Author: kezunprepared

Our secondary infertility story: Part 5 – Ovulation Tracking

This post was written in December, 2015. We’d been trying to conceive since July 2014. 

You can catch up on parts 1 to 4 here…

Part 1
Part 2

Part 3
Part 4

As I write this, I am coming to the end of a cycle of ovulation tracking by blood tests. It’s been quite the time consuming process and I have spent a lot of time hanging out with phlebotomists in pathology clinics. I have had to have tests at least every few days (sometimes a few days in a row) and it has been a bit exhausting!

When I first started doing it, I was already getting used to the fact that blood was being drained out of me constantly (I’d already had a bunch of blood tests done for other exploratory things). I was kind of blasé about it. I thought the biggest annoyance would just be the time it would take going back and forth to the hospital (where the pathology place is).

A few days ago, I started to feel the emotional effects. The ones I had been completely not expecting. I had been very clinical in my approach. Guess it all catches up with you eventually. I tried to give my right arm a rest but my left arm wouldn’t give up any blood. Twice. So I was getting upset at having to turn my right arm into a pin cushion. I started to feel drained (ha – literally!) when I had a bunch of tests all in a row, with no days off. I started to realise that the closer I got to the end of the tracking process, the more real it felt. Like, what happens after? I hadn’t thought about AFTER. I was just all about one foot in front of the other.

Since I started these tests, the Christmas decorations have been put up in pathology. That’s nice. The staff are all so kind. Like really. Like I would hug them if they weren’t always holding needles (and if it wasn’t probably inappropriate haha). There’s one lady who always says sorry when she sticks the needle in and says she’s just not sure why she does the job she does, but she’s so full of empathy and adorable that it distracts you. There’s the lady who is super efficient so you don’t have time to worry about anything. In and out. Then you’re out of there. There’s the guy who is young and makes me feel super old but who put me at ease with great chit chat and made me miss my brother (they have the same name). There are all of the phlebotomists who recognise me because I’m there so much and treat me like a real person. I am so grateful. I guess they make their living by having to put nervous people at ease, but I think it’s more than that. They are wonderful people.

Today, one of them told me that she knows I must really be feeling over it. She said she hopes that she sees me when I’m eventually pregnant. She had such compassion in her eyes. I hope for that too.

I’m starting to enjoy the drive in to the hospital. I make the most of it. I turn up my fight songs and sing (or rap) along. Lots of Bliss and Eso seems to do the trick. I park my car, put on my game face and I march on in there. I take a number like a boss and I catch up on my Facebook newsfeed while I wait. I have read great comment threads about feminism, ‘mummy blogging’ and racism. I get right on up in there, because I have the time to.

On the way out, I send a snapchat photo of my arm to a select couple of supportive friends, Mr Unprepared and my parents. Another one down. It makes me feel not so alone.

In the car, afterwards, I take a deep breath and brace myself to take on the rest of the day. Sometimes the blood test is forgotten in minutes. I hug the Little Mister (if he’s not at day care) or I take some time out for myself – even if it’s just a few minutes. I try to remind myself I don’t have to be superwoman and that having blood removed from my body constantly is not nothing. I have to go easy on myself mentally and physically. Sometimes I have a cry, but mostly I try to stay strong. I can’t help but feel guilty sometimes, when I feel depleted and sad. I mean, there are people going through way tougher stuff every day. I am in awe of those people.

I don’t know what the results of these tests will be (I suspect I am ovulating OK or at least my hormones will say so). I don’t know exactly what the next steps will be (it’s not like I’ve done this before – not this way). I am not sure if my doctor will catch it, so he can call us and confirm in real time when I’m good to go (haha). I don’t know what it’s like to go from here. I’m a bit nervous about the unknown. I have good days and I have bad days. I just hope that I’m a step closer to our dream of having a second baby*.

 

*maybe just give it another year and a half 😬

Our secondary infertility story: Part 4 “Don’t forget – you’ve never been clucky”

This blog post was written in November 2015, during our journey with secondary infertility. We decided not to talk about it much back then (to protect our privacy and because today’s topic was really difficult), but I just couldn’t stop writing. 

Catch up here…

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

My mum looked at me and said, “But darling, you’ve never been clucky.”

In that moment I was a little taken aback. Oh yeah. That’s true. How did I forget that?

What the hell were we talking about, you ask?

Well, I had been talking to my mum about how it was really difficult to see so many people around me having second babies. It was something I’d kept to myself a lot and at the time of our conversation I was really struggling. I told my mum that I felt awful because when I thought about those lovely little babies (and the ones that were yet to arrive), I felt NOTHING. Nothing. Was I some kind of cold hearted monster? Was I so selfish in my own pain that I had stopped caring? I felt horrible about it. I was beating myself up.

I felt left behind by everyone. I felt a little resentful – why was it so easy for them? It’s like they planned their second babies perfectly – oh look, their babies will have the perfect age gaps between them. Because that’s what they (the parents) decided. How lovely for them. I fought those bitter, jealous feelings every single time another announcement was made. Luckily that phase did not last too long (although it felt like an eternity for me) and the bitterness disappeared (even if the sadness remained). Bitter is not who I am and I am grateful for that. It didn’t sit well with me at the time and I knew I was not willing to let it eat away at my soul. I didn’t need that on my conscience. Those people were lucky to give their first children siblings. I would never begrudge them that.

I’ve never felt such mixed emotion in my life. It is actually possible to be genuinely happy for somebody as they grow their family at the same time as feeling incredibly sad for yourself. It is very difficult to explain but it’s true. My sadness for myself does not in any way diminish the joy I feel for someone else, yet it feels grief filled and all consuming sometimes. How does that work?

