And With That, We Come to an End..

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This year has been a funny sort of year.  I’ve spoken to many people who are glad to see the back of 2013.  Some of them have had a difficult year, some have had a terrible year and they are hoping for something better in 2014.  Then there are others who’ve had a wonderful year, fallen in love, gotten engaged and married and those who have welcomed new life into the world.

For me, it’s not been a terrible year but it hasn’t been fantastic either and it is with mixed feelings I see it coming to a close and I am definitely looking forward to what the new year may bring.

It started out as a year full of promise for me.  Work wise, I had a challenging new boss but I decided to start the year as I meant to go on, open to all things new and determined to make the best of it.  My first day back after my holidays I was blindsided by someone I thought of as a close colleague, a friend even, and things went to hell in a hand basket after that.  But I managed to find another job, a promotion but much longer hours and travel and this has taken some adjustment in my little family, who I love so much.

Love wise, well nothing as usual.  People say never say never but I look back over every year of bad dates and disappointments and I just have to say well maybe it’s not for me.

But with this up and down, not so great but not truly awful year, I’ve definitely learned a few things:

I’ve learned that often people will let you down and that this is their burden to bear, not yours.  I’ve learned that 14 is the terrible twos of the teenage years and that you just have ride the storm.  I’ve learned that some people just will not let go and the unfairness of it all is not a pill which cures the relentless pursuit of that person’s anger, no matter how much you shout about it.  I’ve learned that my relationship with my mother isn’t as good as I thought it was and that is due to complacency on both of our parts and an ease with which we (as adult children) can slip back into the roles of our childhoods.  I’ve learned that if you make an effort and truly put yourself out there for another person, it can help make their day a little better and that is a good thing for all concerned.  I’ve learned that I am not very good at dating and that I set up so many barriers from the moment I meet someone that it is doomed to fail from the start.  I guess this way I can never been really hurt again.  I’ve learned that despite the fact I consider myself a social being, I spend a lot of time on my own, which is of my own making and that I wish it wasn’t so.  I’ve learned that the older I get, the more fearful I’ve become and this is not good for me.  I’ve learned that comfort food is no comfort at all and that in the end it’s only discomfort it brings.  I’ve learned that it really does feel great to move and eat well and look after my body.  I also learned, due to some old photographs unearthed in my mother’s home, that I never was the grossly overweight, unattractive woman I was convinced I must be and that I was in fact, a lovely, very normal looking (even slim) young woman who wasted years trying to contort herself into the image being projected onto her.  I also learned that sometimes I am the crap friend, a hard admission to make but it is the truth.

There are so many other things I learned including that despite my desire to be otherwise, I am not a naturally talented writer and I have to actually work quite a bit harder than I do if I wish to make something, anything, out of this hobby of mine which I love.  And with that lesson I have decided to close down this blog which never really took off, not least of all due to my lack of concerted effort, and concentrate on another writing project.

I hope that regular readers.. I know you’re out there… will take a moment to reflect on any lessons learned this year and share them here.  I would really love to read what you have to say.

Thanks for reading… see you in 2014.

Best,

Alice

 

Giving Up on Love..

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I haven’t blogged for a while so it’s interesting (at least to me) that the first post I’ve written for some time, about giving up on love, directly follows the post I wrote about dating again.  Which I’ve given up on.  Again.

When I was younger I believed there was someone for everyone and that eventually you would meet that someone.  Which I did.  Then we got married and it changed very quickly afterwards and it turned out that someone wasn’t my one after all.  After the sadness started to ebb away and I got a bit excited about being single again I hit the dating scene and I eventually realised that for me, it just wasn’t going to work.  I’ve been out on too many dates to count here (although keep your eyes peeled for my new book about this very subject… due out just as soon as I finish writing it) and I’ve met at least one man that I liked very much but that is all.  There really hasn’t been anyone else.  That’s one hell of a dry spell my friends!

Recently I started listening to Dan Savage, an eye opening, jaw dropping experience if every there was one.  Most of what he talks about I have to Google to find out what it means, but I’ve come to share one of his views.   That whilst there is probably more than one someone for everyone (there has to be right?  I mean what if your person was born on the other side of the world and neither of you ever travel..hardly anyone would ever meet up), there are some people for whom the single life is the life they are going to lead.  This is the life I’m pretty sure I am going to lead and this is okay.  Admittedly, I do miss sex.  I miss it a lot, a really, really lot.  You know how they say that women in their 40’s are in their prime?  I believe this to be absolutely true so it’s extra difficult to go without (at least in the traditional sense) but I know myself well enough to know that I can’t just bonk and say bye-bye.  So there will be no one nighters for me, because even in my fantasies the guy stays over and we have brunch and hit the local bookshops the next morning.

