My 'word' for 2018 - and why I've already failed.

{EDITED TO NOTE: I wrote this first section on February 1st, and haven't been in the right frame of mind to any days noted below are from quite a few months ago!}


I've never been big on new year's resolutions. Why should we limit ourselves to picking one day to make changes or improvements in our lives?

This year, I've seen a lot of similar talk on social media, with people instead choosing a word that will challenge them throughout the year. A word that will motivate them in a far deeper way than choosing to lose weight or quit smoking (of course, very valid goals if that's your choice). A word that will help to shape the person they are on an emotional, mental and spiritual level.

I thought long and hard about what my word would be. I wanted to 'inspire' others, I wanted to 'bloom' where I was planted, I wanted to 'conquer' all the mountains put in front of me. But none of those words were enough.

Then, as I was forced to come to terms with saying goodbye to yet another much loved and much wanted baby, I decided on joy.



Why? Because it was the word that least resembled what I felt at that time. It was so far from my reality, but was what I so badly wanted to feel.

I was determined that I would figure out how to feel joy again. I would chase it, I would grab it and I would share with everyone else how to do the same. But there was one huge stumbling block in my game plan.


See, I hadn't dealt with my grief yet. I hadn't given myself time and space to go through the ebbs and flows that a journey through grief requires. And I wasn't yet in a place where I could block out the external triggers, or accept them in a way that they wouldn't compromise my joy.

I still haven't, and I still aren't.

When you are struggling with infertility or you have experienced pregnancy + infant loss (or both), it is always a sensitive time when others are announcing their healthy pregnancies or the arrival of their living, breathing newborns.

As much as I want to be able to say "I'm so happy for you!" (and sometimes I do feel it a bit), it is a double-edged sword because in the same breath, I am saying "I am still so heartbroken for us".

Every announcement is a reminder of what my body should be able to do - but continues to fail at.

Every announcement is a reminder that my husband has to endure yet another friend being able to hold their child in their arms, while he is still waiting.

Every announcement is a reminder of the 3 precious babies I have not met but have carried and still love with all of my being.

And that is why I have already failed at my 'word for 2018' thing.

And, honestly? It's not because I'm not happy for my friends. Of course they should be excited - it is such a precious gift to be able to have a healthy child. And when it is a friend who I know has been through infertility, or pregnancy/infant loss, then I am more able to feel excited for them too - and it gives me a little more hope, even with those heartbreaking reminders.

I have been beating myself up so much lately about my response to these announcements. I didn't expect that they would have been coming so thick and fast since choosing my word. Sure, I wanted a chance to practice joy, but I'd also like a chance to regroup after each time! I'm not even joking when I say that for a week I heard about a new pregnancy or birth every single day. And once - there was a pregnancy announcement and birth announcement in the same day! 9 announcements in 8 days. The most recent one was on Monday and my heart had just had enough. I completely broke down. It is so hard not to fall into that default response of "it's not fair!" I had already been scheduled for the D&C on Wednesday and all I could hear was my mind screaming "Why is this happening? Why can't that be us?"

I felt guilty (there it is again) that I couldn't just be happy for my friends. That I couldn't just 'suck it up' and stop thinking about me for a second.

But after some messaging with a friend and some time reflecting in prayer, I realised that I was expecting too much of myself. That my reality, right now, is that I am not in that place yet. I am still journeying through my grief and it is okay to feel these emotions.

My friend said "There's no rule against mixed emotions in these things. You can't make yourself feel a certain way without being untruthful to where you are at in the grieving process. Perhaps we should concentrate on acknowledging where we are and accepting that it will take time."

Wise one, she is.

We put so much pressure on ourselves, all the time, to act or be like we 'think' we should. Instead of allowing ourselves to just 'be'.

I know that I will feel joy again. And that I will even get to a place where I can be genuinely and deeply happy for others. But right now, I'm accepting where I'm at and allowing myself to feel however I need to feel.

Does that mean I don't want you to tell me your amazing news? Of course not! I have so appreciated the people who have actually reached out to message me privately before announcing on social media/publicly, to allow me time to process the news. I know that can't have been an easy thing to do, and I want you to know that your thoughtfulness and compassion did not go unnoticed. 

Does that mean that I may not respond straight away? Yes, I'm sorry but I may need time to process and it doesn't mean that I'm not happy for you.

Does it mean that I may skip your baby shower? Possibly. I went to a baby shower after losing Anahera and I struggled through it because I really wanted my friend to know how happy I was for her (and how much I was trying to be okay with everything) - but, was HARD! I think it would depend on how I was at that time whether I would accept or politely decline.

And to my friends who aren't announcing pregnancies or giving birth, I may still struggle with joy and being happy in every day life. I am different, I have changed and there's no denying that. I look back at photos of me from a year ago and I don't even recognise the girl staring back. I know it can be hard to be around me sometimes, but friend - it's hard being me sometimes too, when I don't feel like myself anymore.



It's now nearing the end of November and I am beginning to feel a glimpse of success in this "finding joy" challenge for 2018. Took me long enough, right?

I decided that I would take a year off from full-time work to focus on my healing and spend more time blogging, but even still, I have been busy with cover teaching and other responsibilities. I only feel able to take a proper breath now that I am home in New Zealand to begin the journey with fertility specialists. I have many draft blogs sitting in the left-hand column, I need to make getting them finished and published a priority.

Back in February, when I started this post, I felt that I had failed for my ‘word for the year’ challenge. Truth is, I hadn’t. The truth is, I was doing the best I could with the events that were currently transpiring. The truth is, I didn’t give myself enough credit and I definitely didn’t give myself enough time and space to deal with yet another loss.

So, where am I am now?

I have processed a lot of emotions over the year. I have had moments of strength and acceptance and then again moments where grief, sorrow and disbelief crushed me even harder than before. If I thought I was emotionally sensitive before, it’s safe to say that that sensitivity is now off the charts! My ability to empathise with others has deepened immensely - to the point that anything even remotely emotional (even when observing complete strangers) will set me off with a lump in my throat and fighting back tears for that brief moment. It’s such a journey. Such a serpentine path - complex and unpredictable. We are still trying to conceive. Something that has still been a struggle and so are now taking some action and searching for some answers and/or solutions.

Now, I am finding it easier to have moments of true joy. I am able to survive more days with less triggers and am not constantly living a mindset of having been somehow gypped. I am finally gaining some healing in my attitude to my body - we are slowly reconciling and I am beginning to forgive my body for its failings. I am in a place now where I feel able to share some of my inner battles over the past 9-10 months since my 3rd miscarriage. And as much as I wish I could just keep the lessons to myself, I feel compelled to share those draft posts here.

I hope you’ll join me as I finally allow my thoughts to flow and that my personal discoveries will somehow resonate with you.