Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

A few weeks ago, a couple of friends here asked me how my US friends were coping with all the negative news out of the US. They were referring both to recent events – yet another mass shooting at a school, and the leaked draft decision on Roe v Wade from the Supreme Court – as well as to the handling of the pandemic, and the mess that has been US domestic politics since 2016 and earlier. “How can they bear to live in that country?” they asked.

“It’s their home,” I replied, noting that (at the time) only one of my friends had jokingly talked about moving. Though we then had a discussion about whether their culture colours their views. Here in New Zealand, most people have friends and relatives who live overseas, either because we ourselves are immigrants, or members of our family and friends have moved overseas to live. We see the world as a moving feast, and I think we are all pretty realistic about the pros and especially the cons of living in our country. I know most of my US friends are realistic about the good, the bad, and the ugly in their society. Even though it sadly seems that there are many of their fellow citizens who are not.

However, in the last few days, I’ve seen some of these US friends talk about leaving not only their state but their country, people I never thought would even consider it, people who have never even been out of the US. My heart bleeds for them. Some of them can’t even bear speaking about it. Their country no longer feels like their country. And worst of all, they can’t see a way out of this.

I spoke to a US relative back in 2016, and said I felt sad about their election result, especially for his daughters. He immediately jumped on the abortion issue, which was not top of mind for me at the time, as it has never been a major political issue here. I pointed out that I had many other concerns around the freedom and equality of the society they would live in as they become adults. Not least that they could have a leader and government who would see women as equals, and treat them with respect. Not least that they could see a woman leading their government at some time. But amongst so many other concerns, I also hoped then, and even more so I hope that now they never become pregnant and find themselves in a state that forces them to give birth when that would not be their choice, for whatever reason. I hope that they never have a miscarriage and struggle to access medical help, or have to face accusations of criminal behaviour as a result. I hope they never have a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy (as almost all ectopic pregnancies are) and can’t access medical care, or have to fight for it, because some ignorant law-maker believes that you can move an ectopic pregnancy. (For the record, you can’t, it is impossible, and untreated ectopics are the leading cause of early pregnancy maternal death.) I hope they never have a second or third trimester scan and find severe abnormalities that are incompatible with life, a tragedy in itself, one that is grieved as a loss and is never a chosen situation. Imagine going through that and yet being forced to continue with the pregnancy and birth, at the risk of their own mental and physical health. I may have wanted to have children, and I have certainly grieved my pregnancy losses, infertility, and resultant childlessness. But these made me more aware than ever that, wherever medically possible, it should always be my choice, and my choice alone.

At a time when New Zealand and Australia and most of the western world have been slowly liberalising our laws, it is very scary to see the US doing the opposite. Because at its worst (and right now, it is at its worst), US culture is a disease. It spreads, it infects other cultures, and it twists realities. We’ve seen it turn insidious here in New Zealand this year around the pandemic. I hope our political systems and social systems can resist this. I hope the US too can turn things around, and hope above all that it is not too late. And I send these hopes and my love to all my US friends and readers. Women all over the world feel this loss, and the coming threats, intently. We feel it with you. You are not alone.

