DAY 56: The crazy lady

Yesterday we had a scan and saw the heartbeat for the first time. I’m 8 weeks today.

This is my third pregnancy this year, and the other two didn’t stick. 8 weeks was when the heart stopped beating for the baby we lost in May.

I’m perched somewhere between anxiety and excitement, and I’m constantly holding myself back from any feelings of joy possible… just in case.

But honestly what difference would it make? Do I really think that by stopping myself from being happy now will somehow make a miscarriage easier? That I wouldn’t fall as hard. That it wouldn’t hurt.

A miscarriage now would be devastating. Attempting to protect myself by ‘thinking the worst’ isn’t going to make it any easier, it’s just making each day right now a living hell.

baby clothes
Image by Memphis CVB at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ilovememphis/5595415449

So my goal this week (linking in with my values of mindfulness) is to be happy about the pregnancy. To dream unabashedly about the future. To make plans for the baby, even if it’s just in my own mind.

When I was a teenager, I watched a documentary about infertility and I remember one woman had been trying to fall pregnant for over 10 years with no success, but she’d bought so many baby clothes she’d literally filled the wardrobe in her spare bedroom. I remember thinking, what an absolute crazy lady! Who does that?

Yesterday, to celebrate getting to 8 weeks and seeing that little flicker of a backbone, I bought a winter onesie size 0000 for my little baby to put in the cupboard of the spare bedroom.

I had become that crazy lady.

But now I get it. I’m horrified that I judged that lady from the documentary so harshly. Who cares if there’s wardrobes of baby clothes all over the world that never get worn? We need hope. We need joy.

Having the clothes or not having the clothes will not make any difference to the grief if something goes wrong. But it will make me smile today, and that’s something.

xx Eloise

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DAY 43: The far more interesting story

We decided to start trying for a baby at the beginning of 2015, so I also decided I’d keep a journal and write in it every day. My plan was to hand it over to my daughter one day to show her what pregnancy and birth was like and how she first entered the world.

When I fell pregnant in March with an early December due date, the dream had become a reality. I could document every step of the way, ending with the fantastic December birth day finale. How neat is that?

But life doesn’t always go to plan. At a routine 9 week scan we were told the baby no longer had a heartbeat and that I was going to miscarry.

On Mothers Day in May I mourned the loss of my baby and bared all to the pages of my journal.

journal cover
Image by Mary-Frances Main at https://www.flickr.com/photos/rexandsharkey/2859714730

In September I found out I was pregnant again. This one was going to be the one! I wrote all about it in my journal, the hopes and the dreams. There’d been a setback but this time we were ready.

Then at just 5 weeks pregnant, on Fathers Day, I started to bleed. And we lost that baby too.

I fell into a depression. Some days I found it hard to move. Every day I wrote about it in my journal. I wrote about the pain and the negative thoughts and the inability to see any joy in the world.

The very next month, I discovered I was pregnant again. And here I am. Pregnant and terrified, but stronger and more resilient. Whatever the outcome I know I will manage through it.

It’s almost the end of the year, and I’m getting close to the end of my journal. The original dream to have my full pregnancy and birth documented is no longer an option, and the chance of miscarriage again is high.

But, what I realised this week is that the story in my journal, the story of hurt and grief and disappointment, is far more interesting that the ‘perfect pregnancy’. This is the story people will actually read. The story that truly reflects the ups and downs of every day life and death.

xx Eloise

DAY 38: What a sandwich and my toddler taught me about mindfulness

Today I watched my toddler eat a sandwich. I’d read this article about how when your children grow up you really miss that (crazy and exhausting) toddler phase, and it made me stop and watch my little boy.

He picked up a small triangle of sandwich carefully between his fingers and studied it. He turned it over and switched hands. Then he took his forefinger and pushed it gently into the jam and butter, then held his finger up and studied it. He licked the jam off his finger, swirled it around in his mouth and swallowed. He gave a little nod, then took a bite, chewed it, then swallowed again. Then he just stopped and stared at the sandwich.

Image by Zoha Nve at https://www.flickr.com/photos/benetton/3697763962
Image by Zoha Nve at https://www.flickr.com/photos/benetton/3697763962

Nothing could take his attention away.

My son is an expert at mindfulness. And he’s only 2.

Here I am, significantly older, and trying my hardest to be more mindful. Trying my hardest to stay in the moment and enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

Why does growing up force us to be less mindful? As each year passes, my little boy’s mind will be filled with more and more thoughts of the past, worries about the future and concerns about the present. Sadly, he’ll lose that intense pleasure of a simple jam sandwich.

