It’s my favourite part of the day.
Every night when it’s time to turn out her light, I sit on the end of my nine-year-old daughter’s bed and I hold her hand as we chat in the dark.
Our topics are as varied as the thoughts which bubble through her mind.
“Do you think I’ll ever meet Hugh Jackman?”
“Did you ever get in trouble in class?”
“Will I ever get to see snow?”
“How come we have to do homework?”
“Did you always want to be a writer?”
And last Tuesday night she asked me, “Do you believe in magic?”
Do I believe in magic? I took a moment to think about it.
Yes, I finally said. I do. Life is full of magic. The key, I told her, is to pay attention.
There is magic in the tiniest moments. When you are so desperately missing your best friend and a postcard arrives from her in the letterbox the very day when you’re feeling especially blue. When you go on a beach holiday and your mum forgot to pack your dominos set only to find the exact same set in the games cupboard at the rented beach house. When you hear about a seven-year-old girl in foster care who is dreaming of an Elsa costume, exactly like the one you’ve outgrown that’s hanging in your cupboard. It’s in that first wobbly bike ride without mum hanging on. A discovery of fifty cents on the footpath while you’re walking to school. It’s in custard tarts and summer swims and fairy lights.
Of course magic is not reserved only for the young. It’s in the lives of grown-ups too.
There is magic in unexpected friendships. Picking up the right book at exactly the right time and it giving you the clarity you need. It’s when money comes in when an eye-watering bill is due. A cat or dog who comes over for a snuggle when you need it most.
And there is magic when you hear that a friend who has battled years of infertility and countless, heartbreaking cycles of IVF is suddenly 19 weeks pregnant.
Listen: Deb Knight on going through 14 rounds of IVF. (Post continues.)
This week my dear friend and Hot Tomato breakfast radio host 41-year-old Emily Jade O’Keeffe announced she was pregnant with her much-wanted and longed for and dreamed about second child.
“Our miracle Millie is about to be joined by another hard-earned miracle in June 2018. 5 years, 260 weeks, 1,825 days, 2.3 million minutes. That’s how long and desperately we have tried for this little life,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
“Would I go through it all again? Yes, just to hear that tiny but heavenly heartbeat with my husband next to me holding my hand. Although I wish it had been easier (and cheaper!) it was worth the wait…. and wait…and WAIT!
“Having been through so much with each other to create another much wanted child, we didn’t want the pain and effort to be forgotten in our joy. The stars behind us represent the 32 embryos, and miscarriage it took to make our dream a reality. There was so much hope in every one, and we mourned them all (and kept BWS in business drinking away our sorrow).
“We have met and shared tears, hugs and heartbreak with many others on the same horrendous journey and I don’t want this announcement to hurt, as pregnancy announcements often can, did and still probably will. We know we are just plain lucky in the end. And that this is a miracle. We want to acknowledge and respect that. But also we are so relieved, so very very relieved and anxious still, and praying hard but so so thankful and then a whole lot excited.”
The pain of infertility is, I can only imagine, an enormous, private sorrow — often forced to be made public — that can take a long time to reconcile. Grief, I once read, is the result when you have so much love to give and nowhere for it to go.
There is incredible sympathy and understanding when someone is trying for their first child and struggling to conceive or carry a baby to term – and rightly so. But there is also grief – albeit different – when the number of children you have is different to the number of children you so desperately wanted. When you longed for two or three or four children and that’s not the cards you were dealt.
Emily Jade’s cards included endometriosis and Hashimoto’s disease. It took her two years to conceive Millie (which she says seems like a walk in the park now) and five long years for this one!
For all the medical developments which have occurred over the past 30 years there is still an element of magic and mystery to fertility and pregnancy. Sheer luck. A roll of six on a die. Part magic. Part miracle.
To EJ and Gerard and Millie, I am sending you every blessing, every good wish, every positive vibe that your little baby continues to grow healthy and strong. For every person reading this column who is wishing and longing for a baby to hold in their arms — I send you the same. I send you a roll of six on the die.
And on that day in June when EJ shares a photo of herself holding her happy and healthy newborn in her arms, I will show it to my daughter Ava and say, “See that little baby? That right there is a little bit of magic.”