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  • Wow, I haven’t done a Monday Miscellany for three months. It’s all I can manage today because the last five nights, I’ve been staying up watching Wimbledon tennis matches. Unfortunately, they have all started around 12.30 to 1 am. And go through until it’s almost time to get up. (The other day I didn’t get to bed until 6.45 am!!!) Fortunately, I don’t have to get up for work! But it has meant that I’ve been feeling rather jet-lagged, and I definitely need a nap after I’ve finished my Monday blogs. I do love watching the matches live though – it’s not the same watching them the next day. The other night watching the women’s Final, I had fun whatsapping with my sister-in-law who lives in Australia and was supporting Ash Barty, and my other sister-in-law in Malaysia who was supporting both. (I said that meant she would win regardless, but she said it would mean she’d feel sad for the loser no matter who it was.) I also commented that it felt very strange to be supporting an Australian, as we usually joke here that we support NZ, and anyone playing Australia!
  • I thoroughly enjoyed a recent morning out doing some errands, stopping for a coffee and Danish pastry (because I skipped breakfast), and a fossick around one new furniture shop, and another that was filled with work from local producers. It would have been lovely on a miserable day (which we had a few at the beginning of this week), but today the sky is blue, there is no wind, and although it is cold, it’s beautiful. I now have the windows open airing out the house.
  • Major routine health checks done and dusted, one for another couple of years, the other for five years. Yay. It’s always a relief.
  • My blog is a book. No, not really, don’t get excited. My blog is not a book. But I have a document filled with all my posts, and with drafts not yet written, and I’ve noticed that it is 383, 199 words, or 674 pages! That’s enough for four books! Good grief. Maybe it’s time to split the document in two. I don’t want it to get so big that it is out of control.
  • I’ve had a knitting break for the last few months. Then about a week ago, just as I was getting back into it, I dropped a stitch. Now, I’ve been knitting since I was a child (well, with a 30 year break!), so I know how to pick up stitches. But this pattern was very tight, with tiny needles and stitches, and the wool was a very dark brown, so it was hard to see and find. I couldn’t pick up the stitch. It unravelled more. Argh! And the more I tried, the fluffier the wool got, making it harder to see. I had to wait till daytime to try, and I was still struggling to find it. Finally, yesterday, I stood in the window in the sunlight, and think I managed to fix it, but I’m not 100% sure. I figure I’ll warn the recipient when it is finished, and just say that I’ve taken on the philosophy of the Middle Eastern carpet makers, who deliberately put in mistakes, because to err is human, and perfection is divine! On the plus side, the dark brown wool makes the repair almost impossible to see.
  • I had another lovely morning out just last Friday, when the weather was again perfect winter weather – cold and calm and sparkling. (As it is today, I might add.) I headed out to the south coast of Wellington, where we can both see the South Island, or south to the Antarctic, and there’s nothing in between. Better photographers go out in wild weather, and impress me with huge waves and dark clouds. But I decided this was just a scoping trip, spent a happy hour or so out there with my camera (some examples below), thinking about what photos I might try, or locations that look good, and wishing I had different lenses and my tripod.
  • And on every trip out, whether it is to the supermarket or a more interesting adventure, I pass the roadworks on the gorge from my hill suburb down to the city. We currently have a section that is only one lane, and the workers at either end of the road works keep a check on the traffic lights. Recently, two cheerful women (at either end of the single lane section) have started waving happily as we go pass. Sometimes it’s a small wave, other times it’s wild and crazy and joyful. We can’t help but smile, and wave back. They make the day better.

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… about infertility and childlessness. This post is in recognition of the US organisation Resolve’s National Infertility Awareness Week. I’m a few days late, but better late than never! It seems appropriate to write this post here, on A Separate Life, than on my No Kidding in NZ blog, where I reach people who know these things already.

  • If I want you to know why we don’t have children, I’ll tell you. But it’s my business, and your privilege to know, so don’t pry. After all, I don’t ask if your children were the result of a boozy one-night stand, a contraceptive failure, an attempt to save a marriage, make-up sex, the result of years of trying, or a happy and lucky planned conception.
  • Infertility or pregnancy loss or childlessness is not a blameworthy situation. Don’t ask “who’s fault is it?”
  • A friend once said to me that I never had anything so I’d never lost it (when I was recovering from an ectopic pregnancy). She didn’t know how wrong she was. Whether childless people were ever pregnant or not, we have lost something huge – the future we wanted.
  • It was NOT “meant to be.” How would you feel if I told you your mother’s cancer was “meant to be,” or your child’s accident or disability, or your job loss, or car accident?
  • I AM a “real woman.” Motherhood is not the only female experience. Grief over pregnancy loss and infertility is a very real experience too.
  • Not having children lifelong is not the same as your single years in your 20s or 30s. Don’t presume you understand it.
  • Please don’t say “take my kids.” It is flippant and insulting. And we all know you don’t mean it.
  • Adoption isn’t the easy solution you think it is. Anywhere. In New Zealand, for example, it is incredibly rare, except for international adoptions, which come with their own complications and expenses. It is most likely that we know far more about adoption and its issues than you do, so asking “have you thought about adopting?” is insulting. If you mean, “why didn’t you adopt?” and you are genuinely interested, then ask that. But don’t be offended if we don’t want to answer. See my very first point above.
  • We like to hear about your children and be part of their lives. Please don’t exclude us. We could help you, and your kids, so much if you invited us in.
  • But also, learn to talk about topics other than your children! (And I really don’t want or need to hear about all your friends’ children!)
  • Talk to us about our lives. You might learn something. We might learn something about you too.
  • I learned a lot about myself, about grieving, and about society going through infertility and childlessness.
  • It is hard living in a society that is structured around families with children, that focuses on those families, and that seems to find it impossible to acknowledge those of us who don’t have children, or who might be estranged from their families, or who might have lost them. Look at electioneering, advertising around Christmas or Mother’s and Father’s Day, etc. Think about the people who are alone. Maybe reach out to them.
  • Old age can be scary for us, especially when we have cared for elderly parents, and have seen and understood the needs and fears of the elderly.
  • Sometimes I feel childless. Sometimes I feel childFREE. Both are okay.
  • Enjoying my life isn’t a rejection of yours. We each have to embrace the lives we have.
  • My life is full. And it is good.

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