Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

I am a known disliker of Christmas. It usually involves going back to my home province, either driving on the dreaded highway 401 at the worst time of year or taking a couple of trains down the Windsor - Quebec City corridor. Neither options enchant me (although option 2 absolutely delights Mr. A). Then there is invariably my mother's craziness to contend with. In large fucking doses. I can usually manage two days, but inevitably, we visit for about five days, which is two and a half times my limit.

Last year, I made it clear to my mother that we would not be travelling with a baby. It did mean missing Christmas with her family, and not seeing my dad at all, but the thought of travelling with Gummy Girl at this point makes me want to insert sharp lead pencils into my eyeballs.

Hence, we are home.

And so far, it is a brilliant Christmas.

We declared the 24th and 25th days to ourselves, and so there is just the three of us. I have dreamed of this for years. A peaceful, simple Christmas at home with my husband and my baby.

We decorated the potted Norfolk pine and made pain au chocolat for breakfast. Later, I will make boeuf bourgignon. We might go for a walk in the snow. We'll listen to carols. We'll finish the Globe and Mail crossword. It's perfect.

I decided it would be good to attend the early church service at Mr. A's church last night (despite it overlapping slightly with Gummy's bedtime), and I was surprisingly choked up with emotion during the service. I thought about the grace symbolized in the birth of this special child, Jesus to all, and Gummy to me. How blessed we are.

I also feel like I am holding in my heart a very special place for those spending the Holidays with infertility as your constant, unwanted companion. I think of my friend Veronica, and of dear Suzanne who has just received very tough news. And Conceptionally Challenged, especially, who grieves for her beautiful daughters. May the years ahead bring you babies and happy Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas to all of you. May there be many moments of peace and joy for you during this time.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

the fertility clinic waiting room: part 2

(see part 1 here)

I went back to the Fertility clinic a few weeks ago on December 5. The last time I was there was for u/s # 2 in August 2012. Earlier this fall, I called my RE's secretary to book an appointment. I needed to ask him some questions about my hormone replacement therapy and also, get his take on the birth and what he thought would happen with a potential second pregnancy.

I gave a lot of thought to the visit beforehand, starting with the waiting room. Was I even allowed to bring my baby to a fertility clinic waiting room? I asked the secretary, I called the nurse, and by all accounts, it was a-ok to bring Gummy Girl. But you know me by now. I still felt awful for the women/couples who would be waiting there and have to be subjected to the sight of my living, wiggling, super-cute reminder of their childlessness.

I also thought about how I would probably loose my shit and start bawling. Did I ever tell you about the phone call I made to our dear fertility nurse a month after Gummy was born? I got her voice mail and just said that I had given birth to a baby girl and....wah, wah, wah (I was unable to finish my message and just hung up, hoping she would understand). I found a parallel to the advice of not texting/phoning anyone while inebriated: Don't call your beloved fertility nurse within 6 weeks of giving birth. But now Gummy was 9 months, so more time had passed. Except that I would see my nurse and my doctor in person. So, I had real reasons to be concerned about lots of public crying on my part.

The three of us trekked down to Fertility Treatment Town on what happened to be a beautiful, warm late fall day. Gummy looked awfully cute in her green corduroy jumper with a mouse on the pocket. My heart was filled with pride and joy: I was taking MY daughter to meet the people who helped usher her into existence.

The fertility clinic where we've been treated used to be located at another hospital in FTT, but moved in the spring of 2012 to a different hospital in the same city. The funny thing about the new location is that it is directly 2 stories above where my office was as a resident. So going there brings back all sorts of memories. Overlaid are the memories of the early ultrasounds when I was pregnant with Gummy.

I got myself worked up about it all. As I do.

