44 Days

I have lots of things I’d like to post about on here but E. is out of nursery school now and we’ve had family visiting and we’ve been travelling and it’s just generally been a fantastic summer thus far, but not one that’s left a lot of room for blogging, especially since I’m still choosing sleep (or snuggles) over getting up early in the morning.

This post is brought to you by an unscheduled quiet time. E. and I went out West (or out Middle of the Country) to see relatives over the weekend and he obviously picked up some sort of bug on the plane coming home. Yesterday, right before lunch, he started complaining that his arms and legs hurt. He then proceeded not to eat any lunch, asked to go up and have a nap (!!!!!!), slept for three hours (!!!!!!!!!) and then woke up with a raging fever (39.8). The rest of the day was pretty rough, last night was not much better, and while he is clearly better this morning (no fever), he requested another nap after lunch and has been asleep for the last hour and a half.

So here I am. At least this post isn’t brought to you by vomit (knock wood).

Why the title?

Because, dear readers, I got my period AGAIN.

And while I can’t be certain of the exact length of the previous cycle, as I didn’t keep track of when my period started, not thinking this would be something worth tracking, I am relatively confident that it was a little bit longer. More likely to be 46 or 47 days.

Annoyingly, I can’t pinpoint when I ovulated this past cycle because I stopped temping in disgust on day 22 when it was clear no ovulation was happening. I knew my cycle needed to be 35 days or shorter to be what the doctors would call ‘normal’, so I threw a bit of a tantrum and then went away for a weekend and then couldn’t be bothered to start up again.

I am pretty sure I did ovulate because I took my temperature one morning on a lark because I felt like I did before my period started and it was sky high, then lower the next morning, then lower again on the third day, and that was the same day my period started.

So if you guessed that I’m back to temping, you’d be right. Today is day 21 and, once again, no sign of a successful ovulation. Lots of signs that my body is trying, which is what it was doing last cycle at about this time as well. So I’m going to show more confidence in it and keep charting and hopefully this cycle will be a couple of days shorter again.

Forward progress, no matter how small, is a good thing.

What I think I really need to do is cut out dairy entirely for a couple of months starting on Day 1 of a new cycle, because I have two friends with PCOS who cut out dairy and had their cycles regulate, but I can’t figure out how to do that unless we take IVF off the table because I need the Greek yoghurt for protein. And we’re not yet ready to decisively take IVF off the table, although I am very reluctant to go in at this point because I don’t want to fuck up whatever my body is trying to do by going back on birth control and then pumping it full of hormones.

I suppose that tells you something about my mindset, in that I am more interested in the option to possibly have a normal menstrual cycle for the next twenty years or so (or whenever menopause hits) than I am in the option where we get another baby. Probably because I don’t really believe that we will get another baby, so the option where we just establish that as a fact isn’t particularly enticing. The option to not have to stay on birth control pills until menopause, on the other hand, is ridiculously exciting.

So. Nothing from me for almost a month and then a long, rambling discussion about my menstrual cycle. I’m excited, but I’m not expecting you to be.



Filed under Cycle Madness, E.- the fifth year, Family, Food, PCOS, The Sick

Just Say Yes

I know I’ve been really quiet lately. Partly it’s because it’s summer here and E. skips his quiet time quite a lot so we can go out and enjoy the sunshine. Partly it’s because I’ve been working on job applications and my parent job for the nursery school (I left all the work I had to do until the end of the year and then had to really put some time into it in the last couple of weeks).

Mostly, though, I think it’s because I’m still where I was two, four, six months ago, and I don’t feel like repeating myself over and over again. I have enough of that in my own head.

I’m getting close to the point where I’m supposed to go back to the clinic to set up the timings for an IVF cycle in August, and I am still evenly balanced.

I want to go in.

I don’t want to ever go back.

I want a second child.

I want our life as it is to continue.

I really thought by now things would be clearer to me, but they are still as clear as mud.

Here’s a really interesting ad for a full-time, permanent position in the field I think I’d really like at the university where I could actually commute to it and still drop E. off at school.


