Monday, 25 April 2016

One year old

So yeah, I'm almost a full month late with Q's one year update.  For excuses, choose any of the following: a) both he and I have been sick pretty much non-stop since he started daycare, b) I've been back to work for three weeks and am finding the transition to being a working mom super hectic, c) due to a) and b) I've been in bed by 9 o'clock most nights and blogging has definitely not been a priority.  Whatever.  Now, on to the good stuff!

Stats:  At his one year checkup he was 20.5 pounds and 30 inches.  He's grown quite a bit height-wise, but has gained only about a pound or so since his last checkup.  The pediatrician didn't say a word about it, and I'm chalking it up to the fact that he learned to walk at 10.5 months and has literally not stopped moving since.  I gotta get a Fitbit for this kid.  I figure he logs more steps than I do most days!

Taking a brief rest in the dog bed.

Eating:  Right now I'm still breastfeeding first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.  I never had any firm plans about when I would stop, although I'm definitely not in the extended breastfeeding camp.  I'm surprised I'm still doing it at all, actually, but I've learned that when you have a kid that wakes at 5:30am and your alarm doesn't go off until 6, it's kind of handy to be able to bring him to bed and stuff a boob in his mouth for a little while before starting the day.  As for bedtime, nursing is part of our nightly routine but I'm sure I could cut it out any time.  I was out one day last week and M managed just fine without ta-tas, so this will probably be the next feeding to go.  Although I do like my cuddles at the end of the day, since it's one of the only times Q is happy to lie still in my arms and be snuggled.

Regular food wise, we're still doing well.  He's taken to cow's milk really easily and will drink either that or water with meals or snacks no problem.  Q isn't generally picky, although I've discovered that he can be unpredictable about when he'll eat something.  For instance, pasta with chicken can be amazing one night, but if we have leftovers of the same thing a night or two later it ends up being thrown on the floor to the dog.  He feeds himself pretty much everything now except for stuff that has to be eaten with a spoon (i.e. yogurt), in which case two spoons are a necessity because he's constantly grabbing for the one you're trying to feed him with.  He also really really wants to eat whatever it is the adults are eating, or he throws a mini-tantrum.  M's mom was passing around appetizers one evening before dinner at their place and Q seemed interested.  I tried to break him off a piece of my cracker but NO SIREE he was not having it.  We couldn't figure out why he was losing his mind until M's brother helpfully suggested that maybe he wanted to take his own cracker off the plate.  Which turned out to be exactly what he wanted to do.  This kid definitely has a determined streak, that's for sure!

Your phone.  GIVE IT TO MEEEEEE!

Sleeping:  Sleep is actually a ton better now that Q is in daycare.  They ended up transitioning him to one midday nap, which means I don't have to deal with fighting to put him down anymore since on weekends he's zonked enough by noon to go down without a fight.  Although as I've learned from many parents, he still sleeps better/longer for them that he's ever done for me.  This past Friday he took a three hour nap at daycare.  I can literally count on one hand the number of times he's done that for me.  Actually, no hands.  Because it's zero.  Regardless, he comes home happy and rested and then goes to bed happily at 7pm and sleeps through.  If he wakes and fusses we know there's something wrong (i.e. teething, getting sick) because he does it so rarely.  I'd still love to sleep past 5:30am sometime in the next year or so, but hey let's not be greedy.

Clothes:  He's still in mostly 6-12 month stuff at this point, although anything that has a crotch snap is starting to look a little tight.  He's probably going to be in mostly separates from this point out, since he's way bigger on top than on bottom.  He can wear 12-18 month tops but his little skinny waist and short legs mean that he's still wearing some 9 month bottoms.  So much for all those cute matching outfits people gave us!

Diapers:  Still Pampers Baby Dry size 3.  Although he's had a couple of blowout poops at daycare in the last week or two, so the next time I pick up a box I may try size 4 and see how we do.

Likes: Bathtime, every possible kind of fruit, playing with all kinds of things that aren't toys (remotes, phones, keys, the entire contents of the kitchen drawers and cupboards), climbing stairs, general mayhem

What?  I fit.

