The perfection of life is beyond the boundaries of good and bad, sad or happy.
2015. My fourth miscarriage. The loss of pregnancy at ten weeks.
The doctor looked into my soul and told me, ‘I know the obstetrician for you. Here are his details. If this was happening to my sister, I would be telling her the very same thing. Go to this man. He will treat you beautifully.’
It is so very lovely. Peaceful if I were to give it a word.
And here I am, relaxing my way through another afternoon of life in the 35th week of pregnancy.
I had a rather large shock, today. We all did, actually, including baby, I’d imagine…which was partly what made the shock ever more shocking to me.
It all began with the sound of water splashing about in the laundry. An unfamiliar sound, which instantly raised alarm bells (isn’t the human brain completely brilliant? How it records the predictability of life so thoroughly that any change to the norm has it asking questions. Prodding for investigation.)
I rushed in to see if my suspicions of unusual laundry activity were valid. They were. The sink had flooded and water was spilling onto the tiles; an unwelcome flood, indeed. After fishing out the gunk that had somehow blocked the plug hole, I began the clean up efforts. One towel, two towel, three towels and that would do it.
Then it happened. I slipped, as if on a comical banana peel, on a puddle of water that had very cheekily pooled in the door way, and in moments I was on my bottom. Shocked. And extremely worried about the little baby inside me who, no doubt, felt a great big jolt at the moment my full weight struck the ground.
There were tears of fright as I relayed the scene to my very calm and wonderful husband. We both agreed. I would visit the hospital, to make sure bub was still travelling okay. I waddled up to the birth suite and met with the midwife (a lovely, gentle, kind one: aren’t they the best sort?) who directed me into the monitoring room, with a soft voice, and began the usual monitoring procedures.
Two bands around the belly to check for contractions and baby heart beat. One clamp on my finger to monitor my own internal state. And there I would stay, just for a little while, to make sure there was no sudden decline in baby’s health due to the fall.
Thankfully, bubby passed the test with flying colours, and here I am on the couch: so grateful for the beautiful, supportive health care system I have access to at any time, for free, during my pregnancy. Bubs is boofing away on the inside. Rascal one and two are quietly doing their thing on the outside. Everything is good again.
Although, my goodness, I do wish the drama might pipe down a bit.
I’d just like a few extra weeks. No falls, no unusual contractions.
Just a sweet, calm breeze, wishing us merrily on our way, again.
At the end of the day (this day, to be specific) I feel like a 38 year old mother of twenty. I’ve managed a super healthy lunch, yoga in the morning…and yet.
My husband just came in from work and said the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard. He said, ‘Honey. You can go and hide away, if you want.’ In other words, ‘Honey. I’ve got this. Off you go. Pop your feet up. Go be a lovely, shiny pregnancy unicorn, again.’
I cannot tell you how those words (even the less dramatic version) made me feel, but I can say I’ve done exactly that and I feel the world melting off me.
I had to giggle, the other day. Thinking of my first pregnancy, versus this one (I’m currently 35 weeks pregnant with baby number three). Back then, I specifically remember shouting across the rooftops with glee in my third trimester. Boundless energy. Very few aches. So much lovely, delicious time for life.
Even though I was pregnant during summer, my ego happily yapped to the world, ‘I don’t know what every one is on about. I feel completely fine.’ It was the absolute truth of things. I did. And I didn’t even think twice about judging those who’d complain about every ache and pain of pregnancy because, for heavens sake, it really wasn’t that bad.
Fast forward eight years and two small children. I still try to maintain that beautiful glass half full attitude I’ve come to value in life, although I’ve got to say, I look back now and think: ‘Oh my goodness. How funny my ego was to be so gloriously blind.’
Obviously there are many factors that contribute to whether the third trimester of pregnancy is going to be sunshine and rainbows, but with my limited life experience at the time of my first pregnancy…I wasn’t to know that. I thought: If I can do this, all of you can do this. It is as simple as that. Really quite black and white.
Well, it’s not, actually. It’s really not.
A huge amount of energy goes into raising children, and it’s lovely to have this current pregnancy reality check keeping me real, however awkward it is to look back at the old me and giggle (with a slight edge of horror) at my naivety.
Childless pregnant me wasn’t wrong to celebrate the ease of pregnancy, but I do wish she had been able to see the wider perspective in advance. She didn’t know that one day she’d be heavily pregnant, homeschooling and caring for a house and two little ones (during a pandemic). Even if she had have known, she probably would have said, ‘Oh, you’ll be right.’ Because she was alright. So why wouldn’t I be?
The truth is, I am alright, and really quite proud of where I’m at given the exhaustion that quite often pops up and zaps me in all the places I wish I was more alive. For instance, in a perfect world, I’d bound out of bed and get straight into painting and gardening: our new home is calling for me to do those things all the way.
But I am only human.
