Monday, July 30, 2007

The day the teacher cried


"Hello! My name is Daniel, I'm 12 years old, in Gr 5, and last week I made my teacher cry. "


The little boy in the picture above is in my Register class, which means that I'm acting as his (and his classmates') guardian at school. We meet every day during the first 15 minutes of the school day, and I teach them Computer Literacy once a week as well.

Last week Friday we had the track events part of our school's House Sports meeting. I was assigned to class duty to finish off some admin work that the principal wanted before the weekend.

The heap of letters that had to be signed and double checked for errors (175 of them!) kept me busy for most of the morning. Somewhere around 10am the door to my class flew open.

Daniel stood in the doorway.

"Hello Ma'am!"

"Yes Daniel, can I help you?"

"No. Just came to see if you're OK." He walked to my table and smiled.

" 'No Ma'am' Daniel, it's good manners, not just No. Remember?"

"Yes. I won't forget!"

"Yes MA'AM!" I had to laugh, he was so sincere but he still needed lots of practice.

He laughed too and looked a bit shy. Just stood there with his hands on my table.

"Daniel, would you mind doing me a favor please?"

"Huh? I mean yes!"

I was scratching in my handbag to find my purse for some money to buy fruit juice. The tuck shop was open all day for the athletics and the juice they sold was cold as ice: totally refreshing even in the middle of winter!

As I got my purse out, I explained what flavor I'd like, but before I had my money in my hand, Daniel started running out the door. I called him back but he just waved a hand at me going down the stairs at full speed.

Oh well, I thought. He'd be back in a minute or so realizing he had forgotten the money, and I went back to signing the letters.

Five minutes later I heard him running up the stairs again.

He planted a fruit juice and pie in front of me, stood back and smiled one of the most beautiful smiles I've seen in a very long time.

"Daniel!? What is this? Here's the money."

"No Ma'am! I don't want the money. It's on me today."

He looked so proud as he stood there grinning. There was no way I could refuse this gift from the bottom of his heart. I opened my arms, he walked around the table and we hugged.

"Love you ma'am," he whispered.

And that's when I cried.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Season of Hope



It's that time again! And this time I'm lucky enough to be part of the International Infertility Film Festival organized by Bea. The first one happened round about the time I discovered this particular part of the blogosphere, and met the most wonderfully warm-hearted and supportive people that are part of IF-land.

I spent part of my winter vacation making this video, and couldn't have asked for a better way of relaxing - it was truly therapeutic. And now the time has come to share it with you all.

During the past few months I've really been trying hard not to fall prey to the feelings of despair and sadness that threatens to drown me every now and then. You all know how difficult that can be, but I'm taking it just one day at a time.

Anyone that experienced the heartache of Infertility first hand, know about the love-hate relationship we have with Hope. It's what carries us through the darkest days, and what hurts us most when we feel it's betrayal at the end of an unsuccessful cycle.

At a stage in my life when I'm past hoping for a pregnancy or even an adopted child, I've come to realize that hope has different forms, different dreams and different disguises. It's up to you to make it part of your life every single day, even those days when you feel like hiding from the world because the pain you experience is beyond explanation.

Dale Carnegie said: "Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."

Whether your hope brings you a bundle of joy, or a joyful life despite realizing your biggest dream, don't give up on it!

Here is my submission for the 2nd International Infertility Film Festival:


Now go to the International Infertility Film Festival blog to see the other entries too, and don't forget to vote! ;)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dear Victoria


We need to have a serious talk.

It’s great that you’re doing so well, and that you’re so super-positive. And it’s great that on the days when you’re feeling on top of the world you want to share it with everyone out there in the hope that it might inspire them too.

One of my not-so-new-year’s resolutions was to be more lovable towards myself, even the parts of me that I don’t feel all that comfortable with. So I’ve made a conscious decision to love you too, you’re after all part of me! (FYI: that decision was made long before you pitched up uninvited – so don’t think for even a minute that there was money involved anywhere!)