Dislikes: Sitting still, being stopped from doing something that will inevitably result in injury (like standing on the seat of his push toy)

Milestones:  Q has been on the move pretty much non-stop since he started walking.  Before I went back to work, I felt like 87% of my day was spent trying to stop him from accidentally killing himself, and the other 13% went to essentials like feeding and changing him.  He's an incredibly physical kid, and people regularly express surprise at how well he's charging around for his age.  On the flip side, I feel like his communication skills are lagging a little.  He still doesn't have any words (not even mama or dada), and trying to engage him in activities like reading or singing songs is pretty much an exercise in futility, as he'd much rather be emptying the spice rack or pushing the dining room chairs all over the house.  For a short while I scared myself thinking that he was showing signs of autism (since he regularly does things like ignore me when I call to him and he prefers playing with household items over soft toys or stuffed animals), but thankfully Isabelle talked some sense into me.  He's definitely communicating in other ways, such as lifting his arms to he picked up and waving bye-bye, and he understands a ton.  For instance, one day he took off his own sock and when I told him to put it back on, he just kind of draped it over the top of his foot and looked at me like, "What?  This is the best I can do."  He also loves to roar when you ask him what sound a dinosaur makes, which is so cute I can't even stand it.  His pediatrician would like to hear him babbling more, but honestly we talk to him all the time so I don't know that there's much more we can do at this point.  I'm keeping an eye on things, but he's so social and interactive I keep telling myself I have no reason to worry.  He warms up to people pretty quickly and loves being out and about where he can give big grins to everyone (just ask Gypsy Mama, who got a few snuggles when we met up for lunch a couple of weeks ago).

Illnesses:  After having made it all the way to 11 months with Q never having a fever, he made up for it by catching every bug known to man after he started daycare.  He's been sent home from there at least three times in the past 6 weeks (including on my very first day of work) with fevers, and we've made two emergency room visits for inconsolable crying which of course always seems to happen on the weekend.  The worst part is that Q actually ended up missing his own birthday party because he was getting sick again.  It wasn't going to be a huge affair, but my parents were coming for a visit so we were having some family and a couple of close friends over for an early dinner and cake.  A friend of mine who has done some cake decorating classes offered to make him a smash cake, and I made a big crockpot of chili and had games planned for the three other kids who were going to be there.  

Look at this piece of art!

Instead, M and I ended up taking turns trying to soothe Q (who had refused to nap that afternoon and went into full meltdown mode by the time people started arriving) and my mom and MIL basically made sure everyone got fed and were entertained for an hour before they went home.  It was an unmitigated disaster!  We ended up in the ER later that night with a feverish baby, while the beautiful unsmashed cake went into the freezer and the gifts went unopened.  The following weekend we had just the grandparents over for round two, so Q finally got to smash his cake and open his gifts.  It sucked at the time but I guess it'll make a good story to tell at some point down the road!

Tastes just as good a week later.

Looking forward to: Finding our new normal.  It's been challenging trying to balance everything now that I've returned to work.  The two hours between 5 and 7pm are filled with so much stuff (commuting, day care pickup, dog walking, dinner prep, cleanup, playtime, bathtime, bed) that we're still figuring out how to manage it all.  The crockpot (which I used a lot before anyway) is becoming even more of a staple, and certain favorite meals are going to have to be put to the side or saved for weekends only because anything that takes longer than a half hour to put together just isn't going to happen on a weeknight anymore.  I honestly don't know how single moms or people with more than one kid manage to do it all!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Transition

It seems insane to me to think that this time last year, I had just started my maternity leave.  I was ginormous, uncomfortable, excited and impatient.  I left work shortly before Q's due date so I could get a few things done around the house in the event he decided to show up early.  Unbeknownst to me, he was on the extended stay plan.  Once I packed the freezer full of pre-made meals and finished cleaning everything that stood still, I spent the next two weeks alternating my time between sitting on my butt and walking trudging waddling around my neighbourhood, hoping to shake him loose.  We all know how that ended.