I stood outside the waiting room with Gummy after checking in. The nurse made a huge deal of how beautiful Gummy was and made us feel welcomed. But the waiting room was packed and my heart hurt for those couples. At the same time, I had a legitimate appointment for a legitimate reason. And the waiting room is where we would be fetched. Not the hall. So we went in, the three of us. I took Gummy to the end of the room, where there was a Christmas tree, and did what all good fertility patients do in the waiting room: avoided eye contact with anyone.

And it occurred to me: I was that woman.

That woman who brings a child to a fertility clinic waiting room.

But I couldn't/can't apologize for Gummy's existence. I am blessed beyond words by her precious life. I am just am sorry that there isn't a different, smaller, perhaps painted in brighter colours and filled with toys, waiting room for people who have kids and still need to go to the fertility clinic.

Strangely, I also could almost see myself sitting in that waiting room in years passed. At times hopeful. At times completely beaten down by failure. At times worried sick. And now I was sitting in the waiting room showing my daughter the Christmas tree ornaments.

A nurse called us in shortly after arriving to our seats in the waiting room. We got to see our dear nurse who was pleased to meet Gummy, and happy to see us. We waited a long time to see dr. RE. As always, I could hear the prosody of his speech, muffled through the walls of the exam rooms and knew he was taking the time he needed to consult with the couple in the other room. Hearing the sound of his voice through the walls always helped me wait. I knew when our turn came, he would give us the time we needed.

Dr. RE was pleased to meet Gummy, but wasn't really all that focused on her. It was the most striking thing about our visit: neither our nurse nor Dr. RE were all that focused on Gummy. Their attention was on Mr. A and I. They were happy to see us smiling, see us having become parents. It seems that when you have a child, everyone's focus turns so sharply to the baby, which is so wonderful. It really is. I'm saying that the contrast in this instance was noticeable.

It was a full appointment. The short version is that Dr. RE confirmed my fears that complications would be expected with a second pregnancy. He flat out said it would be a high risk pregnancy and I would need to be followed at the large University Health Centre nearest to Pleasantville. While I am worried about placenta accreta (what I had last time) or increta, Dr. RE went straight to worrying about percreta (where the placenta invades not only the wall of the uterus, but the adjoining organs). He did nothing to help me want to get pregnant again.

Despite that, I did agree with him that running some investigative tests right now while I'm on mat leave would be a good use of my time. He posited that my uterus might be in rough shape after what happened, and thought that I may end up needing one or two hysteroscopies, but that we should start with an u/s and a sonohysterogram. We also talked about interim and long term HRT strategies. I fell in love with him all over again. He's the only doctor whose ever really understood what's going on in my reproductive system.

He convinced me to come in for an u/s the following Sunday at 8 am (which means leaving my house at 6:30am). I did agree to it, and drove down that long highway at the crack of dawn like the good ol' days.

And just like that, on CD21 using my regular HRT regimen and nothing more, my lining was at 8mm. What. No coaxing? No del.estrogen shots? Just fluffed up to 8mm after 5 days of prome.trium!

That was a surprise. Crazy what having a baby can do.

I'll book a sono for the new year, and we will see how things look in there. But beyond that, I'm not looking to work up to a FET anytime soon.

I'm just thankful that we have one amazing little girl to call our own. And so grateful to everyone who helped us welcome her into our lives.

Monday, December 9, 2013


It appears I missed posting in November altogether. I squeaked one post in at the beginning, but then I had to temporarily abandon this blog and spend time writing elsewhere. I wrote a novel in November, thanks to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I could have stopped in to write about the experience of writing, but there was no time for that. Every time Gummy napped, I wrote the novel. And I made it to 50 000 words by November 30. I'm not sure how.

Well, actually, I do know how. I focused on the quantity instead of the quality. I had an idea of the plot and characters, and made a rough plan ahead of time, but then during the month of November, I just wrote. I did NO editing. And I stuck to that rule, which is why I got to the end of the month with my 50 000 words.

But let me be clear: the novel I wrote is a few neighbourhoods south of Terrible.