People (mostly women) are always telling me “get out there”, “never give up”, “you’ll meet someone” and that has been going on for a very long time.  But I don’t think I will meet someone.  I think I was lucky enough to experience at least once in my life time, really deeply loving someone and having children with that someone and even though that love didn’t last, I’m glad I had it.

So I accept that for me, it’s just going to be me.  But I have two wonderful children who I love more than anything. I  have friends for whom I feel a deep love and so there’s plenty of love in my life.   I’ve decided I would rather nurture what I have instead of pining for something that will almost certainly never happen.

Back Again…

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I’ve been an on again/off again online dater quite a while now.  Currently I’m in an on again phase.  Apparently I haven’t explored my masochistic side quite enough for one life time.  Or maybe I’m an idiot.  Who can really say?

Yesterday I updated my profile, including adding a new picture.  This was snapped by my daughter whilst we were out at a cafe and with a (tiny) bit of help from filters, I decided it showed me as friendly, moderately attractive and was a true representation of how I look right now.  There’s nothing worse than turning up for a date to see that the person you had planned to meet is a much older version of the one they represented themselves to be (well okay, there are worse things but that’s for another post).

I’ve felt disheartened with on line dating for a very long time which is why I drop in and out.  But there’s just no other way for me to meet men and whilst I’m grateful for the exactly three (that’s 3) blind dates I’ve been set up on over the years, none of them has turned out terribly well and therefore I do tend to go back to my old stomping ground.

Clearly I’m doing something wrong.  I don’t know what exactly.  But today I’ve been contacted by someone with herpes who is looking to date someone who also has herpes and by a woman.  That’s right, a woman.  Said woman expressed a level of curiosity which she hoped to explore.  Maybe with me.  So my new photo and my wittily updated profile apparently say that I could very likely be suffering from a sexually transmitted disease and/or that I might be interested in women.  Even though my profile quite clearly states that I am interested in men.  Except for married men.  Although I was contacted by one of those as well.

This may make a more feint hearted gal give up but the fact is, and you’ll forgive my indelicacy, I want to get laid!  Admittedly, I’m not just looking for a booty call. I’m hoping to meet someone who only wants to sleep with me and who wants to stick around for breakfast the next day (at least every second weekend…), but alas it seems that without my knowledge, I bathed long and deep in the most fragrant of man repellant and the scent lingers.

But ever the optimist I remain firmly in the game.  Until I get annoyed and hide my profile again.  Or meet someone.  Somehow,  I fear it will be the former.

Forgiveness and Letting Go

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Recently, I read a blog post by Kerri Sackville about people who surprise her, in both good ways and bad.  This got me thinking about when people suprise me, or more accurately let me down.

I’ve always thought of myself of someone who doesn’t give a second chance.  You have my trust from the beginning but if you let me down, we’re done.  I always thought this made a strong, smart woman.  But in fact, it’s both arrogant and immature.  It puts my high expectations on other people and quite frankly, it makes me sound like an arsehole.  I let people down all the time, unintentionally and without malice.  If they draw my attention to it, or when I realise what I’ve done I take time to make amends.  Or take stock of the reasons why I thought it was okay to do this.  I would hope that the people closest to me would give me another chance.  And I realised that this is something I do actually do.  I give people another chance.

In this past year I’ve had a few people who have let me down.  More than once.  And I’ve taken the apologies, the reactions of surprise when I’ve mentioned I was hurt by the actions of someone else and I’ve thought that life is too short to hold grudges.  But how many times do you go back for more?

Recently I found out that I was left off the guest list of a gathering which I had taken for granted I’d be invited to.  I found out via social media.  I was really hurt.  I thought about why I’d been left out and if I am completely honest with myself, we haven’t been close friends for a while now and even though this person will always be welcome in my home, I’ve decided it’s time to let the friendship go.  Does this mean I don’t forgive her or that I do?  My letting go is not a “so there” declaration but I’ve noticed that my past few interactions with this friend have left me feeling sad and rejected and I think for all concerned, letting go is the smartest thing to do.

I feel like I am fairly forgiving.  As well as the above there have been a couple of other instances where I’ve been let down.  The first of which was in one, vicious fell swoop (to that one I’ve struggled to forgive and the other person has withdrawn from me anyway) and the with the second there’s been the constant let downs followed by apologies, followed by let downs, followed by apologies…and around and around it goes.

