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 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.

Monday 19 November 2018

5 years reflections: This is our family

AJ drew this picture of our family last week:

She writes nice A’s, doesn’t she? She can kinda write her name now too. The X’s are some sort of protective barrier, as far as I can understand.

It all looks so right. I might have to put this picture on a celebratory cake.

Friday 16 November 2018

Dani 9+ months, and family adventures

Happy days....Dani is 9 and a half months. AJ is four years old.

Many changes since we got back from our vacation to visit family last month. Dani was almost crawling at the end of October, and now she is crawling everywhere. She also wants to walk with support lately.

She chatters and chatters in her baby language.   She giggles at people especially big sister. The interactivity is so fun. Although she has been a part of our family for most of the year, I feel like a Dani shaped consciousness truly joined us in the past month. She smiles and laughs so much and she loves to make friends by grinning and babbling  at people. When she is very happy her face crumples up like she can’t fit all the smile into it. Dani likes mom best when she is tired and grumpy (lucky me)  but when she is happy she likes all kinds of people. She got along very well with my ex pat in-laws in the USA.

The flights to and from the states went well. Dani slept most of the first flight and then wanted to be in my lap for the shorter second flight. On the way home she didn’t want to sleep. She passed the time twerking in my lap, stealing my snacks and yanking out the headphone jack. I was grateful to sit next to an understanding gentleman who betrayed no discomfort when she fussed or I breastfed somewhat awkwardly in close quarters (Mr Turtle and AJ were in the row ahead). The worst part was the seriously bad turbulence coming into our city. The plane was bouncing around like a yo-yo and Dani screamed whenever I tried to put her back in her seat, which we paid for precisely for such a situation. I was watching the flight monitor, trying to rationalize myself out of sheer terror, counting the minutes till it was over. I did finally get her into the seat and oddly enough, the pilot (a lady, ha) performed the softest landing I have ever experienced. I could barely tell when we touched the ground. 

AJ was a model traveller. So proud of her. My mom bought her a suitcase as a birthday present and she loved it. She rolled it on her own for most of both trips, including the late night arrivals when we were all tired. I made her a big grab bag of activities for the plane and airport ($20 at the dollar store went a long way) and between that and the inflight movies she was happy. We also did a travel journal where I asked her to tell me what we did every day and I wrote it down so she has a memory of the trip (though at the moment I’m not sure where it is.....probably still in the activity bag which should be good to go for our next trip.)

Other firsts for Danika this month include eating more finger foods, sitting up on her own, and showing more emotions including frustration. For example she really doesn’t like it when she finds a prize on the floor such as one of her sister’s endless collection of stickers and I take it away instead of letting her chew on it. 

Speaking of chewing, two bottom teeth and one top one just cutting, which may account for her more restless nights lately. 

The interrupted sleep plus shorter days and colder temperatures have been making it harder to motivate myself to do things, especially during the week when I’m alone. Sometimes it’s after 3 by the time I get out of the house. We also went to a bunch of parties after getting back from vacation. I’m very grateful but I had the urge to be a hermit afterwards, and now I have to try not to let it become a habit. Also having less disposable income I second guess going to concerts or things like that, because how do I pick one over another, and  then I give up on making a decision and we end up going to nothing. 

Anyway, winter is long so I’m not going to let this go on forever. AJ’s party was a success, so that’s good. It went as expected: two hours of kids playing on bouncy castle and eating cupcakes, then home to our nice quiet house (our kids fell asleep; I hope other parents were as lucky).  I am looking forward to Christmas and happy to see bright lights and decorations on the long winter evenings (though I still think it’s tooooo early for Christmas music).

I’m using the carrier more with Dani as I anticipate snow making it more difficult to use the stroller. Unfortunately the mei tai doesn’t do front facing but it still is working pretty well. We also have an underused chariot / jogger and I want to get the flat tire fixed as I think it will be handy in snow and cold conditions. Thinking of introducing AJ to cross country skiing this year. If we have anything resembling the insane amount of snow we had last year I think I will also get snow shoes!

I will end with this Halloween picture. The dress is a hand me down from AJ. The furry object are black bear ears Dani refused to wear. (Her nickname is Dani bear so she had to be a bear for her first Halloween. I was also a bear. AJ was a T. rex again and Mr Turtle was also a T. rex.)

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 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 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 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.

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.


Thursday 31 May 2018

Dani 4 months

What, it’s the end of May? I guess we were having lots of fun this month....

I am still excited when I get to write an update on the 31st, ie when Dani has a “real” month birthday.

I have filled the car with gas 3 times since Dani was born. (It was full the day of.) I will one day lose count but I haven’t yet. Obviously I am driving less which is good as gas prices  have sure gone up.

Anytime it’s a full moon I think of Dani’s birthday.

I had to delete the photos and video from Dani’s birth and early weeks off my phone a couple of weeks ago. And even though they are on the hard drive I feel kinda crappy about it because it means I can’t see them anytime I want. I struggle to organize media but I really would like to some way make photos and videos more accessible while keeping them safe. I feel like there’s some kind of cloud technology I should learn how to use.  I like the hard drive backup but I’d like a virtual backup too. People who know about this sort of thing, feel free to comment.

Dani continues to meet her milestones. She is long and lean like her sister. I forgot to write down her length and weight at the doctors’, oops. She is a solid little cutie, though.