I don't think the grammar is even something recognizable as English (I know what you're thinking: that's not a far cry from these posts, which I do try to edit before posting. But at least I have the excuse of being an ESL person).

I did this to reclaim some of the pieces of my identity I felt have been far out of reach since Gummy's arrival. I needed something just to myself. Something contained, achievable, confidence-boosting, fun, engrossing. And it was all that.

When I asked Mr. A in October if he would support me in doing this, however he was able, he said yes. And he mostly did that. There were a few frustrating moments when I wanted to write but he couldn't take care of Gummy, but that's par for the course. He also pointed out when we talked about it in October, that doing NaNoWriMo might make me feel better than sitting on the couch watching shit TV every night. He didn't say this in a blaming or condescending way. He just wanted me to do things that make me feel better about myself.

He was right.

I like shit TV, but I like writing even more.

So, I'm trying to figure out the balance between relaxing while watching Girl (what a gem that is) and using what little free time I have to a) get shit done and b) pursue my interests. I figure I'll feel somewhat happy about my balancing skills the day before I go back to work from mat leave, and then I'll have to start over.

Friday, December 6, 2013

In and out: the nine-month mark

I have plenty of other material for blog posts, but this will be a short and sweet post. If you are struggling right now, this one is all about unicorns and butterflies, so feel free to skip. I will come back with angst later. Oh, I do angst really well, and I promise you more. But for now, let me revel in my beautiful daughter.

This is Gummy after 9 months in-utero (well, 38w2d)

Gummy Girl, what do you see over there?
And now, she has spent 9 months ex-utero

Sitting with her is Big Hoot, her favourite owl
They aren't kidding when they say 'kids grow up so fast'. Gummy is about 29 inches long already. She babbles with great intent, and wants to grab everything in her vicinity, including poor Chicken's fur and ears. She is happy as happy can be (except when she's not). And she still makes us cry tears of joy and gratitude when we put her to bed. We are so lucky.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

questions answered: sunshine award

The lovely Suzanne, at Our journey to a baby bump nominated me for a sunshine award. Thanks, lovely woman.

I'm not really all that good at following rules around these things, but I did want to make an effort and answer the questions that Suzanne drafted. Otherwise, I nominate anyone still reading this blog for this award. And if you feel like it, you can answer Suzanne great questions, because my brain is apparently not coming up with its on (did I mention I was trying to do NaNoWriMo?)

Here goes:

1) Was there a particular moment in your infertility journey that made you realize that you wanted/needed to start blogging? 
We started looking into things in 2006. We knew we wanted children, but I also knew it would be a struggle. We treatments in early 2009. We already knew that the problem lied within my reproductive organs: I had never menstruated without the assistance of medication. We were told that a medicated IUI would be the first thing to try and so we did. The first one was in June 2009 and it was over almost before it begun. The menop.ur wasn't doing anything to my ovaries. Second IUI was in September 2009, after a long priming with estra.ce. After higher doses of meno.pur, still there was no waking up my sleeping ovaries. The cycle was a bust, and there was basically nothing the clinic could do for us unless we found ourselves a donor. I was in a grief-stricken state of shock for a few weeks. And was quite depressed for months. I felt isolated and I needed to talk about this experience. So I started writing on this blog. That was October 2009. 

2) What was your favorite vacation spot ever? 
I think my trip to the Yukon and Alaska when I was 25 was the most inspiring trip I ever took. I love hiking/backpacking and find myself at home in the mountains. It was awe-inspiring to be amidst the deep, northern wilderness. The highlight of that trip was a 7-day backpacking loop to the Donjec glacier in Kluane National Park. It was the most intense backpacking I've ever done, and it taught me much about my own strength.  

3) What food could you never live without? 
Yummy kitchen sink-type salads with my own dressing, honeycrisp apples, peanut butter, dark chocolate, coffee, club soda and red wine. 

4) If you could spend one day with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be? Why? What would you do? 
It sounds weird, but I'm thinking I would pick Carl Rogers. I'd want to talk to him more about how psychotherapy has developed since his client-centered approach was hatched. 

