Thursday, 12 September 2013

Realizing, again

This week while out shopping, one of my favorite Flaming Lips songs, Do You Realize? came over the radio. It's a song that's always held meaning for me, and which brought particular comfort after S died; there is a beautiful and powerful truth in the starkness of the lyrics. A call to live life to the fullest, to fully inhabit every moment you have.  A wonder at the beauty of it all.

Do you realize 
That you have the most beautiful face?
Do you realize 
We're floating in space?
Do you realize 
That happiness makes you cry?
Do you realize 
That everyone you know someday will die?

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes 
Let them know you realize that life goes fast
It's hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn't go down
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

But on this most recent listening, those last two lines somehow caught me in a new way, a way I had never considered before.

the sun doesn't go down/it's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.

Just as we have to really fiercely live the beautiful and fleeting moments of happiness so intense it can reduce us to tears of bewildered joy, equally the dark moments when we think all sun and all goodness have gone from our lives are momentary too. And yes, there will be moments when that dark seems so deep and impenetrable as to be unending; when in fact, it's just an illusion, a trick of spinning planetary bodies. This too shall pass.

It was a welcome reminder.



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Last month I attended a conference that is one of the largest gatherings of its kind for people in my erstwhile profession. While there, I had the lovely opportunity to catch up with some former colleagues and in one such conversation, received an invitation to do some teaching in Botswana in early 2014. It was an intriguing offer, affirmation of my standing in a profession I no longer inhabit, and more than a little enticing. This was not the first such instance: in a similar encounter last year, I was asked to join full-time a project in China which I had been working on as a consultant for several years.

In a former life, these would have been the kinds of projects - and the kinds of adventures - that I would have jumped at, and I must confess that I was a little wistful in giving my answer that, at least for the time being, these undertakings wouldn't be in the cards for me. The reality is, such work and the travel it necessitates are hugely incompatible with ttc and particularly with infertility treatments. I would be required to take anti-malarials regularly, expose myself to questionable water sources, travel to post-conflict areas where infrastructure is minimal, if not non-existent. Over time, I have become mistrustful enough of my body's reproductive capacities and ability to deal with routine 'risks' like a glass of red wine thoughtlessly sipped during a two week wait, or accidental inhalation of mould or cat litter; throwing those extra (and very real) risks into the mix was not an option.

This whole babymaking rollercoaster has almost been enough to entirely erase from memory the knowledge of how stupid? adventurous my former self was, and what very different rollercoasters I once rode. 

But when I left it behind, I suppose there was always some notion that we'd see where life took us, that I might possibly return to the work in some time, even with children. In reality, my marriage is no impediment to such work because my flexible, travel-loving husband is ready and willing to join me in such far-flung locales, and we envisaged a future in which we could introduce our child to the wonders of the world so loved by two travel-addicted parents. We both view travel as an exciting and vital form of education, and exposure to otherness, learning to negotiate differences of materiality and culture are more than just passionately held ideals for us. The cultures in which we have lived tend to place a high value on children, who are at the centre of community life, and we imagined our child benefitting from that atmosphere too. Learning to pump water from a well, to speak other languages; tasting and seeing and hearing new things; meeting other children and playing with the kind of freedom that is all but impossible in many western countries today. We (naively, foolishly) built an entire future for our little family - complete with sights and sounds and many an adventure - before understanding what sacrifices would have to be made, what challenges we would face, in getting the very part of the equation we thought would be the simplest: the babies. (And it was this approach to life that also made us drawn very early on to the possibility of international adoption; not instead of, but alongside biological children. It's something we'd still like to pursue, at a later date.) 

Fast forward three years - through all the failures and pain and loss and false starts, not to mention the drastic change in living conditions and career paths - and here we are, about to begin IVF. We are oh-so-fortunate to be looked after at a clinic where we can expect two fully funded rounds of IVF, (including as many FETs as would be feasible after retrieval of my crappy eggs). We're so grateful for this chance, and also aware that This. Is. It: The Final Frontier. We'll either manage a healthy pregnancy or we won't. There really isn't any in-between, is there? A year from now, our life could and probably will look so very different than it does now, but we won't know for some time exactly which different we're getting. In any case, we both know we don't want to be doing this for much longer, whatever the outcome. It's hard to draw a line in the sand when it involves something you've worked so hard for, committed so much of yourself to, dreamed of with such intensity; so although we haven't set a hard and fast deadline for ourselves, we both know we're nearing the end of this particular journey. I need a fresh start, to devote my energies to something else for a change. I need the chance to be excited about things that might just work. I owe that to myself and I owe it to my marriage.

