Rocker yang

The letter to Seamus that Minnie had shown me made me look at my friend in a new way. She had laughed in the past about baby names. “Oh sure, I had heaps picked out,” she’d said. “Seamus for a boy and Celery for a girl”.

“Celery?” I assumed that Minnie was joking.

“I know, I’m not generally a huge fan of clean living fanatics…. I do not know what I was thinking!” She laughed, “But then I decided on Katinka Pearl. Katinka because it sounded so exotic and a name for a heroine, and Pearl after Janis. Janis Joplin. I wanted my daughter to have a good blend of yin and rocker yang”.

I looked at Minnie and wondered again how little I knew her. Why were we having this conversation only now? How long had we been mates? How had I not known this before? What the hell had we been talking earnestly about all these years?

“I don’t like you looking so sad. All this happened a long time ago, you know. I’ve dealt with it. It’s not raw like before”. Minnie stroked my sleeve. How like her to try to reassure me about how her story had affected me.

She smiled, “Did I ever tell you about the funny doctor I saw who tried so hard to put me off going to the fertility clinic? She was quite odd…” Minnie described the GP, a middle-age-ish General Practitioner who had grilled Minnie about her pregnancy intentions when she’d gone for a health check-up. Because Minnie had wanted her nest to be perfect, she’d started all the vitamins, added the folate, upped her daily exercise regime, changed lanes on the freeway to avoid other vehicles with smoky exhausts and even stopped dyeing her hair.

The GP had examined her, told Minnie she was overweight, said to her sternly, “You know this child will inherit all your inadequacies, right?” Minnie had been a bit stumped by the GP’s bluntness but also curious about where it was leading. Ten minutes later, Minnie’s head was reeling. According to Dr Grim Genes, any child of Minnie’s would have a tendency to put on weight; be short of stature; have long-sightedness; be prone to mental health issues, and not appreciate having an older mother (even though Minnie at this time was only 31). I felt outraged on Minnie’s behalf, hearing this catalogue of insensitivity. “Didn’t she know you were a single woman who had thought long and very hard about this?” I asked. Minnie smiled. “I was really taken aback at the time and wondered why she tried so very hard to put me off. What was her agenda? Then, the penny dropped. I reckon the GP was struggling with her own maternal surge and I think she raised all her own issues with me about becoming a mother to see if my arguments could help her make her own momentous decision.”

I looked solemnly at Minnie. She shrugged, “Oh well….I wasn’t going to let one naysayer spoil my dream….”

Promised parent land

imageThe waiting list for adopting in her home town was not an option for single women. Minnie was told that too many couples wanted babies so there was a long waiting list. Inter-racial adoptions were discouraged. At that time, a single woman with savings could adopt one child from several countries overseas, with stipulations. For many countries the size of one’s bank balance was key, for one country one had to be a certain weight. Age was always a significant factor. The rule was generally over 40, the older the prospective adopted child should be, as in the youngest a couple aged of 41 could adopt would be a 1 year-old; for 45 year-olds the youngest they could adopt would be a 5 year-old, and so forth.

Surely, it could not be that hard to find a partner? Minnie marshalled some mates and went trawling for prospective companions. To her delight, after a few false starts, she met a suitable candidate: similar age, single, employed, funny, attractive, good conversation…surely he was too good to be true? Her friends on the other side of the bar that evening, gave their subtle thumbs up. Minnie felt a renewed surge of optimism. Fate had just rewarded her, surely…The end of the evening, what now? “Would you like to meet up again? This has been great,” Mr Potential smiled. Minnie beamed back at him, grateful he was moving slowly and showing respect for her. She still felt a little fragile after the failed relationship with Dad of three.   She was midway through writing down her phone number for Mr Potential when he continued, sotto voce, “We could meet once a month and you could (verb) my (noun)?” And there it was…bubble? Burst.

The next morning, after her friends had finally stopped laughing, Minnie re-examined her bank account. Not a stunning number of zeros (in fact, barely one). She looked at her weight. Enough for two whole adults by that particular country’s emaciated ideals. She knew! She would go overseas and adopt a child there then return, plus one.   A friend offered to look after all her baby clothes, books and toys until she needed them.  Minnie found a fabulous new home for her dog, sold up, and flew off.