But right now, life is his to be enjoyed. And as part of getting my balance back I’ll try to experience it with him as much as I can.

Right now, he’s spinning around on the spot happily singing the words to ‘Mary had a little lamb’ and I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.

xx Eloise

DAY 37: Resilience and reflection

I’m just over a third of my way through the time I’ve set aside to get my balance back. Time for a review.

Right now. Right this very minute I feel good. Really good. And it’s not because things are finally going well for me (they’re not) and I have so much more to smile about (not really), it seems to be that despite bad things happening this week I feel more stable and grounded than I have in months.

Months.

Image by Alexander Mueller at https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexander_mueller_photolover/18051322873
Image by Alexander Mueller at https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexander_mueller_photolover/18051322873

My depressive cycle is over. Of course depression may – and probably will – come back at some stage in my life but at the moment it has been lifted and I can see clearly. Those negative thoughts running through my head constantly have gone. My dreaming of the past and wishing I could get my old self back has stopped. Even the feelings of guilt for putting myself first has dissipated. This is excellent.

This week I’ve had a sick child in hospital, a fetus threatening to up and leave and very little sleep. I’ve had morning sickness, jabbing pain from an ovarian cyst and an insatiable hunger. I’ve had medical appointment after medical appointment and very little spare time.

But you know what? I’ve survived. And that’s called resilience.

xx Eloise

DAY 34: Why I hate the internet

OK, so I shouldn’t bad mouth the internet too much (especially here as that would be highly hypocritical) but I just have to point out how hard it is to be pregnant and worried AND be exposed to online advertising that’s based on my user profile.

Image by meneame comunicacions, sl at https://www.flickr.com/photos/meneamecomunicacions/2443884255
Image by meneame comunicacions, sl at https://www.flickr.com/photos/meneamecomunicacions/2443884255

I had some bleeding. It’s not major enough to call it a full miscarriage but things aren’t looking good. Today I googled a couple of things to hopefully ease my concerns (of course, they didn’t) but even worse, I’m now being bombarded with advertising for fertility clinics, pregnancy tests and baby advice… the internet is just constantly reminding me how badly I want this but also how unlikely it is to happen.

The advertisers are preying on the vulnerable and it’s not fair.

Then again, Brené Brown says being vulnerable is a good thing. But for some reason I don’t think she means it in this way.

xx Eloise

DAY 19: Therapeutic hedging

I didn’t really feel like doing gardening. I’ve been sick with a cold and feeling in a bit of a slump following a busy weekend. But the hedges needed trimming so I grabbed the garden shears and gloves and headed out into the yard.

And it turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.

It was good for:

  1. My mental health – our old house didn’t have any hedges, so I had to learn a new skill. At first it was difficult and slow going, but at the end I was trimming like a pro.
  2. My physical health – it was hard work cutting, sweeping and carrying buckets of branches to the bin.
  3. My social health – I got to spend some much-needed time chatting to my dog about life, and he loved the company.
  4. My environmental health – the finished product looks fantastic and when I look out the back now I feel satisfied for a job well done.
Image by Christian Guthier at https://www.flickr.com/photos/wheatfields/3963659498
Image by Christian Guthier at https://www.flickr.com/photos/wheatfields/3963659498

It gave me confidence that I can do it again and a real sense of satisfaction.

And to think I was going to spend the day on the lounge.

xx Eloise

DAY 18: Negative and uncomfortable emotions

As I work through The Happiness Trap, I’m learning more and more about my emotions. Chapter 12 asked me about my childhood programming.

Up until now, I’d always assumed that negative emotions are uncomfortable and positive emotions are comfortable. And that most people around the world would agree on what was what.

But when I analysed the list of nine basic human emotions, and considered my childhood programming, my opinions changed.

Image by David Berry  at https://www.flickr.com/photos/dberry/1112736240
Image by David Berry at https://www.flickr.com/photos/dberry/1112736240

Here are the basic human emotions as per The Happiness Trap:

  1. Fear
  2. Anger
  3. Shock
  4. Disgust
  5. Sadness
  6. Guilt
  7. Love
  8. Joy
  9. Curiosity

Thinking of my family, I could quickly distinguish the emotions that were negative and the emotions that were positive:

  • Negative: fear, anger, shock, disgust, sadness, guilt
  • Positive: love, joy, curiosity

But when reviewing the list to determine what my family would determine as uncomfortable compared to comfortable, the lists surprisingly did not align:

  • Uncomfortable: fear, anger, sadness, love
  • Comfortable: shock, disgust, guilt, joy, curiosity

Now this was an interesting realisation. And particularly interesting were those negative emotions that my family is comfortable with (shock, disgust, guilt) and the positive emotion that we are uncomfortable with (love).

