Monday 26 January 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Lammily

I broke down and did it.

I ordered a Lammily.

Lammily is the "realistic" fashion doll that came out in 2014 (funded by crowdsourcing). She is an alternative to the unrealistic fashion doll (also known as Barbie.) The website has all the details.

She and her super cool outfits (I ordered Scotland and Barcelona) as well as the "Lammily marks" (how neat is that idea) are pretty expensive and AJ won't be old enough to play with her for years, but I thought what the heck. It's fun that the first edition came out in AJ's birth year, and I really like the doll and the clothes.

The plan is to leave the doll in the packaging until AJ old enough to play with her, and then present to her for her birthday or whatever. If she is a tomboy and not into dolls well then mommy can play with it. Haha. The feminist in me kind of hates to admit it, but I loved Barbie as a little girl. I wasn't allowed to have many Barbies, however (for which I am now grateful). My mom also wouldn't buy many Barbie clothes; she told me I could learn to make my own clothes for them. She was right and I would pass time designing, crocheting and sometimes sewing outfits. Anyway, I think Lammily is better than Barbie and am glad that somebody came up with an alternate design.

On a related topic, here I am daring to think of AJ as a little girl. It's still much too much for me to do that often (because her babyhood goes by so fast and because, well, it still feels like tempting fate) but sometimes I can do it. Sometimes I will think of some fun things we could one day experience in a future as a family, and I feel so excited.  Lammily is the tiniest fraction of it. (Right now my fantasies mostly have to do with seeing new places, because I'm a bit obsessed with travel for some reason. Maybe it's all the time spent in the house, but I'm both very nostalgic about my travel experiences, and really looking forward to exploring with AJ.)

Anyone else have a memory of a favourite toy, or a toy you're looking forward to introducing to a child or future child? or a place you want to explore with your child. I can't wait to take AJ to the ocean!

Microblog-o-rama has all the cool links - go there and leave yours!

Friday 23 January 2015

12 weeks / 3 months

AJ was 12 weeks last Wednesday, and her 3 month birthday is next week on the 29th.


In a way it's harder for me to see the changes in her, because I am with her 24/7. Those who see her once a week or less, or even Mr. Turtle who is away from her most workdays, always exclaim on how different she is.  Which is odd for me to hear, because every change just makes her a little more herself.

I have moments of "Oh my!" It's impossible not to notice that AJ is heavier. She must be about twice her birth weight now. At some point, while nursing, I noticed her head is finally (almost?) bigger than the gigantoboobs. And of course, I experience the smiles, vocalizations, her increased facility in reaching and grabbing, her interest in her reflection. But so far even those developments have been gradual. AJ will start doing something occasionally, and then over time she does it more often and more consistently.

What else - AJ is an effective night sleeper for the most part. I often wake her up to feed because my boobs are getting uncomfortable. (She'll usually be in a light sleep - tossing and turning). We like to sleep in in the morning and I avoid scheduling visitors or appointments in the morning if I can help it. She has a few naps in the afternoon, and will follow a pattern of feed, play, sleep, poop at some point, and repeat.  She doesn't commit to sleep till around 11pm. I didn't even think twice about this until I read about moms "putting baby to sleep" at 7 or 8 pm! But I don't mind because if she went to bed that early her dad would have almost no time with her. Also I don't want to go to bed that early and I still don't like her to be too far from me when she's sleeping.

Reading about other moms' sleep and nap "schedules" makes me wonder if I'm a lazy parent, but we're happy and she's healthy so I'm not worried about it. I think schedules are more important for moms with more than one child, and/or moms who actually care about when/if they get stuff done. Unless I write it down, I have no idea when anything happens or how long it takes. Doesn't seem to matter.

I know I said I wouldn't look back too much, but there's something about the power of 3s that's compelling me. I have vivid memories of our 3 month milestones.

3 months ago, AJ was born. I remember seeing her wiggle in the doctor's hands moments after my contraction finished, and cry a few seconds after that. I couldn't see her whole face when they put her on my chest, just the top of her head, and I was so curious what she looked like, but afraid to disturb her. She was crawling up my chest and nuzzling to feed, and her little knitted hat kept coming off.

6 months ago, we entered the 3rd trimester. Mr. Turtle and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary by taking an evening "cruise" on the same boat on which we were married. There was a jazz band playing (same musicians that played at our wedding). It was a very different evening from our wedding day however, which had been sunny and calm. On our anniversary it was rainy and stormy with a haze of wild fire smoke. I told the captain (he's an old friend our ours) that if the boat started to sink I was going to be first into the life boat. I also had crampy pains (gas?) and kept worrying about pre-term labour. But despite that it was a fun evening.

