It’s a beautiful time, for me. I’m seven weeks away from meeting my sweet little baby number three, and nesting has well and truly begun.
Life has been busy and forceful, if I look at it carefully and agree with the truth of it. Lockdown and homeschooling. Rushing to finish painting our home before baby arrives (I simultaneously love painting, and never want to see another tin of paint again.)
Beneath it all, though, lies a quiet hum. A hum so lovely, I’m certain it’s the stuff a summer breeze is made of. Lately, it’s been with me when I open the baby’s wardrobe; I stand there a little longer than I need to, just because it’s so lovely to be with my baby in that ‘real’ kind of way.
It’s the same loveliness that occasionally stands with me at my children’s doorway while they sleep. And, although I’ll never deny that motherhood aches and destroys at times, I’ll always be grateful for the quiet moments it brings my soul.
I’ve always been aware of the mysterious force just underneath the surface of life. I’ve never called it God. Sometimes called it fate. But, either way, always its been there, every so often offering up a situation or life lesson that I truly couldn’t explain in any sort of logical terms at all.
In my early twenties, acting was the creative force that lit my soul on fire. I was seventeen when I did my first amateur play: a fun pantomime, which I’ll always remember so fondly for both the acting experience, but also the experience of being a part of a family that wasn’t my own.
That experience was just a tasting platter to the acting adventures to come. Years later, when I was twenty, I auditioned for the role of Abigail in an amateur theatre production of The Crucible. The character was the total opposite of the way I perceived myself. She was wild, I was timid. She was daring, I was meek. She was sexy and vivacious, I was…absolutely not.
And yet when I took to that stage, there was nothing left of me. Just the shell that used to be me and a wide open storm bursting onto the stage, rising from the depths of my soul. It changed my life, that show. It gave me validation that there was something truly extraordinary about the human condition. That we could embody lives and situations that didn’t even belong to us, and with such authenticity that it really made me wonder: what on earth is this life?
But this show never would have happened had life swung the way I’d wanted it to. Some months before being cast for The Crucible, I had applied for one of Australia’s best acting schools. I didn’t get in. Devastation. I’d dreamed of going to acting school since falling in love with theatre in my high school theatre class, and there really didn’t seem to be any other pathway calling my name.
When the rejection letter came it stung, and it left me wondering: what now? All my eggs had been in in that basket, and now I had no eggs left at all. I didn’t want any other eggs. I just wanted those eggs.
Then I auditioned for The Crucible. I’d done the play in high-school but had played a supporting character and I wanted to see what it might be like to play a bigger part. So I auditioned for the main role. And got it.
The show was cast in two teams, which was highly unusual for an amateur production. Two girls were chosen to play each of the younger main characters (kind of so we’d each have an understudy) and, come showtime, we’d alternate performance nights.The performance schedule was a huge undertaking — much bigger than I’d ever taken on before, so a day off here and there sounded like a lovely idea to me. My days off would be spent playing a voiceless, nameless member of the cast. I was happy with that.
Over time, the disappointment of being rejected from acting school disappeared. I’m not sure where in the rehearsal process for The Crucible I realised I was apart of something profound, but it was certainly clear by the time we put our books down (which means: by the time we’d learned our lines). I was more alive in Abigail’s skin than I had ever been in my own, and I never would have known this truly extraordinary sensation had I gotten what I had thought I truly wanted. A place in acting school.
Whatever the mystical force is that drives life beyond the surface: it had done its bit, I knew it had. Several times I thought it. Had I gotten into that school…I wouldn’t be here.
What if. What if.
The miracle of it all turned out to be far bigger than I’d imagined. Partway through the run of shows…I lost my voice. Perhaps because there was a great deal of screaming involved in the production, I’ll never know, but it happened and all I could do was accept it. I wouldn’t be performing the rest of the season.
Of course I was devastated, but more than anything, I was flabbergasted, and I think the rest of the cast was also. What would we have done if not for the directors choice to cast and train two actresses in my role (and remember I said this was a highly unusual choice for an amateur show. What on earth were the chances of this happening? My goodness. The magic of it all thrills me, to this day.)
By the time the show had wrapped and the after party rolled around, I had adjusted to the disappointment and was happy to remember the magic that had already taken place within me. I didn’t need to perform the show more than I had, to see how it had changed my life.
And if I’d had a voice at the after party, you never do know what might have come of my life from that day on. Because it was at that party where I met the man who went on to become my lover and friend for the next three years of my life. It’s a bit of a giggle to think what might have happened…had I spent that first evening talking his head off.
My fertility story is really quite extraordinary, when I think of all the ups and downs I’ve faced on the road from then to now.
It’s time for me to share the whole story.
To those of you who are currently struggling to conceive, or suffering through the pain, confusion and hopelessness of multiple miscarriages: this one, my darling friend, is for you.
Please take my story (and all the strength, love and encouragement I have to give) and shine it over your world. Hold in your heart this nightlight of hope.
Because there is hope.
And I am living, breathing proof.
