Category Archives: Sleep

8w3d- ultrasound #3

Today was one of those days that made me realize how glad I will be to be free of the clinic.

Q. had forgotten that I had an intralipid infusion this morning and that he had agreed to be at home with E. So I was under pressure to get home in time for him to get to work so he wouldn’t miss a meeting.

Given my intralipid was at 8:30 a.m., I made sure to be at the clinic for 6:50 a.m. so I could be the very first person on the list to see my f/s. That way I could get the ultrasound done, see him, get my meds, and then go over to the IVF suite for the intralipid infusion.

It was a great plan…until my doctor didn’t get in before 8:30 a.m. (which is not all that surprising, although it was hugely frustrating). So I did the ultrasound, waited fruitlessly to see him, gave up and got my drugs, went over to the IVF suite, did the intralipid, went back over to the main part of the clinic, and got put back on the top of the pile to see him. And then it took another FORTY minutes for him to turn up and spend three minutes discussing my chart. That meant I had to take a cab home, and I was still ten minutes late, so I don’t know if Q. got up to work in time for the staff meeting.

All told I was at that clinic from 6:50 until 11:20 a.m.

I will be glad to see the end of that.

Good news on the ultrasound front- baby was measuring a week further along than last week (at 8w2d), so s/he is growing well. Heartbeat was still strong (148 bpm). Second sac was still just hanging out. The blood clot was still there and was bigger than last week, but my doctor feels it’s “stabilized” (whatever that means), so he doesn’t seem to be too worried about it. He did tell me to keep minimizing lifting E. until we hit the twelve week mark.

He told me to stop the prednisone (which means I’m going to be a lot more tired as I’ve realized this past week that the days where I don’t take prednisone I want to pass out from about 2 p.m. onwards) and to start weaning off the Metformin. I don’t have to go back for two weeks now. It’ll be a relief not to have our lives interrupted, although of course I’ll miss the reassurance that all is well with the baby.

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Filed under 2.0 Pregnancy, Medications, My addled brain, Sleep, Ultrasounds

7w3d and all is well

We had the same ultrasound tech as last time. She was wonderful- put in the probe, took one look at the screen and then immediately turned to us and said, “I see baby’s heartbeat. Baby is growing. It’s a good baby.” She took a more careful look around, confirmed that the baby was still there and growing and then started taking measurements.

Baby measured 7w2d, so still a day behind, but s/he’s grown a week since the last scan which is right on track. The heart was nice and strong – 154 bpm. There was a very noticeable yolk sac- I don’t remember it looking that obvious with E. Maybe it has something to do with where it attaches. Baby was definitely bigger but still pretty blob like. I remember E. being in a ‘peanut’ stage with this ultrasound, but this one still looks more like a blob.

The circle is the yolk sac. The blob is the baby.

The circle is the yolk sac. The blob is the baby.

The empty second sac is still there, and so is the blood clot/SCH. The SCH has actually grown significantly since last week (it’s doubled in size if I read my chart correctly). I saw a different doctor today (mine wasn’t in) and she didn’t seem too concerned about things. She told me to stop the Fragmin as of today (HURRAY!) and to now start weaning off the prednisone. I started weaning off the prednisone at this point during E.’s pregnancy but it took a lot longer to stop since I was on a triple dose because of the hives.

Everything looked so good she told me not to come back for two weeks. When I said I had to be back in next Thursday for another intralipid infusion she agreed I might as well have another scan at that point too since I’ll be at the clinic. I’m happy with that- I feel sick the morning of an ultrasound, but the reassurance is worth the pre-appointment anxiety.

There was certainly no discussion of me taking more time off work. I don’t know if she’s less cautious than my doctor or if he just felt that last week was a really critical one. Regardless, I’m happy to be able to start getting things back into order as I am really behind with teaching prep (to say nothing of the dissertation).

When I got home, I had a proper conversation with E. where I told him that I was growing a baby in my body. Q. and I had agreed we’d tell E. if this scan was all right as it’s not fair the way we’re always talking around him, and I know he worries about why I’m always going to the doctor. So we talked about how I’m going to the doctor so much because they’re making sure that everything is ok with the baby, and that I’m not sick myself. E. seemed moderately interested. He said he wanted a baby sister just like in the Berenstain Bears’ New Baby but then was most interested in pointing out how when the baby was born “it would play with baby toys” and wouldn’t be big enough to play with his own toys. I’m not entirely sure he gets it yet, but it’s a start.

Pregnancy-wise, I am having much more trouble with food than I was at this point with E., although I suspect partly that’s due to the fact that I’m not on a triple dose of prednisone this time around. I get a lot of low level nausea throughout the day. It’s not serious, but it can be enough to put me off my appetite. I still mostly want to eat salt and potatoes. Dinner is the hardest meal as it seems the nausea gets worse throughout the day. Q. cooked a lovely meal last night and I could barely touch the pork, ignored the salad completely and ate almost all the fries.

I also had a completely insane dream two nights ago. Every single part of it was insane, but weirdly I looped back to the first element when I neared the end, so when I woke up it took me that much longer to realize that all of it had been a dream. I found myself lying in bed thinking, “Ok, so the bit where we were all running in the downtown core of a big city while some sci-fi droid things shot at us wasn’t real, and the bit where I signed up for prenatal classes at eight weeks and there were girls there I went to high school with wasn’t real, and the bit with the medieval/dragon boat racing festival wasn’t real, but what about the bit with the mall and my sister’s birthday? Did I actually miss her party because the mall was closing and I couldn’t find the right present?” Eventually I determined none of it had been real, but I felt exhausted that whole day- I think because I’d been so busy in my dreams!

