Thursday, May 3, 2012

Everything crossed

After two years of earnest efforts to create our own little bub I am now 30 weeks into a healthy pregnancy.

A confirmed pregnancy left me with a dilemma. In the beginning I was so sick and exhausted that I had not one drop of creative energy left in me to write a post (my creative energy was obviously going elsewhere). As time went on I thought about writing again, but intuitively something kept telling me to hold off. Finally I realised what it was. I'm all about energy - energy in the here and now, and energy for the future, but not energy for the past.

So to honour that I've created a new blog talk about this stuff - a space for me to write about the equally eye opening adventures of pregnancy, and in time, all the things that motherhood brings.

Maybe it's superstitious, but it feels right to me to create a new space for all the things wonderful and new.

(Thanks for the pic

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Girl Who Read Too Much

As I type this I'm aware of the potential irony. I'm going to say it nonetheless. 

When you go from month to month, wondering if this time you have created a little seed of life, there is little comfort for your impatient anxieties. The overactive mind has a field day - "are my breasts that little bit more tender?" "did I sleep longer than I usually would?" - all in the attempt to predict a pregnancy in the making. Frustratingly, there's not much you can do to validate your hunches, and so...we wander online.

A girl could be forgiven for thinking that a quick five minute peak on google would be informative and hopefully reassuring. But beware naive-wishing-to-be-pregnant-lady, you are about to sell your soul to the crazy baby land. 

It's a minefield out there. 

Just one handful of words typed into that trusty google search bar opens up a can of self instructed medical diagnoses, confronting personal disclosures and alarmingly inaccurate 'facts'. With the accessibility of the internet thousands of women are online, interacting in forums and 'helping' each other through their experiences.

One thing I have learnt throughout my journey is that it is an entirely personal and individual experience. No two women's bodies are the same, and thus, no two pregnancies will be the same. However it surprised (and a little bit traumatised) me to see that many women have no filter when it comes to processing their experiences in the online arena. 

As one vulnerable women posts a question, looking for some guidance and reassurance, many flock to retell their story, regardless of it's relevance or indeed the appropriateness of it's content. We're talking really graphic stories and people relaying advice they believe is fact, but is often nothing more than a badly retold half-truth that they heard from their sister. Frighteningly, it only gets worse once you're actually pregnant. Go on there with a twinge, pain or a strange symptom and sure enough you'll find yourself immersed in a horror story from some woman in Nevada who is clearly not yet over her experience. 

Maybe it's fine and it's an enter at your own risk type space where you know that you're going to be exposed to all kinds of information, but my feeling is that if you're already a little anxious, a little unsure or feeling like something isn't quite right - online baby forums are not the space for you. Call your doctor, or at least seek out a reputable web page. 

I am certainly one girl who has learnt her lesson. Like in Year 7 when my best friend made me watch horror movies with her and I had nightmares for weeks, I realised pretty quick to say no or to dive for the romantic comedy before she could get to the VCR. 

From now on, I will ask my inner advisor before I go foolishly wandering into the forum forest. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pity Party

It's the only party that should never be thrown. The Pity Party.

It's the point at which we tip from feeling our pain into becoming our pain. When we shift from honouring our heart to celebrating pain and hardship as if it's an accomplishment.

I was reminded of this when I consulted some Goddess Oracle cards recently. In asking what I needed to move forward, I drew out the Victim card telling me that it's time to let go of the Victim archetype and release the pattern by empowering myself. Too true goddesses, too true. 

You see, it's really easy to get stuck in the pain cycle because like anything in life, it comes with it's benefits. No, you say? Well I'll prove it.

How many times when something terrible happens to you, does someone come up to you and offer their condolences, show their love, do something to make you feel good? Plenty of times, right? Or your partner does something extra romantic to try and make you feel better which allows you to feel super special?

And so they should, because they understand that you've been through something tough and they want to show you that they care. It's when you become accustomed to that support or recognition for something you've experienced that things can get a bit murky. You can start to identify with the part of you that holds the negative experience and forget about all the other parts of you that are fine and that want to get on with life. 

Oh, and there's another pay off that can come with the pain of a negative experience that's a lot more addictive and wants to hang around full time. It's the effect from trauma that shunts you into a space where you gain a fresh perspective, you prioritise your life and you figure out what really matters to you. You know what I'm talking about. You'll hear yourself say things like "All that other crap just pales in comparison to this", or, "This has made me realise all the things/people/parts of me that I neglect in my life because I'm 'too busy'."

