Monday, January 12, 2015

Goodbye Chicken

My girl Chicken died on the weekend. She was my first baby. She was there through those difficult years of infertility. 

I had to make the difficult decision to have her euthanize. Stick with that decision when the receptionist at the vet kept asking if I was "sure". Take her to the vet and watch her die. 

I hope I did right by her. She was 19. Her kidneys were failing. Her heart was failing. Her quality of life was evaporating quickly. 

She was my girl. 


Thursday, January 1, 2015

toddler narrative

The Holidays have been a gong show. Are they over yet? I can't wait to go back to my stressful job for a rest.

I will not support the gong show assertion with very many facts*, save for this story.

On December 27, my daughter fell about 10 feet in a stair/window well while under my mother's watch. It's hard to explain how this could happen, except to say that her cottage isn't up to code.** I saw it all happen out of the corner of my eye, and just lost my mind. Before I knew it, I was running out of the cottage with my daughter in my arms. Let's just say that if she had had a spinal injury, I would have added great insult to injury.

Let me save you the worry. Gummy Girl is 100% fine.

We think she fell backwards inside this stair/window well, hit her bum on the ledge of the window and fell face first onto a carpeted landing. She cried (euphemism for screamed bloody murder) in my arms and then opted to lie face down on the floor, just like after she dry-heaved last week when she had the stomach flu. We were gathering all our things to go to the ER, but within 10 minutes, she rallied. She wanted to eat, was lively and chatty and giggly. And then after supper, she started dancing. So, I opted to monitor her at home, knowing all the signs for concussions and not having any evidence that she had other injuries.

I could not look at my mother that night. I just took care of my daughter, made a token appearance at dinner and went to bed (right next to the crib). Anger is an absolute taboo for my mother, and so in the midst of my deep worry, I had to keep reminding myself that my anger was appropriate and entirely ok. I felt very alone, as I often do these days, but I tried my best to be on my own team, to try to help myself process this as best I could so that I could help my kid (and thankfully, through text, I had access to my dearest friend who said all the right things and made me feel so much less alone).

My mother's own adaptive processes dictate that she sweep everything meaningful and negative under a huge carpet of denial/dismissal. So the next day, we were NOT talking about the incident.

Well, my darling 22-month-old toddler whose language is exploding right now had other plans. She needed to process it. BIG TIME. For the remaining 3 days of the trip (and even now that we are back home), GG has been going up and down the stairs saying: "Boom-boom. Gummy fall. OW!" And again and again. I engaged her in it, with words and pantomime, using a stuffed giraffe she got for Christmas to recreate the incident. She watched closely, repeating her narrative LOUDLY. My poor mother's rug was being pulled open.***

Today, GG continued to talk about the fall. "Boom-boom. Gummy fall. OW!", but added "ok." It's difficult to convey the sentiment without the right intonations, but if I were to describe each part of the narrative, it would go like this: "ominous-grim-screetching-assuaging." I just wish I could help her understand the causes of the fall a little better, but I'm not sure I know how.

It is astonishing to see her work through this. If you want to read more about how to help kids process difficult events in their lives, I would recommend this book. I like the idea that children need help to knit together pieces of information that don't fit with their understanding of life thus far. A toddler's narrative for a fall isn't very sophisticated, but Oh boy! it's so useful to her. I will continue to help her work through the big fright she had this week, but I feel like she is well on her way to integration of an incongruous event into her young psyche. (ok, that was a pretty shrinky think to say).

And I guess that's what we do when we write (including blogging). We try to knit all the threads together so that they make sense. And a lot of what we go through in this community does not make sense. Thankfully, we write. And we have each other to help recount, reflect and enhance each other's narratives. Powerful stuff.


* Because it would involve a SHITLOAD of complaining, and that does not make for a very interesting blog post. 
** And apparently, neither are her parenting skills. loud snort. 
*** I understand that she does this because she feels so much shame, which makes me feel empathy for her. At the same time, I suffered under her reign of denial, so it's also very freeing to see my daughter not stand for it. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

sick day

That's what it took to get me to write a blog post. Technically, I'm on my third sick day in a row. Some nasty stomach virus has gotten hold of me and is not letting go. It's not great to miss so much work, but frankly, I'm not that surprised I'm this sick. I've been exhausted. I'm grated down to my apple core. There aren't many defences left. Viruses are opportunistic little creatures, and I looked like a sure bet.

The somewhat hilarious past is that I was at work when this all started. I had to excuse myself during a session with a family to rush to the bathroom and hurl. Splashed water on my face, went right back in there and finished the session. I did ask them to wash their hands when they left my office.

