Category Archives: Life

A Delivery

We were pretty prepped for our labour. We had a tens machine so I could power through contractions without drugs for as long as possible. We had a playlist of our favourite tunes to keep the mood up. We had our most gorgeous photos saved to my iPad for joyful distraction. We had essential oils to ease anxiety and help labour progress. The works burger mate, with all the fillings.

We were booked for an induction, because I had gestational diabetes. Our baby wasn’t ready and my body wasn’t letting her out. Twice they tried to induce labour, a cruel jaws of life style device called a Foley’s catheter and when that didn’t work a hormone gel called prostaglandin. In the 29 hours we were on the labour ward no fewer than three other women went into labour. So many that at one stage we were without a midwife because one of those lucky (?) women needed ours, and well heck, nothing was happening in our room except growing anxiety.

We were offered two more attempts at induction or a medically indicated c-section. I don’t know if you’ve had multiple small-handed women reach into your heavily pregnant body to see what’s happening to your very high unripened cervix, but I was finding it increasingly traumatic. In lots of places they offer pain relief for that exploration… But I caved to peer pressure when I was finally offered something for the pain because I had done “so well with the last one” and I didn’t have the gas, fucking fuckers. I should have, I’d be less emotionally scarred and more likely to present for my next pap smear.

In any case, we opted for the C section. There was too great a chance we’d be in the same place after two more attempts or stopping early for an emergency Caesar with a distressed bub and/or me. The surgical team were AMAZING! They were warm, supportive, figurative angels who enveloped us in love and brought my baby girl into this world.

I welcomed my beautiful baby girl into the world the next day because she had some trouble breathing and was whisked away to neonatal intensive care in the company of her daddy and I had to be sedated because my body was shaking too hard from the epidural. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s here, she’s safe, she’s amazing. We’ve bonded despite not getting immediate skin to skin and my milk came in well before we left hospital. We haven’t suffered for how she was delivered, in fact the doctors were certain that her head was too big to come out any other way.

So I didn’t get to avoid an epidural and I got a dreaded catheter- which I was so grateful for, it was a joy not having to get up to pee! I didn’t get to use our playlist but I hammer it in the car now. We didn’t find calm with our essential oils and I handed the tens machine back untouched. I did look at our photos during a brief period that I was entirely alone on the labour ward and they did bring me temporary peace and joy. I’m not sure how useful they would have been during full blown labour though.

So our best laid plans didn’t pan out how we imagined, and it doesn’t mean a thing. We are happy, healthy and thriving. We are bonded and growing as a family each day. I didn’t push a baby the size of a watermelon out of my vagina and I’m okay with that, because however she got here, she’s here and she’s brilliant <3

A part of me briefly felt the need to claim my woman card back, you know, justify the C section, because society. But even if I had the cruisiest pregnancy you could dream of, having a c section still wouldn’t make me less of a woman and if I had been able to push her out of my vagina, it wouldn’t have made me a better mum.

Little love, I’m sure glad you’re here <3

“Before you were born I carried you under my heart. From the moment you arrived in this world until the moment I leave it, I will always carry you in my heart.” ~Mandy Harrison

Photo credit for title photo- Sebastian Merle Photography ūüôā

The Sweet Spot

I have slowed down a great deal recently and while there is still a mountain to move before this little parcel my body is carrying comes into the world, I have had time and cause to pause.

This growing baby and I have reached a sweet spot where she will not be ignored. Instead of being acutely aware of the pain in my pelvic girdle, the brace supporting my thumb, the needles of insulin and finger pricks, these all fade into the background. These niggles are white noise in the presence of her movement.

I feel her rise up against my skin and stay there as I rub and massage and commune with her being. I see her stretching and feel the pressure of her as my body gives way as much as it can to accommodate her lengthening. I feel the sudden shock of her strength as she kicks her little legs and I wonder how she can be so strong.

This is the sweet spot of pregnancy, the space we dwell together, the beginning of our getting to know one another. It is the place of our first interactions, where love existed but now blooms in full as if provided more nourishment than required. It is the space that draws in my husband to watch in awe and place his loving face with it’s prickly beard against my smooth skin to try and join us. It is the space he comes the closest, while she is in the confines of my body, to nourishing the flames of his love for her.

This incredibly special time has made all of the pot holes in this journey worthwhile. My dear sweet little one, we are already so smitten that when you are here you might just find a pair of melty heart puddles where your parents once stood. We love you dearly and you are already such a firecracker that we can’t wait to meet you, well maybe we can wait just enough to enjoy a few more weeks in this, the sweet spot <3

“I usually claim that pregnant women should not read books about pregnancy and birth.¬† Their time is too precious.¬† They should, rather, watch the moon and sing to their baby in the womb.” ¬†~Michel Odent

As The Seasons Change

As I sit here and hold your pale hand, weakened from the years, I am too aware how paper thin your skin is

I try to amuse you with stories and questions, a ramble of triviality and I see a glaze come over your eyes

You are looking at him, at your wedding photo and I know that in your heart you are there

The love that you shared is still wholesome and fresh, you’d give anything for him to be here

For him to see how your family has grown, grandchildren succeeding in a variety of things and oh! all the great-grandies!