The tricky thing with this one is that it's not a short term reaction. This is born from that relinquishment of control that happens when we experience trauma, the lapse in concentration that allows the true voice of our soul to creep in and say what it needs to say. But because we experienced it as a part of our crisis we make the assumption that they are linked. With the victim comes the permission to slow down/be gentle/not meet the demands of others - whatever it may be for you.

So we become quite attached to the victim because they bring us many wonderful things - we have to experience the pain anyway, so we might as well get some pay off. Problem is the victim keeps us really stuck. It renders us into a state of passive powerlessness where we feel like we need the trauma in order to justify the new behaviours. 

Happily for us this is not the case! The victim can't actually give you permission for anything, only you can do that. So what's the difference of living with newly found perspective without the 'story'? Nothing! Just you and your beliefs. Take the learning and leave the victim at the bus stop. 

And next time you pick up the pen to start writing invites to the pity party of your pain remember that there are much better parties to have.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Dolls.

After reading my blog one of my friends came to visit me...with a tea towel wrapped package of mystery. "Here," she said, "these are mine, and I've loaned them to friends before. They're powerful and they work. If you'd like them, I'd like to loan them to you."

It didn't take more than one peeled corner of fabric for me to know what was inside. I'd seen these familiar faces before. They were African fertility dolls.

The irony of these little faces couldn't have hit me harder. When I was in my twenties and studying at uni I worked part-time at a store that imported artefacts and jewellery from Asia and Africa. One of my clearest memories of that place involved presumably the cousins and friends of these little guys fresh off the boat from Africa. I remember walking through the store with my arms stretching out around five or six of these little carved people, laughing and remarking to one of my work mates "I better put these down quick smart or I'm going to be in real trouble - the last thing I want is a baby!!"

I was always fascinated by them. Their heads are huge, ridiculously out of proportion; but some researching taught me that their shape is no mistake. The large head, straight body and outstretched arms create a shape that is symbolic of the Ankh - the Egyptian symbol for life. Of course. You see I also have an affinity with the Ankh. The first piece of jewellery I ever bought myself at that very same store was a simple, sterling silver pendant of the Ankh. Before I even knew what it represented.

That's the beauty of symbols - they cross language barriers and cultures. They speak to us on an unconscious level. Something in our soul, or our heart, has the conversation with them. We're just a lucky bystander in it all.

So as my friend reads my page, talking about our often extreme avoidance of pregnancy in our twenties, little did she know that I was referring to the very dolls she was about to gift to me. The circle completes itself I suppose.

The girl who laughed and wanted to rid herself of those mysterious little bodies now has them placed with reverence beside her bed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dear Fear...

We all have fearful thoughts when we are faced with being pregnant, thing is, they’re not always the same fear for every woman.

Some women are afraid they won’t be a good mother or they’ll hate all that time at home alone. Others are petrified about the lack of sleep, of dropping their baby on it’s head or accidentally doing something in it’s formative years that will scar them for life.

Of course I’m aware of the possible reality of all those things, but they don’t really get me thinking. I’m not even worried about daily injections anymore. However I do have a sneaky and noisy fear that has long outstayed it’s welcome. (Pretty sure I didn’t invite it in the first place.)

My personal little monster is money. Or lack thereof to be precise and I’m trying so hard to figure out where it came from. I’ve never been properly broke and I save my money regularly. Sure, we didn’t have loads of spare cash when I was growing up but I had a beautifully balanced childhood and got everything a little child needs - despite what her tiny little ego might have been telling her at the time.  No, I did not have the Barbie spa and campervan that my primary school friend had. (Considering I accidentally snapped Barbie’s head off her neck I think that was a pretty wise non-investment on my parent’s behalf.)

I’m not even exactly sure what I’m afraid of. I don’t live a life of out of control extravagance. I consider a morning coffee my little life luxury and the $3 one litre sorbolene cream from the chemist is the most effective and pleasant moisturiser I’ve ever used. Going without designer clothes and extreme high heels is not an issue for me, and at the end of the day my core belief is that the universe will always provide.

Despite all of this I find myself in an anxious warp when I consider life with baby and how it all works. Yes, the reality is that I won’t have an income and the reliance will be more on James. But we’re both smart and we can manage our spending. So I send myself searching deeper for the true meaning…and I have a sneaking suspicion my fear has more to do with life after that first year or so with baby.