What’s new the past month:
  • Sits with support, and tries to sit up from a lying down or reclined position
  • Pushes up when she’s on her tummy and holds up her head

  • Rolls onto her side (usually in pursuit of her thumb). Doctor thinks she is getrting ready to roll all the way and will do this early.
  • We saw a specialist about the hip dysplasia, but he was not convinced there is a problem (apparently only one photo showed an issue, and there are no physical signs of a problem). So we will go back for a follow up ultrasound.
  • Squeals and giggles. I have a fitful career as a comedian, as in I sometimes discover a silly sound or word that will make her giggle for a few minutes, until she’s bored with the joke.
  • Blowing Raspberries
  • Grabs her toes

  • Still loves to suck her thumb
  • Taking a bottle better: last date night she stayed with grandparents and actually drank all the milk I left her
  • Sleeps  through night for most part, but starting to wake up to be fed between 4 and 5am....usually I can get her, and myself, back to sleep for another hour or two though. Self soothes with her more swaddled arms.
  • Dani is increasingly full of charm and personality. Sibling interactions continue to go well. AJ and Dani can interact for a few minutes together, smiling and cuddling. AJ shows great caring to her baby sister. 
  • Nicknames: Dani, Dani Bear, or simply Bear
  • Had a period of time this month when I felt really exhausted, but energy seems to have returned
  • Breastfeeding going well. Boobs don’t feel so huge and heavy anymore  so I think my body has found a balance 
  • On the other hand I wonder if hormones are being weird. I have been waking up hot lately, even when it isn’t a hot night. It’s not exactly how I’ve heard a hot flash described, not so dramatic, but I wonder? Also woke up nauseous in the night which sometimes occurs during menstrual cycle (though it has not returned)
  • Weight is slowly coming off. I don’t usually pay much attention to my weight so I imagined myself losing 5 lbs a month which isn’t apparently realistic, especially since I’m not interested in making any major lifestyle changes. I go for walks with the kids, take a weekly exercise class and try not to snack on junk food.  I’m down to about 12 lbs over pre preg weight and consistently dropping and I’m good with that.
  • Vacation next week, to Mr Turtle’s convocation ceremony and then a few days in the city where he was born. MIL and husband will be there too. Should be fun.
  • We are enjoying the summer and play date opportunities. And relax time, either inside or outside.
Wishing everyone a wonderful June.

Tuesday 8 May 2018

Dani 3 months

Our baby girl is 3 months, and so cuddly and fun!  This is such a super snuggly age: old enough to not be too wobbly but little enough to fit perfectly in the crook of my arm.

I’ve bern writing this when I have a chance in my phone. Haphazard bullet points it is: 
  • Dani learned to suck her thumb. I joke that she has accomplished her first life goal because she has been trying so hard for weeks. Not sure how I feel about thumb sucking in general but I have to give her “thumbs up” for persistence anyway. AJ also learned to suck her thumb at the same age but interestingly lost interest in it shortly after. Dani does seem to like to self soothe though, so she might be a longer term commitment.

  • Smiles and laughs. It’s wonderful to see her sheer joy at being in the world. 
  • Wearing 6 month size clothes 
  • Favourite toy is a knotted ribbon I call the jellyfish.  It was on one of her shower presents and she can be entertained for long periods of time watching it dangled over her head.

  • Enjoys music, lately the musical “Cats”. Why Cats? Well we were playing with the jellyfish, (see above) and that brought to mind jellicle cats, so I played her a couple of songs and she seemed to like them, so now we regularly listen to the whole soundtrack. I like the poetry, the variety in instrumentation, and the general playful absurdity of it.
  • Dani likes to be upright and tries to sit up. Increasingly I hold her in a supported seated position. 
  • Loves being sung to and having her feet played with while we sing a song: eg hokey pokey, wheels on the bus, this is the way we ride our bicycle, if you’re happy and you know it
  • Sleep is getting a bit rougher? Dani was sleeping through the night consistently, but the past couple of weeks have seem more early morning and middle of the night wake ups.  Perhaps it is the warmer weather which makes it harder  to get cozy without being hot? She will quickly go back to sleep after a feed but I have not been able to get back to sleep as easily, so I have had long wakeful periods at night. It still works best to swaddle Dani’s arms in in the Halo sleep sack, but she will outgrow the swaddle soon I think. So there could be more challenges on the horizon.
  • Brings hand together, can hold a toy kind of and tries to bring it to her mouth. She is opening and closing her fingers and appears to be using them to grasp.
  • Rolls onto her side 
  • Lifting head slightly during tummy time. She can fairly easily move it from side to side now.
  • Watches and listens while AJ tells her a story. Dani really does seem to like her big sister. AJ is very affectionate with her and I encourage her to talk to and interact with her little sister.

