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. 



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Gummy the toddler

It's been hard to write, folks. It's not that I've lost my grammar or vocabulary, and I probably could squeeze in a post here and there at work. But I've been struggling personally and it seems inappropriate to share everything I have on my mind in this context. So instead, I thought I would talk about the best part of my days, my weeks and my life: Mademoiselle Gummy.

She is still at the mediocre day care. As soon as I made the potential nanny a job offer, she vanished into thin air. Tells you something about her age and inexperience with the job market. Rule of thumb, little girl, when someone offers you a job, you should say yes or no, but you should say something. She will hopefully learn this lesson, but I am not the one who will teach it to her.

At about the same time that the nanny wasn't materializing, money concerns simmered to a near boiling point.* My motivation to look for a nanny evaporated as Gummy became able to tolerate going to day care. She continues to struggle with drop offs and pick ups (there are tears, sometimes accompanied by horrified, baffled looks in our directions about why the fuck we are leaving her with strangers), but she is reportedly doing fine during the day. The day care centre has done nothing to impress us as parents, and she will be leaving this centre as soon as a spot becomes available in another centre where her name sits on a wait list for now. I am not happy about this situation, but I am trying to just exercise patience.

Meanwhile, she started walking on May 4, a few days after reaching the 14-month mark. She had been walking around assisted for a while, with us holding her hands or holding on to her tiny shopping cart. But one Saturday, her friend Bea came over, and Bea walked around like a champion. Gummy got inspired and the next morning she started walking around unassisted. She was met with our very loud squeals of delight, and took it up as a practice. For a week, whenever she walked unassisted, she emitted a loud squeal, figuring that the two went together.

She also started using words. Ok, it's mainly ONE recognizable word, but I'm optimistic that there are more forming in her sweet noggin. In late April, she suddenly said a very H-y "HI" with a wave of the hand. She did that when her father entered her room, and then did it again when she saw me, and again for the cat. She did it all day long, whenever it seemed appropriate to her, and mostly, it also seemed appropriate to us. She was using a recognizable work in context! I nearly wet myself. Since then, she has also said the word "moo" when looking at the depiction of a cow (is moo a word?).

Gummy seems to understand a thing or two about what's going on around her. She figured out that the owl in one of her books is much like the owl atop her bookshelf so she points to it when we get to that page in her book. She exhibits book preferences, and wants to look at certain ones over and over (rapidly if possible, but on some pages she likes to linger). She makes her wishes known as best as one can without language, and is starting to have the impatience of a toddler. And I guess since she officially toddles, she is now a toddler!

Gummy has also become more cuddly. She likes when I put her to bed (as much as I do? I can't imagine). She likes me to play with her hair, rub her back and read her stories. At some point, she insists on facing me and she just stares and smiles (and sometimes wants to inspect the contents of my mouth, which is uncomfortable, but hard to deny her this moment of pseudo-dentistry). She likes to put her head on my shoulder and tap-tap-tap on my back. "there, there, maman**" she seems to say.

I could gush about my girl for another long while, but it's bedtime. I will leave you with a few pictures instead.




This is at the park, inside a hippopotamus. 


*Being solely responsible for paying for mediocre day care, plus my professional dues, plus my liability insurance, plus a shitload of money to get the car fixed = big freak out for Augusta. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

emerging, maybe.

Although, really, it's still a feeling of submersion I hold inside.

Your comments on my last post were very much appreciated. It still amazes me that you read my blog and write me the most generous comments, texts or emails. You are big-hearted women, and I am so lucky and blessed to know you.

We are swimming in a weird status quo as far as child care goes. Gummy Girl continues to attend Mediocre Child Care Centre. She continues to struggle with separation, although she is getting used to the drill. Her father and I continue to feel dissatisfied with this situation, although we both recognize that emotions aside, this is not horrible. Or even bad. It's a good enough child care placement. But word, good enough feels far short of what a mother wants for her precious girl.

My frantic nanny search was, as is true for so many things in life, require a ton of effort for little return. Lots of sifting through potential candidates, some of which made it to Augusta's Gate #1 (phone call) and were quickly dismissed. Mostly on grounds of availability. At least one on grounds of my gut saying I couldn't trust her (and I listened to said gut this time, you'll be happy to note).

We interviewed a young woman last weekend. She sounded like a winner on the phone, but having her in our home confirmed it. Gummy smiled at her, waved at her and gestured to be picked up by her soon after she arrived. This is Gummy at her most comfortable. As for Mr. A and I, we both felt like we could trust this young woman and that she loves children.

It took a few days to hear back from her about her references, but she came through, and I started calling them last night. One mom told me she left her 10-month-old with this young woman for the weekend. I think that speaks volumes.

So, it's not finalized yet, but it looks like we might have a nanny. It will eat up a rather large percentage of my income, but at least my mind and heart will be much more at peace. And I feel like I will be giving my girl more than just good enough.  


Thursday, April 3, 2014

theory and practice

In theory, Gummy started at the daycare centre yesterday. In practice, she went for 2 hours and Mr. A picked her up. 

In theory, this daycare centre is the right fit for us. It's close to our home, it's a licensed child care centre, it had a space available for Gummy starting in April. We have friends who sent their son there between ages 1 and 2, and they were very happy with it. In practice, I'm not sure it's the right fit at all.

In theory, she would go to this daycare centre 3 days per week. In practice, I never want her to go back there again.

In theory, she is miserable at the daycare centre because of her secure attachment to her parents, and her distress is a healthy sign. I wholeheartedly believe that's why it's been hard for her to go to the daycare centre. BUT in theory, that should be the extent of what makes ME miserable: the fact that my baby is struggling with being left in the care of others. In practice, I cry every time I think of having to leave her in that awful place and thank her father for taking it on himself because it would break me in half. I am unsettled about the physical space (the room she's been assigned to looks like a storage closet); some of the other kids in the room (a few very rambunctious boys, one of which I will probably see in my practice in a few years); and the quality of the caregivers (nice and nurturing enough, but somehow flat in their affect and interpersonal skills).

