Letting Go: Failed IVF, the Investigation, Fear and Control

Hi. My name is Tina and I am a recovering control freak.

As a child, I felt so out of control so much of the time, that as an adult I have tried to control everything.

I figured that if I had control, life would be good and I would become blissfully happy. I have spent my entire adult life controlling or trying to control everything. I have never really just let go.

Until now.

Thank you, Uluru, for your sacred healing energy that infused a trust for the divine into my soul. I am still, still. There is a calm and a peace in my depths that tranquilises any fear or anxiety that may arise.

I am very zen.

And as a result, obstacles are dissolving.

I only know this because I know the other side, too intimately.

For the best part of five years I tried to control falling pregnant and having a baby. When I did fall pregnant, my fear of not having control expunged the foetus from my body.

This was an opportunity to learn a strong lesson, that I failed to learn. The lesson was that I needed to trust the higher powers, whatever and whoever they are. I needed to trust the flow of life and the contract I made with myself prior to my birth into this incarnation. I needed to trust, full stop.

I then didn’t trust my family and friends to be there for and with me, and I tried to control that too. And so, I was alone.

Fear is a great controller. Broken, from failing to control everything, fear seeped into the wounds and kept me bound. I couldn’t move forward, or even see behind me. There was just the moment, and not in a zen way.

Failing at pregnancy, I turned to fostering. Again, trying to control, I wasn’t enough; my reason for fostering wasn’t enough. I was confused and broken, belittled and worthless. Again.

All the while, I was being bullied at work, reliving aspects of my childhood I thought I had resolved years before. I was used by people whom I trusted. I was belittled and betrayed. I tried to fight back without conflict, with understanding and compassion I told myself, but really, my fighting was fear manifested. I tried to control from a very weak and inauthentic place, and that resulted in poor choices.

The fear resulted in a ten month long investigation. Ten months of fear and anxiety, and a strong, visceral reminder that I control nothing. Subconsciously this fed the I am worthless narrative I had been telling myself my whole life. My desire and need for control was really just me trying to feel like I was worth something and trying to prove that to everyone else.

“I’m pregnant, look everyone. I belong. I am normal. I am one of you.”

“I’m a head teacher, look everyone. I belong. I’m normal. I am one of you.”

“I’m a foster parent, look everyone. I belong. I’m normal. I’m one of you.”

Years ago, at a crossroads professionally, I went to a medium. She acknowledged my crossroads. She told me my two alternatives. Promotion at work, or book signings as a healer and teacher.

Fear, manifested as control, kept me bound, until the investigation and then India. Prior to the investigation, the universe had started to untie my bounds. I had paid my deposit for India. I had completed many natural healing courses. I had registered a business name and received an ABN.

Last year, paradoxically, I had my worst professional year and my best. I was amazing in the classroom; I was exemplary. I was an amazing mentor slash healer. I loved teaching and being with the kids. But, my life and my soul fell apart.

I was forced to relinquish control. I needed to find trust that I was being redirected. I was coming home.

But, in the midst of anxiety and fear, I couldn’t see this. Almost a year after the investigation concluded, I can see it. Clearly. And today, I can feel it. Freedom. Bliss. Purpose. Fulfillment.

I am a healer. I am a teacher. I am a writer. More than that, I am me. A recovering control freak, a survivor of childhood dysfunction, and a braver scaredy cat.

🙏🏻🦋

What a difference a day makes … or six 

I leave Western Australia tonight for home. Molly, Max and Sammy wait for me there, as does a different path. A path that will require ritual, nurturing and above all else, patience. 

I trust that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this moment in time. 

When I arrived last Thursday, Mel and I created a mini workshop to complete with her cousin. The workshop involved affirming, I Am, and a manifestation of this through clay. It set the tone for the days that followed. I was open and excited to experience the opportunities that lay in wait. 

A huge thank you and bounteous gratitude to my buddy, Mel. She provided opportunities to try new things, meet many new people, see different places, and welcomed me into her life. I have met many people who are living their creative paths wholly. This has inspired and empowered me. Our friendship has grown because we have navigated hurdles with grace and honesty. I adore her, her beautiful family and her wonderful friends, many of whom welcomed me willingly into their worlds. 

