Sunday, 28 October 2018

AJ is turning 4

I don’t write much about AJ anymore, because she is more an independent human and I want to respect her privacy. But she’s turning 4 in a few hours and it kinda boggles my mind. I want to capture this moment.

This time 4 years ago I was lying in bed at the hospital, sort of asleep, listening to Moya Brennan and the heartbeat monitor. I had an epidural placed so I was not in much discomfort. But I had been in labour so long I almost couldn’t picture actually having a baby anymore.

Today, AJ alternates between her interests in princesses and dinosaurs. She also likes superheroes. Mr Turtle showed her The Tick, a silly cartoon series from his childhood. She asks him to make up stories about the characters before bedtime. El Seed, a giant animate sunflower, is her favourite villain. We have also read Alice in Wonderland together and reread chapters regularly. 

AJ loves to help in the kitchen. She helped rake leaves today (and played in them.) She is independent and imaginative. Sometimes her stories take a rather macabre turn. She talks about death at times. Someone called Bony Girl came to her in a dream once. Bony Girl is a skeleton and has issues such as her bones falling off when she uses the toilet. We haven’t tried to hide the truth about human mortality from her. Maybe this is partly why she is so open about these musings. Usually they don’t upset her. 

AJ usually adores her baby sister and gives her cuddles. Dani adores her right back. She also has a few friends mostly from her daycare. Some of the parents I know; others I will meet at her 4th birthday party this weekend. It is almost organized despite my anxiety about such things. I chose to have it away from home this time so the kids can play and I can return to my somewhat quiet house afterwards.

Tonight before bed AJ asked to wear her Frozen pyjamas which are a tad too big. “I don’t want to get squished in the night,” she told us. This statement puzzled me until I realized she believes she is going to grow a lot tonight. She had been saying the pyjamas would fit her when she was four so she figured this would happen overnight, I guess. 

I explained she will be roughly the same size tomorrow. Thank goodness. But I know she will grow fast enough.

I also think about the difficult weeks in February 2014 when I was bleeding and thought I was miscarrying my surprising pregnancy. Those were the saddest and most devastating hours of my life. Even though it all turned out fine in the end. Somehow the happy ending and the pain and grief feel like separate experiences. Oddly as time goes by the memory seems even sadder to think of, because if I had lost her, I cannot pretend it would not be a big deal. 

But AJ is here. And while I call my pregnancies lucky, there is nothing coincidental about them. AJ and Dani are here because they are meant to be. They are both mystery and revelation.

Happy 4th birthday my big girl. 




Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Dani 8 months and sundry life business

Fall came quickly this year, and apparently, winter even quicker.



I’m getting ready for AJ’s birthday at the end of the month but looking outside it might as well be time for Dani’s January birthday.

I’m hoping that snow melts but sheesh there is already a lot of it.

All about Dani:
  • Two teeth showing.
  • Wearing 12 month clothes.
  • Almost, almost crawling. Any day now and she will be off.
  • Eats everything. We are giving her meat more than we did with AJ. She either likes it better or we’ve gotten better at preparing it.
  • Full of smiles and joyful giggles. AJ’s laugh has remained much the same from her baby days, even while much has changed, so I’m hoping Dani’s laugh is a piece of her we will always have. 
  • I realize I don’t clearly remember AJ as a baby. I have photos and videos of course and I recall some details but I don’t have the visceral memories. It makes me kind of sad, thinking that I will likely one day forget what Dani is like. Right now it’s so real, but one day....I am trying hard to take in this precious time.
  • Still a good sleeper so far. There are exceptions but overall we are lucky again.
AJ continues to be a great big sister and a fun (mostly) four year old. She is getting more and more independent and finding ways to assert individuality. The one that drives me the most crazy right now is her pickiness about her clothes. I don’t buy her anything without having her approve it but even when she says she likes something she can change her mind the next day and refuse to wear it. 

On the other hand she is now mostly independent with all aspects of toileting and us learning to wash her own hair. She has a wonderful imagination and occupies herself for hours with pretend play. She gets along  with other children too for the most part, although there has been some conflicts with friends/not-friends at daycare (she goes 2 days a week). 

And I get to plan the birthday party again this month which I dislike as much as ever.  I feel like it will just get more complicated as the children get older and my social skills and standing are also up for judgment, a feeling I loathe. Oh well. I hope like last year it is less a big deal than I make it out to be in my head.

I am starting to look at and think about options in my career (part time? Job share?) I want to gather information. I don’t know what I will decide yet. It’s uncomfortable to consider change and I want to procrastinate but I know change is inevitable and I either wait for it to overtake me or try to embrace it and tinker with it to get the best possible outcome. Part of me would like to linger in this magical space forever but I know that’s not an option. 

