoughts have been lingering and are getting harder to shut out.  Sometimes I let myself dwell there – to feel it – but then I feel worse than before.  At the Good Friday church service today I was reminded that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and my slate has been wiped clean – white as snow – but instead of feeling uplifted, I feel unworthy.  I just feel so sad.

Without running, and with my current shitty mental state – sadness, anger, shame, loneliness, jealously – I’ve noticed I am eating more than I should too, and eating things I usually do well avoiding.  I could write the book on comfort eating!  I feel like I’m eating hand over fist to try and make myself feel better, when really it’s only going to make me feel so much worse because my clothes won’t fit anymore, I won’t like my reflection and my self-esteem will take a nosedive, and getting back into running will be a longer and more painful (and jiggly) process.  To boot, one of the side effects of the drug I’m on is weight gain.  Freaking. Awesome.

I just can’t seem to shake this funk.  I almost can’t wait to stop going through this fertility treatment process so I can get off those drugs and get myself back.  But I want to see out our three attempts.  I want to give this everything I’ve got.  I told our specialist on Tuesday that when we've done our three attempts, we're going to call it a day, and he said he really respected that choice.  He is a beautiful man.  So when/if it doesn’t work, I will still hate hearing pregnant women talk about their pregnancies, seeing or hearing birth and pregnancy announcements, ultrasound photos and general baby business.  Why WHY can’t it be me?  I will still cry – I’m a crier from way back – but at least the cocktail will be out of my system, and I can run again to shift my mood.  At this rate, I’ll be set for my first marathon later this year!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Roll the dice!

So if you’ve never read a post of mine before, let me catch you up.  I’m Jen, I’m a wife and mum of one beautiful three-year-old girl, I’m a runner, I work part time, I have a cat, pretty cool friends and family, my workplace has been a bit unstable in the past but the dust seems to have settled for now – I’m even fishing for a pay rise (Brave?  Stupid?).  And we can’t have any more children.  Without a doctor getting involved anyway.

After trying for a year, my husband and I sought help.  Nine months later (ironically enough) we tried our first “assisted cycle”.  It didn’t work.  But we’ll try again twice more before “hanging up the ovaries” as it were.  Because I’m 35.  Because it’s so bloody expensive and we don’t have much money.  But mostly because it’s a crazy hormone-fulled, pill-popping, blood-test-jabbing, doctor-jumping, legs-in-stirrups rollercoaster ride that we can’t sustain.  And because, while I would love a whole minivan full of kids, I love my husband more than a dream of what should have been.

When I first asked for a referral from my GP a year ago, he said “Buckle up!  This isn’t for the faint hearted”. And Lordy was the man right!  The side effects of the fertility drugs are crazy!  One woman described it as “PMS on crack” and I think that’s pretty accurate!  Then add in back-to-back doctor’s appointments starting as early at 6.30am, daily blood tests for four days in a row, early-morning dashes into the city and the anxiety and anxiousness you try your best not to feel during the two-week wait to find out if it’s worked or not.  ANYONE would be a basket case.  And I don’t want to live like that.  I don’t want my husband to live like that.  I love my husband and choose to protect our marriage rather than force it through this process of trying for another baby that God might not have for us.

I have been thinking a lot lately about fostering children in need.  I believe God keeps showing us things that He wants us to pay attention to, and for me that’s been news articles about foster children, the system, the global need.  And I can’t ignore that!  Perhaps God’s answer to us having more children is no, because He wants us to help children who are already here who need love, security and opportunity. Even if it’s for a  weekend, a week, a few months or years.  But I know it’s not the season yet. Our daughter is still so young and I’d like her to be older before we start this process because it will involve her greatly.  I just get so impatient sometimes!

