Category Archives: grief

Bombshell

DH has been working really hard lately (his normal working hours at the moment are 14 hours a day but most days he’s working longer than that).  So we’ve been living in a bit of a crisis mode, just surviving (on top of that our beloved Pinky has gone on leave, and so we count a good day as one where we aren’t serious potential candidates for one of those “Buried Alive By Our Belongings” reality shows).  Once he finds his feet, hopefully we will find a way forward that affords us a bit more normality.

Last night, we switched off the TV and had some one on one conversation, which hasn’t happened for a while since we’ve both been so exhausted.  And he asked me how I felt about doing a donor cycle!  Well, to say it came as a surprise is the understatement of the year.  He wasn’t keen on our last IVF at all, the deal was I would make it happen in every sense and he would donate the sp.erm (I was fine with this, I was the one who needed the closure not him).  After that, when I went into “what if” mode (you know, the bargaining stage of IVF grief where you tell yourself that you just need a different protocol/doctor/uterus/bank balance), he asked me gently if we could just stop talking about fertility treatment, like take a three month fertility discussion sabbatical.  My first thought at the time was, oh my word, what on earth will we talk about?  But I got over it, and found some other subject matter.  Like getting a life.

As I said before, getting a life has actually been quite an interesting subject to explore.  I’m busy signing up for a Business Analyst course and considering making quite a serious career change.  I find the concept actually really exciting, and the time I used to spend obsessively searching for the perfect IVF protocol, I have been using to look at job websites.  In London.  (That’s the first time I’ve said that out loud).  Because people without children can throw themselves into their careers, and they can immigrate at the drop of a hat without worrying about schools or whether their children will get enough outside play time because the weather is so hideous.  I’ve been looking at very real possibilities in my life, things that are actually physically achievable, and honestly the prospect is so very exciting.

On the other hand, at this point, if I had to choose between throwing myself under a bus and doing another fertility treatment, I would choose the former.  The thought makes my stomach turn, and tears spring into my eyes.

But there are two of us in this marriage, and I’m the one with the infertile body.  This isn’t a choice to throw myself back in the trenches for the sake of a baby (because I now have no doubt we will still walk away without one), but for the sake of my marriage.  DH would never make me do it if he knew how much I dread it, but hearing him say last night that he really wants to be a daddy, shot an arrow into my still so fragile broken heart.  You know it’s really bad when the first thought that comes into your mind is that if you got a divorce, DH would be free to find someone who can conceive, he can be the brilliant daddy he deserves to be, to a very blessed little baby.  And for me, the hell would finally be over.  I could move on, I could deal with my heartbreak and be free of the responsibility for his.  At least one of us would get to experience being a parent.  DH does not like this kind of talk (understandably, we’ve fought damn hard for our marriage through this nightmare) and he tells me that it’s our infertility, not mine.  That’s very sweet, but it simply isn’t true.  The only thing that makes my infertility ours is the marriage, and the kindness in his heart.

At this point there will be no donor cycle, unless someone can put me in an induced coma for the duration of the cycle and wake me up when it’s over!  Since that’s not a service that they offer at this stage at my fertility clinic, I am going to have to find a different way to deal with my marital guilt for now.  Will keep you updated on what I come up with!

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Filed under Fertililty, grief

The Sign

Warthog

During my time in Johannesburg with my family, we decided to go to a game farm for a few days. The bush was my Dad’s favourite place in the world, he really found his peace there. Everytime you go to the bushveld, there is a totally new and unique experience waiting for you.

It’s all about spotting game in it’s natural environment. There are some animals like cheetahs or leopards that you may only see once or twice in a lifetime (I know a proffesional hunter who lives in the bush and has only seen leopards twice). And then of course there are also animals that you may see more frequently.

As my DH was driving us there, I was looking out of the window, daydreaming about how my Dad would have loved to join us on this trip. My Dad’s favourite animal was the warthog. I remember once when we were kids, he got so excited about spotting a warthog in a game reserve we were visiting, that he reversed my mom’s car into a tree.

