Friday, 28 June 2019

Expansion

On Friday I went to my school for the end of year goodbye breakfast: the school I started at in 2015, that lovely yet heartbreaking year where I grew into my mother role, started a new job, and witnessed my father’s ultimately fatal illness.

I will be starting at a new school when I return to work in the fall. The reasons are similar to 2015 too: due to changing enrolments, budget issues, and who knows what else, special Ed programs are periodically reduced or expanded in size, and teachers moved around. I am lucky to have a permanent contract where I am placed in  a new job when this happens, even coming off of an extended leave. Lots of teachers (and students) deal with far more uncertainty.

Despite the fact that I once again have a transition on top of a transition to negotiate, I am quite happy about this new start: in fact I’d say mostly happy.

My experience at, we’ll call it Second High School, was mostly good. It would certainly be a stretch to call it bad. But it was marred to some degree by something I can best describe with that vague, angst inducing phrase from my childhood: I didn’t quite fit in. And for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to entirely overcome this issue. It grew (in cycles) from a feeling of awkwardness to something that stunted professional relationships. Why couldn’t I deal with it? Was it reduced IQ from parenthood? Too many demands on my social awareness? Unease from my changing life roles? Simple exhaustion? Not the work culture I thrive in? A mismatch of values at some subterranean level? I’ve thought about it, a lot, often with a feeling of shame and inadequacy, and I can think of possible reasons why but I don’t exactly know, and maybe I won’t know till there is more distance from the environment.

Anyway, I am glad I went on the last day to see people one last time (odds are we will run into each other in other places too), and I was genuinely moved by the little goodbye speech my closest teaching colleague made: it had personal anecdotes and observations and was genuinely warm and funny. I am looking forward to the new adventure in the fall: also special ed, but a different program, different ages. I have a clearer mental map of what starting a new job is like after my first experience, and I intend to pay closer attention to the social aspect of the job. I also think I’m a more stable person now than I was four years ago and I have a better support network myself.

The other reason I’m relieved to not go back to Second High School is that the place is saturated with memories of trying to get pregnant with a second child (and later being pregnant). No, we weren’t having sex there, haha, but there are plenty of other associations apparently.

In no particular order:

-Peeing on an OPK during our short lunch break, then wrapping it in paper towel and trying to place it horizontal in my pocket, while eating my lunch or rushing off to debate club or whatever. Finding a surreptitious moment to check it later (and photograph if it was a promising one). Always afraid I’d leave the damn thing somewhere or it would be visible in the wastebasket and somebody would think it was a positive pregnancy test. 

-explaining my increased nausea and moodiness on Clomid to my EAs

-Swallowing my collection of vitamins and supplements at lunchtime. This might not sound like a big deal but I frequently struggle with eating a decent meal when I’m anxious, and adding a bunch of pills in addition to food can feel really gross and gag inducing.

-When pregnancy finally happened: the frantic effort to balance nausea, anxiety, appointments and emotions with teaching, planning, sub planning, offsite activities, individual program plan writing, report cards, early morning meeting (yecch!). I was extremely lucky in this regard: everyone was VERY supportive. But, it was effort that took me to the limit, nonetheless.

-taking blood draws later in pregnancy when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and working this ritual behaviour into all the other ritual behaviours that one has as a teacher.

-this one was outside of school but deserves a mention: finishing my IPP updates  in the hospital while waiting for my second ECV procedure (to turn the breech baby head down: it ultimately was unsuccesssful of course).

-finally, this is one of the most vivid: alone in the staffroom, a couple of weeks before due date, filling in the form requesting my leave of absence. That feeling of relief mixed with nervous urgency and the realization I’d almost forgotten to do it with everything else on my mind. But the silence, the stillness, the reality pushing through the unreality (and the memories of lunchtime OPKs and gaggy pills) that THIS WAS HAPPENING. 

I realized the weird power of association last Christmas when I went to visit to the school and my former class. I walked in the door and was overwhelmed by a sense of I NEED TO GET PREGNANT NOW. I am not 100% reconciled to the end of my reproductive years, but I do NOT typically fantasize about being pregnant or even think much about it, and I have ZERO desire to resume the trying-to-conceive lifestyle. I ooh and aah appropriately at teeny babies but easily move on. So the broadside of emotion was a shock. I can only conclude that the environment triggered a whole bunch of very powerful mental associations that were going mercifully dormant and perhaps slowly disintegrating. I am not kidding; that experience was causing me to dread returning to that school this fall. I am more than a little relieved I don’t need to be buffeted by those memories in addition to all the demands of teaching.

