Archive for the ‘Infertility’ Category

I woke up on Saturday morning with a feeling of dread; an article I had been interviewed for was due out in the newspaper’s weekend magazine, complete with photographs and a video. My husband received a text early complimenting me on my comments, and so with that I knew I couldn’t go back to sleep for an extra hour, and went online to see the article.

The article is about the stigma society still places on women without children, and indicative of this is the fact that I was the only childless woman (rather than an academic or counsellor) who agreed not to be anonymous, and to be photographed for the article. My part of the article comes at the end, where I talk about how stressful holidays like Christmas (fortunately I didn’t get started on Mother’s Day) can be for women without children. There are so many clichés people roll out around Christmas/holidays that can be painful and dismissive, or nosy and judgemental, that I hope one or two who read the article might think before they speak around those who don’t and won’t have children.

In the interview, I stressed too that the isolation women without children might feel makes us much more aware of the many other people in society who might feel alone at this time of year, but it didn’t make the edit. So I want to mention it here, to remind us all to try and include, and be thoughtful around, those who might be feeling alone or left out or just plain sad this year. Being Merry isn’t compulsory, but being kind definitely should be.


Read Full Post »

I blog, I blog in English, and the blogging community is dominated by Americans. So it would be impossible for me to miss that it is National Infertility Week in the US.   This week, they are trying to promote awareness by getting bloggers to “Join the Movement” and talk about how we are making a difference in ways large and small in the lives of people with infertility.

Now, my fertility issues have been resolved. I mean I’m 50, so I’m past all that now anyway. (I’m not a big supporter of women getting pregnant in their 50s and beyond). I’ve found resolution, but not in the way most people assume, ie by having children. Nope, no kidding, that’s me. And that’s okay. So in one way, I struggle with the exhortation to “join the movement” and make more people aware of the fact that 1 in 8 people will have fertility issues. After all, right now, I just want to be me. I don’t want to be defined by anything, certainly not the issue of whether or not I have children. Or more specifically, whether or not I could have children. This blog is not about infertility.  It’s about my life.  The one I just happen to be living without kids.

Consider too that up until last year, I volunteered for an ectopic pregnancy organisation, and I know what a difference I made in the lives of others going through pregnancy loss and those who then faced infertility.  And I write in other places about infertility.  I don’t think I need to be exhorted to do more.

Yet, 1 in 8 couples have difficulty having children.  Between 30-50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Infertility is a very real and quite common part of life. We all know someone who has been touched by infertility.  And yet these topics are not talked about; instead they are hidden away, rarely acknowledged.  We live in a world that assumes everyone will have children, that idolises the state of parenthood, and that often looks on those of us with no kids as lesser, or lacking, regardless of why we don’t have children. So I do really support the principle of raising awareness. The more people who are aware that fertility isn’t a given, being a parent isn’t a given, the better. In fact, the more people who realise it isn’t required, the better.  It will mean that people will feel freer in their choices not to have children, or the circumstances they find themselves in.  And it will mean those of us who tried, but couldn’t (or those who are trying right now), will not feel judged and found lacking.

And perhaps maybe, just maybe, someone reading this will think before they ask someone, “do you have children?” And it might stop them (or you) – forever – asking the follow-up question that almost always sounds like an accusation, “why not?”

For more information, follow these links:

Read Full Post »

My parents’ generation here in New Zealand adhered to the principles of the Protestant work ethic – and I can point to one elderly gentleman I know  in particular. He believes the point of life is to work. Your duty is to work. Leisure is just an excuse for laziness. Extravagance is wicked. Etc etc. I have watched him work, and retire, and don’t see that this belief in these principles have brought him much happiness. Perhaps they did when he was at work, and had children at home. But not in the last 20+ years. Despite that, delayed gratification is always portrayed as a noble state. Not just by him, but by a lot of society in general.

On the other hand, instant gratification has always been portrayed as being selfish, or rash, or extravagant, or indulgent. All very negative connotations. Yes, I know all the arguments, and all the research about the advantages in store for the child who chooses to wait for the marshmallow. But you know, I’ve waited for the marshmallow long enough. I waited for the marshmallow children, not rushing into anything, waiting till we were financially stable, and until everything felt right, only to find that I’d probably waited too long. As a result, I’m no longer a fan of delayed gratification.

My ectopic pregnancies reminded me that I am very mortal. Infertility and subsequent health issues reminded both my husband and I that, whilst we have been very fortunate in life, we are not invulnerable. Anything could happen to us at any time. I see that in the lives of friends and family, and every night on the evening news. We never know when that texting driver is going to ram into us, when an earthquake or cancer or something we’ve never heard of might strike, when our lives might change irreversibly, or end completely.