Here’s the chair of my department, wanting to know if I want to teach an online course for them next summer. Oh, wait, now it’s two online courses. Two full-year courses, taught in a compressed fashion.


Here are all my pills and supplements that I have to take every day, and all the protein that I have to eat, if I am going to give another IVF cycle its best possible chance.


I say yes to everything, to every opportunity, to every possible future, because we’re not yet at the point where I have to say no. I don’t have to narrow yet. I don’t have that job. The online teaching is a year away. I may not go back to the clinic, but maybe I will.

At the same time, keeping all the options open is in itself exhausting. Who am I going to be next year? Will I start a career? Will I do sessional teaching as a job to stay flexible for E.? Will I get the job AND do the online teaching, because it would be utter madness to not get myself entrenched with online courses, even though that would make for a crazy few months? Will I do the online teaching AND have a baby at the same time? Also crazy in the short-term, but a decision that would make sense long-term.

About the only thing I know is I’m not going back to the clinic in August if I get the full-time job and it starts in August because I wouldn’t have the time.

Every day, I choose not to choose yet, because I don’t have to.

One of these days, not choosing is going to be too exhausting.

One of these days, something will become clear, whether it’s my employment options for next year, or how I feel about the clinic, or all of the above.

But it’s not today.


Filed under (Pre)School Days, A (Good) Day's Work, Anxiety Overload, Life after the PhD, Second Thoughts, Three's Company

Rest Easy

One of my resolutions for my Happiness Reset project was to “Make Time for Exercise”.


I am now in my third month of my reset (a full update to come soonish, I hope) and I have YET to wake up early to go running, like I had planned to do.

It is no longer dark and cold and miserable like it was back in January and February.

It is a beautiful time of year to be running.

I’ve been choosing sleep instead.

A funny thing happened over the last couple of months.

I’ve been saying on here for years that I don’t need as much sleep as I did before E. was born. Here’s a typical quote, from this post in November 2013:

I’ve been convinced for close to two years now that I don’t seem to need as much sleep as I did before E. was born. Give me six hours in a row, and I’m good to go for the day. I hate waking up in the night to use the loo because if it’s after 3 a.m. I usually don’t get back to sleep, and prednisone just makes my disordered sleeping so much worse.

At Christmas that year, I had a long chat with my mother, who also has terrible problems with insomnia. She told me the only thing that worked for her was just to refuse to get out of bed until it was 6 a.m. Didn’t matter how awake she was, or what time of night it was, she would just lie there and not do anything interesting. And eventually she started going back to sleep again, and gradually it got easier.

I tried this. It took months, but it honestly worked. I started to be able to go back to sleep when I woke up at 3 or 4 a.m. At first it took me an hour or longer, but gradually my body relearned how to fall asleep.

Now, eighteen months after I first started using my mother’s strategy, I’ve realized that my sleep needs HAVE NOT CHANGED since E. was born.

I was just coping really well with constant sleep deprivation.

I was used to disordered sleep patterns.

I was getting so much more sleep (and good quality sleep) than I was when E. was an infant, that I figured I was good to go.

But it turns out, I’m still the same “eight or eight-and-a-half hours a night” girl I was before I had E.

And that’s why I haven’t been running.

I’ve chosen sleep instead.

And it has been GLORIOUS.

Because Q.’s been under less work pressure, we haven’t had to set as many early morning alarms. We’ve been able to wake up more naturally, with the light. There were nights where we slept for over nine hours, but I think now we’ve mostly caught up our deficits. I’m starting to wake up right around the eight hour mark or a little before. Sometimes I’ll be woken up (by E. or one of the cats) at 5:30 a.m., and I just go right back to sleep! This is unheard of for me (at least the me of the last five years).

I miss morning runs, but I’m just not ready to disrupt my body. It knows what it needs.

It’s about time I started listening to it.

1 Comment

Filed under Choose Happiness, Running, Sleep

On being the adult

Microblog_MondaysEvery now and then I have an experience that reminds me, “Hey, you’re the adult now”.