See, I think I will love being a mum. I think I will love sunny mornings staring at little one and even grow to cope with the delirium attached to it. I think I will adapt to all of that in a way that feeds my soul and here lies my conundrum. What if I don’t want to go back to work? Like, ever. What if being a mother, a woman in her element becomes such a passion for me that I want to continue it full-time? In today’s Western society I feel like that’s become a luxury that only the really wealthy can afford. And that seems wrong to me.

We’ve fought over many decades for the right to be a career woman, a woman of the world, and because so many intelligent, capable women have taken their rightful place in the workings of our society, without sending their husbands home to care for the kids, we now have a two parent working society that either relies on access to decent childcare (still at a cost) or a network of generous and caring grandparents and family members. So now we spend at a rate of two income families and the living costs respond.

I’m sure over time that I will want to be back in the mix of things, to be working and feeling like a part of the big wheel again. But I’d like that to be my choice. Not the choice of our rent payment or our grocery bill.

My fear is being forced back to work when I’m not ready because we feel so strapped for cash and we’re living stressed. Maybe that’s a reality I have to accept? Except, if experience has taught me that everything happens for a reason, we create our own circumstances and that you always get what you need then it just doesn’t make sense that this be my overriding thought when it comes to having a baby.

Maybe my fear exists as a preparation, as a premonition if you will of what’s to come. Or maybe it’s a little red flag that tells me I need to figure out how to flip the system so that I can have the choice to be at home when the time comes.

In any case it’s still just a fear, a spent force on something that may or may not happen in the future. Isn’t that all they ever are? The only REALITY that is current to me is that I can prepare all I like and that still won’t be a guarantee that things will ‘go to plan’.

How do we deal with these fears that may or may not become our reality somewhere down the track?

Hear them, look at them and then tell them to stop.

When we’re freaking out about whether we’ll be good enough, or if we’ll be able to cope, I think we need to take a deep breath in and give that fear a little marching order. Yeah, I hear you. Yeah, I get that this might be something I have to deal with in the future. But until you can prove yourself as a reality I’m not going to spend my creation energy on you.

We’re always going to come across fears from time to time. They’re helpful when there’s something more we need to see in a situation. They become unhelpful when we let them override our instinct, our intuition and our desire to wish for something more. We women are far too resourceful and far too capable to become victim to our fears.

So -

Dear Fear,

I understand you want me to worry about not having enough money and being forced to go back to work when I’m not ready. Thing is, you haven’t factored in that maybe I’ll want to go back to work, or by that time maybe I’ll be able to work from home – or even my lucky number guessing when James buys a lotto ticket may have finally paid off.

So, until you can get all your facts straight and actually prove that’s how my life is, I’m afraid I can’t help you. I actually don’t have the time. I’m currently busy enjoying working and trying to make babies.

Maybe try someone else?

Love Erin

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why don't they tell us this stuff?

If you're a girl who's grown up in the Western world chances are you just assumed when you "grew up" you'd be able to have a baby. Of course you did, why wouldn't you?

After my second miscarriage a good friend said to me, "Why don't they tell us this stuff?"

Well, it's got a lot to do with the fact that we still don't talk about things like miscarriages without it feeling surrounded by a cloud of old-world taboo. I am an absolute advocate for positive thinking, but I also respect the merits of educating yourself.

When we're doing everything in our early twenties to try to not get pregnant, why don't they tell us that one in five women will experience at least one miscarriage?

Why don't they tell us that in the public hospital system they'll let you have three miscarriages before they investigate causes?

Why don't they tell us that even if it's before 12 weeks, it still feels like you've lost a little part of your soul?

And importantly, who actually is the "they"? It's us. It's your friends, your work colleagues and most definately it's your family. Scratch the surface and we've all been impacted by a miscarriage, either personally or through someone you know and love. We are the people who can be softening the blow by letting each other know that these things happen, and it's ok.

Miscarriage is not something that anyone wants to experience. Sadly the reality is that you, or your sister, or your friend will have at least one. As disheartening as that thought is, there are so many things we can do to make that journey easier on ourselves and those around us. It makes sense that we talk about it openly and that we educate the women in our lives so that we can support each other. Hopefully in doing that, we'll create a society that places more emphasis on understanding the causes of miscarriages. We'll invest more in figuring out why it happens and what we can do to avoid it in the future. We're humans, we're in the business of making babies - surely we should be trying to get it right!