The Christmas preps are more or less done. Presents, cards, tree, meal prep (not done, but planned), cookies, etc. You know it. You do it too. It's hard to fit in to the regular jam packed routines of regular life, a life in which as a working mother, I do so much. You know it. You do it too (whether you have a paying job or not). It all easily seems like a chore to me. Christmas is not an easy time, in my experience. I don't have a good relationship with my family. My relationship with my in-laws has broken down. And there were many years of hoping for a pregnancy and a baby when Christmas was just another thing to endure.

None of those layers of stuff have gone anywhere, except for the childlessness. However, this year, I am approaching it with new eyes. My daughter is almost 22 months. She will awaken to magic, if I but foster this awakening. This gives me a new sense of purpose approaching the holidays. I'm usually such a crank, walking backwards into December, ready for January by the 2nd of the month. But this year, beyond my regular crankiness, I am doing the things that Christmas requires. I took GG out to buy a Christmas tree. I decorated it with safe ornaments for her. I have put up the christmas cards. I have invited her grandparents, the ones who barely talk to me, for Christmas dinner. I am doing the things. It is important to her, and to me.

On boxing day, I'll have to fly with my toddler to Montreal to visit my family. Let's deconstruct that. First of all, flying with a toddler sounds horrifying*. At least the flight is only about an hour. And then there is flying. I have never been a happy air passenger, but my fear of flying became established when I traveled with GG as an infant. Exposure is the best thing I can do to manage this fear, and so I will make myself board that plane. I can see it from here: GG will be happy as pie, and I will be crying with my face stamped on the window, begging all deities to let us land safely (which was the scenario last time, except she was 4 months old and slept on both flights). I'm glad Mr. A loves to fly, because he can show our girl that it isn't so bad. All of this is important. I need to see my parents, my dad especially. My family needs to see GG and be part of her life somehow. I am doing the things. It is important to her, and to me.

To summarize, this year, there is still a generous amount of 'must get through the holidays', but with a dash of heightened sense of parental responsibility to create a wonderful experience for my child. Sounds promising.

Happy Holidays to you, dear women.


* All advice on this topic is welcomed in the comment section. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Old

I was at the natural food store in Pleasantville the other day and needed an updated vitamin card (don't ask). The young chap at the cash asked: "Are you a student or a senior?"

I had to laugh.

The answer I should have given was:

"dude, you are catching me in the 5 minutes between the one and the other."

More later. Just thought I'd pop up and say hello.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October First

Dates are very meaningful to me. It always surprises people when I remember their birthday. But I do. For the most part. I have intricate maps of information in my head, which is how I remember a lot of things. Dates are located on a rounded square depicting the calendar year, and in my mind, I literally travel that rounded square each year as we go through the weeks, months, seasons. I'm just a psychology nerd.

October First. Two Thousand and Nine.

That's the day when things went from maybe to NO. It was unequivocal: no babies would ever come from my genetic material. I couldn't make a baby from scratch. It was NEVER going to happen. It's not that it would have been possible before 10/01/2009, because my ovaries were inactive and un-stimulable before then. But that's the day it became crystal clear.

There were two terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days during my awful journey through infertility. October first, 2009, and May 25, 2011. I can't tell which was worse, and rank ordering them is moot.

Both involved a drive from Fertility Treatment Town to Pleasantville, neither of which I really remember. Neither of which were entirely safe for me to do alone. But I look back now and I feel those two drives were emblematic. Alone, and empty handed. The first, without eggs to make a baby. The second, without life inside the baby inside of me.

I remember the Santa Cruz Lemonade jar on the May 2011 drive. I was pregnant, thirsty and craved lemonade. I had it in the car. I drank it awkwardly on highway 401, at 125 km per hour.

I thought about it a lot today. October First, two thousand and nine. I remember getting home and lying down on the couch and sleeping and losing a lot of time that day. My body was NEVER going to make eggs. My body was NEVER going to make a baby.

When at supper on the evening of Oct. 1, 2009 Mr. A asked what I was going to do the next day, I could hardly fathom the question, let alone make up an answer. I think I said I would try to get out of bed. A part of me died on that day. What are you supposed to do the day after a part of you dies?

10/01/2009. That was five years ago now.

This evening, I rocked my baby to sleep, like I do most evenings. My body did not make this baby. My body grew this baby. This baby is my baby. She will never need to know about October 1, 2009. She will only need to know about June 23, 2012 (the embryo transfer) and February 28, 2013 (her birthday). The sorrow which lay ground for her existence is not hers: it is mine. Her life is hers, with its joys, its tribulations, its constant learnings, its intensity.

