Friday, March 25, 2016

Becoming Mum - The Loss

I read Post Secret every week. I have since I was in my early 20s. Back then, I was dealing with a few things and I found I related to a lot of the secrets, so reading them gave me a connection to the people who sent them in. These days I don't relate to a lot of them, but I still read, intrigued by the idea that the people we know actually carry more secrets than we can ever possibly know.

Today I came across the post above, and boom, there it was - something I could relate to. Because my secret is this: Jackson was not the first baby to find a beginning in my body.

The first baby never grew beyond the size of a poppy seed, and didn't ever have a heartbeat, but despite its tiny size, the loss I felt was immense.

In October 2014, I spent two weeks wondering if I was pregnant. It was too soon to test, but all the signs were there - I was super tired, peeing all the time, roller coaster emotions - textbook pregnancy stuff. Chris was teasing me, convinced I was pregnant, and when the window in which I could pee on a stick came up, I jumped at the chance. I had taken a few pregnancy tests over the years, but this one was different. Immediately a second, albeit faint, pink line appeared. It was one of the most surreal moments of my life; my hands shook and, I'll be honest, I was terrified. Somehow I knew; something wasn't quite right. Something would happen.

The next day I took myself to the doctor who ran a blood test. I would receive the result the next day. Those 24 hours were intense - I tried to be positive, reminding myself that I often assume the worst even when things are fine, and I imagined life with a baby. I imagined telling our families at Thanksgiving, I imagined maternity leave, night feeds, tiny baby clothes. I pictured the little life that was forming inside me. It consumed me immediately. I googled everything I could find on early pregnancy. I kept returning to the bathroom just to stare at that second pink line.
But I was also aware that my symptoms had stopped quite abruptly that day. I tried to will myself to feel the fatigue I had become accustomed to, I kept checking with myself whether I needed to pee again yet. But I felt like myself again.

The next day, at the doctor surgery, I was hearing the words "I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint you."
My HCG levels (that's the pregnancy hormone) were virtually non-existent by the time I had fronted up for the blood test. It was diagnosed as a 'failed pregnancy' which had likely never even implanted, and I was told that I could expect it to pass with my next period, which would show up any time now.

It was the biggest emotional roller coaster of my life. It didn't matter that it was a very early loss - for a short time, there had been the beginnings of a baby inside me. The first human being who would be half of me, and half of Chris. I had pictured a future, a change, and suddenly that picture was gone, and instead I was facing the normal, predictable future again, which had always satisfied me but now felt empty and miserable.

It took a week for the pregnancy to pass, and in that week two different people asked me when we were planning on having kids. This has become my least favourite question now and I will no longer ask others the same thing. I struggled to come up with answers to those people, all the while thinking of the lifeless little cluster of cells inside me. When it did pass it was painful and confronting, but it was also a relief to me that it was finally over.

That was a painful time, and I can't even imagine what people go through when they lose a pregnancy at a later stage than ours was. But three months later, a new second pink line appeared and this time I looked at it and smiled. In that moment, I just felt like this time everything would be OK. And by some miracle, it was. We have a perfect, healthy little baby boy. I still think of our first pregnancy every day, but ultimately I am grateful because it was the beginning of our journey in getting the little man that we've fallen in love with.

So to the woman who posted the above secret - to every woman who has lost her own poppy seed, grain of rice, chickpea, blueberry, or more - my thoughts are this: the emptiness doesn't come from the physical size of the baby that you have lost. Because it's not just a grain of rice - it's an entire future. And the size of that is immeasurable.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Awesome Stuff; Volume 1

1. This adorbs cereal bowl cake. How is this even real!?!
2. The Duolingo app. I am totally learning Italian in just 5-10 minutes a day... and it's actually working!
3. This gorgeous print. I recently bought it for Jackson's room and the colours are INSANE,
4. Creative Unblock by The Jealous Curator. It's been on my Amazon wishlist forever. Do it, Klara. Just do it.
5. We had these nachos twice this week. The onion rings are EVERYTHING.

Every now and then I will be sharing some awesome things around the internet. Let me know if you find anything that I can add to my list!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Kat Field on Creativity

 You. Guys. I want to introduce you to someone special! Kat is a new writer for Her Happy Heart and is my first step toward having the blog become a collective of writers and contributors, rather than my own personal blog. I am beyond excited to have her on board! Kat will be bringing us all kinds of good stuff, such as reviews around Perth, money saving ideas and anecdotes about her life as an alpaca farmer (kidding - but wouldn't that be awesome?!) AND she will also be hitting us with some excellent truth bombs! She loves great coffee, she looks snazzy in a pair of spectacles, and she happens to be bringing a new human into this world in a few short months. I hope you enjoy having her on board as much as I do. Today we bring you her first post of MANY TO COME. 