So whilst planning is still important to us, we don’t defer our gratification to some distant time when we will have more money, better health, more time etc. Because we know that we might never have more money, time or better health than we do right now.  Sometimes we succumb to the instant gratification = bad pressure, and feel guilty. We look back at our international travel the last ten years, and shudder when we work out how much it has all cost us. But we also know how much it would have cost to raise children, figure that we’re breaking even, and shrug and book another trip! But I know others consider us to be extravagant. After all, we’re not rich.  But are we extravagant? Maybe. But does that mean we are bad, selfish, indulgent?  I don’t think so, even if others do.

But the work ethic proponents also believe that we should “never put off tomorrow what you can do today.”  So I want to argue that, within reason, we can apply that to leisure and lifestyle issues as well as hard work (or doing my taxes, sigh). Shouldn’t we appreciate what we have or who we have in our lives today, rather than waiting till tomorrow to appreciate them? Or worse, to tell those we love how much we appreciate them? Shouldn’t all of us  embrace our lives today, rather than waiting till tomorrow, next month, next year?

I’ve been thinking about this because my husband is being made redundant. We have two choices of action.  We could run around furiously and get jobs or contracts that make us miserable but bring in some cash. We could worry, panic, and stress about the future. We could choose to hunker down and be conservative. We have friends who have counselled us to do this. My in-laws will definitely counsel us to do this. (Or they will gossip about our recklessness behind our backs).

Or we could say “let’s make lemonade” and take the opportunity to do something completely different, even if just for a few months.  And that’s what we’re most likely going to do.  Because ultimately, we are now more comfortable with the present than the future.  We’re not actually reckless, and we’re not terrified of the future either.  But we acknowledge that the future might not come as we plan it, and the present is here and now and needs to be lived.  And so that’s what we’re going to do.

And I look back, and know that my infertility history, as well as more recent difficulties, helped me come to this position. I’m comfortable with it.  I’m going to take my gratification now, thank you very much.  I am not going to wait.*

* All will be revealed, once decisions have been made.  

Read Full Post »

I was quite nervous about “coming out” on The Huffington Post – or perhaps, more accurately, also giving links to this here, on my everyday blog, and on Facebook, which meant including people with whom I have never discussed my infertility or pregnancy losses. But I don’t know if I needed to worry. I had some lovely comments and in receiving these, I thought about the people I didn’t hear from and realised that I’m not nervous about what they think – so I’ll be thrilled to get positive feedback, but if I don’t, I don’t really care if they talk behind my back, make judgements, or just think I’m being melodramatic, as long as they don’t tell me. I actually feel very zen about it all. (And no, I haven’t had a glass of wine yet, despite it being after 4 pm on a sunny Friday afternoon).

And then I read the comments on the Huff Post. Fortunately I’ve read quite a few articles about infertility or about child-free women on the internet, so I knew what to expect. I knew there’d be lots of people commenting “you obviously never wanted children.” I knew there’d be the vehemently child-free, wondering what all the fuss was about. And I knew there’d be the uninformed, unimaginative Just Adopt brigade. Of course, I didn’t really expect someone to say “Thank you God for not allowing this person to bring a life into this world.

But you know, it seems I have a thicker skin than I thought. Because – after a moment of indignation – I laughed. I realised that there is little to fear – especially from people who don’t know me, have only read a few of my words, haven’t understood those words, or had their own agenda for commenting. And there were some lovely, supportive comments that got me a bit teary – “Thanks for sharing your grief. It helped me.” –
and even an almost-proposition from a bloke who said “This woman to me would be a joy and a treasure. “ Blush.

Blog commenting in comparison is so different, and I suspect my thick skin would quickly become transparent if I got negative comments like that here. (Disagreements are fine though. I like a good debate! Don’t be afraid!) It is much more of a conversation, and real (I think) relationships can develop. I mean, the very fact that I’m considering a visit to the US (still undecided) – in part motivated by my wish to both catch up with old friends, and to meet a number of my new blogging friends – should point to the relationships we have developed, and my fondness for those who read my blog and whose blogs I read.

I’m going to give the final word to one of the ruder commenters.

Of course, she’s infertile. She’s old.
Can’t have your cake and eat it too, sweetheart.

No, wait. This is my blog. I get the last word. And here it is:

I can have my cake and will eat it too. It’s just a different cake, Sweetheart!

