Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Footsteps In The Sand

Depression is the word for the day.  Yet, I think it comes with a clarity of where I am right now.  And a sense of transitioning.

I saw my kinesiologist on Friday.  It was a good session.  After two sessions of not feeling that any progress was being made, I finally feel that maybe some breakthroughs have occurred. 

The first word that appeared in the session was "struggle".  I am struggling with so many things right now, not just being childless.  The difficult emotions of dealing with not having children, are severely triggering my coping mechanisms.  More than anything, I am struggling with those old and tired patterns of supporting myself, that do me as much harm and negativity in the long run, as they do protect me from my emotions of the moment.

I realised this morning, that I need to find others way of supporting myself.   And then I realised, that I don't have any other ways.  I can't do it myself.  I thought about my last exercise from the "Life Without Baby" group on Finding Support and came to the conclusion that there is no one in my life that can support me in the way that I need in order to release my negative patterns.

And then it occurred to me.  God can.  I'm reminded of the story of a person walking along the beach with God and looking back at their footsteps.  The person notices that in the most difficult parts of her life, there was only one set of footsteps.  "Why did you leave me in the most difficult times, God?"  "My child, those were the times when I was carrying you."

I'm not religious.  I was raised in the church, with my father as the minister.  By the time I reached my 20's, I began exploring all aspects of religion and spirituality and eventually found the things that worked for me, the beliefs to which I believe I was led.  It was wonderful having a father who supported me in my search and loved being able to provide me with greater clarity and revelation.  It didn't matter to him that I wasn't staying within the church.  What was important to him was that I was exploring God and discovering what that meant to me.  Dad's in depth understanding and education in matters of spirit and religion was a wonderful sounding board.  I don't place myself in any particular faith or philosophy now.  But if I had to define myself, it would be "spiritual". 

I'm wondering today whether I have ever let God carry me through the difficult times.  I'm wondering today, if through the difficult times, I always turned to my eating disorder to support me.  A completely dysfunctional pattern that may have been my only way of coping in my youth, but does not serve me anymore.

Today however, I have been feeling a sense of being carried.  Whatever healing went on in my kinesiology session has finally brought to a new place in my journey.  I don't feel it as one of letting go and handing over my problems to God.  I believe they are God given problems with which I need to work through in order to evolve.  But I do feel it as releasing the weight that drags me down and allowing God to lift me and carry me above my debilitating emotions.

Even as I wrote this, I felt some of the depression lift and a little bit of peacefulness creep in.

I am grateful.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Graduating to a new level

My period started last night.  I had 30 seconds of feeling very sad that I wasn't pregnant.  And then it was gone.  You see, I still dream of the miracle.

I have come to realise that I am beginning to lose the desire to have children, but the dream is still there.  I wrote this in the "Life Without Baby" community.

I still hold this fantasy that by an amazing miracle, I will get pregnant naturally and everything will be fine.  I think I may still live from month to month for a while.

I'm not going to be disappointed when AF comes around.  There has been too much loss for me to ever want to go through just a part of a pregnancy again.  And that is what would happen...

But it still exists as this little fantasy that everything is going to work out and we will get our dream and it will be good and life will be happy etc. etc.

The wonder of "what if" still remains each cycle.

Why am I feeling a change in my desire for children? 
I think that as I am grieving, I am partly healing and envisioning a new life, but I'm also finding reasons for why it is best for me to not have children.  Are those reasons excuses to help me feel better?  Maybe they are.  Probably a lot of them are.  I think they are a big part of my self-preservation thoughts.  "This is why it is best that I don't have children."  Yet the fact that they are there, shows that I still hold a big place in my heart and life that is meant to be filled with my children and I am needing to fill that hole with excuses in order to survive the heartache I feel. 
But maybe some of these reasons and understandings are also me finding my true path in my spiritual journey through life.  That is something to explore further.

The other thing I am feeling today, is a loss at never fully experiencing the natural bodily function of my reproductive system.  I will never know what it is like to feel my baby kicking inside of me, I will never feel my body swell as my child grows, I will never experience birth and breastfeeding etc etc.

As I sit here, I am so aware of my uterus shedding its lining to start afresh again.  I can feel the discomfort and the sensations of my reproductive system at work.  I feel connected to that core of my self.

At one time, my uterus held a growing child.  For 12 weeks, it did what it was meant to do.  Then it was gone.  Now as another cycle leaves me, I feel that loss again.  And I feel the loss of an important aspect of womenhood. 

My 'womenhood' is not something I have ever fully connected to.  It's always been a little elusive as I have dealt with the issues of my life.  In part, I saw having a child as a way of 'growing up', of 'becoming a woman'.  I felt that many of my problems would leave me as I enveloped the role of motherhood, as I shed my 'childhood'.  Maybe that was just a fantasy, it probably was, but it was real for me. 

