New year thoughts

Well here we are. 2017. The new year.

A year of change; a year of possibilities and hope.

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We’re in New Zealand now and it still feels surreal. It still feels like one of our usual visits, when we spend 3-4 weeks living in this house and then get on very long flights “home” again. I still catch myself calling Scotland home when I refer to it. I’ll need to change that.

This is home now.

In other developments, we are seeing the new RE/specialist at the end of the month, and we’ll also need to get a GP soon (we’re hoping to get into my old family practice). We’re not sure how quickly things will move forward, but it’s good to have a plan. If I’ve learned anything over the last year it’s that nothing in infertility happens in a hurry.

I’m hoping this will be our year. If nothing else progresses but we end up moving towards parenthood, then it’ll be a good one.

No resolutions this year. Just small changes and everything crossed.

Hope and twee

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It feels so long ago, but when we started this process, we had so many grand dreams and ideas.  It’s easy to get caught up in the joy of making a family and the excitement that it could happen at any time – bam! You’ll be pregnant and you’ll be counting down to bringing home a baby. What a life change. It’s really big and very exciting.

Last year I subscribed to a few accounts on Instagram/Twitter, picked up my parenting reading (because I have always been a parenting nerd), and of course, got the pregnancy apps. Oh the apps!

And what I’ve always done, and continued to do, was a lot of blog reading. I still do it now, but my reading has switched to infertility/IVF blogs. But back in those early days of trying, the blog posts I loved the most were the cheesiest ones.

I got excited by bump posts. Symptoms listed, things bought for baby, photos of nurseries. Pictures, maternity clothes…

I know, I know.  It’s considered cheesy, overdone, just so twee. But I got swept up in their excitement.  I got excited for them, because it meant that I was getting a bit excited for me too.

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I planned a baby book. I am a planner, so I wanted something very specific as a momento to give my child when they were older. When I couldn’t find anything (affordable) with the prompts I wanted, I made my own. I ruled pages into designs, sketched out ideas, wrote notes. I made something that I could write in and feel excited to use.

Of course, now it’s in a drawer.

But I still want the twee. I want to someday do the posts detailing and chronicling our journey. People may roll their eyes, but it’s a privilege often taken for granted by the fertile to be a bit silly in your excitement around your growing belly.

I’m often scared to do anything and possibly even think that I’ll get to do it, but I want to still have that excitement. I am pre-emptively excited about sharing our excitement.

At least today I am.

That’s the trouble with infertility. Some days it is just too crushing – you can’t read about anyone else’s joy, you hide from the world, you mute everything you can.  You spend a lot of time in your infertility groups discussing how to hide painful things/subjects on social media – we need to cushion yourselves.

On tough days you instead read the realistic stories and try and lift up your friends who are hurting when their cycles keep failing. Other days? You want the hope. You go in search of IVF success stories. Of smiling babies. Of excited mothers-to-be.

You want the twee.

(Mamas, I’m excited for you).

New pathways and mixed feelings

I’ve tried to write this post a few times. It’s never quite come out as it feels in my head.

The trouble is, I don’t really know how I feel.

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In 3 weeks’ time, we get on (a few) planes and leave Scotland. We don’t know when we’ll be back, and we don’t know what will happen. Everything is open to us.

There are many positives to returning to New Zealand. Obviously family is hugely important to us, and all of mine (and some of his) are there.  We’ll be staying with my parents for a few months, and enjoying the summer weather and (lots) of down time.

We’ll be starting afresh, with no debt, and no obligations. We’ll be able to shake off the stress and pain that 2016 has brought to us. We’ll be unemployed and happy about it.

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But it’s bittersweet. We started this life on an uneven keel – I was the new girl coming into a country that was so similar yet so different.  He had his friends, a familiar climate, accents and words that made sense, and everything that comes with British popular culture.

I had him.

(It was enough).

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The goal was 2 years. But 2 years in, we weren’t done. We were just getting started. We finally found jobs that suited us, we were earning better money, we had a nicer home, we were really getting settled.

How the next 5.5 years flew by, I’ll never quite understand. But I made my life here. I made friends, was promoted through roles at work, travelled Scotland widely. We visited everywhere on our Europe ‘must-do’ list (saving other places for another day). We got engaged. Had white Christmases. Flew home and planned a wedding. Flew home again to got married.

Started this crazy journey to have our own family.

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And New Zealand is where we hope to finish it.  We have an appointment set for late January to start the wheels in motion towards IVF/ICSI. We’re in the process of getting our medical notes from the UK so that we have everything we need to move forward.

So New Zealand has so much waiting for us. We’re so excited to do it. But it’s hard to leave.

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It’s hard to explain how my identity has changed over the last 7.66 years.