I love creativity. 

Read these words carefully, because when I write that sentence, it's in the same vein of someone saying "I love love." They love the things to do with love; they love having someone to care for and to care for them, they love the romantic dinner dates and the enormous feeling that can overwhelm their being when they find the right person. But, when it comes to the crunch, you don't just love 'love'; you love a specific person, and being in love with them has incredible highs and ridiculous lows. You do the completely fantastic and the unbelievably terrible times together and that's what creates love.

Well, that's how I am with creativity. 

I love creativity. My husband is a graphic designer, my closest friends are musicians and crafters and builders. I am totally in love the idea of investing myself into one or two hobbies that I whittle away the hours doing in my spare time; then to have a final piece or product to look back on and think, "Wow! What a blast!" 

And then I sit down with everything I have prepared to start this creative venture... then casually push all of it to the side and turn on my favourite TV show. "Ugh!!!!" I always think to myself, "What a nice idea, but who has that much patience?! What if I don't like what I start, what a waste of time? Who can be bothered? I'm so tired." And so my creative intent sits in the back corner of my house with about eleven other failed creative attempts.

Anyone feel me? 

It has taken me a long time to accept that I am not a modern creative. I know that I am creative, and I know it buzzes inside of me to want to do ...something. But when I realised I wasn't a scrapbooker, or a musician, or a knitter, or a photographer, I honestly thought I had hit the world's creative limits for my life. "That's it," I remember thinking, hanging up my hypothetical apron, "I'm not the creative I thought I was."

And then one day, I feel like God spoke to me clearly about it. See, I believe in God, and I believe that he's the God that created every enormously large structure and yet every intricate detail; from the running order of the solar system, all of the way down to the DNA in my weirdly functional body. I believe he is the God of all creation, the King of all creativity. Interestingly, in Genesis it says that we are created in His image, and also references that He made us in the likeness of him. If we join those biblical truths together with who we are, we are clearly not just "in love" with creativity, but we are all made to be creative in some form, just like Him. So, with this in mind, I threw my list up to him and said (probably in a whining voice), "But God, I'm not very good at these very few things I tried doing for two minutes." Yeah. And regardless of whether or not you believe in the same big ol' creative God as me, that's when I feel he shared with me what creativity is for all of us living and breathing humans.

Creativity is something only limited by your own brain. Creativity stops where you stop, where you give up, where you let your mind stop expanding or imagining. I can take a good guess that people who built skyscrapers and pyramids and cities didn't just throw in the towel because they couldn't crochet. If we get locked into an idea of what being creative looks like, it can limit all that we are able to do.

So assuming we are all born as expansive creative beings, what does your creativity look like? I could list a hundred different creative forms but that could still limit you to my ideas of creativity, purely by what my own brain is capable of thinking. See, God may have created us all in his image but each of us is created uniquely. We work like parts of a body, with no two humans exactly the same. So what makes us think that all of our talents and sources of joy are exactly the same? 

So, open your mind and narrow your search.

One. What do you like to do? 
It can be that simple yet brilliant place to start. What do you currently spend time doing? And what do you enjoy? Look for things in your everyday life that you look forward to, that you invest yourself into. Chances are it's a breeding ground for a whole new creative form.

Two. What do you find people compliment you about?
You might find that, if you listen carefully, people are probably pointing out some creative things that you are good at and maybe don't value as highly as you should. Sometimes, it's easy to miss something fruitful to spend time on because you can be investing in the newest or the most expected. Keep your ears to the ground.

Three. What are some things you've dreamt of but have not done due to fear of time/inadequacy/comparison/not liking it long term/not having enough patience to finish the damn thing?
Well, then stop that. There is no useful advice I have here except make time, stop trying to be the best, make mistakes, be honest with yourself, and remember that the hardest, most challenging times in finding and then doing what you love will bring out the ugliest, most unrefined version of you. Learning patience, as much as it can be revealing, creates in you a new, resilient, maturing being. Find your biggest hurdle in whatever form, recognise its lie and just start! These fears can limit us our entire lives if we choose not to overcome them.

So now, decide whether or not you agree with this, and if you do, be bold. Step out and just do something. Best case scenario, you break out of your mould of what you thought creative looked like and start a fun new adventure. Worst case scenario, you get half a blanket and a big ol' bucket of character building.