So there I was, feeling horrible because I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t care for people’s pregnancy details. I didn’t always ask after their brand new babies (I am so sorry). I had trouble remembering their names (well – there were a lot of them).

I felt like an awful, selfish human being.

But the moment my mum said those words to me, I felt a huge weight fall off me. She was right. I was never clucky. I know that sounds weird because I loved being pregnant (even when I hated it) with the Little Mister. I have ALWAYS wanted children. I have a strong maternal side. I love children. I think kids are cute. I think babies are amazing.

But…I lack the real cluck that a lot of women I know seem to have.

I don’t always need to know every little detail. I can’t talk about baby stuff forever without my eyes eventually glazing over. I like figuring out what works or being able to share what I know with others, but only because it serves a practical purpose. I love my friends’ and family’s babies because they’re my friends’ and family’s babies. Not just because they’re babies. I liked my own kid as a baby because he was my baby. I was NOT impressed with being a big sister when my baby brother came along so many years ago (and yes I still feel bad about that – love ya bro). See? Not clucky.

When people have brand new babies, I am not running as fast as I can to the hospital to meet the little thing. I’m all chill. Like, I’ll meet the kid eventually. Of course I’m very moved and feel honoured to meet a brand new baby while they’re…brand new, but I don’t feel that overwhelming NEED to just because they’re a baby. It depends on who that baby is to me and what their arrival means for their lovely family. I feel like Miranda from Sex and the City sometimes haha (I hope you get that reference).

I still find holding babies really awkward even though I’ve had one. Sure, I’m probably out of practice at this point, but I think it’s also because I lack that cluck. If a new baby is doing the rounds, I can happily not have a cuddle that day. I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything. I know my turn will come. I am not rushing towards the mummy trying to get dibs. I can think they’re just absolutely gorgeous but I’m not going around sniffing heads like a deranged maniac (haha – kidding – be that maniac – good for you – you’re the ‘normal’ one)!

Of course that doesn’t make me a cold hearted monster (I hope). I hope I’ve been the best friend I can be at this time. I hope nobody has felt hurt or has taken it personally when I just couldn’t be there. I do think babies are a miracle of life. Trust me – I’m holding out for my own second miracle. I wouldn’t try this hard if the desire wasn’t so powerful.

It’s just that sometimes I struggle with other people’s baby news because it’s painful for me to care so much. Other times it’s just because I’m not a clucky person.

And that’s OK.

I was putting so much pressure on myself to be someone that I was not. To feel things that I didn’t HAVE to feel. My mum’s seemingly off the cuff remark released me from that pressure. A lot of healing was done that day.

Are you a clucky person? Are you like me and lack the ‘cluck’? 

Our secondary infertility story: Part 3 – Buying tests – it’s a minefield of awkwardness.

This post was written in November, 2015 – about 16 months into the trying for a baby/dealing with secondary infertility thing. I didn’t feel comfortable publishing all of my story in real time (some things needed to play out first), but I couldn’t stop myself from writing it all down. Here is the third instalment of my story…

You can catch up on part 1 here and part 2 here

When we first started this ‘trying for a second baby’ thing, I wasn’t too fussed about testing for ovulation or buying ALL the pregnancy tests. I was coming off the pill again and it had taken about 4-5 months to conceive the Little Mister in 2011 so I expected no immediate results. I had no idea it would take as long as it has (…and we’re still waiting)! Once that amount of time passed, I started to wonder if my body had changed since having my first baby. Maybe I was ovulating at a different time (even though my cycle seemed to be the same in length as it always had been). I decided to try to find a home ovulation testing kit that would work for me. I did the pee on a stick ones where you had to analyse the two lines, but it seemed dicey. I had no idea if I was reading them correctly. I got these from the supermarket mostly. Chucked in with the groceries. Cue nosey check out ladies.

“Oh, are you pregnant?” (I can’t even begin to tell you how that doesn’t make sense)

“Oh, are you trying for a baby?” (said in front of my little man who had no idea)

I left every exchange fuming and swore never to buy anything ‘sensitive’ from there again. A STRANGER’S FERTILITY IS NONE OF YOUR FREAKIN’ BEESWAX, PEOPLE. Unless you are up in my bits for profesh reasons then it is a NO GO ZONE. For reals. Don’t ask me or I will start to imagine violent things happening to you like only a PISSED OFF TO HAVE PMS YET AGAIN person can. I might not know you, but I will find you and I will kill you. Or at least I will threaten to in a way that makes Liam Neeson seem like a fluffy little kitten.

Aha! I thought. I will buy my groceries online – tests included. No nosey check out ladies (and I am singling out ladies because the teenaged boys are far less likely to comment – or give eye contact). YES.

But no.

The delivery driver (who is awesome) comes to me and says, “Here is a list of the things we didn’t have in stock…”

Guess what those things were. Sigh.

Then I found out that Clear Blue (not sponsored but bloody should be) does a digital test. It would be much more obvious and easy to read. Flashing smiley face means you’re reaching peak fertility. Non blinking, solid smiley face means you’re ovulating. Blank circle means you’re not. Simple. You were either in the zone or you weren’t. Perfect. Only thing was the dual hormone one that I liked was only available in a couple of places in my home town. It was freakin’ expensive but worth it for my peace of mind. There is nothing worse than going month after month not conceiving and worrying that you missed your ovulation time. I can handle my body not allowing it, but my own human error? Much more frustrating to think about the possible missed opportunities.

So I headed into the heavily populated pharmacy where I’d found the tests. I hadn’t told anybody about our attempts to make another baby. It was classified information. We were still hoping we’d conceive within a year, keep it quiet and make nice announcements for all the Facebook likes after clearing the first trimester. What dummies. People were really getting on my back about when we’d provide the Little Mister with a sibling, so I was super sensitive about it all. Don’t get me started on why that isn’t cool either.

