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Giving Up and Giving In

It is not something that most 23 year old females are aware of, or even think about.

Infertility.

The in-ability to have convieve a pregnancy, and sustain it.

The work I do in the P&IL community has made me become hyper- aware of this fate that people are forced to succumb to.

On one hand, I am watching a beautiful couple I am good firends with struggle to stay positive despite the continued failure of IVF.

On the other, I am watching my beautiful friend K, at just 22, face the prospect of complete infertility.

Both of these cases are just a few examples of some of the heartbreakng stories I see each day. It makes me wonder, as someone who is possibly facing infertility herself, when do you reach the point that you have to give up, to save your heart, and your head, from the heartbreak that comes along with holding onto hope for so long.

Hope is the reason we get out of bed, the thought that maybe, just maybe, today may be the day that we concieve. And because we have held onto hope, maybe that baby will get to stay. But after months, years, and for some people I have had the honor of working with, when is the point you are able to let go of that tiny shred of hope, and start again?

How do you tell yourself, your SO, that it is time to let go? Time to let go of the dream of holding a tiny newborn in your arms?

How do you give up, give in, and let go of hope?

HOW do you face a life of knowing that there won’t be someone for you to raise, to nurture, to love. How do you accept that and make a new life with you, and your SO?

The only other question I have besides how, is why?

Why do people I love, care for and admire face this choice?

Why is that fair?

 

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Goldfish

Well, I have the concentration span of one right now.

It is amazingly frustrating! I find myself getting up to do something, and then getting distracted entirely and forgetting what I am doing. I can’t concentrate on the books I am reading, on any TV I watch, on household chores.

I can’t decide if it is because I am slowly letting a bout of depression take over, or if it is because I am bored out of my brain not working. I’d say it is a combination of the two. Since the beginning of this term, I have picked up a handful of days substitute teaching. The days I have been teaching, I have felt amazing, gotten out of bed with a sense of purpose, and throughly enjoyed my day with the students. I never thought I’d be a person who defined herself by her job, but when I was able to say “I am a teacher, working at a school”, it felt good. It gave me puropse. So without that reason to get out of bed, and the constant stream of rejection emails, I am beginning to doubt my abilities as a teacher, and as a person. I know in my heart that this is insane, but it still doesn’t stop the little voice in my head saying” Clearly, you’re a crap teacher and no one wants you!”.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take before I throw my hands in the air and give up.

A friend of mine has taken a leap of faith and decided to begin a book on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Recovery and Hope. I wrote about how my experience was turned from something horrific to something positive and light filled.

When you’re young, you think you’re invincible. Sure, you know death exists, but you also know it is something that happens to other people, it is something that happens to old people, to pets, to friends of your parents. Death is not a concept that you are conscious of at seventeen. You certainly do not think that death can happen to a baby, most definitely, not yours.

I was thrust into the world of pregnancy loss at seventeen, blinking confusedly at the harshness of my new reality. The only comparison I can think of is the scene from The Wizard of Oz, where following the twister, Dorothy is dumped into a foreign land. Being a teenager not only experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, but also losing a very much loved baby at just ten weeks into my pregnancy, without a doubt, resembled the abovementioned scene.

While all of my friends were worried about if their crush would notice them, studied for exams and were learning how to drive a car, I was learning how to navigate a world that no one should ever have to.

After nine months of being in a relationship, I had a suspicion that something just wasn’t “right”. I tried to call my partner, but there was no answer. After leaving several voice messages over a number of days, I ended up being forced to send him a text message saying “I think I might be pregnant”. I didn’t end up ever getting a reply. He’d left without telling me, and moved two thousand kilometres away. No word. No warning. He just left. I didn’t hear from him again, I don’t even know if he ever got that text message. As far as I know, he had no idea he was going to be a father.

I knew I had to continue my unexpected journey towards motherhood alone. It is said that there are only two times in your life where you are truly alone- in pregnancy, and in death. This rings even more true with teenage pregnancy. It was so very lonely. I did not intend for my pregnancy to stay a secret from my loved ones around me, it just turned out that way. I knew my baby was there, the baby was my secret, ready to reveal when I felt ready.

In the lead up to confirminig my pregnancy, I was struggling to stay on top of things, mentally as well as physically. I was juggling a heavy study load, tutoring after school 2 days a week, debate team prep weekly, as well as keeping this amazing secret to myself, until I knew what to do.

I was able to tell a few friends, but essentially, I was alone in this. I continued to go through the motions, pretending that everything was normal. On the outside, it seemed there was nothing wrong. On the inside, oh on the inside. The only feeling I can strongly recall besides an overwhelming love, was guilt. It has been said that motherhood is comprised essentially of feeling guilty. I felt guilty for putting my baby through an incredible amount of stress and anxiety, guilty for wanting to pretend there was no baby, guilty for rolling my options around in my mind. Guilty for thinking that somehow, everything would be ok.I had spent almost 3 weeks thinking, dreaming, hoping, fearing, planning. I had a list of names, both for a girl and a boy, I had a way of telling my parents, I had the next 12 months planned out- postpone my studies for a year and then go to uni. People studied with babies all the time, right?

