Category Archives: Three’s Company

Clarity (Part Two)

One of the books I read this month was Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision NOT to Have Kids.

I have quite a lot I’d like to say about the book, but right now I only want to look at one sentence. In her essay “Babes in the Woods”, Courtney Hodell describes the point in her life when she did attempt to get pregnant, only to discover that it wasn’t easy after all, and ultimately decides not to continue trying.

Of that moment, Hodell writes, “I wasn’t relieved, but I wasn’t sorry either.”

That sentence resonated with me. It has burrowed down into my soul.

The last two cycles, I have had moments where I thought I could be pregnant.

It is theoretically possible, after all. I am tracking my temperature. I know when I ovulated. I’m not in a sexless marriage.  I know when these events overlap.

I’m not very good at recognizing what my body normally feels like post-ovulation, because I am not yet used to this entire concept of having a luteal phase that isn’t supported by progesterone and Fragmin and prednisone and the rest of the chemical cocktail. (It still boggles my mind that I can just write the words “the last two cycles” because I now HAVE cycles.)

So I have had points where I’ve wondered.

And then my temperature takes a nose dive one morning, and I know I am not, and Hodell managed to so perfectly encapsulate how I feel in that moment.

I am not relieved.

But I am not sorry either.

I am content in my life.

I will always, in some way, miss the baby we lost, but it is harder and harder now to imagine any family that is not my current lived reality.

I think I would welcome that most unlikely of situations, a natural pregnancy. I think I would rearrange my head and my heart to make sense of such a world. I think I would be able to adjust my vision of our future.

But it would no longer be easy.

We are complete.

We are happy.

And I think I can say this now and really, truly mean it:

I don’t want a second child enough to ever go back to the clinic.


I never thought I’d reach it.

But I’m here now.


Filed under Choose Happiness, Cycle Madness, Second Thoughts, Three's Company

Screen Magic

Microblog_MondaysWhen I was waiting to become a mother, I used to imagine all the things I wanted to do with my child.

One that was high on the list was going to the movies. I used to love going to the movies as a kid. My sisters and I had a tradition of going to see every animated Disney film that dated back to The Little Mermaid. I loved the previews and the popcorn and the huge seats. I loved air conditioning on hot summer days and how the world seemed so bright when you left the theatre after a matinee. I even thought the sticky floor was neat.

And then we had E., who is extremely sensitive and easily frightened and hates loud noises, and, well, I put that longed-for experience in my back pocket and told myself to be patient.

Yesterday, my patience paid off.

We took E. to see Shaun the Sheep, and it was an unqualified success.

We packed his headphones and he wore them the entire time to cut down the noise.

I put my hands over his eyes during the (ridiculously scary and not at all age appropriate) preview for Pan.

We ordered popcorn and sat in huge seats. E.’s had a tendency to fold up on him if he wasn’t sitting right at the back, so that kept us on our toes.

We watched the movie. The whole movie. Even the credits, because Q. and I always watch the credits, and even though E. was bored senseless we told him sometimes there is something special at the end of the movie for those who stay and watch all the credits (and there was, thank goodness).

And we laughed. We laughed and laughed and laughed. E. laughed so hard and for so long that other mothers around us stopped watching the movie and were just laughing listening to his joy.

It was a perfect first movie. Very very gentle (only a couple of points where E. became worried) and lots in there for the adults.

We came out of the theatre into the oven of hot air that is late summer in my city, blinking at the sudden onslaught of the sun.

“That was so much fun!” said E.

Yes. Yes it was.

What is your favourite movie memory as a child?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.


Filed under Blink and you'll miss it, E.- the fifth year, Microblog Mondays, Three's Company

Just Say Yes

I know I’ve been really quiet lately. Partly it’s because it’s summer here and E. skips his quiet time quite a lot so we can go out and enjoy the sunshine. Partly it’s because I’ve been working on job applications and my parent job for the nursery school (I left all the work I had to do until the end of the year and then had to really put some time into it in the last couple of weeks).

Mostly, though, I think it’s because I’m still where I was two, four, six months ago, and I don’t feel like repeating myself over and over again. I have enough of that in my own head.

I’m getting close to the point where I’m supposed to go back to the clinic to set up the timings for an IVF cycle in August, and I am still evenly balanced.

I want to go in.

