The best laid plans of a mother and an auntie…

Back in the summer, I made a promise to E.

When he was using the potty, I would buy him truck underwear.

It didn’t, at the time, seem like a particularly rash promise. E., after all, is a three year old boy. He is not the only three year old boy who loves trucks. Surely companies who manufacture underwear have realized this.

Time passed and before too long it became clear to me that I was going to need to hold up my end of the bargain. So I started looking.

There was no underwear with trucks on it.

I checked all my usual haunts and then started branching further out, all with no success. If I wanted robots, or dinosaurs, or vehicles related to a particular Disney franchise, I had all the choice in the world.

No trucks.

In August we were in a Wal.mart and, as I always did by that point, I checked the toddler boys underwear section. They had a three pack of briefs with cement mixers and diggers on them.


No dice. The undies came in two sizes. E., being ridiculously skinny a little on the slim side needed the smaller size. They had piles upon piles of robots in the smaller size but the cement mixers were only in the larger.

We came home. I set my mother on the case. She checked two or three Wal.marts in her area. No joy.

I posted about the undies on my birth club. In early September there was a Canada-wide search in Wal.marts for the undies.

No joy.

Then, at last, I found them. A five pack of boxer briefs with dump trucks and fire trucks and trains available online through Kmart.

They were perfect. Absolutely perfect.

I tried to order them. I wanted two packs. Ten pairs of truck undies for E.!

They wouldn’t ship to Canada.

I got my sister to order them since she was in the U.S. and could also qualify for free shipping using her U.S. credit card.

The undies arrived. She put them on the “mail to Turia” pile and forgot about them for a while.

My mother and stepfather arrived to visit. My sister opened up the undies to check them before my mother took them home with her. (Yes, I am not above getting my parents to carry around my son’s underwear on their vacation in order to save shipping costs.)


My sister called Kmart. They refunded her the money without her having to return the undies. My mother took the undies home with her, and I’ll get them when I see her at the end of the month. I’ll give a couple of pairs to E. (because he doesn’t need ten pairs of zoo animals) and will send some to his friends.

The undies were still showing as in stock online.

My sister ordered the truck undies again. The Kmart person put a note on the order to make sure the right undies were sent.

The undies were sent.

They arrived on Wednesday.

My sister opened the package.


My poor, long-suffering sister, who has now had twenty pairs of unwanted zoo animals undies shipped to her apartment, spoke again with someone at Kmart, who suggested that if she wanted to make sure she got the right ones, “she should buy them in the store”. (Side note: Kmart, this is not great customer service. Do not put a product on your website if you are incapable of actually providing said product. If I were on twitter I would tweet you and be annoyed.)

My mother and stepfather, on a previous trip in the U.S., had already checked a number of stores and had failed to find these undies.

We gave up.

And I cried.

I wasn’t really crying about the undies. I have enough self awareness to know that I was really crying about being back at the clinic and the uncertainty of what was coming and about my lack of a job and lack of an identity outside of mother and about finishing the PhD but was there a point to it given my lack of job, and how I don’t really have any control over my life no matter how much I try to pretend I do, etc. etc.

But still. They were the perfect undies. And so I sat there in my living room and wept big fat tears about my total inability to keep what should have been the simplest of promises to my son.

Lessons learned from this:

1. Do not make promises to your son unless you already have the thing that will allow you to keep the promise in your possession.

2. Don’t buy anything from Kmart online.

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), E.- the fourth year, Life after the PhD

Giving thanks

Microblog_MondaysIt is Thanksgiving here.

For the first time since we moved back to a country which celebrates Thanksgiving, we haven’t left the city.

Yesterday Q., E. and I sat on the couch together and watched Finding Nemo, and E. got all the way through it, even if he spent much of the movie with his stuffed Puppy on his head, ready to drop in front of his eyes if he became too frightened.

Then we sat at the table together and ate roast beef and roasted potatoes and carrots and bumbleberry pie with homemade ice cream for dessert (because Q. really is that amazing) and E. talked non-stop about the movie, about French vocabulary, about how the digestive system works, about why Pluto isn’t considered a planet anymore, and about all the chilis we harvested from our garden. He paused only occasionally to look into his bowl to see if some small portion of pie or ice cream had escaped his spoon.

