Yesterday was my fourth blogoversary. I’d had a vague recollection for a few days that it was coming up, so last night I checked right before I shut down the computer for the night, and lo and behold- there it was. My first post on this blog. Just for kicks I read the first few posts over again. I was just starting out on the path to parenthood. We’d already had our first appointment with a fertility specialist, I’d gone through the HSG, and our second appointment was later that week. I’d known that things weren’t likely to be easy (I was in with a fertility specialist less than seven months after starting to ttc- three months off birth control where nothing happened, a further three months where I charted to prove I wasn’t ovulating, and then a trip to the GP and a referral to a clinic), but I had NO IDEA what was coming.
I can remember like it was yesterday the meeting with the f/s where she went through all the options their clinic offered, and how they moved from one level of treatment to the next. The last stop was IVF. “I don’t think you’ll need that,” she told us. We believed her. Ha. (In fairness, on paper we didn’t look like a couple who would need IVF either. We looked like a straightforward PCOS case- add Clomid and produce pregnancy!)
There is a lightness in my posts in the beginning that is both endearing and painful to read now. Even though I anticipated there were going to be problems, I was so relieved to be in with a fertility specialist so quickly. I really thought we would sort everything out with a minimum of fuss. I believed we’d be pregnant by the end of the year.
Then there was my first blogoversary, which was also my hundredth post. The optimism was gone, replaced by a gritty sort of determination. The treatment protocols were escalating. I’d just had a laparoscopy the previous month to cut out the endometriosis that my f/s had suspected was there (he- we’d changed doctors by this point when my first f/s left the clinic to move back to Australia- was right).
Then there was my second blogoversary, which was also the only post in my blog that entire month. I was in the final stages of preparing for my comprehensive exams. I spent literally twelve hours a day reading. I was going, not to put too fine a point on it, crazy. And we were paused in treatments after our two FETs had failed. We were waiting for my comps to be over in April before we did one more round of IVF (and then ultimately waited until after we’d gone on a big trip to see Q’s family in July).
I’d come through the worst of it by March 2010- I was no longer in the dark place I inhabited in December 2009, when the second FET failed. I was trying to take some control over my life again. I was trying to see past the failed cycles. Trying to keep some perspective. I was quiet on the blog, as I was whenever we were between treatments. I was overwhelmingly grateful for my readers, who had become friends.
Then there was my third blogoversary, which wasn’t marked on here, sandwiched as it was between my weekly pregnancy updates (weeks thirty-0ne and thirty-two). I think the very absence of a post tells me just how much I had healed. The length of the journey was paling in comparison with how short a time remained before we would meet our baby, who turned out to be E.
And now, here we are. Four years after I first started writing this blog, I’m still here, still blogging, even if now I pull my hair out over E.’s
crazy absolutely normal baby ways rather than weep over bfns and curse PIO shots. It’s probably appropriate that this is a week of introspection generally in the ALI blogosphere, as I have spent a fair amount of time this week thinking about why I blog and what I get out of blogging. (You can read about what’s going on with Mel’s posts 1, 2, and 3, and here at LFCA.)
First and foremost, my blog acts for me as a journal, a record of one particular aspect of my life. That used to be trying to get pregnant. Then it was being pregnant. Now it’s parenting. My blog transitioned from a ttc blog to a pregnancy blog and then a parenting blog, and I guess one day it will be a ttc+parenting blog when we start thinking about trying to give E. a sibling. And hopefully it will become a pregnancy+parenting blog, and then, at last, a parenting blog when our family is complete.
One of the issues the ALI blogosphere is currently ruminating on is the place of blogs written by those who are parenting after infertility. I know when I first started to write after E. was born, I had difficulty expressing how I really felt about mothering. I felt like I couldn’t complain (even though I did, a lot), because I might upset those readers who were still in the trenches, and who desperately wanted to have what I had.
Here’s how I got over that: in the first place, I really really needed an outlet for the side of motherhood that was not proving to be sunshine and rainbows and kittens and ice cream. I was taken aback by the ambiguity of some of my feelings in the first few months. I didn’t expect to both love E. with such all-consuming focus and yet at the exact same time miss my old life so desperately. I needed support, just as I needed support when I was trying to get pregnant. So I blogged about it. I think I felt more guilt when I was writing about pregnancy, but since the primary purpose of this blog is to act as a journal for myself, I posted my belly pics and wrote my weekly updates regardless. Already those updates are so precious to me. They preserve specific thoughts and emotions from specific points in the pregnancy, when my own memories are already starting to fade.