Still undecided too is what school AJ will go to for kindergarten but it is possible one of her good friends (the son of my closest friend atm) will go to the same school also next year. Childcare is also a huge uncertain decision. Right now I’m just trying to figure out what’s out there and possible. It’s so much more complicated than just regular daycare, I feel. 

I could go on but Dani is sleeping in my lap and I should transfer her to crib. And put on a podcast to grow my brain. And stop playing with my phone. Life is good. We are going to the States for a couple of weeks this month so that presents a non existential challenge to prepare for which should be quite fun.





A lovely fall walk from before winter hit: 




Saturday, 1 September 2018

Dani 7 months

August went by even faster than July it seems.

Yesterday was Dani’s 7 month birthday. We are currently on a short vacation here:



That’s the scenery on a walk I took anyway: we are staying in the city

Another view from our drive today:




Highlights of month 7:

  • Babbling: ma-ma-ma-ma, ga-ga-ga-ga, bla-bla-bla-bla
  • Eating 3 meals of mush a day and sometimes things like yoghurt that are baby friendly. And ice cream on occasion. We enjoy life. She eats basically everything; I think she’s been unenthusiastic about food once. Today she ate a whole jar of beef and I gave a few bites of mug brownie after (AJ makes them with me.). That made her so happy; she was so excited about life for the remainder of the evening.
  • Breastfeeds regularly
  • ***UPDATE BREAKING NEWS*** we have a lower front tooth finally showing!
  • Starting to sit unsupported (well, less supported)
  • Rolling back to front and front to back. Not exactly crawling but she doesn’t stay in one place anymore: can cover quite a bit of ground just squirming and rolling
  • Sleeping well: wakes at night once intermittently. We finally made the transition from co sleeper to crib and yes I’m doing ok, thanks.
  • Not going back to school for the first time in 10 years. Mixed feelings but mostly gratitude that I have this precious time with family. I can’t help but think ahead to next year though and all the transitions that will be happening then. It does make me even more appreciative of each day and moment.
First passport! 

Drinking boob milk and playing with my shirt. So much baby love.




Tuesday, 31 July 2018

6 months: half year birthday

I’ve now had a baby for 6 months and I get another 6 months with a baby until she turns into a toddler. It’s a bit sad how fast time is going.

But not really. Because she is after all the cutest embodiment of passing time.



14.5 pounds. Length, I dunno. Long.

Sits with support, rocks herself back and forth, rolls from back to tummy. Has rolled a couple of times tummy to back.

Pushes all the way up to her hands and turns her body around, though not crawling yet.

Likes to play with her feet, especially games of footsie with big sister. Very wiggly toes.

Squealing and giggling, especially at big sister. Loves to raspberry and laughs when other people do it.

Eating, eating eating. We started purées this month and Dani loooooooves them. She has eaten everything we have given her. She particularly likes a creation of her daddy’s: chicken, apple, prune and pear. We make our own baby food and use the packaged stuff if we are going somewhere.

We started offering formula only when I am away from her (eg date night) and grandparents are taking care of her. Pumping breastmilk was getting more and more onerous and I wasn’t getting enough. We figured she would drink formula as she eats and drinks anything. We were right. But otherwise still breastfeeding. 

Still self soothes by sucking thumb.

Mostly a good sleeper. Early riser (between 6 and 7) with sometimes a night time feeding.

Still incredibly snuggly and cuddly and huggable. 

AJ is still a loving and attentive big sister. And mostly considerate. We have talked on occasion about how she can’t just take toys away from Dani when she feels like it. One day Dani will be big enough to say no and be annoyed about it.

Still doing lots of family stuff and hanging out with other families a fair bit. The summer continues to be awesome; I just can’t believe it’s going to be August already.

Cuteness you can almost taste:








Monday, 23 July 2018

Microblog Mondays: torthúil reads

A few weeks ago I started a new writing/reading project: Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. I’m currently on chapter 4. It’s a difficult book, as it tackles the heavy topic of why humans would do some of the most evil actions recorded in history, and not just a few humans, but most people in a society.  I decided to start a new blog where I would record my observations and thoughts as I read. So far I am writing something resembling a personal essay for every chapter, which has slowed down the reading pace even more. However, it has helped me recall and process what I read. I like this. I have the sort of brain that quickly grasps the bigger picture but forgets details. I’m the person who says: “I read this interesting story about....but sorry I can’t remember the names or the dates or where it happened! You’ll have to google that....but here’s what I learned!” Writing as I read helps me to not forget so fast.