So why am I mentioning this in the context of my erratic career trajectory? I guess it's nice, and somehow reassuring, to be reminded of all that's waiting out there for me, for us, when we finally have cause to call it a day, baby or no baby. I'm reaching a place where all the possible what ifs hold not so much fear, but possibility. We have many an adventure still to undertake, whatever our family ends up looking like.

As dark as things may seem right now, there is movement, even if it's imperceptible in this particular moment. Things are happening. And there is so much waiting out there for us. H is close to completing his thesis, and then we won't need to be here anymore. We might finally make the move 'back home', to Canada, or to Austria. Maybe we'll move to that little alpine farm and raise goats, as we've daydreamed about. Maybe we'll find ourselves in more far-flung, less prosaic surroundings altogether. Maybe I'll return to the work for which I once held so much passion, or take up that offer in Botswana. Maybe we'll buy an old jalopy and spend three months driving through the Balkans, like we've always talked about. (Of course, all of these things would be stellar experiences with a tiny, curious and open-minded companion to occupy our time; this would be the best case scenario.) Who knows? The thing is, I think I'm getting to a place where all those possibilities, and even the unknown-ness of it all, can - one day soon - hold as much excitement as trepidation. And even though the world keeps spinning round, and will doubtless continue to throw us for a loop here and there, right now that's an okay place to be.



26 comments:

  1. I love this post, Sadie. Reading all those possible life paths you laid out was such an inspiration. To be honest, most days I feel like if I can't have children I don't want to live. I know that's cowardly, and of course I do plan to do my best with whatever the final outcome for us may be. But sometimes it's easier to tell myself that if it doesn't work out and we can't have at least one child, then I can give up. I can live a selfish and indulgent hermit existence. In my heart, though, I know the selfish life wouldn't be a path I could accept long term. I love the way you are able to imagine and embrace alternative paths that you would be excited about with or without babies in the picture. Oh, and those song lyrics are amazing.

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    1. Oh, Annie. I know that pain and I'm so sorry you're struggling with it right now (there are definite self-indulgent and hermit-like aspects to my life!). But it does soften, if not get easier, over time. I know you'll get there my friend, and I hope with all my heart that you'll get the family you so long for and deserve. I hope we both do.

      I think in a world that constantly (if often superficially) valorizes maternity as the most profound, most important role a woman can contribute to society, it falls to us to remind ourselves - and each other! - that we are more than the sum of our reproductive parts, that our sole value as human beings is not determined by our offspring, and that we can and do lead full, happy lives whatever our futures bring.

      Thank you for being inspired, and continuing to inspire me too. We can do this.

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  2. I love that song... also, your posts give me some hardcore wanderlust.

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    1. You and me both! Whatever the future brings, I am ready to get back out there, sooner rather than later.

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  3. All of those possibilities sound wonderful. I know you and H will make the best of whatever the next chapter of your lives brings, with or without (hopefully with) a child. You both have such an openness to new experiences that I know will bring you one adventure after another.

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    1. Aw, thanks Daryl. I think you're right, we're both open and looking forward come what may. I still really, reeeeally hope that there's a baby in there somewhere to share it all with.

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  4. Hi! I am visiting your blog for the first time. LOVE the way you write. I could read that phrase on what ifs holding less fear again and again. And yes, beautiful lyrics!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, and for visiting. It's really been about getting to that place, this whole last three years...allowing fear to be accompanied by hope and possibility and joyful anticipation. It's a work in progress.

      I've just had a look at your blog as well, and I am enchanted by the whimsy and heart of your drawings. I can't wait to see what comes next!

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  5. These are all exciting possibilities. I really do wish your craziest dreams will come true...and that you will finally find peace.
    And I totally get you, career wise, I could be going on internships in far away places, but being married and looking for a baby makes that kind of adventures a lot harder to combine.