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Filed under 2.0 Pregnancy, A matter of faith, Anxiety Overload, E.- the third year, Food, Medications, Siblings, Sleep, Symptoms, Ultrasounds

2.0 IVF- 1dp5dt- Disappointment

My clinic didn’t call today.

That’s the first time they’ve ever missed a really important call like this. I called around 4 p.m. and left a message, but I find voicemail is a bit of a black hole there. I’ll call again first thing tomorrow- at least the advantage to dealing with a clinic is they’re open seven days a week!

This has, of course, led to some ridiculous anxiety-driven thoughts along the lines of, “THEY DIDN’T CALL BECAUSE THERE WAS NOTHING TO FREEZE AND THEY DIDN’T WANT TO GIVE ME BAD NEWS, SO THESE EMBRYOS CURRENTLY FLOATING AROUND IN MY UTERUS ARE OUR ONLY HOPE AND WHAT IF RATHER THAN BEING JEDI TWINS THEY’RE ALREADY DEAD??”

Even I can see that this is unlikely. The nurses at my clinic spend every single day giving people bad news- that the beta was negative, that the eggs didn’t fertilize, that the f/s didn’t find any sperm, that it will be a day three transfer. They’re hardly going to shy away from a phone call because it might upset the patient.

Much more likely is the fact that we’re currently experiencing a bit of a weather event in my neck of the woods, and a number of the nurses live outside the city. I bet they were busy and short-staffed today, and my doctor probably ran two hours late as per usual, and my chart just slipped through the cracks in the chaos.

Still.

I would like to know where we stand. If for no other reason than to help me get back to sleeping through the night again.

Last night was the third night in a row where I woke up in the wee hours, but well before 3:30 a.m. (which is usually the danger zone for my body deciding that I’ve had enough sleep and should just get up), and then tossed and turned in bed for a couple of hours before finally drifting off again. Last night was particularly disrupted: we had E’s coughing fits (we discovered last night he has croup again), combined with our cats deciding that they both wanted to sleep on the bed, and the resulting territorial standoff which required much meowing and clambering on us, combined with E. wheezing so badly from the croup that we had to check on him (and then I had to check on him again when he stopped wheezing so loudly we couldn’t hear him any longer from our room down the hall).

No one was bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning. Except maybe the blast twins, but it’s hard to tell with them, being but tiny bundles of cells floating in my uterus.

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Filed under 2.0 IVF, Anxiety Overload, My addled brain, Second Thoughts, Sleep, The Sick, TWW

Gearing up

I took my last bcp on Saturday.

Ironically, given the situation, I had less bleeding on both Sunday and yesterday than had been the case for the entire previous week. But by late yesterday afternoon I figured it was ok to go in to the clinic this morning. My sister (bless her heart) came over to play with E. for the morning. They built a blanket fort, did lots of drawing, and just generally had a great time. E. was in good spirits, even though I bolted out the door very soon after he woke up.

Q. and I are going to have to figure out how we’re going to organize things for this cycle. I got in to the clinic at 8:45 a.m., which is getting towards the end of cycle monitoring hours (they run from 7:00 to 9:30 a.m. on weekdays). I got out at 11:30 a.m.

RIDICULOUS.

Partly it was because we were starting everything up, so it took a while to get all the medications together and go over all the instructions. Partly it was because the ultrasound techs were short-staffed so they were running a bit behind. Mostly it was because I’m convinced my f/s forgot about me and screwed up his rotation through his offices, as he dumped me in a room and then left me there for THIRTY-FIVE minutes, and there would have been only two more people in front of me. It’s possible he dashed off to do an IUI or two, but he’s done this before. It’s the downside of my clinic being so busy.

Anyway, Q. is going to have to look after E. any morning I’m in at the clinic. I next go back in on Sunday, and I’m *hoping* he can then next see me the following Wednesday, as E. would be at nursery school, so it won’t interfere with Q.’s schedule. But there will come a time where we’re going to have to decide whether it makes more sense for me to leave for the clinic long before E. wakes up (which means Q. will be guaranteed a hysterically weeping child), or wait until after E. wakes up, which will blow Q.’s entire morning. If I get to the clinic right for the start of cycle monitoring, I hopefully would get back home again by 9:30 or so.

You forget how much time this process takes until you start doing it again.

Last night Q. and I signed our consents and made decisions about whether we were happy for discarded biological material (eggs that didn’t fertilize, follicular fluid, etc.) to be used for research purposes (yes) and whether we wanted one of us to be able to use any leftover embryos if the other had died (no). We also decided that we wanted to use the embryoscope, provided my f/s could assure me that using this new technology meant that the embryos wouldn’t be disturbed. This did indeed prove to be the case- they have six chambers in the incubator, so our embryos would get their own spot and their perfect environment won’t be disturbed by other clients’ embryos being added or removed. We decided this perfect environment was worth the $750 price tag. This is the last time we are going to do IVF, and we had a lot of attrition in our embryos between Days 3 and 5 with the cycle that brought us E. This new incubator might help them develop. I guess an added bonus will be the fact that it gives the lab techs the ability to see which really are the perfect embryos, but if our cycle goes like last time that will be irrelevant- we only had two embryos that had made it to blast by the day of the transfer, so if we get that result again clearly we’ll just be using them.

I asked my f/s to check my TSH again and should get a call about that this afternoon. All the extra blood tests he ran came back normal, although my AMH has dropped from 37 to 20, which is not unexpected given I’m three and a half years older.  It still indicates a ‘medium ovarian reserve’, so he didn’t seem too worried about it. We spent quite a long time looking at the calendar. He felt my estrogen was a bit on the low side this morning, so eventually he decided I would start stimming on Thursday. This is going to make it really touch and go to make sure we get everything done before Christmas, so I could use some good vibes for responding well. The LAST thing I want to be doing on Christmas Day is an embryo transfer.