My new blog is torthúil reads. I write about my reasons for undertaking The Gulag Archipelago here. I’ve written about chapters 1-3 so far. In my ideal world, a few people will read along with me (reading the book as well would be stellar, but I try to make the blog entries readable even if you’ve never read Gulag Archipelago). However, I’m committed to this even if it’s just me: that is part of the challenge. I want to increase my confidence and ability to write about difficult material. If anyone else does read, I'd be interested in 1) For people who have read GA: how your impressions about the book are similar or different from mine, and whether similar or different parts of the book made an impression on you. 2) for people who haven't read GA, I'd be interested in your reactions to the sections of the book I discuss (I quote extensively. Sometimes it's hard not to copy large sections of each chapter because I can't believe what I just read.)

Here’s an excerpt from my entry on the first chapter, "Arrest":

The first theme of chapter one is the shock and outrage of arrest. The moment of arrest is a life crisis where it appears that everything you once believed is wrong.
“The Universe has many different centres as there are living beings in it. Each of us is a centre of the Universe, and that Universe is shattered when they hiss at you: ‘You are under arrest!’
“If you are arrested, can anything else remain unshattered by this cataclysm?
But the darkened mind is incapable of embracing these displacements in our universe, and both the most sophisticated and the veriest simpleton among us, drawing on all life’s experiences, can gasp out only: ‘Me? What for?’
And this is a question which,though repeated millions and millions of times before, has yet to receive an answer.
Arrest is an instantaneous, shattering thrust, expulsion, somersault from one state to another.” (Pages 3-4)
I suspect one reason I did not make progress with GA when I was younger was because I did not have personal experience of the feeling Solzhenitsyn is talking about. I had not had my assumed reality and expectations shattered; I had not been thrust from one state into another. Life was still very safe and predictable. This of course changes in most people’s lives as they grow older. Apart from arrest in a totalitarian state, some analogous experiences might be diagnosis with a serious illness (self or loved one), being a crime victim, a severe accident or injury.  In my case I think being told we might never be able to have children was my most profound displacement. It altered all my assumptions and how I saw my place in society. (Chapter 1, Arrest)

 Back to Microblog Mondays

Saturday, 7 July 2018

5 going on 6 months

Hey, I was doing well there with regular blogging for a while! Then summer happened apparently.

It’s kind of amusing to write these baby updates as they parallel AJ’s so closely. I could practically copy AJ’s except that Dani is meeting her physical milestones about a month sooner.

Dani was 5 months old at the end of June.



  • Sitting and “standing” with support
  • Rolling rolling rolling...from back to tummy. Not from tummy to back yet, so she often gets frustrated. She rolls, squawks about it, we roll her back; anywhere from 20 seconds to two minutes later she’s rolled again. Aaaaaand repeat.
  • Laughs, at mom and dad but especially at big sister
  • Likes mobiles, and immediately perks up when I play them on her mat or crib
  • Still likes the mechanical swing. And it gives me a break when she’s rolled and cried for the 100th time
  • No visual evidence of teeth yet....but tons of drool, and sometimes a pricking sensation on my breast
  • We started solids a bit earlier this time because she was showing interest. Dani was very excited to try avocado mixed with breast milk.



  • Going to move to crib...any day now
  • Squeals loudly for attention and to be part of group. Loves giggling and interacting with her sister
  • Generally social and likes attention
  • At vaccine appt, 14lbs l oz
  • Wearing 6-9 month clothing
  • Still likes baths
  • Usually good sleeper, sometimes early wakes
  • Curious about movies
  • Sucks thumb and everything else including toes
  • First family vacation went well. We did a road trip to see Mr Turtle’s convocation ceremony and then spent a few days in the city where he grew up. Nothing overly ambitious but we enjoyed ourselves and family outings to malls, zoo, parks, historical parks etc. 
We are enjoying the summer a lot. Activities include:
  • Fairly frequent play dates with community playgroup and a family or two that I am friends with. A happy synchronicity happened with my fellow infertile friend from AJ’s daycare, in that we had babies within a few months of each other. So both being on mat leave now we can do things together
  • AJ is taking swim lessons and doing great 
  • I completed my stroller -cize class and planning to take again. Also doing some drop in ballet barre classses. Hoping to shake a few pounds off my belly and hips and thighs and improve fitness. I figure I should get as fit as I can before 40 as I imagine it becomes a war of attrition at some point after that
  • Family outings to zoo, playgrounds, kid themed areas etc
  • Quite a bit of time with grandparents

....so life is good. I have started a new reading blog, and I’ll link to it in a bit. The first book I picked is super tough (Gulag Archipelago) and I’m blogging about every chapter. But I’m enjoying the challenge to write about a different topic. I’m making myself get through at least 3 chapters before sharing it (although you can find the link by going to my blogger profile).  I want to know I can carry on under my own steam so if nobody actually reads it I don’t feel discouraged.

