Category Archives: Siblings

Siblings

In the car, at the tail end of a very long drive.

E. “P., can you say Mercury?”
P.: “Mur-ee!”
E.: “P., can you say Jupiter?”
P.: “Jup-er!”
E.: “P., can you say Pluto?”
P.: “Plu-to!”
E.: “P., what planet do we live on?”
P.: “Purple planet!” *giggles*
E. *laughing* “No, P. Not the purple planet! What planet do we live on? I’ll give you a hint- it’s the third one from our sun.”
P.: “Purple one!” *shrieks of laughter*
E. *laughing even harder* “No, P.! Ok. What planet do we live on that’s not purple?”
P. *long thoughtful pause and then, delighted* “Rubber boots!”
E. *howls of laughter*

Several days later, home again. P. and I are in the bathroom for her nightly “sit on the potty for 0.3 seconds” routine. On the floor in front of the toilet are E’s socks, both crumpled into little balls. E. abandons his socks as soon as he gets home from school and leaves them wherever they were peeled off. P. often retrieves them when she finds them hiding behind the couch, under the kitchen table, or on the floor of the upstairs hallway.

P. “Socks! Socks! Ee-mon’s socks!”
Me: “Yes, P. Those are your brother’s socks. Just leave them. I’ll get him to pick them up when he comes to bed.”
P. *picks up socks in one hand* “Yah!” *throws socks towards the toilet where they both land in the bowl*
Me: “No! No, P.! We don’t put socks in the toilet. We don’t put anything in the toilet except toilet paper.” *fishes socks out of toilet and drops them into the cloth diaper laundry bag*
P. *unrolls astonishing quantities of toilet paper the moment my back is turned*

She is the most disruptive force in his life, and he loves her fiercely.

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Filed under Blink and you'll miss it, Daily Life, E.- the seventh year, P.- the second year, Siblings

The Dreaded Homework

Now that E. is in Grade One, his teacher expects him to spend some time every night on homework.

If the homework were busywork, I’d have no trouble at all if E. refused to do it. I don’t see the point of homework for homework’s sake.

What E. is sent home with, however, is undeniably useful. He gets two new French readers each week, and a list of dictée words every fortnight. In the first round of homework he also came home with a huge stack of French sight word flashcards, which we’ve largely ignored because he knows almost all of them already, and some number cards (now up to 0-40), which we’ve also largely ignored because the goal is for the students to be able to recognize and write from 0-100 in French by the end of the year and E. can already do this.

Books, however, are useful, as E. is a very fluent reader in English but doesn’t yet read well in French (unsurprisingly). And the dictée, although more rigid than I would like to see at this stage in his learning, is invaluable because he is motivated to do well, which means he will sit most nights and practice writing out the words. Writing is his weak spot. He’s improved so much since last year already, but he finds it hard and his hand gets tired and it can be a battle at home to get him to write anything.

The recommendation from his teacher was that homework should take a maximum of twenty minutes a night. I’d say most nights we spend closer to ten minutes- E. doesn’t need more at this stage.

What we’re really trying to instill, of course, is the homework habit- the expectation that he will be able to sit and concentrate and do some work, because as he gets older the homework will come and it will start to be more important and it will start to require more effort from him.

I’m trying to foster a growth-mindset (rather than a fixed one). When E. came home with a perfect score on his first dictée, I didn’t tell him how clever he was or how smart he must have been. I told him that he had worked hard for two weeks and his hard work had paid off.

E. is easily frustrated and a perfectionist. When things get harder, as they inevitably will, or when he makes a mistake, as he inevitably will, I want him to be able to recognize that this is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Before the first dictée we talked about what he should do if he realized he’d made a mistake but his teacher was on to the next word (go to the next word and come back later to fix it if he had time) and what he should do if he couldn’t remember how to spell a word (skip it and start fresh with the next word). To be honest, I was hoping he would make a few mistakes so he’d have room to improve and see that he could still do well even if it wasn’t perfect.

Overall, I have no problems with the homework.

Trying to figure out WHEN to do the homework? That has been painful.

After much trial and error, we’ve finally realized that the only time where it makes sense for E. to do homework is after dinner. He sits at his little table in the kitchen and Q. reads him dictée words or quizzes him on numbers while cleaning up the kitchen. I’m upstairs, putting P. to bed, because she still nurses and needs desperately to reconnect with me after I’ve been at work.

It’s not an ideal situation, as Q. didn’t learn French from a native speaker and has a less-than-perfect accent and pronunciation (as he would be the first to admit). In particular, Q. feels very uncomfortable reading the books with E., as he doesn’t want to lead E. astray.

But when we tried to do homework before dinner, when I was available, it was a constant battle.

E. was tired and hungry.

I was tired and distracted.

P. was tired and hungry and wanted my attention.

By the time I’d settled in after getting home from work and we’d said goodbye to our nanny we usually had thirty minutes (at the most) before I needed to do something about dinner (and this is with Q. largely prepping and cooking the dinners ahead of time on the weekend).