I find that I have to straddle the line between being suspected of shoplifting for acting too shifty (it’s not like I can hide the tests in my bag until I pay for them) and being so open about it that people start asking questions or starting rumours (it is quite the small world where I live). So I joined the longest line ever (damn it – the longer you wait the more likely someone will notice). When I got to the front, feeling like I might have saved myself some humiliation, the pharmacy assistant said, “Should I be saying GOOD LUCK?”

OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE. SAY NOTHING. IF IN DOUBT, SAY NOTHING. In fact, say nothing anyway.

The next time I braved the line, used all of my life savings and bought two packets. Yes. I figured this would buy me two months without having to face anyone saying something stupid. I thought I felt braver too. I had gone past caring who knew. Or so I thought. Who do I see paying for something at the counter right in front of me? A dude I used to go to school with. Nope. My fear of awkwardness had returned. I suddenly became very interested in celebrity perfumes. La-dee-da. Nothing to see here.

Two more months went by. No luck.

I went back to the pharmacy. Nobody I know in the store? Awesome! The tests were practically half price?! Sign me up!! So I went to the counter full of hope that for once, nobody would cause me embarrassment or piss me off.

“Um. These are scanning at full price. Are you sure these were the ones on special?”

“Yes. I double checked.”

“Let me get my colleague to check it out.”

So the colleague goes and looks on the shelf.

“WHICH ONES WERE THEY?”

“THE CLEAR BLUE DUAL HORMONE BLAH BLAHS.”

OH GOOD LORD.

They ended up giving me the tests for the sale price and I fled to the safety of my car.

Seriously. I just bought a couple of packs online – discounted too. I am done with that shit.

Ever had a similar experience? Want to have a bitch about it? Feel free!

Our secondary infertility story: Part 2 – HSG.

This post was written in October 2015 (about 15 months into our efforts to conceive) while everything was still fresh in my mind. I’m trying to publish the stories that I would have liked to read at the time. These stories haven’t been told by me until now, because it was a sensitive subject that was hard to talk about and I thought it best to wait until it wasn’t so raw. 

You can catch up on part 1 here

I’m quickly learning that sometimes it’s the anticipation of a fertility related procedure that is the worst part. So far I have had an ultrasound (yes – that includes the type where they stick a wand up your hoo ha to get a closer look at things) and today I had an HSG (a procedure where they push dye through your fallopian tubes to check for blockages and stuff – yes – that involves a complete lack of dignity in the hoo ha area too).

I have found both experiences to be very nerve wracking. Waiting to undergo these things was one big mindfuck, to be really blunt with you.

There are two elements to help you lose sleep at night:

  1. Not knowing how you’re going to cope with the physical procedure – it’s quite *ahem* personal and you hope that things won’t hurt or cause you pain or put you at risk of infection (I am a bit sensitive about that because it was an infection that caused me to go into labour some issues when I was heavily pregnant with the Little Mister). You’ve never had some of these things done before, so the unknown can always be daunting.
  2. Not knowing how you’re going to feel emotionally – before, during, after – depending on what the experience is like and what the experts find while they’re exploring/testing. Will the staff you deal with be friendly and have a good bedside manner? Will they explain things to you in a way you understand? Will they make you feel comfortable at such a vulnerable time? What if you get bad news? Is that at least an answer (after spending over a year not knowing what the hell is going on and why you’re not pregnant)? Is no bad news good news? Even if you still have no idea why you can’t conceive?

Today as I was lying there on a big table with my feet up in stirrups, feeling the air on my private parts, I felt all kinds of nervous. The lovely radiology nurse was so good at talking to me – making conversation, showing empathy. I was able to ask questions about the kind of pain I would be dealing with (if any). Nurse people, you are all AMAZING. While I did have a midwife (after a C-section, PUPPP rash, an infection, blood tests out the wazoo and several drips etc) make a stupid comment at me after I had the Little Mister, “Gee, you don’t like pain do you?” I have decided that she was just being a thoughtless cow and it’s OK to cope with the anticipation of something you’ve never had done which might be invasive or hurty in whichever way you need to. For me, asking about the pain level or when I’ll feel the discomfort – having the nurse, phlebotomist or doctor tell me in detail what’s going to happen and what I might feel at each stage is how I cope. It stops me from having an anxiety attack about it all. It helps me to relax. If it helps you too, then do it. If someone doesn’t honour the process you’re going through and how vulnerable you are in that moment, they are in the wrong job. It’s not a reflection on you.

If the nurse hadn’t told me the pain/cramping/discomfort might only last 30 seconds to a minute, I would have freaked out thinking the procedure took longer (it’s not like I’d had it done before). If she hadn’t explained in detail (with warmth and empathy) the process I might have just kept thinking the worst about the words on the consent/information form I’d signed – ‘injecting’, catheter, cramps, ‘side effects’…etc.

I am honestly so overwhelmingly grateful for the people who have been so good to me in this process. The kindness and caring of the staff has been second to none and I admire them so much for bringing that to their work.

In the end, everything happened exactly how the nurse described it might. When it was over in a flash, I was just relieved it wasn’t worse. I was given my dignity back and looked after well.

In both my ultrasound and my HSG, things have come up as seeming to be normal*. Which is great from a structural point of view, but mystifying from a ‘why can’t we conceive?’ point of view!

I am just relieved that I will not have to do any more blood tests or have any more strangers exploring in my private parts for a little while.

