Category Archives: Friends

Drawing to a close

I am starting to give things away.

Q.’s sister had a baby about this time last year, which made him (in the southern hemisphere) a spring baby. He has turned out to be a lean baby, like E. was. So before we went down under in June I e-mailed her to ask if she wanted any of E’s clothes.

She was so grateful that I offered. It turned out that she hadn’t ended up with any hand-me-downs- her friends had all finished having their children, or they had girls, or they weren’t done yet.

I was horrified to realize that she’d had to buy all of the clothes for her son (especially since she had to pay the inflated prices that come from living in a country with a small population a long way away from anywhere else, particularly the giant consumer market of the USofA). So in the midst of our early June madness, while my mother was here, I somehow found one evening to pull out the bins and I went through E’s clothes and absolutely stuffed a duffle bag full of clothes from 12 months to 2T to take with us.

“You will never get all of those clothes in that bag,” said my mother upon viewing the size of the bag and the size of the pile.

“This is a MEC duffle bag,” I countered. “Of course I will.”

And I did. And it gave me great glee to stuff all of those clothes, shirts and pants and shorts that E. had worn but wouldn’t wear again, into the bag, and take it with us across the ocean, and give it to my sister-in-law.

I only wish I’d remembered to ask her whether or not she used sleep sacks, as I could have brought her those too (although they would have had to go into our luggage as the duffle was bursting at the seams by the time I was done with it).

I checked with Q. first, of course. He also thought it was a good idea.

“If it turns out we need them again,” he said, “We can always get my mother to bring them back with her when she next comes to visit.”

I told my sister-in-law to keep them.

***

Last week I sent my Dad home on the train with another duffle bag of clothes (the same duffle, just not quite as full this time). One of my best friends from high school had a baby in June. Another spring/summer boy, just like E. So I went back through the bins and found the one full of 6-12 month clothing (because they are both tall and this child will also be tall) and pulled out anything I thought might work.

My friend’s two brothers-in-law both just had babies as well. The clothes will surely fit one of the new additions to their family.

“I don’t need any of it back,” I said in the e-mail. “Let me know what size he’s in when we come to town in the fall and I’ll bring you another load with some books and toys.”

***

I’m not getting rid of everything, of course. In each size I have hung on to the clothing that I (or E.) most loved, the clothing that has real memories for me, the clothing that matters.

I want, so very much, to be able to give them to my sister, who has been trying for a while now and who is staring over the IVF precipice, something which I never wanted her to experience.

I don’t really expect to use them again myself.

I tell myself that even if we get pregnant again and have a second child, what are the odds that said child will be another spring baby who will be long and lean like E. was? I don’t care much about gender- I would happily put a daughter in most of E’s clothes. But it feels like an almost impossible ask that we will end up with a second child who will be the right size at the right time.

It feels like an almost impossible ask that we will end up with a second child.

***

Our basement is literally filled with outgrown baby stuff. The change table, the rocking chair, the crib, the exersaucer, the music table, the gyminis, the high chair, the baby gates, the carriers, the bins and bins of clothes and books and toys. It would be far worse except our bouncy seat and travel crib are out on loan with friends who had a baby a year ago next month.

A year ago I was only ‘loaning’ our baby stuff out.

That was before the two FETs failed and the IVF worked until it didn’t.

That was before we only had one frozen embryo left.

The piles and piles of baby things were eating me up inside.

I couldn’t stand looking at them.

I couldn’t stand how much room they took up.

I couldn’t stand how I couldn’t get my basement under control until we were done with that stuff.

I couldn’t stand the UNKNOWING, especially as spring ticked into summer and we drew closer to the month where we should have needed it all again.

So I started to give things away.

***

We still have one embryo left.

I suppose it could still surprise us.

We will not try again if it doesn’t.

I know only that I have to have an answer, one way or the other. I can’t continue to live in limbo, weighed down literally and figuratively by reminders of what-may-never-be.

I need that last transfer to happen this fall.

But I don’t want to transfer that embryo around the time of my PhD defence, it being not exactly a stress-free sort of occasion. That snowbaby needs a fair chance.

We opted not to head back to the clinic as soon as we returned home from being overseas, because we anticipated I would be spending much of August frantically revising the thesis. My committee had undertaken to have read it by the end of July.

I haven’t heard anything from them yet.

I’m drawing close to the end of another package of bcps, and I catch myself wondering whether we should go back to the clinic now, in case it takes my committee another month or more to read the thesis. My supervisor wants a defence in late October, but that means I have to have the dissertation submitted by mid-September. That will become infeasible if my committee members do not appear out of the woodwork soon.

I want to line my ducks up in a row, but I can’t control one of my ducks.

So I wait. And when the anxiety creeps up on me again, I give more stuff away.

 

 

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Filed under E.- the fourth year, Friends, Grief, Lonely Onlies?, Second Thoughts

Please send some love

If you read me, please go over and give some love and support to my very dear friend at Good Egg Hatched. She has just suffered a devastating loss, at almost 18 weeks. It’s her eighth loss; her fifth since she started trying to give her son a sibling. They did IVF with genetic screening. This was a healthy embryo.

This was supposed to work.