What a trip! 

What a beautiful state; Australia’s best kept secrets reside here in WA. Such beauty and virtually untouched landscape. Whole foods abound – choice is vital for a healthy lifestyle – and regular commune with the divine is inevitable, consciously or not. 

I will return home, somewhat healed, refreshed, open and trusting. 

Forgiveness is a process. Trust is a process. But the return from both when given is monumental. A freedom of spirit and an enthusiasm for life that is unrivalled in the journey of personal growth, and fulfilling life goals and dreams. 

My life, since commencing my fertility treatments in the hope of conceiving and carrying and nurturing a child all of those years ago, has been frenetic and painful, but has landed me here. And here is pretty awesome. Renewed hope, renewed faith, renewed dreams and goals. 

What a privileged path and blessed journey. 

Namaste. 

Feeling the Forces of Change

When I sat with my Principal towards the end of last year and told him that I needed to take leave this year, he said that he didn’t think I would be back. I replied that I thought I would be; I just needed a rest, and time to heal from the trauma and anxiety that the investigation had triggered. I am due to start back in my full time substantive position in the first week of December. 

Last night I started to look for shop assistant employment in my local area. 

Yep. 

There was nothing. 

This morning I drew an oracle card that told me to trust the universe. What I need will be there when it is time. So I am trusting the unknown. And I am good with that. 

I no longer feel anger towards all that encompassed the investigation. I accept that in the eyes of policy, my actions should not have been delayed, and I forgive myself for my tardiness and perceived wrongdoing. I also accept the divide between policy and humanity, and understand why policy is important. As a result, I forgive those that lied to the investigators when they were questioned, and I forgive all involved for the behaviours and choices that resulted in the investigation in the first place. 

Importantly, I understand that it needed to unfold the way that it did so that I could grow and prioritise my health/life. I was not looking after my needs and had stopped looking after my needs a long time ago. 

In the chain of events of my life, I was still healing from my miscarriage, resolving many failed IVF attempts, and coming to terms with a necessarily intrusive foster carer process. A process that I felt that I failed because my answers were not deep enough for the assessors yet I had nothing more. 

My needs – the basic needs of love, security and health – were not being met by me. I had let them go. I had not been nurturing myself, my relationships, or my life outside of work. There was no balance, and I was suffering but caught on a treadmill without brakes that moved faster and faster.

The investigation was the brakes. This devastating trauma and anxiety forced me to stop, pause and then question EVERYTHING. I fell apart, bits of me lying everywhere. India started the process of picking the pieces up and I gathered them in my arms. 

And then I decided to put me first. 

And now I am here. 

And I don’t want to teach anymore. 

I want a different life. 

I am walking forward, in trust, that I will walk where I will serve myself and this world best. 

Living Our Best Life

What’s Your Biggest Regret
I came across this on Facebook this morning. I shed a couple of tears. 

Asking what you regret cuts to the core. What are the things we would change if we could? And revealing that, even to the self, is so confronting, if we are really being honest, that it puts us in a very vulnerable position. 

Too vulnerable for me to reveal so publicly this morning. However, the things I regret fit into two categories:

1. things I haven’t done enough of because of fear (of judgement predominantly), and 

2. I am not proud of how I have behaved towards others (a couple of situations that if I could do over I would that resulted in losing friends that I loved). 

As a result though, especially with regards to number two, I now live my life more authentically with other people I think. I am more conscious of the impact of my actions and my words on other people, and I try to keep it positive. I own my behaviour if I mess up, even if it’s a process to get to the apology. But if I do mess up, I will apologise. I try not to live in unresolved innuendo and gossip, and I try to resolve conflict (even if it takes some time to develop the courage). And I have learned that people are more important than rules. 

And with regards to number one, I now do act on things that I aspire to achieve. I have started doing things on a whim. New York City last year. Meditation Retreat in India this year. And the retreat, on my own. Without fear, because I trust that I have been steered towards that opportunity for a reason. 

Saying not ready yet to the fostering process terrified me. What if I am just a quitter or a failure or selfish. But I pushed through my fears of the perceptions of others and listened to my soul. And learned something important about myself. 