With all of these things I’ve encountered in the past year or so, I’ve been prepared to keep the person in my life.  I’ve decided that it’s better to move on, let go, embrace and enjoy the best of that person and to maybe be a bit more giving myself.  Unfortunately, the enjoyment has gone out of all of the contact with these friends and I’ve come to the decision to let them drift out of my life.

So the question is, when is it forgiveness, and is there a limit on how many times you forgive?  At what point do you go from being a person who can let go to being a doormat?

So You Think You Can Dance?

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Tonight I tried Zumba for the first time.  I was not very good.  The answer to the question “so you think you can dance” was a resounding no.  But I don’t care one bit.  In an effort to reconnect with my 14 year old daughter, who has been going through a “mum sucks” phase, I signed us both up for the local Zumba class.  She is quite the mover when it comes to dancing.. me, not so much.  But I’ve always fancied myself a hot blooded Latin type (even though I’m not Latin) and I thought this would be just the thing.

Our first little hurdle was turning up at the wrong church hall.  There was a big sign saying “SHHH! YOGA IN SESSION” but no hint of thumping music.  I saw a woman emerge from the building in exercise type gear and I asked her.  She said “oh, the Active Expecting class is just on the left”.  My 11 year old piped up “that’s a pregnancy class, you have to be pregnant to go there” and the woman pretended she hadn’t taken in my post holiday belly and made the assumption I was about 6 months along.  I doubt she missed the slightly crestfallen look on my face.  On the bright side, I guess some people think I’m still young enough to be having babies.  Was a bit of a mood killer though.

Anyway, we realised our error, jumped in the car and headed to the other church hall, where things were in full swing.  My daughter, full of teenage angst was worried about the number of “skinny girls” who might be in attendance, adding to her feelings of inadequacy.  For the one millionth time I assured her she looked just fine and when we entered the class there were about 12 women of all shapes and sizes.  Hurrah!  All of them were dressed in regular exercise gear, except the instructor of course, and the instructor’s mum who welcomed us in and then jumped right back into routine in her rather funky “zumba” pants.

I had expected an innate talent to spring forth as I gyrated and stomped however, it seems that even working out my left from my right was going to be a challenge.  But it didn’t matter.  Apart from the instructor there was only one woman who had the routines down pat.  Otherwise the women there varied in the ages, sizes and ability.  Perfect.

My daughter took to it as quickly as I knew she would and we laughed and danced and jumped together.  There were some very funny moments involving some hip wiggling, shoulder shimmying and what can only be described as pelvic thrusting.  But we embraced it all with enthusiasm and it was well worth it.

A couple of times when I wasn’t furiously concentrating on our young and athletic  instructor I caught sight of myself in the mirror and I almost let myself succumb to the negativity I felt when I could see fully the result of turning to food for comfort.  But then I shook it off.  It’s awful the ways we put ourselves down and I wanted to be a role model for my daughter.  So I didn’t comment on the daggy t-shirt I wore or how many times I got the steps wrong or how enormous I felt.  I simply laughed with her, shared her water bottle and vowed to the instructor that yes, we would definitely be back next week!

Sick and The Single Parent

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There are plenty of things about single parenting that suit me just fine.  When we go on a road trip, I can decide to stop for the loo or a coffee break whenever I feel like it.  If I am too tired to cook after a long week at work, I simply order take away.  When doing the grocery shopping, I buy whatever is on special and I never have to worry about buying the “wrong” butter.  The kids and I pretty much just get on with things and mostly, we’re doing just fine.

But when a nasty bug hits, it hits hard.  About a week ago, what I thought was a bit of a cold came my way and as most parents know, a cold is just something you throw a bit of paracetamol at so you can continue on with your day.  Then I picked up my kids from a weekend with their father and it was clear my youngest wouldn’t be going to school that day.  I have the privilege of being able to work from home from time to time so I didn’t panic too much.  I came home, put my child to bed and whipped out my laptop.

Both my daughter and I became worse as the week went on and as much as I tried to just push through it, it’s just too hard when you’re doing it on your own.  Unfortunately, my closest family member lives a seven hour drive from me (thanks John Howard) and therefore there’s no one to call on when I need back up.  I have really great people who live close by who I am sure would grab some milk or a loaf of bread and drop it by if I asked, but it’s the 2am terror of a temperature that reaches up to 41.2 and there’s no more Panadol in the house.  Worse, there’s no one to look to for reassurance when you’re trying to work out whether the fever will break or whether to call an ambulance.