This universe is just so unbelievably fucking unfair sometimes.

My heart is breaking for her. Please show her she is not alone.

2 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Friends, Loss

Where I should have been

It’s been a month.

I hadn’t realized that, hadn’t realized just how much time had passed or what day it was today, until I was on my May 2011 birth club and the daily good thing thread turned into a pregnancy update thread and the woman who is due a day after I was posted a happy update with a belly shot announcing that she was at 14 weeks and into the second trimester.

I couldn’t breathe for a moment.

And then I thought about fourteen weeks versus ten weeks, and then I looked at a calendar, and then I realized that it was exactly a month.

I’m supposed to be prepping for a class I have to teach tomorrow, but instead I’m on here, trying to write things out so I can stop crying and concentrate on the rest of my life.

I’m not ok.

I’m so far from ok I can’t even begin to express it.

Most days I probably look ok to other people.

Some days I even feel like I’m ok.

Those are the days where I’ve managed to bury it so deep I don’t even think about it, when I keep myself so busy with teaching and the dissertation and home stuff and E.’s new room that I don’t give it any space in which it can come out.

The day after it happened, Q. gave me a card for Valentine’s Day. In it he wrote that while it wouldn’t be my happiest Valentine’s Day ever, it would be a better day than yesterday, and each day after that would get a bit better.

Grief isn’t linear like that.

I have mostly ok days.

And then I have days like today where something ambushes me and I can think about is I should have been at fourteen weeks, I should have been posting belly pics too.

I should be happy.

The birth club is a near-constant reminder of what could-have-been. One of them is due at the time I would have been if the first FET had worked. Another is due when I should have been if the second FET had worked. But the one who is due the same week that I was is by far the worst. She’s a walking reminder of what I thought I was going to have.

***

I think I need to break up with my endocrinologist. I’ve written on here before about how he is the rudest man on the planet (but apparently didn’t tag those posts with my ‘thyroid’ category because now I can’t easily find them). I’ve put up with his total lack of bedside manner, including the time, less than three months after E. was born, when he made me cry, because he is a good doctor. But I’m convinced there has to be another option out there. I live in a big city. He can’t be the only endocrinologist. And the appointment I had with him this week, where he AGAIN didn’t remember that E. was an IVF baby or that I am the reason we need IVF (and not my husband), where no one had written down on my chart that I’d lost the baby when I’d called them, so I had to tell the doctor who works with him, and then had to tell him when it became clear the other doctor hadn’t bothered to mention it, where he turned to the other doctor and said, “Well, it’s only the first miscarriage, so I don’t think we need to do anything too drastic”, and where the ONLY thing he said to me about the miscarriage, as he turned to leave, was “Better luck next time”, really should be the final straw. Surely there is another doctor out there who can monitor my thyroid while still treating me like a human being.

***

E., at lunch, out of nowhere: “Tell me again, Mummy, why there will be no baby in September.”
I tell him, the same thing I always tell him, that sometimes we think there is going to be a baby, but there isn’t. That babies are very small at first and have to grow and grow and grow before they can come out, and that sometimes this doesn’t happen.
E.: “I’m sad.”
Me: “About the baby, E.?”
E.: “Yes. The baby won’t grow and come out. It won’t get a name. I think it should have a name.”
We’ve never talked about the baby not having a name with him.
Me: “What do you want to call the baby, E.?”
E.: “Lobster lobster!”

***

I’m reading Lauren Sandler’s One and Only, a book about only children.

A month ago I was reading Siblings Without Rivalry.

That about sums it up.

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Filed under 2.0 Pregnancy, Friends, Grief, Loss, Thyroid

Finding the better moments

There are good moments too.

***

My May 2011 birth club has sent us food. Package after package of frozen meals, made by a chef. Because they love me said the card. Not a small number of them have lost babies too. They know how hard we worked for this baby. Q. took the gift in the generosity of spirit with which it was meant, and did not view it as an insult to his ability to look after me. (Another friend wanted to bring us dinner, the day after it happened. I asked her not to. Q. needed to be able to do something. Cooking gave him something to focus on. Before E. was born, I remember my sister turning up at my house and saying, “I’ve just read one of those ‘top ten things to do for a new mother’ articles. Q. would kill me if I turned up and started cleaning your bathroom or cooking dinner! He’d be so offended!”)

“This all looks really good,” said Q., perusing the packages in our freezer.

***

A friend picked up my M coat so she could take it back to the store, so I wouldn’t have to.

The store agreed to accept the return, against their usual policy.

***

My sister and her fiance sent us flowers, just to say that they were thinking about us. She keeps wanting to call, but I shy away from the phone right now, will not speak on it unless cornered. When I keep silent, when I keep to myself, I can control it.

The flowers were in a red vase.

E. is deeply pleased by this.

***

My father called, the night after it had happened.

“I just wanted to say I’m sorry,” he said. “I felt I didn’t have much to say when you called last night. I was just in too much shock.”

He and my mother lost a baby, early in the second trimester, after I was born but before my sisters.

My mother has told me this, many times.

I can’t remember my father ever mentioning it before Friday night.

***

Q. and I went for lunch on Friday.

Not because it was Valentine’s Day.