9 months ago, we had our 12 week scan that showed "Ember" wiggling and healthy. I was so grateful for the printed report they gave us. It was full of clinical terms like live intrauterine gestation. Those words were more beautiful than prize-winning poetry to me.  Afterwards we dropped our car off  to be detailed, and walked to our favourite dive and had burgers. Mr. Turtle returned to work excited to tell his colleagues about the pregnancy, and I went home and blogged.

And most mysteriously of all, about a year ago AJ  was conceived. Looking at her I can't believe she started with the union of two cells. I know it happens a million times a day and isn't even wanted or appreciated a lot of the time, but the miracle of it still blows my mind. I don't know if I would feel so much awe if we hadn't gone through all the infertility stuff. Of course I would have loved and cherished my child, but I might have felt just that little bit entitled. Now I'm lost in wonder. I have to consciously set the wonder and awe aside to get on with my day. After two and a half years of charting, monitoring, medical tests and failed treatments, we thought there was no more mystery left. But mystery - and grace - found us anyway.

I think AJ is waking on with our evening!

Monday 19 January 2015

#Mircoblog Mondays: My mom

So, earlier this year my mom had a biopsy on one of her breasts and one of the samples was cancerous. At this point the tumour appears to be very small and the first step is surgery to remove it (lumpectomy). They will also analyze sentinel lymph nodes to see if there is any cancer there.

I feel like I have to post something about it in this anonymous space so I can get used to the idea of talking about it.  I'm kind of at a loss of how to talk about something like this.

My mom is doing fine. So far she seems to be getting great medical care, and the team assigned to her has kept her informed and empowered. She has been very clear that she does not want everyone getting overly excited and anxious.  She wants to keep up her overall health and continue her daily life. I am trying to follow my only advice to her, which is not to imagine too much about the future, so that one does not live through experiences that haven't happened and may never happen.

Last week I spent an afternoon at my parents' place with AJ (yes I have found the nerve to drive on my own) and it was a great visit. We did talk about the cancer but mostly we talked about other things. My mom said that her main regret is that she has to deal with this just when she has a new granddaughter, but that she really wants AJ to remember her.

I said, then we're going to assume that AJ will remember her, and that her Baba will be part of her life.

Read the Microblogs and leave your link

Thursday 15 January 2015

Blogoversary: from bobbing at the wharf to exploring the New World

torthúil is two years old today.

The title of my first ever post was still bobbing at the wharf.  After taking a long time to prepare, provision and chart a course, the ship left the wharf, then had an unexpected course change in a lightning storm, which sent us off on a sometimes frightening, often fun voyage (including a lot of seasickness) and finally we docked at the New World, after weathering one last 52 hour squall.  And now we have a whole new purpose: to explore the new world that we discovered with AJ's arrival.

There. That's the retrospective part of this entry in three sentences. I say it in three sentences and one metaphor not because I think the story of the last two years is a tidy one that resolved neatly, or because I think tidy stories that resolve neatly are inherently better than messy ones that don't resolve neatly, or at all. No, I put my retrospective into two sentences because that's all the time I want to spend on it.  I resolved at the end of last year not to spend a great deal of time looking back to "this time last year" or "that time two years ago." (With some exceptions, such as AJ's birthday, of course.)

The main reason I wanted to write this entry is to reflect on why writing this blog is still important to me. Many of the bloggers I read question the purpose or continuity of their blog after having a baby or babies. Some moved to a new blog or stopped blogging. I'm happy for everyone who feels they outgrew their (in)fertility blog, even though I miss their writing! But throughout my pregnancy and AJ's birth and now infancy I feel I need torthúil as much as ever. I'm glad of this because from the beginning I hoped it would be more than a blog about infertility although that was the reason I started it. From feeling very hesitant about this space and my voice in it, I now write regularly and frequently find myself composing posts in my head, and putting off chores to write here (pfffffft to you, vacuuming and laundry!)

Here's what moves me to keep writing:

1) Continuity. Infertility is often described as a rollercoaster. The emotional highs and lows of trying to conceive and carry a pregnancy are usually why. But in addition to going up and down, rollercoasters make abrupt changes of direction that aren't intuitive. My experience of actual rollercoasters is somewhat limited, but when I have ridden them the part where I scream the loudest is usually when they pause and then jerk in another direction. There have been a lot of sudden, sharp changes in the direction of my life the past two years, whether it was learning about the diagnoses or IVF failure or the surprise conception and all the weirdness of pregnancy and the unpredictable nature of labour and birth and parenting. 

As I've worked through all these changes in direction, and the questioning that came with them, the blog has been a constant. It's very reassuring to know I have this outlet, and even though I have pretty good support network IRL, I don't want to let it go.

