Experiencing technical difficulties. Here’s a rant about bread. 

So I want to publish part 2 to my “The Darkness” blog, but am having issues connecting my small and outdated laptop to the Internet. Hopefully I’ll get it sorted on the weekend. Instead here’s a rant about bread. 

Hands up if your parents made you eat your sandwich crusts when you were little. Me too! Usually with the encouragement of “It’ll make your hair go curly”. I had always wanted curly hair when I was very little. So when I grew out of that desire I thought I could one up my parents with the reply of “Well I don’t want curly hair”. Haha! Now I have them! Nope, this attitude was then met with a frustrated and partially angry look, with the response “Just eat your crusts”. Why? Why MUST I eat them? Isn’t it all just bread? Is there some sort of super ingrediant baked only into the crust? Why must the most healthy and important part of the bread be contained solely in the outer layer? It just doesn’t make sense

A change in tactic from the parents occur, “It’ll make you grow big and strong”. Again, why? When inventing bread, what idiot thought “Hey, you know what would be a great idea? Crushing a whole bunch of wheat and flour together till its soft and flat, then putting all our food between the layers. What a convenient way of eating lunch. But most important PUT ALL THE INGREDIENTS THAT PROMOTE GROWTH IN THE OUTER LAYER! That way people will be SURE to eat it!”

The guilting tactic is tried, “There are children starving in Africa you know”. Woe betide the fool who responds with “Well send them to Africa then!”  

Why is the “Eating your crust” argument the argument parents try the most to win at? What exactly are we trying to prove? If I can make my child eat their crusts I can make them do anything! Really? Will they really listen to you when you ask them to clean their room, or agree when they’re not allowed to go to that party just because you won the crusts argument? Perhaps it’s just the principle of the matter? Well ok, you go right on arguing then. The only thing I will say is I remember having this argument with my parents many times over the years, and I still don’t eat my crusts. 

I have to admit that at work recently an older colleague saw I wasn’t eating my crusts. They made the mistake of remarking upon this. My response was an overly snappy “Because I’m 32 and I don’t have to eat my damn crusts if I don’t want to!” Ok, it sounded funnier at the time. Hopefully I won’t get a complaint for bullying. 

In any case, if Stormaggedon doesn’t want to eat his crusts, I know that’s one battle that I don’t particularly care to have, or lose. 

The Darkness. Part One, My IVF Struggle

In previous posts I have made mention that Stormaggedon was conceived via IVF. It seems more and more couples are turning to assisted reproductive technology (ART) in order to fall pregnant. I’ve known about a dozen couples to use IVF in order to have their babies. I wish I could give you a statistic on how many people actually use IVF, but the Internet can be surprisingly unhelpful sometimes (why does the Internet work for everyone else but me? Other people ask questions and get answers straight away. I ask “How many couples use IVF in Australia each year”, and all I get is boobs). Considering the large number of people who do turn to ART for help, it’s amazing that more people aren’t out there desperately reaching out for emotional help and support from others. It’s once again another taboo topic to hide away and bury deep down, because it belongs to the realm of “Mental Health”. Because by the time your contemplating or using ART, you’ve obviously already gone through a minefield of emotions and are probably struggling on a deeply personal and financial level. In which case, if you feel like you’re the only one in the world to suffer from doubts and black thoughts and “what if” demons, then allow me to open up for you and tell you my tale. 

I always knew I would struggle to have a child. I was diagnosed at the early age of 18 with endometriosis. When people would ask me what that was I would always reply with the short version of “Basically my uterus just explodes itself all over my inner cavities every month causing excruciating pain”. I’m a bit smug to say I made a lot of male friends squeamish to the point of vomiting over this description (men hey, just can’t hack it sometimes). If anyone would like a serious definition of what it is, then I can recommend this website: http://www.endometriosisaustralia.org/about-endometriosis. And seriously, if you’ve ever experienced extremely painful periods, periods that last longer than 7 days, extremely heavy and irregular periods, back pain, pain during intercourse, pain after orgasms, and pain during bowl movements, seriously read the information on this website and get yourself to a gynecologist quick smart.

So when my husband and I first started trying for a baby I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. I just didn’t realise how hard it was actually going to be. And really, when I look back we were only trying for 2 and half years before I finally fell pregnant. Our story is not as devastating as the stories I’ve heard of people who tried and tried and tried for over a decade with no results. But when you’re in the moment, knowing exactly how tiny a window of opportunity each month has, you can’t help but feel how painful each of those 25 other days in between are.