I have always felt like I was weird, different, a bit of a freak, and have craved belonging. I have often wanted to walk the path most often travelled, and haven’t. I have yearned to belong and to be normal. As I edge towards forty five though, I have started to question if that’s really that important to me. 

As a result of walking a path less travelled, I have discovered the world, people, happiness, forgiveness, and a rich tapestry of diverse experience. 

And I wouldn’t trade that for anything. 

Self Discovery 

So, I have contacted the fostering agency and let them know that I am postponing the application/assessment process for six months to discover who I am. They have acknowledged this and informed me of the process if I decide to continue in six months. 

I had an amazing time away. I loved seeing different parts of New Zealand, and it reinforced for me how much more I love natural environments than city environments (NYC being the exception). 

We were having lunch one of the Sunday’s and there was a pod of dolphins playing behind the ship, swimming, chasing and diving. You can’t buy that sort of beauty. What incredible creatures my totem animal are. And I was blessed to see them like this, in their natural state, twice. Amazing. 

And the trip reinforced how much I love travelling. And how whole I feel as a traveller, explorer, searcher. I love the peace that I find within me. A calm that I don’t often experience in my real life, working life. I love having the contrast in my life. 

And I didn’t yearn for children. My fur family was at home, safe, being cared for by others. And that is enough. I loved coming home to them and missed them whilst I was away. 

I read Brene Brown. Two books. Daring Greatly has had a profound impact on me, and I am really practicing elements of her suggestions. 

During my IVF attempts, I often said that I could feel the process altering who I was, and believed that I would not be the same person I was when I started that journey. At times, I felt like this would be a loss, and at times, I think it was. 

However, today I see myself becoming more of who I have always had the potential to be. I think I am becoming more myself. Wholly myself. I’m not entirely sure who that is but I can feel subtle changes every day. 

I am living more consciously, more mindfully, more presently. I am thinking about things I would like to do and then expressing it, and following it up. I feel a sense of control is returning. 

It has taken a long time though. It’s been fifteen months since my last unsuccessful IVF attempt. That’s a long time to be drifting, and not be aware that you are drifting and not wholly living. But it was also necessary. 

I think sometimes we can all be prone to drift. To just stick to the same patterns and rituals, and not think about what we really want or how we really want our lives to look. 

Today, I feel like I am in the process of receiving a significant gift. I am moulding the life I want to be living. I have been given the opportunity to explore my life’s possibilities. I am taking stock and making plans. Today, I am enjoying this process of my life unfolding anew. 

Gratitude. 

Giving the Self Permission

I woke this morning, firstly at 1.10 am to kids playing knock and run on the cabin doors. Children need leashes. Parents should have licenses. Then at 4 am to go to the toilet. And lastly at 6 am. Tired. A little irritable. I am usually a morning person but today I found out what it was like to not be a morning person. Within an hour I was rebalanced. Gratefully.

At one of those times though, I knew I needed six months to really assess where I am in my life. I have been heading towards this decision for days but I was struggling to give myself permission to say this, out loud, for me. And really feel it. And mean it, wear it, own it.

Having digested so much Brene Brown in the last week, I know that the feeling of potentially ‘giving up’ has brought out a lot of shame type response from me. My internal dialogue has been a little chaotic and bouncy. I couldn’t have my own children, and the fostering process is long and hard, and so it is easier to just give up. People will think I am more of a failure. You’re being selfish if you don’t continue the process. How can you not know what you want. Or who you are. 

You get the drift. And I have been wrestling with these absolutely unreasonable thoughts for days. But I had to own them first. I had to feel them. Explore them. Unpack them.

I am now in the process of releasing them.

But not before they have forced me to question my choices and myself. I have written before about how the process of IVF can completely erode your sense of self because you start living your life in terms of cycles and the two week wait, failure or success. IVF destroys your naiveté, steals your innocence and impacts your sense of hope.

When I chose to get off the roller coaster, I thought that because I owned that decision/choice, I was okay. But I think it was just a first step towards being okay. I think it is also so hard to really process the process because, like in my case, I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about it who got it. That’s not to say people didn’t try, but unless you’ve struggled with it I think it is very hard to know what to say or what to do. I try to support others now so that they do not feel quite as alone, but I second guess myself too, all of the time. I know that no words take the pain away or minimise it but the acknowledgement that it exists helps. And the permission to make yourself and your healing the priority is vital.