Most of these experiences have one thing in common: stomach flu.

I’ve found that nothing drives home harder the fact that I’m now the adult than those days (and nights) where E. and I are both vomiting.

When E. is vomiting? I’m my mother. I’m there, holding the bucket, wiping his forehead, doing the laundry, cuddling, consoling, cajoling (and yes, sometimes holding him down screaming at 2 a.m. in the bath, but that happens). I make sure he feels as good as he possibly can, even when he feels utterly miserable.

When I’m vomiting, I want my own mother. I want to be looked after. I want her comforting presence.

But I’m the adult now.

I added a new experience to this category a couple of weeks ago.

I turned up with E. for my morning duty day at his nursery school. As usual, we went around the back to the playground to open the sandbox, set out the trikes and scooters, and look for garbage.

There were two dead birds in the playground.

I’m not talking about your typical “old and lay down to die” birds or “flew into the window” birds or even “wasn’t fast enough to dodge the cat” birds.

These were “our parents built their nest right up in the eaves and either they didn’t build it properly or we were too dumb to stay put AND the cat/raccoon found us first” birds.

There is nothing like picking up the scattered remnants (so many scattered remnants) of baby birds, fetching water to rinse off the path, and spraying a bleach solution to persuade the flies to go somewhere else, all while trying to answer E.’s incessant questions, to drive the point home.

I’m the adult now.

And some days that really sucks.

What in your life reminds you that you’re the adult now?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.


Filed under (Pre)School Days, E.- the fifth year, Microblog Mondays, The Sick

What to eat (that is the question)

A month ago, I posted that I had been making some diet changes in order to get my body in line if we decided to go ahead with another IVF cycle.

I was doing things pretty casually until labmonkey posted with her numbers explaining why she’d decided to start eating meat.

I hadn’t actually sat down and worked out the specifics until that point.

If I’m aiming for 30% protein and max 40% carbs in my diet (which means fat has to come in at 30%), and I’m eating around 1800 calories a day, that’s 135 g of protein.

No problem, I thought. Look at all the meat I’m eating!

Then I went and actually looked up the numbers.

100g of chicken breast: 21 g
100g of tuna or salmon: 26 g
100g lean ground beef: 20 g
100g pork: 20 g

The point where I realized that I could eat 200 g of meat at dinner (which is almost half a pound!) every.single.night and I still wouldn’t be anywhere near half of my daily requirements was when I started to freak out a little bit.

But I persevered.

My body has not been happy. I’m not sure if it’s all the supplements or the diet changes or both but I haven’t felt all that great these last few weeks. It’s not just that it’s either feast or famine when it comes to the functioning of my digestive system. I feel nauseated much of the time. I’m already beyond sick of eggs. Cashew butter doesn’t taste good anymore. And canned tuna (which I normally really like) makes me want to hurl.

Even with a cup of Greek yoghurt (24 g) with a swirl of almond butter (3 g), or three eggs (18 g) scrambled with a cup of cooked spinach (5 g) and some cheese (3 g), for breakfast, I wasn’t hitting my targets on a consistent basis. And I thought I was going to throw up if I ate eggs at breakfast again.

I figured I had three choices:
1. Add in more dairy (cottage cheese as a snack being the obvious one)
2. Add in a protein bar or protein shakes
3. Eat even more meat at breakfast and lunch

#3 was out- I just couldn’t stomach the thought of more meat. It really didn’t help that E. came down with a hideous gastro bug the night we got back from visiting my sister and future brother-in-law (he started vomiting in the taxi queue of our home airport), which I then got two days later, on a night where I’d made beef and black bean tacos. Nothing like throwing up the remnants of a meal for five hours straight to make you a bit wary of ground beef in the future.

I didn’t like the idea of #2 either, since a protein bar was likely to have a bunch of sugar in it (and probably carbs too). And protein bars and protein shakes aren’t ‘real’ food. They’re not something that’s part of my usual diet and it seemed crazy to add them.