You just know he’d be proud and you’ve felt blessed to have witnessed, but now you keenly feel his absence

You are nearing your time, it can be seen in your eyes by any who choose to look closely

The discomfort and frailty have seen pride and dignity start to slip out the door, it’s not what you signed up for

As I sit quietly by you a new life moves inside and I almost embarrass us both with my tears

I watch as you prepare to join the love of your life while a new force awakens, readying themselves to begin

And this is the blunt force of the circle of life, I am powerless in the face of it

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” ¬†~Kahlil Gibran

My beautiful nan passed away tonight, two days after I wrote this. May she rest in peace with her soul mate, my dearly missed papa <3

And Then There Were Three

It’s amazing to me that I last penned a draft, let alone posted here in September last year- Oh for shame! All I can say is that life takes it’s toll on recreational writing ūüôā (it also takes it’s toll on work writing…). An idea or a topic will bubble it’s way into my mind and recently instead of regaling an audience of one here on the internet, I’ve been banging on at my very patient husband- when we are in the car, when he is in the shower, over dinner- where ever he is essentially a captive audience!

The last few months of last year saw me working more, keeping my commitments with friends, going to acupuncture with a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner to help us on our “fertility journey”, and changing my diet every time I got my period to try and maximise our chances (nothing too crazy, but loads of vegetable and loads of preparation time!). Sometime in early October we won the fertility lottery and we are now just over 4 months along.

This pregnancy thing is so not glamorous. I am one of the unfortunate souls who has been quite ill and was so for 14 weeks (this week, week 16, it feels like I may have finally turned a corner!). I mean head in a bucket twice a day heaving your guts up sick. The kind of sick where an actual green hue emanates off you at work. “Pregnancy nose” making toilet breaks torture with at least two said events leading to both ends going. Ick.

Side note: what is with “morning sickness”? It is clearly “early pregnancy sickness”. It is the rare and fortunate woman who only feels ill first thing in the morning. More likely it can strike any time, midnight, first thing in the morning, afternoon, after the evening meal… pfft “morning sickness”.

People started asking questions about the future like “when will you finish up work?” and “have you thought about how it will be when the little one is here?” NOPE! Nope, nope, nope, I have not. I have just been dealing with today, bonding with my bucket that now travels with me in the car and to EVERY room in my house. It is strange in some ways. I abhor feeling and being vommity sick. I’m a sook and have felt quite sorry for myself at times (throwing up in a car park, leaving a BBQ early so I could heave all the yummy delights back up in the privacy of my own home, cleaning the shower after an epic toothbrush induced spew) BUT that sense of miserableness doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful or unhappy about our pregnancy, it just means I also feel sick and the being sick makes me pretty miserable.

So, we’ve had some scans now and I’ve learnt that hubby and I are a massively emotional pair. Our first scan was initiated at 5 weeks and 5 days because of some spotting, around the same time as our first scan last time we were pregnant, which you may or may not have read about in A Sensitive Subject. During this new scan the sonographer said they couldn’t see anything inside a visible pregnancy sack, and that they should be able to see something by now. This was just like last time, in a second I had disconnected, my brain raced ahead to the inevitable D&C and the heartbreak. I had decided in that moment, I wasn’t going to try again. There are women far braver than I who would, but I was out of the game. Not trying, gonna focus on my happy and full life, work I love and be the best damn aunty on the planet to my nieces and nephews. Then the sonographer says “oh, I see something, you’ve moved”. Cue two of the worlds softest grownups shedding tears. There, on the screen was a tiny little shrimp. Two scans later and that shrimp looks like a human baby with a cracking heart beat and two parents who have cried each time we’ve seen them. We’re freaking out a little, but my gosh happy doesn’t nearly do justice to how we feel.

Now I get to focus on¬†my happy and full life, work I love and be the best damn aunty on the planet to my nieces and nephews AND I also get to bumble through this pregnancy and then, all being well, motherhood. Oh yeah, work stayed in the mix because I love what I do and it’s my first baby. The way my brain works, I will drive myself crazy if I don’t give it something intellectual to chew on- and my child will suffer because I will make their development the thing I intellectualise. Better for us all if I have something else to put that intense focus on part of the time ūüėÄ

“Love is all fun and games until someone loses an eye or gets pregnant.” ¬†~Jim Cole

Pressure

There are times in each of our lives where we are literally moving/ stumbling/ lurching from one moment to the next without space or pause to catch our breath. It is with some great relief that I sit here now on the other side of one of these such episodes. I am currently basking in the lightness of my shoulders which had been tightly straining towards my ears, and the ease with which sleep now comes.

Within in a very small window of time my dear husband and I moved house, he broke his arm the very week before the move, I started a new job and I had a conference to prepare two talks for. I began walking into the next thing that was immediately in front of me. Nothing else could possibly fit.

It was during this incredible period of flux that for the first time in my life I arrived at a department presentation run through for the conference entirely unprepared. That week I had kicked goals in my new job and moved house… and had done so at the expense of my papers. As I listened to other people share their work, the lack in mine became amplified. As I sped through my slides and talked about what I was going to say, I was struck by how much work actually sat before me. I sat through the feedback feeling despondent and when my boss asked me to stop by her office as I was racing out the door to pick my parents up from the airport… Well I had to stop, message my folks and let them know I’d be late and sit with my boss.¬†There is only space for this thing that is in front of me right now.