I'm trying to learn as much as I can and in the process I'll put as much as I can up here. This is a great little summary of APS/Hughes Syndrome, which I now know has been a contributing factor to my miscarriages and if you've got it you have to stay away from the everyday contraceptive pill -

When my baby comes along, if they're a girl, I promise to talk to her about this stuff and I'll reassure her that no matter what happens, she'll be just fine. Actually, I correct myself. If it's a boy, I'll make sure that he knows about it too, so that he can be the caring, compassionate, feeling man that he needs to be to go through that process as well.

From now on, can we just promise to talk about this stuff?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dream a little dream...

I dream a lot. Some dreams are more memorable than others, and occasionally they are prophetic. Last night's dream wasn't a prophetic one, but it certainly was memorable.

There was a good deal of intro to the dream, but I'll cut to the Second Act.

I'm at a bookstore and I know I need to ask for a masculine and a feminine book. When I get to the counter to ask for them I forget the names of the books. I'm looking everywhere trying to remember a word from the title, the authors name - anything! I draw a blank and feel self-conscious that there are people behind me wanting to find their books. So I ask where the feminine books are located, 'cause I know if I get the general area I'll be able to find the book I need. The lady tells me they are "downstairs in the tent". 
So down I go into the lower level of the bookstore. Once I'm in there and moving past the books I come to a stop right in front of a wall full of.....egg dishes. I'm talking like scrambled, curried egg for your sandwiches kinds of eggs. They all look pretty much the same, but when I get close up some have fettucine threaded through them, others are more like omlette style inaris. I don't know what to pick. I kind of want the fettucine egg, but then I think it's probably not good for me. I want to eat something but it's really hard to decide! A blonde woman is standing behind the shelf eating some egg and tells me it's all here because the Scientologists own the place and have lots of money, so they can afford it. I wonder why they have lots of money - do they save a lot, or do they just convince people to give them their money? 
Next minute I'm with my mum and a friend I went to school with. My friend is pregnant and I'm holding her belly. I can feel the baby moving around under my hands. Suddenly a light shines through her belly, giving it a pinky-orange glow. Now I can see the baby and it's little face comes up to the surface, under her skin. It's a little boy. It's beautiful and I try to take a photo to capture it. Each photo I take is a bit out of focus. I try really hard to get a sharp picture, but then I wonder why it needs to be in focus? Maybe the fact it's there is enough?

So I'm crazy, yeah? Thankfully I've learnt a thing or two about dream analysis over the last couple of years and now trust that we can learn a lot about ourselves through the conversations our soul has with us while we are asleep. It seems to me that knowing your own personal symbols and signposts goes a long way to figuring out how to interpret them.

Feminine books, 'eggs' and little babies not quite in focus - what's my soul telling me?

Books to me mean knowledge, education, learning - so seeking out some feminine knowledge, the secrets of the woman that exists within me, perhaps a reminder to listen to my inner voice and not the voices of those around me.

Eggs when they're not the chicken variety to me represent my little cell of life, also representing the feminine. There's so many things that are deemed to be the 'right' thing to do when you're trying to fall pregnant, but at the end of the day, only you know which things are right for you (and sometimes that can be hard to figure out, but that's ok).

And babies not quite in focus that I can feel before I can see them? Trust. Trust and believe that when the universe deems it so, babies will come. Maybe they'll even be a little boy...

Sleep Dream Sleep by 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Heating the oven

At the beginning of the year I went to see a Chinese acupuncturist called Bill. Bill's philosophy on conception was simple - you gotta get the oven hot enough. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a term known as Cold Uterus, and Bill explained it to me like this - preparing our uterus for growing a baby is like getting an oven ready to make bread. If the oven isn't hot enough and you put the dough in it won't rise. Dough needs the oven to be pre-heated so that it can start to cook immediately. Apparently that's what babies like too.

If you're prone to a cold uterus (and there's plenty of ways you can tell) one way you can combat it is by eating cooked foods. Bill explained the logic behind this. TCM is all focused around Chi, or energy in our body and if we consume raw foods it causes our digestive system to use more energy to digest the food. By eating cooked foods we can take the pressure off our digestive system and allow the Chi to flow down into our uterus, keeping it nice and warm. Naturally, putting warm, cooked foods into your body is going to keep your body temperature up which helps the uterus too.