I should have been teaching. I shouldn’t have been available for lunch.

We ate and talked.

We didn’t forget.

But it wasn’t omnipresent.

***

We discovered an ice slide when we went to our farmers’ market on Saturday.

E. shrieked with laughter as he went down.

Shrieked with laughter as he tried to get off the ice at the bottom.

Shrieked with laughter as he ran up the hill.

Shrieked with laughter as he got back into position to do it all over again.

***

“Q., I need to ask you a question. I’m reading this book and the husband is starting to become a suspect in the disappearance of his wife, partly because he doesn’t know what her blood type is. I don’t think I know what your blood type is.”

“I don’t think I know what my blood type is.”

He thinks it might be O something, says it’s something very common.

“I’m A positive.”

“My A plus bunny.”

***

We take E. to the pub for lunch, so we can watch the hockey game.

When we planned this, well over a week ago, I said to Q. that if we got through the first period we’d be lucky.

We stayed for the entire game, including the two minutes of overtime that were needed before the right team won.

E. was interested in the hockey for the first two periods and then played with his trucks and read his books when he got bored. During the commercials he asked me what each one was for. Sometimes it took me the entire commercial before I knew.

We’ve never had a restaurant meal that easy.

It was actually fun.

***

We are lying in the darkness, two spoons in the bed, idly discussing the last episode of the latest season of one of our favourite shows. We watched the download that night. There was pregnancy, but it wasn’t central. I could cope.

“Night night!” I say, in perfect imitation of the sing-song cadence of the show’s master villain, the one we were supposed to think is dead, the one who clearly isn’t.

And Q. laughs. Laughs and laughs and laughs. I laugh with him, and for a moment we are both free of it.

***

I can’t be sad all the time.

But I don’t know when happiness will be anything but fleeting.

4 Comments

Filed under 2.0 Pregnancy, Family, Friends, Grief, Loss

Love

Readers, you have no idea how much your comments mean to me. They make me cry, every time I get a new one, because they make me remember, but it means so much to not be alone. I’m not really in a space where I can respond right now, but please know how much they are appreciated.

2 Comments

Filed under 2.0 Pregnancy, Blogging, Friends, Grief, Loss

The longing…and the fear

A few weeks ago one of the mothers in my online birth club posted looking for some advice. She and her husband were thinking about trying for a second baby, but she was afraid of experiencing more loss (her first pregnancy ended in a missed miscarriage).  Everyone responded with thoughtful, caring words. Many of the other women had also experienced miscarriages.

One woman ended her post with these words: “Sometimes you can’t always get your ideal, but you do get a baby!!!!”

And there it was again.

I really love being part of this birth club. I love that all the other women have toddlers born within a month of E. I love that whenever E. does something crazy, I can count on at least a couple of the other toddlers doing the same thing. I love that whenever I start to get stressed about my parenting or feel pressured or judged to do things in a certain way, I can go on the birth club and there will always be at least one other mama who feels the same way I do.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been able to mostly be a mama when I’m on there. Not a recovering infertile, but a mama. They know my history and they know that E. is an IVF/ICSI baby, but it doesn’t define who I am on there.

Lately, though, I’ve felt the infertile side of my motherhood growing in strength. As the summer speeds along, as we get closer to going back to the clinic, as more and more of the mamas on my birth club announce subsequent pregnancies, or give birth (most to second children, but not all the mamas were first-timers on the May 2011 board), as belly pics and newborn shots trickle over the newsfeed, it becomes harder and harder to feel like I’m just one of the mums.

That comment really hit home for me. The woman who made it is a lovely person, and she meant it in the best possible way- that it was silly to worry too much about age gaps, and that whatever form one’s family ended up taking,  it would be the right result. But the unquestioned assumption, that if this other woman (who is now a friend IRL) wanted to have a second baby, she would get her baby, was an attitude that seemed so unbelievably alien to me, it made me feel for a time like an outsider all over again.

It’s not true, you see. I know that. Sometimes you don’t get your ideal AND you don’t get your baby.

It’s hard to write about secondary infertility. I wrestle with putting my thoughts out in public, just as other bloggers have. It’s hard to give voice to the longing for that second child, that extra smile in the backseat, that extra chair at the kitchen table, when you know that there are others who are experiencing that longing, just as deeply, just as painfully, without having the mitigating effect of already having a child who fills their house with love and laughter (and, let’s keep it real here, occasional screaming and crying and shouts of “No!”).

I was one of those bloggers, once. I filled two and half years on this blog waiting and longing and hoping and grieving and yearning, beaten down month after month, feeling smaller with every failed cycle.

And then we got a positive result. And I struggled with how to blog about my pregnancy, but decided to press onwards.

And then E. was born. And I struggled with how to blog about parenting, especially the not-so-picture-perfect moments. It’s hard to admit sometimes you really don’t like your new life when you know that you have readers who would give their everything to trade places with you.