He’s starting me on 225 iu Gonal F and 75 iu Repronex. I told the nurse to treat me like someone who’d never done it before, so we walked through every step. It should be straightforward, but it is always stressful when so much rides on you doing the right thing at the right time. I’ll go back in on Sunday to see how things are progressing.

I’m not going to lie- I’m dealing with a lot of anxiety about all of this. I’ve been sleeping really well lately, but the last three nights I woke up at 5 a.m. and then couldn’t get back to sleep. On Sunday I spent E’s entire nap surfing Pinterest for ideas for E’s room (as we’re probably going to move him into the room that is currently my study when we transition him to a bed, whether we’re having another baby or not)- an anxiety displacement activity if ever I saw one. It mostly served its purpose as a distraction, except for the point where I realized that the mattress I want to buy E. (which is made by the same company that made his crib mattress) is really quite expensive, and while it would have been easy to rationalize purchasing it if we weren’t spending all this money on the IVF, it’ll be harder to figure out where that money will come from in our current situation.

That gets to me a lot. I think there is a big part of me now that doesn’t believe we’re going to end up with a 2.0, in which case we’re basically about to flush thousands of dollars down the toilet. And while money obviously isn’t everything, there are so many other things we could be doing with it- things that would have tangible benefits for the child we DO have. I know if the IVF doesn’t work we’ll at least have the peace of mind that we did everything we could, but I wish so much there was a way to get that peace of mind without emptying our savings account.

From here on out my focus is the IVF cycle. Any dissertation work I get done will be a bonus. I’ve basically just shelved the chapter that still needs significant work- I’m not going to even look at it until January. Instead, I’m plugging away at the notes in bold I’ve left to myself in the other chapters (they usually say things like “get this reference sorted” or “add the example with the guy with sixteen kids who’s excused from munera“). They are not sweeping changes, but they have to be made, and every one I do now is one fewer I’ll need to do when I can actually focus on my work again.

When I get overwhelmed, I just remind myself that, no matter what happens, this is the very last time I’ll be stimming. This will be my last retrieval. Whatever we get from this cycle, whatever the outcome, we’re done.

Deep breaths. Take it one day at a time.

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Filed under 2.0 IVF, Anxiety Overload, Cycle Madness, Emotions, Medical issues, Medications, PhD, Second Thoughts, Sleep

Side-effects

I am really tired of taking all of these medications.

No, scratch that. I’m just really tired.

I started everything up again on Wednesday, everything being the metformin, the prednisone, the baby aspirin, plus birth control, as well as a new supplement that my sister found called Ova-Boost, which has folic acid, myo-inositol, coenzyme Q10, as well as melatonin and two other antioxidants. It’s aimed at women with PCOS and those of advanced maternal age, and will hopefully help make better quality eggs (and better quality embryos).

My body has been having a hard time adjusting.

Something is making me feel nauseous when my stomach is empty, but even more nauseous when I eat. I suspect it’s the metformin, since I went right back to taking three pills a day given I had been taking that many only a week before.

Note to others: this is not the best plan, but I do seem to have escaped relatively unscathed.

Something else is producing an insane level of fatigue. I went to sleep three nights this week before 8:30 p.m. because if I didn’t go to sleep I was going to pass out standing up. The first night poor Q. had no idea what happened to me, as I went upstairs to settle E. (who had popped up requesting a diaper change), and after I had put him back in the crib, I was so overwhelmed with exhaustion I decided to brush my teeth and just climb into bed.

The first two nights I slept through. The third night (where I passed out with a massive headache at 7:45 p.m.) I woke up at 2 a.m. and was up for a couple of hours, but then managed to get back to sleep.

All three nights I slept through Q. getting into bed. I was dead to the world.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for ages and reading all of my rants concerning my sleep will know how unusual this is.

I spent most of the summer, and a good part of the fall, waking up at 4 or 5 in the morning, feeling totally refreshed.

I’ve been convinced for close to two years now that I don’t seem to need as much sleep as I did before E. was born. Give me six hours in a row, and I’m good to go for the day. I hate waking up in the night to use the loo because if it’s after 3 a.m. I usually don’t get back to sleep, and prednisone just makes my disordered sleeping so much worse.

So the torpor of the last few days has taken me by surprise.

It’s getting better though, which is a relief. Last night Q. and I were able to watch a film we’d rented on iTunes (Starbuck- a very funny French-Canadian film well worth watching), and then went to bed at the same time.

I feel like I’m working really hard just by taking my pills. I haven’t even hit the Lupron stage yet, let alone stims.

I have to say, I’m a bit stressed about the intensity of the IVF cycle. I went back and reread my blog from August 2010, and I noted at one point how tired I was of being in the clinic and how much more work an IVF cycle was compared to a FET. I had found the FETs in 2009 to be so much easier.

This time around I was caught off guard by how much time the FETs took up. I feel like I’ve spent half the fall at the clinic.

The difference, of course, is now we have E., and I tried, as much as possible, to go in to the clinic on days when he was in nursery school. This meant I spent a significant number of Wednesdays, the one day in the week where I have the full day to work in the library on my dissertation, at the clinic.

So I’m looking at the IVF with apprehension, and I’m trying to revise, yet again, my expectations for what I think I can accomplish in December.

It is hard, though.

I’m not used to not being really really good at what I do.

I’m not used to letting things distract me from my work.