That left #1, but the first rule of diets for PCOS folk is not to eat much dairy (if at all). I hemmed and hawed, but clearly I wouldn’t survive without Greek yoghurt for breakfast and dairy in cooking, so cutting it out altogether wasn’t possible (nor was cutting out legumes- I don’t know how people go paleo. I wouldn’t be able to cope.)

I finally settled on trialling cottage cheese as a snack. Maybe I could alternate cottage cheese snack days with edamame snack days (although, of course, I’m not supposed to eat too much soy either. HOW CAN IT BE THIS COMPLICATED?)

I bought cottage cheese this weekend. I actually quite like cottage cheese but I cut it out of my diet several years ago because I didn’t like its salt content. On balance, however, I thought it made more sense than protein shakes.

I was all set to start eating it.

And then I got my period yesterday.

I’m not on birth control.

I had a period on the pill in the second week of April. And I distinctly remember looking at the calendar and realizing that if I started the new package on the expected day, I’d get my period while we were on holiday (I can’t skip periods anymore on my pill- I get breakthrough bleeding).

Nuts to that, I thought. I’ll wait another week before I start.

And then I got sidetracked because my doctor had prescribed me a new pill which she really liked for PCOS, but when I started reading about the pill, I didn’t like all the bad press. So I wasn’t sure what to do and therefore did nothing. When I was visiting with my sister I talked the new pill issue over with her and agreed I didn’t want to switch, but then I came home and jet lag and vomiting and chaos meant I didn’t start a new package of my usual pill.

And while we were away, I can remember a couple of days where I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on downstairs. In retrospect, I think this was EWCM. I’m not used to seeing it.


It looks like I ovulated about a month after my last withdrawal bleed on the pill, and then had a two week luteal phase.


If you are long-time readers of this blog, you will know that I NEVER, EVER ovulate on my own. I never have. I used to go off the pill for months in my twenties to see if my body would kick start, and it never did. I hoped I might get my period back when I weaned E., and I never did.

For my entire adult life, my body has not functioned normally.

Today I think something may have possibly changed.

It’s still very early days, of course, and it’s possible that this will turn out to be some sort of horrific random bleeding and not a period after all. Or, if it is a period, maybe it won’t happen again.

But I know two things right now.

I’m not going back on the pill for another few weeks- I want to see what happens.

And I’m sticking with this diet.

I don’t think this can be chalked up to anything but diet- I’m taking metformin, but that’s never helped in the past, and otherwise my supplements are pretty much the same with the exception of CoQ10 and fish oil, and I can’t see either of those being the deciding factor.

So now I’m back to wondering if cottage cheese is such a good idea after all, given PCOS and dairy are meant to be a bad combo. I have some long-term infertility friends who have basically cut dairy out of their diets (except for Greek yoghurt and some cheese in cooking) and their PCOS is under control. They have textbook cycles.

I think I need to sit down and really track what I’m eating for the next few days and see how my numbers are stacking up and then go from there. Maybe I don’t need to hit 125 g of protein (which was what I’d been aiming for) every day for things to be kickstarted.

I don’t for a second think we’d get pregnant from this, but it would be nice to have a PCOS management strategy that wasn’t “stay on the pill for the next fifteen years and then see if you enter menopause”.

I’ll keep you posted.

1 Comment

Filed under Cycle Madness, Family, Food, PCOS, The Sick

Books Read: April 2015

You can read about why I decided to start doing this here.

For January, see here.
For February, see here.
For March, see here.