2) Readers! It means a lot to know that almost whatever I write about (as long as it is not completely obscure, I suppose) people will offer knowledge, words of comfort or reassurance, or a perspective of sanity. Or just say "I am here!"

3) The room under the carpet. OK, this one starts with a dream I had this January. In the dream I was in my bedroom in my parents' house, where I grew up. The carpet in this room is same as when I was a child. My parents really aren't interested in material possessions or image, and I guess they decided a while ago that one house renovation/update in a lifetime is enough. I admit to finding this carpet a bit gross. In the dream I noticed a spot on the carpet that seemed damp and mushy. I went to investigate, and noticed that there was a kind of....sprout coming up from the mushy, rotten spot. I thought this was definitely wrong so I started investigating. I discovered the sprout went down a long way...more than a metre. As I dug under the rotten carpet, I discovered there was a whole other space beneath the floor. I went down through the opening into it. It was a bigger than a crawl space but smaller than a room. There was all kinds of stuff crammed into it. There were storage boxes filled with things like clothes, pictures, books, toys. But there were also entire pieces of furniture. It was like someone had one day taken everything in the house and shoved it into this secret space, and never taken it out again or spoken about it.

The space under the carpet was both a complete shock but also an answer to questions I didn't know I had. And somehow I knew the reason why all this stuff had been hidden. Maybe I found it by looking inside the boxes or maybe I just knew without asking. This entire life had been packed away because a child had died.

The dream was so vivid that when I woke up it took me a few minutes to realize that there isn't a room under the floor of my old bedroom or that I have a secret sibling I never knew. (I've had a few dreams over the years about this secret or forgotten sibling. Does anyone else have such dreams?)

I think we all have a secret room under the carpet, a room that contains things most people don't or can't see, or the memories of people never seen or met. I think the blogs are a way to tell the story of the secret room. And, well, I think that is a story that should be told and listened to.

4) Blogging makes me feel more like myself. Writing was very important to me in my teens and early 20s, and then somewhere between 25 and 30ish it became less important. I was meeting new people (including my husband), learning new things and my professional life was finally starting to come together. I still wrote for various purposes but I didn't want to spend hours on a solitary activity.  torthúil has made writing important to me again. I don't have to remind myself to write; it is part of my routine. My life is right now dominated by my role as a mother. Even though I'm writing almost exclusively about motherhood and the journey to get here, writing connects me to the identity I had before being a mom. So it feels natural and essential to me on all levels.

Happy blogging! If you have a blog, what keeps you coming back to it?

Monday 12 January 2015

#Microblog Monday: My talent

So, lately like I feel like I have a new talent.

My talent is finding ways to not do the things I plan to do. Vacuuming, laundry, taking down Christmas cards, finishing filling out forms, writing thank you notes to the two or so people to whom I probably should write a formal thank you note, mailing letters, writing cheques, organizing photos, ordering a snot-sucker online...

It's not even that I don't have time. I do have time, occasionally. AJ does nap and have times where she doesn't need me rightnow.  But when those times come I seem to develop an amnesia for all the things I said I'd do, and I end up reading random things on the internet, or reading a book, or blogging and it's only when the time is gone that I'm like, "oh yeah....."

I'm a little extra absent-minded today because my mom received some not-good news about her health. It's too soon to know what to expect, but 2015 will certainly involve some experiences for all of us that we'd rather not have.  I don't feel too surprised at the moment. Somehow in the past 2 years, I've learned to expect bad news. The good news is the lucky exception.

I will find time to spend with my mom this week. And bring AJ to her. AJ is good medicine.


Thursday 8 January 2015

FDA: Aviod fetal "keepsake" images

Our doula posted this link to Facebook today; I thought it might be of interest to readers who are expecting (or will hopefully be expecting soon!)

"Fetal ultrasound imaging provides real-time images of the fetus. Doppler fetal ultrasound heartbeat monitors are hand-held ultrasound devices that let you listen to the heartbeat of the fetus. Both are prescription devices designed to be used by trained health care professionals. They are not intended for over-the-counter (OTC) sale or use, and the FDA strongly discourages their use for creating fetal keepsake images and videos."

(My view: I had many scans (eight) when pregnant with AJ and they were all prescribed and administered by medical staff. No 3D or 4D ultrasounds. The ultrasound images provided information to our medical team, and since I was a worrier they also helped maintain maternal sanity. I never considered getting a commercial ultrasound because we were having so many medical ones, and anyway I don't see the point of having an optional scan. Its only purpose would be to show us what she looked like, and what she looked like was never an issue; we would love and welcome her regardless of looks. Anyway, we knew our baby was and would be beautiful - duh!)