Now that there isn't a child to help me 'graduate' to the next stage of my life, I have to find that new level myself.  I have to find my 'womenhood' in another way.

This is going to be an interesting journey!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

More books, websites and an Australian author!

It's been a while since I posted because I have been caught up with other areas of childless reading.  After finishing the two books I listed earlier, I finished reading Miriams book and began "Jody Day's Rocking The Life Unexpected."  I joined both her Gateway Woman site hosted through google plus as well as Lisa Manterfields "Life Without Baby" community.  Both of these sites have taken up all my spare time as I got a feel for them and eventually started posting.

It took me a little while, but now after reading 4 books about peoples stories, I am finally ready to start the therapeutic exercises. I have enrolled in Lisa Manterfields Road Map to Healing Group and have completed the week one questions.  And I have done exercise one and two in Jody's book.  Both have been really helpful and I'm looking forward to continuing with the exercises and communicating with the other women doing Lisa's group.

I considered posting my response to Jody's exercise one, but I think I will just keep that to myself for now.

Does anyone know of any blogs that are talking about Jody's exercises?

Another book I came across is:

I started reading it and realised that at the moment, I just need to focus on the Lisa's and Jody's work material.  Anymore is just overwhelming me.
Except then I found this one - an Australian author - and I am so excited.
I can't wait to read a childless book by an Australian author!!!!  I mentioned in a previous post about how I was really noticing the differences in my experiences compared to what others have experienced in different cultures.  I can't wait to read her book for the Aussie perspective.  I wonder if it will be different??

She wrote this article for the Sydney Morning Herald after a politican used the word "childless" as an insult to one of his opponents.  And apparently he hasn't been the only one.
Click here for the article

On a personal note, our anniversary weekend was fabulous!!  We stayed in a hotel in the city for the night, started with champagne in our room, then to the cocktail bar, then went out for dinner.  After dinner we went to some wine bars and walked the strip seeing the sites. 
In the morning, we started with champagne for breakfast (!) and then headed to the Pancake Kitchen.  After that we did some shopping, lay on the grass by the river for an hour or so, had lunch and then headed home. 
We had a great time and we definitely be doing something like that again!  A tradition has started!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Making choices.

Last Tuesday my car broke down.  It just turned off.  All of a sudden, I realised that I was no longer driving the car, it was just still being propelled by momentum.  Talk about a metaphor for my life!  I pulled over.  It wasn't in a good spot, but I couldn't push it back away from the intersection.  DH was at volleyball.  I left my phone home.  Fortunately, I was in walking distance from my place, so I walked back and got my neighbour to help me get it out of the way.

It was night.  I was just returning a DVD.  I should have picked up the dog for protection when I went back home.  Everything was fine of course, but I don't like being by myself when I'm out at night.  I walked to the DVD store which was only 15 minutes away.  I kept to the street lights and away from hidden places.  I called the RAA (roadside assistance) on the way back to the car.

I only waited at the car for about 20 minutes, but in that time, my anxiety levels started to increase.  I had my book with me, but I kept glancing around to see what was going on.  Soon enough, the RAA fixed the car (at least temporarily) and I was back home.

I suffer from anxiety, I have for years.  I get panic attacks and chest pains.  Most of the time I manage it well and I haven't really had a problem for a few months.  After the events of Tuesday night, it has all returned.  By Friday, I had my first panic attack in the middle of the night and I curled up to DH for comfort.

Today, not only have I been battling the anxiety, but the depression has also set in.  You see, that one is also a problem for me as well.  Runs in the family actually.  Both my brother and my Dad.  Naturopathy has helped me a great deal in managing both.

It's not surprising that these two are surfacing strongly.  There's nothing like realising that you aren't ever going to be a mother to trigger all the difficult emotions.

When DH returned home from work, both feelings lifted.  I was quite amazed.  Never has that happened to that extent before.  All of a sudden I wasn't depressed!  However, when we went to bed, I struggled again with a panic attack.  The moment I would begin to drift off to sleep, bang, there it was.  Having DH laying next to me, even if he was asleep(!), was the only thing that got me through it.

Now, it's the next morning.  DH has gone to work and both anxiety and depression are back with force.

The fact that my depression completely lifted when my husband came home, made me realise how much I am struggling without him.  He is hardly at home at the moment.  Work is overwhelming him and he can't seem to get on top of it.  He is travelling a lot and working long hours.  There is nothing we can do to change the situation at the moment.  We just need to ride through it and I help him as much as I can.  That, on top of what we are going through already, is not a good combination.  In two weeks, he leaves for Italy for three weeks.  God knows how I am going to cope with that.