I could go on and on, but as I mentally adjust I find myself grateful for closure, and ready for the next adventure. I am ready for my life to EXPAND, which is why I chose the title of this post rather than all the cliches about change I could have written. 

Onward.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Dani 15 months, AJ four years, life now

Why not, another random update.

Dani at 15 months:

-walking, sometimes almost running
-climbs on everything
-bumps her head a lot 
-words most often heard: “kitty” (means anything with a....face?) and “mama” (refers to a dress of AJ’s made out of very soft fabric which is her favourite comfort object. Sometimes refers to me.)
-other words heard occasionally: monkey, banana, blanket, ball, puppy, dad. Animal sounds: meow, rawr, ruff, hisss, moo.
-eats with a spoon fairly successfully. Likes to feed other people.
-drinks from a straw and an open cup, but will fling her drink given the chance
Likes:
-Going through her clothes. Sometimes expresses a preference what she wants to wear.  Trying on everyone’s shoes. Putting on necklaces and bracelets
-playing with dirt. Likes to taste
-scribbling with sidewalk chalk
-picking up tiny treasures outside and in, always the stuff she shouldn’t have 
-playing games with people: peekaboo, hiding objects
-passing a ball back and forth or kicking a ball.
-swinging and bouncing
Happy noises: whee, whee and maniacal laughter (she has my laugh I think: “H-hnh H-hnh H-hnh!). Sometimes starts chortling  with laughter right when she is supposed to be going to sleep
Loves: big sister, big sisters clothes and toys, taking everything out of drawers. 
Music. Always tries to play the piano beside AJ. Tries to play the recorder and harmonica (she makes sounds)
Smiling and making friends.

Definitely one of the sillier and more amazing people I have known.



We are enjoying life in the spring. Lots of time outside. I have applied to go back to work full time in September (I am on an extended leave). I think about it a lot but so far not with too much anxiety, just nervous about how busy it will be. I don’t know for sure if I will go back to the same job, but haven’t heard otherwise.

Childcare for both kids is decided and kindergarten orientation for AJ is later this month. She is so excited to go. We have been doing a lot of activities the last few months: yoga, music, swimming, ballet and for the most part she is very excited to learn new skills and it’s fun to watch. She is also starting to learn what it feels like to be frustrated and have difficulty and not meet her own expectations, which can be painful to watch especially since I have perfectionist qualities. But it is not overwhelming I think and I remind myself it is not my job to protect her from those tough feelings but to teach her to understand them. It is an interesting challenge to do that.  Parenting can be very humbling. I knew already that teaching requires me to be introspective and face up to my fears and flaws and it is similar with little kids. 

Enjoying the adventure, and these rare moments of stillness haha.


Thursday, 4 April 2019

Infertile filters

So part of why I’m not around the blog world much is that I want to desensitize myself to stimuli that tend to bother people who are actively trying and struggling to have a child: words, stories, other people’s beliefs and actions, all of it.  I want to reprogram my brain, basically, and a lot of that is distance and critical thinking, and not feeding the mental feedback loops. 

Sometimes though, I can’t help my reaction and I thought this case was mostly funny.

I got an email from our local zoo:

We can BEARly contain our excitement! 

As valued members, we wanted to bring you this exciting news first!

Adult female panda, Er Shun, was artificially inseminated yesterday as part of a planned collaborative breeding program! Pandas only ovulate for up to three days out of the year, making breeding for this vulnerable species extremely tricky. 

In mid-March, Er Shun entered her breeding cycle and the animal care team had been monitoring her hormone levels daily, waiting for the precise time to artificially inseminate her with the help of a specialist from China.​ The success of the procedure will be confirmed by ultrasound and could take several weeks since pandas experience embryonic diapause – delayed implantation in the uterus. Er Shun is being cared for by a comprehensive team in her custom den in Panda Passage’s back of house area. ​(there’s a video of the procedure if you are curious).

First thought: Why are you sharing this she hadn’t even taken a pregnancy test!