* denotes a book that I had already read at least once before

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives (Gretchen Rubin)

Horse Heaven (Jane Smiley)

They Left Us Everything (Plum Johnson)

*Halfway to Hollywood: Diaries 1980-1988 (Michael Palin)

Travelling to Work: Diaries 1988-1998 (Michael Palin)

The Infertility Survival Handbook (Elizabeth Swire Falker)

The Brotherhood of Joseph (Brooks Hansen)

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids (Dr. Laura Markham)

It doesn’t look like I read very much this month, but I think that’s largely because I spent so much of the month reading (or rereading) the second and third volumes of Michael Palin’s diaries. Weighty tomes indeed. I should say at the outset that I absolutely love Michael Palin. He is my favourite Python (saying something given I still have vast vast swathes of their repertoire memorized), I have all his books from his globetrotting, I’ve seen almost all of his movies, read his novels, etc. I even managed to meet him once and get his autograph, which was beyond exciting. He also went to the same college where I was when I met Q. These diaries are wonderful for a super fan like myself as they give you the completely illusory sensation that you actually know the man. The third volume (published last fall) includes the death of Graham Chapman and I was weeping on my couch when I read that entry. The overarching impression with these diaries is of how hard Palin works. Yes, there’s quite a lot of travel, and lunches/dinners/drinks out, and parties, and meeting famous people, but Palin never loses sight of what matters: getting the writing done. Sometimes it’s writing all day for two minutes of acceptable screen time. His discipline is genuinely impressive, especially since (as he himself notes), he doesn’t really need to work for the money after Python. He doesn’t have anything left to prove. He could coast on his laurels, but he doesn’t.

I liked Better than Before because I’m always interested in why we do what we do (or why we don’t). I’ll be glad to have a break from Rubin now- three books in quick succession was a lot. She’s very ambitious in her goals and it gets a bit exhausting after a while.

I can’t remember now why I ended up reading The Infertility Survival Handbook or The Brotherhood of Joseph. I know they must have been mentioned on a blog or in a book. I skimmed most of the Handbook (I could have written much of the Handbook!) but did pay attention to the chapters on quitting treatments. Both books served as a timely reminder that some people’s journey to parenting has been far more harrowing than mine was and I should count myself lucky, even when I don’t feel that way.

Horse Heaven was good fun. I like Jane Smiley and I love horses and I know a lot about horse racing. I’d had this on hold since I read Some Luck and finally had time to activate it and get it sent to my branch. It was another weighty tome which took a few days to finish.

They Left Us Everything is Plum Johnson’s memoir about having to clear out her parents’ house (which they had lived in for over fifty years) after their deaths. It’s as much about her relationships with her parents as it is about the physical process of sorting through their affairs. It’s amazing. Everyone should read it. It really hit a nerve with me because my two surviving grandparents are both still living in their houses and my parents (and their siblings) are going to inherit that baggage and have to deal with it. Johnson reaches the conclusion that all parents should do this to their children, but I think she’s lost sight of the fact that not everyone will have sixteen months to examine every book and knick knack like she did. They might instead just dump their parents’ entire lives into a dumpster, like E. and I witnessed across the street. On balance I still plan to manage my affairs to make sure that I will not leave everything to E.

The last book for the month was Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, which I might go out and buy to keep on my shelf. It was a really good reminder of why I struggle with the parts of parenting I find most difficult, why my reactions are not great for my relationship with E., and how I can try to make changes. She writes about how we go into flight-or-fight mode when our buttons get pushed, and how we can’t react calmly when our child looks like the enemy- we need our brain to calm down first. That struck home. It explains why sometimes I am seized with the need to be right over the most inconsequential of things, and why I get so damned annoyed when E. bosses me around when we’re setting up train tracks.


Filed under Books


As I have done in previous years, I will lock this post in a week or two. But I wanted to give all of my readers a chance to see how E. has grown and changed over the past year. Once again I have gone overboard with the photos. Bonus points to everyone who makes it to the end!

Dearest E.,

IMGP8096Four years ago today you were born.


And then, before we knew it, you were turning one.


And then, you were two.


8 May.

9 May.

And then, you were three.



You still slept in your crib, in your sleepsack. When you were sleeping, you still seemed small.


But there were signs all around of just how big you were getting.

And when I looked at you more closely, I realized there was no toddler left.

You had become such a great walker that we loved exploring the ravines in our neighbourhood.



You’d recently decided you were a very large snake (a python, to be exact, although later in the year you became a “red boa with six wheels!” and even later a “red corn snake rattlesnake boa with six wheels!”) and so you spent a lot of time basking.

