I found a hand-crafted nest by Melissa Fraser the other day. My daughter and I looked at each other, she with a twinkle in her eye. “You have to get it, Mummy,” she said. She has been enamoured with eggs and nests all her life. Long before I explained that she came from one precious follicle, my IVF miracle. After three cycles of IVF, I had reached the end of the road. Despair was my constant companion. I changed clinics, and somehow it felt right to give it one last shot. Due to have my ovarian activity evaluated, I went for a walk in the park. Some of my cycles had produced no activity, and only one had brought forth a solitary follicle which was tiny. I held a glimmer of hope this time around, for reasons unknown. I was about to take a step, when by my feet fell a little bird’s nest, complete with a blue egg. I could see the jagged edges, where a chick had pecked its way out. I picked this little nest up, and brought it home. A hopeful sign. I had the one follicle, and was asked if I wanted to go ahead to egg pick up. There was a chance this casing wouldn’t contain anything at all. Referring to my precious nest, I said “let’s do it.” An angel is in my life because of it.
I bought the precious nest from a gallery, and my daughter placed two fabric birds in it, our penultimate symbol of hope.
Eyes dabbed with cornflower ink,
Sprinkled with Herkimer diamonds.
Curls prepared from sandalwood shavings.
Cherubim cheeks and rosebud mouth.
A dear little girl sent from heaven.
We whisper in a language known only to a mother and child.
Your visage is my inspiration to cope, to work, to live.
Darling girl, who dreams of butterflies and fairies.
Beautiful girl, who plays until the sun grows tired.
Beloved of the heavens and earth.
The angels chorused when you were born,
“This child shall do extraordinary things!”
I can feel it.
Your spirit radiates like a blazing sun,
It exudes the promise of joy everlasting.
I can’t wait to see the woman you become.
The charming, confident, assured young lady.
March is Endometriosis Awareness month. Endometriosis and infertility were the worst experiences of my life. This from a lady who was thrown off a building as a teen! I started to experience pelvic pain at eleven years of age, and often ended up in hospital. I would vomit and scream from the agony. Pethidine rarely touched the sides in casualty. I saw gynecologist’s who said the pain would settle, and I had ultrasounds, which showed nothing. I was on the pill by fourteen, which did nothing to settle the pain. I wasn’t diagnosed until my mid-twenties. I saw a new spinal surgeon and mentioned that my lower back and sciatic pain ramped up the week a period. He asked my GP to refer me to a gynecologist with the belief I had endometriosis. Indeed I did. It was the size of oranges, clumped together outside my bowel, bladder, and pressing against my sciatic nerve. The first surgeon burnt it off, which caused blood-filled cysts. Within six months, I was in such agony I had to see an endo specialist for further surgery.
I was told I was infertile, and I declared I wanted to try IVF immediately, whilst I had a clean pelvis. The IVF clinic knew little about endometriosis, and the drugs I was on made it flare up, rather like pouring petrol onto a fire. I ended up in a maternity ward for a week on morphine. I had two more cycles with this particular clinic, before changing. The new place honoured my gut instincts as to what drugs I should be on and those I couldn’t tolerate. I fell pregnant! I felt the best I had since I was eleven, even with the extra pressure on my fused spine. Within months of my little girl being born, the endometriosis came back. It was everywhere. I had my daughter’s cord blood stored when she was born, in the hope that she will be spared this cruel disease. They are discovering genetic links and also that it is an auto-immune disorder.
I had more surgery, then went onto drugs to trick my body into thinking it was in menopause. With already weakened bones, I slipped over and broke my back in three places. I had to give up the medication. I spent thousands on alternative therapies. I exercised each day,and had a vegetarian diet but despite all my efforts, it raged. I wanted to give my daughter a sibling, and to feel as well as I had when pregnant with her. In 2010, I went in for more surgery. The doctor severed the main nerve to my pelvis, hoping it would provide pain relief. Once again, it was everywhere. I woke in my room, felt dizzy and fell to the floor. I looked at my stomach and it was beet-red. My blood pressure had dropped rapidly by the time the nurse ran in. I was haemorrhaging. I was pumped full of blood and doctors stayed with me overnight as I wasn’t stable enough to go back to surgery. The next morning, they operated and they found the bleed. It was a slow recovery, and a traumatic one.
When I saw the surgeon, he retrieved a photo he had taken of my fallopian tube, wondrously ovulating. A little egg was present, perfect and waiting to begin its journey. I cried. You see, straight after surgery, I went into premature menopause. I couldn’t have another child. My bones are fragile, and I face twenty years of not being exposed to natural protective hormones. If I take HRT, it could well feed even a pinprick of endometriosis in my pelvis. Endometriosis has made me really unwell at times and brought me to my knees. I am determined that my daughter’s generation shall have better treatment options, be diagnosed promptly, and have better outcomes. Let yellow rule the month of March!