I sent an e-mail to my supervisor, as he’s overseas (again) and won’t be back until mid-December. I told him I had been dealing with a medical issue this semester, that it had significantly affected my ability to work on the dissertation, and that my doctor had recommended I step back from an arbitrary deadline and try to minimize my stress.

The next day I received the most wonderfully compassionate and understanding e-mail. It made me cry. He was so supportive. He has faith in my work when I have none for myself.

I should be able to let go of the stress now. I should be able to focus on the IVF, on keeping myself balanced, on being present for E.

I’m struggling.

The December deadline my supervisor and I originally agreed upon was designed to allow for a defence date in June or, at worst, August.

If I defended by August, I would finish my PhD exactly on time, according to the university guidelines.

It’s pretty common for people not to finish on time in the Humanities. It’s common for people to take one, two, three extra years (or more) before they finally defend.

I was going to finish on time.

More than that- I was going to finish early. Because finishing by August meant that I’d finished in the same amount of time as would have been expected if I hadn’t had a baby, hadn’t taken any maternity leave.

I took a full six months off when E. was born. I didn’t read a thing. I didn’t write a word. I didn’t touch any part of the dissertation.

Finishing in August would have meant I had, in effect, finished six months earlier than expected.

There’s more to it.

Since E. was born, I have never actually worked full-time on my dissertation. When I did go back to work, although I registered as a full-time student, I was always responsible for at least 50% of E’s care during working hours (with the exception of this summer, where even then I had a full day at home with him every week). In some semesters, at some times, it was more. I don’t usually work on the weekends because Q. has to so much of the time. I intentionally refuse to work at night most of the time or at 5 a.m. when I wake up and can’t get back to sleep because I know I will spread myself too thin and I won’t have the patience I need with E.

There has never been a point with this dissertation where I wasn’t trying to balance being a PhD student with being a mother.

I started reading again for my dissertation in November 2011.

I didn’t write a word until March 2012.

Earlier this semester I did a word count, and the dissertation stood at around 103,000 words.

Every single one of those words was written in the last twenty months.

I should look at that and see it as a huge accomplishment.

I should look at that and feel proud of myself.

I should look at that and be amazed at everything I have managed to do, in the time that I have had.

I don’t.

I look at it, and all I can see is what I have left to write, left to edit, left to do.

I look at it, and all I can see is how much better it could have been if I had been working on it full-time, instead of squeezing it in around everything else in my life.

But despite everything, I was holding on to the fact that I was going to finish on time.

Having a child wasn’t going to have slowed me down.

Essentially writing a dissertation part-time wasn’t going to have slowed me down.

I was going to finish as if nothing had interrupted my academic life.

And it has been really really hard on my pride to accept that, as a result of going back to the clinic this fall, that simply isn’t going to happen.

I do know that my original timeline was ridiculous. It was crazy to think that I could write a dissertation part-time and still finish six months ahead of schedule.

But until we went back to the clinic this fall, that timeline was within my grasp. I was going to manage it.

I was going to be an academic superstar.

Mothers in academia don’t have an easy time of it. There are many, many articles out there that point to children as the death knell in many a female academic’s career.

Part of why this timeline mattered so much to me was that it would show that having a child hadn’t slowed me down, that my work hadn’t suffered, that my brain hadn’t turned to mush (even though it certainly felt like it had when I first started easing my way back into things). If a job came up in my field, there would be no dangerous gap on my CV that needed explaining. There would be nothing at all to identify me as a mother unless I so chose to identify myself in an interview. No reason for a hiring committee to wonder if I would pull my own weight or would disappear as soon as my teaching was finished, unwilling to take on other responsibilities, unwilling to be a good departmental citizen, unwilling to devote the blood and sweat and tears academia demands.

I would look normal.

Now I’m worried I’ll look like damaged goods, that my failure to somehow magically balance it all (an impossible balancing, even I know that) will tarnish my work. I’m worried I’ve introduced the question mark into my CV.

I know, deep down, that we have made the right decision. It made no sense whatsoever to wait on this last IVF cycle until after the dissertation was completed. And it would make no sense whatsoever to damage the chances of this IVF succeeding by trying to keep to my planned schedule and worrying about all the work I wasn’t managing to do, because if nothing else the FETs this fall have reminded me just how much time and mental energy and physical strength is consumed by trying to get pregnant. I know the IVF is going to be even worse.

I am reconciled with our decision, and I think by the time the IVF starts I will have been able to let go of the “graduate school self-imposed stress/shame spiral” as my sister so aptly labeled it.

Right now though I still feel like I’ve let myself down.

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Filed under 2.0 IVF, Anxiety Overload, Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), Medical issues, Medications, My addled brain, PCOS, PhD, Second Thoughts, Sleep

In dreams (2.0 FET #2, Day 15)

E. woke up last night. He went back to sleep at first, for about forty minutes, but then he woke up again and it was clear he was going to need some help to get fully settled. I went into his room, checked that his diaper hadn’t leaked, picked him up, and sat with him in the rocking chair for two minutes or so, just until he started rubbing his face with his bunny and flopping against my chest. Then I kissed him, put him back in the crib, and crawled back to bed. Given it was already 5 a.m. by that stage, I didn’t like my chances of falling asleep again, but, in the end, I did.

I had the most convoluted dream.

In the dream we were planning to go to Australia with my mother and my two sisters, and I kept freaking out because it was going to interfere with trying to have another baby, and I had to have another baby, because we didn’t want E. to be by himself, and what if something ever happened to E., how would we go on living? And then, in the dream, I felt this enormous rush of relief because I realized (as one does in dreams, where a complete shift in the dream reality seems perfectly normal) that we already had two children, that there were two little boys running around our house, not one, that we were taking both of them with us to Australia, so it didn’t matter at all- we didn’t have to try again, we didn’t have to worry, we had our family. In the dream I can remember shaking my head, bemused at my own silliness, wondering why on earth I was so concerned about this when our boys were right there.

