"Edited to Add"....

This started as a pregnancy blog when I fell pregnant in May 2009 after four years of finding a donor, doing all the counselling / paperwork / tests and trying.

And now, thanks to a 4WD which skidded onto our side of the road, killing our baby daughter at 34w and injuring me, my partner and two of my stepdaughters on 27 December 2009, it has turned into something else. We didn't want this something else, but apparently it is all we've got to go on with.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blowing bubbles at the big sky

We've been off to the Agricultural Show with the lovely baybeasts ladies and their gorgeous family - including one nanna, and a Jinny-in-arms. Amidst the flashing lights of the rides, the softness of sleeping calves, and press of human traffic, we were accompanied the whole way by Huey's laughter, Arlo's questions, and the occasional "quack" from Jinny. Such a good remedy for a weary week, especially when our girls are away with El Prima's family for the school holidays and the house feels very quiet.

And as though I needed a big sign saying "You are turning the corner", lovely Anne of Harvey's World has nominated me for this:

Just the thought of having to pick ten other blogs to nominate made me so nervous that I've sat on this for a week and a half, but the time to 'pay it forward' is now well overdue. The support lovely people like you have given me via this blog has been amazing. There are certain comments which stay with me, and which have helped me through the really rough bits. Thank you and huge love to all of you.

the rules are....
1. Accept the award and post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his/her blog link.
2. Pay it forward to 10 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.
3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they have been chosen.

But my extra rule is, if you are not a rule-following type, feel free to accept and just bask in the glow.

So here are ten extra lovely blogs:

1. Schrodinger at Schrodinger's womb
2. Ping at Pigs and Bishops
3. Ya Chun at She Almost Made it
4. Mariana at A Lifetime Ahead to Remember Her
5. Bean and Sorensen at Baybeasts
6. Pomegranate
7. Jeanette, my favorite http://www.lazyseamstress.blogspot.com/ (I'm yet to see any evidence of this "laziness")
8. Catherine W who sits Between the Snow and the Huge Roses
9. Jess of After Iris
10. Brianna at daily amos

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Even Clare Bowditch can't make it better today.

I have an arsenal of things to make it better. I found some new weapons for the armory on Friday, when I discovered that the song I had in my head on Thursday, the rhythm which pushed me through the cross-examination and over to the other side was Clare Bowditch's modern day addiction. Please, go listen to it here, and tell me how good it is! The fact that she sang on Q&A makes it even better.

But as good as she is, she's not fixing me today, not on a monday, with a pile of papers to mark and a huge aching to know what my nearly nine-month old daughter's cheeks would have hypothetically looked like.

So I'm moving down the arsenal, next thing on the list. What is that? It is a toss up between chocolate and sitting in the courtyard waiting to see a blue wren or a red rumped grass parrot. Here's one for your benefit. They are more consoling in real life, I promise.


Warrior Two

The night before the hearing I went to yoga, and we did the warrior two pose (it looks like this ) and I stared along my outstretched arm and middle finger as though I had magic laser eyes, able to bore into the back of any given lawyer's skull. And I felt strong, even though that glare isn't quite strong enough to push a hurtling 4WD out of your path (I tried that, as well as various other things, and nothing worked). When I'd first re-taught my broken knee to bend, in the first few weeks after leaving hospital, there was a day when I got my yoga mat out put the crutches aside, and moved slowly into Warrior Two. El Prima and my mum stood in the doorway and cheered, and I stared along the line of my arm and thought, "bring it on universe - if you want to mess with me, I will take you on." It doesn't last all that long, but I have to grab those moments of strength when I can.

The hardest and the best bit for me about yoga is the part where you are doing something difficult, where it feels like your bones just cannot move the way you are asking them to. It is uncomfortable and your initial reaction is, no - enough, I can't do this. But then you notice the discomfort, acknowledge it, breathe in, and then as you breathe out, you move past it. You ask an open question of your body, and sometimes your body responds in surprising ways. Things unfold, settle, stretch. And you realise that the thing you had thought was imaginably difficult - well, you've already been doing it for 30 seconds. The answer was there all along, within you, you just needed to ask the right question, and to listen patiently for an answer.

It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, it is good. It restores my faith, it reminds me that sometimes my body knows more than my mind.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Me, Lindy & Feminism

I was nearly four years old when Azaria Chamberlain disappeared. The controversy surrounding her mother, Lindy Chamberlain, who was accused of murdering nine week old Azaria, formed such a interwoven part of the cultural carpet of growing up in Australia in the 1980s, that it took me a while to realise, first, what an extraordinary woman Lindy Chamberlain is and second, that I now have several things in common with Lindy. It bothers me that I have some kind of cultural cringe in saying these two things. But when I got over having to look at the Herald-Sun website*, and read her letter, it hit me like a tonne of bricks:

"It is hard to believe it is thirty years today since my darling baby was taken.