The talks became my thing in front of me for the next 7 days. Over Easter I sat from breakfast to bedtime in front of my computer re- running analyses on my data to meet the aforementioned feedback and crafting my slides. Then I flew to where the conference was and skyped my boss, this time only details needed modifying. A colleague poured over them both with me and our Head of Department as well because I forgot to mention, this forum is the most important one in my field and it’s the first time my data is being presented. For me professionally, it’s kind of a big deal.

Three sleepless nights in Adelaide. Away from my husband who is in our new home, surrounded by boxes with his¬†broken arm. All consumed by these talks. They’re ready but I still sit in the hotel bar and order dessert for dinner with a side of wine while I continue to tweak and fuss. I’m ready, it’s the eleventh hour but I am bloody ready. Sleep still doesn’t come.

Because sleep was an elusive beast I took my sweet time getting ready the day of my talks. I dressed in yellow because, well because yellow! I strolled along slowly looking for a good place to get coffee and I rolled into the conference feeling a reasonable amount of decent. My talks went well and were well received. I’m chuffed because I got to crack an opening joke that scored a laugh when the tech failed at the start of my first of two consecutive presentations.

Suddenly there is space to gather myself, check that I ¬†am still as I should be, all my parts are here. I can breath and make space for others again. My world has opened up once more. I am more, not less,¬†engaged in my work. I am eager to claim the rain-checks I’ve collected with our families and friends and see my sisters squishy bambinos because they grow so darn fast!

I think periods such as this, where you can only focus on this most pressing thing right here in front of you, are important. For me at least, there was great benefit in being capable of only dealing with the next most pressing thing because that pressure meant that I was immersed in what I was doing, whether that was moving house or sitting in Emergency (twice) with my dear husband, figuring out my new role at work and how to juggle it with my existing one, or the brief moments I was able to take with friends, or my presentations. I was entirely immersed in that moment. That immersion created a depth and state of flow unlike my common every day experience. This period of respite from that is full of inspiration drawn from that immersion and a heightened level of appreciation for the people I love.

Pressure, not a bad thing but definitely not a sustainable thing. I am gratefully enriched by the flux of recent weeks and ready for some quiet steady time to make the most of what I have managed to take away from it.

“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” ~ Peter Marshall

A Sensitive Subject

Motherhood, or I think I should say parenthood is a journey that is a little longer in coming to some. For a few, it simply doesn’t. For women it is this magical, mystical rite of passage into womanhood, a¬†leveling up to motherhood. We do not talk about the pitfalls, our struggles, our losses. We walk in one end of a hallway and we walk out with a squishy bambino in our arms or we walk out teary and empty handed, either way, never to mention the journey between.

This is the single most disappointing thing I have encountered, this silence, this not talking about our challenges and difficulties. We are so proud of our achievements and we present our best everything to the world, but we nurse our disappointments, our fears and our heartbreak silently. We feel we are alone. I’d like to change all of that, and if I can help ¬†in any, even small way lift someone up or give them courage or hope or even feel less alone then this is worthwhile.

I woke up the day after Christmas, Boxing day morning, feeling a little seedy. I had this pressure in my lower belly and I needed to pee constantly. Hang on a second! My period was due yesterday (I know right, awesome Christmas timing- actually I seem to have the worst timing, lucky me!). I am like clockwork so this is odd, plus I always get a few signs in the days preceding, and come to think of it there’d been no signs aside from terribly painful breasts but that isn’t new, that’s literally every single month… but just maybe something is different…

We had been semi-seriously “trying” since not long after my 35th birthday, with a couple months delay for immunisation boosters and health checks. Now why is it that women have to have the MOST thorough examination of their health and men don’t even get a look in on theirs until you’ve been trying a damn long while? Anyway, back on track… We had a couple late cycles that prompted us to test. In fact the first cycle that we tried I was one of those highly anxious types who was completely absorbed by chat rooms. In every single moment I was scanning my body for early pregnancy signs and I even tested three days before my period was due. That first two week wait¬†was the absolute WORST. I was the worst and I decided I couldn’t handle that level of intensity again. So from memory we took the next month off and ever since I have waited until my period¬†was late before peeing on a stick. The damned beast has been 3 days late, I have tested negative before she decided to grace me with her presence and my husband and I both teared up with the disappointment.

After 5 months of disappointment (I know, I have a low threshold for disappointment) I decided to try acupuncture. I have to say, every session worked a different area of my body and a shitload of emotional “stuff” shifted each¬†time. I had five treatments in a month timed around my cycle. I was a bit fatalistic that month because we had been tired and hadn’t exactly met the gold standard of timing efforts, but it’s a difficult process after a while and I particularly¬†really didn’t have any more energy to throw into baby making. Well knock me down with a feather, acupuncture¬†might just have helped us conceive in the very first month of giving it a try.