And then I woke up. And the worst part of it, the very worst part, is it took me a moment to disentangle myself from the web the dream had woven. For a very brief moment, that second little boy seemed like a lived reality and not just a dream.

May it be so.

Transfer day tomorrow.

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Filed under 2.0 FET #2, Down Under, Emotions, My addled brain, Second Thoughts, Sleep

Blogging thanks to insomnia

There is so much I’ve wanted to put on here, but I just haven’t had time to post. I’m trying to work really efficiently when in the library (although I’m still checking e-mail too often) and then when I get home I want to spend time with E. Bedtime is a mess right now (more on that below), so I often don’t have a lot of spare time in the evenings once Q. and I finish our translation discussion (more on that below). All of this adds up to a lot of thinking about the blog but not much posting. I’m also not great with comments right now although I am trying to keep up on my reader (and why must it go away? Stupid Go.ogle).

Today, however, I woke up at 3:15 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep (for the first time in ages), so I’ll take a moment to get a few things down, even if only in bullet points. It was nice to watch the sun rise (our back garden faces east). A bit crazy that said sun was rising at 4:30 a.m. (the birds woke up at 4:00) when we’re still a month out from the longest day, but still nice.

So. Highlights from chez Turia:

  • E’s sleep patterns have completely changed. The only saving grace is some of his birth club buddies are doing similar things, so I don’t think it’s entirely related to travelling/time change/absent Mummy/separation anxiety. It’s probably partly the longer days and partly developmental- E’s speaking in sentences a lot more than he was two weeks ago, and is using ever-increasingly complex vocabulary. But the sleep thing, in a word, sucks. Getting him to go to sleep independently is hugely problematic. Admittedly this hasn’t been perfect for almost two months now since I took him to San Francisco, but right now we’re in a phase of having to keep the door partly open, and pop back in several times to check on him, and respond to him whenever he calls out. Yesterday at nap time Q. also had to sit in the room for about ten minutes after E. worked himself up into a right state when first put down. It’s harder and harder to get him down for a nap. This week he skipped it two days in a row (and was manic and insanely over-tired by 7:30 as a result). Yesterday he didn’t fall asleep until 2:30 even though he’d looked tired from noon onwards. If he does nap, he doesn’t fall asleep until 9:30 or later. We still put him in the crib at 8:30 (and even that is an HOUR later than the latest bedtime he had at home), but he’ll talk to himself or shout at us or screech and cry and call out for us for an hour or more. And we cannot leave him to cry. It is just not an option- he is a tension-increaser (and I owe Ask Moxie more thanks than I can express for coming up with this theory) and he will just continue to work himself up the longer he’s left. If he doesn’t nap, he will be asleep by 8 p.m., but manic and silly and over-tired beforehand. I think we’re moving towards dropping the nap, which makes me very sad (and worried about how Q. will cope over the summer). A month ago this child was napping two-three hours during the day, going to bed at 7:30 p.m. and waking up at 7 a.m. He did used to talk to himself for a while in his crib, so he probably wasn’t going to sleep until 8 or so. And admittedly now he is sleeping a bit later in the mornings (but we wake him if he’s still asleep at 8 a.m., which we haven’t had to do for a few days), but the end result is he seems to have dropped two hours of total sleep literally overnight starting around his second birthday. Sigh.
  • I have to pass four translation exams (two modern languages and two ancient) for my PhD. I passed three of them when 36 weeks pregnant with E. The fourth is my bugbear. Q. and I are translating passages and discussing them every night for the entire summer (he has no problem with this language) because if we don’t, I will almost certainly fail the exam in the fall. I have never really learned this language properly. I never studied it as an undergrad. I learned it, but not properly during my Master’s degree, then never used it again until the PhD, and have been piecemeal with translating/practicing ever since. I understand how all the grammar works, it’s the vocabulary and especially the irregular verbs that are the problems. I am freaking out about this exam. The irony is that I was freaking out about a translation exam IN THE SAME LANGUAGE during my Master’s degree…NINE years ago. I passed that exam by memorizing the entire English translation of more than one full ancient work (I am not proud of this, but I did what I had to do to survive, and there were a lot of other issues going on at the time, not least my first (and to date only) bout with clinical depression). It boggles my mind that I am now in a situation where once again I am worried that my degree progress will be stalled/delayed by virtue of that stupid translation exam. I wish I had just learned it properly in the first place. It is not yet keeping me up at night, but I’m sure that’s only a matter of time.
  • I am giving a paper at a conference in July. It’s a conference that is directly related to my dissertation, held at this university (it was unbelievably brilliant timing that it is happening while I’m here). It is a smallish conference (two days, eight sessions (two at a time), twenty-four speakers) and interdisciplinary, which in practice means there are quite a lot of people speaking who work in time periods not at all related to my field. But there are a couple of other ancient historians, and two of them in particular are BIG names. It is by far the most prestigious conference I’ve presented at. I’ve given a paper at my national conference, and at a themed conference that happens every five years or so, but never at something so small and selective. It is a big opportunity. I’m totally freaking out about it.
  • I really like working in the faculty library. It is a serious place full of serious students (even, mostly, the undergrads). They only allow laptops along one row of desks (on the south wall) so the purists can work without the tapping of keys. I feel weird checking my e-mail because when you walk through the library to get a book you can see that everyone with laptops is actually working, 99% of the time. It has almost all the books I need. They’re on the shelves when you look for them. They’re well organized. It’s a real joy to be in such a good space.