We know what we are, but not what we may be.
Eight years ago. I was 29 when I conceived my little boy. Such fear lives in that first trimester, doesn’t it, if you allow yourself to wander down the path of what if. Of course, I repressed most of that fear. You know that thing us humans do when we sweep our true feelings under the carpet because we are afraid to look at the dark side of life: well, I did that.
But I was afraid. Deep down inside I was afraid of not making it to that glorious light we all call ’12 weeks pregnant.’ When 12 weeks came, the relief was lovely. I found myself in the sweetest little bubble of waiting for baby that, actually, I really had rather expected to be a breeze. And it was. My friends called me the magical pregnancy unicorn and I had to agree. It truly was an accurate label, to my absolute delight.
There were very few aches and pains, no health complications at all, and at 39 weeks, my precious little man was born. To say my life changed that day would be far too small a statement. My soul expanded, that day, would be a more accurate way of putting it. Because that day (and as fate would have it, three hours before I turned 30): I became somebody’s mother.
A year after our little man’s birth, it was time to start trying for baby number two. We’d conceived within two months of trying to conceive baby one, and secretly I imagined our second try would be just as simple. And it was. The magical pregnancy unicorn had done it again. Until she hadn’t. Slight spotting began at 6 weeks and I miscarried, days later. Shock. Miscarriages were something that happened to other people. And it was terribly sad for them, but it was never going to happen to me…until it did.
Over and over again.
I had five miscarriages within eighteen months, and yet, each time, I was certain this would be the one. But every time I began to bleed, and every time, my heart fell. It was the most intense frustration. I so desperately wanted to allow myself to fall apart, to grieve, to voluntarily and entirely losethe plot…but I had a little boy who needed his Mum to not fall apart.
Five miscarriages, one after the other. I was 33 by now and my body was quite obviously saying, ‘No. Brooke.We’re done.You’re going to have to accept this, soon.’ I was losing these little muffins, without good reason, and…I really didn’t want to do that, actually. The dream was multiple children. Not one, at least three. I wasn’t ready to give up. Not yet.
There comes a day when you’re gonna look around and realise happiness is where you are.
After a D and C to remove any remaining placenta from my first pregnancy, I found myself in the hands of an extremely caring, empathic obstetrician. He agreed, despite my hormone levels measuring normal, to try me on progesterone treatments, although his prognosis had been: those eggs had simply not been the ones. We will never know if he was right or not.
Nine months later, our beautiful baby girl was born.
The whole entire sun.
I didn’t even announce the pregnancy until about thirty weeks, you can imagine why. But when my little girl was born it was as though every moment of frustration, every distant day of secondary infertility had been erased.
I went on to have one more miscarriage beyond the birth of my daughter (another very early one, at only 5 weeks) and although it was sad, we weren’t really desperate for another child. I could happily come to acceptance the journey was over, now.
Only it wasn’t over, of course it wasn’t. According to the mystical forces of the universe—and despite my husband and I separating and rekindling our marriage once again—baby number three was going to be a real and actual thing for us. Unplanned. Unexpected and there it was. Pregnant. Right there in front of my open, yet smiling, mouth.
Today, I am only days away from 30 weeks pregnant with baby number three.
So tenderly grateful.
So joyously amazed.
Because, for a little over a year of my life, I suspected I would never achieve the dream of Mumming a little team, and yet every time this tiny human stretches inside of me…well. Let me just say, I am very much aware of the miracle of it all. The preciousness of life. The need to remain hopeful during even our darkest days.
Back then, in ‘my infertility days’, I searched and searched and searched the internet for stories like mine that had a happy ending. Stories to give me hope, to keep my candle burning and bright despite the pain. Now I am my own happy ending, and it is with such love and compassion that I hand my shining, beautiful story to you.
Don’t give up.
Follow the quiet voice inside.
Meditate. Do the energy work they’re telling you is bonkers. (It’s not, I assure you, it is not.)
Do whatever it takes.
Just don’t give up. Not until your heart quietly whispers, ‘Sweetheart. It’s time. And everything will be so beautifully, perfectly alright again someday.‘
It was an octopus mum, to be specific, a mum just like me. And my mum, and yours, and his mum and hers.
I wouldn’t say it was the octopus herself I fell in love with, exactly…
It was the love.
The love I somehow absolutely knew she felt for her little tiny octopus babes. It was grace in motion, the way she bundled her precious little ones into the ocean, the way she held them with her soul.
Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant (29 weeks, not that I’m counting down or anything.)
Or maybe it’s just because love is what connects every living creature on this earth and I think that is the most beautiful miracle, regardless of the motherly hormones surging through my veins.
I think it’s the miracle thing.
The love thing, the complete and utter mind boggling beauty of it all.
I am so saddened it took me this long to connect to all of life, truly I am, but I’m also beyond grateful to have had a chance to know this depth of connection with my fellow planet dwellers. It really is the most magical, wondrous thing.
Now, If you’ll excuse me…there must be another adorable octopus video on the internet somewhere. I mean, surely.