Somewhere along the way I stopped being just a Kiwi in a foreign place, but started to be Scottish.  Not just in the voice (though that has changed), but in my sense of self, my pop culture knowledge, my sense of humour, my likes and dislikes. I’ve done a lot of growing up since I was 25, and I feel a bit more like I belong here than there.

I obviously have deep historical ties to this country, and I’m incredibly proud of that heritage. I imagine to Kiwis this may all seem strange, but I really feel like I will have to adjust. I will have to learn.

So we’re on an even keel this time. I’ll be experiencing New Zealand (particularly Wellington) and its culture and way of doing things, through the eyes of a fresh immigrant. A confused, displaced woman who used to belong there.  A husband who only had 18 months. We’ll have to figure it out together. We’ll have to get into our house, get a car, get jobs, get our lives established.

It’s going to be a learning curve and despite it always being the plan, I have to admit that sometimes I wonder why we’re doing it. It feels strange to be pulled from our independent lives into living upstairs in my family home. But it’s the right choice for us. And we are excited.

But I can’t say I’m not torn.

Alba gu bràth.

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Writings

When I started this blog the purpose was to get my feelings out and hopefully show some others they are not alone.

Thankfully I’ve had my journey spread a bit further, and I’m hopefully helping people. I’ve been writing over at The Spinoff Parents.

I’ll be writing here as often as I can still, but if you want to read my two pieces published there, they are here:

Forever hopeful: My life in the parents-in-waiting club

The rollercoaster of trying to conceive: What it feels like to not be able to get pregnant

Tapes

I think it was the illustrious TV personality Dr Phil who first called them “tapes” (though I struggle to find anything online to corroborate this) and it’s become what I call them, too.

Tapes. It’s an outdated term for sure, as who listens to tapes anymore? But whenever my mind starts to repeat something negative to me, I try and tell myself to stop the tape.

My mind has not been kind to me lately.

 

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I get the same messages in a loop when I’m feeling down. Everything from “no one really likes you” and “you just annoy people” to “you’ll never be a mother” and “why bother eating healthy foods when you’re just gonna stay fat anyway?”

Most days I can tell these thoughts to fuck off. On good days I can roll my eyes at them and remind myself how much I like myself, how my friends don’t find me annoying (and if they do, then maybe I don’t need to stick by them – I mean, I know I have flaws, but I’m likeable) and how I can definitely become a mother somehow. And I’m not fat, I’m just on the chubby side and need to eat less sugar mainly because it makes me cranky, and start to actually listen to my body when it tells me how angry dairy makes it.

On bad days it’s hard to just get going on things. I get the bare minimum done and hope that I don’t run into too many pregnant women at the shops.

 

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Positivity goes a really long way.  It’s just that over the last 18 months, with work and life stresses, I’ve been less and less positive. And I’ve written before about feeling like a failure. My mind can be very cruel, and I think obviously a large part of it is that I’m constantly hit in the face by everyone else’s seemingly-hyperfertile reproductive systems.  It’s human nature that we are rapidly reproducing, and there are very little places you can go without seeing a baby or a bump.

For me it’s become all about taking deep breaths, telling myself it’ll pass and that I don’t need to listen to the negativity inside. And sometimes someone else has the tape player and can shut it off for you, just by reaching out to check in, or reminding you how much hope there still is.

Press stop if you can. Don’t let those tapes run. And on the worst days? Aim for pause.

Jinx

The infertile are often terrified of the power of the jinx.

Being around baby stuff is depressing as it is, but there’s nothing worse than buying a special item and it hanging around the house, reminding you of your empty womb. So most of us don’t buy things.

Even though we want to.

I remember those initial exciting times of trying to get pregnant. I looked at adorable baby things, made Amazon wish lists, dreamed about nurseries and how I would surprise my husband.  Eventually, though, those wee bits and pieces that I had collected needed to be given away. It was just too hard.

It’s not to say I don’t still have things. I maybe have 1 or 2 items left, stored away. I’m sometimes compelled to buy when I see something a bit special or sentimental. But I try to keep it in check. I veer wildly between wanting to be optimistic, and not wanting to have reminders making me feel too sad.

Then there’s making plans. We start off thinking about how getting pregnant will affect certain events or trips in our lives. Eventually, 18 months later, you realise that you just need to live your life. Plans can change. Your life may be totally different in a year.

But there’s still that worry about the jinx. What if buying that onesie ruined it this month? What if planning to be the sober driver this weekend is just asking for trouble? What if realising the baby would be due on an important date meant that it will no longer happen?

It’s hard to get out of your head sometimes. But buy things if you want to. Plan fun things in your life – Lord knows with infertility stress you need them. Let go a little and don’t worry about upsetting some superstitious order of things. Because maybe that onesie will bring so much joy to someone else, if you need to pass it on. Protect your heart and hold back if you need to. But sadly we often have no say in whether we will get to have this experience, and if you want to dream?

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Dream a little.