Now I’ve never suffered a miscarriage, not that I’m aware of in any case. I can never begin to imagine just how emotionally and devastatingly painful a miscarriage can be. But for 30 terrible months (yes, I counted them) of failing, I couldn’t help but mourn the potential child that was never to be. 30 potential children. What would they have been like? Boys or girls? Would they have been shy, or boisterous? Blondes or brunettes (or even redheads, as it is a recessive gene in my family)?  Adventuous or cautious? Quick or slow learners? Whatever they would have been, one thing was clear, they were now NOT going to be. That version of whatever human that could have been made out of my current egg and whatever sperm was to meet up with it, was now lost to a parallel universe (for some quick info on the many-worlds interpretation watch this little clip, or any episode of Rick and Morty: https://youtu.be/KNwKPfOKipk). So I would cry for them, this little human that should have been mine. How could I not? I was supposed to be their mother. I had one job to do, create them. And I couldn’t even get that right. 

Seeing a brand new fertility doctor only brought more heartache with the realisation that I had gone 10 years undiagnosed with Polysystic Ovarian Syndrome (more information into THAT little gem can be found here:  http://www.healthdirect.gov.au/polycystic-ovarian-syndrome-pcos). But at least it was just another further explanation into symptoms I’d had and the constant failure of conception.

It was around the 25 month mark that I really started to spiral down into a deep depression. I have had depressions in the past. I suppose I can count myself “lucky” in a way, for when I suffer from depression it’s usually caused by one significant issue, rather than a host of various problems. Previous bouts of depression have consisted of “I’m never going to find a husband and die alone” (32 year old Truthmummy wishes she could travel back in time to 22 year old Truthmummy and kick her up the butt for whinging about such a trivial matter and force her to get out of the house and make something of herself. Then again, if I had taken the plunge and moved to England like I had been wishfully thinking about, then I never would have met the hubby and in the end had Stormaggedon, blah blah many-worlds interpretation blah). The “I hate my job, and you can’t make me get out of bed to go to it” fiasco. And most recently the dreaded but not really unexpected PND version. But “The Darkness” as I like to call it of infertility had me drawn into such a quagmire of self loathing that it far surpassed the severity of any lapses into depression that I’d had before. I remember crying a lot. I remember not smiling or laughing as much. I remember not wanting to go out, or make plans, or have goals, or do anything strenuous at tae kwon-do training, and stopped eating and drinking all the wonderful things that I loved, all for the sake of “just in case” I MIGHT be pregnant. I didn’t want to risk anything. And again if 32 years old Truthmummy could travel back in time to 28 year old Truthmummy I would tell her “Make plans! Go out! Drink the wine, eat the cheese, dance, go to the theatre, audition for that play, travel travel travel! Because when you have that child you so desperately want, suddenly you still can’t do your favourite things anymore!” But I fear 28 year old Truthmummy would just resent the yelling, then roll up tighter under the blankets and cry herself to sleep again. 

Now around the same time we had been trying other forms of ART, including IUI (basically turkey basting.) and some form of drugs that assist with ovulation, and production of sperm. None of it worked. So there was just one avenue left. IVF. I was scared of the stigma of letting some mad scientist create my baby in a lab. I had initially railed against it, believing that it was cold and clinical, that “Love” somehow wasn’t going to be involved. But I wanted my baby, so I resigned myself to the fact that I was a “failure” and started saving the money towards the procedure. I have to say the treatment itself was a nightmare and something I hope to never have to go through again. From the twice daily SELF injection of needles for 3 weeks, to the horribly experienced operation, I was almost ready to call it quits. My doctor had been called away to an overseas conference the day before my egg collection so rather than putting it off for yet another month, I went with his replacement doctor. Who decided to put himself on the emergency C-Section call list the same day. And got called in. Not happy Jan. Me and four other hysterical women were sitting in a hospital waiting room, crying our eyes out thinking all our eggs were about to escape (IVF egg collection operations have a very small window of opportunity of around 2 hours, meaning the timing for the operations have to be scheduled precisely. Which is why you don’t go putting yourself down on the emergency C-Section list when you’re supposed to be collecting eggs on behalf of another doctor!), and the rude ass nurses were doing NOTHING to comfort us (and apparently refusing to pass on messages of comfort from our clinic’s nurses). To cut a long story short the doctor finally arrived and managed to perform all of our ops on time. The happy ending to the story is I found out that all five of us ended up successfully falling pregnant. Whether the other ladies ended up having live births, I don’t know. But I hope that they did. 

