The fruits of a busy week in November (and a delightful surprise).

In November last year I had a sudden urge to get stuff done. Almost desperately. I booked in a dentist appointment (first in two and a half years), waxing, hair, optometrist (first in five years) and car servicing in the space of three days. That Sunday I found myself removing everything from the pantry for a stocktake. At this point Big Poppa looked at me closely and asked “Are you ok?” I stopped and thought about it and replied the only thing that seemed logical at the time. “I think I’d better do a pregnancy test.”

For those of you that have been following along, the year that followed our miscarriage was really tough. While grieving for our loss we tried month after month to conceive. Some months my period was up to 9 days late and I would have done 6 or 7 pregnancy tests, all negative. I hate to think over the space of a year how many of those little plastic sticks we sent into landfill.

Anyone who has experienced difficulties conceiving will know about the woes of tracking or charting your cycle (something I tried to avoid, fearing I’d get obsessive about it), forcing yourself to have exhausted sex between putting the toddler to bed and doing the dishes because IF WE DON’T DO IT RIGHT NOW IT’S ALL OVER FOR A MONTH AND WE MIGHT AS WELL GIVE UP NOW

(deep breaths)

and then the dreaded two week wait where you allow yourself to get hopeful every time you experience something vaguely different in your body (and find yourself Googling ridiculous things like “Is finger pain an early pregnancy symptom?”) and then trying to wait until the right time to take a test, then taking one early and getting a negative result but reassuring yourself that it’s just too early and then taking one at the right time and it coming out negative and convincing yourself that there is definitely a shadow and then taking another half a dozen just to be sure and then stressing yourself out so much your period ends up being late anyway, causing more angst.

Plus, crying in the doctor’s office. Crying in your boss’s office. Crying on the way to work. Crying on the way home from work. Crying in the middle of the night. Crying into your child’s hair. Changing your diet. Not drinking alcohol. No sugar! No caffeine! No additives! No fun!

Convincing yourself there is something dreadfully wrong and avoiding having your scheduled pap smear on time because you don’t want to find out and sending your husband off for tests because you’re afraid to send yourself off for tests, then three blissful months of acupuncture (if you exclude the three months of dreadful mornings and evenings of drinking foul tasting Chinese herbs) and finally you realise you can’t afford to keep that up and something has to give and…

Well – around comes October. We’ve passed the painful anniversaries of our baby’s due date and the date of our miscarriage the year before. I’ve come to an agreement with myself (and a very accommodating Big Poppa) that every new period will result in eating one full wheel of soft cheese, drinking one full bottle of red wine and booking in one full overnight, getting loose, letting it go girls’ night with my friends. We have decided to stop acupuncture and stop focusing on getting pregnant. We’ve started to think about all those other things we could plan for our future that don’t involve having another child. We have (again and again) celebrated the beautiful child we already have and have decided that’s enough. We’re thinking about working in Alice Springs and taking Little Fearse to New York and maybe even Disney Land. Our last hurdle to endure in our conception journey is a fertility appointment, booked months ago and coming up fast. After that we’ve agreed that armed with whatever knowledge we gain we will refuse any invasive tests or treatments and just get on with our lives.

And then, BAM. I’m booking a thousand appointments in a week and emptying out the pantry and taking a pregnancy test and WHAT? Two lines. Two lines. Two tests with two lines. FOUR LINES. This is more shocking than the 300 tests we’ve taken this year that were negative. Three tests, six lines. Four tests, eight lines. So we cancelled out fertility appointment and readjusted our future again.

And here we are. We’re 22 weeks along. It’s been anxious. There have been weeks of bleeding and blood tests, there have been 5 ultrasounds and 8 instances of hearing a healthy beating heart. We are at a stage now where we are finally feeling that this is something that is really happening – that come July we’ll have another Little Fearse (Mini Fearse? Tiny Fearse?) in our lives.

[Cute pic of Little Fearse and the bump to come when I’m…you know…not in my PJs and she’s…you know…not covered in Vegemite.]

Mama xo

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What Ever Happened To Gary Cooper?

