And because the sun is so beautifully shining on my world, I’ve decided it’s time.
Time to shine the sun outwards, once again. The world surely needs some sunshine, right now.
And so it is that, once again, this little blog of mine becomes a beating heart for the world, to hopefully bring you a smile on these days where smiles may be a little harder to muster.
I should say right here, feeling the depth of what is true (however painful) is so beautifully important in life, but so is feeling love from its brighter side, so that’s what this month will be all about.
I’ll be sharing many things this month to help us all stay (or become) connected to our hearts, including stories of joy, hope, or love, and also little tips and tricks I’ve learnt along the way that help me bring out my own sun.
As those of you who’ve been with me a while know, I’ve ventured out on many a ‘blog a day’ type journey over the years, and when I have, I’ve found it sensible to give myself a little room in order to create what wants to come. So this time around the theme will be centred around the heart in general, including themes such as mindful living, joy, hope, self love, inspiration, kindness, compassion, empathy, human connection: everything beautiful about what it is to be human.
So! Please, feel free to join me on this lovely little adventure. I’ll even be going on a family trip to Tasmania part-way through, and I’ll be bringing you all with me!
A brief note before my story begins. A note to the mothers, a note to the fathers. To those who have birthed live children, and those whose young ones were taken too soon. This story— my story, our story—may be distressing to some, particularly those who’ve experienced the birth of a sweet babe, born sleeping.
If this is you, darling human, please feel free to leave this post here, taking all my love and comfort with you. To those who wish to stay, thank you for holding my heart during these moments. It is a gift to share the depths of my humanity. It is a gift to know my heart has been seen, held and loved.
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.
I’ve asked if my baby has died and no one is saying a thing.
The midwife moves the doppler across my stomach as I stare at the wall lit by dim orange light (my favourite kind.) There is no sound, no heart beat. There are no voices. There is silence, loud as thunder.
I ask again. Has my baby died? Still, no one says a thing. There are three midwives there. Not one of them has said a thing.
My body begins to push, and once again I am taken by the strength of the contractions. If my baby has died, I think, then I need them to take this pain away. But it’s too late for pain relief, I know that. I’m already pushing. I am on my own, no matter what is happening here.
There is a stillness in the room that wasn’t there before, and I know it is the feeling of sorrow. My sister is across the room, and so is my husband; the sadness is theirs and mine, and maybe the midwives’, mixed together with an odd cocktail of hope and confusion. Is the baby alive? Why on earth won’t they say anything?
Finally I am asked to change positions. They want me to push. Finally they have found a heart beat. A little slow, they carefully tell me, but a heart beat, thank goodness. I will need to give a great big push, they say, and I am okay with that because the midwife has said the only words I have wanted to hear. ‘Brooke. Your baby is okay.’
At least two minutes.
That is how long I thought the very worst.
Now, we move on.
As I breathe between contractions— between pushes—my eyes fall upon the midwife’s necklace, a butterfly on a thin, silver chain. It makes me think of the angel chain in my sisters hand, the one I’ve given her to hold, so Nan can be with me. It had been Nan’s right before she died. I had given it to her. Now it was mine.
And there is the stillness again. In the butterfly, in the thought of my Nan’s chain.
Another moment divine.
I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl, that night.
She is perfect, and was so from the moment she was born.
I will never forget those moments of indescribable togetherness and comfort.
Was there a divine presence in the room? I’ll never know.
I was in tears this morning, bouncing on my fit ball in front of the TV at my new favourite time of day (4AM).
I was watching the world news.
Small children were being handed over a fence to soldiers at the airport in Kabul, thankfully with no idea there is a better life for them out there somewhere.
And then there was me.
So small in the world, thinking of my own beautiful children tucked neatly, safely, away in their cosy beds.
I felt helpless.
I wanted to take all those beautiful people in Afghanistan under my wing and hold them there for a while.
I have no control over the mental state of the terrorists of the world, or the mental state of their fathers before them. Fathers who were taught by their fathers that love looked like fear. Fathers who passed this very fear onto their sons, and so on.
I have no control over the pain of these poor darling humans in Afghanistan, just trying to live.
But I have this blog.
I have my words and I have my heart.
And maybe I can’t make a difference for those poor people, but if you are reading this, and feeling in need of some love…I can make a difference to you.
So here I say this:
Thank you for being alive.
For being unique and wonderful you.
For being human enough to have bad days.
And for the strength I know you’ll find tomorrow.
I hope today is beautiful for you and I hope you remember the sun isn’t far away if it’s not.
Because even when the darkness of the world takes over, there is always something beautiful to find among the rubble.
This is my reminder to myself.
And this is my love letter to you.
So much love and strength to you all, my beautiful bloggy friends.
Thank you for being such a big part of my sun for so many of my days.
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.‘
We had small children. Three and six years old: button noses, tiny hands. When my husband and I separated, we needed to because that was the next and only step we knew how to take. We’d forgotten how to breathe our own breaths, and breathing each other’s breaths had taken both our souls.
The first nights away from each other after 11 years together were strange. We said, ‘How are we going to do this?’ Neither of us knew. We didn’t belong together, anymore, but we still loved each other…we didn’t know how to be apart. Not from each other, and certainly not from our children.
The children. I was ripped into a million flimsy shreds of soul tissue. I admit, a part of me was relieved at the thought of the new found freedom I’d have when the children stayed at their Dads house. I’d have time to find myself. Time to learn who I was as a human being— I’d never truly done that before. The rest of me grieved for the half of my children’s lives that I would miss.
No one ever talks about that part when discussing divorce. No one ever presents the true reality of what ‘splitting the children 50/50’ means. It means missing precious moments, it means not being there to hold their tiny heads when they vomit, it means not being able to comfort them the way a mother needs to at a primal level. I was learning this new, startling reality for myself. It tore me to pieces.
