Support shout-out

Goodness, it has been a while since I posted. E. and I just got back from a lovely week-long visit with the grandparents- we travelled by train and it was just delightful.

But in lieu of a proper post from me, please go and send some love to a trio of special ladies:

Marianne just did a ‘last chance’ round of IVF while living in the middle east and now finds herself pregnant with twins!

My very dear labmonkey is about to have her egg retrieval for her first (and hopefully last) round of IVF.

And Egg has survived the first anniversary of the devastating second trimester loss of her second son.

They are special to me, and all of these things are hard for different reasons. Please go and sit with them for a while.

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Filed under Blogging, Friends

One thing leads to another (or does it)

I did two things yesterday that may or may not prove to be related.

I made a phone call to my clinic and left a message asking if I could switch my primary care provider from Dr. L. to Dr. B.

And I did our taxes.

We knew we were going to get a decent refund this year. Q. was on overload last year and they messed up the payments, so he ended up getting the extra pay in one lump in January 2014 and was taxed too much as a result. We had medical expenses. RRSP deductions. Tuition credit transfers. Daycare costs. Plus the new family tax credit, which we could take full advantage of given I had such a low income last year (that was the painful part of doing our taxes: realizing I made TEN percent of Q’s gross salary last year. Ouch. I need a job.).

The final number was very positive.

IF we decide to do it, one final IVF cycle is manageable. We won’t have to draw on long-term savings. And we won’t exhaust our short-term savings to the point that I’ll lose sleep over it.

So the door is open if we want to walk through.

My clinic called me back that same day. Dr. B. is happy to have us.

I booked a follow up appointment for the first of April.

I will make very clear to him what our stance is.

We are not committed to trying again.

We want someone to look at our chart and our history and give us an honest assessment of where we stand.

Dr. L. is too optimistic. He’s not interested in giving his patients statistics or hard answers. And after his emotionally manipulative tricks during our last meeting with him, I will never work with him again.

Dr. B. is different. I’ve watched him in the clinic. He runs on time. He doesn’t disappear at random intervals and throw his entire schedule into disarray. He has online reviews where people complain about his lack of bedside manner in that he didn’t pull punches and gave them hard truths that they didn’t want to hear.

I told the secretary we felt it was time for a fresh set of eyes.

If Dr. B. is willing to give us our sober second opinion, we’re willing to hear it.

We may not act on it. I’m still fluctuating wildly between desperately wanting to have a second child and being perfectly content with what I have already. I spend one night googling “five year age gap between children” which makes me want to have a second and the next googling “stopping at one child” which makes me want to just move on and be happy. The pendulum swings daily, sometimes multiple times a day, and I am no closer to recognizing which side it seems to be settling on.

But we’ll see what he has to say. And if he’s anything like Dr. L., we’re done. If he recommends to us that we go home and love the child that we do have and stop trying to have any more, we’re done. If he has a treatment plan and clear, specific reasons for why he thinks it might work, we’ll see.

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Filed under Lonely Onlies?, Money Matters, Second Thoughts, Three's Company

The Pursuit of Perfection

My latest issue of Today’s Parent arrived on the weekend. It had an article in it on perfectionism in children, which highlighted the potentially crippling impact perfectionism can have.

I didn’t need to read about the negative side of needing everything to be perfect. I’ve lived with perfectionism for years and have worked very very hard to develop management/coping strategies. Being a perfectionist and a graduate student is a toxic combination.

There was a sidebar in the article titled “What PERFECTIONISM looks like”. It listed five characteristics, and said that researchers can identify meaningful patterns in behaviour by age six.

The five characteristics were:

  • being overly cautious
  • focusing on mistakes rather than successes
  • setting unrealistic goals and getting upset if they are not reached
  • needing to ask a lot of questions
  • being inflexible, believing there’s only one right way to do a task

I read them.

Then I took the article into the kitchen and showed it to Q.

He read the sidebar. “Right,” he said, after a moment’s thought.

The thing is, that sidebar? Described E.

TO A T.

“Who needs to wait until six,” added Q. “We can identify it at age three!”

I’m hoping that maybe researchers chose age six because before that the characteristics of perfectionism were developmentally normal. I’m sure E. is not the only almost four-year-old who could be described as inflexible, or who asks a lot of questions.