I know that it will take a couple of days at least to process everything that’s happened so far. I find that on the day I’m a bit mentally numb, glad I survived a procedure, a little bit weepy, but it doesn’t all sink in for a while as the busyness of getting back to real life kicks in. I just hug the Little Mister and keep on going until I get a moment to myself. Then I let myself bawl, journal it out, use my wonderful support networks. Plan for whatever comes next.

I don’t have my follow up appointment with my doctor until mid-late November. About three weeks from now. I am hoping that he can take all my information gathered from my tests and give us a real direction to head in. I am nervous but excited to actually get started.

*while they didn’t technically see anything wrong, in hindsight I have looked at the X-ray and wondered if the fact that the dye seeped out slower through one of my fallopian tubes could be a factor in my secondary infertility.

Our secondary infertility story: Part 1 (15 months trying to conceive).

This post was written in October 2015 when everything was still fresh in my mind. It hasn’t been published until now, because it was a very difficult thing to talk about and process at the time. I would like to finally share my story of secondary infertility and beyond (currently expecting a little miracle in February 2018 – we are over the moon) over the following days/weeks. It’s both therapy and also hopefully something that someone else might find helpful or informative or interesting. I tried to document my experiences by writing the stuff I would have wanted to read. I’m no hero or crusader but I do hope that I could make at least one person feel less alone. 

As I sit here on the first day of my stupid (literally) bloody visitor for the 15th month since we started trying for a baby, I am feeling a little bit nervous. A little bit overwhelmed. See, I thought waiting for my period was stressful for the 14 months that came before this! The confused feelings of hope versus pessimism fighting each other every single day until I got that negative at home pregnancy test or later, when I’d given up on those and just waited until the bleeding started.

But no…this is a little more stressful! See, there’s all these rules before they start doing some proper tests (I have already had what feels like litres worth of blood tests removed from my body so it totes doesn’t count) and they all depend on where you are in your cycle. I won’t bore you with every little detail, but basically once my period arrives I have to jump into action. An ultrasound 3-4 days in, a blood test to prove I’m not pregnant (doesn’t take a rocket scientist but I do understand why they do it), an X-ray to check my tubes at 10 days (which isn’t as lovely and easy as it sounds and involves stuff stuck up my clacker and dye forced through my tubes)!

I have a long way to go on this journey (even if things go amazingly with early medical intervention for whatever might be wrong with me it will feel like forever haha), but I am starting to learn so many things. Here are some of those things…

It’s all pretty fucking emotional 

I mean, I’m not stupid. I knew this would be an emotional rollercoaster. I mean, duh. But I didn’t realise just how much. I have cried over things that I never thought I would cry over. I think I tried to be all matter of fact going into this, which is a ridiculous expectation because have you met me (or read my blog)?

Some days, the weirdest (in)fertility related stuff will make me cry like a baby. I don’t even mean a single tear rolling down my cheek as I grieve for the baby that feels so far from my reach. I mean, big fat tears that keep on coming. And the craziest thing? It feels so damn good to cry sometimes!

Earlier this month, I found out that the 5K fun run I was going to do with friends wouldn’t be a realistic option, because I will most likely have that X-ray right before it. I had been so excited about the run. If it hadn’t been fertility related, I would have shrugged, made mock angry noises about not being able to go, apologised to my friends and been done with it. But what did I do? I CRIED LIKE A BABY on and off for two whole days. And the thing was, I wasn’t wallowing. I was just crying! It’s like you kind of get on with things, but you cry too. It’s like a release valve that keeps me going, weirdly enough. I guess sometimes the bigger disappointments rise to the surface when you experience smaller ones.

Get a really awesome magazine subscription – treat yo’self!

All these appointments mean some sitting around. I have learned that I really want to make the most of that time. It’s like my poor woman’s version of the mythical ‘me’ time! Before all of this, I considered getting a subscription to my favourite magazine Marie Claire. I then thought, don’t be silly, Kez. When’s the last time you actually got through an issue from cover to cover? Don’t waste your money!

NOW? Now I think it will be the best investment ever and will give me something nice to look forward to – a little distraction. Also, you get a discount if you subscribe, so technically I am saving money 😉

Always a fan of a bargain!

You have to let people in

I know it sounds funny because I’m generally quite an outgoing, open person. But sometimes I just can’t talk about certain tough things going on behind the scenes for me. I freak out about making myself vulnerable or about how people will react. I worry about burdening others with my problems (even though I am always happy to be there for my friends). When we made our first appointment with the specialist, I started to open up a bit with those closest to us and the most wonderful thing happened. A lot of people were full of love and support. I mean, sure, I should have expected that because we have such beautiful people in our lives (hashtag blessed and all that), but I am an anxious freak sometimes. I know it’s wrong, but sometimes I just expect the worst.

I didn’t want to be that person who never talks about it, because no-one ever talks about it. The year leading up to that had been so stressful with nobody to share the struggles with. I decided that I just couldn’t go on any longer keeping it in or I might explode.

When the kindness started coming back to me, I was so overwhelmed. It was the first time in my adult life that I had ever put myself on the line so much. To see that there was nothing but love and positivity was so humbling (and shocking) to me that I actually took a few days to let it sink in and accept it. To all of those who have been there for me/us – I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea how much you’ve made a difference.

Some of the weirdest stuff will make you feel better – just go with it

Want to know something totally embarrassing and ridiculous? Right now, my fight song is Bad Blood by Taylor Swift. Yep. Because each time I get my period (instead of being pregnant), now we’ve got bad blood. It makes me giggle, but it also makes me sing at the top of my lungs like a loony. It’s not even an optimistic song and the metaphor doesn’t quite translate and I really find Taylor Swift irritating, but it makes me feel all bad ass. I get all feisty and for a second, I feel like I’m gonna blow up the place with my awesomeness and (sometimes) good hair and maybe everything will be OK. I am not even gonna apologise for it. I’m just gonna take the laughs where I can. Even if mostly I’m just laughing at myself. #squadgoals (OMG I hope you know that was a joke)!