A friend had mentioned how I might like to keep an open mind (and heart, perhaps.) That maybe down the track we might rekindle what we had—she had travelled a similar path and found joy on the other side of separation. A second chance with her husband. A new love for each other beyond the grey. They’d even gone on to have another child after the devastation had faded; which was lovely for her, I thought, but not a likely scenario for us. Our broken parts had solidified. There was nothing of the old us remaining to encourage us to remember the beautiful pair we once made.
Months passed and though I thrived in my new world, finding and learning to nurture new and beautiful parts of myself, I was depressed. My soul howled when my daughter cried for her Dad. Three years old. (I still ache when she picks up the photograph of him that laid beside her bed while she was without the real thing.)
Although there was no shame for me around the idea of divorce, I was crippled when it came to my daughter. My little girl is highly sensitive. I am too, and no matter which way I spun it: we would both lose if this separation continued. I couldn’t see how future good times would outweigh the depths of that kind of despair; it was a joint pain, mine and hers. We all know what empathy feels like, but my empathy goes to the extreme. I embody the pain of others, as if that pain is my own. As spiritually strong as I had grown in my life, even I wasn’t sure I could handle such a heavy dose of pain, every few days.
Then COVID struck. I couldn’t believe the timing. As if a marriage falling apart wasn’t enough pain and confusion to navigate, now the world was falling apart. Supermarket shelves were bare and people in the streets walked around with frightened eyes, wondering things they’d never wondered about others, before.
I’ll never forget the eerie feeling in the supermarket; shelves of silver I’d never seen beneath the normal abundance of household items, not a toilet roll in sight. It was a feeling of doom, is the only way I can describe it. A feeling of charcoal and cold-grey stone. Who had I been sharing the world with all this time? I thought I had known. Now, I was frightened by the realisation that I had no idea.
Fragile me both thrived and fell, during COVID. I used my skills in writing to entertain and help others learn more about books and writing while in lockdown, and this brought my life colour, confidence and inspiration. I became a version of myself I’d only ever dreamed of. Intelligent.Wild. Sexy. Empowered. Free.
Still, I was depressed. Divorce, and what divorce would mean for our family’s future, weighed so heavily on my mind. I tried to frame each negative I found with a positive, and yet always I would find myself back in the same place. Not home. Home, for me, was where my babies were. Where my family was. My husband was a part of that family, and divorced or not, I would be damned if I would allow us to become emotionally separate. So we started spending time together as a family, and though it was odd and uncomfortable at times, it was home. Both of us knew that, both of us needed that.
I sit here, perhaps eighteen months later, twenty-four weeks pregnant with our third precious babe: my two little ones in the next room, my husband at work. I often think back to that conversation with my friend, the one who told me to keep an open mind. It’s hard not to giggle, thinking of the absolute unlikelihoods that have come to pass. A healing marriage. A new member of the family on the way. It’s broken, beautiful life: messy and glorious, and it’s mine. It’s ours.
Is my whole soul entirely happy? No.Will it ever be? Perhaps not. I am, and always have been, as deep as the ocean, as free as a bird, as soft as a petal. Very few people, places, things have ever truly fulfilled me.
But there is hope and there is home. There is a beautiful, supportive husband, who truly is a magnificent human being and father. I adore him. He adores me. We are good.
And, of course, there are my babies, still so small, still so in need of their Mum.
I see the middle of it all. I see the hurt of both parties, and though I tend to take the side of whoever seems to have the most rational argument (according to my perspective) I can’t help but feel just…sadness. Absolute frustration, powerlessness and sadness.
I’m thinking specifically of this war that’s been raging in the U.S of late, both in terms of the political polarities tearing a hole in America, and in terms of the vastly differing socio-economic backgrounds and belief systems shaken up by the divided states of covid.
I’ve just come away from watching a video of the storming of the Capitol building. The video was clearly put together to support an agenda: a ‘Trump is horrible, and we are going to prove it by carefully constructing a highlight reel of the most shocking, heart-breaking scenes from the day.’ It worked. The video was shocking in its portrayal of Trump and his many loyal followers.
And yet, regardless of how well the video was crafted to sway public opinion to one particular side, there is no denying what happened that day was truly real. No denying the violence. No denying that this sort of primal aggression no longer belongs on the human stage: we’re not cavemen, anymore. Still, our primal instincts remain. How to healthily and peacefully honour them is a mystery yet to be solved by humanity, it seems.
As I watched the riot exploding all about the place, I took a side. I knew that I was taking a side, because I was thinking, ‘ How could they do this? This is so horrible. These people must be (insert judgment here.)’
But then it happened again. That thing that happens to me when I see an absolute wrong, and I ask myself more questions. But why are so many people screaming the same story, and how can so many people be wrong about what they believe? And how bad must their oppression have become for them to be behaving in such a dramatically inappropriate way?
It saddens me. All of it.
How on earth does a species overcome such drastically wide gaps in views and belief systems? How does a species become one harmonised species, rather than fifty billion tiny fragments of confusion, hatred and blame?
I don’t know.
So, I’m a little…I’m not sure what I am. I’m not sure frightened is the right word, and yet frightened really does seem to be the only word I can come up with in the face of all of this fight.
I do not condone the horrible horribleness (excuse my delightful eloquence, here) that occurred at the Capitol building that day, nor do I condone the hatred and inequality perpetuated by humanity, still. Oh my goodness, still. But what is there to do?
I don’t know what to do but surrender into the bleakness and just…hope. Hope that we can sort our stuff out before things get ever so much worse. Hope that humanity can find love and compassion, even in the face of absolute horror and ridiculousness.