Something to think about. 

Monday 5 January 2015

Microblog Mondays update

I really should be showering or getting some breakfast while AJ sleeps, but well, that would take effort and initiative and I'm enjoying the sensation of not having to move right this instant. Leave from work should feel like a holiday at least sometimes, eh?

So, I thought I'd update how I'm doing re: the Things on My Mind:

1) Pumping and bottle feeding

After my last post I seemed to get the hang of pumping. On a good day when I find the time for it, I can pump up to 200 mL of milk. Ideally that means AJ takes about 100 from the bottle and I freeze another 100. There's only been a couple of ideal days, of course. But the pumping has not been much of a challenge after all. Although if I thought I had no modesty left after giving birth and starting to breastfeed, pumping has proven otherwise (as in, I have no standards whatsoever!). When Mr. Turtle came home from work New Year's Eve, I greeted him at the door wearing a pair of yoga pants, a bathrobe open at the front with nothing underneath, and a pump hanging off one teat. Sometime I will get my mystery and sexy back on. I don't know when.

The bigger challenge is bottle feeding. Mr. Turtle has been taking the lead on this, and he is wonderful with AJ. I don't know know if he always feels patient, but he always acts patient. Sometimes she will drink 50+ mL quite efficiently, but generally she needs a lot of coaxing. He will let her suck on his finger (she's been doing that since birth) then offer the bottle. This usually works but not all the time. Out of the 4 times we've tried, she only refused the bottle once (we both tried and tried for an hour but she wouldn't swallow, just played with the nipple, got some milk out and spat it out.) I think she is coming down with a cold (we all are) so perhaps she did not want to try anything new that evening. She has even been having a bit of trouble at the breast, although not enough to stop her from feeding. Yesterday we were at my inlaws and she was quite fussy so we didn't even bother trying a bottle. But we will keep offering one a day and hopefully she will get comfortable with it.

I still think we are long way from having a babysitter (which would only be one of the grandparents at this point) feeding her from a bottle. Since this was the condition for me/us doing more activities outside the house, we may have to postpone those plans. But at least there is some progress.

Any bottle feeding tips from people who have had success? We are using a Medela bottle. I have a couple of other bottles (Avent and Nuk) which I got free as part of corporate promotions, but I haven't tried those.

2) Car

Last week I planned to take two trips on my own with AJ. One, to my step-mother in law's fashion store to buy a couple of pairs of non-maternity jeans that fit me. Two, to my parents' to spend time with them and my brothers. That didn't happen. I fully intended to make it to the store Tuesday. I dressed AJ in her "Grandma's Favourite" onesie. She was especially cute that morning. She is in a very cute phase, and is a perfect size for cuddling. So I cuddled her and all I could think about was how I could get into a horrible car accident and this might be the last time I see her alive. At one point in the afternoon I did make it into the car, adjusted the seat, started engine, looked at controls. Then freaked out thinking, I haven't driven this, I don't know the features, I haven't read the manual, is the registration even in the car? (it wasn't).  And I decided not to go anywhere. Then I felt terrible about myself. I read an article on overcoming driving phobia. That helped, as 1) after reading that I don't think I actually have a phobia, just an aversion based on lack of experience and 2) I did get some good ideas from it, like taking things in small steps.

So the past few days I've taken the car out with Mr. Turtle and AJ to go on errands and visits, and everything has gone fine. Tomorrow AJ has a doctor appointment and that will most likely be first solo trip, but I feel a lot more confident after having driven with a wingman. Mr. Turtle has no plans to nominate me for Canada's Worst Driver, so I think I'm doing OK. Also, stepmother in law was very sympathetic and offered to do a one-on-one fitting with me on a day she is closed. I am so lucky to be surrounded by supportive people. They are easier on me than I am on myself a lot of the time!

3) Weight stable and I'm not concerned about it. Mainly I miss my dance classes and regular physical activity. And some of my favourite pants. I have registered for a post-natal yoga class, so I am looking forward to that activity. It's a mom and baby class so I don't have to worry about finding someone to watch AJ.

4) Child Care

Two email inquiries out, at the daycares that would be ideal location-wise (I don't know anything more about them than location at this point).

5) Birth control / Reproductive health

Appreciated hearing people's feedback. Still not totally sure what direction we will take.

I thought I was getting my period for the first time a couple of days ago; I had some cramping and then spotting that resembled the beginning of a period. But then the spotting stopped, so I guess not. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand I would love a break from it (breastfeeding can cause period to stay away). On the other hand, I wouldn't mind being reassured that the lady parts still kind of work.  (Oh, and we have been using the one birth control method that is 100% effective, so I am definitely not pregnant!)

Wishing every a good week!

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