But goodness me woman, you’re making my life difficult and sometimes downright miserable. How on earth do you think I’m going to be able to live up to the expectations you’ve set? You’re a very tough act to follow!

Just remember, I’m human, and I’m just me. I’m NOT going to be all smiles and giggles everyday now that you’ve moved in. The fact that we’re living in the same body does not mean that I’m not going to have any more duvet&video-days to help make me feel better, OK? And you’re NOT going to stop me when I feel like having a whole slab of dark chocolate and 3 glasses of red wine!

So let’s agree on this: I won’t kick you in the shins when I can’t find enough love in my heart to feel nice about what you have to say and you don’t have to listen to me whine on those days when I just don’t have the energy to be so positive and strong as you are. Deal?

Love
Karen

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Just call me Victoria!

When you're reading a book just for relaxation and enjoyment, you don't expect any sentence to grab and hold you for longer than the time it takes to read. You don't expect any paragraph to make an impact on you, so much so that you want to describe it as a lightbulb moment or any other clich├ęd phrase that might explain the force it struck you with.

One of my favorite authors is Nora Roberts, and I'm busy reading her "Angels Fall". It's a book for reading right before you go to sleep - relaxing but engaging (don't read it if you want to go to sleep quickly or of you're not all that tired!) and just as enjoyable as all her other books. I can't sleep if I read at least 2 pages of anything, especially after a busy day, and I had a whole week of those.

There I was the other night, already half asleep, thinking of finishing just one more page, when I came across a paragraph that literally made me sit upright and wide awake in my bed. I was more than suprised!

'I don't know what I want.' But she did, and as they walked through the cool forest, she decided just to say it. 'I want to be normal again, to stop being afraid. I want to be who I was two years ago, and I never will be. So I'm trying to find out who I'm going to be for the rest of my life.'

At first I thought: at least I'm not afraid. And I wouldn't say just two years; make that 20 years at least. Except that I wasn't normal when I was 20. I was young and naive and thought you could just dream about something and it would happen the way you wanted. We all know how silly that way of thinking is, now that we got to meet the harsh reality of Infertility face to face.

I'm still afraid though: growing old alone with no husband (some days that isn't too bad a thought! *grin*) and no kids is not quite how I want my life story to read. The "no kids" are in a way easier to get around than the other issue right now, but seeing that I haven't quite gotten my mind around that quite yet, let's leave it for another post and another day.

"So I'm trying to find out who I'm going to be for the rest of my life."

That was the sentence that actually gripped me and shook me awake. This is what this blog is all about, the bottom line. The line just below: "Coming to terms with the reality of the effects of Infertility on my life."

And you know what? It's scary and sad and exhilirating all at once.

Here I am: a 40 year young woman with the world at her feet. OK, the world without children of her own, but seeing that that option has been scratched from the itinerary, there are quite a few others that suddenly opens up!

Reading that paragraph again I will totally understand if you think I've gone totally bonkers and that it sounds just a little bit too optimistic to be true. You all know that no matter who you are, the pain of Infertility does not hide in your pockets or the holes in your buttons so that you can discard it as easily as you can throw a dirty shirt in the laundry bin at the end of the day.

But then you'd understand too that there comes a time when you have to say: "Enough." Enough of the wanting, the yearning, the crying, the wishing it was different. I'm there now. I've had enough of banging my head and my heart against a closed door, crying for something I'm obviously not going to get in this lifetime.

How long will it take for me to go on to the next step and actually do something constructive to change my life? I don't know. I'm not going to worry about that. Not now.

I've wanted to be a mother since forever. I'll always want to be one. But it's time to close that book and start plotting the next one. I can imagine it: a fresh, clean book with bright, blank pages just begging to be written! It won't do to start writing without doing enough research, to find out exactly what I want on these sparkling new pages. So today I'll start dreaming up my new itinerary. That new mental map needs some plotting too!