In preparation for my return to work, we've started transitioning Q into daycare.  We were very lucky to find a center near us that came highly recommended by M's cousin, who sent both her boys there.  Child care is at a premium in Toronto, so much so that more than a few women I work with have been forced to take a couple of extra months of unpaid leave to bridge the gap between the end of their paid leave and the date they could get their kids into daycare.  On the first day, to familiarize him with the environment, we spent an hour there together as if it was a sort of play group.  The next day I left him alone for an hour.  The next day he stayed until just after lunch.  By the end of the week he spent the better part of a whole day there.

So far he seems to be doing really well.  Every day his caregivers tell me how good he's been, how great he ate and napped (!?!), and how happy he is.  Drop-offs are a little rough, but what's surprised me the most has been my own reaction to this whole thing.  We started transitioning him a little bit before my leave ended both so that he'd have plenty of time to adjust, and also so that I could get a bunch of things done (spring cleaning, closet overhaul, etc) before going back to work.  I thought I'd feel a huge sense of freedom, but instead I've felt more than a little lost.  The first day I left him for an hour, I went grocery shopping without him for the first time in a year.  When he was smaller he would just sleep in his stroller, but ever since he was old enough to sit strapped into the cart, our weekly grocery trip has been a fun excursion.  I'd talk to him and tell him about everything that we were buying.  He'd chew on my grocery list or keys or anything else besides the three toys I'd brought for him.  He'd grin at strangers and charm the pants off of anyone who took the time to greet him.  Without him riding along, I felt lonely.  There was a tiny ache in my chest.  I missed my shopping buddy.  And while I've gotten a few things done around the house this past week, I haven't been nearly as productive as I thought I'd be.  I've spent more than a little bit of time thumbing through my phone, looking at his pictures and giggling at his videos.  Or I've just stared off into space, enjoying a little bit of peace and quiet while simultaneously counting down the minutes until I go pick him up.

I guess maybe this transition period is just as necessary for me as it is for him.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Rough patch

I know I'm overdue for a post.  I keep thinking about it, telling myself I'm going to write something, but the honest truth is, I didn't think anyone would really appreciate reading what I have to say.  Because I'm not in a very good place lately.

I knew that getting a baby to sleep (and getting some sleep yourself) was one of the biggest challenges for new parents.  Hell, sometimes it felt like that's all anyone ever said to me when I was pregnant.  "Sleep now, because you won't anymore when the baby comes!  Har har har!!"  So when Q was born and slept so well right off the bat that we needed to use an alarm to wake him for feedings,   I counted myself lucky and was very hesitant to even mention it to other new moms for fear of seeming smug.  I knew it wasn't anything I'd done or hadn't done.  It was just how he was.

Fast forward ten months, we've now been pummelled with various sleep regressions, teething, illnesses, developmental milestones, and travel.  You'd think I'd have baby sleep somewhat figured out by now.  And yet, you couldn't be more fucking wrong.

Things haven't been good on the sleep front since December.  I mean, Q's never been a very good napper, but at least nighttimes were going OK.  Until they weren't.  It started with very early wakeups (as early as 4 or 4:30am) and a complete refusal to go back to sleep.  Then naps started to spiral out of control, with Q fighting them tooth and nail and sometimes only going down for as little as 30 minutes twice a day.  Naps finally started to lengthen again due to some concerted nap training effort on my part...and then nights fell apart.  He would wake at random intervals in the middle of the night and require an hour or two of rocking and singing to go back to sleep.  Some nighttime sleep training seems to have fixed that (for now)...but we're right back to early waking and nap hell.  As soon as I work on fixing one thing, something else goes sideways.  I feel like one of those cartoons where the character is in a boat or a submarine and it springs a leak, so he puts his hand over it.  Then another leak springs up, then another, so he uses his other hand, then a foot, then another foot and before you know it he's tied up in knots, he's out of appendages and the boat is sinking fast.