Then he went to bed, and Q. and I lounged around on the couches reading books, and I read for fun and felt no guilt because all four of my committee members have given the green light to my dissertation and it’s out of my hands now until I defend. We went to bed and I stopped in at E’s room, as I do every night, to adjust his covers and give him a kiss.

This morning I woke up early and ran through the streets, ran long enough and far enough that my mind stopped churning and I could just breathe and be.

I am healthy and happy. I love and I am loved.

And I am grateful.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. For the other participants, click here.


Filed under Joy, Life after the PhD, Microblog Mondays, PhD, Running

One last kick at the can…

Last Saturday I went back into the clinic before going to the library to work on the dissertation.

I still feel like I’m going to have an anxiety attack when I get on the elevator in my clinic’s building. This surely is not conducive to reproductive success.

It was eerily quiet there. It turns out they changed the hours for cycle monitoring just for that day because my doctor had to leave early. Luckily I still got there before he had left.

He sat down across from me. HUGE SMILE. “Hi! How are you!”

“I’m great,” I said.

He took a cursory look at my chart. Scanning, scanning, “You recently had a baby! Your second!”


“No,” I said evenly. “I lost that baby.”

His face fell. He looked at the chart again and actually read it. I could see he remembered.

“Is that why it’s been so long since you were here,” he asked. “That was really hard?”

Yes. Yes it was.

“Well,” I said, my voice only catching a little, “We were going away to visit Q’s family and we didn’t want to disrupt the trip at that point, and I had to get my dissertation finished.”

He didn’t have any answers. The lab at the hospital couldn’t find fetal tissue so they refused to run the tests. He said this had been happening to him so often he’d given up. Now they ran the tests in house.

“They’re being lazy,” he told me. “You can find tissue if you know where to look. It makes me so angry.”

We might have learned why the baby died, if it had died later.

We’ll never know now.

We made plans.

One last embryo.

One final FET.

He had me get my blood drawn again (about a billion vials’ worth as we had to update all my bloods) then sent me off with estrace and baby aspirin and prednisone. No metformin this time around. Apparently he doesn’t use it with FETs anymore.

He’s away for six days in the middle of the month. We decided to transfer after he was back, right before Q. and E. and I are off to visit grandparents. A point where I can relax. A point far enough away from the stress of finishing the dissertation that I’m not still living on adrenaline, but not so close to the defense that I’m freaking out about it.

Back in on Monday for a lining check, and then I guess there will be an intralipid at some point. Transfer is set for the 26th.

I’m not going to lie- I really feel like we’re just going through the motions.

He is optimistic (“the technology we use in freezing the embryos is so much better than it was a couple of years ago”), but he always is.

I mainly just want an answer. We can’t keep living in limbo.  That embryo deserves its chance.

So even though I feel like we’re about to flush a couple thousand dollars down the toilet, we’ll do it.


Filed under 2.0 FET #3, Anxiety Overload, Second Thoughts


Microblog_MondaysI really love my public library system.

It has almost every book I could want.

It delivers my holds to my home branch and e-mails me to tell me they’ve arrived.

It lets me put my holds on hold when I’m going to be away and keeps my place in line for when I make them active again.

Every now and then, however, despite my best efforts, all my holds come in at once.

Last week these turned up, all within two days of each other. I picked them up the day I found out I’d lost two weeks of revision time.

IMGP0196There’s a pure comfort trip back to one of the fantasies I most loved when I first discovered the genre as a teenager which I still love even though it is so terribly written, two books in a shadow series I never got round to reading when it was first published (although I adored the original), the second book in a series I’m just now beginning to read, and a book about motherhood in the modern world. Plus one more waiting for me at my branch because I’ve been so out of control I didn’t even have time to log in and make the rest of the holds inactive (I got the e-mail yesterday).

They have nothing to do with my thesis topic.

I haven’t touched one.

They’re waiting for me.


This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. Click here to see the other participants.


