Saturday, April 28, 2012
According to African legend.............
............the bearer of a fertility doll will give birth to a beautiful baby 24 inches tall.
Baby news is dappling our shoulders like falling rain.
Over the past twelve months this special news has been bouncing from the mouths of excited friends and bursting through our computer screen in a mass of delighted words. Some are first time mothers who are enveloped in optimism, shiny faces and big plans. Others are a little tired at the edges, expecting their second or third baby and at this stage they acknowledge the twinges and flips of life inside like it were only yesterday. A handful share their news quietly, ever so gently they have lost this dream before and now hold tightly to the slippery handrail of hope. I recognise their footfalls in my sleep.
For many, number 12 is the magic week to reach before the official announcement is made. Silently I wait. Like an experienced swimmer diving in deep and reaching for the opposite end of the pool I kick off every extra week until eighteen more have passed. Stay safe precious baby. Keep warm and secure inside your pool of fluid. Week thirty rolls over and I rise cleanly for air, for I know that to get beyond 30 gives your baby the greatest chance of life should he arrive early. I drop again and hold my breath for the final push. Reach 38 baby, because by then it's a cert, your every tiny organ is ready and pumping. Even mine.
When you have loved so hard and lost so completely you understand both sides of the pregnancy coin. I can relate to the sheer joy and happiness of a clean and trouble free pregnancy, for I too was that women before I lost Ella. But throw me that coin again so I can turn it over, because just as easily and tenderly I am able to relate to the difficult and painful journey walked by thousands of women and men carrying heartache and fragments of hope in the face of miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility and broken dreams. Over time I have searched other women's blogs and read their precious stories. In person I have shared cups of tea, or spoken tenderly on the phone and then listened, as grief, despair, sadness and anger has given fractured voices complete release.
We are bound by the most natural desire to love, nurture and cherish and for most women motherhood is the next rung on the rickety ladder of life. For some it's simple, you have a plan and a few months later you're 5 weeks pregnant and sail on through to 40. Crushingly for more women than you dare imagine it's not that easy. She may already have one or more children but due to previous complications has been unable to carry since. She may be pumped full of fertility drugs and on her 3rd hopeful round of treatment. She may have miscarried before and now has two healthy children. She may have loved and lost and is unsure of whether to put herself and her partner though everything again. She may have left it too late and berates herself when her period arrives every month without fail. She may be falling apart as the first anniversary of her stillborn baby approaches. She may have lost decades ago but you wouldn't know.
A silent army of strong, courageous and inspirational women - mother's that have lost, or women simply unable to conceive - stand shoulder to shoulder across the globe. They share sadness, hope, love and anguish - emotions that are branded deep onto your heart and into your soul after the loss of a child, or from the continual pain of an empty womb. Until I fought my own private war I never knew such resilient women existed, because until you live on the flip side and start looking with your eyes open why would you? After three and a half years of shared experiences and finally becoming a mother to my son, I am vastly more compassionate, respectful and sensitive than I ever was before. I still have days when the wheels wobble hard, but I watch and learn from others how to play those difficult cards, because the older we get the more unpredictable life becomes.
Through these choppy waters I continue to hold my breath for girlfriends near and far as they jump through the first, second and third trimester hoops of their delicate pregnancies. And just as carefully I sit, holding out for the courageous women who need extra time, space and soft, gentle words....for they are the brave, caught in a war they never signed up for. As the quote says, 'to be forewarned is to be forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.' I'm not certain you can ever be truly prepared for every journey, but with love, hope and a surprising amount of inner courage - as I envisage being the other half of victory - you can give any fight and any battle a damn good go.
With Chris so often away, and especially with living half way around the world from home, it's always good to feel that someone, somewhere has got my back. And no matter what happens down that road, I've got yours.