Last week I had an article with this title published on the CheltenhamMaman blog. It was a new process for me to write for someone else, with an open brief but a fixed timescale. It reminded me of my student days when I worked through the night to get assignments in on time. I must be getting efficient in my old age as it was written and submitted a week ahead when the deadline coincided with being in Germany. I’m sharing it here for prosperity for my miracle boys as one day I may add the other chapters that were written around it before editing it down to 1200 words!
Writing when you’re lost for words
‘I don’t like writing. I can’t draw. I’m not musical. I’m not at all creative.’
I believed all of these things for the first 20 years of my life. My Grandad died when I was 15, in the week in which my English homework was to write a poem inspired by a real event. I worked and reworked my grief onto paper. It was returned to me with red penned criticisms and a C grade. My creativity was deemed mediocre, my feelings unpoetic. I vowed I’d never share my vulnerability again.
I was 19 when I met my husband George. He was confident in all the ways I wasn’t – socially, creatively, physically. He helped me to appreciate that I was creative despite other people’s judgements. In 2008 we took on an allotment plot and I started photographing my growing successes and failures as a novice gardener. When I told George I was thinking of creating a digital diary for my allotment photos he encouraged me to start blogging, to flex my courage muscle and hit share publicly. For a while George and my Dad were my only readers but I didn’t mind – writing the story behind my photos had become less about what I thought might appeal to other people and more about what I felt the desire to share. I would start with a photo, imagine I was chatting to a friend about it and the words would emerge (that makes it sound so effortless; the insecure creative in me still tweaks a post for hours before I’m happy with it!)
After a few years my mostly-about-gardening-and-cooking blog also became a place to share things that inspired me or made me smile and feel thankful. As other bloggers started to interact with my posts through the comments it no longer seemed authentic to hide behind my new creative labels of “gardener, forager, preserve maker”. I gradually became braver about sharing other areas of my life too. When we suffered a miscarriage writing helped me to express some of the sadness and support we experienced (albeit rather cryptically in a post called feeling loved).
We received so many loving messages of support after sharing the news of our baby loss. I typed out all the texts, emails and phone messages and printed them along with photos of the flowers we received. The condolence that struck a chord the most was simply ‘’miracles do happen twice’’. I wept when I read it; for the heartbreak of our loss and for the recognition that our pregnancy had been a miracle. 9 years before I’d been told I would never fall pregnant naturally, that my ovaries didn’t work and that I’d only become a Mother by using someone else’s eggs. To have conceived using my own eggs on the rollercoaster ride that is fertility treatment was incredible. But now I kept asking myself ‘’What if this was our one chance?’’ We started treatment again filled with hope and trepidation that perhaps ’miracles do happen twice’’.
I started a new gratitude journal about a year before our first round of fertility treatment. I found it helpful to work through my struggles on paper on the days my optimism waned or anxiety was squeezing too tight. On my 36th birthday, a few days after our baby died and I’d returned home after the ERPC operation, I wrote
“I asked people not to call today. I’ve postponed my birthday for a month. I woke with such a heavy heart and for a split second , in that haze between wakefulness and sleep, hoped I was still pregnant after all. I felt empty in all senses of the word. At least we had a plan for today – to go to the Forest of Dean for a final farewell to our baby. I could hear George playing piano downstairs, a new track inspired by his quiet time alone while I had slept off the effects of the anaesthetic. It was beautiful in it’s simplicity and bought a lump to my throat to think our baby had inspired him to find comfort in his music after a long spell of feeling uncreative.
I gathered together a posy of flowers with a stem from each of the bouquets received from loved ones to take with us. We hadn’t discussed what would happen when we found our special place today. Perhaps George thought it was a process that I needed more than him? Perhaps he trusted I would make choices that were sensitive to both our needs? I think we had an unspoken knowing that silence was what we needed and that there were no words that could make this any easier. We parked up, bought a map and naturally fell into a silent single file amble along the path, each lost in our own thoughts until it we found a place to stop. I lay the flowers down along with a card I’d written at home. Neither of us spoke. I cried, we held each other and when I was able to speak, and only as we turned to go, I whispered to George that it felt like we were leaving our baby there. He held my gaze and quietly replied “So do I”. I felt relieved that he felt the same, that this was a heartache we shared deeply even though we were experiencing it differently.
Later on a friend texted to tell me she’d lit a candle for me on my birthday and blown it out as a wish for another miracle. I was touched to think our baby was being held in other people’s hearts so dearly. When we visited Gloucester Cathedral the next day to make the same gesture our re-lit candle flickered alongside 47 other candles. There’s comfort in knowing you’re not alone in your grief. I wrote out a prayer note, ‘’for Baby M, gone too soon’’ and for the strength to remain hopeful that this wouldn’t be the closest we’d ever get to being parents.”
A year later I picked up my journal and started to write.
“It’s my birthday again and I’m sat in the bath. George is asleep with our son on the bed. Euan is 16 days old and we are in awe of him. Miracles do happen twice. Made on the NHS, saved by the NHS on his birth-day, our beautiful boy could not be more perfect. We are forever grateful.”
2018 Footnote: Euan is 6 now and has a 2 year old brother. I’ve finally written the back story to this one to support the aims of National Infertility Awareness Week to break the stigma around fertility issues. Thanks for reading ‘’Our infertility journey through PCOS to parenthood’
If you enjoyed this post or know someone who might find encouragement in it I would really appreciate you sharing it with them. Thank you