Bent but not broken

I have not written anything in almost a year. Yes, there has been the odd brief content churn-out for a client, or the usual mundane social media updates. But I have not written a blog or a diary entry in almost a year. I have felt empty, uninspired, unable to talk past the dark dark hurt.

So why am I returning to my old blog site now? I don’t really know. I think that maybe my story would reach someone else who has walked a similar path. Maybe our journey would inspire someone else not to give up.

The yearning to be a parent never fully goes away. It is that constantly present “at the back of your mind” awareness. It is that heartache when you see families with children everywhere, really EVERWHERE, you go. It is the understanding that nobody is actively trying to hurt you when they give you a baby to hold.

We have had three miscarriages and we are now in the process of adopting. Our parenthood journey has not been an easy one. Our marriage took some knocks, but we weathered the storm.

After months and months of paperwork, we now know that we are not paedophiles (yay!) and we don’t have criminal records (double yay). We also know that we are of sound mind and we are pretty mentally ok. Hopefully soon we will be the proud and happy parents of our little girl, and all this would have been worth it.

I want to share some of what we have been going through on this blog. Please feel free to comment/ask questions/interact with me. I will answer where I can, and hopefully what we have been through will help more people traversing the same rocky path.

Please feel free to join my coaching page on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chrysalisnlp. Let’s stay in touch.

Advertisements

Miracle required

Not a good day at all today. I’ve gone through a rollercoaster of emotions – from anger to denial and whatever other stages there are in between. Now I just feel helpless. Usually when faced with a problem, I act as soon as possible. There is always, ALWAYS, a solution, and as a problem-solver, I will find it. For this, there is no solution.

I’ve decided to speak out about this, because I’m hoping that what happened to me can be prevented with someone else, with foreknowledge. And for me, writing about something helps me deal with it. It is my personal therapy.

After 3 miscarriages this year, my gynaecologist decided to do a procedure called a hysteroscopy, which he assured me is pretty standard. It is, as far as I understand, a little camera that internally explores one’s reproductive organs. I was a bit hesitant, because I dread hospitals, but hey – all for the sake of getting pregnant and having children.

So today I decide to call the doctor for feedback, pretty confident that all worked out well, because surely I would have heard by now if there was anything, you know, wrong. That is when I found out that everything is wrong. I have a condition called a unicornuate uterus. Apparently this is a very rare condition, and I have it.

According to this article, having a unicornuate uterus unfortunately brings a significant risk of both pregnancy loss and preterm labor, as well as ectopic pregnancy. Estimates vary by specific study, but one literature review found pregnancy outcomes in women with unicornuate uteri to be miscarriage in 37%, preterm birth in 16%, and term birth in only 45%.

I ask myself – what can I do about this? Really nothing. There is absolutely nothing that I can do. I can’t change my lifestyle, take medication or go for another operation.

But what I could have done, is that I could have explored further for reasons as to why I had my first miscarriage. I did every blood test on planet earth, and there was no reason at all according to the Pathcare results. I should have insisted on this hysteroscopy – and I would have known that my pregnancies would all have been at risk. I could have taken more precautions, been monitored more closely and maybe, just maybe, not have had 3 miscarriages this year.

If you have a miscarriage, just be aware that this could be one of the reasons. I am almost 40 years old, and not only is my age a factor in my lack of children, but now this as well.

Today this sounded like the end of the road to me, but knowledge is power. I am a fighter, and I don’t easily give up. This is just one more obstacle to overcome on the road to becoming a mom.

A Case of the Mondays

Today I’ve got a case of the Mondays. Some Mondays have to be lived to be believed. I have a healthy dread of Mondays, and if I could avoid them altogether, believe me I would. This dread coupled with my superstition due to my Irish ancestry is probably why my Mondays are usually a disaster. Isn’t it true that we attract what we expect?

Logically I cannot think why I detest Mondays so much. It is really just another day of the week. Perhaps it is that Monday is usually my least productive day. I find it hard to get hold of clients on Mondays (no surprise there), I start my morning facing an email inbox running towards three digits of which most of the mails are spam and the staff…. Let’s not even go there.

So after endless searching, I found a blog on 5 ways to defeat the Monday blues – here are my thoughts on these:

1. Have Something to Look Forward to on Monday Nights

I don’t know about this one – we usually work in the evenings, and I certainly don’t see us taking off a MONDAY evening of all evenings. Going to pass on this one.