Now in the midst of this all I have to say that the shining light came from advice I’d received from a friend. And when the moments got darkest, and the negative thoughts over whether IVF was the way ahead, I would come back to her words and take comfort from them, knowing them to be true: “Your children wait for you”. Those 30 potential children, they were not meant to be. They were not my children. Because even if I had had even one of those children, they would not be Stormaggedon. They would be a different child, and I would love them just as much, just as fiercely. But they would not be Stormy. So even though I mourn all those potential humans, for who they could have been, I’m glad they reside in those other parallel worlds. They are making the parallel me’s happy. But I have Stormy. In this world, this is where he ended up. And I am forever grateful for him. 

So if you are suffering from your own darkness, I know how you feel. I know how you don’t want to hear that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, because we all know the potential that maybe there isn’t one. It’s a scary horrible thought, and the chances are that there are those out there reading this who will never have that dream fulfilled. So if I can give some comfort, then take comfort in the words of “Your children wait for you”. They are waiting for the time to be right to come to you. And if they don’t, then remember the many-worlds interpretation, and know that there is a you out there in another world who has that baby, and know they are happy. Draw on their happiness and build that into your life now. Because you have so much love to give.  So give it to the world. And one day hopefully, the world will give back to you. 

Happy Birthday Stormaggedon!

Two. Two! TWO!! Where has the time gone? When you were first born my darling son, time seemed to run painfully slow. You never wanted to sleep and each day felt like a year. I was living each day in a daze waiting for that mythical 6 week mark when I foolishly assumed you’d somehow slip into some sort of sleep pattern, and I could finally get some rest. 10 months later and I was only just finally getting a full night’s sleep. I can recall when you were three months old. For some reason I can remember clearly how I felt that month just dragged by. You were going to be three months old forever. You were very cute though. You were rolling over, you just discovered your toes, you were giggling and laughing at the silly noises I was making. Then you turned four months old, and suddenly time sped up exponentially. Somehow we tore through the months and before I knew it you were crawling, then sitting, babbling and talking. It didn’t stop there, we reached our first Christmas, where you were already clever enough to open your presents (with a little help). You were Christened, with the priest commenting how you were the most placid baby (snort, chortle, sigh). Then we reached your first birthday. You had your first taste of cake, and refused to sleep until well past 9pm that night. I vowed you woulnd’t get cake again until your next birthday. You learnt to walk, you learnt to talk, you learnt to count. You discovered the stairs and went from crawling up on hands and knees, to one knee and one foot, and finally you’re walking up and down them like a boss all by yourself. You learned to feed yourself, then inexplicably started to refuse to do so. So now it’s back to mummy and daddy doing it. You’ve started repeating everything you hear, so now we have to be careful with what we say around you. And how are you already speaking in sentences!? Usually they’re hilarious sentences like “I am a robot” and “What are you doing here Crunk?” You can count up to 12! Tell me what other two year old can count up to 12? You’ve discovered a love of books, dancing, music, colouring in, singing, playing with play dough, bashing your drums, and various sporting interests. At the moment I’m sure you’re going to to grow up to be a ballet dancing, soccer playing drummer. We’ve started a journey into toilet training, which has resulted in wee in a lot of places around the house, the latest of which was my bedroom floor. But best of all, you’ve discovered how wonderful hugs are. I often hear you asking for “Cuddles”, and when you give them you let out the cutest little “Awwww” sound. I keep saying to you how I need all the cuddles now. Because I’m scared of the day that’s coming ever so fast when you will no longer want to give or receive the cuddles. So let’s have all the cuddles now. And my favourite part so far: You’ve learnt to say I love mummy and I love daddy. Nothing gives my heart greater joy than hearing you say that. Except for maybe when you say I love lamp. Beacause that’s just hilarious. 

In short my son, you’re no longer a baby. You’re a little man, and time is just powering ahead at breakneck speed. So at this time of your second birthday I shall reminisce about the top five things you used to do when you were a baby that I shall miss. 

1. Baby yawns. Tiny little yawns are the most adorable thing. 

2. Little discoveries and mile stones. They’re harder to spot now. But when you were tiny I can remember the exact moment you would work something out for the first time. I remember how literally one moment you couldn’t do something and the next you could. I remember the time you realised moving your arm made the jangling things on the side of your cot make noise. I remember when you couldn’t put your Lego blocks together, and the next day you could. I remember how puzzles were literally just that to you, then all of sudden you could put them together immediately. 

3. Reading books with your feet. You loved your books from an early age. Before you could sit properly you would lie on your back and hold your books with your feet. When you first started doing it you would hold the book with your feet and attempt to turn the pages with your hands, but you couldn’t open the book because you were holding it shut too tight with your feet. It used to frustrate you so much and you would end up crying. It was kind of funny. 

