Thursday, 20 August 2015


Sometime during my hospital stay, they exchanged
my skin for clear packing tape. It does the job:
it holds me together. Sometimes, if I’m wearing

the right clothes and and I find the strength to force
a facsimile of my old smile onto my face, you
wouldn’t notice the difference. And

because it holds me together, things still
function as they should. My lungs still take breath,
my limbs still move. I cook dinner. I shop for groceries.

The washing is done, for the most part. I talk.
I move through life because life
is still there to be moved through.   

But look again and you’ll see it. I am flayed open.
Loss pounds through my veins, colours my blood.
The plastic only contains, it cannot conceal.

Even a stranger can see that the essential parts
of me are damaged now; it’s obvious with

every throb of my battered, breaking heart.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Learning To Be Kind To My Body Again

My husband and I have been trying to have a baby since we first became engaged three years ago.

I've known since I was fourteen that conceiving was likely to be an issue with me; Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) stopped my periods barely a year after they started. As I got older, the problems increased - cysts on my ovaries which ruptured periodically and landed me in hospital, cysts in the muscle wall of my uterus, cells growing down from my cervix...blah. Falling pregnant was never going to be easy.

The process started with Metformin, a medication that just doesn't agree with me. It causes frequent, violent bouts of diarrhoea and I spent the better part of twelve months running for the loo multiple times a day. My Metformin experience culminated in a particularly violent bout which struck in Mong Kok - an area of Hong Kong famous for having the most people per square kilometre than any other part of the world. And yeah, that ended about as well as you can imagine.

Then I started Clomid. Clomid is a bitch and it turns me into one. Then Clomid had to be supported with progesterone. Progesterone has a similar impact as Metformin, albeit a little less violent. Then the Clomid had to be increased multiple times. So did the progesterone. I was an aching, gut-damaged, hormonal, oily-skinned, oily-hair, psychotic bitch for twelve months. It was a great start to our marriage.

We moved to full IVF. I over-stimulated badly, resulting in ovaries the size of oranges. It took two months to recover, at which point I started oestrogen and progesterone to prepare for the embryo transfer. The diarrhoea returned, as did the normal progesterone side effects. I fell pregnant with my son and the progesterone support steadily increased for the first twelve weeks of my pregnancy.

Somewhere in the middle of the whole journey, I gave up on my body. What was the point in taking care of my skin when the hormones undid it all? Of trying to keep my hair clean when it was destined to look lanky and oily by the end of the day? Of wearing makeup when I looked tired and haggard and unwell?

Moreover, what is the point of taking care of a body that has so fundamentally betrayed me by failing to do what it was designed to do: conceive and carry a baby? 

Since the baby died (and writing those words has not become any easier), I've resolved to be kinder to my poor, battered body. Like it or not, I am facing another round of IVF - hopefully before the end of the year. It makes sense to be kind to the vessel required to facilitate this.

My plan is so simple and probably something most women do as a matter of course. Nevertheless, it's comprised of things I've largely ceased doing for myself:

  • Walk five times a week
  • Shampoo my hair twice and condition it deeply each time I wash it (about every three days)
  • Shave my legs each time I wash my hair 
  • Exfoliate my face each time I wash my hair 
  • Invest in a good facial cleanser and moisturiser
  • Colour my hair as needed (as opposed to whenever I feel like it)
As I said - simple things. But it's all about learning how to be kind to my body again. 

Friday, 14 August 2015

It's Hard to be Creative When Your Heart Hurts

I consider myself a pretty creative person. I write a lot, though little of it ends up going anywhere. I have a craft room filled with stamps, ink pads, pretty paper, stickers, quilting rulers, batik fabrics...I've been known to lose entire days in its depths. I like to learn new things on the Mac - everything from PSE to productivity apps to tips and tricks of the operating system. I read a lot, both in paper and electronic form.

It's been different since the baby died. I've been different.