But it was a bit of an eye opener.

We might work a bit harder going forward helping E. to embrace the idea of mistakes as a learning experience and an opportunity for practice and/or change.

I don’t want him burdened by this.

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, E.- the fourth year

Smile/Grimace

Microblog_MondaysI went to the dentist today.

After months and months of back and forth, and endless submissions of requests for approval to our insurance company (which was completely unnecessary- it is covered by Q.’s benefits, so I don’t know why it was so difficult), I finally got the authorization for a night guard.

The night guard that I need because I now clench my jaw so badly that it’s sore most of the time.

I’ve bottled so much tension up inside I need help to keep from causing long-term physical damage to myself.

The aftershocks of infertility just keep reverberating.

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

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, Microblog Mondays

Books Read: February 2015

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

For January, see here.

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

* A Discovery of Witches (Deborah Harkness)

* Shadow of Night (Deborah Harkness)

The Tiger. A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (John Vaillant)

So, Anyway… (John Cleese)

Striking a Chord (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

Never Wink at a Worried Woman (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

She’s Turning Into One of Them! (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

Teaching…Is a Learning Experience (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

The Book of Life (Deborah Harkness)

The Fiery Cross (Outlander, Book Five- Diana Gabaldon)

The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion)

Seniors’ Discount (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

Home Sweat Home (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

Just a Simple Wedding (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

***

I started out the month by reading two books I’d already read once before- books one and two of Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy. My hold on the third book had just come in, and I knew I didn’t want to finish the series without starting again from the beginning. I really enjoyed these books. I have a great fondness for Oxford, and for rowing, and for historians who work on manuscripts in libraries. Plus, I do love a good fantastical twist to our everyday world (even if it had to involve vampires). Harkness matured significantly as a writer between the first book and the second, and the third was an excellent read. I’m not a scientist, so I can make no judgments about the research findings presented in the books. I will say I did get annoyed by her passing over certain fundamental issues of biology, namely if you are a nursing mother, and you leave your offspring for a number of days, it’s not enough to leave milk for said offspring (which she did make a point of mentioning). You also have to find a way to express your milk while you’re away both to protect your milk supply and to keep yourself comfortable. The mother in question had travelled in order to attend a meeting, the outcome of which had the potential to destroy her world. I find it hard to believe she’d be able to concentrate on the issues at stake with her breasts about to explode out of her chest. It’s a minor point, but it irked me. Why bother bringing up nursing at all if you’re not going to follow through with the ramifications?

This probably bothered me as much as it did because the next book I read was the fifth in the Outlander series. If Harkness passes over many of the grittier details of life, Gabaldon embraces them. There’s a nursing mother in The Fiery Cross as well, and the state of her breasts and her need to express milk is frequently mentioned. Outlander is still holding my attention, and I’m looking forward to reading the next volume (out from the library and on my shelves as I write).

I finished the FBOFW collections this month, and cried when I reached the end.

I blogged about The Rosie Project here. I know it made me grumpy, but it really is a very good read. Not very long either, and the sort of book that will suck you in and get you to finish it in one sitting (be warned!).

John Cleese’s autobiography was an odd one, in that he devoted almost the entire book (90%+) to his life before Monty Python. When I was getting close to the end, I went and read a bunch of online reviews to try to get to the bottom of whether or not this was meant to be just the first volume. An awful lot of people who have read the book think this is the case, but I’m not so sure. He made reference to elements from his later life (Python, Fawlty Towers, Fish Called Wanda, etc.) throughout. There’s also some obvious bad blood between him and some of the other members of Python (also obvious if you’ve read Michael Palin’s diaries). So I think it’s quite possible he’s done this just to thumb his nose at Python fans who bought the book hoping to get his perspective on the series (ahem). The last chapter certainly felt final to me. But I guess only time will tell.

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Fascinating.

I have a cardboard cut out of Mr. Spock in my study.

It is important you know this. It explains a lot about why I feel the way I do right now. Why I have cried as much as I have in the last day and a half.

Spock first moved in during high school.

I don’t actually remember now where he came from. I think a friend convinced a video shop to give her the cut out, and then she gave it to me.

It seems like he’s always been there.

When I left home for university, Spock came with me.