So, we found out on¬†Boxing day that we were pregnant. That second little line in the pee test came up before the test line, no waiting required! You would have thought that we¬†had gifted the most incredible blessing on our family. We decided that we would tell only the people we would seek comfort from if we had a loss, it’s early days after all. Tears and kisses and hugs flowed. We started talking baby names and what they would be like. We were imagining them growing up with their cousins and we were being asked if we minded hand-me-downs… um, does anyone mind hand-me-downs? We love them! My sweet husband would look adoringly at my belly and say “I wonder how big you’ll grow” and cuddles suddenly always enveloped my lower abdomen and our growing dancing bean. Such a miraculous time, such a marvelous gift.

We never would have known that we were in trouble except for a bit of spotting. I read everything on the internet and too many women had a serious issue related to their spotting for me to leave it. I called a healthline we have here in Australia. They prompted me to go the my doctor who sent me for an urgent scan and gave me a request form for another blood test Monday, it was Friday. The following two weeks were harrowing for my husband and I. Our pregnancy, the baby we envisioned in the swelling belly we imagined was in trouble.

The scan the doctor wanted done at first involves a massively full bladder, or at least that is what it feels like. I’m only in early pregnancy at this stage so they can’t see much and I have to empty my bladder so I can be “more comfortable” while they invade my nether regions with the scanner… this was seriously the most invasive scan I’ve had in my life. But right there on the screen, in my uterus, is a gestation sac. I’m told it doesn’t have any features like a foetal pole or yolk sac but it’s early days. I leave the scan to go and have dinner with a girlfriend, because life is sweet man.

When I arrived at my friends house I checked my phone messages because I’d missed a call in transit. It was the doctors office.¬†My doctor had gone home for the day when the radiologists called with news. I needed to be seen urgently, by a different doc. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I called my husband to meet me at the docs and I was on my way. I rang my mum enroute. I cried. I had no idea yet what was wrong but it had to be bad right? To need to be seen urgently?

I arrived first. Sitting in the waiting room, fidgeting and needing to pee every 5 minutes, I begged for extra time (please let Scott make it, please don’t make me go in by myself). My pleas went unheard, doctors have other patients and they were squeezing me in. I sat down and the first words out of the doctors mouth were “I can’t say this is a viable pregnancy” because of the no foetal signs thing. Bonus round I also had¬†a cyst by my right ovary that looked very similar to the gestational sac in my uterus and they were worried about an¬†ectopic¬†pregnancy. How lucky am I? There was a baby where one¬†could grow, and there could be one where it couldn’t.

My husband arrived and they sent him on in. He looked kind of gray and very worried. I tried not to cry. Tears escaped my eyes anyway. We were put on high alert with strict signs to act on and head straight to emergency. I was sent for an urgent blood test and it took 4 attempts to draw my stubborn, frightened blood. The phlebotomist was lovely and she added us to her prayers that night. We were 5 weeks, 5 days.

The same GP we saw the night before phoned early Saturday morning, he said my blood hormone level had risen “an okay amount” but to remain on high alert for pain and a change in spotting. I was to have another blood test Monday morning, all being well. It is amazing the sensations you become aware of when you are on alert. Even gas pains need to be examined until relieving them dissipates the discomfort, yes I’m talking about farts. Every niggle was suspicious, we were the meerkats of Bels body, on high alert watching for any and all threats.

We made it to Monday, and it felt like an eternity had passed. We had another blood test. The blood came easier this time. My blood hormone levels had risen,¬†slowly. This was not what we expected, we were more prepared for it to be launching like a rocket faster than was safe, get her to hospital, she’s going to blow! Our GP told us she thought we were going to¬†miscarry. She said nothing about the cyst that was the cause of our angst since Friday. We went home and cried.

Tuesday I woke with pain before sunrise. The kind we had been told to act on. Then there was spotting. We had to go. In the Emergency department they were kind but their instruments were cruel. The massive cannula sticking deep in my hand was painful and the bed was hard. For a long time the doctors deliberated about referring me to Obstetrics and Gynaecology. When they finally did, the world made more sense. It was 4 days since our first scan, the first time we saw our empty little gestation sac. We were 6 weeks and 2 days when we saw it again, unchanged. My heart sank.

Two incredible doctors from the Obstetrics team¬†saw me that day. The first, a junior doctor wearing a bright yellow dress, had such compassion and consideration for my dignity and our emotional well being that even now I am overwhelmed with gratitude. She gave us an honest, cautious hope with the right balance of “we just don’t know” and “I hope I get to deliver your baby”. The second doctor, the registrar informed us in the most kind way that we could have a completely healthy pregnancy, or we could miscarry and that sometimes pregnancies just run out of puff. She said¬†what was great was that we know we are able to get pregnant. In theory, everything works as it should. We clung to her words and started to talk to ourselves about “systems checks” and “test runs”.

Cautious optimism and a heavy heart were my constant companions. We left the hospital with blood tests every two days and a request form for my least favourite scan in a weeks time. I am developing a needle phobia. Friday I became very worried. The wonderful doctor in the yellow dress phoned wanting to cancel my regular scan in preference for a specialist one. My blood hormone was only creeping up. She made the appointment for me for Monday. Another long weekend, but now my dear sweet husband is away and he cannot envelope me in his arms and fortify me against the coming storm.