Then, the next day, when your child is finally asleep, and their temperature is mercifully back to normal, you still have to look after your other child, do the normal domestic tasks, get work done and generally carry on as though you aren’t sick as a dog yourself and struggling to get by.

Earlier this year I started a new job.  Since I’ve been there both children have been sick twice and I have been sick three times.  Each time necessitating days off.  Each time I have been wracked with guilt about taking time off a new job and wracked with guilt about thinking about work when my child is sick.  But the reason I think about work is because there’s only one income and there’s no such thing as a single parent having the choice to be a stay at home mum.  The government has made it clear that if you are a single parent you go to work, no matter what.  (As an aside, I’d be interested to see what a longitudinal study might reveal about this really poor piece of policy.. but that’s for another post).

And so it’s been a pretty crappy week here.  My daughter, as children often do, began to bounce back just in time for the last day of school and she and her sister headed off for a week with their father whilst I collapsed in a heap.  The house is a mess, the dog keeps getting lost in backyard because the grass is so high and I still feel like a big puddle of blerg.  Oh – and I’m still sick.  Flu apparently.  Fantastic.

I’m not trying to garner sympathy here, I’m just pointing out how freaking hard it is to be on your own sometimes… believe me, I have the eye bags to prove it.

The Cliffy Shuffle

Cliff Young 8

This morning I went for a 7km training run with my friend MP.  (MP is one of the nicest people I know.  Seriously.  Even when we got cut off by a gigantic truck which could have flattened us, she merely issued a stern, but non-shouty chastisement.  No screaming like a banshee at all.  Unlike me).

It is lucky that MP is of such an accommodating nature because as we hit the trail this morning, it swiftly became evident just how unfit I really am.  This has me quaking in my ratty old sneakers about how I’m going to manage next week’s 9km Bridge Run.

We started off at a brisk walk, chatting about kids and life and then after a quick loo stop (we’ve both had kids, no bladders of iron for us), we started off at a gentle jog.  Or more accurately, the Cliffy Shuffle.  Actually I was the only one shuffling, MP has recently completed the City to Surf so she’s far ahead of me yet stuck by me all the way and coached me to keep on going.

Thing is, I’ve been training on and off for a few months.  I was very keen at first but was felled by a new job with much longer hours and then a rampant winter virus which got the kids first, then me, then me again.  So I’ve really only been regularly training for the past 6 weeks and boy, does it show!

I did the Bridge Run 4 years ago and trained fairly solidly for three months.  I was also several kilos lighter and obviously, younger than I am now.  I had never been a runner before so I was thrilled to cross the finish line in 1 hour and 13 minutes.  There, thought I.  I can do it!!  I planned to keep training, perhaps do a half marathon, the sky was the limit!  Alas, I decided to take a week off to recover and that was the end of my running.

This time I’ve been using the brilliant C25K app on my phone.  Most of my training has been on the treadmill due to having kids at home but when it’s just me on the weekend, I’ve headed outside, the dog trotting along beside me and have been very pleased with my progress.  Until today.  Big sigh.  But I am absolutely going to do it.  Plus I’m very motivated by possibly getting to meet up with Steph from Mamamarmalade on the day.  She’s the one who inspired me through her blog to start running again.

Anyway, at the end of the 7km course it turned out we had run for 28 minutes in total and the longest stint was 19 minutes.  I was pretty pleased with this, despite my huffing and puffing (but with barely enough breath to blow a house of straw down) at the end.

As little treat and incentive I popped into Lorna Jane and bought my first ever pair of running tights.  They look absolutely ridiculous (turns out I haven’t lost an ounce of weight despite all this running) but I don’t care.  I am determined to get through the race, raise money for my charity and enjoy myself no matter what, even if I have to do the Cliffy Shuffle the whole entire way… sans gumboots of course!

For Bailey

Bears-of-Hope

In the upcoming Blackmores Bridge Run, I will be running for Bears of Hope.  Here’s why:

Once, when I was 27, I decided I wanted a baby.

One night, on the way home from work, I dropped into the newsagent to find a magazine for the train journey home.  I did this most nights.  Sometimes I grabbed newspaper, other times a fashion magazine.  This night, I glanced around the selection and came across a magazine with my brother in law’s partner and their baby son on the cover.  Both models, they had produced a very cute baby who now laughed gorgeously on the cover of a Mother & Baby magazine.