But I pressed onwards. Partly this was because my blog is my outlet- it acts as the diary I always think I should keep yet never quite manage to do so. Partly this was because in my long months and years of waiting for that BFP, I found it helpful, not hurtful, to read about women – women who became friends – who were successful, and who did become mothers. It gave me hope to see that some people got to have a happy ending. But mostly I kept blogging because I struggled, REALLY struggled with the transition to motherhood, and my readers helped me to pick up the pieces and put them all back together again. My readers never stopped telling me that I was a good mother, that I would adjust, that I would find myself again, that it would all get easier in time. I didn’t believe them at first- I couldn’t believe them- but they were right.

This blog’s focus is shifting again, as we march closer to the fall and our plans for a FET. I’m going to need to start taking bcps early next month to get my ridiculous cycle into some sort of recognizeable state. I feel more infertile than I have at any other point in the last three years. It’s not as though I stopped thinking about my infertility while pregnant, or when I first became a mum. But I had something else to focus on. And after E. was born I could indulge in the daydream that maybe, just maybe, I would be one of the lucky ones whose second child could be conceived in love and not with the help of a team of crack medical specialists (although I am, of course, forever grateful that I live in a time when such a team exists and that Q. and I could afford to engage their services).

That hasn’t happened. I had to give up that daydream. I had to look squarely in the mirror and recognize that my infertile self was staring right back at me.

I’m afraid to go back to the clinic.

I want this time around to be different. I want the presence of E. in our lives to make things easier.

He’s a double-edged sword, in a way. He makes it easier, because we are not childless, because our house is not empty. But he is also a reminder of all that we long for, a reminder of what we are missing with our family still incomplete.

A good friend asked me recently the question that was put to her: What are you afraid of?

I’m afraid of making the wrong decision.

It isn’t as simple as the best result is we go back to the clinic and we get pregnant and have a second baby, and the worst result is we go back to the clinic and we don’t get pregnant, and we expend all that energy and emotion and spend thousands of dollars, and take time and love and focus away from E. and end up with nothing to show for it.

There’s a third option.

We don’t go back to the clinic. We don’t try to expand our family. We call ourselves lucky, happy, complete as a family of three.

‘Tis better to have gone to the fertility clinic and tried and lost, than never to have gone to the clinic at all?

I’m not sure about that.

It seems to me that the best possible outcome is still going to the clinic, getting pregnant, and having a second baby. But the next best option is to play it safe- to turn away from the risks- to refuse to gamble heartache for happiness- to take E. as our miracle baby and be grateful.

And there’s the rub. I’m not much a gambler. And I scared myself (and my family, and my friends) with the toll that our years of trying for E. took on me.

Right now Q. and I have a fairly sensible outlook on the whole thing. Try both FETs in the fall of 2013. If they fail, fall back, lick our wounds, decide whether we want to attempt one more (only one more) fresh IVF cycle in August 2014. If that fails, and any associated FETs fail as well, admit defeat, acknowledge that E. is our only miracle, and get on with life as a family of three.

It looks so easy on paper. Deceptively so.

But I can say categorically that if someone could tell me today that we are not ever going to have a second child, no way, no how, no chance, then I would gladly, gladly turn my back on those FETs, that fresh IVF, the drugs, the ultrasounds, the emotional roller coaster that is ART which never seems to get any easier, no matter how long you’ve been on it. I would gladly wash my hands of the whole affair and choose to spend my time in the next year being entirely present for E., as his Mummy.

It’s the risk I’m frightened of. The gamble that really, truly, might not pay off for us, no matter what the other mothers on my birth club think.

I know now, even more than I did before I had E., that there are no guarantees. I have friends who struggled to have their first child but then managed to have their second without any medical intervention (some even ending up pregnant unexpectedly). I have friends who struggled to have their first child and still needed ART to have their second, but conceived their second much more easily than their first (which gives me hope). On the other side, I have friends who didn’t struggle to have their first child (and whose pregnancies I withdrew from rather than embracing because I was too sad for myself to be happy for them) only to then struggle to have their second. One had three miscarriages before finally carrying her second daughter to term. Another dear friend lost her second pregnancy this summer at 24 weeks gestation. She knew the baby was not going to survive outside the womb, but had expected to be able to continue the pregnancy to full term.

And I have friends, dear friends, in blogs as well as IRL, who fought the good fight (you see, I always think of it as a battle) to expand their families but had, in the end, to admit defeat, to lick their wounds, to refocus on life as a family of three.

I saw the heartache that decision caused these women, strong women, women I respect and admire. I saw that secondary infertility was not any easier. I saw how difficult it was to come to grips with the realization that their only child, their much-loved, much-wanted, hard-fought-for child, was indeed an anomaly.  That even though they carried a baby to term once, they weren’t going to be allowed to do that again.

I saw this, and my heart broke for these women. But at the same time, self-indulgent though it might be, I felt a stab of fear for myself.

You see, despite what some mothers are able to believe, I know that there are no guarantees in this world.

I know that just because I successfully got pregnant from IVF, carried a baby to term, and birthed him safely into the world, that does not mean I will be able to do this again.

I also know that Q. and I don’t have endless resources. Trying and failing to have a baby takes its toll on anyone, on any marriage, but we can’t try again with the start of every new month- we have to go to the clinic. We don’t have the mental, physical and emotional strength to repeat what we went through to get E. And we don’t have the money, either. It’s harder to rationalize paying out of pocket for treatments when I know that every dollar we spend on that hunt for a 2.0 (money we basically flush down the toilet if we fail) is money we’re taking away from our here-and-now son. Money that could go to his university fund. Money that could buy us a holiday as a family. Money that could buy us a car. I remember a friend once asking how much we’d spent on fertility treatments to get E., and when I told her, she looked at E. and said, “Well, I’d rather have E. than a car”. She was right, but would I have felt that way about that money if we’d ended up childless? Would it have been money well spent if we’d tried but ultimately failed to become parents?

In the grand scheme of things money doesn’t matter, but there’s a limit to how much of my actual child’s present I’m willing to sacrifice in the hope of some elusive future.

Part of this anxiety is related, I’m sure, to my fears about becoming a mother again. Let’s face it, I wasn’t exactly a poster child for maternal bliss. I’d like a do-over, now that I’m a bit older and wiser and I’ve learned that babies really do eventually start sleeping and you can’t ruin them in the first twelve weeks no matter what the books say, but I’m not looking forward to the newborn stage. I’m not looking forward to sleepless nights and unexplainable, possibly inconsolable, crying. I worry about the impact on E., suddenly becoming a big brother. I worry that any next baby won’t have a personality that meshes so well with Q. and I as E. does. I worry about how hard Q. works, and about my own career, and how we will balance everything with another child.

And  yet, when I am able to step back and quiet the nagging internal voices, and take the long view, I have no doubts at all. Five years down the road, ten years down the road, twenty years down the road- I see us as a family of four. I see two heads in the backseat on road trips, a fourth chair at the kitchen table, a child each for Q. and I to hold and soothe on dark nights when the thunder roils into their dreams.

I know that E. will never have the same relationship with any sibling that I have with my sisters. But I also know that he will spend his entire life an ocean away from half of his family- fifty percent of his cousins and aunties and uncles and other relatives he will grow up seeing only every couple of years. I also know that of my two sisters, one is nowhere near considering becoming a mother, and the other is thinking about it, but vascillates.  I know he would be fine as an only child, and we wouldn’t ruin him for life by not giving him a sibling, but it’s entirely possible that he won’t be able to use his cousins as sibling substitutes.

I don’t want E. to be alone in his generation.

And so, even though I am terrified that we are making the wrong decision, that we will look back at this in two or three years time and wish we’d chosen otherwise, we are going to risk the heartache for the happiness, and we will try for a 2.0.

And selfishly, selfishly, I hope that I am one of the lucky ones on whom fickle Fortuna smiles.

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, Blogging, Friends, Second Thoughts

Some truth to it all, after all.

E. and I went away for the weekend to visit one of my best friends who now lives in the U.S. She has two boys, about-to-be five (his birthday party was the weekend we were visiting) and about-to-be three. It was wonderful to see her. It was also an eye-opening experience.

I had a bit of a rant in my last post about being categorized as the Responsibility mother in the online mothering personalities quiz that I took. And I still stand by my complaints about it- I think the portrayal was quite rigid and didn’t leave enough room for the flexibility and spontaneity that I know I do possess.

But while I’m pretty good at being flexible and spontaneous when E. needs/wants to do something that doesn’t quite line up with what I’ve planned, this visit really drove home that I am NOT good at living in a less ordered household. My friend and her husband are far more fly by the seat of your pants type people than either Q. or I. This is not a criticism. Their household works well for them and suits their two boys and they are all happy and healthy. They have a routine and an order to their days- it just doesn’t have a lot in common with ours.

I found it exhausting. I don’t know if it was the noisy toys, or the exuberant boys, or the meal-time chaos, but I really struggled with keeping my own tension levels down.

And E? E. was basically a basket case. I think he is now old enough both to really recognize that he is not at home and not in his room and things are different and Daddy is not here AND to be really bothered by this. He is definitely entering the loving order and structure and routine and keeping things JUST AS THEY ALWAYS ARE phase of toddlerhood.

He is also, I’m becoming more and more aware, quite reserved and very sensitive. Where he once was the baby who thrived on new places and new people and exciting new things to look at, he’s now a toddler who cries if I put him down as soon as we get to a drop-in, one who needs to be held while he scopes out the situation, one who can be easily overwhelmed by too many new people being too noisy. The last couple of weeks I’ve made more of an effort to go out to drop-in playgroups and music times, and while E. usually warms up eventually and ends up having a nice time, it’s not immediate. The other week we were at a music drop-in and a whole bunch of nannies came in at once with their charges and E. burst into tears. He spent the first half of the session hiding behind me. By the end he was dancing to the music and throwing anyone who made eye contact his patented huge smiles, but he had started out decidedly unsure. This morning I ended up leaving the drop-in playgroup halfway through circle time because it was obviously just proving to be too much for him. I’m clearly not going to be spending a whole bunch of money on toddler art and music and gymnastics and swimming classes for the winter.

So my friend’s two boisterous boys, on top of a new environment, were just too much for him. He loved all the new toys, and he loved exploring the house, but I kept finding him going down the stairs to the basement (where we were sleeping) to play with the toys down there, by himself, in peace and quiet.

His sleep was hurt by it as well. It didn’t help that the many events of the weekend and our travelling schedule meant that he worked up a progressively larger sleep deficit as the weekend continued, as I’ve noticed before that overtired E. = unexpected night wakings. And it certainly didn’t help that he kept waking up with a dirty diaper, and that I was in the same room as him (he sleeps about a billion times better if he is in his own room). And he was struggling with the new crib- the first night when I put him down I had to go back in and take him out and lie with him on the air mattress for another half an hour or so until he was calm enough to be put back in the crib. He still shrieked at me when I left, but it was short-lived and it wasn’t the panicked “Where am I and where are you going, Mummy- DON’T LEAVE ME!” cry I had been getting. It was more of his usual pre-falling asleep grizzling where he complains that he’s not tired and he doesn’t want to miss anything.

The end result was while he took naps in the crib without any real issues, he spent most of the nights happily stretched out horizontally along the middle of my air mattress, cuddling his bunny, while I balanced on the extreme far right-hand edge. We got home last night and he promptly slept through the whole night without a peep in his own crib, while I dragged myself out of bed to go stand in line at 7 a.m. as today was the day registration opened for the nursery school we hope he’ll be attending next fall (I was first in line- hurrah! Totally worth getting up so early. See, there’s that Responsibility mother rearing her head again…).

During the day E. was basically glued to me, and his bunny lovey, which before now had only ever come out of the crib for him to cuddle with when we were in the car, suddenly became his constant companion. We went to a farm for the birthday party, and while E. LOVED seeing the donkeys, and LOVED the tractors, and was so happy to on a wagon ride I thought he would explode, his bunny never left his side. She’s been a near-constant companion since getting home as well. I’m going to have to master the art of getting him to put her down long enough so I can wash her occasionally.

We’re going away again this weekend for Thanksgiving and it will be interesting to see how he copes with semi-new environments and semi-new people, as he has been to my parents’ houses a few times now, most recently in June, and they’ve visited here quite frequently too.

Even if he was a slightly stressed out guest, he was a SUPERB traveller. He walked in the airports between gates, and stuck close to me when I asked him to stay nearby; he didn’t fuss when I had to carry him, or when we went through security; he ate his snacks; and he even coped with an extra long stay in the airport on the way home when our flight was delayed due to a mechanical problem (I personally will never complain about an plane being late if the reason it is late is they are FIXING the plane. I am all for flying in safe, non-problematic aircraft). Granted, the flights were NOTHING like our epic trip in July, being only a little bit over an hour, but he was still absolutely wonderful (with the exception of dumping his apple juice on my jeans on the homeward leg and throwing our pretzels all over the person next to us. Take away that two minute period and he was absolutely flawless).

He loved being in the airports and watching the planes. He loved being able to run around the departure lounges. He pointed out all the baggage carts to me, and all the planes at every gate.

And we had the best bit of karma. While we were waiting to get on our flight down to the U.S., he was standing at the window of the departure lounge, looking at our plane and waving his bunny around. He wasn’t making ANY noise. And this horrible man looked at him and then looked at his wife and said, loudly enough to make sure I would hear, “Well, I hope he’s at the other end of the plane.”

E., as I’ve already said, was flawless on that flight. Not one bit of fussing. Sat in my lap, read his books, ate his snack, and looked out the window (first time he’s shown an interest in what was visible- he was very keen on looking out during our descent both times). And we WERE at the other end of the plane because the flight attendant bumped us up to business class when we boarded, and horrible man was stuck somewhere in economy! Ha!

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Filed under Daily Life, E.- the second year, Friends, What were we thinking? (aka travelling with small children)

My growing munchkin!

E. had his three-month checkup yesterday, which is apparently the pediatrician’s favourite because “It’s really short and there aren’t any needles.”

He’s still growing- 14 lb, 4 oz, 62.5 cm long, and head circumference of 42 cm. He’s solidly 75th percentile in all categories, and everything looks great. The pediatrician basically told me outright to stop fretting about E.’s wonky naps, unless I feel he’s so cranky he’s on the verge of a meltdown. He only really gets cranky around 6 pm, and he did that when he slept for five hours during the day as well. So I am TRYING to relax about it, although I still hate the fact that my baby has bags under his eyes pretty much ALL the time.

Today we’re experimenting with putting him down in the travel crib in the basement where it is darker and the dehumidifier is providing some excellent white noise. We’ll see how we go.

I should clarify from the comments on yesterday’s post, that I do understand why my friend might make this sort of decision. I know that a number of her friends have children, as does her sister, and they are all very different ages. So I can see her worrying about not having the facilities to amuse them all, etc. And the only way to deal with that is with a blanket ‘no-kids’ policy.

It’s just too bad because E. really is just too little at this stage to leave for that long, even with his grandparents. And there’s the obvious problem that he’s exclusively breast fed, and we haven’t introduced a bottle at any stage. (And I’m still ok with that decision, even though Q. is putting a bit of pressure on me to get a pump and to try to get E. to take a bottle. Honestly? I LOVE LOVE LOVE breastfeeding. Somewhere around the two-month mark all the problems stopped, and it became so easy. And I love the closeness. I love watching him nurse- the way he waves his feet around, the way his hand strokes my skin, the funny little grunting noises he makes, the coos of excitement when I’ve cooked a particularly good batch. Right now I don’t mind in the slightest that I’m tied to my son.)

That said, Q. and I are very aware that when he’s a bit older it is important to leave him with people so that we can get out and about just the two of us. Don’t worry- I’m not planning on becoming a parent who schleps her baby absolutely everywhere and is proud that he can’t be handled by anyone else. Q. and I need time as a couple as well- it will make us better parents if we make time for ourselves. (We’re very much enjoying the fact that currently we’ve been getting E. down by 9 or so, and we don’t feel we need to go to bed until 10 or a bit later, so we’re actually getting a bit of time in the evenings!)

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Filed under Baby, Friends

A study in contrasts…

This is the summer/autumn of weddings for Q. and I, apparently. We’ve already been to one, and there are three more on the horizon (we didn’t have any last year). At the wedding in July we had discussed in advance how we would wrangle E. Basically, since they were my friends who were getting married, Q. was in charge of keeping E. quiet during the ceremony and the reception. I made sure I bought a dress that was nursing friendly, and picked up a cover-up, and a sling for E. E. slept through the whole ceremony. Q. spent a lot of time with E. outside the reception venue in the evening, as it was just too loud and too bright and too much for the little guy. He did get him asleep in the Snugli at one point, and then came back in just as the bride and groom started their speeches. E. woke up and really lost the plot at that point, so we said our farewells and left. It went well.

I’ve just been RSVPing to the other three weddings. For one the bride emailed me back right away to let me know that her sister was in charge of organizing a room for all the parents with little kids (apparently there are going to be at least seven under the age of one)- somewhere where we can go to nurse, change E., put him to sleep if needed. She also made sure to let me know that I could do all of these things wherever I wanted- this wasn’t a ‘banishment’ room. She just wants us to feel comfortable.

And then I heard back from my other friend, who emailed to let me know that while she would love to meet E., they had decided that their wedding ceremony and reception were child-free, and could I leave him with a sitter for the night?

I’m now drafting an email to politely let her know that Q. and I will not, in fact, be attending their wedding after all. E. is too little to be left alone for an entire evening (even with his grandparents, who live about ninety minutes away from where the wedding is going to be held). Leaving aside his lack of bedtime routine at the moment, we’re not using bottles, so he NEEDS to be close to me. It’s that simple.

It’s her choice entirely, and I can see why a childless couple might feel that having children at their wedding would change the dynamic in ways they might not want. But it’s surprised me how hurt I’ve been by this.

E. is part of my family. He is my SON. If he isn’t welcome somewhere, than I don’t feel like I am either. Part of it, I’m sure, is the leftover reminders of the infertility- the knowledge that if we hadn’t got so lucky as to have him, we’d be off to the wedding, none the wiser, and probably wouldn’t even notice that there weren’t any babies around.

I had to go downtown today to run some errands that brought me to the same building that houses my clinic. I popped in, even though it was cycle-monitoring hours, and I knew that was bad form given I had adorable E. in the Snugli, just to see when would be a good time to bring him to show him off to Dr. L. Dr. L. was already in, and passing by, so we managed to have a quick chat, and I was able to show him E. and say thank you again.

August 4, 2010 was day 1 of stims for the IVF cycle that brought us our E.

It is unbelievable how much a life can change in a year.

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Filed under Baby, Friends

Spoiled rotten

First up, an administrative update. I had a midwife appointment this morning, and once again, everything was absolutely perfect. My fundal height was back where it ought to be (at 34 cm), BP was on the higher end for me, but still very low, heart rate was great, baby is still head down, etc. The funny thing was she thought for the longest time the baby was on my right side, but I thought s/he was still on my left. I was right- it turns out I have great abs, and that was fooling her! She took a look at my whole chart and just admired it for a moment- said I’ve been impeccably well behaved throughout and everything all the way along has just looked wonderful. I said Q. deserved a lot of the credit given he’s been feeding me so well.

It remains a deep irony that I have turned out to be really really good at being pregnant. At the baby shower, I basically had this conversation thirty times:

Guest: You look amazing!

Me: Thanks! I feel fantastic, actually.

Guest: No, seriously. You look SO good. No one would believe you’re having a baby in a month or so! You can’t even tell you’re pregnant from behind/It’s all belly and nothing else/You barely look like you’ve gained any weight/ etc. etc.

I have always been a bit wary of compliments while pregnant because I think we all know that the socially acceptable thing to tell a pregnant woman is that she looks great, even if she’s gained a million pounds and is swollen beyond recognition. Because pregnant women have enough body issues as it is- they don’t need people saying “Wow, you’re huge!” or “Gee, you’ve stacked on the weight, haven’t you?”. Mind you, I have friends who have had people say the rudest things to them. And I have to admit that it is hard to believe that EVERYONE is just being polite when you have the above conversation thirty times in one day.

And the truth is, I really do still feel absolutely fantastic. I am probably someone I would have hated when I was in the depths of treatment. I try not to be smug, and I NEVER take this pregnancy for granted, but I walk around our neighbourhood with this idiotic grin on my face and this glow, and I know that I just look SO DAMN HAPPY. I get the guilts when I think about it, because I remember how much I loathed seeing women like me when I was souped up on hormones or mourning yet another negative beta. But I can’t help it. I think I’m pumped full of oxytocin, to judge from the Braxton Hicks and the leaking colostrum, and I’m just filled with love, for this baby, for Q., for my life.

—–

A cat update: We did a leg check late last week, and the fur was growing back over her bald patch. She is still stressed, but I think she’s managing to cope a little better right now without resorting to the self-harming behaviour. That said, both of them were completely wigged out by the baby shower (although they did spend most of Sunday trashing the tissue paper I left out for them and climbing in and out of the various boxes). Q. should have the nursery painted by the middle of this week, which means I’ll be able to start washing and organizing, and we can get all the stuff out of the living room and out of the basement, which should help the cats settle down. There’s still a lot of work to do in the basement, but they don’t spend much time down there, so they should feel a bit more secure. Extra-stressed cat has taken to sleeping on the third shelf of our linen closet- she obviously feels safe and tucked away in there, so I’ve told Q. we’re supposed to pretend we can’t see her when we open the door to get anything.

——

The baby shower was amazing. My sister and my best friend from high school/undergrad hosted and organized, but we had it at my house (which was a good thing in retrospect as I have no idea how we would have trucked the presents home otherwise). They did a PHENOMENAL job in organization and execution. Q. went to the pub with the menfolk while the shower was going on, and then they all came back to join us for pizza and nibbles and sweet things afterwards, and our friends with kids came along for the dinner part too (we made the shower kid-free simply because there could have been over 10 little ones, and that would have led to chaos).

We played baby shower bingo while I opened presents, and they’d bought plain white onesies that people were encouraged to decorate with markers and paints (all non-toxic). They got us started on an alphabet book too, although we still have a few letters that need doing, so we might make baby visitors do one until it’s complete. We played the game where you can’t say the word ‘baby’ (I was doing well and then got distracted). They had everyone sign a book with advice and thoughts for Q. and I. There was tons of great food (my best friend made the most spectacular cupcakes- I will upload a photo when I’ve got a moment), and a great mix of people (friends and family).

The baby was spoiled beyond all reason. Seriously- I sat down on Sunday and made a list of what Q. and I really needed to buy before the baby comes, and it was ridiculously short. Let’s keep in mind here that thus far the sum total of what we’ve bought for this baby is the crib. We do still need to get a dresser, and there are a few cloth diaper things left on the list (as I think most people were a bit hesitant to get too gung ho on the cloth diapers in case we chucked it in three weeks after the baby arrived. The two women who came who are cloth diapering both gave us really useful presents, so that was great.) But otherwise, I’ve literally written down things like: 1 fitted crib sheet; 1 travel change pad.

Honestly, it was overwhelming. Some people there did know how hard we had to fight to get this pregnancy, and I think they were just overjoyed by the chance to support us and the baby. The most obvious example of this were my mother and stepfather who bought us our stroller, and yet STILL turned up at the shower with a bag full of goodies (including the stroller’s rain cover and bug cover and a whole heap of baby clothes and books). One set of my aunts and uncles bought us our travel crib (we wanted the Ba.by Bjo.rn) AND three fitted sheets to go with it. That’s a huge present! I didn’t think they knew about our struggles, but my aunt said something that made it clear that she either put two and two together, or my Mum has been gabbing.

A good friend gave us a change table. We weren’t planning on buying one, but we were super happy to accept a hand-me-down- I figure we can use it for diaper and linen storage, and then get a smaller dresser for clothes. It is basically in mint condition as his sister-in-law’s baby was too wiggly to use it. Then he emailed me a couple of days before the shower to ask if we also wanted a gorgeous wooden rocking chair that his family gave them when their first daughter was born. Their daughters are now 11 and 8 and they don’t have room for the chair in their house. I cried when I saw the photo- it is exactly the sort of thing I wanted but felt would be too much of a splurge to buy or ask for. And then when he turned up with the change table and the rocking chair, he’d also bought us a brand new change pad and storage boxes.

It just went on and on like this. I think I opened presents for an hour. And I know that some people had told my mum and sister that they just wanted to get us a little present and they were waiting until the baby came to go wild…and yet they’d be turning up with multiple onesies and books and receiving blankets. My sister and her boyfriend have given us a session of newborn photography with her friend who is a professional photographer. My talented aunts and friends brought homemade things for the baby- wool dryer balls, little slippers, and a beautiful cross-stitch of teddy bears that will hang in the nursery.  My mum found the shawl my grannie made for her, which she used to bring me and my sisters home from the hospital, and we were all wrapped in it for our christenings. Now she’s given it to me. I tear up just thinking about the connection- that once I was small enough to be wrapped in something made with so much love by my grannie, and now my own child will soon be wrapped in it as well.

There are no words to express my gratitude- to my sister and my friend for organizing it, to my friends and family for being so unbelievably generous. We are SO lucky, Q. and I. And this baby is going to be born into a world just filled with people who love him/her already.

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Filed under Emotions, Family, Friends, Pregnancy