2. Prepare Monday’s Work on Friday

This one makes absolutely no sense to me at all, specifically in our line of work. My Monday work sort of arrives on a Monday, with one crisis after the other one. It would have been nice to be prepared for these disasters, but short of owning a crystal ball and believing it works…. nah

3. Socialise

No idea what this has to do with Mondays. I socialise enough on Mondays anyway – while sorting out one looming disaster after another.

4. Reconceptualize Mondays

Yeah – been there, got the T-shirt. This one is sort of mind over matter and believe me – I have tried. Perhaps my mind is not strong enough. Or perhaps I have given in to the Pavlovian conditioning of Monday expectations.

5. Accept It

This is where I am starting to think the person who thought up these 5 ways to “defeat” the Monday blues is perhaps a tad IQ-challenged. What else is there to do but to accept Mondays? They’re certainly not going to go away.

Do let me know if any of you have come up with an effective, pain-free, stress-free (please!) way to deal with Mondays.

7 Ways to stop arguing with your other half

Successful relationships require a lot of work. As I’m writing this, I’m certainly not in the middle of a perfect relationship myself. The advice in this article is as much for me as for anyone willing to read it. I’d love some feedback from you – please feel free to comment or to add some of your own advice. This is by no means a comprehensive solution to a smooth relationship.

1. LISTEN

The most important action in any relationship is to listen. When your partner speaks, you need to really hear what he/she is saying and try to see the situation through his/her eyes. Put yourself on pause in order to really do this well. Focus on the moment and take in as much information as you can. Listen and ask questions until you feel you can see what your partner means.

2. TREAT PEOPLE THE WAY THEY WANT TO BE TREATED

The old adage of “do unto others as you would have done unto you” is really not applicable in relationships. Which means it really is not applicable at all, because we’re always in some kind of relationship with someone. Point is, we are all different and we cannot treat people the way we want to be treated. We have to care enough to learn more about the people around us and treat them the way they want to be treated.

3. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

It may sound trite, but patience in relationships is very important. We are all human and we make mistakes. No matter how bright you are, or how spiritual you are, we all have bad days – there is nothing wrong with this. Part of working towards a successful relationship is allowing your partner to make mistakes, and being willing to work with them on their personal growth. A relationship is a journey between two people that has no real end and is pretty much always a work in progress.

4. BE REAL

Sometimes we find that it is very common to act different with friends and loved ones than you do alone or in public. However, part of being true to ourselves is to do our best to make these versions of ourselves as consistent as possible. Just be the real you as much as possible. Find common ground with your partner that is mutually interesting. Pretending to listen and be interested is definitely not being true to yourself, and very much harmful to your relationship. Just be honest.

5. ADMIT WHEN YOU ARE WRONG

This is a difficult one. It takes a lot of courage to admit when you are wrong. Tell your partner when you recognise that you said or did something hurtful.
“I see that when I said that, it could have caused pain in you.  I am very sorry for doing that.  I am working on how I word things and making sure that I am respectful of you and your feelings.”

6. GRATITUDE

Frequently thank your partner when you see them doing things for you. A little gratitude will go a long way, and of course encourage your partner to invest more in the relationship – because it is clear that you appreciate him/her and what he/she does for you. Everybody loves being appreciated.

7. OBSERVE

Just observe your partner – sometimes it is easier to see how your partner is feeling, rather than asking them. Sometimes people are not able to communicate their feelings, and this may lead to misunderstandings and unhappiness. Don’t just ignore a potentially negative situation and hope that it will go away. Sometimes it is easier to pretend that we don’t notice our partner is unhappy because we’re not feeling good ourselves, or we are busy or just plain lazy. Rather jump in and help your partner instead of asking if they need help.

Always remember, and I’m sure I’ve said this already – your ultimate goal is to be happy with your partner. To make your partner happy and to be happy. Conflict can always be resolved – it is not necessary to be stubborn, or always “win” an argument. Holding out for a win may actually mean that you’ve lost. A little bit of humble and a whole lot of love and acceptance goes a long way. I dedicate this article to my husband, Zac Dreyer.

Facebook is demolishing like-gating – how does this impact you (if at all?)

Facebook has made some recent changes (what’s new) but the most important change was buried right at the bottom of the announcement:

You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page.