Bill had a handful of foods that he suggested avoiding while trying to conceive and during pregnancy. Pineapple's on the top of the list as it does a great job at cooling our body down - perfect if you're overdue and baby doesn't want to come out!

Ginger was high on the list of great things to warm the system which also doubles as a stomach calmer for nausea during pregnancy.

So when Mum told me I needed to keep my kidney's warm as a kid she was onto something! All those years of tucking my singlet in might finally start to pay off.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hey Tiki!

I love symbols and talismans. Lucky for me I have a sister-in-law who is part Maori, with a family still connected to their heritage. It was through Rene that I was introduced to the world of the Hei-tiki, commonly referred to as tiki. Considered a fertility symbol, tikis are carved out of wood, bone and also Pounamu (or Greenstone/Nephrite Jade). Greenstone has strong healing properties, and being green in colour is connected to the heart chakra for emotional healing and stability.

When James and I were visiting Auckland he bought me a Hei-tiki made of Pounamu hanging on some cord. It's tradition to have your Hei-tiki given to you as a gift, often one would be given to a woman who was having difficulty conceiving as a gift from her husband's family. I also found myself a beautiful green ceramic Hei-tiki that sits in our bedroom. And so began my collection of Hei-tikis.

A few months after our trip James' boss was heading to NZ, and knowing my love of Greenstone he asked her to buy me something while she was there. He gave no more instructions than it had to be Greenstone. Here came Hei-tiki number 3! Of all the symbols she channeled the one I loved the best and this little family of tikis began to grow. Since then my mum's also bought me a carved silver pendant of a Hei-tiki and I know it's only a matter of time before another one crosses my path.

I haven't worn my Hei-tikis in a while. Maybe it's time to let them work their magic on me?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Shooting up's still cool, right?

As a by-product of the two miscarriages James and I have experienced I was tested for a bunch of different conditions. Not one to fail a test, I came through with APS (Sticky Blood or Hughes Syndrome) and Prothrombin Gene Mutation. Both of these means a higher chance of blood clots, especially in pregnancy. Craziest thing is that it's a Viking condition! Apparently one Viking dude started with it, raped and pillaged a few villages and now millions of European descendants are walking around with the mutation. Due to it's ability to help prevent fatal bleed outs during battle and childbirth the condition has been allowed to live on and defies Darwin's Survival of the Fittest campaign.

The medical world's solution to clotting - Clexane! Clexane is administered through self-injection, in the stomach. It works to thin the blood and prevent the likelihood of a clot.

In order to go overseas last month I was instructed by the doctors to begin the Clexane injections. I'm not sure if there are many people out there who would volunteer to jab a syringe in their tummy, but I am definitely not one of them. Lots of anxiety and worse case scenario mini movies ran through my mind before I actually did the deed. Injecting yourself is not ideal.

I wasn't willing to be defeated by this cheeky stick of metal so I sucked up the pre-stab jitters and got on with it. The reality? Much easier and less painful than I thought. Surprise, surprise. Yes, it definitely stings when the needle goes in, and a nice little bit of pressure is required to ease the pain once the drugs have gone in, but other than that it's fine.

So now I have my uber cool sharps bin - with way more street cred than a sleeve tat, and when we get pregnant again we'll have a much better chance of the bambino making it through.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Jungle Juice

On a recent trip to Vanuatu we met a lovely Ni-Van woman called Katy and her daughter Leonissa at the local art market. She explained to us the Vanuatu creation myth of the fish and the turtle. After discussing birth, creation and consequently fertility I asked if she knew of any local remedies to help with fertility. As it turned out her husband Peter is a bit of witch doctor with these kinds of things.

The next morning we returned to Katy's stall and met Peter who had gone the night before into the forest and made us up a batch of what we affectionately referred to as Jungle Juice. Normally the process takes five days, and we only had two days left on our trip. This meant we got a batch of Day 1 - "the cleanse" and I got a batch of Day 2 "making a good basket".

The Jungle Juice had a mild earthy flavour with a thick slimy texture. Best drunk on ice with nose pinched and a sweet lemonade chaser.

Let's wait and see in a couple of weeks if Pete's Jungle Juice has done the trick.

(Since posting nature has confirmed that Pete's Jungle Juice unfortunately did not do the trick. Not to bring Pete's rep down - I'm sure Day 3 -5 was the key.)