  • Diagnosed with mild hip dyplasia in her right hip. The screening is protocol for all breech babies, and being female increases the risk.  I am currently waiting to hear back for consult with orthopaedic surgeon. At this age the interventions are non surgical from what I have read. I’m hoping it is no big deal, but I’m still disappointed she has it as I’d convinced myself she didn’t and the screening was only a precaution.
  • I feel like Dani’s emotions are more intense than AJ’s. She shows happiness much of the time but when she is displeased the fury rains down on the just and the unjust. Other family members also have difficulty soothing her: it usually has to be me (and my boobs). Mr Turtle can also do a pretty good job short term if he lets her suck his finger.
  • Dani enjoys her bath and we have also taken her to the swimming pool a few times. She enjoys splashing in the warm water of the shallow kiddie pool. Both the girls have a fun time there though I find it a bit revolting: there were unidentified brown particulates floating in the water once for example. Also AJ likes to point to things on the floor and say “What’s that Mommy?” I finally told her that if she kept pointing out to me what was on the floor, we might never come to the pool again.
  • Outside time is still enjoyed. Dani has not been too fond of the mei tai so mostly we use the stroller. She will still sleep in the stroller though not as much as she used to. Still it’s highly likely on any given day that she has her nap outside. She also seems to enjoy the playpen outside so we will likely do more of that.
In summary, I am just so happy our baby girl chose to manifest in our family a year ago. Already memory is editing the past and it’s hard to imagine a time when she wasn’t here (though the blog does help preserve the record of those times, with their questions and uncertainties.) I am simultaneously trying to savour every moment and so excited for what is to come.

Monday 30 April 2018

A day in the life: April 2018

AJ: 3 and a half years old
Dani: nearly 3 months old
The day was April 23rd, 2018

I am on maternity leave and Mr Turtle is working full time.

6:11: Mr Turtle’s alarm goes off. He goes to have a shower.

I peek at Dani in the bedside bassinet. She is slurping a bit on her hand, which she’s worked out of the swaddle.  She has not managed to wake herself up though. She has slept through night after going to sleep around 10. We were at my mom’s for my brothers birthday so it was a late night. I doze off again.

7:00ish: Get out of bed to go to bathroom and say goodbye to Mr Turtle.

Go back to bed, read Facebook and blogs.

Community mom’s group posted last minute play date for 10 am at a local playground. Since it is close by this might be doable.

7:30 everyone is still asleep, so I decide to have shower.

7:50 done. Hear baby sniffles. But not quite awake. Throw in a load of laundry: AJ’s snow pants, winter jacket, dinosaur costume and favourite dress. I am reasonably sure we are done with the never ending winter. For the first time in recent memory, no snow in the forecast and temps in the double digits.

Dani fully wakes up. Diaper change, nasal aspiration.

AJ wakes up. “Mom!” And “where are we going today?” I tell her about the play date.

8:15 give AJ a banana, boob feed Dani. We sit together on the couch.

Ask AJ to put banana peels in the compost. She analyzes them for a while, says they look like jellyfish, then goes to kitchen and puts them in what I hope is the compost.

AJ tries to play peekaboo with Dani. 

Dani is in extremely cuddly huggable 3 month stage. Snuggle snuggle snuggle.

8:30 AJ goes to potty. Hear demented giggling from bathroom. What.

AJ is sitting on the potty cooing over her baby dolls. Too adorable.

Put Dani into her crib which is across from bathroom. Help A J with wiping. She puts the new roll of  toilet paper on the holder. I refrain from criticizing when she puts it on flap underneath. She doesn’t want to wash and dress yet.

Bath for Dani. I don’t wash her hair. I think I washed it yesterday.  I think I should probably have washed my hair today though. Can’t keep track of whose hair has and hasn’t been washed. 

Fussy Dani after bath and dress so I offer more boob. AJ still playing with baby dolls. 

9:00: Dani off boob. Decide to get some breakfast.

9:10 make peanut butter sandwich for myself and for AJ, for later. AJ needs to poop. She undresses and sits on potty without help. I boil water for instant coffee, boil eggs and slice cheese. Pack some and eat some. Periodically check on AJ on bathroom. 

Find AJ lying naked face down on the bathroom rug. It happens to be clean, but I tell her that is not hygienic. Help with wiping etc.

9:30 sit down to eat some breakfast. Dani is in the swing. AJ entertains her by babbling and waving around a toy. Dani likes it, smiles and coos. Very cute.

9:40 done breakfast 

Hustle around doing odds and ends, packing to go out. Remind AJ about getting dressed.

9:54 time for AJ’s wash. Dani fussy so I take her out of swing and hold her. AJ needs to be cajoled into coming for a wash. I talk about getting to the park in time to see the others. Feeling a tad crabby at this point.

Wipe AJ’s face and butt with washcloth while holding Dani in the other hand.  She wipes her feet with the cloth. Is currently obsessed with her “toe jam.” 

We go to pick out clothes.  I convince AJ to wear shirt and pants to playground because a dress will get dirty and torn. Lately she always wants to wear a dress or her dinosaur costume (which she received for Halloween when she was 2 years old and which still fits, barely.)

10:10 AJ dressed with teeth brushed. She gets her clothes on by herself and mostly does her own teeth. She ignores me when I ask her to come and get her hair brushed and braided. I decide to let it go and boob feed Dani, who is crying.

When AJ comes to living room I remind her about hair. Not yet, she says. When she asks me to tie her favourite blanket around her neck like a cape, I say I’ll do it when her hair is done. We get hair done. Then AJ tears around wearing her tiara, a necklace and the “cape.”

Between 10:15 and 10:45:  getting stroller out of car, getting everyone dressed, convincing AJ to leave her accessories at home, loading stroller, running back and forth looking for things I forget or think I forgot, only to realize they are already in the stroller.