 

An example of a like-gate on a facebook page tab

An example of a like-gate on a facebook page tab

What does this mean in practice? Well, in the past fan pages used to build apps with a like-gate (or click like to reveal) in order to motivate the public to become page fans before they could get access to more information, such as competition details, promotion details, giveaways and more. This would ensure that only page fans would be able to access this information and of course benefit from it. This was a common fan-building tactic, but has increasingly been losing popularity as page admins sought ways to rather engage with existing fans more effectively than continually attract new fans.

Several years ago, Facebook used to have a feature where an entire page could be like-gated, so page fans could only see page posts once they liked the page. This was also discontinued (thankfully).

How does this impact you? Obviously going forward as from Nov 5, 2014, you will no longer be able to use the like-gate feature on your page tabs. For marketers, this is a fairly important factor to take into consideration. We always found like-gates an effective way to build relevant page fans, because we would encourage our clients to offer relevant (to the brand) incentives to motivate the like-gate clicks. That means the public who became fans ultimately clicked because they were interested in what the brand had to offer, and would by default, also be interested in what the brand had to say via newsfeeds on the page.

Unfortunately, marketers like ourselves are in the minority on facebook. There has been pages who would blatantly use the like-gate to just build “any” fans, offering prizes not relevant to the brand at all, such as iPads, holidays, etc. The page fans that results from these kind of incentives really only clicked on the like-gate to stand a chance to win, not really because they wanted to engage with the page newsfeed posts.

This brings us to why facebook decided to take this step, and we get this straight from facebook:

To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.

Facebook tells us that the average user would see 1,500 stories in a given day. Facebook’s algorithms bring that number down to a much more manageable 300. In order for Facebook to be a desirable place for users, the best and most relevant content needs to be surfaced.

Facebook uses many signals to determine what users see. But like-gating confuses those signals. Does a user really want to see content from that brand? You can see from what I said above why this is not always clear. Users may have clicked on a like-gate because of an attractive incentive, and not because of a need/want to engage with the brand. This might mean in practice that the user is now “forced” to engage with content via personal newsfeed that is not relevant or interesting to the user. This might harm the user experience. A negative user experience results in a user spending less time on facebook, which ultimately negatively impacts paying advertisers on facebook. The implied reason here is fairly obvious – advertisers need users to be online in order to target them.

In the famous words of Douglas Adams: Don’t Panic! Yes, it is still important to increase page likes. There are definitely a lot of ways to effectively build page fans, and more specifically page fans who WANT to engage with your brand. The end of like-gating is actually a very positive move. Marketers and page admins will just have to get more creative with their methods. This should also mean an overall improvement on page post quality on facebook. And you can still use third-party apps to collect data such as email addresses from page fans – which means building a database for emailing promotions and newsletters.

Speak to us at Creative Touch – Be Sociable about your company’s social media requirements, and more specifically how we can assist with your facebook page strategy.

 

One Desire

This has really been an interesting year. And interesting is my choice of words based on the “curse“: may you live in interesting times.

I have ONE desire. Only one. My desire is for my next positive pregnancy test to result in a baby that is not only carried to full term, but actually born. A baby that we can love and protect, raise with love and cherish like only parents can.

So far I’ve had no less than THREE pregnancies this year. This year alone. I found out I was pregnant late December, miscarried in January. May we had another positive pregnancy test, but we were out of town and before we could get to a doctor to confirm with a blood test, the dreaded period started.

My last miscarriage just happened. I found out I conceived around my birthday (11th of July). The strangest of all is that this time I somehow knew I was pregnant. I knew before any home pregnancy test (hpt) confirmed with that so very welcome second line, I knew before we went for my blood test. Maybe it is experience – one would think by the third pregnancy I would know what is happening in my body.

The saddest for me is that I really didn’t expect this pregnancy to end in a miscarriage. I obeyed my doctor’s advice to the letter. I did more than I was supposed to. I stayed in bed, hips raised. I taught myself to sleep on my left side. I ate healthy, took the correct vitamins, went for blood tests every second day. I turned my back completely on my business and trusted everyone else to pick up the slack. I didn’t want to hear anything, know anything – my entire focus was on doing my utmost to make sure this pregnancy went well. That meant no stress at all, no worrying, and just rest.

I don’t know what this feels like for other women, but I can tell you that three losses has come close to breaking my spirit. After each lost pregnancy, I would question myself more. What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? Am I simply not worthy enough to be a mother?