Filed under Books, Life after the PhD, PhD

Preschooler cosmology

Microblog_MondaysI spent most of the weekend in the library, trying to meet my new deadline for the dissertation.

Saturday afternoon I came home to find Q. and E. outside staining the fence.

“We had a really interesting conversation at lunch,” Q. told me.

Apparently E. became interested in how the world came to be, and started asking his father how the earth was created, and who made it, and where did it come from.

Q. answered his questions as best he could, but apparently his answers weren’t satisfactory because E. then proceeded to come up with his own explanation.

According to E., the world was made by Americans in a factory in Mexico and they brought it over in a pickup truck.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays.  For the other participants, see here.


Filed under E.- the fourth year, Microblog Mondays

Moving the goalposts

My Dad spent a long time in the military. One of the side-effects of this career is obsessive punctuality (something which all three of his daughters have picked up. Seriously- no one worries about being on time as much as we do). My Dad also likes to do things efficiently. The result of this is that if we have an agreed upon time at which we are going to do something (like get in the car to start a lengthy drive to visit relatives) and my Dad happens to wake up earlier than expected that particular morning, he has a bad habit of trying to move up the departure time to the new time at which HE will be ready. He won’t tell any of us this (because we are all still sleeping, assuming the original departure time still stands), but he will get crankier and crankier as the morning progresses, even if we are all in the car two minutes before we were originally supposed to leave (see? we’ve all been well trained), because HE could have left earlier.

Now that we’ve all realized he does it, we’ve started calling him on it a bit more. “Dad,” we’ll say, while we eat breakfast and he “lounges” in the living room, showered, dressed, fed, and obviously dying to hit the road. “Stop moving the goalposts.”

He is getting better. I find it hilarious, except that apparently I do it too. Q. nearly always calls me out on it, and most of the time it is a result of the difference between us about how long I think it will take to get somewhere (because we have to be there early) and how long Q. thinks it will take (because the world won’t end if we’re five minutes late because we didn’t get a smooth transit connection). But, I have to admit, there are times where I’ve done things really efficiently and then thought to myself, “Hey, we could leave half an hour earlier now!”

I am my father’s daughter.

It’s all fun and games until the goalposts get moved on you. Yesterday my supervisor e-mailed to say that the prof he’d approached is willing to act as my external examiner. This particular prof is quite a big name in our field, and if he likes the thesis it will be a very good thing to have him as a referee.

But he moved my goalposts. He’s supposed to only get the thesis six weeks before the scheduled defense date, but he’s asked for it ASAP (pleading bad eyesight as slowing any reading progress).

My supervisor supports me, and has reiterated that this prof can’t demand the thesis before the six week mark, but his e-mails have had an underlying tone of “if there is any possible way to get things done earlier that would really be good”.

So today I talk to the admin assistant at E.’s nursery school to see if E. can stay for the afternoon session on Friday this week and for two days next week as well. Last night Q. agreed to basically be a single parent for the next two weekends.

I just had a fire lit under my ass when it comes to getting the revisions done.

October 6th.

That’s my new goalpost.


Filed under Anxiety Overload, Family, PhD

In other words

Microblog_MondaysSince we had walked past E.’s future school that afternoon, the conversation at the dinner table last night turned to how he will start French Immersion in SK.

E.: “But I don’t want to learn French. I only want to know English. English has the most words in any language.”

Q.: “Yes, E., we were talking about that the other day. But do you remember how I said some people in the world don’t speak English?”

Me: “Plus, if you know French, you know even more words!”

E. is wavering, but not convinced. I pull out my ace card.

Me: “Did you know that I can speak French? Did you want to know the word in French for truck?”

E.’s eyes light up.

Me: “C’est un camion.”

E.: “Do you know the word in French for tractor-trailer?”

Me: “Um. I’m not sure. I have to admit that when I was learning French I wasn’t all that interested in large vehicles…”

E.: “Do you know the word for crane in French? What about cement mixer? Do you know ferry?”

I can see I’m going to learn as much as he will.

For the #MicroblogMondays thread, see here.


Filed under E.- the fourth year, Microblog Mondays