At this point, I feel like I've read every single thing on the internet about baby sleep, and napping in particular.  I feel like I've tried it all.  Blackout blinds, check.  White noise, check.  No pacifier or blanket or lovey, since he's totally uninterested in any of them.  I've rocked him, I've shush-patted him, I've tried co-sleeping.  I've done Ferber's controlled crying and full-on extinction cry-it-out.  I've tried more awake time.  I've tried less awake time.  And finally, last week I threw in the towel and called a sleep consultant.  She was quite lovely and suggested that our free initial 15 minute phone consultation might in fact be all I needed to get Q back on track, as she thought his problems were caused by overtiredness and that I simply needed to tweak his wake times to make them much more drastically shorter than I'd ever tried.  So then I did that.  And it worked, blissfully, for three short days.  Then out of nowhere (and with me having done absolutely nothing differently, and following the consultant's plan exactly), he just flat out started refusing his afternoon nap entirely.  As in, not having it at all.

Today, for instance, was particularly heinous.  Q woke at 5am and resisted all efforts to be put back to sleep.  He took a 30 minute catnap from 9 to 9:30am, cried for an hour through my first attempt at an early afternoon nap around 12:30pm, and then happily babbled his way through an hour long stroller walk at 3pm instead of being lulled to sleep like I hoped.  That's 30 minutes of nap sleep, total, all day.  Not enough in anyone's book, no matter what sleep expert du jour you ask.  Even if he was trying to drop to one nap, which every resource tells me it's way too early for, that nap certainly isn't meant to be a 30 minute one.

Admittedly, I'm not sleep deprived the way I would be with a newborn who's waking every 2 or 3 hours all night.  I can go to bed early and stave off the worst of the effects of being up at 4 or 5am every day.  My frustration level is through the roof, though, and I'm afraid that it's turning me into a terrible mother.  On particularly bad nap days like today, I basically never get a break.  I have no backup, since all of my family lives out of province and even my in-laws are a 2 hour drive away.  I have no one who can come over and give me a few minutes to take a shower or get dinner started or (heaven forbid) relax, or any of the other million things that normal moms must do while their baby is napping.  I don't ever have a chance to recharge and as a result I end up burning out fast, which means that instead of doing important stuff like playing or reading or singing to Q I'm sitting on the floor zoning out and basically doing the bare minimum to keep him from killing himself by sticking his finger in a socket or accidentally throwing himself off the stairs.  I get frustrated with stupid little things that shouldn't (and don't normally) really bother me, like Q ripping off his own bib at dinner and getting food all over himself.  On a good sleep day, it's cute and Facebook-status-update worthy.  On the fifth day of him letting him CIO for an hour for an afternoon nap that never happened (thanks for nothing, sleep consultant), it's yell-at-your-baby-then-feel-like-a-piece-of-human-excrement-for-doing-so worthy.

But the frustration isn't even the worst part.  The worst is how it makes me question myself, and my own abilities as a mother.  I mean, if I can't get my baby to sleep, how is he supposed to grow and thrive?  How is he supposed to develop properly?  If I can't even do this basic thing, certainly I don't even deserve to be a mom.  Maybe infertility was the universe's way of attempting to stop me from doing this thing I was never meant to do.  And instead I went and circumvented nature and now I have this baby I wasn't supposed to have and I'm just going to end up fucking him up despite how much I love him and want nothing but good for him.

And then there's the times I'm so tired and frustrated that I don't want to be around him at all.  Which is scary and guilt-inducing in a whole different way.  Because there are people who would give ANYTHING to be in my position, pregnant after one try with donor eggs, now with a healthy thriving beautiful baby boy.  And then I feel worse than a piece of human excrement. 

So that's where I'm at.  I kept waiting to climb out of the other side of this pit of sleep suck, and write a hilarious and insightful post on sleep training and nap training and how we all survived it.  But at this point I'm starting to think this is going to be as good as it gets, at least for a while.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Nine months

Q is nine months old today!  As promised last time, here's an update on where we are.