For some odd reason everyone says you will soon forget.

Why is it that people expect me to forget a part of myself? Why would you? Loss of a loved one, particularly a child is not something you forget any more than you can get out of your mind that you once attended school.

That does not mean you dwell on it all the time. It is simply there in the fabric of your life and history. In some ways it seems forever and in others it is like yesterday still."

Image from here (Papers donated by Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton to the National Library of Australia)

For all the movies and telemovies and tabloid newspapers and magazine coverage, I had somehow forgotten that this woman lost her baby - lost her beloved 9-week-old daughter. And suddenly I thought, here is a woman who has survived babyloss - and she seems so functional. Not just losing a daughter (and never having the chance to say goodbye, because her body was never found), but on top of that, being accused of killing your baby as part of some cult ritual, enduring more trials, inquests and royal commissions than have ever been held on the one issue in Australia, being jailed and separated from her living children for over three years, and being at the centre of a media circus for most of two decades. And yet, here she is, self-possessed and able to articulate her position clearly and passionately. I think she deserves some credit for that.

But I also think of Lindy whenever I have one of those awkward moments when I'm out somewhere, I've pulled it together and am actually enjoying talking to people, but then I have to tell someone what happened to us, and their natural reaction is shock and sadness. And they look at me, and I'm not weeping and falling to pieces, in fact, I want the conversation to move on, and I wonder whether they think I'm some monster who doesn't care that her baby died. I need a little sign that says, "Yes, I do care. This is the saddest thing that has ever happened to me. My grief is huge and voracious and has eaten huge amounts of my time and energy and personality. But right now, I've got it on a leash and feel like I'm in control of it. Don't start poking at it now, or it will chew my leg off before your very eyes. I need my grief to behave in public, for my own sanity and dignity."

I wonder - why do I care so much about whether people think I'm grieving "enough" or in the ways that they would expect? What standard am I trying to perform to here? If I don't fit within one stereotype ("good grieving mother, tragic, weeping") does that automatically push me into another stereotype ("bad, uncaring mother")? And this is where it comes back to Lindy, and to the way she was demonised by the media for appearing to be 'cold' when she had to give evidence at her trial for her daughter's murder. We grieve in the shadow of all these myths surrounding Lindy Chamberlain. For me it is a reminder of why we need feminism - to remember the force that stereotypes have over women, the way in which our bodies and stories are so often appropriated for other peoples' purposes. That sometimes we need to claw away all the stereotypes and speak for ourselves.

I have to give evidence tomorrow. Unlike Lindy, I won't be on trial for killing my daughter (someone else will be, though he's being charged with dangerous driving causing serious injury, not with with murder). But I'll be thinking of Lindy, and wearing sunglasses on the steps of the courthouse in her honour, and in memory of Zainab and Azaria and all the babies that we wish were here with us.

* I'm trying to think of the UK / US equivalents for the Herald Sun. Maybe the National Enquirer or The Post? Just think tabloid journalism at its trashy finest.

** I've re-posted this to get the date right

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Here's my hope - squish it in your doctorly hands!

Okay, that is probably a bit melodramatic, but we're out of the baby-making game again for this month.

Yes, our clinic does allow you to take home frozen sperm for an at-home insem;
yes, they understand that trying again is a huge part of our emotional recovery;
yes, there would be enough sperm...
But no, you can't have it, because in order to use sperm for a take-home insem, the donor must have specifically consented to that at the time of donating.... Which in our case, was 2007, in Sydney, at a clinic with different policies where no such question was ever asked. So, no, we can't take our long-suffering sperm home for any insems this cycle. All the clinic options are out because they would only want to do a 'controlled' cycle so that they could trigger ovulation, because of our thawed sperm motility issues.

The 'good' news is that the doctors are happy to agree that I'm medically sub-fertile (rather than just willfully socially infertile in a lesbian way) - meaning we can claim a medicare rebate bringing the cost of IVF down from astronomical to just painfully extortionate. But before we're allowed to do IVF we need another counselling appointment and another appointment with a nurse who can tell us how babies are made. Just what we need. In a very different context, last week I met the CEO of the local qango which decides who is allowed to make babies without having sex and I had to restrain myself from breaking into the crazy-lady voice and ranting, "How many hoops exactly do you want us to jump through? How many?!"

But given that our donor, J, will be in the country next month, and is happy to make the interstate trip for a fresh donation, we're going to give that a go first. Dear Universe, it happened once. Please let it happen again. I just want that feeling of small knees and elbows tapping out a message, that warmth and potential. And I'd really like to finish the story this time - not with a memorial service, and condolence cards and a small amount of ashes falling through our hands, but with a new little voice crying and baby eyes which open and move. I have this sense that somewhere, Z has found her little sibling soul, and is whispering in their ear, giving them kisses and just waiting for us to get organised with all this fertility stuff. We're nearly there, my darling, nearly there.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Crazy-lady messages = Massive Win!