The other day, my mum (who is amazing and went through infertility with my dad before they adopted my brother and I) said, “You just have to learnt to go with the flow…literally.”

Yeah, it’s funny. So expect stupid ‘period’ jokes*. If you’re too grossed out, you might need to find another blog haha.

Get organised

I just bought myself a whole bunch of planners and stuff. It’s helped for two reasons. One being that now I know where the hell I’m supposed to be and when. There are so many dates and times and appointments thrown at you when you start this process. I have to remember haematology appointments (I may have a little blood disorder** – no biggie), specialist appointments, dates to have blood tests by, ultrasound dates, blah blah. It’s a bit overwhelming. I have a dedicated folder to keep my referrals and test requests from my doctor in. The idea of losing some of those just gives me anxiety! I have to know what’s going on each week and I admit I had become a bit chaotic and disorganised before this, so it’s been a great kick up the arse.

The second benefit to being more organised is that it helps me to feel in control. It calms me. At a time of my life where I couldn’t be more out of control of what’s going on (i.e. not knowing what’s wrong with me or whether I’ll be able to get pregnant again or when that might possibly happen), having a way to keep organised just makes me feel like I’m nailing something. I can breathe out, knowing that I haven’t forgotten anything.

I hope that sharing this stuff helps somebody else. If you’re going through this too, I am cheering you on. I really am. I know that I am new to this whole process and I can’t imagine what it’s like to try for multiple years with no success***, but I am sending lots of love x

I shall leave you with this…

x

*It actually got less and less funny

**I was subsequently tested again and got the all clear – turns out I have a slight tendency to be a ‘bleeder’ but I don’t have any diagnosis for Von Willebrands as originally suspected

***3 years later…

{From the Vault} We can’t control everything and I’m OK with that.

I wrote this post in 2014 and it sat in my drafts folder until now – the Little Mister was 2 years old. The first sentence kind of makes me laugh because I know it wasn’t always that easy (still isn’t!), but I still agree that we need to shake off the pressure we are made to feel because we can’t control everything. Life is messy. Kids will do what they will do – they’re their own crazy little people. Especially toddlers! We can provide them with the best environment to grow and thrive but sometimes it doesn’t quite go to plan. That doesn’t mean we’ve done a bad job x

I know I’m nuts, but I really do love the unpredictability of having a small child. It’s not for everyone, but I love that when I wake up in the morning I have no idea what the day may bring. I can make plans, but they might be abandoned. I can have no plans, but suddenly something unexpected (and hopefully pleasant but not always) comes along. It can be frustrating and even boring at times – not to mention exhausting – but somehow this stay at home mum life seems to suit me. Just like any paid job I’ve ever had, there are drawbacks and there are absolute perks.

Again, with me still sounding like an absolute nutjob, I really do find it liberating when plans go awry. It’s like the universe is giving me permission to just throw my hands up in the air and say, “Oh, f*ck it! You want me to just go with the flow, universe? I’ll show you how to go with the f*cking flow!”

I think I really do embody my blog’s title. I like to think that if I am unprepared for the situations life throws at me, at least I can be awesome at it 😉

I don’t always succeed (cue crying and eating a pile of hot chips the size of my head), but it’s my life’s motto these days. It’s what gets me through.

I’ll put up a fight when something goes off track (sometimes you do need that fire inside you), but I think I also know that there are occasions when I just need to step back and realise I’m so not in control of everything and that’s just gonna have to be OK for now.

May as well laugh about it (if appropriate – in most cases it is) and think of it as blog material!

I feel like in this day and age, new parents are told they can control everything. In fact, not only can we supposedly control everything, we are told we’d better bloody be in charge of everything or else we’re going to be judged! We’re told we can control everything from the way our pregnancy plays out, to how we give birth, to breastfeeding perfectly (something not all of us can do), making our babies sleep perfectly for 12 hours straight, to how smart our child is going to be and what their interests will be.

We’re told that if we do all of the ‘right’ things, we can totally achieve the desired outcome.

*cough* BULLSH-T *cough*

There are parents out there who can do everything ‘right’ and still face challenges a lot of us wouldn’t even be able to fathom. There are parents who don’t do anything right and yet, somehow against all odds, their children survive and succeed! Explain that, control freaks! Explain that!

We can give ourselves and our children all the best opportunities possible, but at the end of the day there are so many factors that can be out of our hands.

I feel like as parents, we need to refuse to buy into this controlling mentality and to be careful not to use it as a tool to make other people feel inadequate. There’s a difference between friendly advice that may or may not work, and judging someone: “Oh, life is harder for them because they didn’t do x, y or z”.

There is a difference between giving our children security, boundaries and discipline, and simply micromanaging every step they take until they have no confidence left to try something on their own and figure out that it’s OK to make mistakes or do something wrong and that they’re strong enough to recover and move on.

We get the hand we’re dealt and the only thing we can really control is how we respond. Sometimes that’s fucking hard to do, but it can be kind of empowering to figure out how to go with the flow and do our best with what we have. And if we’re really lucky we might have a really amazing support network around us to help make it easier. Let’s be that for each other.

{From the Vault} Where do you draw the line?