Oh right it’s a panda bear, moving on.....

Best of luck to Er Shun and all involved.


Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Dani at one (plus)

All about Dani at one (well almost 14 months now)

Words: kitt-eeeee! Refers to cats but also any fuzzy object or anything she likes, really. “Mee-yow!” Because mom is silly and meows at her. Dani will also say “kitty” if I say “meow.” Tried to get her to say “puppy” instead of kitty when we saw a dog outside, and she did. She sounded like a minion.

“Mummy” and “Daddy” more consistently. She tries to say her sister’s name too: “Ah-wes”.  She will also say 2-3 syllables in imitation of her own name and it's getting clearer and clearer.

Dani has loved saying “hi” for quite a while and has now added “Bye.”  Sometimes  “ball”. She imitates noises like “swoosh-swoosh”.

Other ways to communicate: “yodel-odle-odle-oh” seems to indicate approval of something and / or “give me more” (e.g. at dinner). Extremely abrasive screech: give me more NOW! Or “pay attention to me NOW.”
She will shove or scratch like a mad cat if she doesn’t like what someone is doing (but is mostly good natured).

Walking while holding one hand...she totally can walk on her own but won't make up her mind to just go for it yet.

Insanely contagious and hilarious giggles.

We had Dani's birthday party back in February. We put it off twice due to the family being sick. It happened eventually. I'm late with updates because....well second child; I didn't take any photos myself, and uh, second child.

Cake time!
On her actual first birthday. Going out for ice cream

I probably won't be updating the blog much anymore. The focus of my emotional and intellectual energy, and my online activities and interests, has moved elsewhere. But this seems like a nice way to round out my record of the last 6 years. Perhaps I'll drop by occasionally with memories and observations.

Thank you everyone who reads and may cruise by in the future. Dreams do come true. I hope yours do too, even if the dream evolves along the way.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

5 years ago

The past few days I’ve been thinking of this day in 2014.

Five years ago I took a pregnancy test and it was positive, to my eternal shock. 

In a couple of weeks we should have made a decision what school that baby is going to for kindergarten.

I’ve marked a few “five years” anniversaries on the blog. It seems like a number that should  be acknowledged. This fiver feels particularly amazing, somehow.

The weeks after February 17th  didn’t go smoothly. At the time it felt like they might be the undoing of me. But they began a new story, and here we are. I have a four year old, a one year old, and I don’t know offhand what day of my cycle I’m on. 

I’m grateful for the gift of years, to look back on that moment in time with a different perspective. Part of the story.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Happy New Year

It’s been a busy month but it’s Dani’s 11 month birthday and the last day of 2018, her birth year. So I feel I must acknowledge it somehow.

She is a cutie but she did try to climb out of her stroller and crawl into a fountain today, and I think she is going to eat all our food.



-pulling up, speed crawling, walking while hanging on to fingers

-says words like “hi”, “kitty cat” (just like AJ), mum-mum, and da.

-kicks her ball around, or passes back and forth

-chortles and giggles at people

-favourite toys are those blob like tiny Ty animals

-eats everything. New Years dinner was pizza, popcorn and cookies. (Dani also ate baby food.) 

-used to know how to drink from a straw but now doesn’t

-obsessed with the bathroom

- sleeping pretty good

-two top, two bottom teeth with a tendency to fall and cut her lip, poor baby

-just generally in way too big a hurry to grow up 

It’s pretty hard to top a year where I got a new baby. But if anything can, it’s a year where she becomes an amazing little girl. 

Holy crap. There really are two of them now.

Happy new year. I love the adventure that is my life and I wish all who read wonderful adventures too, whatever that looks like for you. I hope this is the year your heart is full to the brim.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Saying goodbye to part of the village

In the morning I’m going to give notice to AJ’s daycare that December will be her last month there. And I feel.......sad.

This is my meditation on a very important part of our story.

AJ has been part time at her daycare since April. We didn’t want to disrupt her routine too much with the new baby’s arrival, so we kept her enrolled. Plus AJ got to maintain her friendships  and have somewhere to go when Dani was very small and I was occupied with her. It worked out well. I did some mom and baby classes with Dani. She also has been a pretty easy baby so I listened to a lot of podcasts while folding laundry and putting away dishes.

