Rise

I woke up early this morning with a sense of urgency after having some vivid dreams about my recently passed away father in law. We were accompanying him to some kind of concert, it was my husband, him and myself. He was still active into his mid 80’s before having to go into the home due to Parkinson’s, and up until that time was still pretty sharp. It was great that we were out because of him, and we were happy to be there, just needed a little inspiration apparently.

I woke with the words “rise” in my head. “Rise, Rise”. Also with the strange internal dialogue that I need to be bigger than I am right now, that I have been hiding, that the pain and trauma that I’ve gone through in the past few years is coming to an end, and it’s time for me to shine my light brightly again, it’s time for me to be back in the public, and back inspiring and making a difference. Rise, Rise.

The Immigrant Process

I am an immigrant. I chose to leave my home country in pursuit of a new adventure, a new life, with new opportunities. It’s taken a considerable amount of courage, bravery, and resilience. Being an immigrant is a hard road and comes with many challenges, especially as the global powers tighten boarders and make the pathway to citizenship longer and more complicated than it needs to be.

My niece has asked me about my experience as an immigrant and specifically my pathway to citizenship as there are bound to be many similarities that I have faced that immigrants to America would also face. I’ve been wanting to write about this for some time, I talk about it a lot, but haven’t fully put it in to black and white, and I welcome that chance now.

I read somewhere a line that went something like to be an immigrant, you will always have your heart in two places, and that’s as true as it can be. My heart has always been torn between forging a new life for myself in Australia and leaving behind my family and everyone I have known before now in order to do so. It’s a compromise that has to happen when you venture out into the unknown of anything, and absolutely applies to traveling and making home abroad.

The process to citizenship here in Australia has been very long and convoluted. I still, after being here for more than eight years, being married to an Australian, having an Australian child, owning a business in Australia, and having gone to University here in Australia, I have still yet to be granted citizenship. I’ve had various visas that always cost a lot of money, and I’ve had to learn to live with the instability that comes with not being fully allowed to live in a country. Honestly the stress that this has caused, I’m certain has negatively impacted my health and also my first pregnancy. The stress that you can be asked to leave at any given time because you don’t have the right to stay is ever present. It’s like holding your breath, and wanting to give all you can to the country you are now living in, but at the same time holding back because why set down roots if you will have to cut them off and move again anyway.

When applying for Permanent Residency which precedes citizenship, there are typically requirements that need to be met like being in the country for a certain amount of time and not having any issues with visas before. For PR, as it’s commonly called, you have to submit so much paperwork not only about yourself, but you also have to give information about your friends and family as well, private information like their birthdays, their occupations, their own families, their marital status. It’s incredibly invasive, and asking friends and family to do this feels like one additional barrier that we have to go through. There’s a thorough health check, at designated immigration doctors offices, and you are treated like just another immigrant, no bedside manner, all matter of fact, and then you’re on your way awaiting the results. There’s character checks that happen from your original country, then within the country you are trying to immigrate to, along with any other country where you have spent more than a year. If you’ve married a citizen then you have to prove your relationship, which feels so false, and the things they ask, normal couples wouldn’t do. Specifically, who opens a joint bank account with their boyfriend or girlfriend the day they decide they’re going to be exclusive? If any regular couple did that, it would be a huge red flag, but for immigration, that is one of the ways to prove your relationship, and if you don’t have that you get knocked back in the queue.

The hardest part of all of it, beyond the utter lack of privacy, beyond the inane requirements that normal people wouldn’t do, is that the government is always changing, and with that, their stance on immigration changes. So you can call up and be told one thing on Monday, and then call back the next Monday and be told a completely different thing. For us, we were advised to wait until our three year anniversary before applying for PR because it would go right through, no more than six months the immigration agent said. So, we waited the additional year and a half and when we applied, the rules had changed, and had to wait an additional two years, not six months, to finally hear back, which gave another waiting period of a year. So it took a total of three years from the time I applied for PR to the time of being granted it, rather than six months, and that was after waiting for the full three years beforehand to apply. In this time, the fees go up, the waiting stretches out, and you find yourself checking your email account every single day, and every single day you feel disappointed and feel like it’s not going to happen.

Also in this waiting period of seeing if you will be accepted, and this could only be me, but I felt completely restricted about what I could say online. It was during a time when America was changing greatly, and Trump had been granted President, and the whole world was in shock and disbelief. Even before then with whistleblowers being outed and vilified, I didn’t feel like I could speak freely about this. I didn’t feel like I could even seek help with dealing with the dark feelings I had after having a very traumatic birth because all of that would be linked to me, and all of that would go into the decision making of whether I got to stay in the country where my entire world existed now, and I didn’t want to do anything at all to jeopardise that.