I can choose to view it as being defeated, or as changing my strategy. Either choose to be a victim, or to be victorious. Right now, it's a very easy choice!

All my love

Victoria

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Busy, busy, busy!

Life got busier with a bang yesterday when schools re-opened, so I won't be able to post as often as during the past month. My blog-hopping time has also been cut down to a few minutes a day unfortunetaly! But I promise to say come say "Hi!" and leave a comment at least twice a week. :)

Had the mother of all migraines last night and today - felt extremely sorry for myself when not even the migraine cocktail my sister brought me just after sunrise this morning took the pain away. My guardian angels worked overtime to get me to the pharmacy and back, but I'm happy to report that I'm my old self again.

Be good and don't misbehave too much while I'm getting back into routine!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Virtual World Tour

This is my contribution to the Virtual World Tour organized by the Impatient Patient. Don't forget to visit all the other blogs participating in this exciting event!



I live in Pretoria, South Africa: welcome to my part of the world! :)




Click here for My Town 2 Slideshow


Make your own Smilebox


If any of the links above is problematic, please "Click HERE" to visit my pictures.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

50th post

This is my 50th post, and the perfect way to celebrate it is to share this movie I found on Char's blog. It's so moving and so beautiful. I had no words, I just cried. Char called it "So you can understand too"...



When I started this blog I was unbelievably depressed. The only way out for me was to write about the pain I felt. It's not all gone, but I've learned to handle it better. And slowly but surely I'm growing more positive and making plans for a brilliant future for myself.

Some days I felt that I really didn't belong in the Infertility community. I'm the perfect example of what none of you ever want to end up like: childless and husbandless too - all because of Infertility. Who would ever want to read anything I said? But you came, and you commented, and you made me laugh and cry and made me feel so special because you thought what I wrote meant something to you too!

Thanks to you all for your wonderful, encouraging and uplifting comments over the past few months. Thanks too for your blogs, for saying things in ways that will never be able to. The friends I've made through this blog are warming my heart more than I ever thought possible. It's great to know that there are women out there in the world that think and feel exactly the same as I do.

Homework!

Lady Macleod instructed me to indulge myself a bit in her comment on my previous post. So in order not to act like a loopy wench (I love this description! Not enough to be one though *grin*) or a silly bugger, I jumped at the opportunity gave in and did exactly what I was told to do.

1. I bought a bunch of roses - incredibly expensive in the middle of our winter, but worth every petal!


2. I ordered this book. Saw a comment about it on Katie's blog and I just knew I had to read it. "For every woman who ever wanted to have a child - and didn't" - sounds like it fits my description to a T.

3. I bought myself a small slab of Lindt too, the "Orange Intense" dark chocolate... hmmm! Now that's what I call indulgence!





Are you satisfied Lady Macleod? :) I loved the homework, but I'll have to take on a second job soon because I can get seriously addicted to this!

PS: There is a bottle of Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon in my wine rack, but I'll share that with someone special rather than drinking it alone. :)



***UPDATE***

Some other indulgence that proved to be very therapeutic:


I just love this cat of mine!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Surviving my mental map

Schatzi has a post about a book she read called D.eep S.urvival, by L.aurence G.onzales.

The following paragraph made me stop, read it again, think and rethink it.

"Survivors are those who learn to adapt their mental map to the reality around them. Who update their mental model when the environment around them changes. I find this specifically applicable to infertility. My initial mental model of my life, and my mental model of how my infertility treatments would go became outdated. It took me a while, but I am in the process of updating my mental map to better fit the reality around me. And as a result, I am happier (akin to survival in the wilderness)."

Yesterday morning I discussed the whole mental mapping argument with a great friend of mine, one I value as a mentor in my life. He said that so often we allow our lives to be defined by die mental maps we ASSUME we were “issued” with at birth. He agreed that it’s virtually impossible for us to distinguish between what we were programmed to expect as part of our life, and what we really want. But that is a whole other topic.