Minnie P Meno Cake

Some wise, older ladies of Minnie’s acquaintance shared a recipe for 2 cakes with her.  “It helped with my hot flushes,” one said.  The other, “It made me feel I was doing something for myself”.  However you introduce this cake to yourself, it is intended to be eaten with appreciation for one’s self in the company of like-minded individuals. A slice a day should spread some Meno magic…

Ingredients:

100g soya flour

100g wholewheat flour

100g porridge oats

100g linseeds, 50g sunflower seeds, 50g pumpkin seeds, 50g sesame seeds, 50g flaked almonds, 200g raisins,  2 pieces stem ginger (finely chopped)

3 / 4 litre soya milk (approximately three-quarters)

1 tbs malt extract, 1 / 2 tsp nutmeg (half), 1 / 2 tsp cinnamon (half), 1 / 2 tsp ground ginger (half)

Steps:

  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

2. Add soya milk and malt extract.

3. Mix again and leave to soak for 30 minutes. (If mixture is too dry, add more soya milk).

4. Spoon mixture into a loaf tin lined with grease proof paper and oil.

5. Bake in oven gas Mark 5 or 190 C for 75 minutes, or until cooked (test with fork).

6. Turn out and leave to cool.

7. Serve with butter or spread.

If you find more delicious variations, please share…

 

 

Longing

image.jpegIt is impossible to convey how powerful the maternal urge can be if you have not experienced it. Minnie describes it as being eaten by longing from the inside out. Her urge to conceive was strongest in her late 20s/early 30s. At that time she was in her most stable ever, “grown up” relationship.

As she remembers, she and John discussed having a family shortly after meeting.  They decided to revisit the idea after a year. During that time, she helped care for John s three children. At the end of the year he asked could we wait a little longer? Another three years passed; Minnie s bond with her stepchildren was strong; John s parents adored her and his friends started making references to a baby. She dutifully visited their homes and praised their children. The thing they did not talk about grew. It grew so big Minnie would drive home from work and expect to see its shadow in the driveway.

Eventually, Minnie could stand it no longer.   Fortified by wine one evening, she brought the shadow into the room.   She said I need to know when. He said I never promised that. She tried to breathe into the howl that fought for breath in her belly. John said, “I never wanted more children. Three is enough.  I will marry you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. But, there s one condition. You change your mind”.   Minnie looked at the man in front of her and wondered who he was. With tears in his eyes he asked how can you miss something you’ve never had? Minnie drove away, her heart shredding in her chest.

John moved in with a single mother (two children).  Minnie worked, cried into her dog’s coat every night and researched fertility clinics.

The “reds”

To Minnie s generation the pill was commonplace.   She took it for many years – at first to try to deal with her hormonal mood swings which were bleak at particular times of the cycle.  Later, as a contraceptive – one of many.

Minnie was casual in the way she used to take the pill, sometimes doubling a dose; other times, adding alcohol to try to dull her increasingly ferocious “blues”. Period pain was often intense.  Minnie missed school several months in a row due to severe cramps and diarrhoea. Unfortunately, there was little sympathy at this time.  Instead, the message was stop whinging and get on with it.

It was not until she was in her thirties that doctors discovered endometrial scar tissue, revealing that Minnie was most likely fighting more than “the menstrual blues” during her narrow, reproductive window of opportunity.

Mini Minnie

The only time Minnie did end up with a mini Minnie alongside her was through well-meaning “tosh talk”.

An old school friend had died in a car crash.  She happened to resemble  her.  At a couple of different alternative healing events, psychics “saw” her next to Minnie.   They tilted their heads to one side, lowered their voices and softly enquired, “Did you lose a child?”  They described the image.   Each time Minnie kept quiet, knowing she had not miscarried but wondering if guardian angels did exist.  If they did, she did not mind the idea of Rosa accompanying her on her life journey.  Rosa had been a party girl during her short life and Minnie had loved her untamed soul.

Minnie could not imagine how it felt to lose a child.   She had always felt for parents who had.   Grief was a many-headed monster who developed a dragon’s tail lashing here and there when it came to a lost child.

Minnie mourned for what might have been but never was.image

The hips that lied

imageMy younger self saw my future self as a farmer’s wife. Children milling about, ruddy complexion, dogs and geese. I look back fondly at the little girl who imagined having six children easily. I was always told I had child bearing hips. That turned out to be a lie. These hips have borne no life.  I ve tried to conceive but it did not work.   This is my story – or rather, this is Minnie s story.  Minnie s story of the hips that lied.