We had fun that summer. We went to the islands.

We made our second foray Down Under to see your Daddy’s family. The flight was a lot easier this time now that you were older.


You loved seeing all the sights (although your favourite things to spot were construction vehicles and trains, just like at home).

We made sure we went to the beach, even though it was ‘winter’.

We went to two zoos. Your favourite animal was “the anaconda, because it’s the biggest, longest snake there is!”


Back home, there were a few changes. You were out of your crib and into your new medium-sized guy bed (and a new room!). And you had a new best friend, your Puppy. Pretty soon Berenice Bunny was relegated to ex-lovey status.



There was still lots to do to enjoy the summer. We hit up the splash pad.

There was work to be done in the garden, but we made sure to take time to cool off.

We went to another beach and even though the pictures don’t show it, it was freezing!

At the very end of the summer, we rented a cottage for a week. You told me on our second day there that you wished “we could stay at the cottage for the rest of our lives”. It was a perfect holiday.


We went hiking in a national park and you walked the whole trail.

We went canoeing or kayaking almost every day.


And then it was September, and time for a new (nursery) school year to begin.

We didn’t want to admit it, but our summer was turning into autumn.

For a long time you insisted you weren’t going to dress up or going trick-or-treating. Eventually you changed your mind.

That fall you discovered dinosaurs. Your favourite was (and remains) the Elasmosaurus.

Before I knew it, you were three-and-a-half. You tolerated the requisite ‘roo photo, but only if I would then “take a picture of me with my best dog.”



You knew exactly what you wanted for Christmas and wrote a letter to Santa to make sure he knew.


The snow came, but it didn’t last.


We started to get ready for Christmas.


Then it was Christmas Eve, and you had new pajamas.


On Christmas Day, you were so happy that Santa had brought your train bridge. It wasn’t until the afternoon that we realized you weren’t well. It was into the new year before you were back to your usual cheerful self again.


Then the winter set in and we had to find more things to do indoors.



You worked very hard to plan a birthday party for your best dog (which turned out to be the first of many). You dictated to me the guest list and the presents.

The snow came back, and this time it stayed. We still managed to enjoy it (at least for a month or two).


For Valentine’s Day, you made us a special breakfast.

I gave you my old camera and you took to it immediately. I found it so interesting watching what you chose to document (even when you took fifty pictures in a row of the July page of our calendar!).



We found some fun things to do in the city.

And some outside of it.





Then it was Easter, and spring was just around the corner (or so we hoped).



We started exploring again and visiting new places.




Even though you had grown and changed so much, some things hadn’t changed. You still loved the Elasmosaurus and you still loved red.


You still (a year later) said you were a snake, and your love for snakes showed no signs of abating. You measured (with my help) and drew a nine metre reticulated python on our sidewalk.


When spring came, we got your bike out again. You weren’t ready for it in previous years, but this summer I think you’re really going to love it.


Because we were going to be away on your birthday, we had an early celebration the week before. You wanted only two things: the Bruder flatbed truck which came with a backhoe excavator (which you had wanted for over four months, so we agreed to get it for you even though you really didn’t need another enormous truck) and a raspberry-watermelon cake. We managed both.








When I look back, what strikes me about this year was just how much you made. You absolutely loved constructing wooden vehicles (with our help) and then painting them. Beading, stencils, painting- you did it all. You took your work very seriously.





I have loved watching you grow.







You are so curious about the world. We have conversations every day about why Pluto isn’t a planet anymore, or how the blood gets from your lungs to your heart, or why Seismosaurus is not the largest dinosaur. You are gentle and kind and loving. You tell truly hilarious jokes. Your imagination knows no bounds. I hope you never lose your sense of wonder, your desire to learn, your headlong embrace of life. It is a privilege and a joy to watch you grow up.

And now, my darling boy, you are four.




I love you ever so much. Happy birthday, my son.



Filed under E.- the fourth year, Letters to E.