I was delighted to see people I knew on the cover of a magazine, so I grabbed a copy and eagerly read it on the train.  I’d never read this sort of magazine before and the only reason I was reading it now was because I was hoping to see the pair of them featured somewhere else in the magazine.  I read it from cover to cover and in the hour it took to get from work to home, something clicked and I knew I had to have a baby.

My (now ex) husband was not quite as keen as I but it was a discussion I kept going and even though I went off the pill that night, we waited a couple of months before officially “trying”.  The next month when my period, 28 days on the dot, was a couple of days late I was convinced I must be pregnant.  I bought a test.  Negative.  But no period meant pregnant right?  Alas the next day I woke up cramping and cranky and disappointed.  Never mind I thought.  We’re both young, healthy, in love (I convinced myself that this helped), so I was sure I would be pregnant the next month.  And the month after that.  And the month after that.

After six months I couldn’t understand why I still wasn’t pregnant.  In a panic I began to make enquiries of the process of adoption (yes, I jumped straight to that) and read everything I could about making it happen.  I started taking my temperature, found out I wasn’t ovulating when I thought I was and just a few weeks later, after spending a small fortune on home pregnancy tests, I finally got two blue lines.

I cannot begin to say how thrilled I was.  I had imagined this moment for so long, cooking dinner for my husband, saying “guess what” and telling him we were finally having a baby.  I couldn’t wait however and I rang him at work and blurted the news over the phone.  He seemed shocked.  He said he was happy.  He said he’d have to call me back.  And when he did call he said “I really want to be with you to celebrate but I can’t miss going to the gym tonight.  I’ll see you at 10pm”.  I can’t say I wasn’t a little deflated but I didn’t let it faze me.  Because I was pregnant.  I was going to have a baby.

The doctor confirmed that I was about 4 weeks along and I immediately started buying baby magazines, pregnancy books and staring longingly into the windows of Mothercraft.  We agreed we wouldn’t tell anyone until we had reached the magical 3 month mark but after a 10 week scan revealed a strong heartbeat I couldn’t wait any longer.  I told everyone at work and was greeted with much happiness and congratulations.  I was living in the UK at the time, far from my best friend and my mother and those I most wanted around but was excited about the fact that we were moving back to Australia later that year and I would arrive home six months pregnant. I imagined my maternity outfit, how glowing I would look, how people would rave about my pregnancy suiting me.

Things seemed to progress as they were supposed to.  At 8 weeks I had a scare when I started spotting but was reassured by a doctor who said it was an implantation bleed.  It stopped after a couple of days.  My boobs were gigantic by the time I got to 12 weeks and the morning sickness had stopped by then.  But I didn’t feel like I was growing much.

I went to the doctor who reassured me that my strong abdominal muscles were keeping my stomach flatter than I might think it should be.  Given that I hadn’t done a sit up in over a year, I should have questioned this but I didn’t.  My appetite was huge and I was certainly putting on weight but I didn’t feel that I looked pregnant.  When I enquired of a friend she said she hadn’t really begun to “show” until she was five months along so I relaxed a bit.  Despite having barely a bump I began to wear maternity clothes.  It was coming into summer and I opted for flowing dresses and loose blouses and was very pleased when someone asked if I was pregnant.  Yes I said, beaming.

At sixteen weeks I had to go to the hospital for a check up and some blood tests.  It was a nightmare there that day, reliant on NHS care, there was a huge back log of women to be seen before me and by the time I was supposed to be seen, they had forgotten about me.  I started to panic and spoke to a nurse who took me to see a doctor who spoke such heavily accented English I couldn’t understand him.  Eventually it turned out that I wouldn’t get my blood test because it was too late in the day and I was to come back again.  I became very upset about this, I couldn’t quite work out what was going on and I was anxious to know the baby was alright. The same nurse came back again and let me listen to the baby’s strong, regular heartbeat.  I felt better.  I went home.

At the next appointment I had the blood test and was told that if anything was wrong, they would come and see me.  The nurse explained that they were very careful to ensure they spoke to  women directly if irregular test results occurred.  “We don’t want you getting anxious, so we will come and see you and explain what is going on.  We find it’s less worrying for our mum’s to be”.  I went off not expecting to hear anything until my next appointment where they would tell me everything was normal.

A few days later I came home and found a handwritten note in the letter box.  Someone from the hospital had come to see me.  I wasn’t home, of course.  It was a week day.  I had been at work.  The letter said I needed to call the hospital for my test results.  I was 18 weeks pregnant.