He lived in my dorm room in my first year, where he gazed upon my inevitable antics with that cool, inscrutable stare. Sometimes I thought I caught a glimpse of a raised eyebrow, but most of the time his face remained smooth, unbothered. During Frosh Week I was given a school tam. I put it on his head.

It stayed there for years.

When I moved out in my second year to a shared house with five roommates, he came with me.

He was there when I fell in love.

He was there when I sat at my desk and wrote out all my assignments and taped them to the wall and then put my head down on my desk and cried because I couldn’t see any possible way I would get them all done on time.

He was there when I got them all done on time.

He was there in the darkness when I couldn’t fall asleep unless I played Loreena McKennitt’s The Visit. I played it every night for months. I always fell asleep before the end of The Lady of Shalott.

He was there the night two of my roommates and I got so high on marijuana that we ordered a pizza, ate the entire thing, and then forgot it had arrived. We remained in a state of righteous indignation about the absence of our pizza and the (increasingly ridiculous) wait time for its arrival until one of our other roommates (not high) brought out the empty pizza box.

All right, he wasn’t actually there, in the kitchen, since he rarely left my room, but I’m sure he heard all about it, and I’m equally sure he wasn’t particularly impressed.

In my third year, when I came to my senses and left the house with five roommates in favour of an apartment with two roommates, both good friends from high school, Spock came too.

He watched me fall out of love (messily) and flounder around breaking other hearts.

He looked over my shoulder when I opened the letter that informed me I had won a scholarship to go across the pond for my Master’s degree.

He was, I think, proud when I graduated with first class honours and a medal to boot, even though he didn’t come to the ceremony (not being one for leaving my room).

I think he was hoping I’d take the tam off then.

After graduation my best friend from high school and I packed up our worldly possessions into a van. The back doors had two small windows.

We packed Spock last, folded him in half where he had once been made to fit into his original packaging (you could still see the crease), and placed him so that he was looking out one of the windows.

The drive home was three hours.

We lost count of how many cars honked their horns at us, how many drivers and passengers waved, or rolled down their windows and gave us the thumbs up.

Spock remained calm, unruffled by all the attention.

When I moved overseas for my Master’s I put away childish things and so Spock and all the rest of my worldly possessions that couldn’t be made to fit into two suitcases were packed away into the basement of my mother’s house.

He wasn’t there to watch me fall in love (this time for life).

His gaze didn’t rest on me when I fell into a crippling depression and lay in my room crying every week until I had to stop and get up and write my essay.

He  would have approved (I think) of me getting out of bed before the sun for months on end, so I could sprint down to the river and glide across its surface in silence except for the sweep of oars, the roll of the seats, and the run of the boat.

He missed another graduation, this one a victory more hard-fought than the last.

Spock wasn’t there when I moved again, this time down under. He was still in the basement.

He wasn’t there to watch Q. and I learn to live together.

He didn’t see me grow into my confidence as a teacher.

He didn’t cast his eye over the kittens we brought home to fill our apartment.

He probably would have liked the heat, being half Vulcan. The kittens, not so much.

When Q. and I moved back to Canada (with the kittens, now cats), we emptied my mother’s house of what I had left behind.

Things I could never have parted with five years earlier I now tossed aside without a second thought. I took the view that if I’d forgotten I owned it, it was time for it to go.

I kept some things, of course.

Most of my books.

An entire Rubbermaid storage tub of journals and papers and model horses and stuffed animals.

And Spock. Folded and dusty, but otherwise unchanged.

When we bought our house, I set him up in my study where he could overlook my desk, as he used to.

I think he smiled.

Right up until I put my university tam back on his head.

Spock was there while I wrote my dissertation.

He was there when we weren’t getting pregnant, when we did get pregnant, when E. was born.

He remained an amusing point of conversation.

I’d set him up in just such a way that you’d catch sight of him out of the corner of your eye as you went up our stairs.

As a species, we are not so far removed from our ancestors. It is easy to imagine ourselves as the hunted rather than the hunters.

All that to say, Spock scared the living daylights out of most visitors to our home. Even Q. took months to get used to him.

When we moved E. into his new room, and his old room became my study, I thought it was time to say goodbye.

I couldn’t see where I was going to put Spock. I didn’t have a corner where he could rest.

