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 🙂

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

New life, news and magnifying glasses

~I wrote this post over a year ago. I don’t know why I didn’t publish it. It guess I thought it wasn’t finished. Looking back over it now, I think it will do. Enjoy, I hope you find something in it for you.~

 

It has been a while since I posted here, I am sure that this will happen from time to time. And during the “pause” life has been full. Full of new life, we have a brand new nephew! So squishy and, well sleepy, and a trigger for a font of love. It has been full of family time, self reflection, getting on the back of a motorbike to ride pillion for the first, second, third and fourth time. It has also been filled with some waiting, processing and joy.

For some time during this time I have been in a kind of suspended animation, figuratively speaking. Life has felt full while I was actively engaged in it. And then in the quiet moments, those private ones where you keep your own company, I was still. Those still moments grew longer as I was waiting. I was waiting for some scan results. I don’t mind telling you because it is a curious thing, but not a thing that defines me… now.

The scan results that I was waiting for were following up an accidental finding. It was stumbled across as I played guinea pig for a study protocol- cue some nervous angst, which grows. All of  a sudden your entire world seems smaller and you are questioning your identity, your development, your mind takes you to every conceivable “what if?”.

I waited for six weeks or so and I am pretty certain that during that time I achieved very little in any setting. I wasn’t dashing to vacuum the floors, I wasn’t working through my priority list effectively (there is something truly crushing about seeing the same to-do’s at the top of your list week in and week out), I was spending way too much time atrophying on the couch. Spending what energy remained on worrying about what they would find and what it would mean about who I am.

Then I get my results and they are nothing to worry about! Hooray! Some minor “been there since you were a little’un” signs were present but nothing that will impact me as I progress through life. Everyone involved in the finding and analysing is super happy… I got stuck on the “minor” something. I forgot, all in a rush, what I am capable of. I very suddenly was uber aware of all the things I find difficult.

I exhausted myself going over every corner of my being examining how well each part of me worked. I compared myself to my brilliant-with-ease brothers and focused solely on how hard I have to work to achieve what I set out to. My days, for a brief time, were like sticky mud I had to drag myself through and I wanted to throw in the towel on one thing that I couldn’t be more interested in and find so hard. Not like me. Not like the me I have known my whole life. But there I was, stuck.

I have a wonderful boss, and bless her heart she came in with the right words at the right time. Working in health we know that a high percentage of the typical healthy population has differences that in no way alter their intelligence, emotional understanding, spiritual capacity or physical functioning. They are just “minor signs” that might be picked up accidentally one day while looking at something else. What my boss did that was so awesome was say how happy she was that there was nothing to worry about. When I grimaced and admitted my fears of result-related imperfection she countered with the reason I find things hard is because I constantly challenge myself, not because of some scan.

Boom. Those words brought me back to myself like nothing else could have. I have put the magnifying glass away. I am as I have always been. I am clumsy, I have terrible visual perception, I think far too quickly about broad subject matter and have to work hard to focus on one, I am driven, I am persistent. I can be frustrating as heck. I am quirky, funny, warm hearted. I am me.

We all have something we think defines us, that holds us back. It’s time to let it go.

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.” ~Helen Keller

The new age of friendship

There once was a time when friendships had the space to grow apart then close again as the river of life flowed and ebbed. Those days are gone. Well, I hope they haven’t vanished altogether but there is an insidious presence that is like a virtual skin overlaid on our interactions that causes us to feel closer and more entitled than we perhaps are.

Of course I am referring to social media. In all of it’s wonderful expressions, the soapboxes it gives us access to, the humanitarian causes it deposits right in our hearts, the news and nonsense it barrages us with daily. Among the noise we observe each others lives.

We feel intimately close at the birth of your child, we celebrate your birthday from afar, we experience the highs and the lows, the rages and the celebrations. Without any interaction required. Then we forget that we need to reach out…

We may feel so close to someone that we feel hurt and confused because we weren’t invited to a celebration; we may be offended by how passionately, violently, extremely someone expressed their views; we may even just have seen enough of the copious amounts of any particular thing someone is sharing… and we can delete them. The future present moments that might have been shared, sacrificed for a moment of self righteousness misplaced.

It is a savage and brutal state of play that we find ourselves in when we can literally check out of someones life when we have had enough. Once upon a time, we could drift in and out as life or patience and tolerance allowed knowing that the friendship itself would remain in tact. Part of the joy then was to catch up on all that life had brought during a long intermission.

Now however, it seems like those pauses are suitable only for the special few. The special few who remember what friendships were like. What life is like. Those who can appreciate that there is in fact distance despite the seemingly constant but artificial connection. Those who care enough to be open to the meeting that will inevitably come down that track. Those who might even pick up the phone and say “hey, it’s been a while, what’s news?”. Through it all appreciating that you will reunite with joy and be grateful to have much to share.

When it is us who are cast aside we’ll notice, we’ll wonder and we may even feel sad for a time. But then the world will pull us forward, on to the next pressing thing and sadly, that exit will pass by without fanfare. Life is busy and the people in it are precious. Don’t be too quick to slam the door. Perhaps get to know the “hide” button before jumping on “unfriend”.

“The best rule of friendship is to keep your heart a little softer than your head.” ~Author Unknown