10:45: we are ready to head to park. I reflect that I’m really quite good at this parenting business, as long as you don’t expect me to be anywhere on time. Or to have dinner ready every day. I mean I have dinner ready some days. Just not all of them.  Luckily Mr Turtle is good at making a fast meal.

I found a scooter in the school recycle bin last fall, still in good condition. AJ is learning how to use it. I suggest to get we take the short way to the playground to get there faster, but she insists on the long way. Halfway there complaining AJ tired and hungry, but we make it. The scooter actually slows us down but I’m able to put it on the stroller when AJ is tired of it. Dani is awake and observant for about 15 minutes then falls asleep.

At the park we sit with the other playgroup moms, eat our snacks. AJ goes to play after a while. She doesn’t know the other kids really well yet,so sometimes she plays with them, sometimes stares at them, sometimes does her own thing. I’m not sure she yet knows how to ask to play or invite another child but she usually responds to others or shows interest in joining a group. Unfortunately the little girl she most likes to play with is having another off day, clinging to mom and whimpering.  (Find out later she is suffering from unknown allergies. Ugh, poor thing). Dani sleeps.

1:00, most of the other moms are moving toward going home, but it takes another half hour before they actually leave.  I convince AJ to leave by saying we’ll eat some goldfish when we cross the street.

Cross the street successfully. AJ drops a goldfish on the ground. I tell her it’s for the birds. A few meters on she starts crying, says she doesn’t want the birds to have it, so we walk back pick it up, and put it in my pocket.

2:00ish, we are home. AJ wants to stay outside and eat her snack. It’s sunny and warm, and Dani is still sleeping in her stroller, so it seems like a good idea. I retrieve the eggs I boiled earlier and forgot about. We sit outside for an hour. I catch up on this blog. I love spring. 

3:00ish, Dani is still sleeping. AJ is playing in the yard in her own world. I consider doing something useful and decide against it. I don’t want to leave Dani outside on her own and I don’t want to try to transfer her either. So I go get a snack and a book.

I read a chapter and a half of The Gulag Archepelago. First chapter is “Arrest” and describes many of the ways people were arrested in the Soviet Union. For the most part they did not resist at all.  Interesting reading but hardly reassuring with regards to humanity. I also call my mom. 

Around 4ish Dani starts to stir. I feed her outside then pop in to change a diaper. Feed her some more. Mr Turtle is baking fish tonight so I decide to try to prepare some sides. I find AJ’s bubbles which keep her happy outside a little longer.  

Dani is happy for a few minutes on a blanket on the kitchen floor while I peel potatoes and chop vegetables for salad. I talk to her and watch AJ out the  window as she plays in the backyard. She keeps asking us to come outside again, so we do, then as soon as we are comfortable she decides to go into the house. I am slightly annoyed by this and tell her it’s not fair to baby Dani.. However, AJ makes it up by hugging Dani and talking to her for several minutes. Dani smiles and coos at her. It is beautiful.

We chill until Mr Turtle comes home around 5:30. He is just in time to help AJ on the potty: hurrah. Mr Turtle is in a good mood. He was recently promoted and has been a bit stressed adjusting to the new job, but things are coming together better. 

I hand Dani, who is also in a good mood, to Mr Turtle for cuddles. I go outside to bring my book in and continue by putting away the stroller, taking the laundry out (remember the laundry?) changing my clothes, etc.

AJ has spread her dinosaurs all over the kitchen floor. She partially clears them so Mr Turtle can cook. I hold Dani in my lap and sit in the kitchen so we can talk while he continues with dinner. Dani feeds again. And poops massively.

Dinner is baked salmon, mashed potatoes and salad. We all enjoy it thoroughly including AJ who has a good appetite from her time outside. Fish is one of her favourites. Dani smiles and coos at us from her swing.

7:45ish: Mr Turtle has also made chocolate pudding upon request. AJ has eaten her dinner so she can watch two mini movies. We all go downstairs to the TV. Dani’s mood has turned and she has scream crying. I stick a boob in her mouth. She becomes happy again. And poops. Diaper change.

When I come back I give Dani to Mr Turtle again so I can eat my pudding. She stays happy for a decent amount of time but is clearly getting tired. A few minutes later we split up to do bedtimes. Mr Turtle does cleanup, pyjanas, floss and toothbrush with AJ. I put Dani in pyjamas and a sleep sack, cuddle and feed her one last time. She falls asleep after feeding at around 8:50. Mr Turtle shows AJ three short songs on iPhone and reads her two stories (as agreed). I transfer Dani to her bassinet. She stays asleep but stirs and whimpers a few times, so I need to stay close and settle her by putting a hand on her chest or gently holding her hands away from her face.

Mr Turtle finished cleaning up then goes downstairs for his quiet time when AJ has settled, and I finish the blog in bed beside Dani.

9:30, Dani seems well asleep. I have forgotten my vitamins again so grab a snack and take them. Brush teeth. Say goodnight to Mr Turtle, then listen to audiobook Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Fall asleep.

Overall, another awesome spring. And as I post this it is exactly a year since I started the cycle that led to Dani. Kind of a peculiar anniversary but I like to think back and remember how life has changed in a year. 