Getting back to running has been a big help in shifting my focus and de-stressing about all of this (focusing on moving your legs, breathing and not falling over or passing out will do that to a girl!), but during the next two rolls of the dice, I have to stop to give everything a good shot.  I miss it, but I’m not going to waste $800-a-shot and all the jabs and pokes for a few early-morning runs!  My sneakers and the marathons of the world will wait for me.  I’ll be back.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

“I’m sorry baby”

When I was about eight, I was really into gardening – for some strange reason, because I kill everything now and couldn’t be bothered with plants.  Mum gave me a small garden bed near the back door.  I grew lettuce and radishes and marigolds and all sorts of things that weren’t ever eaten or useful.  And I kid you not, I read to my plants because I heard that plants thrived with attention!  I sat on the back steps and read my stories to whatever was growing at the time.  I was a strange child!  But awesome!

One weekend morning, barely out of bed, mum started yelling at me for moving a tomato plant that she’d planted in my garden.  I didn’t, and told her I didn’t.  She didn’t believe me, continued to yell at me – now for lying to her – and threw in a good smack or several.  It wasn’t until dad walked in and asked why I was crying that mum said “SHE MOVED MY TOMATO PLANT!”  Dad replied, “No she didn’t, I did.”  Silence.

I turned tail and ran to my bedroom to cry into my Cabbage Patch doll, expecting mum to come in and apologise or hug me to make it all better.  She didn’t come. She didn’t mention it again.

I had “one of those days” last week, and my three-year-old daughter and I had a Mexican stand-off in the bathroom.  I wasn’t backing down; she wasn’t backing down.  I was tired.  She was tired.  After repeating a direction for the thousandth time in a very cranky voice, she sobbed, “I just want you to hug me.”  Ow!  Deep, painful, mum ow!  I realised that I was pushing an issue to an unreasonable level.  I got down to her level, held her in the biggest hug and told her I was sorry for being cranky when there was no need to be.  She went to her room and brought me back her favourite soft toy to cheer me up.  And gave me toilet paper to wipe our eyes.  “Don’t cry mummy.”  She really is the most beautiful little kid in the whole wide world.

Anyway, I was relaying this saga to my mum a few days ago, and when I told her that I apologised, she said, “Oh, never apologise!  They need to know you’re in charge.”  Right.  The tomato plant story came back and it all became clear.  She thought that if she apologised to me, my young self would think she was weak.  However, the eight-year-old me actually would have really loved to hear ‘sorry’ – that she knew I was a good kid who always tried to do the right thing; that I was telling the truth.  And not hearing mum say sorry for yelling at me, smacking me and not believing me, really hurt then and it's stayed with me - though I'm definitely over it!  My mum is awesome!

Now, it was the 80s and things were different then – like kids digging in dirt and getting smacked – but now I’m a mum, I feel very differently to my mum.   Mum was quite famous amongst us kids for not apologising or admitting she was wrong.  But I’ve apologised to my daughter twice so far, both times for handling something really badly (usually a direction for her to do something that she ignores on a day/at a time we’re both tired).

I want my daughter to know I’m human, and that it’s okay to make mistakes and be wrong.  I want her to know the power of apologising when it’s warranted.  She knows I’m the mum and in charge, and that she needs to do as she’s asked, and use kind words and be kind to others, to use gentle hands with others (and the cat).  There are firm rules and boundaries in our house, though she does a good job of being three and tests them often to make sure the rules and posts haven’t changed or moved. She gets it.  She knows who runs the house – mum and dad.  But I don’t want her growing up thinking grown-ups never make mistakes and are infallible.  I’m human.  I make mistakes.  But I try to make it right when I get it wrong.

Sometimes I think “I’m sorry” can be as powerful as “I love you”.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Ever wanted to run away and join the circus?

I want to run away and join the circus.  Well, I did when I was little – swinging around our Hills Hoist washing line, pausing every few rotations for a dramatic sequence on the trampoline, wearing my swimmers and sparkly headband and some stolen smears of mum’s lipstick.  I was going to be scouted from over our back fence.  I was rehearsing.  I was in the centre ring with all eyes on me.  These days, that dream has been replaced with running away to another country for a while, with my little family, for some adventure and memory-making.  The dream and destinations might be different, but the motivation is the same for 35-year-old me as it was for five-year-old me.  Adventure and excitement.