The hidden, silent epidemic, wounding our children, scarring families and killing partners. We see the end result on television, and picture the scene we have once viewed in a movie. The partner arrives home, after visiting the pub, his dinner is set down in front of him. “What’s this muck?” he yells, before throwing the […]
It was hectic at the airport, even at dawn. My daughter got her little case spontaneously searched and hands on hips, rebuked security. “I am only a kid! What would I have a bomb for?!” They smiled, and I hurried her along. We got to our destination and were alarmed that our hire car wasn’t actually waiting for us at the airport. I had booked online and presumed it would be there. I was bit concerned that a man I didn’t know took us in a mini van to a place we didn’t know. Very relieved that he pulled up at an actual caryard and we got our car! Okay, step one down. My daughter and I made a unilateral decision to go to Tropical Fruit World. Barry, our tour guide, had that dry, laconic Qld wit I adored. When we all raised our arms in reply to his asking if we lived in NSW, he looked at us with a great deal of pity. After learning about the medicinal properties of fruit, I made a mental note to eat more of them in 2014. We arrived at the resort, bone weary but had an excited little girl with us. She immediately got in the pool, and as kids do, made many new friends.
She wanted to try the new ice-skating rink out, and I helped her lace up her boots. I had a lump in my throat as I watched other parents help my unsteady child. Soon, she had abandoned the ramp, and was whizzing around. Times like these, I feel quietly robbed. I would have given anything to be on that ice with her. When the time was up, I was greeted with a warm hug. “I pray that the doctors find a cure for your bones mummy.” She kissed me and I was healed.
“In every encounter we either give life or we drain it; there is no neutral exchange.” —Brennan Manning
I pray to always give life, rather than drain it. I think intent is all-important. I am going on retreat with my little family for a while. Back to basics. Have thrown a few items into a suitcase, and will sit on the beach and listen to the waves. Eat cheap meals at the local vegetarian restaurant. Just be. I haven’t done that in a long while. I said to my daughter that we were gifted with a holiday, rather than presents this year, and she was beyond happy. She cant wait to swim with me in the pool, and go to the local parks. To sit atop a mountain and reflect. I pray that whatever you are doing on Christmas Day, and no matter how challenging your year has been, you can find peace. Enough to fill your pockets, and cheer your heart. I know what lonely and broken is. How it feels. Connect with others. Go to one of the free meals angels such as Bill Crews at Exodus in Ashfield put on. Know you are loved. Know that even though the world seems to have stopped, it shall continue and you wont be a hostage, rather a willing traveller. Eight years ago on this date, I was told I was pregnant. Hope resumes, loneliness subsides, and life begins anew.
Thankyou for believing in me and for the unbelievable support I received during this year. Having my book launched in 2013 was both thrilling and terrifying. The messages and love made me buoyant. If I could give you one further message as this year winds up, it is this. You can survive, you can endure and you can overcome. I have a situation at the moment, which has rocked me to my core. That is how these things happen isn’t it? Unplanned and swift, without any notice. Here we are, minding our own business, ambling along, when thud! I was stunned by the visage of my tree of life falling. I started shaking, and then I cried. I talked my truth, and held my child. Shocks have a habit of seeping into the festive season, have you noticed? Everything is so concentrated. The need for more time, more energy. Day five, I am feeling stronger. I will make it. A tree fell, and I am crestfallen. If I put it in a pot, decorate it with bells and lights, it will be pleasing throughout Christmas. In 2014, I shall plant a new tree. It will be small, but with dedicated care, it shall grow. I shall grow. Remember throughout this season, to gather your thoughts, make time for a cup of tea, and breathe. Just breathe.
I tuned into the news a while back, anxious to see what the weather would be doing the next day, and there was a recap of the headline news. I saw a photo of the beautiful Lisa, before hearing of her tragic death, and that a man was on trial, suspected of throwing her off a balcony. I have had this woman in my heart and prayers ever since. Last night, I again looked at the news to catch the weather, and there was a detailed story about the sentencing of this creature, and I listened as her brave mum became a messenger for all women in controlling relationships. It set off my PTSD. It couldn’t help but do so. The events were so similar, only I survived and Lisa didn’t. I had to go out last night, so after a cry, composed myself. I sat in the gardens of this place, a delicate breeze weaving its way down my back, and had a pleasant evening, but my thoughts drifted to this beautiful woman and her mum. I came home early, as my child wasn’t well, and saw her tendrils of soft hair resting on her pillow, her little eyes heavy. Legend has it that the indent above one’s top lip was made when the angels soothed you as a newborn, gently reassuring the bub that all is well in their new world. I think that is lovely. I am bereft that sometimes, things aren’t peaceful in their new world. I watch my child sleep, and pray that she is safe always. Safe from manipulation and control. I don’t know why I survived my fall, and you didn’t, but I now have another girl/woman to honour as I conduct my life. I shall never forget. Today, I lit a candle for you, and another friend, facing PTSD demons by going back to places of pain. I gave my child medicine, and she is laying on the couch. I just want to hug her all throughout this hot day. I think I will.