Thursday 26 April 2018

5 years reflections: gift card

Back in January 2014, I went to a post Christmas school staff party. One of the organizers had a fiancé who worked at a luxury hotel chain, and they were able to get a deal to hold the dinner there. The hotel also donated the grand prize and behold.....My name was drawn! This was shortly after our IVF was cancelled. Several  people there knew about it, and told me they were particularly happy we had won since we surely needed a pick-me-up. It was a sweet moment. Our prize consisted of gift certificates to brunch and “death by chocolate”  (a dessert buffet) at the hotel, as well as a  $100 gift certificate and a gift basket.

Then, a few days later....our house was burgled. Seriously, that month. It was insane. Afterwards I hid the gift certificates in the back of a cupboard, although logically I knew we were unlikely to be robbed again and it was even more unlikely a burglar would take them.

The surprises were not over, however. A few weeks later we got the biggest surprise of all.

I meant to use the gift certificates. In the early weeks of our first pregnancy, I took them on a weekend trip to the mountains. We stayed in the hotel chain and I intended  to go to the spa. Instead I was stuck in bed either throwing up, asleep, or awake trying not to throw up. I spent the weekend watching CNN and late night infomercials on the hotel TV. Many months later, after AJ was born, I did finally take a friend to Death By Chocolate.

The other day I was digging in the cupboard for a can of something and spotted the bag where I had hidden the remaining prizes. Inside I found the brunch certificate and the $100 gift card. The brunch certificate expired three years ago. But the gift card was still valid.

I decided we would finally use it to have a date night. It seemed somehow appropriate to go out and celebrate now that both our children are safely here, and the events of that January a memory that has mellowed with time.

We enjoyed delicious food, but the best part was the conversation: having the time and attention to explore trains of thought together and let them take us where they would. It is reassuring to realize that after knowing each other for 10 years, and being married for nearly 8, and now with 2 children, that we do still like to talk to each other.

Salad, and wine. Living dangerously!

Main course: lamb

Blurry dessert. Having too much fun to hold the phone steady. This was a “melting chocolate sphere”: dessert inside chocolate globe that melts when hot sauce poured over it.

Several times wait staff asked if we were celebrating anything: anniversary, birthday etc. We replied “no just date night!” But after being asked and asked I thought back to early 2014, and said impulsively to Mr Turtle: “It is the anniversary of the death of despair.” And as soon as I said it I really liked it. Worry and uncertainty didn’t end with the pregnancy; in fact they were really just getting started, from one point of view. But there was no more despair. People embrace the future in different ways, and we often have to be creative, and flexible, not knowing what it will bring, or when it is different than imagined. Four years ago, we were just learning to embrace what our lives would become. It wasn’t always an easy process but it was a good process.

The thought fills my heart with light. Something to celebrate. One day, I think we will look back on this dinner as a new beginning in our lives.

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Comfort zones

I feel like I’ve been doing a pretty good job of getting myself and my children out into the community, rather more so than when AJ was a baby. Some of this is no doubt because I have a three year old now, and it’s rather more difficult to poke around all day at home with a young energetic child. But I like to think some of it is me being braver and more imaginative, too.

AJ is now home 3 days a week, at daycare 2 days a week. We are still working out a routine, but we’ve gone to one weekly play date with a local moms group and plan to keep going.  I’m going to take AJ to kids yoga this week.  We go for walks regularly and I have taken both kids grocery shopping. AJ does really well when all 3 of us are out. We talk a lot about safety when we are out walking, crossing the road, pointing out blind corners and back alleys, etc. I hope I can help her a get a good sense of independent safety so she can have the maximum amount of freedom. I really hate hovering and hectoring.

I’ve also started going to a stroller fitness class at a local rec centre, although it hasn’t involved strollers so far as it’s been too cold to go outside. This has been interesting. My first choice would have been the mom and baby barre class, but it wasn’t on the day I wanted. 
So instead  I found myself in a gym with a few other moms running laps and skipping rope and using weights and whatever else the instructor came up with.

I’m not sporty. I’ll happily walk and bike and cycle and swim and ski, but I don’t “work out”  and have never played team or competitive sports. I’ve always been able to maintain a acceptable level of fitness and health without a great deal of effort, so I’ve never explored fitness culture. As for sports, I have little to no comprehension of them and am not the slightest bit motivated to run after a ball or other projectile. I’m more likely to run the other way. Luckily our stroller fit class has not involved any actual sports; that would be totally embarrassing (and probably dangerous for the babies).  However, I still felt a bit like I was back in high school gym class, except everything jiggled a bit more.

The sense of being slightly out of my depth is  increased by my cheap shoes (I didn’t think we’d be inside much so didn’t want to spend much on them), the fact that the instructor keeps reminding me that I don’t have to try anything too difficult, and by the conversation that can run to sports played by the other ladies as children, etc. I do find ways to insert myself into the conversation but thinking too much means missing the natural openings. Also I swear that women sense when someone is hesitant to talk and rush to fill gaps with more chatter. But really it is better to leave silent space so that people who need more time to think can say something. I’m going to try to remember that.