When I’m really feeling like running away, Canada is at the top of my list.  Montreal or one of the Maritime provinces that are like my other home.  In my head, I think I’d like to learn French (though I got kicked out of Japanese class in high school because I was so bad, so perhaps the only place I will speak French is in my imagination!)  The snow, snow mobiling, trying to out-run the summer-time bugs, beautiful autumn colours, pumpkin pie, learning to ski and ice-skate...  When I’m feeling poor and a little less dramatic, my picks are Toowoomba (two ours west and up a mountain) or Tasmania at the southern tip of Australia – an old stone cottage with fireplaces in the bedroom, summer high temperatures of just 25 degrees and the chance of snow in winter.  Heaven.  In my head.

I think many grown-ups want to pack up and run away as often as we did as kids, only the destinations are further afield than the neighbour’s cubby house.  And not being allowed any dessert because you didn’t eat your peas doesn’t feature so much anymore.  We eat it anyway.

I want to run away sometimes because I get bored and don’t’ want to be boring – I want to be the hit of the nursing home with lots of stories to tell!  I want to run away sometimes because I want to be able to say, for better for worse, “Yep, I did that!” – either with a proud grin or a face palm!  I want to run away sometimes because I crave adventure – even though it scares the bejeepers out of me! I want to run away sometimes because I don’t want to get to my 50s and 60s and THEN decide to do something when money might be more relaxed but mobility and stuck-in-the-mudness has set in.  And I fear it might for me.

But thankfully my husband shares this dream, too.  When we’ve had a bad day at work or things are just generally ‘grey’, we start talking about moving overseas or building our own hay bail house in Tassie and what it will look like, or talking about whether or not we’d get a car if we lived in a snowy country (God help us and others on the road!).  We Google real estate and job ads.  We’ve even got as far as being fingerprinted at the police station for our security checks.  But that’s as far as we’ve gone.  All talk and gusto and not enough gumption.

I used to be brave.  Perhaps I need to do a few small-scale, local brave things to get back up to speed.  Now, anyone in Canada need an editor, page designer or IT professional?  Anyone?  Anyone?  *crickets*

Friday, 7 March 2014

Let me tell you a love story

Let me tell you a love story.  Get settled – it’s a long one.

This isn’t a “Once upon a time” kind of love story, and it’s not the kind of story that Hollywood script writers will come chasing.  But this is a love story about two people who, despite a (pardon me) shit storm swirling around them, managed to stay together, get married, have a baby, scrape enough money together to buy a house and fall more deeply in love with each other as time passes.  It is not always a pretty love, but it is deep, it is real, it is honest, loyal and unwavering.

This is my husband’s and my story.

2007 was a horrible year.  I won’t go into details, but my heart was broken, abused and used by more than one person that year.  I was pretty damaged.  But one good thing from 2007 was Facebook, and a new  friend at work called Mitchel (not his real name because I haven’t told him I’m writing this!).

I’d just come back from Canada and had written a series of travel stories on a clunky old laptop my best friend in Canada had given me for the purpose.  I went to the IT department at work searching for a “floppy disk” (hold the laughter, thanks!) to save the stories on so I could move them into the system.  And the cute IT guy I had seen power-walking around the office for the past year just happened to be the kind gentleman who helped me.  He introduced me to the new and wonderful world of memory sticks!  And probably had a good laugh at my expense after I left the office.  And because he was the cute IT guy and I was interested, I made him chocolate muffins the next day to say thank you.  It took him three days to pluck up the courage to say thank you as he zipped past my desk!

Facebook was new, and a guy with an obscure profile picture sent me a friend request, and as we all did back then, I added him without a thought.  It was the cute IT guy!  We started to get to know each other online and became friends – at least in the online sense.  We actually didn’t talk to each other much face-to-face!  Being the classic over-sharer that I am, over time I managed to give him the cliff notes of my brokenness.  He didn’t run away.  He kept talking to me.  He was definitely confused by me and my over-sharing, but we became pretty good online friends.  Not long after, I wasn't "available" any more and because I'd decided at the beginning Mitchel wasn't romantically interested in me, we just became work buddies.