The spotting became bleeding off and on over the weekend. Fear now, not worry. I knew without a doubt that something wasn’t right. More than a question now, I was sure. But that growing baby in the swelling belly that you imagine from the moment you see that second line on the pregnancy test won’t let you listen to your instincts with clarity. It’s too frightening to contemplate that your changing body, your restricted diet, your nausea and fatigue are for nothing. They are a price you paid, for what? For admission to a collective unable to discuss their pain, their thwarted expectations, their fear of what it means about them, how they let down their lover, what they did wrong, their feelings of unworthiness, the shame?

Staring back at me that Monday afternoon was the empty sac I knew in my heart to expect. Where there should have been a developing brain, little arm buds, a visible heart, there was the same emptiness I had seen in those other terrible scans. I could wait and re-scan in two or three days. With my husband away for work, perhaps it made sense to wait but my broken heart couldn’t bear it. We scheduled a D&C for the next day. Thank God I have my mum. I walked into the hardest day of my life by myself and I had to call her and ask her to come, she was there in a heartbeat as all loving mums are. She wrapped me up in her love and compassion while she also grieved, for a grandchild who would not be and for her own child’s suffering. Having her there stopped the flood of tears and upset and I found a semblance of strength. No one should expect themselves to go through something like that alone.

I paid my price for admission to a collective that has largely been silent but is growing in it’s openness. What I found when the sad decision was made, was that there is a veritable army of women who have suffered losses and still love. Who are brimming with compassion, who care and wish to lift you up. Because when they suffered it left a mark on their soul but hope remained in their hearts and they went on to have healthy pregnancies and to become proud mummas to¬†those squishy little bambinos. But what they see in you, or me and our¬†loss, what they lift up in you is your motherhood. They inspire in you the courage and the confidence to try again.

I am now a week and two¬†days on from facing a decision to allow my body to be helped along and¬†speed up the healing of my broken heart, or to allow my body to wind things up naturally, which could mean another month or more of intermittent bleeding and a prolonged recovery, subsequently further delay in achieving a viable pregnancy. I took the help and it was through that assistance so many women were able to lift me up in my darkest hour. I was not alone. I was far from alone and many were invested in my full recovery of hope, courage and spirit. I have to say, as well as my friends many of them were women I came across during my single day in hospital. Nurses cried with me, doctors and nurses held my hand and shared their stories and helped me see mine wasn’t over.

The men in my life did a wonderful job of being compassionate and optimistic as well. I must say my dear Scott-the-Lot is full of optimism and is very much looking forward to fatherhood, he speaks about it more often now. My brothers shared their concern and did their best to reassure and comfort me and their words were some of the ones that stuck most closely to my heart.  My dad was there for me in a way only dads can, by being stoic but present and good with a hug. Of most value to me though were the men in my life that asked after how Scott was doing. These were men who had also experienced a loss or shared a difficult journey to parenthood. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that we share this journey with our partners because it is our bodies but it is also their lives, their hopes, their dreams, our story. My Scott the lot is doing better than I am, he has his face shining forward and he is bundling me along with him, but I still make an effort to keep the conversation open.

So now I want to share with you that yesterday was the first day that I felt like I did before I was pregnant. My fear is that it feels too much like it never happened, that no one will know, that I will forget. I get teary when I think about having been pregnant, then not being pregnant all of a sudden without having the joy and fulfillment of a swelling belly and subsequently a wriggly bub. Suddenly it felt as though there was less that was special about me. Then I recall the women that held me up and I remember that I am one of them. I too will wear the scar on my heart and move forward boldly in the face of fear and we will try again.

I have read (of course I have “Dr Googled” EVERYTHING) that losing a pregnancy at any stage is hard. But at whatever stage you suffer a heart wrenching loss, from the moment you see those two sweet lines on a pregnancy test you go through a transformation. You and your husband or partner have hopes and expectations, you discuss baby names and what kind of child your bub will be, you think about how you’ll manage work and an infant or how you’ll tell your boss, you tell your nearest and dearest and they are so fricken excited for you and for themselves and the role they’ll get to play in your baby’s life… and those hopes cannot be taken back. Your heart will¬†carry a sadness, a weight, a sense of loss, until it doesn’t. Until then, speak with other women and men about your loss, it’s passed the time where we should keep silent on such things. Reach out so that they may lift you up, as I was lifted up and as we should lift each other up.

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.” ¬†~William Shakespeare

In The Thick Of It

Life. Gritty fucking life.

Life is the thing that connects us. It is what makes us the same. The agony of tragedy, the sweetness of joy, the grey nothingness of ¬†less than average but not awful and the level contentment of okay. Life is fickle. It doesn’t care about your dreams and plans. It is here to thrive and sometimes shit gets real to enable growth, think of a fire turning everything black then rapidly spawning new life.

We don’t always know at the time why tragedy happens. Why we face the worst. Why the world we operate in is suddenly shaky, unpredictable, frightening. Why loved ones suddenly pass from this world, a pregnancy fails, a cancer diagnosis, we lose that job and our livelihood, a car accident changes everything. We don’t know why it happens but we know there must be a reason right?

Tragedies don’t happen for a reason. They are simply hard luck or natures way. You were in the line of fire. It sucks. And we’re human so we want it to be for something. Surely our suffering must serve a higher purpose. It must because we have reasoning brains and opposable thumbs and are no longer living in the thick of mother nature at the whim of the seasons, the wind, drought, floods, fire. Except that we are. Furthermore, our “seperateness” from nature makes our tragedies less survival and more personal. Its no longer “natures way”, no it must mean something more.