As I continue the ‘From the Vault’ series (where I FINALLY publish long forgotten blog post drafts), I bring to you a post I wrote in January 2014. I don’t think I had the courage to hit publish on this one because I felt that it could be perceived as shaming other parents who do things differently to me. Honestly, it was not coming from a place of judgement. I just wanted to explain why I have rarely made my son’s face public and how I’ve personally chosen to go about things. The thing is, we’re all really still exploring what it means to have a social media/blogging ‘digital footprint’ and what it means for our children. There are many ways to go about sharing our lives.

Whatever you are comfortable with is your own line in the sand, and I think a majority of parents who post photos of their children publicly have thought deeply about what is in their best interests. We’re all just doing what we hope works best for us.

I know my stance on the issue isn’t the most locked down or perfectly protected system, nor is it the most relaxed. I just hope I’ve hit the right balance for my family and my son.  

As a blogger and as a parent who is nuts for uses social media, I am always asking myself – where should I draw the line when it comes to the way I treat/use my child’s online identity? That sounds icky just to type it – “my child’s online identity”. Whether I like it or not, he has one and he has had one almost since birth. With the sharing of that first hospital photo and birth announcement, it began! For some, it begins before their child is born – ultrasound photos of a 13 week foetus!

It’s a sign of the times. I could be really hardcore about it and leave no digital footprint, no evidence of my son’s existence, because let’s face it, he cannot consent to each image or anecdote that is out there in the world. But I’m not. And I am far from being alone. I can only draw my imaginary (but nonetheless important) line in the sand. Everyone’s line is a little different from another person’s, but I think most of us would agree there needs to be one.

There are so many reasons for this and I think they boil down to these:

  • Your child’s future embarrassment
  • A need to protect your child from predators and those who do not have good intentions
  • To teach your child by example

OK, so the ’embarrassment’ factor is a tough one to draw a line on. Kids are cute and unintentionally funny. They will wear funny things, say funny things and do funny things almost from day 1. I know I’m guilty of privately posting photos of my son wearing funny costumes – I’ve loved every second of it! What a laugh! However, right now he’s only 1 and I hope that by the time he has an awareness of what’s really going on from an older person’s perspective that he will just see it as mum being a bit embarrassing and at least they’re just cute baby photos (ie not him humiliating himself as a tween or older).

I blog about my life with the Little Mister. I do humourous (at least I hope they are) posts on my blog’s Facebook page about his experiences. However, there is a lot that I do not publish. I won’t publicly post photos that reveal his face in intimate detail (unless it is an image that has already been made public in other approved and legitimate ways – even then I feel wary), I won’t publicly post photos of him naked or even just in a nappy. I won’t use his real name. Most of what I post about is the stuff that most toddlers and babies do at a given age. He’s very special and unique to me, but let’s face it – I’m describing thousands upon thousands of toddlers when I share my stories. In a way, I feel like I am portraying my own experiences moreso than his. It’s about how he makes me reflect on my own life and how much I am changing and growing through being a parent. At least that’s my intention. As he grows older, I will have to inspect my line in the sand again – the goal posts will no doubt keep moving.

When it comes to social media, my personal Facebook page is as private as I can make it. I regularly check that Facebook hasn’t done the dirty on me with alterations to the privacy settings and again, I do not post naked photos (bath photos etc) and rarely any videos of the Little Mister. Tagging can be a risk (it can expose your photographs to each and every friend of the friends you’ve tagged), but I try to make informed choices. It’s not a perfect world, but I do my best. No-one has the right to see my son’s naked body splashed all over the internet. No matter how perfect and innocent and little and cute he is to me right now. You don’t know who your friend of a friend of a friend is. You don’t know who might access these photos or manipulate and save them. I’m sure I’m not exactly as hard to track down as a person in witness protection (in fact I know I’m not) but I like to think I’ve made my boundaries clear.

Today I was accosted at the local shopping centre by a baby photography company trying to drum up business, by offering the allure of a chance to go in the draw for your child to win you $5000 in a national cutest baby competition. This means that if you pay the small fee to get your child’s photo taken, some stranger you’ve never met will look at these photographs and decide if your child is the cutest or not. I know $5000 is a lot of money and it could buy your child so much stuff, but I don’t enter these things (online or in person). I do not want to make money off of my child’s looks. I do not need some anonymous person to tell me if my kid is cute or not. Dammit, I know he is the cutest in the world because he’s mine and I am incredibly biased and I don’t care if anyone else thinks so or not as long as I raise him to be a good human!!

Some of these photo competitions offer discounts on baby products, huge educational scholarships etc. They sound like they’re wonderful (because the prize can ultimately benefit your child), but basically these brands/companies are saying that my child can get possible opportunities for a better education (by way of financial means) if he LOOKS cute enough.

It just feels like the wrong message? I do not begrudge others for doing this – again, we all have different lines in the sand – but for me, personally, it doesn’t feel right. I share photographs with friends and loved ones, because they care about our family and I do it (relatively) privately with no intentions of world wide distribution for marketing purposes!

Does my blog following/interest suffer because I do not post lots of fun, personal photographs that would let you into my world/family on a much more visual level? Probably. That’s OK with me. That is my line in the sand.

I cannot guarantee that I will feel the same forever or that I might not make exceptions in the future (don’t want to be a big hypocrite), but I do guarantee that I will always consider the best interests of my child’s online (and therefore public) identity first and foremost. It would take a shitload of good reasons lot for me to change my mind.

How do you feel about the online presence of your child/children?

{From the Vault} Just wait until you have kids! Said no Kez ever.