I was ‘Christian curious’ and it turned out Mitchel was a good and Godly man.  I didn't think they actually existed!  He invited me to his church a few times but I always turned him down.   Then in December the guy I thought I was going to marry broke up with me.  I just wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out.  I felt more broken than ever!  I didn’t tell Mitchel because it was too big a piece of news for a workmate friendship and I didn’t want him to see or hear me that upset.  I fell into my family’s arms, particularly my dad’s.

Mitchel called me for the very first time just before Christmas to wish me a merry Christmas because he wouldn’t be in the office over the break.  I actually ran out of the shower to answer the phone and answered it sans clothing, dripping wet!  (Note to the reader: if you do that, be wise and bring a towel with you.)  Afterwards, I thought that was a really kind thing for him to have done.  But don’t guys only call girls they like?

In the few work days between Christmas and New Year, Mitchel asked me to come to his church again.  And this time I said yes.  I was so hurt, lost, confused and damaged I thought why not!  “I’ll just slip in, sit up the back and slip out again before he sees me.”  But it didn’t quite pan out that way.  I cried in church.  Really ugly crying.  All the hurt started to come out - of every facial orifice!  I didn’t bring any tissues with me and only had my glasses cloth (that got thrown away!).  Thankfully Mitchel missed the worst of it, but found me after church and walked the now-calm me back to my car, in the rain.  And he hugged me.

Around New Years, I told my sisters and brother about this cute guy at work that I kinda sorta liked, but that he’d never be into a girl like me.  And I’d just had my heart broken.  I thought I wasn’t “good” enough for Mitchel.  He was Godly and I was not. I was damaged goods.  He deserved a good woman without my station-wagon-load of baggage.  He deserved a pretty girl who went to his church every Sunday.   Then he sent me a text message at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and even though it was a group message, I thought it strange that he included me in it.  “I think perhaps he might like me,” I thought with an unsure smile before rolling over and going back to sleep.

When work resumed a few days after New Year, he plucked up the courage to ask me more about what had happened before Christmas that had upset me so much, and I gave him the details.  And the end of that conversation went something like this:
“So, I have a really bad habit of talking a lot but I’m never sure if I’m actually making any sense or getting to my point, so let me just say, I really like you, and if you ever wanted to ask me out on a date, I’d think that was really nice and say yes.”  Smooth as sandpaper!  
And that night he asked me to coffee!  And on that coffee date, where we played a game of UNO (and I still remember exactly what I was wearing), he asked if he could court me.  Are you serious?!?!  This good and Godly guy wants to COURT… me?!?  Had I stumbled from 2008 to 1908?  Wow!  My knees went a little weak.

We started looking out for each other’s cars in the carpark at work, and my heart would do a little skip when I saw him walk in of a morning.  I felt like my day would be better if he was there.  He came over to my desk sometimes to chat and would blush horribly, or I’d make my jelly legs take me to his office.   We spent most of our first dates walking along the beach after work just talking.  They were fun dates.  They only last four weeks.

Then my world really did fall apart.  After 41 years of marriage, my dad left us for another woman.  I was on a date with Mitchel when my oldest sister called to tell me.  I just dissolved into tears, in public, with a new boyfriend I’d barely started seeing.  Bam.  I wanted him to take me back to the work carpark so I could get my car and go home.  But he drove me home, helped me up the stairs, made me tea, got me tissues and just let me cry and snot all over him.  I kept telling him to leave – this was too real, too big, too painful; he didn’t need to be a part of it and should run for the hills.  But he didn’t run.  He cancelled a weekend full of plans to drive me to the city to be with my family – across the other side of the city to pick up one sister, all the way back across the big city to my mum’s in the driving rain, squeezed my hand and quietly back his car away and drove off.  He would stay away until I called him.

And he came, held my hand and never let go – through all the mess, tears, snot, anger, confusion, hurt, hostility, he held my hand.  Back home, he kept walking with me on the beach, even at night through the sea foam to make me squeal and laugh.  I saw dolphins breach in the moonlight on the ocean.