It doesn’t mean anything. Your personal tragedies, and mine, as extraordinary as they were or are did not happen for some higher purpose. But we can make meaning of it in our lives. We can make our losses count for something as we move forward. Let’s start with compassion for others who have lost as we have. Maybe we could be kind first and foremost and not judge each other so harshly. Maybe we will be first to help or speak out. Maybe we will work to be better than yesterday, to contribute, to connect, to be a useful and helpful member of our species. Maybe we will begin to appreciate that this life is fragile, it is fickle, it affects each of us in the same ways as we hope and love and lose and we will realise that we are in the thick of it together.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein

Kindness doesn’t cost a thing, sprinkle that shit everywhere. ~ Author Unknown

A Day Time Winter Wedding

Every wedding I have ever been to is the best wedding I have been to so far! There is something magical about them. An opportunity for a couple to share their love with their family and friends as they make one of the biggest commitments you can make to another human being (besides parenthood). The magic of each wedding and the individual expression and open displays of love live on in the hearts of your guests (well this guest in any case).

When it came time for us to plan our own wedding we had to take serious note of the fact that after such a big day we were going to run out of steam. But there are many more things to consider than just time of day. Date, location, style of food service, music, my anxiety levels if I literally have to wait all day before the show gets on the road, and so on.¬†¬†We had the same simple ideas and we made all our decisions in a cafe over coffee or while walking in nature. For us it had to be simple and it had to have a glorious view. We also wanted to have our own company by early evening. We came to realise the only way to enjoy our day the way we wanted it would see us marry in the morning and enjoy a sunlit view of one of our favourite places. It would be the first daytime wedding we have attended, ever. And Winter, but it’s going to be okay because it is ALWAYS sunny here in August.

We wanted the focus of our day to be on the love that we share and our commitment to each other. Our preparations had to be as stress free as humanly possible because they were preparations for a single day, a fun celebration filled day that would be a beginning of something much greater. Scott and I would face the world together without the traditional accompaniment of a bridal party.¬†We happened upon the most loving, warm hearted, kind and joyous celebrant we could have hoped to find. Emma made absolutely every detail of our ceremony glow with “us-ness” and she made the process so easy it was astounding. In¬†lieu of a bridal party¬†we asked our nearest and dearest to help with important aspects of the day itself. From invitations, decorations, flowers, hair, make-up, MC, music and the cake, every contribution was from a known place of love. ¬†Every single person in attendance¬†would be¬†a loved one and a guest. It was important for our comfort and full engagement in the day that we knew each person we came into contact with personally. The preparations were shared which meant I was pretty chilled and ¬†I got to immerse myself in the moments¬†with each person, especially my mum and shopping for the perfect dress. It all worked out beautifully¬†and was truly special.

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I woke after a fitful nights sleep and rose to see the sun begin to colour the underside of a wall of black clouds. I was high up on the observation deck of the hotel that was our venue. Pacing in bare feet, water soaking into the hem of my pajama pants, my hair whipped by the wind, my fatigue being blasted from my body. This was going to be a great day. I pictured Scott being greeted with breakfast by his dear ones, them giving him the card and bottle of scotch I had organised and wondering how he was holding up. A friend joined me on the deck and after a hug drew me into the day. Loved ones would soon be joining us and they were on a schedule to get hair and makeup underway.

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There was not a single moment of pause. No room for me to worry or fret. I was surrounded by an army of love set on having me ready. I moved from one person to another being lovingly prepped (and sometimes chided for fidgeting in my excitement). Hair then makeup then hair again. A quick breakfast of strawberries and champagne, throw in a little dark chocolate= breakfast of champions! Dress- check! Should I wear those large undies I bought? Oh no, where did I put them? Much sentiment with mum and dad <3 Where are my shoes…¬†The super awesome photographer, who fit right in with the loved ones, buzzing around capturing EVERYTHING! It was fun and action packed and before I knew it, it as time to go and see my love and tell him “I do”.

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And so, at 10:30am on one of the stormiest days in August we got married in Scarborough, the same beach where we first met and where two years later Scott proposed. The only change we had to concede to the bad weather was a move indoors instead of that wonderfully windswept observation deck. As I walked down the aisle to the sound of Jack Johnsons “I got you”, hand in hand with my dad I saw what every bride hopes to see, tears in my soon to be husbands eyes at the sight of me approaching. Everything around us faded and I couldn’t get to his side fast enough. He said to¬†me later¬†“you told me you would look stunning, I still wasn’t prepared for just how beautiful you look”. Just now he tells me it was because he loved me so much and was just so happy that I didn’t run away.

