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

Give. Life. Hack. Hair.

Last week I cut off over 35 centimetres of my hair. I didn’t do it to simplify my life, but ohmigosh. It takes about a minute to wash, uses so little shampoo and conditioner and about 5 minutes to dry. It barely needs brushing and it needs no styling. I had completely overlooked how much time I was spending (without ever doing much at all) on maintaining and then, mostly, hiding (in a bun) my hair. I’m so relieved. If you want a truly simple life, cut your hair. (Better, shave it all off.)

hair after

I was prompted to cut off my hair to donate to a company that then uses the hair to create wigs for cancer patients. I did this in honour of a beautiful, passionate woman who I both respected and admired. We lost her on June 27th, too soon. I don’t doubt for a second that if I had offered her my hair during her 9 month battle with cancer she would have said “Hell no!” Nevertheless, if someone out there can use my hair, I’m happy for them to have it. I didn’t even know that it was possible to donate hair until my gorgeous cousin posted about doing the same thing on FB last year. I thought this was a good opportunity to share this info with our readers and spread the word a little (although, to counteract advertising for a hair product company I will be entirely forthright – I would never put their products anywhere near my hair).

I don’t miss my hair. I had the choice of keeping it or cutting it. Other’s don’t.

Mama xo

 

The lies we tell ourselves about luck and happiness.

For many years BP and I led a kind of blessed life. A few years after meeting my Mum offered a tumble down house she owned, rent free, until its demolition paperwork came though. It seemed a shame for the house to be empty while they waited, especially as BP and I were separately paying rent in different houses. BP and I never intended to move in together having had less than fun experiences with former partners, but the opportunity was too good to waste. This three month experiment in living together extended into two years while the permits were way laid. Eventually the house (which was in very bad condition) was heritage listed and had to be sold rather than demolished. On the up side, BP and I found we quite enjoyed living together, despite our initial reservations.

Over those two years we saved a deposit for a house, travelled to New York twice, got engaged and were married.  Things were really great – BP’s music was doing really well, I scored my dream job. Shortly after buying our own home I got a permanent position at my job and then we discovered we were pregnant with Little Fearse. We had a beautiful second honeymoon in Thailand. I had a wonderful pregnancy, an easy birth and we found ourselves with a perfect bundle of joy.

There were times where things didn’t go according to plan. Two months after Little Fearse was born BP lost his job, but he found new work relatively easily and started on his current path of study. Going back to work with Little Fearse was 9 months old was hard for all of us and finding the balance between parenting and teaching was an initial struggle.  These minor setbacks didn’t impact on our overall happiness.  When Little Fearse was about 14 months old we became pregnant quickly and easily with our second baby. Things were really coming up Fearse.

Sometimes we felt untouchable. Mostly, though, I worried about when our luck would turn. When were the scales going to balance? What was going to strike us down? I couldn’t feel happy without also feeling a sense of doom. On a bad day it was like I was sabotaging my own happiness.

Since our miscarriage in September and our subsequent failure to conceive I have often found myself heading down a pathway of thoughts that is not at all healthy. Things are bad now because they have been so good before. We didn’t appreciate our happiness enough. It’s our turn to feel hurt and failure. Our luck has run out. Why should we have happiness when other’s don’t?

I have to keep reminding myself that life doesn’t work like that. Life isn’t fair. Some people go through their entire lives never experiencing any real disasters, other than the “ordinary” grievances we all have to endure eventually. Others experience much more pain, or ill health, or tragedy than they could possibly deserve.

If life were truly like this the same kids wouldn’t show up to school every day tired from looking after their siblings all night because their parents can’t, or without food, or with bruises on their bodies. It’d be shared between all the children, like a roster – and those kids would have ‘lucky’ days where they had great food for lunch and a new iPad waiting for them when they got home.

I spend so much time touting the line to my students “life isn’t fair”, why have I allowed myself to believe that we are really ruled by some cosmic scales of justice? For most of us life is made of ups and downs. There are black spots, there are bright spots. There are times where life cruises with a few speed bumps.

The reality is, this blip in our lives is just that, a ‘blip’.

One day in the future I will have accepted that I am going to be the mother of just one, beautiful, perfect child. Or, I will find myself Mum to a chattering, chaotic hoard of kids. I will feel happy again. I hope at that time that I can truly feel my blessings and not be afraid of what comes next. I hope that I will be able to live in the moment of joy and no longer feel afraid of when my luck is going to turn. I will be happy without being afraid.

Mama xo

Best of 2013.

We’re going to take a week’s break from the ‘blog as a part of our BNN conclusion celebration. In the mean time, you may like to read back over some of the most popular posts of 2013. The most popular of these is about 10 times more popular than any of our other posts, so it almost doesn’t even feel right to have 9 other posts in this list. We will be publishing a follow up to this post when Little Fearse returns to Family Daycare this year, in a week or so.

Is your favourite Fearse Family post here?

1. 30 Days of Day Care Lunches for a 12 Month Old

2. Stuff – A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance

3. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month

4. Why are we doing this?!

5. What will we NOT buy second hand?

6. The Book Embargo

7. A big ‘to-do’ about nothing

8. My 2-4-1 challenge

9. A clothes shock take. Arg!

10. Challenges we already anticipate

 

We hope you enjoy reading back over some of the high and low lights of our year.