I just found this post in my drafts folder – dated October, 2013 (the Little Mister was almost 2). I think it’s still relevant now – especially as I’ve experienced quite the journey with secondary infertility. I have occasionally heard the words, “At least you only have one child. I have (insert plural number here). Just wait until you experience it!” as a way of telling me that I have it easier and have no idea. Sure, I probably do have it easier in some ways – I definitely have it easier than someone who wants so badly to become a parent but cannot. But I’d also argue that the challenges I have faced have not been a cup of tea or a picnic or a walk in the park either. I know I wouldn’t wish my challenges on somebody else, that’s for sure. Both myself and every other parent/person have had our own journeys and they’re both likely to be as unique and as valid as each other’s. Someone will always seem to have it better than us and some will always have it tougher than us. It’s not up to us to judge what that’s like for them and whether they’re suffering enough. It’s not a competition. I try to keep myself in check about this all the time…  

Fellow (erm…probably female) parents…do you remember being pregnant for the first time? Do you remember feeling bone weary tired and uncomfortable sometimes (or all the time for those less lucky?). Do you remember the late pregnancy insomnia? The aching and the need for some kind of body pillow arrangement that your partner dare not disturb? Do you remember those times you told someone about how tired you were and that someone had kids and that someone kept saying, “Pfft. You just wait until you have the baby. Then you’ll know the meaning of tired.”

You know, with that tone that says clearly, “Ha! This person has no idea!” followed by an evil laugh because you know they’re secretly enjoying the idea of you suffering in the near future.

Remember every time you opened your mouth and someone would say, “Oh you just wait…”

“Oh, that’s nothing. You just wait until you have the baby…”

“Oh, you just wait until they’re crawling…”

“Oh, you just wait until they’re walking…”

“Oh, you just wait until the teething…”

“Oh, Terrible Twos? There’s Terrible Threes…”

“You just wait until you have two kids! Oh, you have two? Well, that’s nothing compared to three!”

You know what I mean. Some of you might even have a person you know in mind when you read this.

Look, these things are fine in the context of a positive conversation between friends/family members, but what I’m referring to is those who have quite the case of the snarks. That person who is competitive or condescending.

I can’t promise I won’t ever say any of the above things at some occasion (in the right moment hopefully with the right person at the right time with the right tone), but I can promise that I will never do it with the intention of making someone feel like their experiences are less valid because they’re not parenting a child yet. Or ever. I also sincerely apologise if I’ve ever unintentionally p*ssed someone off.

I’ve just never understood that attitude.

I mean, what’s their point? So they’re further ahead in the parenting game and always will be. That’s fine. Good for them. If they have any useful advice or humourous anecdotes we can relate to and feel better about, that’s really great. But what’s the point in bringing us down while we’re learning?

When you’re f*cking tired, you’re f*cking tired. When you’re struggling, you’re struggling. When you’re juggling, you’re freakin’ juggling.

When you love a child or care about children, that experience is real. Even if it’s not your own child.

I look back on my life BC (Before Child) and I think about the times I was bone tired. Did I take some freedoms for granted? Absolutely!! But were my experiences valid, real and necessary to enjoy/live through before having a child? Abso-f*cking-lutely! Imagine if we all spent our whole life leading up to having children, stopping ourselves and saying, “Oh, this pales in comparison to when I will have children.”

That would be ridiculous, yeah?

I remember staying up all night frantically finishing university assignments, feeling like my whole future rested on the success of my studies. The pressure, the stress, the late night panicked phone calls from fellow students about group assignments. I would spend weeks in a daze, just wondering when the hell I would rest and then when “holidays” arrived they were spent worrying about the rest of my life (the part that had been neglected).

I remember the stress I’ve been through when terrible events have happened. The constant juggling – family, friends, university, work, self care, my relationship, etc. Having to say no to things. Having to feel like trying to find the right balance is a nightmare. Realising you can’t please everyone.

All of those things were real. Doing it tough when my husband lost his job – not having disposable income. That was real. Just like it’s real when a baby comes along and it costs a lot to keep them in nappies and formula and god knows what else.

And what about those who cannot, or choose not to, have children? Are we smug parents saying that none of their life is valid or complicated or real? F*ck off!

We’re all in different stages of life, making our own different decisions. All of us deserve respect for where we are. We all have our paths to follow, new things to learn. All in due time.

I feel sorry for those who will try to convince us that life is going to be horrible when pregnant or when we have children. Sure, there are some crazy times to be had (my path wasn’t exactly ‘glowing’), but those crazy times are for everyone to experience for the first time themselves (if they ever do). For all of those times, there are so many other blessings that make parenthood worth it.

Having a child has really made me learn a lot about how deep your love can be. It’s this pure, unconditional kind of love I didn’t know you could feel before I had a child. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t know what love was beforehand. I’m just experiencing a new kind of love. When some parents say, “You can’t know what love is until you have a child”, I do get what they’re saying, but that’s not a very nice thing to say around people who don’t have a child!! They do know what love is. Sure, they might not share the experience of having your own child but that doesn’t mean that someone without children doesn’t know what unconditional love is. Or what it’s like to care for someone who will test you constantly.

We’re all running our own races, facing our own challenges. All of our journeys are just as important and as challenging as someone else’s.

{From the Vault} …But where are you FROM?

Ah yes. I wrote this in September 2013 and for reasons I cannot understand, it lay dormant in my drafts folder until now! I sure had my ranty pants on, but to be fair, the issue has been a persistent one throughout my life. It shits me still! 

I am asked this question ALL the time. My story is actually quite interesting when I’m able to sit back and be objective about it, but honestly? I am a bit blasé about it. I was adopted from South Korea when I was 5 months old. I’ve been Aussie ever since, but there’s this one thing that gives me away. My looks. My almond shaped eyes, my dark, straight hair (when I haven’t coloured the bejeezus out of it) and my olive coloured skin (which is a weird way to describe a skin tone because olives are usually green or black as far as I know – but I’m not an olive expert).