The strong silent type. In a world of instantaneous global communication, endless information and opinion, many men are still incredibly guarded about their emotions and refuse to speak on topics that ultimately are shared experiences among many. The affect that a miscarriage has on the man in the equation is one of those topics.
I’m going to resist pretty much every instinct I have as a man and speak about in one of the most public ways available to me, this blog.
Mama Fearse met me outside the beach house when I returned from playing basketball in the city the night prior. When she jumped into the car to talk to me, I immediately sensed that something was awry. I could tell by the look in her eyes that she was worried, really worried and that she wanted/needed me to be strong. We talked about the bleeding and what it could mean, we agreed that if the pregnancy had ended that it was probably nature knowing best, I reassured her, I held her and I pushed the lump in my throat deep into my stomach. I constantly reassured Mama that it was going to be okay, even though I had no idea whether or not it would be.
Up until the moment that we found out that we had lost the pregnancy I was supremely confident it was going to be okay, I saw the look on the doctors face a moment before he put his hand on Mama’s shoulder to console her. I thought not of myself at that point, I didn’t think of my loss, I only thought of Mama. When she elected to have the D&C that night I marveled at her strength, in the same position I don’t think I would of been as brave. I wished and wished I could take her place, I didn’t think it was fair that on top of losing the pregnancy that she would also have to have surgery. We dropped off Lil Fearse and headed to the hospital, I read all the information and pamphlets that they thrust in our hands and although they are designed to inform and comfort the affected, I found that they made me feel much worse and I tried to hide them away from Mama, she had enough on her plate and I felt like I would be protecting her by sparing her the sad truth and statistics.
Mama went into surgery and I went home for an hour. I made phone calls to the few close friends and family that knew. I did this with a eerie calmness, the people I called expressed their sadness, but I didn’t, I waxed philosophical and comforted them, even though I was the one that needed comfort. I paced and paced in the backyard, I drank a glass of whisky and smoked the remnants of a broken cigarette that was in my office, it didn’t help. I felt sick. I felt helpless. Before I knew it I was on my way back to the hospital to Mama who was back in her room lucid and calm. We watched TV and asked when we could leave. we both wanted to get home, back to the safety and comfort that the Fearse Cave affords us.
I poured myself generous glass after generous glass of whisky, I hadn’t been drinking since Mama had fallen pregnant, but given the circumstance I jumped headlong back into an age old practice, swallow your grief and try and drown it in liquor. I don’t drink alcohol in front of Lil Fearse as to set an example for her and not to normalise alcohol consumption even on a semi regular basis.
My father was a heavy drinker and in hindsight seeing that normalised in my childhood led to years of me doing the same and thinking nothing of it. The arrival of Lil Fearse changed that for me though. My father was a man of very, very few words, in a way this gave what he did say more impact when he would open up, but those occasions were quite rare. My father died from a heart attack when he was 45, I was 15. The heart attack that killed him was his fourth and was surely not helped by his reluctance to live a more healthy lifestyle. I am incredibly proud of the man my father was and miss him every day, I feel cheated that I do not have him around to talk about fatherhood. The man that I am today is by and large a result of what I observed in the 15 years I got to spend with him upon this mortal coil. Talking about Dad, however, is probably best saved for another time.
There was a thick fog of sadness enveloping our home. Mama and I didn’t want to leave the bed or the couch for at least a week solid. Lil Fearse kept us smiling and ultimately grateful that we had her in our lives. In the sadness of this situation she was the gleaming beacon of joy that kept us moving, kept us talking and didn’t allow us to collapse into deeper depression. I talked with Mama Fearse daily about how she felt, constantly reassured her that there was nothing that she had done that had caused this loss to happen. We mourned the dream that could of been. We grieved for that dark shadow with a heartbeat we has seen weeks earlier. I overheard the conversations and support that came in for Mama from her friends and family. The revelations that friends of ours had gone through the same thing,
I received no phone calls, I had maybe one conversation that was any longer or of any more substance than “That sucks, bro…..So how about them Yankees?” with other men. No one wanted to talk about it, no one wanted to admit it had happened to them and no one wanted to tell me about their emotions or ask about mine. The idea that men are emotionally bulletproof is a falsehood, I felt angry, guilty, depressed, inferior and had waves of self pity. The emotion that was most overwhelming of all though was the feeling of helplessness. I couldn’t change what had happened, I couldn’t fix it or make it better, I couldn’t take my wife’s place and at times I couldn’t begin to understand the physical toll it had taken on her body.
Don’t get me wrong here people, I am in no way here preaching about how hard it is to be a man. I just wanted to shed some light on what a man goes through in the situation in the hope that someone somewhere who is going through the same thing read this and knows that it’s okay to own the way you feel about your families miscarriage, you might be the third person in the conversation when it comes to pregnancy and parenting but that’s okay too. You aren’t alone, chances are one out of three of your friends have experienced this, they understand, even if they wont bloody say so..
Keep Your Head Up Fellas.
BIg Poppa Fearse.