The other thing that helped was during the time I was trying to get pregnant, the vast, vast majority of the blogs I followed transitioned from ttc blogs to pregnant/parenting blogs. And I kept reading. I don’t follow a ton of blogs- I’ve never had enough time, and I’d rather keep up good close relationships with a few bloggers than only scan many. So the blogs that I do read regularly are usually those written by women (because they are all by women) with whom I could imagine myself sitting down for coffee and a good long natter. I read blogs of women with whom I think I could be friends (and I do consider most of them to be friends, even if only online). So when those blogs became pregnancy blogs, I didn’t stop reading in the same way that I wouldn’t have cut out a friend in real life who announced that she was pregnant. In many ways it was easier to be excited for my blog friends who were getting out of the trenches, because I knew how hard they’d had to work to get there.
My blog has never been hugely popular. I don’t get hundreds of page views, or dozens of comments. That’s ok. I know that some people comment, and no doubt more people are reading. I’ve made friendships through having this blog. And it serves for me in place of the paper journal that I would never, ever get round to keeping. I’d love to think that I would write my monthly letters to E. if I kept a paper journal, that I would record all those moments of his babyhood, but I doubt it would happen. Even though I write my blog for me, what keeps me writing and encourages me to put down my thoughts, is the knowledge that others are reading. So thank you. Because I know in five, ten, thirty years, when my memories of this wild first year with E. are as vague and unformed as those of my friends and my parents, I will be so utterly grateful for the clarity of these posts, sunshine and shadows alike.
E. is going through a weird patch right now. Lots and lots of random wakings at night where he bursts out crying and then, 99% of the time settles himself. He seems to be having the most trouble in the final part of the night. He’s also just generally a bit more fragile during the day- protesting diaper changes, sucking his thumb all the time. So I went and looked things up and sure enough, we’re two weeks out from a Wonder Week. I’m hopeful this means that if things don’t settle down earlier, we’ll be back to a more normal pattern by the end of March.
E. is now a totally independent sleeper. Q. and I had both noticed that when we put him down for naps he’d started waking up as we went out the door and flipping over onto his tummy. I figured it was time to try letting him put himself down again. So I spent a few days sitting in his room (hiding over by his closet so he couldn’t see me, but I could peek around to watch him and check his body language), and he put himself down every time. Now I can leave the room, and just listen to him on the monitor. There was almost NO fussing during this whole process. He did do some short naps (35 minutes) at first, but then we had a nap where he woke up crying and I just left him (as he still sounded tired on the monitor) and he moaned and fussed and sucked his thumb and eventually went back to sleep, and that seemed to solve the issue as we’ve had some good naps since. Q. is still putting a hand on him, but that’s ok. I figure once Q. realizes that I can leave the room and get on with things for the twenty minutes or so it takes E. to settle, he’ll want that time too!
I’m so so so proud of my little guy.
Q. and I left E. with my sister yesterday afternoon and went on a date to see a play. Daylight savings time messed things up, as E. was still napping when we had to leave, and hadn’t nursed yet that morning, so it wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped, and I did worry a bit, and wanted to bolt home to see him the second the play was over. He, of course, was fine- was a bit confused when he woke up and his auntie was there, but ate a good lunch, had a nice play and went for a long walk with her (as it was an insane 17 degrees here). Started to cry as soon as we walked in the door, which I had predicted, but it went really well. It’s just too bad my sister is off on a post-doc starting next month, as it would have been great to have had family in the city for babysitting!
Given he only had the one nap, we tried to put E. down at his usual time (which was an hour early because of the time change). That was messy. I guess even though he was exhausted his body still knew it wasn’t proper bedtime. He woke up at 7 this morning, however, so we should be able to get him back on track without too much trouble.
I was reading a story to E. the other day pre-nap in his room, and we hit a page with a cat. As soon as I said ‘cat’, E. stopped looking at the book and started looking all over his room, trying to find the cat. AND he is now signing ‘all done’ by holding both hands up above his head when in his high chair. It’s blowing my mind that he understands things and is starting to really communicate.