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The show mother nature was putting on didn’t stop us getting outside for some incredible photos with our intrepid photographer! There are many blessings that come with rain on your wedding day by the way. It is symbolic for having many children, some say that every drop of rain represents a moment of joy, and it is also thought to be a washing away of all that has come before. Well we are set. It bucketed down and we have started our marriage certain of joy and from a squeeky clean slate. We’ll see about the children ūüôā

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We ended up being as late to the reception as we were leaving our ceremony, but the party had kicked off. Our guests were being fed and drinks were circulating and we arrived to a room brimming with good vibes and well wishes. It was time to mingle! There is something truly special about walking into a room full to the brim with people you know and love, it is unlike anything I have experienced before. Those smiling faces, each one you know and the names for a wonder you remember! Just heart warmingly brilliant <3

Speeches of course were amazing. Tears all around as our dads welcomed us each to their respective family. Friends reflecting on our journey to here, the tears and sniffles. Naturally I spoke. I am emotionally expressive, unafraid of public speaking (especially in front of people I know and love) and had much to share about my Scott-the-lot and Team BelSco. The following #TeamBelSco attached to loved ones social media uploads were unexpected and so delightful. I got to give our loved ones “heart fingers” and tell my man “to me you are lagum, you are my alma gemela, my soul mate, my love”. Scott-the-lot also said very moving things and talked about how he couldn’t help but fall in love with my intellect and wit. In his notes, some words went unsaid because he was embarrassed. But the words “cheeky blue-eyed angel” threaded through every draft he had written.

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Of course, there must be some dancing. Although we found that there wasn’t a great deal of it. It could be that day times lend themselves to mingling and conversation which suited us just fine. We had a boogie to Glenn Millers “In the mood’ and I danced with my dad which was very precious (thank you mum for insisting that we do).

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Let there be cake! We cut our wedding cake with the same knife that my parents cut their cake with 36 years earlier, aww… Our cake was made by a dear friend out of almond meal and dark chocolate and could not have been more perfect. All of the themed cake bags mum traveled far and wide to find were made redundant because there was nothing left to go in them. Seriously, the cake was Delicious!

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We spent the rest of the afternoon snacking, sipping drinks then misplacing them, being pulled into photos, having brief chats with as many people as possible, busting a groove and recruiting help to wrangle family members for group photos! From roughly 3pm folks who had children with sitters started to slip quietly away. Some folks left to catch the footy. As the crowd slowly reduced in size we were able to speak with more people and ended up being the last to leave just after 6pm! It was a whirlwind day brimming with awesome. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

Scott-the-lot and I retired to our suite, sore feet and stone cold sober. We snuggled on the couch in our finery and sat in wonder at the fastest and most wonderful day of our lives. Then we worked slowly through piles of cards and the hilarity in our guest book. We ordered room service and drank a bottle of champagne that was gifted to us. When we finally slept it was a lovely deep optimistic sleep that was our gateway to the first full day of our married lives. We woke refreshed to a clear sunlit day and a knowing in our hearts that we are going to enjoy this adventure we get to share with one another.

“You will speak with everyone and converse with no one” Jen, a family friend

Important note: All of the pictures shown here were taken by Sebastian from SM Photography. He is an incredibly talented photographer and all round great guy. You can find him and more of his work here: https://www.facebook.com/sebastianmerlephotography

If you are looking for an amazing, warm and seriously wonderful celebrant you can contact Emma here:  https://www.facebook.com/emmabasccmc

Babies! Babies Everywhere!

There comes a time in peoples lives where they have to figure out what they want for themselves in their lives. Do they want to be married to their work? Do they want to be a wolf-pack of one? Do they want to ever marry or do they want to stay available to meet new people? Do they want to have kids. This is a big one, it can impact your choice of mate, it can impact your expectations for your career, if you are a woman it definitely impacts your expected earning potential and how society views you which ever way you decide.

What if you don’t want kids? Will your mother ever speak to you again, or did you just kill her biggest dream? Is it because you aren’t the parent type? It could be that you have always been on a super modest income and only been able to just feed yourself, or perhaps you just love your sleep ins (I think I can guarantee it is never just that, even though they are divine). Maybe it’s because you are conscious of human over-population (thank you Bindi Irwin). Perhaps you didn’t find that special someone that you would even consider having kids with until later in life. Or it could be that you are already expressing those maternal or paternal instincts in a really satisfying way through nieces and nephews or those you mentor in your life (thank you Kim Cattrell). Whatever it is, thank you rest of the world but it’s none of your damned business.

What if you do want to have kids? You found that special someone and they want kids too and it works out perfectly. You try for a bub and like magic it just happens. You are pregnant together and 9 months later a healthy bub arrives! Goodbye sleep, hello a lifetime of responsibility, love, ups and downs and immeasurable joy.

What if you want kids and can’t have them? It could be that you haven’t met a partner worthy of sharing parenthood with, and those genes of yours aren’t getting any younger. Maybe you have that incredible complimentary other half and you guys are trying to get pregnant but it just hasn’t happened for you yet. There are doctors visits, blood tests, invasive exams, monthly periods that bring waves of shared grief, the feeling “less than”, the “what’s wrong with me?”, the struggle between joy and sadness when you hear other peoples happy news, the increasing bouts of stress and depression that you know don’t help. Friends offer suggestions like “try a baby-moon holiday” and “try not to focus so hard on making a baby and just enjoy each other”. My favourite practical tip is “make sure his stuff is up there every second day” this is awesome, sure to work if there are no medical complications but gees at my age that kind of regimen takes some serious effort. Honest moment- I have given each of these gems to friends myself, thankfully a chuckle and a “sure, it’s that easy” ensues.