E., unexpectedly, became very very upset at the news. With a quavering voice, and tear-filled eyes, he pleaded with me, “No! Don’t get rid of him. Please keep him.”

I agreed to keep Spock.

“Good,” said E.  “You keep him until you’re dead. When you’re dead, we won’t need to keep him anymore.”

Shaking my head, I slid Spock in behind the bookshelf tucked next to my desk.

I couldn’t see his legs anymore, but he did fit.

I had to take the tam off, though. It made him fold over.

I know he smiled that time.

***

I am what you might call a serious Trekker.

Not one who goes to conventions or dresses up, I hasten to add. I’m not that serious.

But I should not be classified as a casual fan.

I can recognize any episode of ST: TNG before the opening credits start.

I have three shelves in my study filled with Star Trek books: biographies and autobiographies of the cast members; novels; screenplays; compendiums; parodies; the collections of all the inaccuracies and errors in the episodes of ST: TOS. A couple of the novels are books I reread almost every year. I never get tired of them.

I have most of the first six movies memorized (except for I and V, which I never warmed to). I’ve seen The Wrath of Khan more times than I can count and I still, STILL, start crying as soon as Spock leaves the bridge and heads down to the engine room.

Captain Picard is my favourite starship captain.

DS9 is my favourite series.

I have a real soft spot for Miles Edward O’Brien.

But Spock is special to me.

He’s seen so much of my life.

He’s remained constant, unchanging.

It was a real shock to learn again on Friday that he, too, was only mortal.

Now I will carry him in my heart.

And Spock will always have a place in my study.

Live long and prosper, Mr. Nimoy, and thank you.

 

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Filed under Daily Life, Grief, Loss

Books Read: January 2015

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

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

A Buzz in the Meadow (Dave Goulson)

“So What Are You Going to Do With That?” Finding Careers Outside Academia (Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius)

Growing Like a Weed (A For Better or For Worse Collection- Lynn Johnston)

Middle Age Spread (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire (Michelle Goodman)

*Sunshine and Shadow (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

The Big 5-0  (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage (Tara Parker-Pope)

Some Luck (Last Hundred Year Trilogy, Book One, Jane Smiley)

Resume Magic (Susan Whitcomb)

Caleb’s Crossing (Geraldine Brooks)

Getting Things Done (David Allen)

Graduation: A Time for Change (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

*Family Business (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

With This Ring (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

Reality Check (A FBOFW Collection- Lynn Johnston)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Susan Cain)

Drums of Autumn (Outlander, Book Four, Diana Gabaldon)

***

When I was home over Christmas, I found myself rereading some of the For Better Or For Worse comic books that my mother has collected. She has a fair number of them, but her collection cuts off about halfway through the strip (with the occasional later addition). I decided to track down (through the library) the volumes I hadn’t read. I wasn’t able to get them all- the collections that include Elly’s pregnancy, the birth of April and her toddler/preschool years weren’t in the library’s holdings, but in the end I only missed a few.

I grew up reading FBOFW. I’m a couple of years younger than the Pattersons’ eldest child, Michael, and about the same age as their daughter, Elizabeth, so as they aged in real-time, so did I. I could identify with their trials and tribulations, although depending on the situation I sometimes felt a stronger connection with Michael, sometimes with Elizabeth.

I loved this strip. It held (and still holds) a very dear place in my heart, and it was a delight to start revisiting it.

Lots of books this month trying to help me with my career angst. Some more helpful than others. Reading Quiet was a real game changer. I’d still like to write a post about it.

Drums of Autumn got me back into the Outlander series. I came to it very late- started reading the books last fall- and I found Voyager in particular to be a real slog. But this one, even clocking in at almost 900 pages, hooked me but good and rekindled my willingness to see the series through to the end.

Really liked A Buzz in the Meadow. I love books written by naturalists who can actually write. This one was delightful- lots of fascinating information about various arthropod species coupled with descriptions of his property in France and how it changes over the years. Immediately put his earlier book (A Sting in the Tale- about bees) on hold at the library.

Much preferred Some Luck to Caleb’s Crossing, although both were worth the read. Put some more of Jane Smiley’s work on hold too (although I’ve left them inactive for now- I’ll come back to them later).

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