Within a few days I was at the hospital.  My blood tests had shown that there was a 1 in 110 risk of my baby having Down Syndrome.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was only 28, as was my husband.  How could this be?  Didn’t this only happen with older mothers?  The hospital tried to reassure me but they were concerned.  They said to be sure, they would have to do an amniocentesis.  I was reluctant.  I knew there was a risk of miscarriage.  But I was also terrified and I needed to know.

I was booked in shortly after for the procedure.  My husband and I did our best to convince ourselves over the next few days that everything would be fine.  The night before the test I lay in bed, not sleeping, saying over and over again “please be okay baby, please be okay baby, please please please be okay baby”.

The next day we went to the hospital.  I was wearing a pink maternity dress which I loved.  It made me look pregnant.  I was frightened about having a needle inserted into my uterus but I tried to be brave.  There were lots of people in the room.  They set up the ultrasound machine and began to pass it over my stomach.  No one spoke.  It was too quiet.  No one happily said “there’s your baby”.  No one said anything.  “Is the baby alive” I asked and they said yes.  Then I heard the heartbeat and my breath caught with relief.  Then they told me they couldn’t do the test.  Both the doctor and the nurse looked unsmilingly at me.  The doctor said, there’s not enough amniotic fluid.  We can’t withdraw any fluid.  I didn’t understand.  Where had the amniotic fluid gone?  They told me that the baby had swallowed it.  They said the baby’s stomach was distended, the organs weren’t developing properly.  I said “is the baby going to die?”  And the doctor said “yes”.

I just don’t know how to describe how I felt.  It was like someone had taken my breath away.  The doctor had been so certain in his reply.  There was no hope.

I had heard about some new breakthrough surgery that had recently happened.  A renowned neo-natal specialist had performed life saving surgery on baby whilst in utero.  The baby had then be placed back into the womb and had continued to develop normally and had been born alive.  Perhaps they could do that for my baby?  I didn’t care what it took, whatever had to be done to keep my baby alive.

They said there was no hope.  They looked at me sadly and said I would have a decision to make.  I could continue with the pregnancy, carry my baby to term and then give birth.  Although there was no guarantee that the baby would make it to term and no matter what, when I did give birth, my baby would not survive. My other alternative was to be induced in the next couple of weeks. I could end the pregnancy.  It’s such a terrible, terrible choice to have to make.  I could hardly comprehend what was going on.

The doctor referred me to a specialist in London and we headed down a day later, to sit in a room full of women in various stages of their pregnancies.  None of them were smiling, their partners all looked anxious and it was very quiet.  We waited for hours.  When finally it was our turn my husband said “we don’t want to know the sex of the baby, it’s better if we don’t know”.  I just went along with what he said.

When I walked into the room the specialist was the same one who had performed the ground breaking in utero operation I had heard about. I couldn’t believe this world renowned surgeon was seeing me on the NHS.  I was astounded.  He and his team, were the kindest, most caring people I’ve met in the medical profession.  He scanned my woefully small belly and I knew straight away it was the end.  He kindly explained that my baby had Prune Belly Syndrome caused by obstructive uropathy.  The specialist then said “you’re baby is a boy and this condition is most common in boys.  You didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just a one in 100,000 thing that happened”.  He went on to give me the same choices my original doctor had.  He told my baby’s lungs were trapped under constricting ribs and that he would suffocate to death at birth.  This was unbearable to me.  My baby boy.  My precious baby boy who was so wanted, so loved already, who I longed to bring to term, to bring home, to wrap in a blue blanket and hold close to me.  I couldn’t let my baby boy die this way.  So I chose to bring it all to an end.  I was 20 weeks pregnant.

The hospital was a nightmare.  There were pregnant women everywhere, arriving in labour, excited about giving birth.  I was in the labour ward next to women who were loudly laboring, then the cries of the new babies were heard again and again.  I sobbed as I passed a picture board in the hallway, full of women holding newborns, smiling, happy, exhausted after having their healthy babies.

I didn’t want to experience labour only to have no baby to take home at the end.  I had been given medication before arriving at the hospital and after I was set up in bed, I was given an epidural at the same time as I was given the drugs to induce labour.  All I felt, in the entire time, was a short cramping at the start.  Then I was numb from the waist down.  I cried a lot through it all.  I cried when a cruel and unfeeling nurse jammed the cannula into the back of my hand causing bruising and swelling that lasted for weeks afterwards.  I cried when I wet myself not once but twice, laying in bed, in front of my husband dripping in urine because nobody told me that when you have an epidural you don’t know when you need to urinate.  And so my bladder just let go.  After the second time one of the more thoughtful nurses organized a catheter.