After leaving another message with the private rooms of Dr NSFU*

- mentioning that even though I may not be her private patient, she has nonetheless made a decision delaying our treatment which I would like to talk to her or another doctor about;

- explaining that the clinic had not called me back after numerous messages; and

- saying the magic words "Health Services Commissioner"...

I got a call back from the clinic - yes, they can fit us in for an appointment tomorrow!

Woo hoo! So at least we get to talk to a doctor who can make a decision, and we've got a chance of at least starting this cycle.

Thank you all for your support and good wishes - clearly the universe's desperate wish facility is in working order today (for us at least). Now perhaps I can devote my brain to what it really should be doing... (marking take-home exams and fixing footnotes)

love and wishy goodness to all of you,


* No sperm for you! (unless you jump through hoops 1 through to 267... )

Celebratory picture of the Milagros a friend gave me which graces our front door. Until I read Angie's post I had no idea what it was, just that it was meant to bring good luck. Gracias mi milagra! [and apologies for the lousy spanish]

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I don't like Patience. Not the word, not the f***ing awful Bon Jovi song, not the concept. Maybe the flower? Oh wait - that's impatiens - much more my style.

But I thought I was doing an okay job of being all philosophical and willing to deal with our clinic delaying IUI treatment for another month. And okay, so it turns out freezing techniques do terrible things to our donor's samples, so our odds are actually pretty lousy. But you'll still let us try this month, won't you? They were going to tell me last Friday, then I was promised an answer yesterday. While the rest of the country was hanging around to see whether we'd finally know who would be Prime Minister for the next couple of years , I was waiting for a phone call from our clinic. Finally, they called, and said, yes, you can go ahead as long as you have an appointment with Dr Sp.ermLibrarian so he can explain exactly what lousy chances you have using IUI and why you really should be spending $7ooo a month to do IVF with ICSI. Okay, yes, I can have an appointment, that is fine - just give us the bleeping sperm and let me get on with my delusion of thinking that I am doing something towards falling pregnant again...

But the problem, only apparent this afternoon, is that Dr Sp.ermLibrarian is all booked out until mid October, and no, treatment can't go ahead until I've sat in a consult with him and listened carefully to him telling me just how bad our chances are with IUI. Mid october would put us out for two cycles. When I pointed this out, the receptionist was kindly able to find us an appointment for 4 october. But that still means that we miss this cycle. So I'm leaving crazy-lady messages for the Clinician who made this decision (but who has never met us), and then when her receptionist called back to tell us to talk to the Drs at the Womens, leaving crazy-lady messages for them too. Little do they know that isn't half of the crazy. If this goes on, well, there might just be a huge crazy-quake in which I stage a full public melt-down in the foyer of the Womens.

This feels like a bizarre form of torture by bureacracy. I can't call any of the people who can actually change the decision which affects me. Most of them have never met me. I have told everyone I speak to, 'you know what happened to us, don't you - you know that we lost our baby at 8 months?' and all the receptionists and "donor managers" apologise and express their sympathies, but tell me their hands are tied, not their decision.

I'm at the stage of saying, just give it to us and we can at least do a home insem this month - go on, play along with my delusion that I have some control over what happens in my life, please!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

hey you!

I rang my sister the other day. It went a bit like this:

Me: "blah blah about stuff in my life blah"
Sister: "I know, I've been reading your blog."
Me: "oh - you have? You secret squirrel you! blah blah what a lovely sister you are but how come you never comment blah."

I've had similar conversations with a few other friends. It does feel nice, to know that loved ones are reading, and have a bit of a picture of the multiple roller-coaster-riding life here at chez sesame-seed. It means a huge amount to know that. I won't go all comment-nazi on you, but I've now changed the settings to make it easier for people to comment anonymously if they want to, and thought I would open up this post - if you normally visit quietly, please feel free to stick your head up in the comments and say hello this time. xxxxh

Spring and the Coping / Not Coping Ratio

This is my little measure of the good and the bad days - the ratio of coping: not coping time. The not coping has been kicking my arse lately. I have no hesitations about weeping on public transport these days.

So I've had to rely heavily on the campus ducks and cockatoos - they do a fabulous job at cheering me up on the way in / out of work.

But watching spring happen in the garden helps too. The little succulent which I planted from a cutting a few weeks ago suddenly has a bright magenta bud, which goes from this in the early morning:

to this when the sun comes out:
And then there are the broad beans:

and the blossom on the pear tree on our nature strip:

And on the blossom a bee:
Wishing you good things for Spring! (or autumn/fall if that is where you are)