I don’t want to ever go back.

I want a second child.

I want our life as it is to continue.

I really thought by now things would be clearer to me, but they are still as clear as mud.

Here’s a really interesting ad for a full-time, permanent position in the field I think I’d really like at the university where I could actually commute to it and still drop E. off at school.


Here’s the chair of my department, wanting to know if I want to teach an online course for them next summer. Oh, wait, now it’s two online courses. Two full-year courses, taught in a compressed fashion.


Here are all my pills and supplements that I have to take every day, and all the protein that I have to eat, if I am going to give another IVF cycle its best possible chance.


I say yes to everything, to every opportunity, to every possible future, because we’re not yet at the point where I have to say no. I don’t have to narrow yet. I don’t have that job. The online teaching is a year away. I may not go back to the clinic, but maybe I will.

At the same time, keeping all the options open is in itself exhausting. Who am I going to be next year? Will I start a career? Will I do sessional teaching as a job to stay flexible for E.? Will I get the job AND do the online teaching, because it would be utter madness to not get myself entrenched with online courses, even though that would make for a crazy few months? Will I do the online teaching AND have a baby at the same time? Also crazy in the short-term, but a decision that would make sense long-term.

About the only thing I know is I’m not going back to the clinic in August if I get the full-time job and it starts in August because I wouldn’t have the time.

Every day, I choose not to choose yet, because I don’t have to.

One of these days, not choosing is going to be too exhausting.

One of these days, something will become clear, whether it’s my employment options for next year, or how I feel about the clinic, or all of the above.

But it’s not today.


Filed under (Pre)School Days, A (Good) Day's Work, Anxiety Overload, Life after the PhD, Second Thoughts, Three's Company

Let it go

At the end of January, E. and I ran into one of our neighbours on the streetcar.

She was heavily pregnant, and I remembered that her first was still pretty young (under 18 months), so I spontaneously blurted out, “This might be a completely random question, but do you need a second crib?”

She was confused at first. I don’t think she quite remembered who I was or where I lived (three houses down).

Eventually she explained that they had moved their daughter out of her crib and that seemed to be working out, so she thought they’d be ok.

A couple of weeks ago I saw her out walking with her husband, her daughter and her brand new, teeny tiny son.

I said congratulations, admired the baby, asked how everyone was doing (“Great!” she said, “Except we’re getting absolutely no sleep”), and then continued on to the library with E.

She turned up on my doorstep yesterday afternoon.

“Do you still have that crib?” she asked.

She looked exhausted.

Apparently the baby is up for three hours at a time and the toddler is up for three hours at a time and no one is getting any sleep and she and her husband are both going crazy.

I gave her the crib, the mattress, the crib sheets, the instructions, everything.

She wanted to pay me.

I told her I just wanted to know that the crib would be used again.

It was too lovely to sit gathering dust.

It felt so GOOD to give it to her.

It wasn’t bittersweet at all. It was a relief.

The house feels lighter now.


Filed under Friends, Second Thoughts, Three's Company

One thing leads to another (or does it)

I did two things yesterday that may or may not prove to be related.

I made a phone call to my clinic and left a message asking if I could switch my primary care provider from Dr. L. to Dr. B.

And I did our taxes.

We knew we were going to get a decent refund this year. Q. was on overload last year and they messed up the payments, so he ended up getting the extra pay in one lump in January 2014 and was taxed too much as a result. We had medical expenses. RRSP deductions. Tuition credit transfers. Daycare costs. Plus the new family tax credit, which we could take full advantage of given I had such a low income last year (that was the painful part of doing our taxes: realizing I made TEN percent of Q’s gross salary last year. Ouch. I need a job.).

The final number was very positive.

IF we decide to do it, one final IVF cycle is manageable. We won’t have to draw on long-term savings. And we won’t exhaust our short-term savings to the point that I’ll lose sleep over it.

So the door is open if we want to walk through.

My clinic called me back that same day. Dr. B. is happy to have us.

I booked a follow up appointment for the first of April.

I will make very clear to him what our stance is.

We are not committed to trying again.

We want someone to look at our chart and our history and give us an honest assessment of where we stand.

Dr. L. is too optimistic. He’s not interested in giving his patients statistics or hard answers. And after his emotionally manipulative tricks during our last meeting with him, I will never work with him again.