I think that if I had Asian parents or mad chopstick skills (I seriously don’t) then maybe I’d be all like, here’s my story, bitches. It’s exactly what you wanted to hear!

Problem is, conversations with curious individuals go a bit like this…

Stranger: Where are you from?
Kez: *home town*
Stranger: No, where are you FROM?
Kez: *bemused face*

Stranger (with an “Ooh, I’m so clever” face on): So…where are your PARENTS from, then?”
Kez: England and Wales.
Stranger: No, BEFORE THAT.
Kez: They weren’t alive before that?

Eventually, I’ll throw them a bone.

Kez: I’m adopted. From Korea. When I was a baby.
Stranger: Oh, so can you speak Korean?
Kez: Could you talk when you were 5 months old?

WTF.

And no, I’m not always a smart arse out loud (but I do think it).

Thing is, there are lots of people who have a nice vibe about them, who ask me questions respectfully and build a rapport with me. But there are also lots of people who feel entitled to my back story. Why? Because I look different. As in not white.

That’s when I get a little uppity.

Do I get to walk up to anyone who has a physical difference about them and start asking intrusive questions? What if I was to ask all the white looking people I see what the eff is up with their white skin and their reasons for being here?

Like, “Where are you from? Where were you born? What do your parents look like? What do you eat at home?”

Out of nowhere. Like literally on the street or in a supermarket. No lead up conversation. Just “WHY DO YOU LOOK LIKE THAT AND WHAT LED YOU TO BE IN THIS SUPERMARKET?”

Hey, maybe I was just looking for a loaf of wholemeal bread.

(don’t get me started on how my local supermarket bakery hasn’t had wholemeal bread on the shelves before lunch time for weeks now)

Maybe I get annoyed, because what I look like is such a small part of who I am. By fixating on my race/general appearance, people are missing out on wanting to see so many other aspects of who I am and “where I’m from”. While it is a part of my identity, my country of birth is just not that significant to me in my day-to-day life.

Rant over!

{From the Vault} If it’s too loud…you’re me.

In a desperate bid to conquer my writer’s block, I have been sifting back through my voluminous folder full of blog posts that never made it past the draft stage for reasons I am not entirely sure of. Maybe I thought some were too contentious/controversial (spoiler alert: they probably weren’t). Maybe I realised they were really crap (probably). Maybe my attention span can be goldfish like (yep yep yep – what was I saying?). I don’t know. But I thought I’d start slowly posting some of them, so they can finally see the light. For better or for worse haha. 

This one is from April, 2013. I had just been gifted my laptop for my birthday and the Little Mister was almost 18 months old. Some people on the next street over were having a ridiculous party as they tend to do at peak holiday times (the last one resulted in our neighbours – the good ones – chasing a dickhead out of our backyard while we were away so now I feel completely vindicated for being an old grumpy lady). 

As I type this, I’m lying in bed with my beloved Birthday MacBook and listening to the mind numbing dirge of some neighbour’s loud music. I’m thinking old, grumpy lady thoughts and lamenting at the lack of respect people have these days. This is compounded by the fact that I had to listen to someone’s ridiculously loud radio all day too. You know when you can’t actually distinguish what the music is, but the bass is thunking around and you hear the low rumble, like the whisper of bogans starting their V8s all at once? It starts out OK. It’s not too loud and you’re kind of distracted anyway, but then it gets into your ears and your brain and slowly tortures you until you can’t think straight and you’d kill for the peace of the night. You know that you chose a place to live where when it’s all serene, you can even hear the ocean, despite being a couple of kilometres away.

Then I wonder, WHEN THE F*CK DID I GET SO OLD? You go through phases in life (or at least I did).

1. You’re too young to go to raucous parties with loud music, but you dream of the day you’ll be cool enough.

2. You’re at those parties and you don’t care about anyone else. If the cops show up it’s an extra awesome story to tell everyone who wasn’t there.

3. You stop going to those types of parties, but you feel happy when you hear them because you feel the nostalgia and are happy that someone is still enjoying their (assumed) youth.

4. You have a kid who has to sleep well at night to even half function through the day. These parties turn you into an uptight, old, crabby b*tch.

Guess which stage I’m at?

Also, early on in this post I used the word dirge. My mum uses that word. That’s a mum word. An annoyed at all the loud people mum word.

I’m a little disappointed at how ‘old’ I have become. I wonder if I’m just being precious sometimes. Surely people are allowed to party a bit loudly on a Friday or Saturday night? You know, like until 11pm or midnight or something before they turn it down out of respect?

Not everyone has a toddler or is at home doing sh*t all, I tell myself. Perhaps I’m just being an obnoxious parent who wants the world to revolve around them all of a sudden.

But then I think, NO. It’s just respect. Most of the parties I attended when I was younger were in semi rural places where the neighbours lived further away and/or were given advance notice of what was to come.

I can now hear various neighbours out the front talking. I tried to eavesdrop (like a crotchety busy body old lady) earlier and it seemed that they weren’t stoked with the noise either. I want to call the police and whinge, but I’ll be honest. I’m procrastinating. Everyone I know who’s ever made a noise complaint and wanted to remain anonymous to the party host has always been revealed by a not so smart police officer (don’t get me wrong I have the utmost respect for the police). I don’t want to be that old, grumpy lady who called the police at 8:30pm, thank you very much!

I think I need a ‘complaining about the noise’ outfit. I think a faded pink, fleecy dressing gown with a floral theme would be appropriate. Curlers for my hair. Fluffy slippers. A rolling pin I can shake around. Glasses hanging off my nose. I could just march right on up that street and give those hooligans what for!

via GIPHY