But Dani is bigger now, and able to play with AJ and have a relationship. She is awake and alert for most of our activities. Plus my employment insurance payments end in January and part time daycare is still quite expensive. Instead of preschool I decided to enroll AJ in a few activities. It’s a chance for her to try some different things and see what she likes, plus continue to participate in a structured environment. 

AJ will start kindergarten in the fall, though we don’t yet know where. I will most likely be returning to work. It’s half a day so we will need a childcare situation where she is walked or driven to school. (A whole new can of worms.) Her current daycare doesn’t transport so she can’t stay there; she will have to “graduate” before September. In terms of finances and opportunities to spend time as a family it seems like the best idea to withdraw her now.

But I’m sad about the ending of an era. And more than that.....it takes a village to raise a child they say, and AJ’s daycare is part of our village.

Mr Turtle and I kind of flaked out in our childcare search when AJ was a baby. We only toured and went on the wait list at one centre, and we found out AJ had a spot one month before I went back to work. Luckily it worked out.

The first year of being a working mom wasn’t easy for me. I had to adjust to a new job, the working parent gig, and my dad getting sick and dying in the first months.  I did alright at my job but I wasn’t fantastic. I didn’t easily make new relationships at the new school and that has continued to impact on how I feel about my job, although it got better. It’s kind of a cliche that working moms often feel they are trying to do everything and doing none of it well, although we are probably too hard on ourselves most of the time. But I didn’t understand how that felt until I lived it. When you’ve based your self image on being first among equals, or at least second or third or some respectable ranking, it’s hard to adjust to different priorities. Like keeping your head above water.

Leaving AJ at her daycare, I would always feel like I was leaving a piece of my heart and brain behind. It really did feel like I lost several IQ points. I didn’t cry all the time but sometimes I did. Again, it slowly got better. But through all of this, we could trust that AJ was in good hands and that she would come home happy (and sleep through the night). I don’t know if I can adequately express how important that was.

She made good friends at her daycare, which we called first “baby school” and then “preschool” when she was no longer a baby, or just “school.” Some of her friends have already moved on; some are still attending with her.

I met my best friend at the moment (also an infertility/loss mama) through the daycare. Her son no longer attends but we live in the neighbourhood and see each other often. Although my track record is not great, I am really going to try to build and maintain relationships with the other families of her friends in the next few months.

AJ would come home with stories to tell of what she had learned at school and it was wonderful to see her not just passing the time but thriving. I can honestly say I don’t feel like I “missed out” on her development by being at work. That’s amazing, as it was a big fear. But last December I did forget to attend her Christmas party. I meant to then I got distracted by lesson planning and shopping. Oh geez I felt so guilty about that and I still kinda do. I will definitely go this year!

AJ started out in the baby room, moved up through the toddler and preschool rooms. She grew in awareness of her own growing up. She was mentored by the big girls and now she is a big girl.

I have to admit, it does feel like AJ is outgrowing the place. I think she feels it too. 

It’s still sad to say goodbye. We do have Dani waitlisted so there is a chance we might be back, but I don’t know for sure....this could be goodbye for good.

I read about this idea on the internet. You have all your child’s teachers over the years sign a copy of Dr Seuss’s book “Oh the places you’ll go” and then at age 18 you give it to them as a graduation gift. It tickled my fancy, so I ordered the book. And this month, AJ’s daycare teachers will be the first to sign it.

Sometimes the passage of time fills me with a kind of existential terror. How can the concerns of the future so quickly become the issues of the present and then the stories told of the past? Is there not something horrifying about following our daily routines like life depends on them (it does) only to realize one day they have faded into irrelevance and a whole new life is waiting? 

Then I hear a whisper on the wind. There’s  another word for that terror: opportunity.

I’ll end on a light hearted note. I’ve been talking to AJ quite a bit over the past year about how she will “graduate,” to get her used to the idea. Of course she asks what her next school will be, but I don’t know yet what to tell her. One day after thinking about it, she said, “I will go to Dark Path.”

I was puzzled. “What do you mean, you are going on a dark path?” AJ can be a bit dark at times, but this sounded ominous.

“After BrightPath, I’m going to DarkPath,” she clarified.

Well of course. Her daycare is called BrightPath; naturally the next step is Dark Path.

She’s going to be just fine.