Dr. B. is different. I’ve watched him in the clinic. He runs on time. He doesn’t disappear at random intervals and throw his entire schedule into disarray. He has online reviews where people complain about his lack of bedside manner in that he didn’t pull punches and gave them hard truths that they didn’t want to hear.

I told the secretary we felt it was time for a fresh set of eyes.

If Dr. B. is willing to give us our sober second opinion, we’re willing to hear it.

We may not act on it. I’m still fluctuating wildly between desperately wanting to have a second child and being perfectly content with what I have already. I spend one night googling “five year age gap between children” which makes me want to have a second and the next googling “stopping at one child” which makes me want to just move on and be happy. The pendulum swings daily, sometimes multiple times a day, and I am no closer to recognizing which side it seems to be settling on.

But we’ll see what he has to say. And if he’s anything like Dr. L., we’re done. If he recommends to us that we go home and love the child that we do have and stop trying to have any more, we’re done. If he has a treatment plan and clear, specific reasons for why he thinks it might work, we’ll see.


Filed under Lonely Onlies?, Money Matters, Second Thoughts, Three's Company

How do you measure a year in the life?

Yesterday was a year since it happened.

I didn’t realize it until the late afternoon, when E. and I were walking to swimming and he was telling me about the Valentine’s Day breakfast he was going to make, and I suddenly remembered where I had been the day before Valentine’s Day last year.

I was sad, for a moment. But it passed.

I am healing.

I will measure this year in love, not loss.

Breakfast, made by E.

Breakfast, made by E.



Filed under 2.0 Pregnancy, Grief, Loss, Three's Company


I have an aunt and uncle.

They have a son, like we do.

Their son is an only, like E. is.

That their son is an only was their choice, unlike us. I once asked my aunt about it, back in the winter, after we’d lost the baby, and she told me that she had been worried about her career. She had seen first-hand what could happen to a woman when something happened to her husband and she had no career to fall back on. She didn’t want that to happen to her.

So they have only one child.

They are in their mid-fifties now.

Their son has finished his undergraduate degree and has found a job that he enjoys.

He just moved in with his girlfriend. My aunt and uncle helped them set up their new place.

My aunt and uncle built interesting careers. My aunt is retired now. My uncle isn’t quite ready to go.

They travel to interesting places.

They have hobbies.

They take good care of themselves.

They make time for each other.

They are smart and funny and joyous.

They don’t look like they feel they’re living a second-best existence.

They don’t look like they feel that something or someone is missing from their family.

They look, not to put too fine a point on it, like they are having an absolute blast.

I looked at them this Christmas and thought, They could be US.

And that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.



Filed under Family, Lonely Onlies?, Second Thoughts, Three's Company


I’m not normally one for New Year’s resolutions.

Partly I don’t like to paint myself into a corner.

Mostly, though, it’s related to my ambivalence towards the whole New Year thing generally.

MY new year has always, always started in September, when the new school year begins. I said this about it, back in September 2009:

First up, a confession. I LOVE September. I love the crispness in the air that comes at the end of the month, and the long, languid, golden twilights that come before in the Indian summer. I love the first blush of bronze and russet on the trees. I love that it is the start of a new year for me. Logically, I know that the calendar turns over in January. But my life is tied to the waxing and waning of the school year. Case in point: since I first started kindergarten, there has been exactly ONE September where I wasn’t in school, either as a student, as a teacher, or both.

September 2014 was different.

I wasn’t teaching.

I was technically still a student, but I was just about to submit the final copy of my dissertation, so I had no reason to be on campus.

We didn’t have the baby who was supposed to be due that month.

It didn’t feel like a new beginning.

Which makes me wonder if maybe this new year will be different.

2014 was, after all, a year of endings for me.

Maybe 2015 will be a fresh start.

I’m still not making resolutions.

I don’t want to paint myself into a corner, and I don’t yet have any idea where my life is now going.

But I am resolved to try to grow comfortable with that uncertainty, to sit with it, to embrace it.

I am resolved not to rush into a job.

I am resolved to enjoy this time with my son.

By September, when E. starts JK, I want to have found some sort of paid employment that I can do during school hours.

I am hoping to have some idea of what I might like to do on a more full-time basis when he gets a bit older.

