THE GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT I EVER HAD WAS TO GIVE LIFE TO MY LITTLE BOY.
The crazy thing was for most of my life, having a kid was not on my agenda. I was super career-focused and hell-bent on travelling the world! It is funny how that all changes when you meet the right person. All of sudden future legacy and creating something beyond yourself becomes front and centre.
I guess it is also true what they say... when you get to a certain age as a wahine, you also start to realise that time is running out to have kids from a biological perspective!!
Anyways, long story short - my partner and I found ourselves having the 'big chat' on if kids were in our future or not. D was unsure (but of course loved the idea of trying - haha!!!), I on the other hand was a lady on a mission. The road block for us of course was that as fate would have it - our path to pregnancy was a rollercoaster ride marked by years of disappointment.
This korero is on my mind, as in a couple of weeks, it will be baby loss awareness week. I want to share my story to acknowledge the journey of haputanga is not always straightforward and that while we hope it is filled with love and joy - it can just as easily be filled with challenges that can test one's strength and resilience.
My own deeply personal experience yes - led to the conceiving of my son, but it also unexpectedly connected me to my taha Māori and the embracing of a different perspective in the world that I never saw coming...
What the heck is wrong with me?
For years, my partner and I had hoped for a child to complete our whānau (family). I tried everything from altering my diet, eliminating alcohol, exercising more, supplements, pills to boost 'baby making' hormones, treatments not linked to IVF, meditation, counting cycles, trackers, spit tests and all that jazz to find the perfect storm. If someone suggested it, I dang well tried it. All to no avail of course.
And let me be straight up - it was utterly exhausting, challenging and emotionally draining. Doing the deed felt like a chore and the constant disappointment weighed heavily on me - what the heck was wrong with me? Why couldn't I get pregnant?
Even worse was when every whānau get together thew up the inevitable question: "When are you going to have kids?" It was a question that always gutted me - if only they knew what I was going through...
The turning point...
After three or so years of trying, were were eventually accepted into the public funding program for IVF. It was both a glimmer of hope and a daunting prospect. In honestly I considered calling it quits at this point and taking that we had not fallen pregnant as a tohu (sign). The funny thing is... the more it doesn't happen, the more you find yourself wanting it.
One good thing to come from IVF, was to find out that in actual fact there was nothing scientifically wrong with both D or I. For whatever reason... something just wasn't working. It gave us hope and we ploughed on.
It was at this stage I also made the mental decision not to let anyone know I was trying to fall pregnant. Unless you have been there, it is hard to explain the crushing disappointment of a negative pregnancy test month after month, across years. It was a self protection of sorts - so when I started sticking myself with injections there were very few who knew it was happening.
Unfortunately, despite the grueling regiment of hormone injections, blood tests, extractions and timetables - the first round was unsuccessful.
My mind became convinced that nothing was going to work...
Te ao Māori to the rescue!
Amidst the trials of trying to fall pregnant, I had also embarked on a journey in rongoā Māori. The two experiences were very separate - or at least, so I thought...
Turns out, under the guidance of my kaiako (teacher) Awhitia Mihaere, I learnt more than just the healing powers of our rongoā rākau (native plants). I found myself, my Māoridom, my wairua, my mauri, my whakapapa, my belief in the possible.
Up until then I was disconnected and skeptical - but that all changed one day when I turned up to a wananga and Awhitia asked me to come see her in the break.
Awhitia: "I know what you're trying to do. Your tūpuna came to visit me last night."
Me: [in my mind thinking... "What am I trying to do?" "Is this lady crazy?"]
Awhitia: "Have a baby"
Me: [in my mind quietly loosing the plot trying to figure out how she could possibly know that]
Awhitia: "It's not going to happen until your mother comes to see me. She is holding on to a trauma that is blocking your whakapapa line."
Me: Um ok... [in my mind still loosing the plot]
Awhitia: Just know that when you tell her she won't want to do it, but don't worry, because one day she will come to you as she will be ready.
I had to agree. If there was anyone more skeptical than me - it was mum!
Turns out though, that this would all come to be when after my first round of IVF failing my mum asked to go see Awhitia. We turned up at a rongoā kaupapa and she got on a tepu (table) for some romiromi - a form of massage that works on the whatumanawa (the spiritual dimension connecting and balancing your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies).
i can't tell you what she felt during that time, but what I can tell you is that one by one the rongoā practioners from across the various tables were some how drawn to spend time on her. After she woke up, she thanked me for staying with her and massaging her feet. That is when I knew she had experienced something! Ain't nobody holding her feet, let along massaging them - or at least from this realm anyway!
A week or so later I would start my second round of IVF, and I can't explain it - but something was different. All of a sudden, the dates proposed for key parts of the process fell on maramataka (moon phases) that were powerful and aligned with new beginnings. My body didn't seem to react to the hormones the way they did the previous time. I felt more positive. My wairua felt protected and supported. I had hope.
Throughout all of this I had delved into the practice of healing my whare tangata (body) and addressing past trauma. I had acknowledged that our bodies carry the imprints of our whakapapa and that healing past wounds is crucial for clearing our whakapapa lines.
Not long after, we would find out we were pregnant.
Coincidence or healing?
Whether you choose to believe or not - for me the practice of rongoā Māori healed not only my body but resulted in my little baby boy.
There is no other way I can explain it - we had tried for so long, we had done IVF, nothing had changed, except for the connection both myself and my mother were able to create to who we are as Māori. Perhaps it was the mindset shift in my hinengaro? Perhaps it was perfect timing? Who knows!
All I know is that the power of rongoā Māori, the wisdom of our tūpuna, and the importance of connecting with te ao Māori (the Māori world) gave me my most precious taonga in the world.
RĀKAU HAZE NUGENT-LANGSLOW, 28/07/20.