Enjoy the summer and this precious unique moment...happiness and joy to all...

Monday, 4 June 2018

5 years reflections: resolving

So, I’ve been struggling a little with “being resolved”. Even though I feel for all practical purposes that we are resolved, as in, finished having kids. But it sounds so....one directional. So wrapped up and tidy. And I don’t feel especially tidy or like I have a direction. I’m dealing with a healthy amount of internal chaos, although it feels like purposeful chaos. It occurs to me that I like the continuous present tense better: “I am resolving.” Also there’s an incompleteness to the statement: resolving to do what? Indeed!

As I move toward the next phase in our lives, I’ve found the best way, at least right now, to resolve is to embrace being complicated. And to recognize that there are multiple layers to resolution, and I’m going to have to deal with them a few at a time. 

Where I’m at:

The family discussion: Mr Turtle says he feels very fortunate to have two children, and I can’t say I disagree. We also talked about permanent birth control, and he volunteered to be the one to have a procedure....which filled me with a surprising feeling of relief. Although we went through infertility together, I feel like most of the drama was enacted on and in my body. Even though I was extremely lucky in many ways, it was still a physical and psychological burden. To consider putting hormones in my body (nope nope nope), foreign objects (ugh, not really appealing) or surgery (not wild about that either) feels like an additional burden. For Mr Turtle to offer to take responsibility for this piece, without being asked....it is an act of great kindness and generosity, and I didn’t understand what it meant to me till it was offered.

I don’t know when a procedure actually happen, and we need to have more conversations, because the emotional piece is still complicated for me. But I think what I need most is to acknowledge it, and to work through it. I don’t need to be frozen in time. I can act like I know what I’m doing, even if I don’t, all the time.

Blogging and related commitments: I like torthuil. Writing about my experiences and inner world during infertility struggles helped make it manageable. The connections I made with this blog kept me above water many times. At the same time, I feel like I need to grow away from anonymous confessional blogging. I started blogging here because what I was doing (journaling) wasn’t answering my need. And I’m starting to feel that way again. Although I don’t want to shut down torthuil either, if for no other reason that its existence gives me perspective by providing contrast.

What will I write, in what context or community? Not sure, but it will involve writing a new life into reality. Much the way torthuil did. When I started blogging, I was facing the unknown, unsure if we would ever have children, questions of science and ethics and relationships and personal limits swirling around me. Now these questions have been answered, as well as I’m ever going to be able to answer them. It’s time to look for new questions.

With that in mind:
  • I’ll continue to write here. I’ll probably move the pages and template around a little. But all the content will stay up for now. I am not sure why, but it still feels necessary to have my story out there, in public, accessible. I don’t care about having a ton of readers (I value those I have) and I don’t even know if I have a point in writing. But visibility is a risk and....I need to take that risk. I need putting my words down to be an act of courage. 
  • I will no longer actively follow trying to conceive blogs. It’s not my pressing issue anymore and I need to step away. With the following exceptions: the blogs I already follow, anyone who reaches out to me, and anyone I get interested in just because I do. I can’t not read an interesting story. 
  • I’m going to start thinking more deliberately about what I want the rest of my life to look like. Miracle babies and all! It’s discombobulating to realize The Rest Of Life doesn’t have to take second priority to getting pregnant. Wonder of wonders. I can actually think of something else.
The possibilities are just starting to occur to me.

******
Addendum:
Shortly after I wrote the notes above, I had an interesting dream. I was in the deep water playing on a sort of raft or surfboard. For some reason I had personal possessions with me that were valuable, including a journal. These possessions kept falling off the raft, but I didn’t feel a deep sense of loss until the journal was lost in the depths. And I wasn’t sure what was written in it, even, but I thought it contained memories of our early marriage. However upset as I was, it never occurred to me to stop playing in the water. Rather I left behind the raft and all the stuff I had with me and started taking these huge bouncy leaps through in the water, as if I had a giant pogo stick. I suddenly found the ability to jump high in the air and go farther and deeper than I ever had. And there was a group of people somewhere in the distance, who were saying: you can come join us. I don’t know who exactly they were, but it was easier to join them now that I was free of the raft.

*****