I got a job in the city as soon as I could so I could be with mum, and just before I moved, he proposed, down on one knee, in the rain on the beach where we had all those wonderful first dates.  He asked if I would grow old with him.

On our second wedding anniversary, we left hospital with our beautiful daughter.  And today is our fifth wedding anniversary.  I can say unequivocally that I love my husband more now than when we got married.   He is messy, and grumpy when he’s tired or hungry or hasn’t had his coffee, but he loves me wholly and completely.  He’s seen me at my best and worst (and I mean worst!) and he’s never let go of my hand.  And you know what?  I’ve never let go of his either.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Infertility sucks

I suffer from secondary infertility.  

My beautiful daughter turns three soon, and we’ve been trying for 20 months to give her a brother or sister without any luck.  Unless you count an early-stage miscarriage as luck, because your doctor will count that as a win – like, “You got pregnant.  It just didn’t stick.”  Great.  Comforting.  Thanks.

I had never heard of the term “secondary infertility” until things just weren’t happening for us.  Infertile meant not able to have babies.  We had a baby.  We were going to have another one.  And another one.  And maybe one more.  We fell pregnant really quickly the first time, and quite na├»vely thought it would happen that way again, which is why we didn’t start trying until our daughter was 18 months old.  I just wasn’t ready to be pregnant again before then.  Had I known I’d be turning 35 after almost two years of trying, I would have gotten it together right from the six-week all-clear! 

And this sucks.  All kinds of sucks that people don’t understand unless they are or have been where I am – or even harder, not having been able to have a child at all.  And that is the only bloody silver lining here.  My beautiful girl.  She is funny and smart, kind, gentle, sensitive, stubborn, shy and outgoing depending on which way the wind is blowing, and I don’t think it’s possible for me to love her any more than I do!  She’s a cool kid.  She keeps me going.  And smiling when I so don’t want to because I’ve seen/read or been given yet another freaking pregnancy announcement.  I have honestly lost count of the number of friends and acquaintances that are having babies this year.  Stab.  It seems everyone with a uterus (or even part of one) and a partner (even a sketchy one) is pregnant! Stab. People have had babies who are now celebrating their first birthdays in the time we’ve been trying. Stab.

I’ve received fertility advice from every corner and on every aspect of conception, and even on coping with infertility.  Depending on my hormone levels, it can be funny, appreciated, annoying or really hurtful.  (And for the record, whatever you want to tell me to try/not try, I’ve done it, got it, tried it or been told about it but thanks anyway).  We are seeing a specialist who tested us both for all the obvious issues (clear) and operated on me last Friday to try and figure out what was going on, and turns out he can’t find anything.  Awesome.

I am a woman of faith, and I have prayed so hard about this that I’m sick of bugging God about it.  I’ve had other people pray for me. And while I have my moments where I am happy and content with just one (and it’s not like I don’t get how blessed I am to have her!  Truly!), there are all those other moments.  I don’t drop my bundle every month anymore, but man those ultrasound photos on Facebook announcing an impending baby just rock me to the core.  My stomach drops and knots at the same time (who thought that was possible?).  And I drop my bundle.  For a few days.  

And I had been feeling really bad about that part – I should just be happy for them and not feel any sadness or grief for myself, but oh boy, do I! – until a beautiful friend pointed out to me that I am entitled to lose it because I’m on a journey.  A sucky, difficult, frustrating, confusing, painful journey of wanting more children but not being able to, which often involves tears.

So I will cry every time someone announces they’re pregnant and I’m not.  Again.  And I will be hurt and sad it’s not me.  Again.  And I will feel a stab in my heart every time I see a newborn because that woman has what I want.  And I will give myself permission to feel all those things because it’s the truth, it’s honest and it’s painful, and the only way pain goes away is to let yourself feel it until it runs out.

We’re getting pet chickens instead.  I want cats too but don't think the two groups will cohabitate happily.  I may only be a parent to one child, but I can at least try and do that job well.