There are still times that I struggle because I am childless but tried to have children. There are still some things that I can’t do. This year was my first Christmas with my nieces and nephews in years. The first Christmas I didn’t choose to be alone. So I am moving forward through the grief.

I think it is also important to give yourself an infinite time frame. Healing cannot be rushed. And I think that sometimes people don’t realise this. And how can they when we don’t stand up and say, “Hey, I’m still grieving. And that’s okay.”

By grieving too, I don’t mean that I am locked up in a room struggling with depression or bad thoughts. Ninety five percent of the time I am really happy (no real data to back that stat up hehe). And I am at peace in my life. There are just some days, or moments in days, when I am not okay. And it is healthy for me to acknowledge that, to own it.

As it is healthy for all of us to acknowledge, explore and own our emotions. We can not live a wholehearted life without being wholly present in our lives, and that means the bad moments as much as the good.

So, Tina has given herself permission to continue on her life quest and take six months off from the fostering process so that she can resolve who she is post IVF. This means that if fostering is in my future, I will be able to enter into the process without any doubt that my reasons are the right reasons. I will not think that maybe there is a small part of me who is fostering to create a surrogate family. There will be no doubt.

Thus far, just the length of the process, indicates it isn’t the right time. For me.

And that’s okay.

 

 

 

 

Timely Reminders

One of my favourite authors is Paulo Coelho. Amongst many other novels, he wrote The Alchemist. I have read it a lot of times, each time highlighting and bookmarking different sections. Brene Brown has become my favourite social scientist (nah, I know no others that instantly spring to mind lol). I am now reading her new book, Rising Strong. 

Brene cited Paulo in the section I read yesterday: 

When you’re on your path, the universe will conspire to help you.

We can apply this to life. If something is happening that is meant to happen, it won’t be necessarily easy, but we will find ways to resolve and clear the obstacles. It may seem easy at times. 

Some things in my life happen quite easily. Teaching for one. However, changing schools not easy at all. And I do know and do believe that that is because I am in the school that I am meant to be working in for me, the kids, the staff, and the broader community. My Masters in Arts happened quite easily. Because I am meant to fulfill my dream of writing (as I am). Vegetarianism comes easily to me; 23 years and going strong. Holidays and travel happen quite easily for me. Working hard comes easily to me, and gives my life and existence purpose.

And I am mostly happy. Happier than most. In my own power more often than not. Feeling fulfilled the vast majority of the time. I love easily and am loved mostly easily. Blessed and living in gratitude all of the time. 

There are worse things to be. 

And so, applying Paulo’s doctrine, letting go of what I do not have becomes easier. It isn’t a cop out. I still have to deal with the grief, like all of us. I still have to work hard to achieve the other things that I am passionate about. The work does not lessen. But my happiness and fulfilment increases. 

I am exactly where I am meant to be. 

And so today, I pose you the question, are you where you are meant to be doing what you are most fulfilled doing.

If so, brilliant! If not, how do we get there? 

❤️

A Firm Believer 

I am a firm believer that if you have a problem or question that you are looking for an answer to, if you go to bed thinking you will wake up with an answer. 

I have forgotten the answer I received this morning. I didn’t expect that lol. 

I am still contemplating whether to continue with my fostering application. I have a concern that I have not moved forward enough from the IVF processes in the sense that they eclipsed my life for so many years. I think I know who I am but I have changed and I wonder if that change is still speedily evolving. I guess, I question who I might be now. Making big decisions when I’m uncertain is probably not a good idea. 

Looks like the answer came back to me when I started writing 😉 gotta love writing for its ability to unlock the subconscious. 

And it’s not that I don’t know who I am really, more I don’t completely know what I want my life to look like. In a sense, I have an opportunity to rebirth myself (obviously I’ve healed enough to use that language lol). 

Who do I want to be?

What do I want to do? 

I think more time to evolve/heal is required. 

New Zealand Blog thus far

Sunday, 10th January, 2016.