Looking for jobs as an immigrant is always a trying situation, because employers want to know that you will not be a fly by night, and the time and training they put into you will be repaid by long service. Going to University and further education is also limited unless you have the access to pay for the exorbitant fees they charge international students, and even then only some courses are available. There are restrictions every way you look, and sometimes, it feels like it would be easier to just throw away the dream and move back to your home country. I’m lucky I’m not a refugee and that is an option for me but for a lot of immigrants going home isn’t an option, so they have no choice but to deal with each obstacle, each setback, each challenge, and trying to maintain patience with their heads down, waiting for their time to come and be welcomed officially into their new country.

Lawmakers must be so removed from this process, because I can’t imagine that they would put us through all of this hardship, which ripples out to our new families here, and our friends, and the economy because we are going through unnecessary challenges to gain access to stay in the new country. I would definitely recommend a change that would include having English classes for migrants who don’t speak English as their first language while in the process of immigration because everyone benefits when we can speak a common language. I would recommend each immigrant being issued a clear plan with dates for them to apply and what to do at each step, currently the information is all over the place, and it changes so frequently that making a timeline with a plan is almost a joke currently.

Multiculturalism of Australia and White Nationalist

At Costco in the line to return something that happened to be the wrong size, I was marvelling at all of the different heritage around me. There were so many shades of skin colour and accents it was truly a moment capturing the beautiful multiculturalism in Australia. It was totally awkward, but I couldn’t help but compliment the woman who had been partially helping the woman who was helping me as her skin colour was this incredibly rich shade very different from my pale freckled skin, and she had such a great complexion too. Anyway, I smiled to myself during the whole encounter because it really made me feel that Australia is a country that has so many immigrants and in places where we all converge all just flows.

As it usually goes in just about every shopping experience, there’s a signal to everyone that it’s now time for every single shopper to make their way to the counters to pay. This happens everywhere, we as humans must all feel the urgency of timing all at once and all in unison turn around and make a b line for the closest checkout. I was in one of the lines and moved back so other people could pass in front of me to get to the other side. In this, some people got a little confused about where the line started, but I hadn’t thought it was going to be a problem because there were clearly people already waiting behind me, specifically this woman and her baby who my son and I had talked about during our shopping trip. We heard the baby talking and talking, and then by checkout time, bub was not happy and needed to be held. My toddler noted all of this as we’ve been talking about feelings a lot lately so he narrated the scene when we saw them. Apparently an older woman didn’t realise the line was much longer and put her cart behind mine, and I politely told her that I thought the woman with the baby was next in line, and the line was curving a bit making a hand motion in the direction of the curve. I could tell that English wasn’t her first language, but she understood, and moved her cart to the end of the line. All was fine, just helping create some order. Then all of a sudden I hear the two guys who are with the woman and baby, say “Yeah, we need to take care of our own” and I made eye contact with him, and at first the thought was just that I have  child and I assumed that was probably his child. The mother now holding the baby didn’t say a word, and I loaded up my items on the conveyor belt and the comment swirled around in my head. Why I can’t just let things roll over me and be done with it, I’m not sure… but I thought about it and I was the only other fair skinned person with my son in our line besides them. I hadn’t even considered that the remark would have been racial in nature. So I purposely talked in my very American accent to the checkout helpers and talked about the wagon I had in my trolley and how it was going to be great this summer, especially with the extra drink holders. As I left, I distinctly noticed a big Southern Cross tattoo on the man’s neck who made the remark. And I quickly pieced together an episode of Triple J’s Hack where the Southern Cross had been coopted and now was representing something more like white nationalist pride, or something of the like. My stomach turned.

I enjoy the richness that comes with multiculturalism. I enjoy the opportunity to learn and grow with the people around me. I know I am an immigrant, and I cannot help but feel the same amount of slightedness that might be aimed at people who are more obviously not from here based on their accents, or their skin colour, or the way they dress. I am one of them, I am one of the Australians too. We are all one.

Maybe I misconstrued what that comment meant and probably I am overthinking and overanalysing it, but maybe not.

Finally I Saw Therapist

Finally I got some face to face help. Two sessions today after calling around yesterday to see if I could talk to someone. I felt the dark wave of grief and despair rolling over me yesterday. I know this feeling. I know it very well since having my child. It was a very traumatic experience for me and I haven’t felt confident to seek a qualified professional as I didn’t have Permanent Residency and didn’t want to jeopardise my chances of getting to stay with my family here in Australia. Now I do have PR and I am working through this now.