Links we’ve loved #15

It’s been a while since we inundated you with links we’ve enjoyed. Here goes for a mega-episode of links we’ve loved…

We don’t know if this is a link we loved per se, but it did make us think. Floyd Mayweather clearly has more dollars than braincells. If we had squizillions of dollars would we do stuff like this, too? We like to think we’d be ethical, thoughtful, ‘non’ consumers no matter how much money we had but who knows? Gross amounts of money changes the way people think.

We really liked this post “Good bye Screen Time, Hello Awesome Kid“. It sort of echoes our experiences when removing large quantities of Little Fearse’s toys – a more settled, happier child.

So, this guy is practically father of the year. What a beautiful letter to his daughter – although it’s kind of important not to presume that there will be future husbands…

This very provocatively titled post really hits the nail on the head when it comes to judging parents.

We love this community cabinet idea, but are not sure if we’d want to host one. Would you do this in your front yard?

We have heard many parents say that they just couldn’t handle having to lie with their child for an hour or more each night to get them to sleep. We understand that sentiment so much, but this is what we have to do sometimes with Little Fearse. Not every night, but often enough. Sometimes this is harder than other times – sometimes Mama has work to do or Big Poppa has to go to TAFE. Generally though this is a time we have learnt to cherish. This post made Mama cry because she realised suddenly that Little Fearse won’t be Little Fearse all her life. One day she will be Medium Sized Fearse and one day she will be Big Fearse and then she won’t need us like she does now. *sob*

We’ve been feeling quite sad this week and it has made us realise that there is a real link between buying stuff and our emotions. There are two aspects to this – firstly, it is much harder to care about buying nothing new when we are emotionally ragged. Secondly, buying things (although they have all been second hand and mainly small toys) has given us enough of a happy buzz to be worthwhile to us. What a sad world, where we make ourselves feel better with stuff. This situation has made us realise just how happy we have been this year, which is a wonderful thing to realise, even when you’re feeling sad.  We just hope we can find a way to deal with sad times without needing to accumulate stuff. This article talks about the link between happiness and consumerism through advertising. A worthy read.

This video is weird, because it’s pretty much exactly what a day in BP’s life looks like.

BP has been listening to this song on repeat – a pretty nifty cover of Jackson Five’s I want you back. In the meantime Mama has been indoctrinating Little Fearse in the Beatles fan club. So far this video has been a favourite for both of them.

Joy of Joyfully Green has nominated us for a Liebster Award. We’re honoured! Stay tuned for our response soon, but in the meantime, check out the great list of like-minded blogs Joy nominates. We also highly recommend a trot into the archives of Joyfully Green itself.

Have a great week,

The Fearse Family

My Dad by Mama Fearse

My Dad is a remarkable man, both professionally and personally. I have a huge amount of respect for him as a metallurgist and scientist and also as a Dad and a general human being.

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My Dad is not perfect (I think he and I share the same disregard for perfection or a quest for it) – we disagree on lots of important things and I’m pretty sure I got my stubborn ‘streak’ from him. I don’t want to paint a portrait of a man without faults. My Dad is faulty and ALSO the best Dad I can imagine.

My Dad is a man who embraces life, takes the good with the bad and never complains about a thing. He has the highest of moral values and a work ethic that is exhausting just to think about. He has high expectations of all around him, and is the sort of man that people strive to impress.

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My Dad is a quiet man with firm opinions on a huge array of topics. Sometimes he sees things that are grey as black, or white. He’ll always listen to your opinion, though, as long as you don’t swear while you’re sharing it.

My Dad is courageous. He has a sense of adventure that I wish I had inherited. He has travelled overland from India to England on a motorbike (before The Beatles made India accessible to the West). He and Mum travelled through the Middle East in a mini-van before most Australian’s had even worked out the Middle East existed. My Dad had friends and colleagues visiting throughout our childhood from countries all over the world.

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My Dad had a big black bush beard in the early 1960s, well before they were acceptable. He had people pulling their children away from him in the streets. He was accused of being dirty, or uncouth, or having something to hide. He rode out the rude comments until the 70s when everyone had a beard.