In theory, I should give this a chance. In practice, I am interviewing nannies and pulling her out of there.   

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A month's worth of transitions

That's what it's all felt like since the end of February. One big transition, with a thousand little transitions nesting within the big one. Ask me if my frontal lobes are tired.

I'm at work right now, and this seems to be the only time I can write. Which is to say, I suck as an employee. But I suck more as a blogger these days, so I'll preempt my good-worker conscience.

Status updates, in no particular order:

1) I really like soy lattes. It's a struggle not to stop by the coffee shop that makes good ones everyday.  I'm having one right now. Ah-mmmmm (as Gummy would say)

2) Work is going well so far. I am thankful for this job. I am thankful for my great co-workers. I am thankful to work in a place where my work is valued, and where I value others' work. This job doesn't have everything I need, but it has a lot of what I need.

3) The commute is killing me. Physically. Psychologically. One day last week I spent 3.5 hours in the car. Typically, it's closer to 2.25-2.5 hours, which is still way the heck too much. When I was in my early 20s, I promised myself that no matter what, I would never spend hours in the car commuting once I became a grown up for reals. I am disconcertingly breaking that promise.

4) In the car, I think of all the emails, thank you cards, books, household chores, and most importantly, TIME WITH GUMMY that I am not writing/reading/doing/spending. See third sentence of point 3.  

5) Because of 3, I look at the job postings everyday for something even marginally closer.

6) Because of 2, I continue to feel ambivalent, and I keep telling myself to find my peace with the commute and with the few things missing from this job.

7) Gummy had a very rough first day when I went back to work (as you read in my last post), and continued to be iffy for the week. The following two weeks, she treated me like I was a stranger. She displayed stranger anxiety with her own mother. Luckily, given what I know professionally, I was ok with it. Knowing that she needed a reliable caregiver, and that this caregiver was now dad, I was reassured to see her count on him to meet her needs. Personally, it hurt. A lot.

8) Interestingly, having children means you get to work on your conditioned patterns. A big one I got to revisit with Gummy's new way of relating to me was: At the slightest whiff of rejection, I walk away. And by walk away, I mean I am out of there emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically. That's worked fine in my life so far. Except, it quickly became clear that this strategy wasn't going to work with my own child. She wasn't actually rejecting me and she sure needs me to check IN, not check out right now. So, while I didn't have the time for a long, reflective journaling session at the local coffee shop to ponder the depths of this awful, previously useful pattern, I've given it a lot of thought (yes. in the car). My work is to stay connected to her no matter how she feels; Love her, no matter what she is doing; Support her, no matter who she is favouring as her primary caregiver. I need to be steady in my love and support, so that she can learn to feel steady inside. Small task.

9) I had booked off all the Fridays in March as a means to transition from being at home full time to working full time. I have asked and been granted an extension on that. I looked at how much I was struggling with what was happening, and decided that the responsible thing to do was to ask for more time.

10) Gummy goes for accompanied visits to the day care this week, and starts in earnest next week. Now that she's used to being at home with dad, we'll rock her world a little more.

11) To protest the impending change, she contracted a stomach virus and puked all over me last night (and was up from 2:30 to 5am. Poor peanut was feeling awful).

12) My dear friend Veronica just sustained miscarriage #4, with an added bonus of a hemorrhage for this one. Please spare any good thoughts you have for her.

13) After one too many night of stretching leftovers and eating toast for supper, I bought a slow cooker. Hoping this helps with our 6pm unhappy hour. If that fails, I'll just up my alcohol consumption.

14) Fuck, I'm turning 40. In less than a month.       

Monday, March 3, 2014

out of sorts

Today was the day, after 54 weeks* at home, that I was expected to returned to work. And so, that's what I did. I was looking forward to it, in all honesty. I needed a break. Adult conversations. Psychology conversations. Case conversations. All things I get to have at work.

The day was off to a good start. Getting ready, playing with Gummy, having breakfast together. The goodbye went well.

People at work were sweet. There were flowers waiting for me on my desk, with cards signed by my colleagues, chocolates, tea. Oh, my colleagues are great! What a way to welcome me back.

It was mentioned that I looked very relaxed, and when I said that Gummy was with her dad, they understood why. I wasn't stressing about a rough transition to daycare because that's not happening right now.

I drove home feeling like my first day had been a success. Very much unlike me, I hadn't cried once.

Then I got home. I was told Gummy cried on and off all day. That she had a hard time eating. She seemed exhausted, but still ate her supper and had her bath, however cranky she was at various stages of the evening routine (including one random and very intense burst of wailing and tears while eating supper).

It seemed clear that I would be the one putting her to bed tonight, which is usually something Mr. A and I discuss or coin toss (because we both want to). But she would not have it. She was so out of sorts, the poor thing. She wailed and thrashed in my arms and insisted that dad put her to bed. That was a first.

It was hard, but I know she's just out of sorts. Of course, I cried a little after that. It's really hard on her and what is hard is my absence. An absence I even enjoyed.

So, yeah. Let's just say I was ready to throw away this career in a heartbeat. But I went out for a walk in the %&# cold night, and it helped cool off my thoughts.

She's just out of sorts.

How can she learn distress tolerance without distress. How can she learn to regulate her emotions without being faced with emotion-producing situations (beyond 'the cat won't let me pull her ears off').

still, I learned something deeper about mother guilt tonight.




* 52 weeks of parental week + 2 weeks short-term disability last February