The first session was a woo woo style practitioner. She let me ramble and ramble, and that’s what I did. I cried a bit, told my story, described how I felt in creative ways, and at the end did some sand play where I just created what was circling in me and brought it to the surface. That was fun, I always enjoy these kinds of ways of bringing out creativity and to help gain insight. I described what I thought about each piece I chose to add from her shelves of figurines. I chose a mini pot of flowers to add beauty and symbolise the circular path that life seems to be. I chose a native woman carrying a child on her back and a golly wog doll which is an inherently racist black doll that is very kitsch Australian, and I chose these because I feel empathy for them, and in my own plight I understand theirs better. I chose Merlin with a unicorn to help represent how magic is all around, I just have to ask and see it. I chose a happy smiling buddha because I want more of that in my life, but am not sure how to fully detach to get to that stage these days. In the middle I drew out two big eyes, like that Grateful Dead song that goes “wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world” as it’s been running through my head for days now. All in all, it was a good session and I appreciated having that kind of very soft space to talk about things.

The second session was just a few doors down, also upstairs in this downtown charming historic town. When I walked into the stairwell it smelt like beauty parlour that specialises in waxing, and it took me by surprise. I guess that smell went with how I felt when I was in the session, very similar to when you are going in for a wax, you know you need to do it, you know you’ll love the results, but for christ sakes the process is painful, but some areas are strangely very satisfying and almost enjoyable in their pain. The psychologist was an older woman who I can only guess has hair that reaches all the way down her back, she had it piled up high on her head into a bun, she’s of retirement age, but so youthful and full of energy as soon as she opened her mouth with a bright sparkle in her eyes. She wore older woman nice clothes, you know the kind that were popular ages ago and they’re still in fine knick but not necessarily up to date. She also wore a beautiful broach that coordinated with her maroon pantsuit which gave me a sense of comfort thinking about how my grandmother used to wear broaches.

We got down to business after I sat in her narrow office. I had already filled out the paperwork, which thankfully my husband’s work pays for these sessions so we don’t have to pay out the $175 per visit as the contract had read. I get five sessions with her under his program and I will use them all. She asked me to give her a summary of why I am there and what I’ve been up to. So I backtracked to 2010 and mentioned that after a head on collision that happened just months after arriving in Australia, that I received counselling which was very helpful. I mentioned that due to a Medical Treatment visa I was able to stay here, and that’s in the timeframe that I met my husband. I mentioned about going back to University and finishing my bachelors. I mentioned that although my husband and I both had chosen in our earlier lives to not have children, that together we changed our direction and intentionally created our son who was conceived on our wedding day out of love, and that he is all love. I then talked about how that pregnancy went haywire, and I ended up in hospital for nearly three weeks until an emergency caesar where he was extracted from my body, and put into the NICU in a  plexiglass box and that a couple days later I was able to see him and all of it was very disorienting. I told her that before I was put under with the gas that I made peace with my life because I thought I was going to die, and how I had just left my husband’s hand in this stark white corridor on the way to the surgery area. I talked about how I had been so straight during my pregnancy with everything I was consuming and then all of a sudden I was taking major drugs to help me cope with the pain, and how that along with having to inject myself with a needle to help prevent dissolve the blood clot that had formed in my groin, was the worst kind of self harm I’ve ever known physically, and all of it took me so far from my natural clear headed state. I talked about the uncertainty when bringing home our child, and being all alone in Sydney with my husband working shifts of four days on and four days off, and not having any additional help and those first months were the darkest of my entire life. I shared how when I think of the newborn phase I think of the smell of Aquim hand sanitiser, chords, beeping, uncertainty, pain, hurt, and grief. I shared with her out loud things that I have never shared with anyone else that went on in my mind during that stage and I wept so loudly and it all came out. I completely lost it, and it may have only been in the first ten minutes of me walking in. Progress was being made.

She talked about the amygdala and how it stores all of our past experiences and how it’s like a volcano that has many layers and how when something gets triggered it then accesses every time I’ve ever had that feeling, and this made perfect sense to me. I had thought of it as wells of emotion within me, something I was holding, something I was internalising, something that was there always with me. She helped me to see that the release can happen by changing it to be a volcano versus a well, and to do whatever I need to in order to get the hell out of the fucking well. She didn’t say it quite like that but this was definitely how I heard it.

She talked about how this kind of trauma creates spikes in my cortisol levels and with that comes fight, flight or freeze. This was also an ah-ha moment to me. I know that my cortisol levels have been spiked from childhood due to having a very traumatic upbringing, and over the years it was clear to me what I was doing I was definitely fighting or fleeing the situation. This time around I have been full on in freeze mode. I hadn’t even considered that freeze was an option, and that’s exactly where I’ve been for the past three years. Adding on the waiting for Permanent Residency and that just created a stronger freeze feeling for me. So I’ve been on edge pretty much my whole life and in this last stretch, it has become freeze and now I get to fucking work it out so I can move forward. No more internalising. I see it, I understand, I have ways to move past this, and now that is what I am doing.

She talked about the importance of getting my levels checked to make sure all of my vitamins, thyroid and all other blood markers are normal in case that needed attention. Thankfully I’ve had those earlier this year due to the endometriosis. Oh speaking of endometriosis, she also said that by keeping all of this in my “well” rather that in a volcano, it would create disease in my body, and then I told her about the endometriosis, which completely makes sense. It came on strong and seemingly all of a sudden, and lasted about ten months. After using the Mirena IUD and getting PR, it’s amazing how it’s settled down, but not at all surprising as I’m not as on edge about everything.