5) Favorite article of clothing? 
Right now it's my oat-coloured cowl neck wool sweater, but my preferred article of clothing changes regularly.  

6) We have so many tears through you have a REALLY funny moment that you've shared with your husband through all of this? 
That is such a great question, Suzanne, but I'm racking my brain and can't remember any funny moments. Just dreary dread and sadness. 

7) Your child's 16th birthday present...a new car or a nicely wrapped stack of fertility bills and  bus pass?? 
Neither. Probably we would want to host a dinner with her friends, and let them drink wine, and ask about what dreams they are holding for themselves. 

8) What one thing would you go back and tell your 20 year old self? 
Find a way to be on your own team, 'gusta. Seriously, you have to find a way to make friends with yourself and SOON. Figure out all the ways you are awesome and focus on that, instead of thinking about all the ways in which you are not enough. You ARE enough. Now, keep going and have a great life! 

9) You are going on a trip and lose your suitcase. What one item are you going to replace first the second you get where you're going!?
my estr.ace and prom.etrium 

10) What is the best part of blogging your IF journey? 
The amazing connections I've been privileged to have with other women, and the sense of being held in the warm care of an amazing community. I remember sometime after I started blogging going to our clinic to have some procedure. I was tense and apprehensive, and trying my best to hold myself together. I went to the bathroom and on my way there, I thought about all of my online friends who would be thinking of me and hoping right along with me. Just thinking about that gave me a huge boost on that day, and so many days after that. I stopped feeling so isolated in my IF journey. I also could borrow from other women's hope for me when I had none left for myself.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Gummy is eating food. Not just delicious sim.ilac, but real, honest to goodness food. Much to her mama's pride.

We started in the summer, when she was 5 1/2 months old. The WHO tells us to introduce solids at 6 months, but she was ready 2 weeks early. I wasn't going to make her wait, seeing as she opened her mouth every time I took a bite of something and then looked at me quizzically when I failed to put something in her baby bird beak.

I took that gift certificate for a big chain baby store and ordered me a high chair. It arrived. I put it together the same day. And we started.

Well, I should say that Gummy had carefully been given fruits and veggies to lick prior to that. I would hold a piece of apple and let her put it in her mouth, without letting go.

But it was time to let her try things on her own. I decided that baby-led weaning (BLW) was our method of choice. I knew a number of women I admire use this with their babies, much to their delight. I looked into it, and it seemed to fit with what I imagined feeding would be all about.

My main concern was the potential for choking. I had to review the infant cpr techniques we learned last fall when we took the class, and watch some youtube videos to see what the difference was between gagging and choking (well, I didn't see any babies choking, but I saw plenty of gaggers, and could extrapolate what choking might look like). I was reassured to hear from moms who were doing BLW and had seen their babies gag several times, without dire consequences. One of my local mom friends did say she and her husband grabbed the tray of the high chair, ready to take their baby out expeditiously a few times, but never needed to, as it was always just gagging and never choking.

The fear of choking remains. Yesterday was the first time in 2 months where we actually pulled Gummy out of her high chair because her gagging was starting to look like choking. But she gagged and was alright. She continued eating happily thereafter.

There are several things I like about this BLW:

1) The three of us can eat together at the same time. Because neither Mr. A nor I has to spoon feed Gummy, we can all focus on eating and conversing, instead of only one adult and one baby eating, while the other adult plays open-the-tunel-for-the-choo-choo-train with the spoon.

2) The preparation of Gummy's food is minimal. I quarter an apple, and take off some of the skin. I steam some green beans. I slice a watermelon and take out the seeds. Done. We also sometimes feed her exactly what we're having. She had rice pasta the other day, and rice and beans last week. She loved it! In fact, she has tried EVERYTHING we've put on her tray so far (I know this can change).

3) I am not the one deciding what goes in her mouth: she is.