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My Dad is a brilliant Papa to his three grandchildren. He is patient and energetic and will do anything for them. He sings songs and comes up with nonsense rhymes. He makes up silly voices for their dolls and teddies. He climbs into tree houses or carries them far into the paddocks to see the cows. He creates science experiments and builds tree houses and train sets.

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My Dad can quote Shakespeare and will tear up listening to Beethoven. He sings songs about green and purple old coots. He is writing a book. He has invented dozens of DIY solutions to dozens of problems around his farm. He has also invented scientific technologies that have changed the world.

My Dad taught himself how to use a computer and the Internet when he retired. To help out Mum he taught himself to cook on Wednesday nights, which by no coincidence was the night I would stay at Mum and Dad’s every week before I had Little Fearse. He didn’t phone it in, either. He learned to cook elaborate seafood dishes (often to please me – we share a love of seafood, my Dad and I).  He would research these dishes for days before cooking them, hunt for strange ingredients and spend hours preparing before he started cooking.

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My Dad would give you the shirt off his back if you asked for it, even if you didn’t really need it. Sometimes even when you didn’t really want it. When I was a kid and he came home late from work, I’d sit by him while he ate dinner and beg his potatoes. He always gave them to me, even though he was surely starving after a long day at work. Now he passes all the best bits off his plate to Little Fearse. He’ll always go without to ensure everyone else is well fed.

I have so many awesome memories of my Dad growing up. Sometimes he’d take me for late night walks in the garden. We’d star gaze and enjoy the perfumes riding on the wind. There was always a little magic in the air on those warm spring evenings, just Dad and I wandering in the dark.

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As a young child he taught me to swim in our freezing in-ground swimming pool. In my early teenage years we’d go swimming together in the mornings before school. Sometimes we’d both emerge blue with the cold, but it was like a challenge to me. I wanted my Dad to be proud of me and I knew that I had to show him that I was hardy, I could handle a bit of cold water on a cold morning.

One morning in the frosty dawn, when I was 16 and my brothers had all left home, Dad and I buried a sheep that had passed away in the night. It was an oddly bonding experience.

When he drove me to school he’d throw maths problems at me, challenging me to improve my mental arithmetic. I didn’t have any other friends who spent so much time with their Dads before they even reached the school gates for the day.

I am grateful every day for My Dad. He encourages all his children in their pursuits and shows a genuine interest in our lives. I hope that when he reads this blog none of this is news to him, because I try to show him every day how much I love and respect him and how glad I am that he’s my Dad.

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Links we’ve loved #6

You might be beginning to notice that while Mama reads blogs, BP watches videos. Here’s the wrap up of BP video entertainment for the week:

Well, that’s not entirely true. Mama loves Upworthy videos. This one blew her away. She’s like to meet that kid’s parents.

What do you think the secret is to great parenting? Zen habits has one idea. Maybe this is not entirely it, but it sure is an important factor.

The Modern Mourner is a really interesting site dedicated to remembering and farewelling those who have passed. A lot of the ideas are related to repurposing things that belong to your loved one. Some beautiful ideas here.

What do you think about this wedding debacle? We didn’t ask for wedding gifts when we got married. We were well aware that we had asked people to get dressed up, maybe some people bought a new outfit or new shoes or got their hair done. Then they went to a lot of effort to come out at night, perhaps paid for parking or a cab there and back. Why do they owe us a gift, too? We challenged those that really did want to give us something to hunt for something second hand. Some people gave us gifts that were hand made or second hand, some people gave us things that were new, some people chose to give us money and others gave us nothing at all. We were grateful to have each and every person there. The protocol regarding wedding gifts seems to be ever shifting. What do you think is right in this situation? We think these brides should have been given this book:

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BP has been through his wardrobe and is stuck on sentimental t-shirts. Mama is thinking about doing something like this with them. Have you made a t-shirt quilt before? Any tips?

Little Fearse is mad about her Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland board book at the moment. Mama has started reading her an abridged illustrated version of the original story, which she is also enjoying. BP and Mama know the board book off by heart they’ve read it so many times in the last week.

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She has also enjoyed the super moon in the past week and has learned to say ‘moon’ which is an exciting development in the Fearse household.

We hope you had a great weekend. We did!

Big Poppa, Little Fearse and Mama xoxoxox