My crappy but also rather pretty shoes

Anyway, this got me thinking about how I approach situations  and I realized that when I feel uncomfortable I tend to pull back and analyze what is going on (as you can tell from this entry). That does come in useful sometimes but especially in a non-serious situation, it isn’t the best approach necessarily.  The stakes in my little fitness class are very low. I only see these ladies once a week and we don’t have to work together or anything. So I’ve decided to try to do the opposite of my  instinct and embrace the (slight) weirdness rather than be put off by it. I can learn useful things like what kind of sports to introduce the girls to. Even though it was never my thing I am sure there are many advantages to them playing sports if they want. AJ is already interested in hockey (although she can barely stand on the ice so we are a ways away from any solid commitment there). It’s fun to look for resemblances to yourself in ones children but also fun to think they can totally grow up without my personal limitations. And the best way to embrace that, I think, is to also push my limitations so I look forward to doing that, in little steps.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

5 years reflections: the fertility clinic

 torthúil was 5 years old in January 2018. I had other things on my mind then, so I didn’t write anything on my blogoversary. But I thought it might be interesting to write a few retrospective entries on the last 5 years. So I will plan to do that and put the label “5 years reflections” in the titles.

In January 2013 we got our referral to The Fertility Clinic for the first time. I remember being both anxious and excited and my entries reflect that. I felt like I was about to be initiated into an exclusive club, and I was nervous about what that meant. I felt like a lot of things were going to happen but I didn’t know what any of them would be. All we could do was set sail and hope we would ride out whatever storms were on the horizon. I didn’t doubt there would be storms. I didn’t think it would be easy.

Our first contact with The Fertility Clinic was in April 2013. Our first appointment was in May. We spent the next few months doing seemingly endless tests culminating in an IVF attempt January 2014.

I was trying to think the other day if I have any happy memories whatsoever of The Fertility Clinic. There’s really only one, and that was when I picked up my drugs for IVF. I had been feeling quite apprehensive about IVF shortly before. My mom came with me to the clinic to get all the medication and we rode back to my parents place on the bus. (Mr Turtle was still in the US visiting his mom.) It was cold, overcast and snowy. The bag containing the drugs was purple. I had not thought about this in a long time but when I finally disposed of the leftover IVF drugs and supplies a few weeks ago, I remembered later and thought: that visit was actually a happy experience. I liked having my mom with me. She was excited too. Later we played Scrabble and we made all sorts of fertility related words like “ova” and “baby.” Probably not coincidence. 

The next day I had to go renew my driver’s license. It was sunny and the light reflected brightly off the winter snow. I walked to a nearby registry office. As I walked home afterwards, I suddenly felt a lightness of spirit. I believed we were doing the right thing and beyond that, I felt a joyful presence with me. I was not alone. I have never talked about this experience because I can’t explain it. But I can’t dismiss it either. It is one of the sacred memories of my life.

Otherwise, however, I really have no good associations with The Fertility Clinic. They never got us pregnant. Almost every meeting was bad news. Mind you the last one was more hopeful, and it’s funny to think I was already pregnant when we were there but I didn’t know it. When the nurse called me the next month to get set up for IUI, I got to say “thanks, but I’m already pregnant.” Somehow that was more embarrassing than satisfying.

I was thinking of all this recently because I am as close to certain as I can be that we will never go to the Fertility Clinic again. Hurrah! We are probably done having children as well, but we do not intend to ask The Fertility Clinic to help in any case.

There’s only one scenario where I can see us going back and that’s if - God forbid - one of our children dies and we decide to do absolutely anything to have another. I don’t know why my mind goes there but that’s literally the only circumstance I can think of. Unless I also consider insanity. I hope neither of those things ever happen.

With that in mind, I feel like I can say we are “resolved.” Even if we choose not to actively prevent pregnancy (that’s another can of worms), I’m done with any form of assisted reproduction.

I am so grateful for my children and to close the book on assisted reproduction it makes my head spin. Paradoxically, it also makes me feel a little closer to the memories of when we were starting out. I can now re-read the entries where we were anticipating or doing various treatments and think “and this is how it ends.” What a great gift. There's a little frisson of deja vu, a thought of "so now what?" but mainly sweet relief and gratitude.

Saturday 31 March 2018

Dani 2 months

Here we are two months after baby Dani’s birthday. Since not every month has 31 days it’s exciting to celebrate a real month birthday.

Before Dani was born I rather hoped I wouldn’t have a January baby but now I think she has the coolest birthday. And because it’s at the end of January it will make furure Januarys better because of the anticipation.

Bouncing on the ball chair, the swing for short periods of time, car rides (sometimes), stroller rides (usually), smiling at her people, baths. Tummy time-kind of? I discovered I could make it more interesting for her by using those wind up toys. I send them skittering around her and it gives her something to look at so she tolerates tummy time longer.

Weight: 11.2 lbs

Length: “”

Fashion: 3-6  month clothes. Some even marked 6-9 months. Both my girls have long torsos (I guess?) so even though some of these are quite wide they are the right length.

 Wearing one of the two sleepers that I bought 
before she was born.  Almost outgrown. Sigh and smile.

Social life:
Smiling, cooing, little one and two syllable giggle sounds. When she is in a good mood she can interact for up to ten minutes with someone. 

Sleeping: 5-7 hour stretches at night, usually followed by another 2 hour snooze. Sometimes a longish nap during the day, though she can be a challenge to put down. She will usually sleep in car or stroller (but often wakes up VERY pissed). She also can fuss a lot before bed. Goes to sleep between 9:30 and 11:30. Wakes up between 4am and 7am to feed, then back asleep 40 to 90 minutes later.