Stats:  He hasn't had an official weigh-in since his last doctor's appointment a few months ago, but my unscientific method (hop on scale, hop off, hop back on with baby) suggests he's 20 or 21 pounds now.  I've tried measuring his height myself and I keep getting 27 inches, but that's what he was at his last checkup so I figure I must be off at least a little bit.  Granted, I usually try to do it while he's standing at his activity table and he immediately turns to grab the measuring tape, so he's not making it easy on me.  His 9-month checkup is next week so we'll find out the official stats then.

Nicknames:  There's still nothing really specific besides honey, sweetie or baby, although an extended head cold meant that I was calling him "Booger" or "Booger Nose" for a few weeks there.  "Little man" seems to have emerged as well, but I'm really all over the map.  We also both call him "buddy" a lot, which is super confusing for the dog.

Neither one of them can figure out who I'm talking to.

Eating:  At 6 months we initially tried baby-led weaning (BLW), which involves skipping purees and letting baby feed himself with foods that are easy to  grasp in a fist.  Like Jane, I got fed up with the mess and the amount of food getting wasted so we mostly did cereals and purees for a little while until Q's fine motor skills developed a bit more.  Within a month or so, though, his pincer grasp had improved and it was clear that he wanted to be feeding himself so we started giving him more and more finger foods.  Now he's pretty much eating by himself 95% of the time.  The main exception to this is if we're going out to eat and don't want to deal with the mess, or if the restaurant has those wooden high chairs that don't have trays for us to lay his food on, in which case I'll spoon feed him some chunky store bought baby food.  For the most part, though, he eats what we eat.  For instance, last night was meatloaf with roasted squash and steamed green beans, all cut into small pieces.  Also, THIS KID IS A BOTTOMLESS PIT.  It frequently amazes me how much food he can put away (i.e. it's not uncommon for him to put away an entire pear at lunch, on top of cheese cubes and toast or rice rusks).  I'm still breastfeeding as well, although it's been getting harder and harder to make sure he takes full feedings since the world is just so damn interesting and he's the most distractable baby ever.  On the frowny side, he's still feeding at night.  He usually wakes himself for a dream feed between 10:30 and midnight, and then he's often up again around 4 or 5am at which point I nurse him back to sleep because it's either that or spend 45 minutes rocking him with a 50/50 chance of success of going back to bed.  Everything I read tells me that he doesn't need these night feedings any more and if I was really committed to it I suppose I could work on cutting them out, but in the wee hours of the morning it's honestly easier to do one quick feeding that takes 10 minutes instead of dealing with a fussy baby for a half hour or more.  He also empties both boobs so it's not like he's just waking and suckling himself back to sleep.

Sleeping:  Oh sleep.  If I had only known how much I would think/talk/read about sleep once I had a baby!  It's such a moving target.  For a long time Q was going to bed at night and putting himself to sleep without a fuss.  Then, in October/November I went to visit my family for 3 weeks while M was on an extended business trip.  When we got home, Q was a bit fussy around M so we decided that M would do the bedtime routine for a little while so they could bond again.  Somehow, this resulted in Q needing to be rocked to sleep all over again, so we're currently in the process of some sleep training to get him back on track.  We had some success around 4 or 5 months with controlled crying and timed checks, so that's what we're back to.  As for naps, somewhere around 7 months Q finally started taking naps that were longer than 30 minutes.  This seems to have coincided with him dropping his third nap, which kind of happened organically since he was sleeping longer in the afternoon and stopped needing it.  The one thing we've never been able to achieve, though, is putting him down awake for his naps.  I mean I can, but he'll cry for a good half hour before he finally goes to sleep.  I've had a lot more success rocking him to sleep for these, and we had an awesome little routine going for a while there with him taking 1 to 1.5 hour naps at 9am and 2pm.  The past few weeks have been weird in general, though.  Over Christmas he started waking every 2 hours and getting up for the day at 5am no matter what we did.  This week night sleep has gone back to semi-normal, but now he's fighting his morning nap like crazy, and this nap used to be the easy one!  He's been going through a huge developmental burst lately though (see the Milestones section below), so I have a feeling he's going through a bit of a 9 month sleep regression and I'm crossing my fingers that we can work our way through it quickly.