The important realization I had was that no matter what map I was conditioned with, I have the power to change it. My life seemed utterly and disastrously empty without the prospect of a child of my own. It’s as if I used my map, and when I reached the co-ordinates that was programmed into my mental GPS, and it didn’t bring me to the surroundings I expected when I started the journey, life just shattered around me.

Without realizing it, I have been updating and redesigning my mental map since I started to blog. It’s as if by putting my feelings and emotions into words, and receiving feedback from people in similar (and different!) situations than me, the whole process started to happen without being named.

I've been working on my new mental map without being aware that I was actually redefining who I am. I’m laying new tracks to follow, new roads to travel by and new destinations to dream about. Some days I will lose sight of where I’m going to, and sit down on the side of the road with my head in my hands crying for having to shift my visions for the future.

Being a survivor wasn’t the badge I wanted for myself, but now that I’m starting to realize that I can wear it with pride, I’m working hard at changing my attitude towards it.

I honestly don’t feel like a survivor today. My bed seems like a great option since I’m in a hide-from-the-world mood. Maybe it’s because I’ve tried too hard during the past few weeks to be positive and hopeful and concentrate on my blessings, surpressing the feeling of sadness that was there, just below the surface. Maybe it’s because my mom isn’t doing so well lately and the whole cancer thing is taking its toll on my dad. And maybe it’s just because my holiday is over and Monday is back to school time.

Whatever it may be, today is not the worst one I’ve had and tomorrow is a fresh, bright new day!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Little Pink Rosebud

She put the little pink rosebud in my hand, smiled at me and pulled out of the driveway.

Spring was in the air and it was just another ordinary Saturday morning for the rest of the world. It was quiet in the car. My thoughts were fixed on the vial lying snug between my breasts.


It was CD14, the second of our 3 day IUI treatment series. I was trying not to be disappointed that it was my mom driving me to the doctor's office and not J. He and Dad had an early golf game and tee-off time was 5 minutes before the time of my appointment.

"Don't worry, my love. He went with you yesterday, and he'll be there again tomorrow. And you're in his thoughts all the time."

I smiled in answer and blinked away the tears. We're so positive this time: everything has been working out excellently during the cycle so far. So much better than with IUI #1.

She stopped in front of the clinic, turned to me and took my hands.

"I think I am the luckiest woman in the world!"

Ok Mom, I'll wait silently for your explanation before I let out the "Gmph" I'm feeling. Five years of TTC, one miscarriage, more tests than we cared for, one failed IUI, and you're feeling lucky?

"Tell me about one other grandma that is lucky enough to be able to tell her grandchild: 'I was there with your mommy when you were made!'"

I burst out laughing despite the apprehension and stress that was threatening to choke me.

"Mom, that's going to need some serious explanation, and you'll just have me blushing blood red!"

"That's my girl! Now you keep that smile on your face and in your heart. Let's go inside. Cuddle that little rose in your hand all the time, think positive, loving thoughts, and nine months from now you'll have your own little rosebud in your arms."


*********************************************

Well, by now you all know IUI #2 didn't work either, but this wonderful memory has stayed with me ever since. Ten years might have clouded my recollection of the specific words that was spoken, but when I close my eyes and think back, that is what I remember.

My mom has been the most amazing, supportive, understanding and encouraging presence in my life since this IF journey started. She cried with me, she laughed with me, and she just held me when words failed her.

Dankie Mamma, vir alles! Ek's baie lief vir ma...
(Thanks Mom, for everything! I love you very much...)


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Stupid Infertility Comments Quiz

2nd post today... don't miss the first one, so scroll down and read before you go check out this great quiz!

While I was
poking around at those dogs bloghopping this morning I came across Char's blog. The fact that she lives in South Africa and blogs about Infertility made me like her right away, but when I read one of her recent posts called "Sticks and Stones", I just HAD to tell you guys about it too.