The mother-guilt I felt in the beginning of my pregnancy only increased on the day that I awoke to find myself bleeding.

In the early hours of the morning, on the 10th of August in 2006, I woke up to increasingly worse cramping, and bedding covered in blood. It was like something from a horror film, the tomato sauce thing, except it was worse than that. I was pregnant, and at the tender age of 17, I was thrust into the world and language of miscarriage and grief.

It was a different kind of pain. I think that it physically hurt more than it should have because of the silent screams, because of the muffled sobbing, because of the short, sharp breaths I was struggling to take in, as I attempted to comprehend what the blood meant.

I showered, washed the blood away, only to make more, all the while, numb.

At the time, I lived at home with my parents. My mother dropped me to school early, a lie-the first of many- that I told that day, telling her I needed to be there early for debate preparation, wishing me a good day as I got out of the car.

When I knew she couldn’t see me, I walked the short distance to the emergency department, fearing what I already knew in my heart.  I was told “Your baby died, I’m sorry. But you’re young, so it was probably for the best.”

What had I done to deserve this? What had I done wrong? Was it because I didn’t eat enough? Was it because I was too underweight from the all day “morning sickness”? Was it because I was destined to be a single, teenage mother, stuck in her home town?

I knew babies could die, but I never ever thought that mine would be one of them.

That was the beginning of my journey.

That day, was the day I lost my innocence, my naivety, my childhood.

I continued on, appearing situation normal, when on the inside, I was feeling a constant knot in my stomach, one that stopped me from eating, from functioning, almost from breathing.

It took me a month of pushing the sadness down, ignoring it, pretending it wasn’t there, to have an emotional breakdown in the classroom of one of my teachers. In the first of many conversations we had together following my loss, she revealed to me that she too had suffered her first miscarriage, just weeks before I had. I remember crying for hours at home, knowing that finally, I wasn’t alone. Someone understood. Even though some days, her advice wasn’t what I wanted to hear, just knowing that someone got it, despite the ten year age gap. Without her, I highly doubt I’d be where I am today. I named my baby after her, Lily Natalie Anne, as a tribute to the person who pulled me up, who told me it was ok to be sad, who was a source of inspiration for me.

Over the months that followed, I put my journey “out there” online. I met people, spent my days emailing back and forth to people half a world away. Two of these women have a very special place in my heart now. Without them, as with my teacher, I don’t know where I would be if it weren’t for their emails arriving in the dead of night, when they were beginning their day, and I was dying  for mine to end so that I could fall into a dreamless sleep for even a few hours.

No one ever tells you about the sleep deprivation following a loss.

I found someone who, just like me, had fallen pregnant to her boyfriend in her final year of school, and had also suffered a miscarriage, losing twins in 2007. We spent months emailing each other, discovering that our lives bore a striking resemblance- we’re both at a point in our lives where we are about to get married, to settle down properly, are allowing ourselves to dream the possibility of another baby.

It was through internet friendships that I began to slowly find parents who lived in the same city as me. It was though these friendships formed that I was able to turn my miscarriage into something positive rather than something that would hold me back. It took me so very long to recover from losing Lily, that I thought I’d never be able to smile again. It was a long road, one that I do not feel like I am entirely finished on. I now am very active in our local Pregnancy and Infant Loss community, donating memory boxes and care packages to our major maternity hospital, I assist with running an online private support group on Facebook, I work with a local photographer who creates beautiful memories on the sea shore of a local beach. These simple acts of kindness and empathy bring me a sense of peace, knowing that someone who receives a package from our volunteer group at Luminous Light will not feel as alone as I did when I lost Lily.

I think that losing a pregnancy as a teenager is such a lonely experience, purely because it is not a topic that is widely acknowledged. Society in general spends so much time focusing on the “negativity” associated with teenage pregnancy and parenthood. The stereotype of the silly, giggly, teenage girl, who believes that a baby won’t impact their life is one that is over-emphasized. No one focuses on the knowledge that pregnancy happens, no matter how careful we are. People don’t like to realize that even though we are in our teenage years, that some of us will make the best of the situation, try our hardest and to give our children the best life possible. I may have been young, but the impact of my daughter’s brief life has been one that has changed me, it has aged me, it has made me a better person. I think the reason I have been able to look at my situation in a positive light is time. I didn’t get over it in a short space of time, but it did get easier. I learned who I was underneath the shadow of my loss.

That dream?

I blogged a little while about an old teacher of mine having a baby. It was only a dream, but I dreamed she had a little boy. I only hoped that this would come true.

She was a massive help in easing the pain of my first miscarriage. She was able to share with me that she’d had a loss too. For me, at the time, to know that this woman who I looked up to, who helped shape me into the teacher I am today, it broke my heart to hear that she’d had her chance at motherhood ripped away from her too.