That last point, it turns out, is the most important to me. I want her to grow up trusting her own biology. I want her to know that her body will tell her when she's hungry and tell her when she's had enough. That sometimes she'll miss the mark on that by eating too much or too little, but that it will all even out if she keeps listening to her hunger and satiety cues. I want her to trust that if one day she is craving tons of fruit, that's fine. And if the next day it's fries, that's fine too.

I've been reading this book (recommended by Bunny*) and it is GREAT. The main premise is that there exists a division of responsibility in feeding our children. Parents are responsible for what, where, when their children eat. Kids are responsible for how much and whether they eat. And this is based on the fact that we can trust our biology, starting in infancy.

I think that's the ticket.

I say that as someone whose done academic research in the area of obesity and eating disorders.

I say that as someone who has treated adolescents and adults with eating disorders.

And, of course, I also say that as someone who had an eating disorder and recovered fully.

In other words, I say that I like this philosophy of feeding children based on the fact that I have spent A LOT of time thinking about eating. An obscene amount of time, to be honest. And after all that, the only thing that I'm truly convinced of is that trusting hunger and satiety signals, which are inherent in everyone but can be silenced by loudmouths like 'societal pressures to be thin' and 'your mother who thinks you need to have one more slice of pie', is the way to have a good relationship with food, and to have a healthy body. There are other important things for health, to be sure. Vegetables. Exercise. Etc. I don't disagree with any of those, but it comes down to eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full.

It took me over 30 years to learn that. Closer to 35.  

I guess I knew it at birth, but I unlearned it. My poor 23-year-old mother was overwhelmed and figured out that dipping my soother in honey would shut me up (it was a different time in the early 70s). There is this family story about how I was such an overweight baby that my doctor told my mother to put me on a diet. And then there is my mom's own chronic eating disorder and it's impact on how she fed me. And seventeen thousand more layers on top of that, layers that made those hunger and satiety signals inaudible.

I want my daughter to hear her signals. I fear so much that she would ever go through the hell I went through. Bulimia. Anorexia. Cardiac issues. Suicidality. Psychiatric institution for months. I never want her to become familiar with any of those. I know that I can't stop society's influence on her in terms of body image (although there are things I can do to help mitigate its impact). But I can give her the chance to have a good relationship with food by following her cues. And right now, letting her decide what goes in her mouth feels like the best way to do that.

* Bunny who swore off reading parenting books, so when I saw that she was reading this one, I figured it must be damn worth it. And it is. 

Monday, October 14, 2013


Yours may be 6 weeks away, but today is Canadian thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for. We are spending a quiet weekend just the three of us, and I love it. Mr. A's parents did come over on Saturday, while I conveniently went to lunch with my good friends. We cooked a duck yesterday (which is saying something for someone who was vegetarian for 15 years). And today, we'll go on a little hike to appreciate the fall colours and each other. Life is very good, my friends.

What I'm most thankful for is my daughter. I was looking at her during breakfast this morning and realizing how quiet the house would be without her exuberant joy. I thought about how I would be going to work tomorrow morning, still silently carrying the heavy shroud of my infertility and childlessness, while I continued assessing and treating other people's children. I thought of how if she wasn't here, I would not know how much love my heart can hold. But she's here, and I am blessed beyond measure.

Tragically, my friend Conceptionally Challenged is not counting her blessings, but instead suffering an unimaginable loss. After years of infertility, she got pregnant with twins and lost them both this weekend at 20 weeks gestation. Please, if you have a kind thought to spare, visit her blog and let her know you care.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


The responses to my last post reminded me (yet again) why I love this community. I appreciate deeply that I can write what I wrote in a community afflicted by infertility and come out and affirmation. Also, I enjoy the conversation. I like that you told me your stories about the ways you struggle/d in your role as a mother. You said things that were good for me to read. Things that were good for you to express. And perhaps things you needed to hear yourselves when you were where I was when I wrote that. Thank you, women. You are full of beauty and strength.