I think that will be my new motto.

Read Full Post »

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week in the US.  It doesn’t seem to be recognised here in New Zealand, which is a pity. The theme this year is “Don’t ignore …” And so I had been considering posting about my infertility here, on my everyday blog, conscious that – by and large – I do ignore it in this space. Yet that’s exactly what I complain about over on my life after infertility blog. A small case of “do what I say, not what I do.” Sigh. Guilty as charged.

I had drafted up something, but wasn’t entirely comfortable with it. The thing is, our infertility is ignored – by my husband and I, most of my friends, my family. This can be explained because I have been quite private about it (yes I know, at the same time writing about it all over the internet so hundreds if not thousands can read some of my most private thoughts), because I’m now of the age where having kids isn’t really an option, and because we’ve been (just) a couple for so long, there doesn’t seem anything strange about us not having kids.  So talking about the subject where friends and family will see it is far scarier than talking about it with friends I’ve met on-line, who have always known this part of me. Hence my procrastination about writing anything; an explanation for why my No Kidding blog has never been linked here.  That fear of judgement and horror of pity is hard to shake.

Then I got an email.  Go to sleep, and wake up to find that I am published on The Huffington Post. Under my REAL NAME! Argh! Talk about coming out big-time. And I linked to it on Facebook. (Because, I mean, it’s The Huffington Post – why wouldn’t I?) Argh again!

My piece was originally posted under “The Secret to Happiness is …” headline – quite different from the “Did I grieve enough?” headline used by The Huffington Post. Still, I’m not complaining! You can read it here.

Note:  I’m too scared to read it in case there are dreadful errors and I sound ridiculous!

Read Full Post »

I think I’ve written before about meeting internet friends. About the strangeness of knowing the most intimate details of a person’s thoughts and experiences, but not what they look like. About discovering that people in real life are usually exactly like their internet personas. About knowing that internet friends are as real as the friends I have at home, and that we might be in touch as often as those who live a few suburbs away. I blogged about many of them in my x365. Too many to mention.

So over the next couple of days, I’ll be catching up with people I first met on the internet. We’ll be having dinner, lunch, and afternoon tea at Claridges. Beverages derived from grapes will be consumed. There will be much laughter I am sure. Internet friends become real life friends, friends-in-crisis become long-term friends-in-good-times-too. This internet thingy. It has brought me such joy.

But first I must take my much-loved, gorgeous and smart niece to the pub. She’s putting me up, after all. It’s the least her old, eccentric aunt can do.

Read Full Post »

Coming out of the closet

Those of you who know me well, or who have been reading me for some time, know that from time to time I talk about infertility, or ectopic pregnancy. But by and large this blog is not about that. I don’t think my readers want to hear my complaints, or my thoughts, or the way I’ve coped with the life I’ve been dealt.
And so, last year, about the time I wrote this No Kidding post, I took the plunge and started a new blog. I felt I needed a space for thoughts on my no kidding lifestyle, the good and the bad, remembering what was lost, and celebrating what I have. I didn’t mention it here, other than an oblique reference a while ago. I haven’t included it in my website list on Facebook. I’m a bit nervous still to mention it here, because I might refer to people in real life – things they said, or the way they reacted or didn’t react – and they might get upset. I don’t want that.

But recently I read an article that pointed out the fact that couples who are infertile, who can’t have children or who have difficulty doing so, can’t expect others to be sensitive, to understand their lives, to be considerate of the differences, if the infertile don’t talk about their situation. I gulped when I read this. Because I am one who doesn’t talk about this very openly. Sure, I’ll do so anonymously online. But otherwise I am quite private about it. I’m not sure why. Am I ashamed? Am I embarrassed? Am I afraid people will judge, or pity (argh!) or laugh or sneer? Perhaps all of the above. I don’t want to feel like that. Intellectually, I don’t think any of that. Emotionally … that might be another matter. I do want people simply to understand, or to try to understand, in the same way that I know how difficult it might be to get sleep with a newborn, or how busy a parent with children is, or what it means to deal with any other difficulties. But how can they possibly understand if I don’t talk about what it means to be me?

And so I think it is time to come out of the closet. Hence this post. If you’re interested, you can email me or leave a comment asking for the link and I’ll contact you. If you’re not, stay here or at my Travelalphablog where I most recently raved about the delight (well, that’s one way of describing it) of driving to Echuca, in Victoria, Australia.

A caution though. It is quite possible my cowardice will win out, and I may end up deleting this post after a day or two.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »