Category Archives: Joy

Microblog Mondays: A decade from “I do”

Q. and I celebrated our tenth anniversary this week. The traditional gifts are tin and aluminum, because a marriage that has lasted a decade has had to be both strong and flexible. Q. bought me a tin lunch box with envelopes in it with menus for restaurants in our neighbourhood, along with the promise to take me out to lunch at one of these restaurants each month. I riffed off of Love Shack (the “tin roof, rusted”) and promised to buy him (and me) new pillows once we get home.

We left both kids with Granny and one of their aunties and escaped to a restaurant with a spectacular view and amazing food. We drank an entire bottle of wine over lunch. It was wonderful.

Earlier in the week, we’d been woken up at midnight to the sound of E. vomiting. We went in to discover that he’d been sick all over his room- his floor, his mirror, his sheets, his duvet, his pillow, his favourite stuffed animal. And we fixed it. I stayed with E. while he threw up again (in the bathroom this time) and then cleaned him up. Q. dealt with the linens. And then I washed his stuffed animal (repeatedly) in the bathtub while Q. mopped the floor and remade E.’s bed. Then I got into bed and snuggled with E. until he fell asleep and Q. disinfected the bathroom. Finally, Q. and I crawled back into bed, wondered aloud to each other what had set E. off, and then fell asleep, until we were woken up a couple of hours later by E. vomiting again (thankfully this time into the bucket we’d left in his room after the first round).

It’s that night I keep coming back to when I think about why our marriage is still so strong, why we’re still so happy. It’s not about the fancy gestures or the creative presents. Ultimately, what it boils down to is respect, kindness, a willingness to compromise, and the knowledge that when our child is covered in vomit in the wee small hours, we’re both going to get up to fix it.

We’re a team. Always.

(Although the occasional really amazing lunch doesn’t hurt either.)

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 Choose Happiness, Joy, Microblog Mondays

The best silver lining

2016 has been a horrible year.

I will be glad to say goodbye to it.

But then there is this:

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Four stockings, when we had been certain there would only ever be three.

I am so grateful.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers (who celebrate it). Wishing everyone peace, love, joy, and laughter in 2017.

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Filed under Family, Joy

Transitions again

Hello readers (if you are out there). So life with two while still teaching is, um, different. I am keeping my head above water but the whole “I’ll just finish the course before going on maternity leave” decision makes a lot less sense this side of things than it did before P. was born. I know it is still the right decision, but oh man I am SO GRATEFUL she stayed in as long as she did because if she’d been born any earlier I would have been screwed. As it stands I wish I’d somehow found time to write all the lectures, because P. is over two weeks old now and I have written exactly one. Only three left, but writing them in snatches of fifteen minutes here and there is really hard.

Some thoughts on the first couple of weeks (in bullet form and written over several days because that’s now how I roll):

  • How to know you’re a second-time parent: I was in the shower, with P. in the bouncy seat in the bathroom. I heard a sound that made me think she was spitting up. Looked out- sure enough, milk everywhere. How I assessed the situation: 1. Is she choking? (No.) 2. Is she upset about being covered in milky vomit? (No.). I finished my shower!
  • I had my first round of solo bedtime at the weekend because Grannie was out picking up Q. at the airport. It included sitting on the toilet nursing P. while E. was having his bath; lying down on the bed nursing P. while having “snuggle” time with E. as he read books and leapt around the bed occasionally pausing to bestow kisses on P’s head; and then trying to moderate my discussion forum while also keeping P. from screaming (she was not having a great evening) while E. kicked the walls of his room and sang at the top of his lungs that he liked to eat yoghurt and bananas.
  • That particular evening aside, P. is already showing signs of being far more laid back than her brother was. Whether this is due to her personality or due to my second-time approach to parenting (read: it’s ok if the baby is not immediately on a predictable routine) is yet to be determined. But it’s a nice change regardless of what’s caused it.
  • E. still having school for eight days after P. was born was the best thing ever. Then we had Grannie here while Q. was overseas, and Q. is taking this week off and then next week E. is in day camp. So I will only have two weeks left in the course when I have both of them home with me full-time and hopefully we will survive and it will be a bit easier to leave the house.
  • Packing to leave the house for any length of time now feels like setting out for the base camp at Everest. Gone are the days of “Got a hat? We’re good!”. I knew this would happen but it has still been a big shock.
  • E. thus far has been great. He asked me the other day how old P. was. When I said she was twelve days, he said, “I’m already getting quite attached to her.” He is starting to notice how unavailable I am and was getting tired of Grannie as a substitute. But he loves getting books that I can read when I’m nursing, and he loves giving P. kisses on her little head.
  • Nursing was really hard in the first week (poor latch when milk came in and I got engorged led to a lot of pain) but things are much better now and have been for a while. P. gained a whopping 7 oz between Day 3 and Day 5 (and was 3.5 oz over her birth weight by Day 5) but then only gained 5 oz in the next week. This is above the minimum but only just, so I’m going to take her back in this week for a weight check just for peace of mind. The midwives are not worried, but of course I am.
  • P. is sleeping really well at night. I feed her around 10 p.m. and then swaddle her and put her in the bassinet and she’s been known to go fairly regularly through until 3:30 or 4 a.m., and will then go three hours before waking again, which gets us past 6 a.m., which I then consider morning as far as I’m concerned. So I am getting a reasonable amount of sleep. I still feel like my head will float off my shoulders around 4 p.m. though.
  • I survived driving P. down to the midwives for her two week appointment (at 12 days). All of my anxiety about parenting this time around seems focused on the car, because we never had one before and Q. has done most of the driving in our big city. P. was happy on the way there (fell asleep) and then screamed like mad on the way home, only calming down when I sang an invented “We’re ok, P.” song (she loathed my efforts with the Wheels on the Bus).
  • We took P. and E. out to see labmonkey and Pea on the weekend, but Grannie did the driving that day. P. was again really good on the way there but did a lot of screaming on the way home. She was superb while out though- happy to just fall asleep in the carrier when we went out to a park. E. was great and would give us P. reports: “Her eyes are open! Oh, they’re closed again!”
  • I need to buy one of those mirrors to mount on the seat so I can actually see her when we’re driving as if I don’t have E. to give me reports I find it extremely stressful.
  • P. is the NOISIEST baby ever. The only way to describe it is she breathes over her vocal cords, so there is this near-constant hum of noise when eating or sleeping. It is a testament to how much less anxious I am this time around that I am able to sleep right next to her with that racket whereas with E. I was still sleeping in the basement at this stage (and then using earplugs for the rest of time he was in our room).
  • Physically I had a much easier recovery, although I’m still having trouble with bleeding because I don’t spend enough time resting (curse of the second-time parent). My midwives spent a lot of time in the hospital making the point that my body had worked very hard even if I didn’t think it had. Emotionally and mentally it’s been much easier too. I’m just in a much better place than I was at this point with E. I’m prepared for all the newborn madness and I’m genuinely enjoying the snuggles. I’m already finding it hard to balance the needs of my two children, but I knew this would be the hardest part for me.
  • I am happy. So very, very happy. She is safe, and she is here, and my family has the piece that has been missing.

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Filed under E.- the sixth year, Joy, Me? Pregnant?!, Midwives, My addled brain, Nursing, P.- the first year, Siblings

An introduction

I have a daughter.

She was born on Saturday, 18 June, at 5:07 p.m. at 39+6.

She was 7 lb, 12.5 oz at birth and 21 inches long, with a head circumference of 34.5 cm. She was nearly identical to her big brother’s stats at birth (7 lb, 15 oz; 20.5 inches; 36 cm).

Her first name is the same as this author.

And her middle name, which is a family name on both sides, is the same as this first name.

Her labour was nearly identical to E’s. I was unable to sleep on Friday night because I had contractions that were long enough and frequent enough (every ten minutes or so) to keep me awake. When I got up on Saturday morning, ate breakfast, and had a shower, they dropped right off again and were sometimes forty minutes or longer apart. By lunchtime they were back to being ten minutes apart, but they were long enough (a minute) and strong enough (I couldn’t ignore them) that we thought we should make sure labmonkey and Pea were on their way in (although I told labmonkey I thought she had time to go to her appointment with the bank first).

Around 2:30 p.m. my midwife called to check in as I had spoken with the student midwife that morning. I told her what the contractions were doing and she said to page back either when they intensified or got closer together.

Around 3 p.m. I decided to have a shower to see if that made a difference, since the one that morning had stalled them considerably.

While in the shower they started coming every 2 minutes apart. By the time I was dressed again they were shorter but still very close together and intensifying.

I paged the student midwife and told her in no uncertain terms I wanted to go to the hospital RIGHT AWAY. This was a difficult phone call as I had a contraction in the middle of it and E. was freaking out that suddenly we were leaving, so he was trying to hold on to my legs and crying while I was on my hands and knees on the bed coping with the contraction.

labmonkey and Bean arrived and we basically threw E. at them and went out the door. (E. was fine as soon as we left and had a wonderful time with them).

Despite having a birth plan with only one item- DO NOT have the baby in the car- there was a point in the twenty-minute drive where I thought we’d left it too late. I was starting to get a lot of pressure. The contractions were still two minutes apart and very intense. Q. did a fantastic job getting us there (he said afterwards, “I’m so glad I bought the German car with the powerful engine”).

I had a contraction as we parked and got out of the car and was then determined to get into the hospital and into the elevators before the next one came. Q. said I made quite an impact on everyone milling around outside the main doors. I can vaguely remember hearing someone say, “Ooh that woman is having a baby today!” as I willed myself to keep walking.

I had another contraction in the elevator and two more before we could get into a room. As we were walking down to the room my midwife said to the student, “We’d better page the backup midwife right now”.

We got into the room and the student midwife offered to check my dilation. I was happy to do this because there was a part of me that was worried I was still going to be at 5 cm and the contractions were becoming really hard to cope with.

I was at 9 cm. This explains why the car ride was so horrible- I was in transition.

We decided I had just enough time to get into the tub, so my midwife filled it. I got in, they managed to do the admissions bloods in between contractions, and probably within eight minutes or so my body started trying to push. I didn’t want to give birth in the tub so I had to get out again and I had one horrific contraction while standing before we could get me back to the bed.

By this time the backup midwife and her student had arrived, so I had four midwives plus Q. to support me. They were checking P’s heart rate regularly and reassuring me that she was doing well and that everything was normal.

I think I pushed for around twenty minutes- this was more intense than it was with E. and I found it really hard to control what my body was doing.  When she was born there was this pop and explosion of liquid and I was terrified that it was blood and I’d torn badly, but it turned out that P. was born in the caul and that explosion was the sack breaking open at her birth. Q. said afterwards it was a bit like a horror movie because she was flailing like mad as soon as she was born to try to get out. The midwives were very excited and said it just made her that much more special.

I ended up with one tiny cosmetic tear, much like with E., that my midwife stitched just because otherwise it wouldn’t join back up. After the birth I was incredibly cold and they kept bringing hot blankets (I remembered these with E.- they are the best possible thing at that time). The placenta delivered without difficulty and was intact. P. came up onto my chest straight away and we delayed cord clamping. We said yes to the Vitamin K shot, no to the eye drops, and yes to oxytocin to help the placenta detach.

E. at birth squawked a bit and then had a long period of “quiet alertness” where he took everything in. P. came out MAD and she stayed mad until we were finally able to establish a decent latch. She wanted to get nursing straight away and became increasingly frustrated when she didn’t immediately demonstrate mastery of this skill.

“Fiesty!” said one of the midwives.

Two other comments: “She doesn’t really look like a newborn at all!” and “She’s so alert!” were identical to what they said with E.

P., like E., has a lovely round head because she didn’t have time to get squished during delivery. Her Apgars were 9 and 10. The critical issue of whether or not the kidney is functioning was resolved that first night with proof of a wet diaper. The rest of her newborn exam went well.

We opted for early discharge, like with E., so we were back home by 8:15 p.m., early enough that we told labmonkey to keep E. up so he could meet his little sister. E. was wildly excited (there were many kisses on P.’s little head) but did manage to go to sleep that night when we finally packed him off to bed just after 9:00 p.m.

Q. and I were all set to learn from our mistake with E. about not sleeping on the first night when the baby is tired, but P. apparently missed that memo and went straight to “cluster feed every hour for the entire night”. She did this again last night before finally falling asleep at 3:30 a.m. and sleeping until 6 a.m., which was the first chance I’d had to get some sleep since Thursday night. All that effort has meant my milk is in already and I’m hoping for some more settled nights at some point in the near future.

It’s been an emotional couple of days. We went through so much to get here, as you all know. And now she’s here, she’s safe, and she’s real.

Our daughter.

(Feel free to email me at rescogitataeATgmailDOTcom if you’d like to see pictures.)

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, Joy, Me? Pregnant?!, Midwives, Second Thoughts

Capturing Joy

I have felt a lot of things over the last few months.

Exhausted.

Anxious.

Numb.

Grief-stricken.

Worn thin.

And as I struggled to book a session for maternity photos, because every time we tried to pin down a date I had another family health crisis throw my schedule into even further disarray, it became harder and harder to rationalize doing them.

It’s too much money.

You’ll probably have to be out of town anyway.

What if the weather stays miserable?

The truth is, I didn’t feel like there was anything to celebrate.

I have not felt beautiful.

I have not felt joyful.

Yet somehow, my photographer managed to find both.

And I am so incredibly grateful that she did.

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Filed under Belly Pics, Joy, Me? Pregnant?!

Giving thanks

Microblog_MondaysIt is Thanksgiving here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I am grateful.

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

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

Second Chances

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time know that I never got a positive pregnancy test with E.

I did test- twice. Once at 10dp5dt, and the second day at 12dp5dt, the morning of the beta. Both were negative, which made the strongly positive beta a wonderful surprise. I learned from this not to use tests from the dollar store.

At 14dp5dt, exactly where I am now, I posted this:

Is it completely ridiculous to want desperately to waste money on a pregnancy test that is NOT from the stupid dollar store just to see two lines? Q. has no idea why I want to do this so badly since we’re getting accurate counts from the betas every 48 hours. And I studiously avoided tests pretty much all through this entire process- I used one with our first IUI, and used one the day before the beta with the first IVF, and then I had my flirtation with the dollar store tests this time round.

But I think I want to see two lines. Even though I know I’m pregnant, I want a piece of plastic to confirm it.

Is this like food cravings?

And Dandle, and Sarah, and Springroll, and Serenity, and Mel, and babyinterrupted ALL told me to go buy a pregnancy test to see those two lines.

I didn’t.

I never saw two lines.

It became one of my biggest regrets from my pregnancy with E.

And after our two FETs failed this past fall I started to think I had missed my chance.

So this morning, despite the cold, I bundled E. up, and we went to the drugstore. We had absolutely no other reason to be out in the freeze except that I wanted to see this:

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I’m not going to lie- it was a little anticlimactic. But it was a relief to see it.

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Filed under 2.0 Pregnancy, A matter of faith, Joy, TWW