The naming of things that float in the air nameless is useful beyond measure. Like a mom friend of mine who was having marital difficulties said to me last week: "we told each other that things suck in our couple, and since then, it's been a lot better. Sometimes, just calling it helps a lot." I think that's what it was for me. I needed to call it.

Since then, as the previous paragraph would lead you to believe, things have felt easier. Naming the thing was key: I'm not sure I know who I am anymore in this new, all-encompassing role. Receiving such amazing support and knowing I'm not alone was also key. And also,  it helped a lot not to be hated for saying that motherhood is hard after years of infertility. Somehow, I couldn't shake off the ungrateful bitch prototype. I know it is survivor's guilt. My friend and fellow Canadian DE mama N gently reminded me that it wasn't doing anyone any good to lug around my survivor's guild. She said I could just drop it. Point well taken, N.

Another thing that helped was Mr. A suggesting that unless otherwise specified, I should consider Sunday my day off. I can hang out with he and Gummy if I want to, but I can also spend time doing other things. We've implemented that plan for a few Sundays now and it has helped a great deal. I feel refreshed and ready to start the week with Gummy on Monday.

Talking about the struggles also helped me to start appreciating the metaphorical icing, the cake, and the amazing espresso that is served with it. Pleasantville is ridiculously perfect for raising children (and conversely, it is an infertile's worst nightmare, as I can attest to). It has great community programs, lots of parks and walking paths for strollers, an array of activities geared to caregivers and their infants. My weeks are organized around several activities, which are sometimes followed by lunch with lovely women and their cute babies. Like the other Augusta and her sweet girl. And many other amazing mamas and their sweet little bundles.

For the large part, I am enjoying this time immensely. It's been great not to have to drive anywhere out of my community, but instead to inhabit it fully. I walk downtown everyday for various reasons. Gummy and I walk up to the University to have lunch with Sattva. I talk to the neighbours, to the mailman, to shopkeepers downtown (except at the good coffee shop, where most baristas are surly and more ill-tempered if I try to talk to them).

What I love best is my time with Gummy girl. I actually have time to delight in her, and there is much to delight in. She is a barrel of monkeys. Yesterday, she figured out that her favourite little bird makes noise when you shake it. So I saw her on her play mat shaking it close to her ear. So sweet! And this morning, during the baby aquafit (where the babies are in little boats while their mamas do silly exercises in the water), she leaned back on her boat, entirely chilled out, and said with her eyes "come on, mother, swim faster." She holds on tight when I carry her in my arms, and has started to give wet, open-mouthed kisses. She is known as the smiley girl in our circle, but I'm glad I'm the one who gets to see her in all her different moods. She is miraculous, my little Gummy.

Full time motherhood is still hard in some moments. And thankfully, it is mostly wonderful. "Both ...and" descriptions are better than "either...or" when talking about humans and their workings. It seems that for me, trying to only honour one side only (i.e., motherhood is amazing) is incomplete. Motherhood is both amazing and difficult, rewarding and thankless, challenging and boring, mundane and miraculous.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Leaving the fascinating quandaries of childcare for a moment, I'll write about where I'm at personally. I get a little break on Sundays. A few hours. I waste some of it doing a torturing class at the gym, ascertaining that my body still doesn't look the way I'd like it to look, and my physical strength is a fraction of what it used to be. The instructor is at count 8 and I'm still at 5. I'm slow in all things, including doing pliés. But I keep at it, because I need my body for the long haul, you know, if I don't die of cancer before I die of old age.

If you are struggling in the trenches of IF, this post may be awful to read. You may hate me. I have warned you, so please stop reading. But, if you are in the trenches of IF and you need an account of what it's like on the other side, minus the unicorns and rainbows, then read on.