And because I am human, I am limited to only the things my body will allow.
But how beautiful, too. Because without this pregnancy, and the limitations my waning energy is presenting me with, I’d not have had the chance to tell my ego to back off and stop being a dick to myself.
I have been forced to see the truth of what is, as opposed to what I wish it was…and completely surrender. To adjust. To learn to be happy with taking baby steps in getting the house done, in getting life done.
So, good on you, baby number three. You’ve been a wonderful lesson.
And even though you’re taking all my energy, I adore you.
I’ve become an expert in solving problems that may or may not occur. It’s both a wonderful and a terrible thing, depending on the perspective you take. Problems do not exist, for instance, until the moment they occur and are perceived, and yet in my world they both exist and are solved in an invisible home of my own mental creation…before they’ve even happened.
Often times, they never do happen.
And yet, because I have perceived them, and mentally lived their many aspects and outcomes, they are as real as the real, real thing.
No wonder my nervous system is a little frazzled.
Apparently this sort of hyper vigilance is a result of early life trauma, and although I had an absolutely beautiful childhood, and was extremely loved and well cared for…I was, for whatever reason, highly sensitive. My teen years were dotted with trauma. My early adult years were flooded with emotion, confusion and anxiety. And all the while, every little eye brow raise came to mean something frightening to me, and so you can imagine the aches felt when I truly was being attacked by life.
Enter problem solving territory. I learnt to recognise and run from the beast before he’d even thought to attack, which I gather is quite a common thing among human folk, actually. Probably more common than most choose to admit.
Obviously, this sort hyper-vigilance has caused quite a few issues in my life, and relationships, so I’m learning to become aware and catch myself in moments where I am constructing a damaging story for myself to pre-live. And yet, I’d also say that having the ability to pre-think situations has added to my spiritual tool kit.
It’s allowed me the extra space needed to find the beauty in even the most disastrous of situations.
It’s acted as a rehearsal period for the painful moments of life, and I’m grateful for this, despite psychologists and spiritual kings out there declaring ‘now’ is best.
Of course now is best.
Now is the only truth.
And yet, while we are human…now is just another dimension of the everything reality is made of.
We will never understand the fullness of the universe.
But we can live bits and pieces of it, and pick up its interesting, thoughtful breadcrumbs along the way.
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.
I’ve been getting to know myself through music again.
I wanted to go a little further into this idea because not only does music tell familiar stories and remind me of people and places…it also becomes me. As in: I embody it. This is the most magical phenomenon I have ever known.
I read a theory, once, where it was said that the mirror neurons of the brain are somehow responsible for this sort of mega feeling capability, and I only wish there were enough hours in the day for me to truly explore, and come to an understanding of, it all. I wish more people talked about their subjective feeling experiences so we could all pool our individual authentic truths and perhaps come up with a better, more holistic understanding of the nature of reality. Maybe one day people will open up fully to each other, even about the stranger things in life. Maybe.
I’ll start the ball rolling.
The other day I was driving along listening to a song where the singer was expressing a feeling of complete and utter freedom; a gorgeous energy that felt fun, wild, curious and sexy all at the same time. What a beautiful feeling it was as it surged through my body. I was alive.
While listening to this particular song, I recognised the essence of the singer as seperate to my own, and yet…her feelings had become me. I was feeling her freedom within my body. I was feeling her cheekiness and sass. It was as if I was her.
What-on-earth. If nothing else, I came away from the song understanding that this was clearly an energy in my life I am needing to explore. But on a more out there note, I had to wonder. What might humans truly be capable of if we removed the stigma and shame attached to the more, umm, left of centre traits of human nature?
We haven’t even begun to seriously discuss this sort of phenomena without attaching it to the words ‘disorder’ or ‘disease’. What if…we changed our story? What if we framed high sensitivity in humans as exactly what it is: high sensitivity in humans. Nothing more. Nothing less. I think you could guarantee that far less of us would suffer from the anxiety that naturally arises from being perceived as different. Or, worse, broken.
I suppose I know the problem in a nutshell. You only need to look at events where the human ego has completely rejected any sort of difference perceived as weird or threatening in any way. In 1692, for instance, hysteria swept through an entire town in the U.S.A and condemned many women (women who, by the way, very likely perceived themselves as normal) to death if they were discovered to be witches. These women were probably just highly sensitive women, who very likely had been born a little different to the rest…and yet.
So it’s not surprising to me, then, that humanity has taken quite a long time to truly own the more eclectic parts of ourselves. No one wants to be kicked out of the pack. No one wants to stray too far from safe and secure. You know. Just in case. (Cough: no one has been burnt at the stake for quite a while now.)
Perhaps I am different, but really, who isn’t? We are all unique in our own way, and I believe with just a few tweaks in perspective (for instance, we might do well to dismantle the damaging cultural narratives that seperate people) humanity might be onto something really very special.