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    1. Thanks Amanda. I think for me it's less about the specific possibilities and more about the willingness to embrace and accept the 'what ifs'. If I can pull that off, I know there'll be much joy ahead for me. I'm working on it, while I continue to hope and dream of that little companion to share the joy with :)

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  6. The enchantment and promise of possibility - it's a beautiful thing and it sounds like it will still be there, one year from now, whether you're carrying a babe on your back through the adventure, or whether it's you and H, hand in hand. I know that for both C and I, the prospect of travel and adventure grew even more enticing in some ways as soon as we started trying (and not conceiving). We could hike the pacific crest trail! Take 6 months off from life and go live! Now those conversations are still present - just different (how old would our kid have to be before we took him on a family adventure?). Hoping for good things for you!

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    1. Thanks Sarah! After a long, long winter just huddled together trying to survive this shit storm of infertility and loss, I am remembering how much adventure there is out there, just waiting for us...And I'm still trying to remain hopeful that includes our baby :)

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  7. Even though this post is about heavy things like completing fertility treatments and ttc process baby or no baby, it is filled with so much optimism, so much hope and excitement and wonderment of the future. I'm so excited about the start of the IVF process for you and about the good possibility of reading about you embarking on all of these adventures with a baby. I always wanted to have a nomadic family, to move every couple of years and expose my children to differences, to transience, to languages. But then I married a man who values stability, and I realized that this is not going to be our path. Thankfully, however, he also values travel and "roughing it", so trips will be in our future.

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    1. Well yeah...I guess life is heavy sometimes, huh? Sorry for being a downer, but yes, actually I am feeling a lot more optimistic, hopeful and excited these days than I have managed for a long while. And thanks for sharing in our excitement on the IVF front - we can use all the cheerleading we can get!

      I am quite certain that even without a nomadic life, your little family will be off on many an exciting adventure with Inmates 122 and 124 strapped into the back of your minivan along with their little monkeys ;)

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  8. Hello Sadie, I have just been catching up on your blog - it's been a while. Congratulations on getting approval on IVF. That news is very exciting indeed! Sorry you are missing out on your potential travels and interestng possibilites but, in my humble opinion, IVF is an exciting adventure all of its own. And, although I am yet to experience it, I hear parenthood is the best adventure of all.
    Good luck Sadie. I will be following along (barring any unforseen diasters that force me to hide for a while).
    xxx

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    1. Oh Ana, I'm so so happy to see your comment here. I have been thinking of you so often these last months. Thank you for stopping by to offer your support and encouragement friend. And you're right, it's good news indeed that we've been accepted to move forward with IVF. As I hope my post today shows, I'm starting to get excited about that big adventure too! All those other, globe trekking adventures will be there waiting for us when we're ready to get back to it...

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  9. What powerful lyrics. Thank you for sharing they are so true!

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    1. I'm glad if they gave you pause for affirming thoughts :)

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  10. Isn't it amazing how a song can just transport you.. I can see how that one does.... Sending you good thoughts!

    Happy ICLW - I am a bit early :)

    To celebrate the publication of my book there is a giveaway on my blog to celebrate the publication (autographed book, $25 Victoria Secret Gift Card, Sandi Rose CD) - I'd love if you can check it out...

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    1. Thanks for the thoughts, and for stopping by Hilary. And a happy ICLW to you too!

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  11. Glad you liked my drawing :)

    I'm sending you a big hug xxx

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    1. Thanks for the hug lovely - it's always much appreciated!

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  12. I know what you mean. Hopefully you'll be able to get back to your former adventurous self!

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    1. Thanks Jessah, I hope so too - preferably with baby!

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  13. I know I'm late in commenting here, but I just wanted to say that this post seemed to resonant with something important. I hope that a year brings you a baby and the dreams that you really want. But at the same time, you seem to be in such a healthy place about accepting that, within a finite amount of time, you will be able to commit to your life, instead of putting it on hold and waiting. I can feel that you have a lot of dreams (love the alpine goat farm idea) and I hope you're able to pursue them happily and with peace. Of course, I hope you have a little Heidi-girl-with-braids at your goat farm to sweeten the deal.

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    1. Thanks friend :) I AM feeling that these days - like I'm in a good and joyful place, ready to face the future whatever it holds. I'm genuinely looking forward to living my life fully again. And ironically, I think it was only through embrace all those myriad possibilities that I have been able to gather the strength and wherewithal to tackle IVF and all that come with it, with some degree of hope and enthusiasm. So right now firmly thinking towards that sweet little farm-hand to accompany us on that and many another adventure! I love the image that your description conjures.

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