E. didn’t want to sit down and concentrate on homework during those thirty minutes, and P. most certainly did not want me sitting down with E. to concentrate on homework.

Someone always ended up yelling.

Someone always ended up crying.

P. could often be counted on to do both.

Finally I realized that a) E. is six now and can go to bed significantly later than P. does with no ill effects and b) it’s so much easier for him to concentrate when he’s no longer hungry and he doesn’t have his baby sister glued to my chair leg screaming, or yanking his papers off the table and throwing them on the floor if she’s sitting on my lap.

Most days I still listen to E. read (in both English and French), but it’s easier for everyone involved if the rest gets saved until after dinner.

How does homework work at your house (or how did it work when you were a kid)? Any tips or tricks for us newbies?

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Filed under Brave New (School) World, Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), Grade One, Siblings

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

(Un)Necessary Prep Work?

I’ve been making a few changes chez Turia in the last couple of weeks.

It started when a friend of mine sent me a link to this soundbite (this is a different link from the one she sent me, but it’s the same story).

Basically, this doctor found in a small study of women undergoing IVF that women who ate a diet that had less than 40% carbohydrates and 25-30% protein had vastly improved outcomes with embryos reaching blast, pregnancy rates, and live births.

I was interested enough to send it to my sister, who’s a trained microbiologist and therefore my sounding board for anything scientific.

She was intrigued too. It’s not the actual study- just a report of the presentation of the findings. And the sample size was small.

But I figured, what the hell. I’d already made some changes to my diet as part of my “be mindful of what I eat” resolution, so I figured a few more wouldn’t hurt.

I’ve swapped out cereal and oatmeal at breakfast for eggs or Greek yoghurt.

I’ve swapped out sandwiches at lunch for quinoa salads, salads with tuna or chicken or hard-boiled egg, or home-made soups that include legumes.

I’ve cut out grains entirely for snacks.

And I’ve pretty much left dinner alone, because I don’t think eating pasta for dinner once a week is going to be a deal breaker. Q. has responded with enthusiasm to my request to include more meat in our dinners on the nights he’s cooking, and I’m making sure dinner on the nights I cook is heavily centred around lentils and other veggie proteins (I have a lot of trouble cooking meat- I went vegetarian before I learned how to when I was a teenager, and I can manage ground meat and chicken breasts but struggle with everything else. Plus I don’t think we should be eating meat every night anyway.)

Maybe it’s all pointless, but it’s worth a shot.

Other things I’ve started doing:

  • taking metformin again
  • taking coQ10
  • taking a B complex vitamin with extra B6
  • taking a multivitamin with extra folic acid
  • taking baby aspirin

And I’m still taking my vitamin D (2000 IU a day).

And yet, I could look you straight in the eye and tell you I wasn’t sure if I would do another IVF cycle, and I wouldn’t be lying.

Does that sound weird?

It feels a bit weird to me, but it’s true.

We had originally thought if we did another IVF cycle we’d do it in May after we got back from visiting my sister and future brother-in-law.

But once I decided I wanted to start taking the supplements and change my diet, we decided to push back into July, to make sure I’ve had the three months needed to make a difference.

We’re still not sure we’ll go through with it in July, but I decided that if we were keeping the door open, I needed to prepare so that if we did try again, we’d know we gave it our best shot.

I don’t want to do another IVF off the cuff, have it fail, and then wonder if things could have been different if I’d taken a couple more months to prep my body.

I realized that not taking the supplements, for me, was tantamount to saying “we’re done”.

And we’re not. We’re on the fence still.

So I needed to start taking everything to keep both options on the table. At worst, if we decide in July or August not to go ahead, we’ve spent a bit of money on unnecessary vitamins.

I don’t like being in limbo, but it’s not for much longer, because we will either cycle in July/August, or we will be done.

At that point the age gap will be five years, which was always our cut off date. And we’ll be almost a  year out from our last FET.

July will be the moment of decision.

For now I’m just taking it one day at a time, sitting with both options, noticing (but not judging) how I feel about things, and hoping that my digestive system will adjust to the new regime soon.

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Filed under Choose Happiness, Food, Medical issues, Second Thoughts, Siblings

2014: A year of endings

Today I submitted the final version of my dissertation.

My university no longer requires hard copies, so it was a relatively simple matter of uploading the PDF and filling out a few extra details. It was made a little more interesting by the fact I realized late on Sunday night that today was the very LAST day on which I could submit the dissertation without having to wait until January and register for another term (even though the university doesn’t shut for Christmas until the 24th). So that led to rather a lot of e-mails between myself, my supervisor and the chair of the examination committee, and then a lot more e-mails between myself and the graduate program assistant. But it all worked out in the end- the link came through this morning as promised and it took me less than ten minutes after I’d started the process (including a couple of minutes spent waiting for my computer to load the 398 page PDF so I could just double check it was the right version).