  • I really hate working in the library. I hate leaving E. in the morning, even though he’s so cheerful and happy to wave goodbye as he eats breakfast. He always tells me to “Wear heh-met!” (he’s very safety conscious when it comes to bikes and helmets). I hate getting home after a long day of using my brain and getting E. when he’s hyped up and over-tired because he hasn’t napped. I hate sitting at my desk and looking outside when it is gloriously sunny (admittedly not often) and thinking about what I am missing with my little guy.
  • I’m really really torn. This last month (because I’ve almost been here a full month- crazy!) has really brought home to me just how good my dissertation could have been if I had worked on it full-time for the last two years. It’s strengthened a lot of the anxieties I feel about it- how I haven’t read deeply enough, or widely enough. How I haven’t really thought through aspects of the project. And some of these feelings are natural feelings for a PhD student within a year of finishing with the bulk of the thesis drafted. But there is no denying that my dissertation would look much different had I been able to give it single-minded focus. Obviously I’d rather have E., and with him even the distraction that was infertility and treatments, which definitely set my reading back even before I was pregnant (when I basically decided to do nothing for the entire academic year except pass my language exams and build my database of evidence because carrying that baby was the most important thing I was doing, and I didn’t want to stress myself. I still got a lot done, but not as much as I could have had I spent less time reading books for fun or doing nothing). But I am a perfectionist by nature and it is hard to look at something (admittedly still unfinished) and see all the flaws. It’s very easy for me to be very hard on myself, and self-criticism isn’t great in academia because you get so much of it from other people. In a lot of ways you need to be your own best advocate. You need to think your research is important and of a high quality and well written because lots of people will find ways to tell you it isn’t, and you need to be able to take rejection and criticism and turn it into something useful that pushes you to improve, rather than wallow in it and take it to heart and have it stop you from writing or reading or thinking or, especially, publishing/trying to publish.  Yeah. Not sure how I’m going to go with that.
  • I have days where I think everything is completely backwards, because I have a miserable day in the library where I can’t see the point of my dissertation or my research or even (on a really bad day) my entire field, and all I want to do is be home with E., and then I get home and Q. is tired and his nerves are frayed because he really would prefer not to be home all day with E., and I know he would be so happy to work in that environment with the quiet and the books and the atmosphere that tells you that here is a place where research is truly valued. I appreciate every.single.day the sacrifice he is making for me by taking on the bulk of E’s care. It makes me feel extra guilty on the days where I really hate my research and wonder why I’m doing this in the first place.
  • But then I have other days where I feel like I make good progress and my writing flows and I find something interesting and I find myself adding bits and pieces to the file on my laptop called “future research” and I can think about ideas for publications and post-docs and I think I’m doing the right thing. I’m home one day a week with E. and I try to really enjoy and value that time with him. It’s not enough. It never feels like enough.
  • I really think something part-time would be ideal for me. But there is no “part-time” in academia. There’s the tenure track, and there’s the life of the adjunct/contract lecturer, cobbling together bits and pieces and paid a pittance for each course. I could make a very very part-time wage as a contract lecturer, but have a teaching load equivalent to a tenure-stream professor’s full-time load. But I’m not yet ready to see past academia. I’ve been in school my whole life- either as a student or a teacher (sometimes both simultaneously). I love the rhythms of it. I love that I’m in the same field as Q. and we can talk about our research. I love that he was able to come with me this summer because we do the same thing- we could never have done this if one of us had an office job. I have ideas about fellowships I could try to get when Q.’s next sabbatical comes around to enable us to go overseas again. Our plan is to see what happens and where we’re at five years after I finish. Then we’ll assess. Maybe then I’ll need to retrain/rethink/reset. Right now I need to finish. Fretting about the future is self-sabotage and not helpful in achieving that goal.
  • Much like my love/hate relationship with the library, I have a love/hate relationship with cycling. On a good day my trip in is about 22 minutes and the ride home (more uphill) is 24 or 25. In the morning, for the last third of the route I’m faster than the cars because I go in when the rush hour has started (such as it is here, but when you only have one lane in each direction and traffic lights, it’s easy to get snarled), which is fun. On good days it’s sunny and there’s no wind and the countryside is idyllic and I find myself laughing out loud with the joy of it all. On bad days I struggle home against a 20 mph head wind in steady rain. Strangely my bad days in the library often end with a wet cycle home. It’s like my mood brings the clouds.

And that’s all the time I’m getting. E.’s woken up, much earlier than normal. I’m hoping it wasn’t my tapping away at the keyboard, but fear that it was- it’s a small flat and noise carries.

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Filed under Adventures across the pond, Blink and you'll miss it, Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), PhD, Sleep

All good things…

E. is weaned.

It started when I weaned myself off the dom.peridone. E. was happily drinking all or close to the maximum 16 oz. of cow’s milk a day recommended by his paediatrician, so I didn’t feel I needed to artificially raise my milk supply any longer.

My milk supply fell off a cliff as a result. It was incredible. I went from pumping 5-8 oz. each morning (more if E. hadn’t fed much that night) to 1. So that was the end of pumping. We were away visiting grandparents for a week, and it was obvious at the night feeds that E. wasn’t drinking much and they really had become about routine and habit rather than nutrition.

When we got back home we had one night like usual, and it turns out that the night feed that night at 2:30 a.m. was the last time I ever nursed E., as the next day at dinner, Q. looked at me and said, “We should sleep train, right?” We didn’t have any more excuses- no upcoming visits, no conference to prepare for-, plus we’re going to visit his relatives in the not-so-distant future, so if we didn’t bite the bullet and cut off the night feeds now, we’d be commiting to night feeds until August.