She talked about the importance of deep breathing. 3 count in, hold for 3 and release for 5. She said that if I’m in freeze mode and I’m shallow breathing all of my cells think that they are also in survival mode. She gave an extra oomph to it by talking about Taming the Tiger, and with the breathing to clench my fists in the in breath, and release my hands completely in the out breath to signal to my body physically as well that it’s time for this to go. I loved this. I love that this is actionable and we did it in her office, and I could feel the difference. I will continue to do this.

Overall I feel completely drained from today. My eyes are so tired and dry from all of the crying I’ve done, by far more than I’ve cried anytime in the past couple years, probably not since my father died two years ago. Interesting that it’s also his birthday today, feels very auspicious. I don’t want to be that kind of parent and it almost feels like I’m honouring that by getting help now.

I see her next week and I really look forward to it. I am writing it out. I am moving past this. Thank fucking god. I’m so ready.

My Artistic Creation Insight

When I create words as my art by stringing them together in some kind of poetic way, they come out in a very emotional way of sharing. For those words to flow as they do when I am alone, it is usually because I am tapping into the deep well of emotion within me. Generally those emotions are darker and with more depth than if I am having a regular conversation.

When I am creating visual art, in the form of a painting, it is light, it is easy and it feels so free. A distinct difference of creating art with colour versus in black and white.

With social media, I found that originally my “art” was in sharing openly in black and white. Over the years, that became so limiting, and places like Facebook became entirely too emotional for me, so I had to step away for a while. Fb added the news feed along side my home area and although I normally choose to avoid the news in the paper, on the web, on the radio, and obviously on the tv as we don’t even own one, to find it where I logged in to be social became incredibly confronting. That space that used to be full of inspiration to me became toxic as i would end up diving into emotions that I didn’t log in with, that I picked up as I scrolled along.

Now with Instagram, I find it to be light, and to be easy, as it’s a visual art social media space, at least that is how I use it. There aren’t long winded messages, there aren’t tons of entrepreneurs and life coaches filling up my newsfeed alongside the news like on Fb, and it feels refreshing. I don’t even care about the comments really, but I do want the attention, which I find interesting to think about. I want the attention for my art. I appreciate my visual art and I want others to also appreciate it, in the form of attention.

Seeing how much I am outwardly creating is a positive gauge on how I am feeling. If I am producing a lot of visual art, I am living in the realm of more positive feelings. If I am posting deeper poems or writing in that fashion, then I am diving in. It’s nice to have at least these two very obvious art forms that I use to create.

Yay for creating. Yay for looking in. I’m ordering new canvases this week to keep on painting. Colourful, bold, large, and feeling good.

Of course this is the part where I always imagine how nice it would be if I did this thing that I enjoy doing and people paid me handsomely for it. Oh that would be nice if it happened. Imagine sharing my love and my inspiration via visual art to help inspire love in others. Yes please.

Death at 60

What if 60 is the limit.
What if 60 is when the time is up.

What if I only have another 23 years left?

Another 20 years?

That isn’t much.

Patterns show me that most people don’t make it past 60.

If they do, then usually they seem to make it for a lot longer.

I want to be of healthy body and mind well into my 100s.

Is this a false belief? Is this overly optimistic? Is this based on any actual evidence?

I don’t want to die at 60. I don’t want to die at 70, I don’t want to die in another 20 or 30 years.

One of my biggest fears is that I won’t be able to experience and live all the different lives that I want to in my lifetime here on earth. It’s always scared me. I can detach from it and realise that death is such a natural part of the human existence, but it doesn’t stop me from deep down inside feeling terrified of it.

I’ve heard that’s what separates humans from other animals, is that we know we die. What if that in itself is a lie too, it’s only what we think we know. How do we know any of it? This is such a dangerous and exhausting spiral to go down, and I don’t want to.

I just have this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that I may only have another 20 years left and it is about to make me cry. I can focus on all the good things. In fact, this feeling emerged when I was thinking about all of the good things in my life last night. I was looking at my dear little son and feeling so much love for him, and I saw my husband and felt so much love, I thought about my incredible day with my mother’s group and my cup felt like it was overflowing, and I loved that feeling, I love that feeling. So why on earth is this dark shadow now creeping up, this shadow that makes me want to believe that I only have so many more years to live. I mean, I know it’s true. I know death is inevitable, but it’s not going to happen tomorrow, it’s not going to happen tonight. Honestly I really don’t know if any of that is true, I only know about right now.

Does it help writing it out? Do I feel like I’ve released some of the pressure? Yes. Can I take a deeper breath because I’ve let it out? Yes.