4. Falling asleep on me. You might still be able to do it, but not the same way, all curled up in a tiny little ball. Or even just falling asleep randomly and out of the blue. I recall one time you were on the floor playing with your Batman plush doll, then rolled over and you were asleep. 

5. Your strange babbling noises. I wish I filmed more of them, but you would make the weirdest noises when attempting to make speech like sounds. 

Happy birthday my little man. I love you to the moon and back. 

Screen Time Regret

Regret. Regret. Not just a great song by Everything Everything (seriously, check them out, they are awesome). But a very real and often repeated emotion in the mind of a parent. My regret is what I (and probably most other notable psychologists) like to call Screen Addiction.

I’m sure we all have it to some degree. You’re slightly bored, a commercial has interrupted the TV show you’re watching, you’re on a 15 minute train ride with nothing to do, you’re in the doctor’s surgery, you’ve got a sneaky few minutes between clients at work, etc. And there it is. Without you even realising it, it’s made its way to your hand. You’re just absentmindedly handling it and suddenly you’re on the internet. Thanks technology. I’m of course talking about our phones. Our smart, smart, smart phones. Our phones that connect us to the whole wide world and the entirety of human history. Our phones that Gen Y’s, Gen Z’s and Millenials claims over and over again about how the older generations shouldn’t shame us for our constant (over)use because of how we choose to use them. We could be doing things like reading a novel, or having an in depth conversation with someone on the other side of the world, or completing research on a topic we love, or reading the news. But YOU KNOW we’re just using them to take endless duck-face selfies, having arguments with complete strangers, and mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

My regret comes from what I deem as overuse of my phone in the presence of my son. When you’re at home for the entire day, it’s very difficult to engage your full attention on your small human at every minute. In between the mile stones, and cute faces, and hilarious noises, and amazing discoveries, and adorable cuddles there are large parts of the day that are solely BORING. The same thing that you did yesterday you do today. “Oh look, you’ve re-discovered that the bottle top screws on and off. Yes of course Mummy will help you screw it on and off, FOR THE NEXT HOUR!” you say through a smile and gritted teeth. So when your child is distracted by some mundane thing that they find fascinating, you can’t help but allow your attention to drift over to your phone. “What’s everyone else in the world got to say about things today?” you think. “Oh, I can’t wait to look at other people’s pictures of food” (because you’re secretly envying them for the ability to go out to random upmarket restaurants, while you get to stay at home sampling the foods your child has refused to eat). “I really need to check if anyone commented on that really witty post I made on Facebook 10 minutes ago. DAMNIT IT, WHY HAS NO ONE EVEN LIKED IT YET!?”

It’s hard to focus your attention on any one thing for more than 20 minutes at a time, and unfortunately our daily lifestyles and access to certain technology only exacerbates our inability to concentrate. Why I bet you haven’t even gotten this far without taking a moment to be distracted by something out the window, or thought about getting a coffee, or suddenly remembered that you meant to watch that great show last night and now you’re trying to figure out how you can download it. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and TV editing doesn’t help at all. Think about the latest show you’re watching and next time pay attention to the editing. How long do they spend in each shot before cutting to a different angle, or the next scene? I bet it’s never more than a few minute at a time, or in some case even seconds. It can be pretty jarring when you realise what you’re watching (and for those that I’ve now pointed this out to, you’ll either never unsee it again, or forget it by the end of this article). 

So it’s any wonder that I can’t seem to give my son my undivided attention for every moment that we are with each other. And it leaves me feeling extremely guilty. On the one hand I know I should be teaching him that the world doesn’t revolve around him, that he doesn’t need an adult’s attention at every moment of the day. That he can be an independent individual. But on the other I feel like I’m missing out. That I should be enthralled with every little discovery he makes. The facial expressions as they change over time with age and excitement. Because I can’t help but think of the day, the day that is coming when he will no longer want me around. When he doesn’t want to hold my hand. When he doesn’t want “Mummy cuddles” (his words). When I’m embarrassing. When I’m annoying. When I’m not letting him do what he wants to do and I’m the worst person in the world. When he utters the words “I hate you” for the first time. When my heart breaks. Then I will look back on all those moments when I couldn’t put my stupid phone down and think “Why did I waste this time?”

Regret. Regret. 

Now I know I shouldn’t be all doom and gloom about this. It’s important to still have moments to yourself. You are still a person too, you are not JUST a parent. You still have needs and desires. The ability to separate yourself from the role as Mother and the role as Me is paramount to good mental health. So where do we stand now? I guess I still have the desire to reduce my screen time, and will endeavour to do so. I feel like I need to reconnect with the world at large a little better. And maybe I’ll discover just how fascinating that bottle top lid coming on and off is to my son.