Eating: lots of boob milk. Other than the sore nipples for  a few days after birth, no issues. I haven’t been pumping or practicing with a bottle since mid March. She is reluctant to take a bottle, despite initial success. Will try to start again next month. 

When I drive past the road we took to the hospital, I always think of Dani’s birth.  I remember how the foundations of my world shifted that night, the power that surged through my body to bring the new reality into being.

Nicknames: Dani Bear, Squish, Snuggleumpagus.

Looking forward to spring with family!

Monday 26 March 2018

Microblog Monday: Baby shower

A few months ago, my MIL and I were talking about my SIL’s baby shower, and I mentioned I’d  never been to a baby shower. Or had one.

There aren’t a lot of babies among my family and friends, as I’ve previously mentioned. Of the few that have had babies so far, they’ve been from out of town. It’s not exactly true that I’ve never been invited to a baby shower. I was once. But it was a friend’s daughter, not a close friend, and we had vacation plans, and we were right in the middle of infertility. So I didn’t go.

I would have gone to my SIL’s shower. But she’s a 3 hour plane ride away. Hence the conversation.

MIL seemed rather perturbed by this information. She said: “ I just assumed somebody would have organized a shower for you.” (She’s also a 3 hour plane ride away.) As I explained though, my mother grew up and had her kids outside of the kind of culture that has baby showers (however you define that). So it wouldn’t occur to her on her own. I don’t have sisters or sisters in law. It would be a weird request to make of my friends without children. Or so it seems to me. My step MIL would have organized a shower for me, I’m sure, if I’d asked. Thing is, with AJ I was too anxious throughout the pregnancy 
to want a shower.  Any time I was at a family dinner or something and people started talking about my pregnancy, it made me panicky. I would briefly enjoy the attention then I would imagine the baby dying and everyone heartbroken, and it just added to my emotional baggage. 

With Dani I was much less anxious (those thoughts didn’t creep in till very close to birth), but since she was a second child and I didn’t have a shower for AJ, again it seemed like a weird thing to ask. Plus we already have a lot of stuff. And I haven’t been to any showers or organized any, so it wasn’t like payback was in order. 

(Speaking of payback, check out 
You Owe Me by Baroness Von Sketch.)

 MIL is action oriented, so once she had processed all this social awkwardness and omission, she decided we were having a shower for Dani. I liked the idea as Dani was already born, or going to be very soon (I forget when exactly we spoke about it). I much prefer a party with the baby here. Even if pregnancy was emotionally easier the second time around.  (I have never liked the adjective  “expecting” with its presumptive  missing noun. Everyone fills in “a baby” without a second thought, it seems, but I also mentally filled the gap with all sorts of disasters.)

As it happened, the past weekend most of the family on MIL’s side was gathering in a small town north of us to celebrate MIL’s brother’s birthday and retirement. So my MIL arranged a brunch the day after the party for our family. She booked a room at a cozy inn and bought a cake. Mr. Turtle’s cousins helped decorate. 

People with faces tastefully obscured with red scribbling.


It was fun. The food was delicious and we were able to talk and visit in a relaxed fashion. Dani fed and then slept in step FIL’s arms for the remainder of the party. There were presents for Dani but also for AJ and for the only other baby born so far on this side of the family, a little boy.

My favourite present was from Mr Turtle’s uncle: a beautiful, soft blanket monogrammed with Dani’s name and birthdate. I just love this blanket (here folded to preserve some anonymity.) 

I think seeing Dani’s name and birthday just makes me so happy that she is truly here and the twisting and uncertain journey that brought her to us has an end date, and a happy ending. And I can cuddle her in the blanket and be reminded of this every day.

I am glad that we got to have a shower after all. Despite all my previous excuses and mixed feelings I think it is important to bring people together to mark milestones. I am grateful to have people who will do this for us, and do it in the way that is most enjoyable.

Back to 
microblog Mondays

Tuesday 20 March 2018

A night out with Natalie

Before I found and fell in love with baby Dani's name, one of the girl names on my list was Natalie. This was in no small part because of Canadian musician Nat.alie Mac.master. I've listened to Natalie's music for twenty years at least and own most of her albums. I saw her live for the first time in 2000, outside in the rain, and since then I've lost count of how many shows I've been to.  As I grew into young and mid-adulthood she was more and more the model of a woman who had it together (I dislike the expression "has it all" but you could say that too).  She was close enough to my age to be relate-able but enough older to be a role model and to experience life milestones just the right amount of time before I did.

There is a life parallel or two. Despite being extraordinarily good looking, popular and talented, Natalie didn't date much in her twenties or have many relationships. In interviews she usually gave the reason that she was too busy playing music (for several years she had an incredibly busy touring schedule) but she also implied a few times that it was because she took relationships very seriously and was not into casual relationships or sex. I am not extraordinarily good looking, popular or talented but also didn't date much for similar reasons, so I liked the fact she was honest about this.