I think about genetics very little these days. What I think about is how to give my girl everything, EVERYTHING she needs to grow up strong, and healthy, and smart, and strong. Our mother-daughter genetic disparity is part of her story, part of mine. And that will be the subject of interesting discussions, and meaningful soul searching on her part in a few decades.

October First, two thousand and fourteen. I have a daughter. I am someone's mother.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Still here. Still, ahem, blogging.

 I could write more often, couldn't I? there are so many things I could do better, more often, with greater care, with better follow-through, and more mindfully. Shit. To be honest, I'm glad I remember to floss every night.

Being the working mom of a toddler is kicking my ass, admittedly. It probably doesn't help that my perfectionistic tendencies get kicked up a notch when I'm stressed. My perfectionism isn't pathological. At least not for the most part. Unfortunately, my husband's inattentiveness and forgetfulness are pathological, and making some things about family life quite difficult. There is more to say here, but I will have to leave it at that. Things are hard.

I changed jobs in July. I left my old job at the community mental health centre with much regret. I really liked it there and they really liked me. I also felt disloyal, since they had initially hired me on a contract, and then offered me the full time permanent position when I was 6-months pregnant, knowing I was soon to be away for a year. It was good work, and it had a lot of what I liked in being a child psychologist, but there were a few key things missing. A job came up at a university children's hospital 45 minutes away from Pleasantville, with better pay, better benefits, in an area germane to the topic of my MA and PhD research. The interview went quite well I thought, and I received a phone call a few days later saying that they wanted me. Turns out they interviewed 10 people, and hired me without a second interview. My ego had trouble fitting through the doors for a few days after that. I was very pleased with this outcome. It's true that I have worked my ass off for this, and it always feels good to be rewarded for my years of very hard work. And folks,  I'm one of those lucky people who LOVES what she does.

My Gummy girl is about to be 18 months. From April to August, she has been sick so, SO often. She's had 3 double-ear infections (needing antibiotics each time. ARGHH!), at least 2 stomach viruses (the one she had 2 weeks ago dragged on for 7 days, and Mr. A got it too, which meant taking time off work three weeks into my new job. Cue newbie anxiety). She looked quite thin a few weeks ago, and with the illnesses and the transition out of cloth diapers, she had an adolescent-boy-pants look going on. I went out and got her smaller shorts to wear, fearing that the ones she had were impeding her gross motor development. Luckily, she has been well since the last puke-fest, and is doing better with holding her food down and her shorts up.

The childcare situation continued to be a rock in my shoe. In addition to everything I've complained about on here, the fact that Shitty Daycare was making her SICK did nothing to help me like it. There was the 15-month ages and stages questionnaire (ASQ) that one caregiver filled out, stating that my child had no language. It lacked a lot of nuance and context, but I understand that the caregivers are not as well educated as I would like them to be. They sent the 18-month ASQ this past Friday, and in the process, voided any remaining chances I had resolved to give them. They described my baby as having "extreme mood swings for no apparent reason", which in my world is code for bipolar disorder. Could they not have described her as "still adjusting from being away from her parents?" Wouldn't that be a kinder, more developmentally and contextually appropriate way of talking about someone's development over months 16, 17 and 18 of their young lives?

Well, I'll save you the suspense. Gummy got a spot at the Good Daycare on the university campus (where Sattva's girls went) and we are withdrawing gummy's tiny ass out of Shitty Daycare pronto. I'm only just trying to figure out if I should call the Shitty Daycare director and tell her that as a child psychologist, I would have grave concerns if I was consulting to a daycare centre where care providers described infants/toddlers in such a way. And that as a mother, I find it unacceptable.

The new Good Daycare. Oh! The Good Daycare is beautiful. It has natural light, wooded outdoor playgrounds, play-based learning. I am a little awestruck, and I do realize that it will not be perfect. But oh-so-better than Shitty Daycare. Oh-So-Better. There is no where to go but up as far as I can tell.

Also, my child does not have bipolar disorder. She is, admittedly, entering the heart of toddlerhood, and is rather forward about expressing her needs, wants and feelings. She is a little girl with a temperament on the intense side, but who is otherwise quite adaptable, content, curious, loving, and yes, she is developing language. Her expressive language is lagging a little because she is growing up in a bilingual household. But her receptive language is right on target. She is doing well. I know because I'm her mother.

She is my everything, that gummy girl.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Two years now

It's been two years today since the embryo transfer that resulted in the creation of our wondrous Gummy Girl. I think of all the cycles we have collectively attempted and how so many (most?) have failed. I think of how a precious few have (or will) become our children. I still marvel at this miracle. Every day.