I love my baby. I love being a mom. There is nothing like getting Gummy Girl in the morning and seeing her excited little face when I appear above her crib. I feel like a teenage heartthrob. I like taking care of her. I like thinking about her care constantly and deeply. To think about what she needs, how I can meet her needs, and how to minimize my own issues getting in the way of meeting her needs.

I must admit, though, that it sometimes feels all consuming. And that can be uncomfortable.

I must pause here to say that even writing that it is uncomfortable IS uncomfortable. Complaining about my life with baby post years of heart-shredding infertility seems absurd. Yeah, you can hate me now. Or at least, I'm pretty sure I hate myself for it. It seems so hard to let those two realities sit together. 1) I longed, waited and worked so hard for this baby. 2) I am sometimes unhappy in my role of mother.  

I try to chalk this all up to adjusting. Which is fair enough. Every woman (and probably every man) who becomes a mother has to wrestle with a big shift in her identity. Who am I now that I change diapers, mix formula, sing the itsy-bitsy spider, run to the crib when I hear her cry, walk around town with a stroller for a living (thank you government of Canada for paying me to do so)?

Lately, I've been feeling like I've gone missing.



I don't really know what that makes me, but I'm afraid it might mean that my mother's deep-seated narcism was contagious.

There is a healthy part of me that chimes in, not too loudly, but says that it's ok. My gummy girl is still so little and needs me so much, and that I've gone from entirely looking after myself to looking after this precious daughter almost exclusively. I mean, I do the things to keep myself going at least on a basic level. I brush my hair, people. I even wash it sometimes.

But I've not figured out how to carve out some good time for me. Mr. A tries to give me some time to myself and that is appreciated. But it's not a lot (and that's ok. I'll take what I can get), and it is often unpredictable. But it's probably more than many of you or my Pleasantville mom friends get.

I am very good at keeping us busy and structuring the days for her and for me. We have yoga on Tuesday, swimming on Wednesday, and music on Thursday. There is a hike with my moms' group on Friday, and on Mondays, I sometimes go to the drop in at the Early Years Centre.

There are rhythms to the day. Ups and downs. Naps. Feedings. Floor time. Meal time. Daddy coming home time. And bed time.

And at the end of the day, there is time for me, and what I usually do with it is wasteful. I watch tv series. Instead of writing. Instead of reading for pleasure or doing professional reading. Instead of trying to connect meaningfully by writing emails. Instead of cleaning the house. Our very filthy house.

It seems like when there is a moment to look for myself, I don't. I just eat more chocolate. Scroll on the twitter feed.

And I feel angry a lot, which can be scary. Is she ever going to feel like I resent her? Because I don't resent her. I love her. But I also have to find a way to make room for my non-mother self. So that I don't ever resent her. And because I will die someday. And I have to make this life count. That's all I can do with these mere 80 years, if I'm lucky.

Mr. A gets the brunt of my anger. Unfortunately. He forgot to take the Brussels sprouts out of the oven while I was putting Gummy to bed last night and I was livid. I wanted roasted Brussels sprouts, not burnt Brussels sprouts. Is it too much to ask? You know you're in trouble when those words start coming to your mind. At least I didn't say them out loud, but I might as well have, since I was visibly upset. 

I wish I could wrap up this post with a satin bow by outlining the steps I will take to find myself again. But I'm slow (still on count 5), and I haven't come up with any yet. I have a few inchoate ideas of things I could look at. I think picking up my gratitude journal could help. And trying to get to yoga (a non-baby class) might help. And getting to the other side of harvest season will help, when Mr. A has more time on his hands and I can schedule time for myself every week. And finding a way to write a little bit every day. But that might be too ambitious.

Anyways, thank you for reading and letting me work this out. And please share if you will in the comments if you've also had these similar feelings and what helped you.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Day care days ahead: Part I

I'll start by a side note to say thank you for your comments on my last post. Gummy has, as I hoped, knitted her morning nap to her night sleep. We've been waking up at 7am in our house lately. How civilized.