Natalie married at age 30, the same age I got married. She married another talented fiddler from Ontario who, like her, was part of a strong musical tradition. After this our personal lives become rather different. Natalie and her husband didn't have kids for two or three years after marriage. And then they started having kids....a lot of kids. Baby number 6 was born in 2014 when she was 42.  She and her husband continue to play music professionally, run a farm and home school their children. And as you might expect, all the kids are learning music and  dancing. I have yet to see them all live, but I'm sure it's adorable.

My favourite quote about the right time to have children is from Natalie: "No time is a good time, so any time works." I don't recall feeling resentful of her during the years we were struggling to conceive. Natalie and her husband must have already had four or five kids by the time we started trying, so it's not like we were ever going to catch up. Besides, she's so down to earth she's not an easy person to be negative towards. After baby 6, a girl, I assumed she was done especially since the baby was born with Down Syndrome (this has not stopped her from taking up the fiddle).

Anyway. Last year Mr. Turtle and I were discussing Christmas presents and decided to continue with our recent tradition of "experience" gifts, i.e. planning a date night for each other. I browsed through the concert listings in our city and noticed Natalie was playing here March 17th, so I suggested that to Mr. Turtle for my present. Neither of us bothered to calculate that we would have a six week old infant at the time; also maybe the memory of what babies are like was a little faint.

The weeks went by and this past weekend, it was time to go out and enjoy my Christmas present! By a lucky coincidence my mother in law and her husband were visiting so we had someone to watch the girls. I was a bit anxious, but I succeeded in pumping milk the week before, and after watching Grandma successfully feed Dani more than two ounces from a bottle, I started looking forward to the night out. We also had dinner at home, so we weren't away for more than three hours including travel time.

Natalie had played a show on Friday night, and my step dance teacher went and posted effusively about it on She added in the ensuing comment conversation:  "And she's expecting baby number seven! Amazing woman!" My response was "OMG LOL." Internet-ese is great for expressing emotion efficiently and opaquely in six letters.  Of course, I did the math. Natalie is 45.

It was an excellent show, and Mr. Turtle had bought tickets in the 4th row from the stage. This is not the ideal place for sound, but we could see all the expressions and the stepdancing. Natalie is a great showman. She walked on stage with a big grin, and rubbed her belly before launching into her first set. I could see the mischievous look she gave the audience while doing it, and it was awesome, I can't deny it. Nevertheless, I was glad I was warned. Knowing that I was going to see a pregnant woman performing on stage meant I could take it in and then move on to listening the the music, whooping and hollering, tapping my feet, and pondering such matters as how exactly she had attached her electronics to her back and how she was keeping her pants up.

After a couple of sets, Natalie patted her belly and said "I guess I should explain this...." She said she and her husband had not set out to have seven kids, but, life happens (paraphrasing). She told the audience "I'm 45" and joked about being "AMA": "Advanced maternal age." "Age is just a number!" and "We are looking forward to meeting this sweetheart." I genuinely liked her bold comments. Maybe (probably?) I would have felt differently if we hadn't been able to have our children. I may even have felt differently if I didn't know she was pregnant walking in. I don't know. But I can see how she could be judged for having a lot of children, or having children into her 40s. Even I am inclined to judge a bit for having another baby after one is born with Down's, because it's something I'm afraid of and would like to avoid. But at the same time....It was life affirming to see her on stage, joyful, and not remotely apologetic for her choices. I like that she is child positive. I like the fact she was open about her age. It's a pet peeve of mine that women are supposed to lie about or conceal our ages.

Although it is funny timing, coming just as I am sorting out my feelings about whether or not I am done having children.  But I think the lesson to draw from this experience is not that people should have more or less children, but that life is better when you do your best to open your heart up to whatever opportunities present themselves.

As for Dani, she did just fine. She ended up refusing to take the bottle, but she only fussed a bit and then dozed off in her car seat (which was the only place grandparents could put her down). I fed her and moved her to her bassinet with a lot less trouble than I sometimes have (her fussiest time is often before bed, and it can drag on for an hour or two).

Life is good.

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Six weeks

I took Dani for her six week check up today (six week post partum visit for me). It was the first time she and I have been to the doctor since she was 5 days old. At 5 days Dani was already over her birthweight so we did not need to go in sooner.

She is 10 lbs and change (I really need to remember to note these numbers) and in good health. I mentioned her nose / throat mucus which can irritate her when we put her down to sleep. There wasn’t any reason to suppose it was caused by anything serious though.

I am also good: a bit of constipation to take care of, and my stomach muscles are slightly separated in front. I have to remember to breathe normally if I’m working out my abs. That seems to be all. I’ve lost about 15 lbs from what I remember of my last pregnant weigh-in. Still around 20lbs over pre preg weight. At this point I don’t really care if I’m losing weight as long as I’m not gaining.

This could also be my last ever visit to the maternity clinic, as Dani will now be seen by our family doctor. How do I feel about this? Well.....fine actually. Several times a day, I think to myself  “We have a baby.” Not a hope, not a dream. Not a gamble every month. Not a treatment plan. Not a little embryo or fetus that we hope makes it. An actual baby. That’s such a big deal. It is so very different than it was before.

Moving forward: 
  • Signed up for a stroller exercise class next month
  • Also next month AJ will only be at daycare 2 days a week. We are calling it preschool (because it’s as good or better, and we don’t have to find a preschool)
  • My extended leave is approved: plan is to return to work sept 2019
Rest of life, here I come!

Love and light to all.