Today is going to be about choices.  I have no choice in being childless.  But I can try really hard to make good choices about my day.  To get off the couch and do the washing.  To clean the house and begin to feel better about my environment.  To spend some time in the garden.  To not give into the overwhelming need I have to comfort eat.  Please can't I just shrivel into a ball and stay that way?!

I suppose I'll report in later and let you know how the day went.  Perhaps knowing I will do that, will give me more motivation to want to provide a good report!

Love and Light

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Books, society and differences.

The last few weeks have seen me devouring three popular books regarding childlessness and infertility.  I've read them in the following order.

  1. Lisa Manterfield - "I'm taking my eggs and going home."
  2. Pamela Tsigdinos  - “Silent Sorority: A Barren Woman Gets Busy, Angry, Lost and Found.”
  3. Miriam Zoll  -  “Cracked Open: Liberty, Fertility and the Pursuit of High-Tech Babies.”
The first two books I couldn't put down.  I was totally enthralled in the stories of these women's lives and the experiences they had.  They are fantastic books!

I must admit though, at the end of Lisa's book, I was really disappointed.  You see, I was looking for her experiences and insights from after she made the decision to stop treatments.  I was looking for how she handled life once the door to motherhood was slammed closed for good.  Sections about the difficulties of treatments were skimmed over as I searched for the next chapter in life.  When the book finished and there was nothing about the months or years post treatments, frustration set in. 

So when Pamela's book shifted into that gear fairly soon, I was thrilled.  Finally, some insight into where I am in my life right now.

I'm only 17% into Miriam's book.  It's definitely going to be a different type of read.  More facts and statistics about infertility - both with our understanding of it, the treatment of it, and the fertility industry.  However, I just know I'm still going to devour her story just as much as I did Lisa's and Pamela's.

From all of this reading as well as the many blogs and forums I have been submerging myself in, I have begun to see both differences and similarities in my story compared to others.

The biggest difference so far is my experiences with society.  I don't seem to have felt the same level of judgement that so many others have.  I have given this much thought and there seem to be several factors that could account for this.
  • Is it because Australian society is different to say, American society, for example?  Do we, as a nation, not place the same expectations on society as a whole?  Are we more easy going with peoples life choices?  Not so stuck in the dogma of tradition and that life must be a certain way?  Certainly life is geared towards the family but that doesn't mean there is judgement placed on those that don't have children.

  • Or is it my social circle?  My nearest and dearest are all career women who began their families in their 20's.  Yet not once, have I ever felt judged by them.  Our friendships most definitely changed as their lives began to spin around juggling career and families, but there wasn't ever any purposeful casting out, just changing circumstances.

  • Then there is my career.  I am a musician, being an instrumental teacher for the most part.  A fairly solitary career at it's core.  We travel from school to school teaching a day here and a day there, so we aren't truly a part of any school social setting.  And our teaching is mostly one on one with the students.  No judgement there!  So I guess, in contrast to those who work in a office setting with the same people everyday, there isn't the same situation of office talk and pregnancy in your face.

  • Perhaps a big part of the difference is that because of my long term issues with eating and weight, I have been constantly and cruelly judged and ostracized by society for all of my adult life, so much so, that the issue of being childless fades into the background.  Unlike infertility, there is nothing hidden about being a larger build and the prejudice around that is detrimental and interferes with every aspect of ones life.  The many factors surrounding this addiction, to an extent, also saw me retreat from the world at large, so maybe I haven't found myself in the firing line of being judged for singledom and childlessness as much as others have been.
  • Lastly, I think that for me, I was single for a long time before I met DH.  There were relationships, but none that brought about the question of children.  People accepted that.  I never got the attitude of "you better hurry up and find someone, so you can have kids".  When I met DH, we started trying to have children before we even got engaged.  Getting married was always going to happen, there was no hurry.  But because of my age, we knew we needed to start trying to have children soon. 
    So before I could receive the "when are you going to have children", "why don't you have children, it's the best thing I've ever done" comments, people already knew we were doing IVF.

I think for me the issue is more of society, through it's daily life, reminding me of my heartache over not having children.  Not feeling judged as much as others have been, doesn't take away that heartache.  Society is still built around families and we can't escape that.  Pregnancy announcements, bouncing babies, the joys of parenthood.  The pain I feel at seeing other people live out my dream of motherhood is replicated in every blog I have read over the last couple of months.  It is always there staring us in the face and reminding us of what we can never have for ourselves.

It is a confusing topic to say the least.  There are so many possible factors for the cause of the differences I have felt over societies reactions.  I feel for every woman out there who has been subjected to that along with the pain of the daily reminders.  I hope it is something that can be changed through conversation and education and I am definitely an advocate for speaking out.

I would love to hear your thoughts on all this.  My understanding of this issue is far from finished!!  Not to mention the experiences that are still to come that might change my perception.
Have you felt societies judgements?  Or has it also been different for you?  If so, how was it different?