So I, with a lot of trepidation, went off to sleep in the basement, and left Q. to deal with E. “Just don’t get angry with him,” I said as I went downstairs. I think Q. was confused. “I’m never angry with him,” he answered. “Besides, if he goes on for too long, I’ll just come get you.” He laughed, and off we went.

I don’t know what I was expecting. I guess I figured since Q. has less patience than I do when it comes to E. that he might get really frustrated, that he might not be able to see it through. I was expecting the worst.

E. did wake up, at 12:30, with a dirty diaper. And it did take Q. until 2 to get him back down. The crying comes down the vents into the basement, so it did wake me up, but according to Q’s report the next day there wasn’t actually all that much crying- it just seemed like it to me. Q. woke me back up at 3 when he came downstairs to get a snack, so at that point I went upstairs with him.

E. slept until 7 a.m.

The next night I slept in the basement, this time with my trusty earplugs. I woke up around 4 and had  a terrible time getting back to sleep. I took out the earplugs, since I figured I would have missed whatever antics had gone on upstairs, so when E. woke up screaming at 5:30, I heard him. Again he had a dirty diaper. Once Q. changed him, he was all smiles and up for the day. And that was the FIRST time he had woken up that night.

Saturday night I figured it was safe to try sleeping upstairs again. E. slept straight through until 6:15 without a peep.

Last night? Well, he went to bed very overtired, courtesy of an afternoon nap refusal, so he was asleep probably by 6:55 or so. He slept until 7 this morning! He popped up twice that I heard with a very brief cry (5 seconds or less) before settling down again.

TWELVE hours, readers. That is unheard of for E.

I know we’ll probably have some regressions and more wakings, especially given he is (still) teething like mad, having cut one molar and with another molar plus three canines moving around. But I know he can do it now.

My son sleeps through the night.

I have mixed feelings about weaning, of course. I don’t feel torn about cutting the night feed or stopping pumping, because I haven’t really felt we had a good breastfeeding relationship ever since E. day weaned at 10 months. I regret that we weren’t able to continue, but if I am very honest with myself, my regrets stem mostly from the fact that I at some point decided that nursing past the year mark was the RIGHT thing to do, and that doing this made me a GOOD MOTHER, and the fact that I am the first of my close circle of mummy friends to wean means that I am somehow falling behind in the Mummy Olympics. I really struggle with self-imposed standards and it is so hard not to compare myself or E. to the other mums and bubs around us.

When you take away the stupid self-imposed ideology about what a GOOD MOTHER should do, and look at the reality of the situation, here is what you see:

– E was done nursing at 10 months. He wanted solid food. He wanted to get on with things. He probably would have slept through the night then if I had weaned entirely

– I couldn’t wean him because of the MSPI. I had to get him to the year mark. So I got up twice a night, started taking domper.idone and herbs, and started pumping twice a day.

– I did get him to the year mark. I got him to 13 months. I got him to the point where he not only had outgrown the MSPI, but he had grown accustomed to the taste of cow’s milk and, indeed, even liked it. This is a seriously big deal in my world. I mean, read that sentence at the start of the post again. I have a son who guzzles close to 16 oz. of cow’s milk a day with NO side effects whatsoever. A son who devours cheese in any form, at any meal, at any time. A son who not so long ago, at Christmas, was up screaming in pain in the wee hours because I had eaten potatoes that were cooked next to something that had been cooked in butter. A son who at nine months writhed in agony and wept while I held him because we’d fed him yoghurt.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

So while I do mourn for the loss of our nursing relationship, I can admit to myself that it’s the imagined ideal that I mourn, the place I thought we’d be in back before he started solids and I was determined to nurse to eighteen months or beyond. It’s not the reality of these last three months that I miss. He was done. I was (mostly) done, even though a part of me dearly loved the cuddles and the closeness that came with those remaining night feeds.

And I mourn the idea that I might never nurse a baby again because, given the struggle it was to get him, it is always, always at the back of my mind that E. might be our only baby.

But it was time.

Now if I could just reteach my body to actually sleep through the night, we’d be golden…

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Filed under Blink and you'll miss it, Emotions, MSPI, Nursing, Sleep

We made it.

Yesterday, E. had his twelve month well-baby checkup.

He was breastfed for his entire first year.

He has (we are nearly positive) outgrown the MSPI.

Far out. We made it.

It’s hard to feel a lot of pride as a mum. You don’t want to take any credit for the lovely things about your baby, or the things that he does, because in some way that implies that you’re equally responsible for the less-nice things, or the things that he isn’t doing yet, but the little voice at the back of your head is whispering that maybe he should be (especially when you’ve got other mums playing the Baby Olympics and claiming their babies are doing things at E’s age that seem highly unlikely, if not downright developmentally impossible).

But I did feel a sense of quiet accomplishment when we reached E’s birthday.

The last two months haven’t been easy. I haven’t enjoyed having my nursing relationship become a menage a trois with the pump. But I managed. I dealt with it. I wrote an entire dissertation chapter (17,000 words) while getting up twice a night to nurse my baby. I pumped first thing in the morning, every morning, while distracting E. with corn and kamut puffs so he wouldn’t incessantly grab at the tubing and then bite me in frustration when I told him repeatedly not to touch. I broke up my workday, or stayed in with E. after his nap rather than go for a walk, so I could pump again later in the morning to make sure there was enough milk for him to drink in the afternoon. I cuddled and sang and tried not to grit my teeth while E. picked up the feed before bed and then dropped it again a few weeks later. I held my breath and crossed my fingers while we reintroduced dairy into my diet, again, and then, into his.