I cried when my husband told me that because of this he was taking up smoking again.  And when he sat in front of me eating toast and drinking tea which I couldn’t have, just in case I needed to be rushed into surgery.

I cried when a nurse told me, after 20 hours of labour, that she was finishing her shift and when she came back tomorrow, it would all be over.  I cried when she came back the next day and I was still waiting for my baby to be born.

After about 40 hours, I was examined for what seemed liked the millionth time and was told it shouldn’t be too much longer.  My husband asked the nurses to tell him when it was almost happening, because he didn’t want to be in the room when the baby was born.  He said it was too much for him.  Approximately 5 hours later the nurses said it was time.  I was 8cm dilated and that was as far as I needed to go.  It was time to push.  My husband left the room, left me alone with strangers, to give birth to my baby boy on my own.  He was born quickly after that.  I said “is it a boy” and it took them a minute to tell me because his poor, swollen belly was so low.

I chose not to see my baby.  I was just too scared, too alone, too young.  I didn’t know what to do.  My husband didn’t want to see the baby, he didn’t want to name him and instead of “baby” he simply said “the pregnancy”.  The nurses told me they would take the baby away, take photos of him and if I ever wanted to see them, they would keep the pictures on file for me.  They said they would clean and wrap my baby so that I would have a memento one day if I wanted one.

And then I was done.  I stayed the night, by myself, in a room with a double bed which looked a bit like a motel room.  I think they had it for bereaved parents.  The next morning my friend, who had driven down to support me, picked me up and I went home.  Without my baby, just me.  And then he was gone.  My milk didn’t come in, my breasts went back to normal and all I felt was the heavy, dragging blanket of grief which settled over me.

A year later I wrote to the hospital requesting the photos.  I was desperate to see my son.  Unfortunately, they didn’t clean him or wrap him or save a memento for me.  The only pictures I have are of my baby son, newborn, naked, laid out on a green cloth.  They’re upsetting but they’re also deeply important to me.  I’m glad I at least have these, the photos of my son, Bailey.

I’ve joined a club that no one wants to be a member of and one that I can never leave.  It’s been 15 years and sometimes I’m overwhelmed by grief and other times, his birthday passes me by without a thought.  I feel so guilty when this happens.  I’ve been lucky too though and that’s what comes to me, when the sadness creeps in.  A year after my son was born, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl.  Three years after that, I was blessed with a second baby girl.  For both of them, I am truly grateful, they are the most precious things in my life.  I will never forget how lucky I am to have them.

(Image borrowed from Bears of Hope)

Green Smoothie Adventure

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So I’ve been hearing a lot about this whole green smoothie thing.  I thought I’d jump on board!  A few weeks ago, when I was enduring my second bout of flu in less than two months I saw an ad for green smoothies on one of those informercial channels.  I was intrigued.  Not by their piece of junk product but by a way of getting a big bunch of vegetables in to me and the kids without the nightly round of moaning and negotiations about just how many pieces of broccoli people were prepared to eat.

I did some searching over the internet for the best product to use.  Everything was pretty expensive, and lots of reviews of run of the mill products weren’t great.  But then I stumbled across Froothie.  They have a great blender, the Optimum 9200 which is expensive but well priced compared to some of the others.  And so I began!

So far we’ve just messed about with different milk based smoothies although the other night I made delicious kiwi and strawberry smoothie mixed with fresh coconut water.  Unfortunately, both my children had a reaction to the kiwi so I won’t be making that one again in a hurry. At least not for the kids.  All of the others have been very yummy though and I’ve noticed a small glass after dinner has cut my sugar cravings down significantly.

Today, I ventured into the green realm of smoothie making.  The Wellness Warrior website has a great e-recipe book for free which has all you need to know in it.  My friend warned me to take it slow so today I made the following:

Green Smoothie First Try:

Fresh coconut water (be careful not to sever your hand when trying to chop into these)

Palm sized bunch of kale

Banana – two small

1 Teaspoon of spirulina

Squirt of lime juice

Whiz on high for a minute or two

Well, it wasn’t completely undrinkable and I think the banana and lime cut the grassy taste down but it was still there.  I drank it down anyway because I want to get used to having them and to see if there really are the health benefits claimed.  I think the spirulina made it a very dark green colour which isn’t terribly appetising but I feel I can get used to it.