I want to live. I want to experience more life in my life. I have so much more to give, love, experience, absorb, learn, dance with. I need more time.

Qualifications, PR, and Studying

As I was finishing my final year doing my Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a focus on Marketing, I was asked by many of my professors if I would do the Honours Program, and then head into my PhD. They were so supportive, three different professors, all wanting me to be a part of what they were teaching and doing. Such an honour in itself. One of my professors even offered to have my teach Digital Marketing while I did my Honours Program, even allowing me to have full credit on my research projects, which isn’t the norm in academia. How incredible, a job that pays $100 an hour, the stepping stone program to PhD, and lots of support.

My husband had recently gotten a job in Sydney with a major global brand and was enjoying his work. I was soon to turn 34 and we had decided that having a child was on the horizon and it was in our sights to do that by 35 to reduce any risks. I personally could have waited, but having children wasn’t in my life vision so I hadn’t even heard about the 35 fertility myth or even thought much about it. Also I didn’t have Permanent Residency which was a nice bonus if doing the Honours Program because it would be subsidised greatly, and after paying International Fees to complete my Bachelor’s this seemed like a great idea. We were told by immigration that if we waited until after our 3 year anniversary, and then apply, it would only take six months and I’d have PR. Super. I could defer doing the Honours Program for one year, have a child, and then go back to it with PR and get the subsidised rate.

Within 4 months of graduation, I fell pregnant, literally on our wedding day, and things went full speed ahead. 10 months after graduating we applied for PR as we had met the 3 year requirement for de facto from the beginning of our relationship. I had to apply in between hospital stays, as the pregnancy was very difficult. I had too many things going on, I know it. We were trying to start up a couple of businesses, trying to settle between houses in Sydney and at the farm, and me trying to understand the flow of hormones in my body and to be at peace with the exhaustion and full time nausea. It was too much. I had no idea what I was doing, and truly hadn’t had conversations around the gestation process and thought my body would just do what it needed. Things went sideways, and eventually baby came very early due to complications via an emergency caesarian. We then went through the horrendous process of the NICU and the uncertainty and all of the emotional pain, along with the physical pain I was still dealing with. It was a crazy upheaval of a time. One year after graduation, we were able to take baby home for the first time, after he had been in care for five weeks and was strong enough to come home. Things were not going to return to normal, there wasn’t going to be an Honours Program and teaching at the University, it wasn’t going to be any time soon, that was absolutely for certain.

I nursed my own Post Partum Depression, and Post Traumatic Stress, I nursed the baby, and he became my focus, completely. I was still trying to figure out how to be a mum, and my husband was away four long days at a time for work, which then followed by four days at home, but those four days away were long, and isolating. I lost myself in it. I had the darkest days I’ve known. Permanent Residency didn’t come, and then it kept not coming, and everything seemed to be in this state of grey.

It took me a while to get through it, I formed a Mother’s Group based on a community education program for new mums that I went to, and they became the guiding light that I so desperately needed. A group of women who had children all the same age as my son, all of them new, and all of us going through the same thing at the same time, and everyone living nearby. We don’t have any family here, so I had to create one myself.

So time continued to pass, my son got stronger, I got stronger, and life started to normalise. I continued to think we were going to be moving back to the farm area, but alas it didn’t happen. I didn’t choose to become a single parent, and it has been on purpose that we’ve stayed together and I know it’s been the right choice versus having my husband fly back and forth to the farm. In this time, I’ve also looked briefly at taking courses, but without having PR or citizenship, the costs are quite high, like astronomically high. I even for a moment thought that when PR was coming, which again it hadn’t, that I could do the medical program that was highly subsidised and become a doctor. What was I thinking. It would have been a great route when i was younger and didn’t have children, but now it’s not a practical choice, although i did get caught up in the fantasy and forecasting of it all.

Honestly I do want a source of income that doesn’t tie me down to one spot, and that doesn’t require me to do a 9-5, Monday through Friday job. I don’t see how that fits in with being the kind of hands on mother that I am, and I don’t see how that allows me the flexibility for us to go to the farm, or make a trip, or the like when my husband has time off. I want the flexibility and the freedom of location and time, plus money. A career in academia sounded great before having children, maybe it would be great when he is older, but we may very well have another child and I don’t want to put my children right into daycare, I want to be that guiding influence for them when they are young, and then when they get old enough and want some diversity, then offer the option for them to go to daycare or other play programs.