Our last day of just sailing for five or six days; tomorrow morning we will be at Bay of Islands in New Zealand. We do not have a shore excursion booked but rather decided to just get off and explore. I am looking forward to that. The last time (and only other time) that I was in New Zealand we did not come this far north. It was in July 1998 for Airds High School’s Band Tour. And every time I think of the tour I instantly associate the memory with rebellious piercing behaviour (nup, can’t let it go Trace and Mel – hope you are both reading this bit – and Gida, I haven’t forgotten you either).

Ah, memories … like the corners of my mind …

I set myself some homework whilst I was cruising. I have decided that signs can always be read in two distinct yet opposing ways, rendering them unreliable when you are relying on them for some answers. I have decided to keep stock of the signs and see which side is heavier at the end.

I have almost finished reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. I spent most of yesterday reading, digesting, percolating, and today needed a break from it. I have highlighted it and made so many notes, setting myself mini-tasks to do as well as highlighting sections that I think would be great for professional learning for school (bad enough I set homework and tasks fir myself on holidays but to also be focusing on setting other people work – atrocious hehe). And Sara, I think you would enjoy reading this book; it’s one of those books that make us better thinkers and ultimately, even better people (like Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic).

The water is a divine blue today, almost purple. I have taken a photo of it against the pale blue sky but I don’t think the photos do it justice. I could do worse than my current workstation too. They change the day in the lifts every day. At first, you have a giggle and think it is cute. By Day Two, it is a necessity. Time is not the same on a cruise as time at home. Trace and I wanted tickets to one of the ice shows so we had to set the alarm this morning, with the change in time due to travel, we were robbed of sleep. But we got our tickets. Oh, and the alarm was set for 8.

I slept reasonably well last night. The motion of the ship swaying is soothing; however, yesterday morning I awoke after a restless sleep due to an insane dream. I have always wanted to surf. I am completely uncoordinated so this is a highly unlikely goal of mine. It is the freedom, and the being at one with the water that I crave. You know when the wave curls over and the surfers glide through the hole (pipe?), well my dream had our cruise liner going through that at an amazing speed (yep, was a gigantic wave) and we were at the front absolutely loving it and yahooing our way through. From both sides we were being inundated by buses, cars, and all sorts of other unlikely things, some forcing us to pull on the brakes and slow down very quickly; fortunately, we never hit anything. It was excitement actualised for me. Loved it. James was convinced it was a premonition for a tsunami that would wipe us out.

I think not.

I’m dodging around Brene. At the moment it has raised more questions than answers for me. The questions it is prompting centre around my motivation for becoming a foster carer, as well as pushing me to focus on the purpose of my life: what do I want to achieve and what do I want to spend my time doing.

Part of the questioning process is forcing me to think about whether I am hiding within the fostering, trying to belong to a world that I have never felt fully connected to (I have always regarded myself as different, a bit of a freak – I being the key word there). Am I more scared of being normal or of being abnormal? Am I defining my life and my successes by what I am not rather than by what I am? As a foster carer, will I be able to achieve all of my goals or am I restricting my ability to achieve all of my goals? Which goals are more important to me? Have I grieved my infertility (for want of a better word) journey? Is fostering a balm for that wound? As I said, more questions than answers.

But at least I am finding the courage to ask them.

 

Monday, 11th January, 2016.

 

When remembering the day and date, even from yesterday, requires real concentration.

I woke at 7.30 this morning to a phone call. Tracey asked me if I was awake (yep, I am now) and ordered me to go to my balcony.

By the time I unlocked and pulled open the door, what had been happening outside of her room was happening outside of mine.

The tender boats were being dropped and the pilot was being picked up. But most importantly, a pod of five dolphins was playing in the water.

The majesty!

The balconies of the boat were lined with people oohing and aahing.

  
The view here at Bay of Islands (I keep going to call it the Bay of Pigs) is phenomenal. I have never been this far north. It’s gorgeous. The horizon line marks the purple water we came in from and the water here, shallower, is back to blue/green. Hills face us on this side and rocky outcrops pepper the water, not quite icebergs.

Tracey said that in the inlet ahead of us, masked by the hills, there is another bay with houses cutely lined up as far as you can see land. I wasn’t awake when we came in. Dark clouds are rolling in from behind the hills and the sun is gallantly fighting them off, gallant but futile.