I have recently found out that she is pregnant again, about 16 weeks. Due in April. When I found this out, my heart leapt in joy. I am absolutley overwhelmed that at 33, she’s finally gotten her chance.

I know in my heart, she is going to be an amazing mother. She is an awesome teacher, and an amazing person, and I am glad to say that she is the reason I too became a teacher. I do hope our paths cross again, someday!

 

 

<3

Missing You is all I Feel Today

Lily and Little Speck’s Names In The Sand, at Mullalloo Beach, Perth, Australia

Dreaming

The only thing that makes some of the dreams ok is the fact that I know, I know, they’re just dreams. They aren’t real, they (usually) don’t come true. They won’t happen in real life.

I dreamed druring the night that I was carrying my beautiful friend’s baby. K has just this week found out that she is facing a future of a limited window of being able to naturally concieve and carry a baby to term. In this same week, my other friend, also K, found out that her precious baby had died and was going to miscarry.

Its been a long week, a trying week, a sad week. It is no surprise that my dreams have been littered with pregnancy, babies and loss.

I dreamed that I was carrying a baby for K. I clearly remember stating to a family member that the reason I was doing it was because I knew this baby was not mine, I was merely carrying it for my wonderful friend. I crowed with joy when I was able to tell DF I was 6 weeks pregnant with their baby. I was excited to be forced to have to reveal it to my work colleagues that I was in fact pregnant and needed to tell them because of the morning sickness I was suffering. I told my classes that the baby I was carrying was a wonderful blessing for a very close friend of mine.

I dreamed of staring at myself in my bathroom mirror, realising with a jolt that I was carrying a healthy prgnancy, this conclusion only reached as I stared at my perfect little belly under the patterened, fitted top I wore to work that day.

I dreamed of the gift I was able to give to K and her DF, a healthy baby for them to love forever.

I then sensed something was wrong, and madly spent an afternoon trying to get myself into an OB, just to check, because something wasn’t right.

Blood, followed by an ultrasound, followed by a shake of the head, followed by hysterical sobbing.

I woke up in a sweat, my pillow damn from tears.

The problem with vivid dreams is that because of the fact they are so realistic, they stick with me. For days.

For the love of life, I truly hope this is a dream that stays a dream….

And then it stops…

One day, not soon, not after something significant, not consciously, it stops.

The pain, the unbearable, blinding grief, the pause, the inability to move on, the fear, the sadness.

One day, after a while, it stops.

Things look brighter, your heart aches less, you begin to smile again. Things feel different. You know you have not forgotten, but you have finally learned to navigate this life after loss.

You never forget, but instead of cry, you smile. Because it happened. Because they happened.

Sad

My trip here to the US is ending rapidly. I feel happy to be going home to see DF again, but the other half of me is sad, because I don’t want to leave K. It has been so amazing just hanging out. We know each other inside and out, we know each other’s idiosyncrasities, we know how we tick. We have shared so much of our lives togther online, and the immense pain and heartbreak of losing our children, that the days have fallen into a routine of relaxing in each other’s presence.

I think we both imagined that our time would be spent discussing our little ones, but surprisingly that is not that case. They remain with us, a being that need not be acknowledged every day. We have had two (very l0ng!) conversations about our experience, but that has been it.

I guess when you are so close to someone, there is no need for words.

Another part of me is sad that I don’t think I’ll see either K or her DF until our wedding reception- that is if they can afford it. Otherwise, a tentative Jan 2015 has been discussed. But that is FOREVER away.

I am thankful for modern technoloies such as FB, Skype and email. It isn’t the same though after spending an incredible 2 weeks here.

I hate things that end!

A Trip, A Friend and Hope

I’m sure  have mentioned my trip to the USA to vsit baby loss mammas? If I haven’t, gues where I am writing htis blog post from? Well, the spare room of my dear friend Kay’s home. In Washington State.

We started out with the typical countdown, and when we got to being a week out, then days, then OHGoDITSTOMORROWIGETTOSEYOU!, it began t0 feel more real. Getting onto a 24 hour flight made it seem real.

Laying eyes on her in the airport, freezing with shock, and prompltly bursting into tears as we hugged for the first time made it finally, properly real. Almost 9 months of waiting lead to this moment.

The first  days or so of the trip were hard, jet lag wise. I didn’t sleep, bar a few snatched hours when my body was so desperate for sleep,and yet at home, it was my normal waking hours…The only exhaustion that I think even comes close, is that when your baby doesn’t sleep for nights on end. I could barely forrm coherent sentences.

So finally, after a night of K and I demolishing 3 bottles of wine, I passed out for a blissful 14 hours. Finally.

K said that this trip was going to be very healing for her personally. I have to admit, it has been for me as well. To just “be” with someone who simply jusst gets it. Its a wonderful feeling.

We have had several sessions of crafting, creating and photographing. Items have been crated for us, and for other mammas out there.

October 15 was spent personalising candles, capturing their glow, and creating flags for our babies who did not get to stay.