Hopefully as time goes by I can incorporate more veggies which can only be a good thing.  Tomorrow I’m going to try oranges and kale because I used to drink fresh orange juice with wheat grass and although it is an acquired taste, eventually it’s quite palatable.

Anyway, I’m really keen to share what I’m doing with this and hopefully it won’t bore you to death. I promise I’ll write about other things as well.  But if you have a great green smoothie recipe, I would love for you to share it here.

What are your favourite smoothie ingredients?

Be Seen Not Heard Woman!

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This morning I popped into the local hardware to pick up a few DIY supplies.  They had Meet the Press playing loudly on the television with an older man and a young man who may have still been in his teens watching it.  There were some clips playing of the last weeks election trail highlights (suppository remark etc) and I, being open at all times to respectful political discourse said, “yikes, don’t vote this bloke in whatever you do”.  I was smiling and not at all trying to be inflammatory.  This was apparently the worst thing I could have said.  The older man (much older than me, I’d say in his 60’s) became instantly enraged and expressed absolute disbelief.  He then started going on about how Whitlam, Hawke, Keating and Rudd had bankrupted this country.  I, somewhat taken aback, said that I didn’t think that was quite true and he shouted at me that it was.  He then ranted about how Kevin Rudd had killed some young men (I think he was referring to the home insulation scheme) and then said “and don’t even get me started on Gillard”.  Given that it was pretty clear to me that this man was angry, I decided not to get him started on Gillard. I did however point out that I feared for my job should the Liberal party get in.  He didn’t ask me to elaborate, why would he want to hear what I had to say when he was in full flight?

Now, I am a pretty strong person.  I’ve endured certain hurdles in my life that have required me to be able to take a lot and then come back for more.  I am educated and outspoken and I will happily engage in a discussion with people from both sides of politics, religion, and any subject really, as long as it’s done in a respectful way.  I respect your right to your opinion and if we’re having a discussion, I do want to hear your side of it, but I don’t want to be shouted out.  I don’t want to be put down.

I’ll admit I was caught off guard this morning. I was in what I thought was a pretty working class environment, I absolutely consider myself working class and did try and appease scary shouting guy by saying well, I will probably vote Greens.  I actually haven’t decided as yet, but I thought this would calm him down as he continued to rant about prime ministers past and present (left mind you, nothing of the right).  I was briefly tempted to point out to him that if it wasn’t for Whitlam, I would almost certainly have had to remain in an abusive marriage because it would have been almost impossible for me to leave with my children without sending us into poverty but I held my tongue.  Because I am a woman.  And I know that when shouting ranting old white guys get going, it’s time for all the good girls to shut their mouths.

All this took place in front of two young men, neither of whom spoke up for me.  I whispered something conspiratorially to the young chap serving me “see, if you vote Liberal you get really angry” and he smiled, equally as embarrassed by scary shouting guy’s outburst as I was.  Both young men looked embarrassed but one of them, the younger of the two looked a little big smug.  Like I had been put in my place.  Which I had.

I chatted a bit with the chap serving me, trying to stand tall and keep my voice steady to show that this rant hadn’t bothered me at all.  To prove that being shouted at by a stranger, who then walked into the back office muttering and calling me stupid, hadn’t had the least bit of effect on me.  But of course it had.

As I waited for my order to be completed, I began to feel more and more upset.  I already felt shaky and I could feel that familiar burning behind my eyes as I began to well up at the indignity of it all.  I steeled myself to hold my head high and announce haughtily as I left.. “the thing that scares me most about the Liberal party getting in is that old white men like you will continue to think it’s okay to shout at women for simply having a different opinion to yours”.. but I didn’t say anything.  The shop was full of old white men and it felt too hard.

And so I slunk out to my car, sat down and cried.  That man had scared me and shouted me down.  He had put me down in front of two younger men to whom I have no doubt he disparaged me as soon as I left.  And I let him.  Years of fear and conditioning came roaring back as I disengaged in order to keep the peace and I feel ashamed that I didn’t speak up for myself.  I think that shame may last for a while.

Maybe that scary shouting guy has no power at home and so he takes his rage out on people like me.  Maybe he’s a frightening horrible man to live with and he’s exactly the same in public.  Who’s to know?  But I can say quite emphatically that if those are the sorts of people who the Liberal party represent, then I want nothing to do them.