There are definitely some important things to check if you want a baby and haven’t been successful. The first step is to head to the doctor and make sure you’re both able to contribute to baby making. Beyond that is self care stuff. Eat well, exercise, take your vitamins and don’t stop taking them. You have to be kind and gentle with each other. Cry when you have to and support one another. Talk with your friends about where you’re at. This is so important! We consider topics like fertility to be super taboo but what I’ve found is when we communicate with people a couple of things happen: we learn that we aren’t alone in our experience. So many people have difficulty getting pregnant, not only will you get some support but you may also get some tips from someone who has been where you are now, and you didn’t know it; You may be inspired to take action. It is so easy to play the blame game with yourself and persist without heading to speak with a medical professional. Getting some perspective on your situation can take out the blame and inspire some practical steps. Taking practical steps brings back hope and may very well take some pressure off your relationship.

Chatting about your troubles with the first gorgeous group of peeps, the ones that don’t want to have kids, can help provide a different form of perspective. The kind where you realise that you and your life are pretty darn amazing just as they are. So while you are on your journey of trying for a baby, you’re also enjoying your life. Right now you have freedoms that you just won’t have when you are responsible for a new little life, the freedom to drink red wine, eat soft cheeses, go on holiday on a whim, heck just get out of the house in under 5 minutes. These wonderful couples will want to know about your work, your hobbies, passions and interests. These friends can keep you grounded in the greatness of the rest of your life, out side of your present intense focus on fertile windows and two week waits.

The hardest¬†thing that I have encountered is when those beautiful couples who have been successful in making a healthy bub feel guilty for their miracle. For me, these lovely people¬†are a shining ray of hope and I want¬†them to radiate their joy and let their good fortune rub off on me. Their gentle loving support is not lessened because they have been blessed with a bub. It is enhanced because they have walked this same path in big and small ways, and they have come out the other end with a tiny, precious, wriggly noise maker. I suspect that the guilt they often experience is actually empathy, the ability to reflect back on the difficult times in their own journey with the added ability to imagine not having their little one. I just wish that energy could express itself differently. Because even if their good fortune¬†doesn’t rub off on me, I am going to love their little bundle of joy, and hug it and squish it and hand it back to mum and dad when it’s diaper needs changing. Then I’ll head home to my quiet house, my chilled out kitty cat and my loving husband and enjoy my sleep in ūüôā

Families with babies and families without babies are sorry for each other. ~Ed Howe

Ssh, let it happen

I cannot adequately put words to this phenomenon. I am certain actually that the coming paragraphs will have many traditionally applicable labels from psychology, sociology and many disciplines be they scientific, spiritual, artistic. I haven’t looked for labels, I am going to try to impart a feeling, a concern, a curiosity, a hope.

I feel a sense of dis-ease, discomfort and a generally lack of fulfillment in conversations from time to time. This lack of ease creeps into my awareness as I realise that myself and the other person are having different conversations. In part I wonder if we as creatures go through the world with blinkers on, only able to see life through our own unique set of experiences as reference. consequently the only truth that must then exist is the one that makes most sense based on our OWN experiences. And no other possibility… is possible.

This sense of unease creeps into many interactions throughout a given day. You swap pleasantries, you chat about what you did on the weekend, you might even express an opinion about a current event. At the moment you express an opinion there is space for an interesting conversation to occur. Curiosity and excitement well up ever so briefly at the possibility that you might learn something new, be presented with a different perspective or even simply generate questions which are then pondered and examined causing a mutual illumination of a previously unconsidered element of natural existence/human nature/a solution to a massively grotesque societal problem. This is the realm where creativity thrives, where seed thoughts that lead to real change come into being. This is a wonderful space to explore with an adventurers heart… and sadly many of us turn our back on the opportunity to play at this frontier.

It is much easier and efficient to throw down an opposing opinion and conversation closed. Or to make a statement that “shrugs” and essentially accepts what is known is all there is. We quiet each other with our generalisations and our beliefs that change is not possible and we continue on with topics well within our comfort zone, like what we did yesterday. We are very good at discouraging exploration of thought. But why? This I do not understand.

Is it this way because change seems like a distant thing, brought about by people far removed from ourselves. Is it because bad things happen, led by policy makers or high powered people in other countries and we can’t see how from our unempowered position we can make a difference? Are we simply overwhelmed? Are our lives just not uncomfortable enough to seek change? Do we lack the space in our lives to let hope and joy play in our imaginations of what is possible? When bad things happen to “someone else” and never touch our lives directly, how are we able empathise or expected to entertain thoughts of societal circumstances being other than they are?

I wonder what our world would be like if we all dared to be adventurers of thought. I am not suggesting that we all go out and study philosophy, although that could be fun. But what kinds of decisions would our community make if everyone took a moment to think through  why so many kids hang out in shopping malls, or where commercial food waste goes, or if we took a moment to wonder why that person (our child, lover, a stranger on the street) just acted in that odd way. What would happen if instead of smacking each other down with our opinions about politics, we talked about what the problems are and generated some interesting discussion about solutions. What would happen if we saw a differing opinion as a source for generating thought rather than a threat?

What are the costs of not having these types of conversations?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Nelson Mandela