Clothes:  Some brands have 9 month sizing, which Q fits into perfectly.  Others have 6 to 12 month sizing, which seems odd to me since that's such a huge range.  Q seems to fit most of that stuff OK, although he's on the long and lean side so occasionally 6-12 month items are too short for him lengthwise but baggy for him in the body.  One thing I love is that his larger size clothing is more like "real" clothes (think sweaters and pants instead of one piece outfits) so I find he looks like a real little boy instead of a baby now.

Sweater WITH ELBOW PATCHES!

Diapers:  Still Pampers Baby Dry size 3.  He has the occasional leak at night, but I attribute that more to odd sleeping positions or something rather than the diaper being overly full, since other times it's practically bursting in the morning and yet he's dry as a bone.

Likes:  Food (especially Baby Mum Mums, mom's spaghetti, and ALL THE BLUEBERRIES), bathtime, playing peek-a-boo, being turned upside down or tossed in the air, Skyping with my mom/sister/niece, chasing after Buddy, and putting iPhones in his mouth.

Dislikes:  Being in the car when he's not sleeping, having his nose or face wiped, sitting still, not being allowed to put iPhones in his mouth.

Milestones:  Q started crawling on Halloween night, just a few days shy of his 7-month birthday.  Within days he had pulled himself to stand for the first time.  Then he kind of plateaued for a little bit, although in the past week or so it seems like he's had another big developmental boost.  He got a push toy from my mom for Christmas, and within moments of standing behind it he was walking it across the floor with the hugest smile on his face.  The next day he started letting go of it and standing unassisted for increasing periods of time.  He hasn't ventured to take any steps yet, but I have a feeling we're going to have a toddler on our hands before too long.  Terrifyingly, in the past week he also climbed up stairs for the first time (with a spotter, of course).  He's pretty fearless about trying physical stuff, which is probably going to give me a lot of new gray hairs in the coming months.  Other recent new skills include clapping and what we think is some rudimentary waving.

At my last update I was worried about his communication skills since he still hadn't babbled with consonants at 6 months.  Of course, he started doing it probably a week afterwards and now he's regularly yakking away with all kinds of gibberish.  He also seems to understand his own name (he'll usually turn when it's called) and some simple commands like "no" or "give me a kiss" (which is gross and slobbery and pretty much the awesomest thing ever).  He hasn't really seemed to have any stranger anxiety at all and still loves smiling at everyone he sees when we go to the supermarket or the mall.  He's a real little extrovert!  No idea how his two introvert parents are going to handle that one down the line.

Illnesses:  The end of November/start of December was one big haze of snot and coughing.  We all either had one really long cold or a whole bunch of colds one after the other.  Q hates the snot sucker, but thankfully the humidifier seems to have worked wonders or else no one would have gotten any sleep for a while!

Looking forward to:  In anticipation of being cooped up in the house this winter, I've registered Q for a couple of activities starting next week including a music class and swimming.  I hope he likes them!  Otherwise, I've just been having a ton of fun watching his personality emerge more and more over the past couple of weeks.  He's started playing more interactive games, so now rather than simply sitting on the floor with him and watching him whack stuff together or put it in his mouth I can show him how to actually play with his toys and make them do the things they're supposed to do.  It's so cool and makes me even more excited to see what he's got up his sleeve next.

A little quiet, Mother, please.  I'm working on my blog.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

The year everything changed (and kept on changing)

Well, 2015, it's been a helluva ride.

I don't just mean that because it's the year we finally got to tell infertility to piss off as we welcomed our baby boy to our family.  Although of course that's a huge part of it, but it's really just the start.  Looking back on the past 9 months with Q, it sometimes blows my mind just how much change we've gone through on what seems to be an almost daily basis.  How can time seem to pass so slowly at times (I'm looking at you, 3am with a crying baby) and yet whiz by at others?  

