Old Eggs

It was a Tuesday. I remember the walk across the car park and back to my car, the slow drip of blood between my legs.

I remember squeezing my pelvis, as if by this simple movement of my body I could hold on, hold onto my little Horatio.
Horatio, I said under my breath. Horatio, hold the bridge.

The doctor had told me it was too soon to know.
It’s not unusual to bleed in these first few weeks, she said.
It might not spell the inevitable.
The inevitable, she said, was not inevitable, though to hold my grief, or to help me to focus on something else, some greater grief perhaps, she offered her own story:
How she, at forty-two years, had stopped IVF, and finally made the decision to accept her fate.
‘You already have three children,’ she said.
‘Think on it. Even if the inevitable happens, you have something to fall back on.’

And I was thrown back in time.

A ten-year-old girl, I stood beside my mother in the front garden of our house.
The geraniums had wilted under the summer heat, and my mother picked at them carelessly.
She plucked off the dead ones and threw them away.

Mrs Bruyn from up the street stopped at our fence.
‘I was sorry to hear about your baby,’ she said, and my mother’s eyes filled with tears.
‘But you still you have your other children,’ Mrs Bruyn said. ‘They must be a comfort to you.’
My mother nodded and Mrs Bruyn walked away. I watched her floral dress billow in the breeze. I heard the clip clop of her heels on the concrete path.
Mrs Bruyn also came from Holland, the land of babies, my mother told me, the land where people wanted big families, but there was no room.

Mrs Bruyn had room for babies but she had not made any.
It was not her fault. My mother told me, something to do with her eggs.
Eggs, I thought, like chicken eggs, eggs that sit under the warmth of a hen for days and then one day crack open and out pops a chicken.

I thought again of my own eggs. Old eggs, the doctor told me.
‘You must not leave it too late to have your babies. Once you reach forty, your chances halve.’

But I had waited too long for this last one, as she had waited too long for her first. Our eggs were old.
The lottery of pregnancy, the doctor said. The later you leave it the less chance of success.

I did not tell my mother about my miscarriage.
She did not tell me of her still born until later, years later when we could share our grief.

My mother had another miscarriage, years before I was born, she told me. She had lost the baby in the toilet, like a penny doll. She could see its arms and legs, its little eyes.

Horatio did not hold the bridge. Ten weeks into the world and he was gone.

No matter what we do we cannot save them, these lost babies.
My husband has white lumpy bits on both his ankles. That’s where the babies were attached in utero, he tells me, or so his mother once told him.
All the dead babies that he managed to out live, as if his life cost theirs.

And Mrs Bruyn who lived up the street had wished my mother well.

The dead ones do not count as long as there are lives to take their place.
Even in Australia, where we have plenty of room, there is not room for everyone.

Someone has to go.

Yoghurt and blogging are good for you

Nancy Devine has honoured me with a stylish blogger award, for which I am grateful.

Here follows my acceptance speech, which at Nancy’s request includes seven things you might not yet know about me:

1. I would spend all day blogging if I could and then feel terribly guilty for it. To me it would be like spending all day long in a coffee shop chatting with like minded friends about things that are of interest to us all. The occasional tense moment might arise, but most of the time we would travel into new areas of thought and occasionally retreat back into safe and familiar territory, always with the knowledge that there is so much more to learn out there.

2. The only way I can justify the hours each week I spend on blogging is to convince myself I do it for the writing practice. This then is an insult to my blogger friends, as if I do not appreciate our time together. Nothing could be further from the truth.

3. When I was little I wanted to have nine children just like my mother and at the same time, despite my reservations about the man who was my father, even then, I imagined I wanted to marry a man just like my father: a tall Dutchman with blue eyes and blond hair and a deep gravelly voice.

4. I have achieved none of these things. My husband is neither tall nor blond. He is fifth generation Australian and descended from convict stock and my children number four.

5. Over the past several months, in fact since I broke my leg last September, I have undertaken to eat a tub of yoghurt a day. I understand yoghurt is good for you in many ways and I now have the fantasy that it might help my bones.

6. One of my great pleasures is to escape into BBC period pieces, the Jane Austen variety. Their worlds seem so much slower than ours, so much more predictable, but I despise the class divisions and the gender divide in those days appalls me. I would not want to live in such an era. So why escape into it? I keep asking myself this question.

7. Despite my best efforts to be generous to others, I fear I have a jealous disposition. I am inclined to resent those who do better than me, particularly when it comes to writing. I suffer such pangs often within the blogosphere where there are so many wonderful writers.

I think it comes as a function of being sixth in line in a family of nine and always looking up to my smart brothers and sisters ahead of me. I could never imagine that I might be as smart as them. No amount of education, psychoanalysis or life experience seems to shake that view completely. I admire intellects that are accessible on the one hand and on the other I wish they were mine.

As for the bloggers to whom I would like to offer this stylish blogger award there are too many to list. Also, I’m aware that many who receive such awards find them onerous.

So I offer this reward as a mark of respect, not as a requirement that you follow through on any of the tasks assigned, the stuff about linking back to the award giver and listing seven things about yourself and passing the award onto five other bloggers.

All these things to me should be voluntary and no one should feel pressure to oblige. Nor should any of my blogger friends feel aggrieved to not be included here. I’d list you all if I could.

That said, I’d like to make the first two awards to Rumi and Rilke who cannot speak for themselves but can only respond via Ruth at Synch-ron-izing and Lorenzo at The Alchemist’s Pillow.

Thereafter I’d like to mention Christina Houen’s relatively new blog. Christina is a wonderful writer who presents views of life in Australia that to me represent something of the essence of being here in this country.

I suspect he would not want an award for all the usual requirements but I cannot go without mentioning the remarkable, Jim Murdoch of The Truth about Lies. His blog is a font of information for all people who read and write. His blog tends to be a series of reviews on a vast array of books.

Jim is a poet who writes beautifully about other people’s writing and occasionally talks about his own writing process.

And finally, though there are so many more I could list here, so many wonderful bloggers whom I have met over the past few years since I took up blogging more seriously, I’d like to mention both Blackland’s Angela Simeone, a young artist whose work, both in her art and her writing is haunting and powerful.

And secondly Lynn Behrendt who strikes me as a brilliant poet and a modest artist whose wonderful work deserves the highest praise and recognition.

Visit these people and you will come to find our more of what I blog for: intelligence, aesthetics, deep sensitivity and a light touch of humour.

These bloggers are all artists and wordsmiths in their own right, and I value the fresh insights they offer on life’s journey.

Finally, and I should not for I have already exceeded my quota, I mention Kass of The K…. is no longer silent, another poet and a wise and generous woman that many of you will already know.

I must stop now because a flood of associations leads me on to other names and other folks. I have met so many wonderful bloggers through my travels. How rich and wonderful is the blogosphere.

Thanks Nancy for prompting these thoughts and enabling me to introduce and boast about some of my blogger friends.