The Fearse Family xo

 

 

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.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss month.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss month. Everything is still a bit raw for us, but what’s become apparent is that parents who have lost a pregnancy, particularly in the early stages, rarely talk about their experiences. Perhaps this is one of the reasons the medical profession knows so little about why miscarriages happen. Big Poppa and I wanted to share our story because in our early days of loss the stories of others gave us some comfort.

On the 26th of September, just one month ago, Big Poppa and I learned that we had lost our second pregnancy. The second off-spring we’d created hadn’t made it. The little heart stopped beating at about 9 weeks and 4 days. Although we shared our sadness with those that were close, we chose not to speak about it more widely. We had only been telling people as we saw them that we were expecting another Fearse. Only a handful of people knew, so in most cases we decided it would just be strange to announce that we’d had a miscarriage, when people hadn’t even learnt yet of the pregnancy.

In most cases miscarriages seem to happen without any warning. In our case, I had never felt 100% certain about this pregnancy. The first pregnancy test came up negative. After a few more weeks, and a few symptoms, I took another test and it came up positive. In fact, it was so positive the second blue line showed up within about 10 seconds rather than the usual 2 – 3 minutes. At that stage we looked at our dates and it seemed that I was about 6 weeks pregnant.

I booked in to see my doctor. We told our parents and a few close friends. We asked Little Fearse if she thought Mummy and Daddy should make her a little brother or sister. She said ‘no-no’ every time. We read articles about preparing older siblings for a new baby. We worried about the time and energy we would have to dedicate to our new baby, and wondered how Little Fearse would cope. We borrowed baby name books from the library and started negotiating names. Big Poppa went the usual route of trying to slip in obscure Muppet or wrestler names, to see if I’d notice. I usually did. We wondered how we’d fit yet another Fearse in the bed and started to think about offering Little Fearse her own bed. My body was starting to subtly change.

IMG_3492At the doctors appointment, at 9 weeks and 4 days, the scan showed us a beautiful little bean, its heart beating strongly. The size, however, suggested the little one was only 8 weeks and 1 day. An earlier blood test had backed up that we should have been about 9 weeks pregnant. Our dates were 10 days different from the dates our doctor was telling us. I did all the calculations, but it just didn’t seem right. At that stage I began to wonder if the foetus wasn’t growing at the proper rate. Was something wrong?

Two weeks passed. I had felt nauseous from a little before the second pregnancy test. I hadn’t wanted to eat anything, really. I was much more nauseous than I had been with Little Fearse. Suddenly, a week after our scan, the nausea stopped. Hey, so maybe I was 12 weeks pregnant, as matched my dates. I felt so much better.

We left for a family holiday a little before the official school holidays began. On the Tuesday, a few days before we were due home, Big Poppa had to come back to the city to play a game of basketball. I took the opportunity to invite a friend and her son to visit. We spent the day at the beach. The kids explored all the different types of rocks and branches and seaweed and paddled in the small waves.

That night both Little Fearse and her small friend decided to go to bed at the same time, which was all kinds of awesome in terms of having time to hang out with my girlfriend and catch up on months’ worth of half conversations, interrupted by the needs and noises of our little people.

After putting Little Fearse to bed I went to the toilet and discovered that I was bleeding a little. I tried not to panic. I sifted through the catalogue in my mind of people who’d told me they’d had some spotting during their pregnancies. I didn’t want to ring Big Poppa, so far away, and worry him. I tried to put it aside. If this was happening, if my pregnancy was ending, there was nothing I could do to stop it. I told myself all the sensible things I could manage to tell myself. I tried not to worry. I didn’t really believe anything was wrong…well, except for all those misgivings I’d had since our first scan. They niggled away at me all night.

The next morning I wasn’t bleeding anymore. Big Poppa returned and we talked. We agreed that nature would decide for us. If this wasn’t meant to be it was probably for the best, it was probably because this little one wouldn’t arrive healthy. We tried to remain calm, we decided not to go home early, we decided to put off learning for sure.

The next day I was bleeding again. Not much. Not enough to have me really worried. I was sure it was nothing, but I was also becoming anxious to find out for sure. We came home from our holiday and I rang the obstetrician. They asked me to come in immediately. With no one to look after Little Fearse we took her with us. We had the scan straight away. Little Fearse was saying ‘baby’ and ‘car’ the whole time. I tried to focus on that instead of the concerned look on my obstetrician’s face. He showed us our perfect little bean. Its heart wasn’t beating. I could see it straight away, but I tried not to. I tried to unsee it. My doctor touched my shoulder and said he was sorry. Big Poppa and I looked at each other and had no words.

I had a D&C that night. We wanted it to be over and behind us. We tried to be philosophical about it. We knew it was better for this to happen now than later in the pregnancy. We knew it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. We knew it could happen to anyone, we knew it wasn’t anything we had done. We knew all those things, but what we didn’t know was that in a few days the grief would hit us. We’d both cry and neither of us would want to get out of bed for days on end. Little Fearse would be the one thing that kept us moving and we cherished her and held her close. No one knew what to say to us, except the Mums and Dads who have been there, too. And there were so many of them, people who we never knew had experienced miscarriages came out with their stories. We realised it was like a secret club, a club of parents who grieved in silence because it happened during the first 12 weeks, before we are supposed to share our joy.

But maybe it doesn’t need to be like that. We decided to share our story, so maybe others can share theirs, too.

Mama xo