When I have a quiet moment, I often catch myself reminiscing about certain stages or phases that Q has gone through in the past 9 months, or things we used to do with him that we don't anymore.  For instance, when he was first born he was such a sound sleeper that we used to keep his bassinet in the living room for the entire day, laying him down to nap in it while M and I (and often my mom or MIL) puttered about, watched TV, made dinner or did chores.  In the evening I'd feed him and then he'd fall asleep on M's chest as we sat on the sofa watching TV.  I'd doze off too, and M would eventually wake me and together we'd carry both Q and his bassinet upstairs to our bedroom for the rest of the night.  Over time, we started putting Q in the bassinet in our room at his bedtime, and we'd come up to bed later.  Then we started putting him in his crib in his own room, although when we went to bed we'd fetch him and transfer him to the bassinet just because we still wanted him close overnight.  Now, he's in his crib all night.  The bassinet still sits in our room, empty save for some baby blankets that Q no longer uses.  I'm pretty sure he wouldn't even fit in it anymore, and yet I can't quite bring myself to put it downstairs even though it would free up a ton of space.  It's as if moving it will somehow erase the memory of those early days.

Some changes have been momentous, like on Halloween night when all of a sudden we had a crawler.  Days later, he was pulling to stand.  Others have been more gradual, like Q (gloriously, blessedly, finally) stretching out his numerous 30-minute catnaps into two (mostly) solid daytime snoozes.  With each change, the old way of doing things disappears, our routine shifts, and we establish a new normal.  Then it all changes again.  Change IS the new normal.

I really owe you guys a proper update on Q and his development, and I really have no excuse other than now that I finally get an hour or two to myself in the middle of the day it's really damn nice to get to have a nap or read a book or just in general not feel like I'm rushing to get everything done.  I'll do a full-on 9 month update in January, I promise, if for no other reason than because I really want to document stuff for myself as well.  

In the meantime, I just want to wish everyone a (belated) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Wherever you are in your journey, I wish you joy and happiness for 2016.  And if that seems impossible, at the very least a smidgen of peace and the fervent hope that next year everything will change for you too.

Monday, 14 December 2015

The bitch is back

I got my period back.

You said it, Yeezy.

Seriously??   I read so many blogs from women parenting after infertility, and most of you guys are still going period-free up to a year after having your babies.  Some of you are wondering when it's coming back so that you can start trying for number two.  And here all I wanted was for it to stay away until I stop breastfeeding, which is probably going to be around the one year point when I head back to work. 

Nope.  Asshole uterus.

In hindsight, the signs were obvious.  I briefly had some EWCM, followed by copious amounts of thick creamy CM that should have alerted me that something was up.  But my body had faked me out a few months earlier with similar signs, and nothing actually happened.  This time around though, it was the real deal.  Q has been stuffing his gob with solids lately and has been increasingly disinterested in breastfeeding despite my best efforts, so I suppose it was to be expected.

FOOD IS AWESOME!!!

It wasn't much of a period, mind you.  Some sludgy brown spotting followed by a day of super light flow, none of it requiring much more than some light tampons and panty liners.  And who knows, I might not get it again for a few months.  But it was enough to trigger some weird feelings that threw me for a bit of a loop.

At first I had the inevitable thought: oh maybe this means we should start taking birth control precautions.  This was followed by the equally inevitable HAHAHAHAHA YOU'RE INFERTILE YOU IDIOT YOU NEEDED AN EGG DONOR reminder.  And yeah yeah yeah, I know what you're going to say next.  In case you've been living under a rock, it seems like every infertile in the blogosphere has been finding themselves oopspregnant lately.  (No hate: I'm seriously very happy for you guys.)

I guess theoretically it could happen to me.  I mean, if I wasn't too tired to have sex, that is.  I still have some eggs, and there might be a decent one in the bunch.  Thing is, though...I'm pretty sure I don't want it to.  One of the things that I'm probably hyper-conscious about having an egg donor baby is making sure that he doesn't feel different in any way, or any less part of our family.  I think I'm probably irrationally afraid that if we got oopspregnant, Q would at some point feel like he's somehow less than the new baby.  Less important, less wanted, less my child.  And I never want those thoughts to ever cross his mind.  Plus I kind of like the thought of him having a full sibling from one of our four frozen embryos in the Czech Republic.  In the event he ever does feel different from a non-DE kid, he'd have someone to talk about it with.  And vice versa.  So while part of me would love to join the unicorn club, I'm pretty sure that if/when we do talk about having another baby, I'd rather it be with our totsicles as opposed to my dodgy eggs.