How do you deal with yet another loss? My way of dealing with it is writing about it. I put my thoughts into words, and I purge my soul of the sadness and the negative emotions. My hope is that my story will have a happy ending, and that my journey will help someone else deal with theirs.

I have to really work at not allowing the bitterness to take over. The begrudging congratulations as yet another pregnancy or birth is announced. Some women seem to fall pregnant when they sneeze, and don’t experience any complications at all. There are women who give birth who didn’t even know they were pregnant until the baby decided that it is time to come out. How can you now know that you are pregnant for an entire 9 months of carrying a child to term?

It doesn’t help that my doctor tells me it is a miracle that at my age I have no trouble getting pregnant. I am 39 – that is really not old in today’s terms. Women fall pregnant in their mid-forties, even later.

This is becoming an obsession, and I know that I must guard against that. There is simply no way I can deal with another lost pregnancy. This last one was bad enough – I am devastated. The pain and depression is so deep that I cannot describe it in words. I can just feel it. There is an empty void inside me, an abyss with me teetering on the edge, holding on for dear life.

What frustrates me most, is not knowing what is wrong. If I knew what was wrong, I could fix it. I have been subjected to test after test after test. My backs of my hands are blue, caused by the bruising of the amount of needles that has been stuck in the veins. It is almost impossible to find veins in my arms. All these tests come back with absolutely nothing wrong.

We are not going to give up. Here’s to the hope that the next positive pregnancy test results in a baby that we can keep.

Mayhem in Mossel Bay

There has been so much said and written about Mosselkana (as a resident aptly called the currently ongoing riots in Mossel Bay). I am an old Mossel Bay resident – I stayed in Mossel Bay for 12 years, and although I’ve moved to George, a neighbouring town, Mossel Bay will always stay close to my heart.

The current riots are all over the media. It is heartbreaking. For those of you who don’t know – the riots were sparked because the municipality disconnected illegal electricity cables and the users no longer had access to electricity. Their reaction? Burn down buildings, riot, strike and cause general chaos for four days so far.

buxxva-iqaeii_p

What is even more heartbreaking is the municipality’s reaction. Firstly, the mayoress initially doesn’t address the issue, saying that an official statement would be issued on Friday (everything started on Sunday). Then the mayoress does address the crowds (read criminals/rioters), and instead of laying down the law, her reaction is to her reaction is to give back the ILLEGAL electricity. Not lay down the law, not come down on the law-breakers like a ton of bricks – no, not at all. She gives them what they demand.

995608_543483385779932_5078951369280993410_n

Now, please – if I were to steal electricity, running a cable from an Eskom pole to my property and get caught out, I don’t think a mild slap on the wrist would be part of the consequences. Plus certainly not an indulgent “by all means, carry on”.

If I were caught out stealing said electricity, got caught out and cut off, if I THEN decided to go burn down our local municipality, library, school and get all my “tjommies” and start a riot, by no means at all would I receive a nod in my direction, telling me that all is well, and my “tantrum” means I can continue to pursue my illegal activities.

Not only is it clear that this unprecedented (especially in our area) riot has political undertones (today was an interim election in the ward), but it was also not started by the local residents. People were prevented from going to work, attacked and bullied into staying at home. Children couldn’t go to school. How is this progress?

How is that anybody think they can “demand” free electricity? And how has this become a racial issue? There is a shocking facebook page dedicated to this situation, and what I read there, causes my heart to break even more. Not only are there people justifying this, these people are turning the whole situation into another racial hotpot. Apparently only the black people are poor, so they should get cheaper electricity. How is this true? We run an organisation called Heavenly Haven, where we look after several impoverished white families, and these families certainly don’t get or demand free electricity.

How does burning down buildings remedy the situation? Schools, libraries – facilities that were requested and GIVEN, at no cost to the community. Who is going to explain to a local young bright kid: “Sorry, you can’t go to school, we burned it down, because we wanted FREE ELECTRICITY!” And who is going to pay for all this? The free electricity, replacing the burned out facilities?

We have to start learning that we are not entitled to free services. We all have to pay for what we want. We live in a country where we all started down a path towards becoming a united nation two decades ago – that means that we are all treated equally. If you want to be treated equally, then contribute to the economy equally. We cannot plead anymore that we didn’t have the opportunities. We all have all the opportunites we want.