Anyway, I am, for all intents and purposes, done my PhD. Convocation still lies ahead, and I may well have to dress up in robes and prance across a stage (even though I would rather take the degree in absentia) because it would be good for my program to have tangible proof that PhDs are finishing. We’ll see. But the PhD was finished in 2014. That’s how it will be counted.

Two other things ended in 2014.

My second, and last, pregnancy.

And my hopes for a second child.

We had our follow up appointment with our fertility specialist last week. Q. was able to go as well because my sister was in town (not the one who lives in the same city- she was overseas- but the other one) and kindly agreed to look after E.

It was uninspiring.

I wasn’t surprised by this.

I had taken the time to type up all of the details of our two IVF cycles (culled from this blog): # eggs retrieved, # mature, # fertilized, maturation rate, attrition rate, etc. It made things much easier when it became obvious that he hadn’t reviewed our chart in any way before meeting with us.

He was 90 minutes late. This was apparently due to a crisis in the OR, but the man always runs 90 minutes late so I can’t see why they bothered to give us an explanation. It meant we had to endure a very long and awkward conversation with my favourite ultrasound tech who must now hold a managerial position in the clinic. She spent much of it trying to convince us to change our minds.

Both she and Dr. L. told us that it will be difficult when E. gets older and starts asking why everyone around him has a brother or sister. They told us that we won’t be around one day and it will be better for E. not to be alone.

This was, frankly, insulting. I can’t believe that anyone would come to that clinic having decided to end treatments and yet somehow have failed to consider the repercussions of such a decision.

Dr. L. really, really didn’t want to let us go. He started making suggestions: a short-protocol IVF. Putting back three embryos.

I don’t want to have to selectively reduce.

When I got home I did a bunch of Googling and discovered my gut feeling was right- short-protocol IVFs are NOT good protocol for PCOS patients. We need long and slow to get good eggs.

I think he just suggested it because it would be ‘easier’ on us- less time at the clinic. I don’t think he really thought about whether it would be the right thing for my particular set of issues.

He danced around the subject whenever Q. tried to ask him a question about success rates and numbers. I wish my sister could have come with us as she is better at hard questions and would probably have been able to better pin him down.

I came out of the appointment conflicted, but I wasn’t once the dust had settled and I had some time to think.

I just don’t trust my f/s enough to do another cycle. I’m tired of the chaos of my clinic. I’m tired of his perpetual lateness. IF we went back, I would ask to transfer to another doctor, who is always on time and who always remembers me when he sees me. But we’re not even likely to do that.

I know what we will not do, under any circumstances, in building our family.

We will not move to another clinic and start over again. That ship has sailed.

We will not adopt.

We will not use donor eggs.

We will not use a surrogate.

We would probably do another IVF cycle, with the other doctor, if E. were still two, or if our insurance covered procedures and not just medications, or if our province actually funded IVF like they have been suggesting they will, eventually.

There are circumstances under which I can see us trying again.

But those circumstances don’t reflect our lives as they exist today.

And so 2014 is likely to be embedded in my memory as the year in which things ended.

Some good.

Some bad.

But all of them over.

I hope it lets 2015 be a fresh start.

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Filed under 2.0 Pregnancy, Grief, Life after the PhD, Lonely Onlies?, Loss, PhD, Second Thoughts, Siblings, Three's Company

Wish lists

Microblog_MondaysMy sister asked me in an e-mail this week what I would like for Christmas.

I really only want two things.

I want a job that will challenge my brain that I can mostly do during school hours.

I want another baby.

I don’t think you can find those things at the mall.

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

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Filed under Grief, Life after the PhD, Lonely Onlies?, Loss, Microblog Mondays, Second Thoughts, Siblings

Questions I don’t know how to answer

Yesterday at nursery school on my duty day. E. has finished his snack and is idly flipping through Words Are Not for Hurting, one of a series of books with overt behavioral modification messages that I find deeply irritating but the kids seem to like. He is looking at a page where an older boy has made his little brother cry because he yelled at him after the baby knocked down his block tower.

“Mummy, are we ever going to get another baby at our house?”

E. is distracted by something his friend is doing before I can gather myself to form a response. It is the first time he has ever mentioned such a thing since he stopped asking about the baby that died.

***

This morning at breakfast. E. is eating oatmeal after finishing his waffle.

“Mummy, why are we not going to have another baby at our house?”

“Why are you asking, sweetie?”

“Because I want a baby.”

DAMN IT.

“That just seems to be how it’s worked out, sweetie. Besides, Mummy and Daddy love you so much. If we had a baby, you’d have to share us with the baby.”

Long pause.

“Ok.” E. goes back to eating his oatmeal.

Long pause.

“Why did you say, ok, E.?”

“Because now I know why we’re not going to have another baby in our house.”

“Do you like having Mummy and Daddy all to yourself?”

Big smile. “YES!”

Long pause.

E.: “Imagine if we went for an adventure on the streetcar and we forgot the baby!”

And then he is off, imagining what we would do on the streetcar, and I feel like I have dodged another bullet.

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