There is always a lot of talk in IF-land about the never-ending thoughtless comments people make when they try to be helpful. Char made a quiz about your reactions towards these comments and I LOVED it.

Here is
Char's Quiz

Why don't you just adopt?

Question 1 out of 6


Poking @ sleeping dogs

You'd think if I found something working great for me, I'd let sleeping dogs lie and get on with life. Ha! Think again.

I just had to go poke about testing the strength of my latest "accomplishment". No, I haven't broken down in tears wondering what on earth possessed me to write my previous post. I'm still there, but I'm in the process of understanding it better. (GREAT way of saying it's not everything I thought it was huh?)

Furrow said it so well: "I think I have moments of it, but I'm still working toward having it as a prolonged state of being." Can I change my mind from actually "being there" to be more like what she said? Its going to be difficult to be all smiling and feeling content Every. Single. Day.

Its not that I'm backtracking here, please don't misunderstand me. I now know that I experienced all the different emotions one has to go through over time when you're grieving. So let's do this properly:

  1. Shock: Check
  2. Denial : Check
  3. Anger : Check
  4. Depression : Check
  5. Testing: Check
  6. Acceptance : Check

(Always wanted to do that "CHECK"-thingy!)

The thing is this: Its a cycle. You won't experience just one episode of anger, then move on to the bargaining stage and think you won't ever again be VERY angry about this shitty hand you've been dealt. And it's so easy to deny the obvious because sometimes it's just too hard to face facts.

I don't think that going back to a certain stage in this array of emotions, for example Bargaining, means that you'll have to go through the Depression stage as well. It's up to how you choose to think and feel up to a certain extent. Sometimes its just too difficult to put up a brave face, smile to the world while you're trying not to acknowledge the signs of the black dog scratching on the back door to be let in again.

While I was reading up about these stages, I found an article about "The Positive Change Cycle". This paragraph, called "Completion", made me think: "Eventually, things reach a relatively steady platform of realistic and workable action. The person is probably happier than they were before the change started and, with their realistic vision, have the potential to reach giddier heights of happiness as they achieve more of their potential."

OK. I'm really sceptic about those "giddier heights" but at least when I get this "OooooHI'mSlippingFromThisHopefullSmilingSituation!" I know I'm not on my way to the looney bin.

Zee's comment made me realize I didn't mention a very important fact. "...it's also leaving yourself open to change, should your heart or your circumstances lead you elsewhere." That is SO much part of this whole issue; I can't believe I didn't think of writing it down. In my heart of hearts I really do hope that my circumstances would lead me elsewhere (read: to a family of my own, hubby and kids included even if they come ready-made!)

So yes, I do realize the acceptance I'm feeling at the moment will not be there as strong as it is forever. Maybe it won't even last till tomorrow. But at least I know its in my heart somewhere, and most importantly: in my head too. I can go there again in time, should I slip back and start testing the reality of Infertility in my life. After all, isn't that what hope is all about?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Thank you Annie Leibovitch!

I’m in a very introspective mood lately. The past week had my emotions ranging between desperation and elation. The main reason for me going inside my head to do some research and organizing has just about everything to do with “being 40+, single, and still wanting a baby”.

After a week of deliberation between me, myself and I, having had some input from friends, my sisters and my cat, (with a knowing smile as only comment from my mom) I can safely say that I survived another round of this “What if?” game.

The question: “What would you do if you knew you’d have a baby this time next year?”

What the question doesn’t say about the ground rules is this:
  1. There has to be a daddy on the scene as a permanent, loving fixture. No single parent issues for me, I’m really not that brave!
  2. There has to be 2 lines on the POAS thingy within the first 3 months. No struggling to get pregnant this time around. (Yeah right! And the moon is made of cream cheese.)
So… what would I do? Say YES PLEASE! And start looking around for Superman to fly in through the clouds?

No. I don’t think so.