That said, the return of my period also brought that familiar anxiety, disappointment and sadness that I felt every time I saw blood on the toilet paper over the past couple of years.  Which is totally strange, as I don't want to be pregnant right now at all.  We're not ready for another baby for a whole bunch of reasons.  I wonder if it's not a bit of a conditioned response.  Like Pavlov's dog, I've learned that the arrival of my period means yet another failure of my body to make a baby.  Yet another month with promise unfulfilled.  Yet another month that I need to be sad.

Except it doesn't mean that anymore.  At least it shouldn't.  I wonder if I'll ever get to the point where the arrival of my period just means that it's time to go to the drugstore.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

3rd Blogiversary: Reflections on being a donor egg mom

Wow.  Another year gone, and yet another huge shift in circumstances.  On my first blogiversary, I wrote about feeling left behind.  Last year, I was the one doing the leaving at six months pregnant.  And this year, I'm firmly out of the trenches with an almost 8 month old baby boy.  A boy who fills me with pride and joy every day, and is doing an exceptional job of keeping me on my toes now that he's crawling around and exploring his world.

A boy who wouldn't be here if not for the gift of a stranger.

Before Q's arrival, I wrote about my worries and fears about being a mom to a donor egg baby.  Would I feel like his mother?  Would we bond?  Or would I feel like a surrogate mom to someone else's baby?  Would the donor issue constantly be at the back of my mind, a nagging reminder that my baby was "not quite mine"?

Admittedly, some of these thoughts lingered for a little while after Q's birth, although not in the negative way that I had feared.  In the first month or two, every so often I would catch myself looking at him and the thought would come unbidden to my mind: he's not mine.  Perhaps some of it was that brand new mother incredulity that everyone experiences; the "how could this tiny perfect human possibly be mine?" moment.  But for me, I knew this was also more than a little bit about the donor.  He's not "mine".  There was no emotion attached to it, no sadness or anger.  It was just a statement, almost as if my brain was testing me by throwing it out there every once in a while to see how I felt about it.  And how I felt about it, as it turned out, was this: So what?  

So what? as I changed another diaper.
So what? as I breastfed Q in the middle of the night.
So what? as I held him close while he napped on my chest.

As time went by, this passing thought occurred less and less.  Like any bully, it came seeking a reaction and when it didn't get one, it stopped bothering to try.  Before long I couldn't even remember the last time it had cropped up.  With each act of mothering, any fear that I wasn't a "real" mom was being washed away.

Now, if someone were to suggest to me that I wasn't Q's "real" mom, my answer would be this: if not me, then who?  The donor, while giving us the single vital cell we needed to bring Q to life, has never held him or nourished him.  She's never played with him, tickled him, or elicited a single smile or giggle.  Never soothed his cries or rocked him to sleep.  Never fretted over his illnesses or milestones, or cheered for him as he achieved a goal.  Never laughed at his shenanigans or been frustrated by his fussiness.  She's never experienced a single minute of this precious, amazing little boy's life while I have been there for almost every single joyful, messy, tearful, hilarious, tender, stinky, irritating, fear-filled, awe-inspiring second of it.

Before I gave birth to Q, any time I expressed doubts about being a donor egg mom M would tell me that I was being ridiculous and remind me that it was my body that was allowing Q to grow and thrive, and that it was my body that would give birth to him.  That through these acts, I was already his mother.  This isn't in any way to minimize the contribution of our donor, of course.  If not for her gift of that one tiny cell, Q wouldn't be here, and I will be forever grateful for that.  But that gift doesn't make her his mother.  It might have taken me a bit longer to get here than for someone giving birth to their own genetic child, but in the end I've realized: being his mother is what makes me his mother.

Obvious to some, yes.  But to this donor egg mom, I guess I needed to get here in my own good time.  And now that I am, it's a beautiful place to be.