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.