And I think, I hope, that what we are now facing in E’s second year is a baby with no food allergies.

It may be that he can’t really handle straight cow’s milk. We’re still working that one out. He clearly doesn’t like it as much as the breastmilk, but he’s not showing any definitive signs of reacting, so he might just need some more time to get used to it. Even if he doesn’t drink it, we can be sure he’s getting enough of what he needs if he eats cheese and yoghurt and keeps one or two nursing sessions.

The plan now is to cut out that second night feed (the paediatrician wants me to do both, but Q. and I both feel going cold turkey isn’t going to be the best option with E.). I know he doesn’t need it- he’s had more nights than not over the past week and a bit with only one feed, and twice he’s done an eleven hour stretch. I am dying for a longer stretch of sleep. And I’ll keep pumping in the morning if E. won’t nurse when he wakes up, and I’ll probably pump after he goes to bed if he won’t nurse before sleeping, just to protect my supply. I’m not going to stop pumping until we see that E. is happily drinking milk or eating tons of yoghurt. And then, if he really doesn’t want to nurse morning/night, I’ll stop pumping and let my supply ease off.

I’d like to keep nursing; I really would. But I don’t feel the need to bend over backward to make it happen, now that we’ve made it past the year mark and it looks like his gut has matured. We’ll see what happens.

There’s a lot of noise online right now about that new Time cover (and no, I am not going to link to it), and today I can’t stop thinking about the horrible situation in the UK where it looks like a Canadian woman has killed her fourteen month old daughter and newborn son and tried to kill herself as a result of PPD. All I want to say is this:

We are all Mom enough. We are all doing our best.

And wouldn’t it be nice if, for once, the mainstream media would actually devote its time and energy to raising support and awareness for those who are struggling rather than stirring up judgment and mistrust and fanning the flames of the so-called mommy wars.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my blog readers, be you mums already, or daughters with mums, or mums-yet-to-be. Wishing you love, laughter and quiet moments this Sunday.

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Filed under MSPI, Nursing, Sleep, Soapbox

And here we go again…

Since E.’s twelve-month well-baby appointment is on the 10th, and we need a definitive answer on the whole MSPI issue by then, as if he’s still intolerant we need to know how we’re going to approach nutrition in the second year (that does not include getting up twice a night, because oh my goodness I am so wanting to be DONE with these feeds), we’re challenging him again with dairy. We started on Sunday with some cheese at a reception for the christening of one of his baby friends. Thus far he’s had cheese on its own, goats’ cheese in risotto, cheese and milk in scrambled eggs, and milk and butter in a muffin. Plus I’m eating as much dairy as I can shovel in, given I never know when I might be off the stuff again.

So far, so good, I think. There’s nothing obvious to which I can point. He has been a touch gassier, but not to such an extent that he seems uncomfortable.

I think tomorrow we’re going to try yoghurt, which was the smoking gun at the ten month mark. If he manages that ok, we’ll try a tiny amount of straight  milk this weekend and see what happens.

He is definitely getting better, but I can’t yet be certain that the issue has entirely resolved.

We are definitely in the throes of the 2-1 nap transition. What a mess. E. has skipped the afternoon nap more often than he’s taken it this past week. The problem is he wakes up at 7.15 or so (or we wake him at 7.30), and he is TOAST by 9.30 or 10:00- eye rubbing, thumb sucking, etc. One morning Q. turned around from doing the dishes, and E. was lying on the floor sucking his thumb- clearly he was ready for a nap! Then we wake him up by 11:30, which should, in theory, mean he’ll be ready to go down again by 2.30 or 3.00. But he just isn’t sleeping. He’s holding up ok in the late afternoon considering how tired he gets, but I don’t think this is a sustainable pattern. The main thing is he gets incredibly clingy to me, and cries if I go more than two feet away from him. Playdates are less fun as a result. So are afternoons where Q. has him. Gah.

The travel crib is now in the kitchen, as Q. and I have decided we simply can’t have E. under our feet (or worse, holding on to our pants) when we’re using the stove. I’m ok with having a little ‘helper’ while washing dishes or chopping veggies, but it was giving me the willies to have him crawling around at my feet with boiling water directly above. And he  won’t stay on the other side of the kitchen- not for a snack, and not for a new and exciting toy (like our big mixing bowl and a spatula). So a baby-containment-system it is. The first trial run was this afternoon, and he did well for about 40 minutes, which should be enough time to make dinner on a weeknight normally, but Q. was making gnocchi and the potatoes took much longer than expected to cook.

I’m having a hard time with the balancing act that is parenting plus the rest of your life. I’m really realizing now that there will never, ever, be enough time to do everything I want/need to do again. If we watch a movie on Friday night instead of cleaning the bottom two floors of the house, that means I have to vacuum during E’s morning nap on Saturday rather than having a cup of tea and maybe a look at the paper. If I try to read a book for fun at night, that means I’m not reading for my dissertation, etc. etc. I really want to make a photobook of E’s first year, but I have NO IDEA when I’m going to fit that in.

Generally we are managing pretty well. E. is fed and happy and healthy and loved. I did get my chapter to a form that I could give it to Q. this afternoon. The house gets mostly cleaned every weekend, even if we never seem to get to the deep cleaning I think should be done. We buy good quality food and eat homemade meals every day (having a baby who is allergic to basically every restaurant out there helps a lot). But I do feel like I have a million balls in the air, and I realize a little bit more every day that I will always now feel like this. It’s just life with children and two working parents.

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Filed under Blink and you'll miss it, MSPI, Sleep