My dear friend Britta Ehlers has devised a medium called crystal painting. It is ingenious, combining pulverised crystal into paint, as well as such materials as four leaf clover and sand. I had wanted to do a workshop with her for a long while, however, life wouldn’t release its grip. When the opportunity came up last weekend, I did what one must when there is a burning desire to fulfil a dream. I paid my deposit and cleared space on the calendar. There will always be a reason that you can’t do the very thing you need to. You need to give yourself permission. A group of gorgeous, strong, brave women gathered at Britta’s, a clear vision in our mind’s of what we needed to create, and the colours we would be using.
The sun signifies promise to me. The promise of a new day. When I was fifteen, and preparing myself to die at the hands of a homicidal maniac, it was nightfall. I believed I would never see the sun on earth again. The next morning, the staff had to take me to a specialized radiology department, and I was wheeled through open corridors at this large hospital. It was early, and I looked up at the expanse of clouds. Suddenly, the sun broke through. Tears ran down my face, as I smiled. The break of dawn. A sunrise I never thought I would see. During the bleakest times in your life, I pray you will hang on for that sunrise. It lives up to its promise.
My painting will be displayed in my living room, a symbol of hope to my family, and all our guests. It was painted using rubies, pyrite, orange calcite, peacock father and sunshine calcite. Thankyou for the gift of your time, love and friendship, Britta Ehlers. xxx
My friend lost her husband on the weekend. She shared the journey through words and images. Theirs was a penultimate love story. At the end, only love remained. I know that it does. I almost died three and a half years ago. I was in hospital, after endometriosis surgery. I had awoken from the operation, and was back on the ward. Hubby and my daughter had just left to allow me rest. In a heartbeat, things changed. That is how everything changes. Suddenly, dramatically. I felt I was going to be sick, and the room spun as I stood. I collapsed onto the floor, and managed a weak call out for help. My nurse took my blood pressure, which was 55/30 and dropping. I had a temperature, and was shaking. She ran from the room, and I could hear her screaming for help. I was immediately started on blood plasma, and bloods were taken. Doctors ran in shortly after, saying I had very little haemoglobin left. My tummy was beet-red, and they could see my blood pooling. I felt I could easily slip away. I wasnt afraid. All the nonsense one worries about was discarded. I felt more “me” than I had felt in a long time. I felt sadness at what I would be leaving behind, my family, my friends, seeing my little girl grow up. All the things left unfinished. I vowed to refine my life, and all that I was called to do, if I survived. Let go of all the detritus. I was watching all the frantic activity, unconcerned. I focused on all I had been blessed with in this scenario. Staff who were on the ball, blood donors, and the Red Cross driver who came quickly, the fact my daughter wasnt here… My blood pressure went up a little with the transfusion, then dropped again. My heart beat was tachy, and my breathing very laboured.
The surgeon was called and he told me scar tissue and endo was found on the tubes to my kidneys, all along right side of pelvis, and had stuck my ureter to the front of my pelvis. Veins were covered too, and he had to do a lot of vascular work, severing two of the main nerves running into my pelvis from my lower back. It caused a lot of bleeding which they thought they had stemmed. The description of how I was ovulating healthily and the egg they found enthralled me, yet broke my heart. I have been focused on having my own family since I was eighteen. I wanted a sibling for my daughter. They had to stabilize me so I would have a chance at surviving more surgery. My focus had to swing from fertility to surviving. The surgeon’s registrar, an Irish lady, ran in after I took another turn for the worst, and warned me that they may need to do a hysterectomy to save my life. She held my hand as she said it. She said this could very well prove fatal. I prayed some more (husband and daughter had arrived, and it was now Thursday morning).
My daughter was allowed to cuddle me on the trolley on the way to theatre. My little three year old held her mummy tight, with the encouragement of the staff. I breathed in the vanilla of the soap we bathed her in, felt the softness of her hair against my face. She stroked my face and kept kissing my cheek. “I love you mummy, I love you.” I had birthed a numinous creature. If I did nothing else, I had done that. Staff were marvelling as to how I was coping with the pain and the severity of it all. “I have birthed a numinous creature,” I wanted to say in reply. When I woke, I was on a morphine pump in ICU. The surgeon told my husband I had haemorraged along the pelvic wall. I lost all my blood. I hadn’t needed a hysterectomy, which was a sure bet for the staff! After the first wave of pain- when I collapsed to the floor- there was just love. Love for the husband who had undiagnosed bipolar, and gratitude that I had survived what should have been a fatal fall at fifteen. Love for the little girl that stroked her dying mother’s hair, and held me all the way to surgery. It is good to remember this 48 hours. To appreciate life anew. Discard the nonsense once again. Seeing my friend carry herself and her husband to the threshold of death has been humbling. Such dignity and grace. At the end, only love remained. I am going to try and live that way each day.