Australia is very much a country that requires qualifications and certifications for everything. My husband says its because they are risk averse, and I get it, it’s easier to make sure everyone is doing what they should be doing if they all are on the same page as to what exactly that is. So when looking back at reskilling, looking for courses that offer a qualification at the end makes the most sense. Also when looking for practical courses, it would make sense to learn about something in the direction that we are heading. So I looked into Financial Planning, and then into Real Estate. I had looked into Real Estate before I had PR, but again due to costs, and lack of time with having a very young child, it was shelved. Now, I’ve found a course to get a Real Estate license that I’ll have by completed within four months or less, which sounds very appealing. We now live in a high growth sector of Sydney and my thought is that if I wanted to pick up something casual in a Real Estate office or do something else in that field over here, then this would be a high demand area. Also, more specifically, i want to learn the ins and outs of Real Estate as I do want to start investing in that sector. Soon we’ll be buying our own home, and I want to understand the process, and better yet, if I can help us maximise our money, and save money, that would be amazing. So this is the direction I am heading.

I wonder how many other women who have children completely change their career paths because they have children and need the flexibility of time.  Thankfully I do like to study and learn, so this will be an enriching experience for me. Ideally one where I can help others and myself along the way.

Coming into my own beauty

Something has been happening lately. I’ve been much more comfortable and proud of my own unique look. I am a beautiful woman. I have features that are uniquely mine and that help me stand out from the crowd. I am celebrating these now and don’t have the feeling to look like the best version of the acceptable social standard like I did when I was younger and that feels very refreshing. When I wash my face at night and am getting ready for bed in my bedtime routine, I feel so beautiful and it feels incredible. I go to sleep feeling that way and I wake up feeling that way, it’s really quite a nice shift and feels great.

It wasn’t always like this. It has taken me a while to realise that even subconsciously I had this image of what was the most popular way of looking and since my natural looks are similar, I just did the extra work to make myself look like this image. I don’t feel like that now. I am embracing the fine lines and wrinkles developing on my face, I am embracing the shape of my nose and the petite chin I have, I am embracing the beauty of my natural lips and their generous shape, I am embracing the curves of my body like never before, and it all feels so very good. I’m even embracing the unique, maybe not so unique, physical aspect of my toes where two of them, the second and third toe, are relatively the same length, they are mine, they are my beautiful toes. All of this feels great. I’m also realising how much better I like the natural volume and wave to my hair, I do accentuate it a bit, but nothing crazy, and I just love how it feels.

Overall, I’m just feeling more comfortable, confident, and at home in my own body, and it feels fantastic.

Reproducing Thoughts Out Loud

I am a curious person by nature, it’s an integral part of what makes me who I am. I love learning new things, I love the getting the opportunity to explore and experience life in new ways. I love asking questions that go deeper, I love getting to know people.

When talking to a mum in my Mother’s Group recently and discussing whether or not we will have another child, I explored within myself why I am sometimes very much for it, and then again also not wanting to go there again. A major reason that came up when diving in to find why I do want another child was rather beautiful. I hadn’t put it into words quite like I did that day, but I’ll try again now. One of the most amazing parts of being a parent is that I have this incredible privilege to get to know someone else on such an intimate level, to know all about them and to really hold that sacred space. It’s such a beautiful experience that comes with a lot of emotions and overall it has brought a depth to my life that I hadn’t known quite like this before. It’s very different from getting to know a lover, it’s different from any other kind of relationship I’ve ever experienced. The parent aspect of the parent-child relationship is all about being there for someone else, and helping them, guiding them to learn and grow, helping to set up their foundations for their lifetime and it’s such a huge role, and so ordinary and so extraordinary at the same time. It’s so everything.

I would love to get to know another person the way I have gotten to know our son. I have really enjoyed getting to know his personality, getting to know how he thinks and how his mind works, to understand his emotions, and to see his process of becoming. He’s an incredibly special person and I don’t take that for granted at all, he’s such a gentle and kind person by nature. He’s intriguing and happy, and has the most infectious laugh. He tries and he likes to perfect what he does alone without my husband or I watching so that then he just does it when he’s ready in front of us like it’s not a big deal. He isn’t showy, he isn’t proud like that, he’s just someone who does what he does and takes his own pride in what he does. He loves to be around people, but even so, sometimes he’d much prefer to just play on his own, even within a group, and he chooses to do both on his own. He’s such a fascinating person and an absolute blessing.

It has been amazing to see my husband develop into the man he is as a father, as a husband, as a really strong role model who is gentle, kind, and supportive. He was made to be a dad and it’s such a blessing to see that happening in his life too. He would make an incredible parent to more children, absolutely and that is also a big reason why when I feel “yes” is the feeling, this is in that mix.