For example, my family knows that guilt is a bad thing, but we are very comfortable with using it as a technique to change our behaviour (‘Dear Aunt Molly is going to be so upset if you can’t make it to the picnic…’). We know that love is a positive thing, but I wouldn’t say we’re always comfortable in showing it (a birthday card message that includes a loving message will usually have a clarifying remark added like ‘sorry for getting so emotional’).

The negative emotions that we are uncomfortable with have caused me problems throughout my life too. Being brought up to think that anger is both negative and uncomfortable has made me unable to handle conflict, especially with those close to me who are quite comfortable with angry emotions.

Being uncomfortable with sadness has led me to feel anxious whenever a sad thought comes my way, causing me to feel somewhat defective for even feeling sad in the first place (‘I have no reason to feel this sad…’). And the opposite: thinking that joy is both a positive and comfortable emotion, I feel defective whenever I can’t naturally feel it (‘Cheer up! It’s a beautiful day and you should be happy with what you’ve got…’).

Dr Russ Harris wants me to accept all of my emotions and stop struggling with them. I’m curious (both positive and comfortable) about how we’re going to achieve this.

xx Eloise

DAY 12: My lucky day

Today luck was on my side. After months of things going wrong, I saw a significant shift today.

They were small things, like when I ordered a desk for my new creative space but the shop lost it, they re-ordered it at a $50 discount and threw in an additional $50 gift card for the inconvenience. Or how I forgot to buy tissues and then saw them on sale at a completely different shop. Or how when I stopped for lunch at a sushi train the miso soup was simply plain delicious.

clover
Image by Umberto Salvagnin at https://www.flickr.com/photos/kaibara/2545331599

But it got me thinking. All of these things could have been ‘unlucky’ in a different frame of mind.

When I was told that the shop had lost my desk I could have been so upset that I left the store before a discount could even be offered. Or I could have responded angrily and demanded to see a manager. But instead I was calm and polite and the shop assistant responded kindly.

When I forgot to buy tissues, I could have felt stressed and disappointed about this fact and completely missed the ones on sale right in front of my face.

And if I was in a rush and trying to get a quick lunch, I probably wouldn’t have ordered miso soup at all.

I used to think myself as a lucky person, but lately that luck just hasn’t been around. But now I can see that a good mood brings good things, not the other way round.

xx Eloise

DAY 11: The empty room

The fourth bedroom was bothering me. I felt sick every time I looked in there. But it wasn’t until I said the words to my mum that I understood why:

‘I should have been decorating a nursery right about now.’

When we lost our baby in May this year, I always thought that I’d be pregnant again by the time the due date came around. But a second miscarriage in September took this away. And now I’m left with an empty room that should be a nursery.

Image by Russell James Smith at https://www.flickr.com/photos/russelljsmith/2225852214
Image by Russell James Smith at https://www.flickr.com/photos/russelljsmith/2225852214

Four white walls and a floor with no furniture was getting me down. There was the option to close the door, but the closed door would also remind me of what we don’t have. I needed to do something more. I needed something positive to balance the sadness of the last six months.

I’ve bought a desk, a chair and a lamp and I’m setting up the room as a writing room. Somewhere I can escape and be creative. A place where I can create positive memories and a room that I can love again.

xx Eloise

DAY 8: 90s alternative rock and flushable wipes

I was feeling OK today. Then my husband turned on the TV  and whistled along to the Top 20 90s Alternate Rock Songs. I checked Facebook and watched (without sound) the test of whether flushable wipes are in fact flushable, or whether they’re destroying the planet.

Obviously it doesn’t take much, because these two things combined started me crying.

Image by Maria Eklind at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mariaeklind/21392156056
Image by Maria Eklind at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mariaeklind/21392156056

90s alternate rock reminds me of my teenage years. Of feelings I didn’t understand and heartbreak. It reminds me of hours spent in my room listening to songs over and over while I thought of that boy at school or the fight I had with my parents or choices I needed to make. It was a time of being uncomfortable, self-conscious and confused. This music brings it all back.

The video about flushable wipes reminded me that the world is not a good place. We are destroying our world for ridiculous reasons (cleaner bottoms) and not thinking of what we are leaving for our children.

So while I was wishing a could change the world (but knowing I can’t) there was the backdrop of Smashing Pumpkins, Bush and Nirvana’s depressing lyrics and it got me feeling low.

I think I need to explore the music thing a bit more. And maybe go out and plant a few trees.

xx Eloise