I have some ideas already, of course, but they are still only half-formed.

I have a lot of freedom.

It’s not as scary as it was a couple of months ago.

So. If 2014 was a year of endings, may 2015 be a year of exploration.

And maybe, just maybe, acceptance.


Filed under A (Good) Day's Work, Anxiety Overload, Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), Life after the PhD, Three's Company, Who am I really? (Career Angst)

Adding insult to injury

A letter from my clinic turned up in the mail yesterday.

It had an invoice in it. For embryo storage fees for the coming year.

You know, for the ONE embryo that we had frozen that we thawed and transferred back in OCTOBER.

I called the number given (which was for the business office) and left a pretty testy message on the woman’s voicemail. Because it is NOT OK to not be able to correctly identify which patients still have frozen embryos and which ones don’t. And the last thing I need right now is a reminder that we only had one frozen embryo, and we gave it a chance, and it didn’t work.


I want to say thank you to everyone who got angry on my behalf when I wrote about our follow up.

I wish now I’d had the presence of mind to call out the ultrasound tech/clinic manager when she was pressuring us to continue, or that I’d told my doctor I didn’t appreciate his guilt trip. But at the time I was so anxious and miserable and sad I wasn’t able to process things very well.

It helps, in a way. This letter does too.

Sometimes you need incentive to end a relationship.

I don’t feel good about my relationship with my clinic any more.

I am grateful for E.

But I don’t like how I feel when I’m there, and I don’t like how they treat me.

It makes it easier to walk away.

I don’t (if I am being honest) really want to.

But I recognize that I need to.


Filed under Anxiety Overload, Cycle Madness, Three's Company

It’s the most miserable time of the year

I’m depressed.

Not clinically, at least, not yet. But I’m definitely in a major slump. I’m crying a lot and sleeping a lot and I feel tired all the time. Everything exhausts me.

Part of it is weather-related, because this time of year is always so dark and cold, and even though it’s not all that cold right now, it is so dark for so long.

Part of it is lack of exercise because I stopped running during the tww in our last FET and then didn’t start up again because (see above) it was cold and dark in the mornings and E. started waking up unpredictably early.

Part of it is Christmas burnout. This is the first year I have really, really not wanted to be buying presents. It’s just felt overwhelming. Q. and I have decided to do “presence, not presents”, so we’re each in charge of organizing six dates over the the course of 2015, which I’m excited about. I’m also in discussions with my family to stop gift exchanging (other than for E. of course). Anything we really want/need we can afford to buy ourselves, and I’m so tired of buying stuff to give to people because they’re going to buy stuff to give to us. We have so much. Too much, really.

Part of it is trying to engage with the end of treatments. Today I packed up a duffel bag of clothes and three bags of books and toys for the son of a very dear friend from high school (we’re going to see them over the holidays). I felt both happy and relieved to be able to give them these things and heart-broken that we were able to give them away because we were never going to need them ourselves.

Part of it, a big part, is missing the little person who was supposed to be here but isn’t.

And part of it is finishing the PhD. I didn’t think this was going to affect me as much as it has- I handed in the final draft of the dissertation in early October and I didn’t touch it again until December, so I thought I’d had a break from it. But I was clearly still focusing on it, even unconsciously, because ever since the defence (and the celebratory party the day afterwards), I’ve been out of sorts.

I haven’t googled it, but I would bet money that feeling depressed after finishing a PhD is completely normal and probably expected. After all, I’ve spent the past six years working on it.  It’s not helped by the fact that I’m not starting a new job immediately afterwards. I’m still figuring out what I want to do and what will work with our family. So there’s a lot of uncertainty and not a lot of answers right now. I know that will change, but the here and now is a challenge.

I’ve been trying to push everything down until after Christmas, but it’s not really working. So, as of today, I’m trying something new: acknowledging that this probably won’t be my best Christmas, but there will be other years ahead when I won’t feel this way. I’m giving myself permission to grieve, to mourn, to feel adrift. It is a year of endings, after all.

And now that I’ve dumped out how I’m feeling, I’m going to turn off the computer and go for a run while the sun is still shining.


Filed under Anxiety Overload, Friends, Grief, Life after the PhD, Loss, Mirror, Mirror (Body Image), My addled brain, PhD, Running, Second Thoughts, Sleep, Three's Company