I have grown so much as well as a parent, as a woman, as a human being, man, so very much. I realised recently that a part of my letting go of social media in the past couple of months has been because it made my mind too confused. Seeing so many different lives of people whom I’ve shared life with at some stage or another, all converged in the same room, when truly they should be separated, they are meant to live in their chapters, and not be jumbled together. I’ve always looked at my life as having very distinct chapters, and by having all the characters, and all the chapters essentially open at once, I found it to be subconsciously, stifling to my growth. I am fully in my motherhood stage, but seeing other women my age that I know doing other things, like having careers that they stress out about, or vacations they take because they are still single, or even the ones who are single and putting their posts out there like that, it was just too confusing for my internal compass. I am not sure I like this part of myself, and I am trying to let this come out without judgement, but I am the kind of person who needs to know rules, the kind of person who needs to know what the standard is so that I can surpass it. It’s like I have to know what the benchmark is so that I can not only meet it, but create a new one. With social media blending it all together, it became entirely too confusing because I am not that, I cannot be all of that and still surpass all of it. I cannot be a newlywed couple anymore, I cannot be a single business owner anymore, I cannot be or live any of those old lives at any stage, because my own life is in a new chapter. My own chapter was getting muffled and I had to pull back and refocus on this current chapter with all it’s beauty, with all it’s glory, with all it’s life, with all it’s physical presence. I am here, I am here right now, in person, living my life, and this is where I want to have my headspace, not in some other world that I just happen to be able to access because I have the internet. I want to live the life I have and I find it so much easier to do that, and to appreciate it, when I unplugged from social media and really began living inside of my own life again. Even though I wasn’t actively comparing, subconsciously I was, and it wasn’t healthy. I wanted to be the most genuine or the most “real” because that’s what I know. There will always be people who are prettier, or smarter, or richer, or whatever, but I felt that my area was in being the most honest about what my life is and what was going on in it, so I went that route, but it didn’t really feel good, I looked for the confirmation via my “peers” who aren’t really my peers anymore, and that also became confusing. I definitely needed to clear that out and I have and am starting to see things in a new way, which feels much better. It was like all of a sudden my benchmark for everything came from the internet rather than from my real life. It was the same kind of thing that happened when I grew up in a small town and everyone who was popular copied the magazine look, or what was being shown on MTV. It wasn’t authentic, it wasn’t self generated, it was imposed by some outside force and we just followed along. I found I was doing that too, but that isn’t healthy, at least, it isn’t congruent with the way I want to live my life, with the creative and spontaneous way that I like to lead from within. It’s taken me a bit to step out and see this, and it’s still crystallising. From looks, to way of being, to everything… social media in all it’s guises became some big marketing machine and I really don’t want to be a part of that because it doesn’t feel good.

Wow. Okay, that was a bit of a tangent, but in essence, by cutting out social media, living in my own physical life, it becomes a lot clearer to me what I really do want in my life. Will we as a family every travel around the globe and be “that” family? Only if it happens organically. Will we be the family that is self-sustainable living on our own land and inviting our friends and family to enjoy life with us? That sounds more likely and more congruent with who my husband, myself and our son are as a family, and it’s been happening organically, it’s been happening because that’s how our life has been unfolding based on what we value and what feels the best to us. Wow, that feels great to get out. It’s so true too. This is who we are. Will we be the family where the mum is a corporate woman who puts here kiddos in daycare, no. Will we be the family who has our own business, that ends up supporting our lifestyle, quite likely yes. Will we be the family who everyone wants to be around because we are good, kind, gentle, fun, loving people? Yes, yes we will.

So will there be another person added to our family? I said recently that if my body was willing and we had unlimited resources then I’d love to have a big family with lots of kids. I would love that. It would be a lot of work and I’d need help, and it would be wonderful. If we had just one more, how great would it be? It would be great.

So when I think of “No” its because our life is really really good right now. Our son is really such an amazing person and we all mesh so well together. A part of me doesn’t want to rock the boat. I also have a fear in there regarding the pregnancy and birth, and if anything is wrong with the child, and if my body can successfully go through another pregnancy. These are all valid fears, and risks, and I’m aware that with having children so many variables come into play. Am I willing to go through the experience again of a NICU? Am I willing to go through the experience again of injecting myself with blood thinners twice a day for months? Am I willing to risk getting stretch marks? Am I willing to have a child with a disability? That last one scares the living hell out of me. Am I willing to have twins if that happens? That’s crazy but so intriguing. What if, what if, what if… what if the child is not like our son, or is like our son… I could play this game for ages… but it’s such a wild card… do we risk what we have for someone possibly even greater? Do we risk what we have with our small little family of three and allow someone else in?

Is one enough? Will we add one more to our family? I’m going to allow this to still simmer in my mind, and allow it to form… it’s becoming clearer… I hope…

One Child or More?

How do you actually know? How do you know for sure you want to have another child? How do you know for sure that the one you have is the only one you’ll ever want and need in your life?

Always torn between the longing of having a big family, I always think it will be different from my own, that we’ll get along, live nearby one another and be doing well in life. I don’t know this from experience, and I haven’t seen it modelled very much in my life, but I think it can happen, I feel like it can. I would love to see my husband be a dad to another child, he is amazing with our sweet two year old son. I would love to see our sweet toddler be a big brother to some one and teach the new baby how to do things, I can imagine he would be great at it, patient, kind, naturally sharing like he is with our mothers group kiddos. I think myself how lovely it would be to experience this kind of love with yet another person, having a son has opened my heart in entirely new ways, and has helped to deepen my relationship with my husband in so many ways too, it feels secure, it feels strong and I love that feeling.