And then I made a little deal with him in my mind. I said to him “Dad, if you are with us this weekend, then show us a warthog”. Warthogs are fairly common and so the chances were, we were going to see one, although I haven’t seen one in a few years. I continued daydreaming and almost forgot about the little deal I made with him.

We stopped for lunch and petrol, and eventually arrived at our accomodation. The game farm was stunning, clearly the owner has a deep passion for this place. And because there are no major predators, there are also no fences around the accomodation, and you can walk around the farm. It was really hot, and we followed the signs to our cottage.

As we rolled around the corner, there they were. Five warthogs, standing on the lawn, a Daddy, a Mommy and three daughters. Ok, I couldn’t actually see if the babies were girls or not, but HELLOOOOOO! It was a perfect representation of our family. I started to giggle, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! The warthogs saw us and bolted into the bushveld. It was the very first game we saw. And I think if I had to add up the number of warthogs we saw during the weekend, it would be well over 50!

Thanks Dad! Got that loud and clear!

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Filed under Africa, grief

The Cupboard

I’ve just come home from a week at my Mom and Dad’s place. Yes, you read that correctly, my Mom and Dad’s place. Just because my Dad is no longer with us in the physical world, does not mean that it’s no longer his home. Just like the cellphone number that is still in my contacts list 18 months later is still his. I will never delete it. I can’t use it anymore, but I will never delete it.

After he died (I hate it when people say “passed away”, there was no gentle passing involved), I was able to be so clinical. Somebody had to do it, and I was the eldest daughter, so I took it on myself. That’s not to say that my sisters and mom weren’t strong and tough, we all were. But I made a career of it. My sister, her boyfriend, my DH and I identified his body in the mortuary, then I pulled the Pathologist’s assistant aside and made her email me the autopsy report (apparently we received it weeks before the police did). Seeing what used to be your Dad lying on a metal table behind a window, it’s truly something that never leaves you. Especially when it’s in a third world mortuary, where they haven’t quite taken as much care in preparing the body for the relatives as they might have in other countries.

We took the report to the GP and made him explain it to us. I hassled the police, until I got the ballistics report, and then I made the guys that I work with explain everything to me about guns (they had been in the army, in those days everyone had to go). And after a few days of reading that ballistics report, I pointed out to the police that there was a serial number on a gun that they had failed to trace. “Which serial number would that be?” “The one on page seven, half way down”. Silence. “Oh I see.” (sounding surprised) “There is a serial number to be traced.” I contacted a private investigator and went over the crime scene with him, and together we reconstructed the events that took place. And all of these things, I could do as if I was filling in my tax form (OK, the mortuary scene did cause a shriek and a momentary collapse to the ground, with some hyperventilating before being helped back onto my feet). It’s just the way I chose to deal with these things, because they had to be done.

Last weekend, as I arrived at my parents’ home, my mother (who also had other guests) put DH and I in her bedroom. And she’d made a little bit of space in my Dad’s cupboard for us. And it broke me. I can’t put it any other way. Here was this man, who had life. He had all these clothes, boots for walking in the bushveld, a hat for the sun. And all those things are still here, and he isn’t. How on earth can these arbitrary material goods still be around when he isn’t? How can the atoms in a piece of clothing still exist as if nothing happened, but his body is gone?

It might strike you as strange that 18 months later, his clothes are still in his cupboard, but it is these physical things that actually take such a toll on the people left behind. My friend’s mom was able to clear her husband’s cupboard a week after he died, and that’s OK too. Everyone deals with it differently. But for my mom, putting away his razor, just into the bathroom cupboard, was almost more than she could bear. That was the first thing she moved. And each time she has a bit of strength to cope with it, she moves another little thing.

But because I only visit her every few months, there’s more of him missing each time. I sobbed for a night and a day, on and off. Of course it’s not the first time I’ve cried, really, I’ve cried buckets, but it still catches me by surprise when the Grief Monster taps me on the shoulder. Eventually, after a day or so, I pulled myself together enough to hang some of our clothes in that sacred space, my daddy’s cupboard. And life carried on again, I could eat and sleep and breathe again.

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Filed under grief, Murder