I find it hard to concentrate. Even talking to my husband, I struggle at times to find words I'd normally have on the tip of my tongue. I read things...over and over and over again, because the words don't sink in. I have periodic bursts (usually at 2am) where the poetry pours out of me but composing a basic email is beyond me. I look at the stamps and paper and have no idea what to do with them. Colours don't make sense the way they used to. I art journal in PSE but cannot choose paint for the house.

Nothing connects the way it used to - not my fingers to the physical act of making something, not my brain to the act of designing something. As it turns out, it's hard to be creative when your heart is aching.

Tonight I tried to force the issue. I pulled out the Cricut and a few stamps to make a birthday card for a friend. It didn't feel natural and it doesn't look right to me, but I forced myself to complete it. Maybe it helped; I don't know.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Art Journaling

How Long is it Okay to be Not Okay?

I thought I was doing okay.

The house is clean, the ironing is (mostly) done.

I get up every morning and get dressed properly - to the point of wearing shoes rather than Ugg boots  even when bumming around the house.

I've been walking almost every day and have managed to increase both my distance and my speed.

I'm 70% towards my goal of walking 42km by Sept 3.

I cook dinner every night. I make small talk with the checkout guys and girls at Coles. I make the bed. The kitchen is clean, the floor swept and the benches wiped, every night.

I talk about Isaac without crying. I've made follow up medical appointments. I've touched base with work to arrange a return date.

I really thought I was doing okay.

But yesterday, for no reason at all, I struggled. Everything seemed to hard. I wanted to scream and cry and rage. I wanted to howl at the moon. I wanted my son so badly my arms ached as much as my heart. And I wept - on and off all afternoon, for no reason at all.

Today was much the same. I feel battered and beaten and heart-broken. I want my son. I want to be pregnant again - to know I can be pregnant again. A family member texted news of their successful twenty week scan and I wept. I am tired of the constant ache in my chest and the blood still trickling from my body.

I'm also acutely aware that it's been four weeks since my son died. The time for public mourning has almost passed - people, while empathetic, have assumed that first raw wave of grief has passed. Everyone seems so eager for me to be okay that I don't know how to admit that I seem to be further from okay than I have been since we first got the news.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Soundtrack of My Grief

1. Eye of the Needle (Sia)

And if I move on 
I admit you're gone
and I ain't ready//
And you're locked inside my heart
And your melody's an art
And I won't let the terror in
I'm stealing time through the eye of the needle

2. Black (Pearl Jam)

I know some day you'll have a beautiful life
I know you'll be a star
in somebody else's life
but why - oh why can't it be mine?

3. Fine Again (Seether)

It seems like every day's the same 
and I'm left to discover on my own
It seems like everything is grey
and there's no colour to behold
They say it's over and I'm fine again
Try to stay sober, feels like I'm dying here

4. Wake Me Up (Avicii)

Wake me up when it's all over 
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn't know I was lost

5. Big Girls Cry (Sia)

Tough girl
I'm in pain//
I may cry, ruining my makeup
Wash away all the things you've taken
And I don't care if I don't like pretty
Big girls cry when their hearts are breaking

Friday, 7 August 2015

A Poem for My Son

A few days after we buried you, it rained.
I wanted to drive out and cover your grave with an umbrella.
I didn’t – logically, I knew you were long past pain
but I wasn’t. It hurt me to think of you lying there

with the wind howling and the rain beating down
on the earth your father so gently covered you with.
(It was raining then too, just a little, and the brown
dirt looked so heavy on the shovel as he lifted it).

Oh, my love, my love. It wasn’t you; a small blue
urn with a golden lid and teddy bears drawn around it,
your ashes inside. Your soul was gone. It wasn’t you.
It was heavier in my hands than you were.

And yet it was you – is you – this little jar
buried among the roses with the other babies.
My body has lost all sign of you. You are
gone. There is no other part of you left.

So forgive me, love, for the moment
of madness, for wanting to keep the cold and rain
from your tiny blue jar. It is a potent

thing, this mother-love for a dead son.