There are parts that still get me tied up, the parts that make me keep using birth control and keep with our family only having one child. This morning we were having smoked salmon on croissants for breakfast. How decadent really and it’s in part because I am a stealth shopper, but also because it’s just the tidy three of us and our food money can go a lot further. When I think back over the weekend when we went to two different community style festivals, it was awesome for many reasons, including that since there’s only one child, the burden of looking after a child in a crowd is distributed, we can each carry him and still give him attention while we explore ourselves with a bit of freedom for each parent. I guess it’s freedom that is the part that always comes back to me when thinking of staying just with one child. The freedom of being able to quickly get up and go when we want, the freedom of a set sleeping schedule that allows my husband and I time to do other things at night that interest us. I like the idea of a large family, but for practical and slightly selfish reasons I think having just one is great, we can go on trips easier and for a lot less money, we can help educate him in so many different ways because we have the time and resources to do so.

Sleep is such a big deal. Maybe it wouldn’t be if I were in my early 20s and am considering having another child, but now in my late 30s it is a consideration. I like sleep, I need sleep, and when I get enough sleep, everything else feels better in my life. I also like to have independence and now that our son is a toddler, it’s great because he can play on his own and then we can play together, and it allows me a bit more breathing room, especially compared to early on.
Speaking of early on, those newborn weeks, and months, were the darkest, hardest, most gut wrenching and challenging time I’ve ever had. It was compounded by the fact that my body was in such poor repair after the emergency caesar, slipped disc, sciatica, and DVT in my left leg, but also emotionally from having been in the hospital for nearly 3 weeks straight, having to take pain medication when I had set out to have a natural pregnancy and natural birth, and then not knowing if either of us were going to make it through the delivery, then the 5 weeks in the NICU never knowing if he is going to die, or if he can come home and all of it being so emotional, so bizarre, and so surreally horrible. I know I had, or perhaps still have undiagnosed PTSD. I have so much fear wrapped around pregnancy and birth and when I allow myself to really think about the whole process, I don’t want to go through it again. Even now thinking about how horrible, isolating, and confusing that stage was, brings tears to my eyes and my stomach goes in knots. I don’t know if I can actually do it again.

Then, and I know what ifs aren’t so good, but really, what if… what if the next baby has something that needs special attention too, what if it’s special attention beyond just the newborn phase, like a disability or something else? What if adding another child to our very cohesive family messes it all up and we really struggle? There’s no guarantee of who will come next and I know from my mother’s group that they really are their own person, a fine mixture of nature and nurture and sometimes it feels so very much like we just totally lucked out to have such an amazing, well behaved, kind child. He really is special, I mean, it’s like we have totally won the jackpot with our son, I’m thankful all the time. It was such a tremendously challenging start, but gosh, he’s really great. We’ve all started to really find our groove and I don’t know if I want to rock that boat.

The other part of this, which is a huge part, is that I am in my late 30s… and that means a deadline is looming. Maybe it’s not really by the end of the year, but I keep getting fooled into thinking that I have to do it now or never… that if we are going to have another child, if I am going to give birth to another child, then I need to fall pregnant by the end of the year, before I turn 38 and hope that my eggs are still nice and healthy to produce a nice and healthy baby.
I go back and forth with this decision. Having endometriosis just adds another dimension to it because the doctor said that if I have a baby then it puts the oestrogen on hold until after… so if I get pregnant, sooner than later is a good choice, because I *may* have to have a surgery again, this time to remove some of the endometriosis cells, and if it all goes south, then even more would need to be removed. I also have found out that the endometriosis cells have pretty much covered over my left ovary, which is likely why I get so much pain on that side, especially around my cycle time.

So it’s my body, it’s my mind, and it’s my emotional health that all needs to be in consideration ALONG with my own family dynamics. It isn’t a straightforward thought, and honestly since I was deadset against having children when i was younger, I didn’t have the whole dream of a big family after a big white wedding, that simply wasn’t me and wasn’t my life plan, so it’s not like I can just fall back on some projection that I’ve already made. Well, expect that one image that came out of no where when I was living in Brazil… it was so far away from where I was in my life, but I knew it was what I was needing in my life… and in that there was a house on some land with veggies, fruit trees, animals, a natural water source and the ocean nearby, with me, my husband and two little people… two. I don’t know where it came from, it had shocked me at the time… so part of me feels like I need to fulfil this. Maybe I just need to focus one step at a time on my health and well being and then worry about whether or not to have children after that… Gosh I just don’t want to miss that boat, if that’s the boat we really do want.

 

Shaking my head. Still not clear.