I’m at that safe spot where I’m comfortable enough with what I have AND with what I don’t have. Right now, right here.

“You’re out of your mind woman!” Bet that’s what a few of you think but keep to yourselves huh? Well, for a very long time that would’ve been my sentiments exactly.

And that is precisely what caused havoc in my mind and heart lately.

How on earth could I THINK of saying no to everything I’ve so desperately wanted for so many years? Any woman struggling with Infertility would give just about anything to have that choice and she would kill to be able to say YES! YES! YES! (Just in case her answer wasn’t heard with the first YES!)

I’ve paid a very high price to be able to say: “I’m OK without children and a husband for the moment. Thank you.”

Maybe it’s a side-effect from trying to focus on my blessings in stead of being heart broken about my empty womb and my empty bed. But it’s a good side-effect. The side-effects of this side-effect are very welcome:
  1. A calmness of soul I never expected.
  2. Acceptance without hopelessness.
  3. That feeling of taking control of my own destiny. I’m in charge now, not the obsessions I had.
One of the things that made my throat constrict with panic was the idea I had that 40 is the cut-off date for trying to get pregnant.

Forget it: you’re too old. It’s too dangerous; your body won’t be strong enough. What about the things that could be wrong with the baby? Why would you want to be the 55+ parent of a teenager? Do you really want to do that to yourself and a child?

Just like numerous times before, when I was looking for answers, they came from just about everywhere. An interview with Annie Leibovitch on Oprah (that I would’ve missed if a friend didn’t phone to tell me) was the major turning point this week. I googled (of course!) and found this site for mom's over 40.

Right now I’m in a safe and comfortable place, being single and child-free. I know that if/when I change my mind, science and technology would be able to help me if I wanted to become a parent. Right now I don’t want to think what would happen if it didn’t work, but I’ll leave that for the future.

Call it keeping the back door open if you want, but I’ll keep on hoping and believing since it suits me to do just that, for the moment.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A quick quote

Even though I'm thoroughly enjoying the middle week of our Winter School holiday, I'm working hard on a project for my cousin, and enjoying that immensely! So that is my excuse for posting a bit less the past few days. :)

Found this quote yesterday, and its so appropriate for so many of us. Its also fitting in very well with my state of mind lately...

"When you give up hoping and dreaming, you give up living."
- Jan Andersen

It might just be a great substitute for the quote on my header, things are looking more positive over here every day! :)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Ugly Toe Club

Disclaimer: This post has almost nothing to do with IF, but we can make a plan!

The other day Aunt Sassy ran around her house in a hurry. (That’s her story, and she’s sticking to it!) To make matters even worse, she rounded a corner or something and didn’t get her poor little toe out of the way fast enough. It got all swollen, red & purple and hurt like hell, and yup! She broke it.

But like all other members of the Ugly Toe Club she’s a toughy! Melissa was the first to welcome her and now we’re making it official.

Calling all Ugly Toe club members: no more hiding your crooked pretty feet in dainty Jimmy Choo’s or comfy crocs. (Eat your heart out GF!)

Its rollcall time!

If you have a crooked toe, snap it and show us! Whether you broke it when you tried to get your foot in or out of a stirrup or when you rounded the ultrasound machine. You might’ve bumped it into the bathroomdoor on your way to do the POAS thingy, or you misjudged the hardness of the corner of the bath when DH helped you with an IM and the PIO proved to be more painfull than you remembered and you kicked…

Whatever the way you got a crooked toe, even if (like me!) you cannot for the life of you remember how it got there, get into it and share it with your blogosphere buddies!

And just to show you I’m not scared, here is what qualified me for the Ugly Toe Club! Or in true IF fashion: the UTC (we just love our acronyms!)



If you’re reading here, consider yourself tagged to reveal your qualifying toe to the world.

Sassy my dear… I dare you!

PS: If you don’t have a crooked toe, and want to show us your feet too, go ahead!