Wow, this has been a really tough post to write! I have felt exhausted just at the thought of it. But I also know that the discipline of reflecting on the past and planning for the future is really important and a clear commitment to myself. I have come back from a lovely, relaxing holiday but I am still feeling exhausted and could quite happily have at least another 2 weeks of holiday! But reality and responsibility calls and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I know that I normally thrive with routine and discipline so let’s give 2019 all that we can!
I have re-read my post for 2018 and I feel like so much of what I aimed for in 2018 was not achieved – mainly that of having a baby, and just surviving rather than thriving – and yet, in a year like we had in 2018, just surviving was actually a real triumph. So I need to remember that and give it the huge credit it is due. Some of my reflections of 2018 are:
- As I mentioned my main aim for both 2017 and 2018 was to have another baby. There was clearly failure in this resolution. And failure is not something I am good with, on any level! It’s been the acceptance of the fact that there are certain things that are out of my reach, no matter how hard I try and no matter how much I want it. 2018 was the year of failure of our IVF/fertility journey, my inability to carry a pregnancy successfully, nearly losing my life and our surrogacy journey being unsuccessful. There was a lot!! And I still find it really hard to get my head around not having another baby and that being “okay” for our family. I wrote this time last year that I wasn’t sure what would make us stop our IVF journey, and that it would probably be us exhausting our resources financially. It was in fact me nearly dying and the doctors saying “enough” and then the failure of surrogacy that eventually forced that decision upon us and took it out of our hands in a way. And I am learning to accept this, one small step at a time.
- I continued to connect with people who have experienced loss. I have done more talks, educated more on grief and loss, done more writing. being published in a magazine and spoken more on radio. This area of my personal life gives me huge satisfaction and helps to keep my children “alive” for me. The more people that I can help the more their loss doesn’t seem so in vain.
- I am so grateful for my family and friends, but particularly for my sister Sam, who especially in the first 6 months of this year, when she was having her own health challenges having badly broken her foot, stepped in and was mom to Murray when I couldn’t be, either because I was in hospital (7 times) or was on bedrest. Sam and Murray have a very special relationship and I am so grateful for her patience, kindness, firmness and fun and the way that she so selflessly gave of herself to help us. She lived with us for quite a large part of the first 6 months of the year and I am so so appreciative that things worked out that way. I am not quite sure how we would have coped without her to be honest.
- James and I haven’t been able to focus much on “us” this year and this is something that we need to do more of in 2019, focusing on being gentler and kinder with each other. A lot of 2018 was just about each surviving and it was quite a self-focused time. I am so grateful that James has been there every step of the way in my health challenges, been there for me for daily hospital visits and food runs, and for picking up the bulk of stuff at home when I wasn’t able to – for being mom and dad a lot of the time to Murray. And for also constantly encouraging me to “look after me”, something which doesn’t come naturally to me at all.
- Murray has been held and supported by our friends and family, his support network at school and he has generally had a good year. I have been so proud of how he has learnt to talk about his feelings, verbalise questions and concerns around his lost siblings and continues to delight us daily just by being himself.
- Despite everything, I have had good cancer counts and check-ups. Long may that continue.
- I have continued to work on myself through therapy as well as doing a very intense resilience retreat weekend in August. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done for myself personally but also one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done. It helped me so much in processing everything that has happened in the last 3 years and in trying to formulate a path going forward.
- One unexpected surprise in 2018 was reconnecting with my dear cousin Emma in New Zealand. We hadn’t been in contact for 18 years and she so selflessly and incredibly offered to be a surrogate for us. I feel so blessed to have her back in my life and to have discovered such a remarkable and truly giving person, really wanting to help us in whatever way she can.
- Amazing doctors who have been with me every step of the way, who are pedantic and can think on their feet, who have always gone way beyond their call of duty to ensure that I am around to be a wife to James and mom to Murray
So then looking forward to 2019 and ensuring it’s with a positive lens, which allows me to thrive rather than just to survive:
- My main goal is for it to be a simple, boring year!!! 😊 No hospital stays, no drama, just a plod along year, with some excitement, success and happiness along the way. Not a lot to ask for right? 😊
- My second new year’s resolution for 2018 was to be able to find the grace and courage to accept it should another child not be what is meant for us and to be grateful for the enormous blessings we do already have. And so this is a goal for 2019, and where I have already started to do a lot of work.
- To be the best mom that I can possibly be to Murray. To help him to unlock his full potential, to give him strong boundaries (he is a child that really needs this) and to nurture who he is and to love him and “hold his hand” every step of the way.
- I want to focus on making new memories and new experiences with our family of 3, free of any expectation of how they “should” have been, but just appreciating what they are and drinking in every moment.
- To get my body as strong as I know that it can be and to run the 2 Oceans half marathon in April (a goal that I set at the resilience retreat that I went on). And in doing so, recognizing my limitations due to my lymphedema, and not push my body beyond what is good for it, like I have been known to do too often.
- To focus on special friendships and really commit time and energy to them.
- To continue to reach out to those grieving to help them in any way that I can and to continue to educate on grief and loss
So let’s make 2019 a year to thrive rather than just to survive!