We do not have a shore excursion booked here so I am looking forward to a couple of hours of beauty and exploring. Off to breakfast …

   
 The sun won. On our way back to the ship in the tender boat it became very obvious why New Zealand is known as the land of the long white cloud. Straight ahead of us, spanning the entire length of the horizon, like a curtain, was a long white cloud, protecting Paihai (pie-here) from the rest of the world. Paihai, place of the Waitangi Treaty, is beautiful, picturesque, gorgeous, worth visiting, should be on your bucket list. I would come here again. The Australian equivalent would be Airlie Beach in Queensland but the Maori are treated much better here than the Aboriginals in Australia. There is a true and consistent acknowledgement of Maori heritage and culture here, decades ahead of Australia. Or there appears to be.

Today was the first time Tracey has set foot on the soil of her homeland in thirty five years, and the first time Dave and the boys have set foot on foreign soil. So appropriate that Tracey’s introduction of her homeland to them is their first overseas journey. We had to mark the moment with a photo. They were all under very strict instructions to let me off first so that I could capture the first steps of the family moving forward together. Needless to say, two of the four (I’ll leave it up to those of you that know them to work out which two) “forgot” to follow my instructions. After some quick and firmly barked instructions the photographs were taken and the moment marked.

   
 Tracey managed to coerce me into having a couple of formal photos taken on the ship last night by emphatically stating that when I die I will need a variety of photos in the obligatory powerpoint/film for my funeral. Yep, she did. And yep, it worked. Similarly, today’s photos will become iconic in those times for them too (I hope).

I seem to be getting back into connecting and attuning with crystals. Today I was drawn to Opalite (a man-made stone: opal dust in glass) at the markets here (real markets). This stone encourages one to explore within and all around to learn that even the most unimaginable life goals can be reached, they do not just have to be dreams and Opalite brings peace to all, it is a very beneficial stone to keep in areas where peace and serenity are needed. There are more, equally pertinent. I am going to start using crystals and stones again. I have decided.

Oh, and I got burned; sun definitely winning. Our shuttle bus driver informed us that this is the place that the impact of the ozone layer is felt most acutely. I had read on our information that the UV rate is 8. I probably should have looked into what that actually meant … oops, my bad. Thankfully I brought aloe vera gel.

Tonight after dinner, ice show and then comedian (adults only) – Gordon someone. Last show here before he disembarks and heads to Australia for a tour. Now I have forty five minutes of reading before I shower for dinner.

   
    

 
 

First Assessment 

Every time that I’ve met the team for Fostering I have been very nervous. Today was different, which allowed me to feel more comfortable and I was more myself. 

I’ve been looking forward to this process starting. The agency I am applying through are very consistent in their messages; I think this helps me to trust the process. 

The session went for close to four hours. It was the first assessment stage. There are a minimum of five. Kudos to the agency for the thoroughness in which they conduct the session. 

Basically, we touched on my fertility journey, childhood experiences, work, lifestyle choices, management of stress, past experiences in parenting, my motivation to become a foster carer, demarcation between parenting and fostering, different types of foster care, whether the timing is right now, ability to travel whilst being a carer, and other things. I have given myself the homework of looking further into respite care as well as really exploring my psyche to ensure that for me the timing is right. 

It wasn’t as emotionally draining as I anticipated but it was thought provoking. I like that at every stage I am encouraged to consider for myself how ready I am and how viable becoming a foster carer is for me at this time. 

I had a couple of epiphanies during the session. The first connected to the impact of seasons on how well I handle stress (winter impacts so I need to ensure that I leave work in daylight) and the other was the extent that my IVF journey still impacts by way of triggers. 

IVF seems to be a journey that extends well beyond the treatment cycle. I commented, in the interests of full disclosure and honesty, that I am still dealing with the grief of IVF failure. Triggers come now from unlikely sources at unpredictable moments. In terms of timing, this is important to consider. 

The agency really does impress the significance of the process in ensuring success in the fostering relationship further down the track. Again, I was informed that I can pause the process at any time, and that it is really important that I consider my readiness at every point in time. What I like about this repeated message is that it really forces me to consider whether this is what I want. 

I came out of the session feeling determined that I am still on the right path, which was reassuring. Some homework to do before our next session in February.