Funny how life changes so much in one year. Last year in September, I was having all kinds of foreboding ultrasound detecting large SCHs and other possible horrible things that could kill or maim my fetus (amniotic bands, anyone?). This year in September, I'm awaiting the fall activities we've signed up for to start (next week!) and wrapping my mind around my baby's impeding participation in day care.

I'm going back to work in March. If only you lived in Canada and got a year of maternity leave. Yes. I too wish you lived in a communist country that supports child and maternal (and paternal) health. It remains, and I'm not complaining just stating, that 12 months is not the best time for a child to separate from her primary caregiver. Just as you're dropping off the little grasshopper, she is at the peak of her separation anxiety days. What fun that will be.

Having become aware of the aura of stress around day care from everyone who had babies before me (which, at 39, that's the majority of my friends), I knew to start the search early. So I called up the place where Sattva sent her kids when I was about 5-6 months pregnant. They wouldn't put Gummy's name on the list because Gummy is apparently not an appropriate name for a child*. Harumph. This meant that as soon as I managed to prop myself back up after the birth and ensuing circus, I got on the day care mission. I saw a couple and settled on one I didn't really love, but had a full time spot for Gummy starting in February, making a good transition time when she would start day care and I would still be at home. It was there I learned there are only 56 spots for infants (< 18 months) in our entire city (in registered day care centres).

So, that was settled. It wasn't great, but it was adequate, which I came to believe was the best I could hope for.

Three weeks ago, Mr. A started talking about staying home with Gummy. That sounded better than any day care centre. But I was against becoming the sole breadwinner in the family. 'I will resent you. And you will resent yourself', I told Mr. A, and he could see my point. Part time day care was now our focus.

The mediocre day care doesn't accept infants part-time, so we had to find something else. Also, mediocre day care is on my way to work, at the other end of town, but not a place where Mr. A could fetch Gummy on foot or bike.** And so for those days when I'll need to stay later at work, picking up Gummy would be a logistic tour-de-force, involving car seat transfers and taxis (or cross-country skis on a snowy day, Mr. A noted).

The day care centre 2 streets over had been on my mind. I never had a great impression of it, but our good friends sent their son there from 12 to 24 months of age. And they had many more positive things than negative things to say about it. We went for a tour recently. I liked it less than mediocre day care centre. But they can take Gummy in April, part-time. This means she can stay home 2 days with Mr. A and be at day care only 3 days, with some early pick-ups when her dad is available. And it would be for a year to 18-months at the most. After that, she would go to a different day care centre because there are many more toddler spots in the city.

I wish I had more choice in the manner, but it feels like we need to take what we can get given the dearth of spots.*** I have so many criteria in my head about what constitutes good childcare, and these places are falling short on many of them. And I know my expectations are pie in the sky, and that Gummy will do fine given some basic care. But she's my precious girl. I want only the best of the best for her.

More on day care later. It's all the time I've got for now. Yikes! Is time for my own interests ever scarce these days. More on that too, whenever I can write.

* They have a policy of only putting babies' names on the list and not fetuses. The nerve.
**I'm the only one with a car in our family.
*** There are many home day care arrangements, but I do not want her in a home day care for a number of reasons. The main reasons being that there are practically no regulations around home child care arrangements so if something goes wrong, there is very little recourse with the law or regulatory bodies.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sleep and the crazies

The crazies

I wrote this whole nasty post about my mother 4-5 days ago but didn't publish it. I knew I'd regret it. I'll give you the bare bones.

1) she visited over labor day weekend
2) she is crazy
3) I did my best to meet her craziness with calm and respect.
4) I failed sometimes and succeeded sometimes

You want a little content with that outline of the process? Ok. I will oblige. She has this unconscious fantasy. The fantasy is about how she wants my baby to be hers. She wants to have the baby and push me out of the picture. She made several comments about how she could have the baby and I would not be there. To the point where it completely freaked out Mr. A and he ran after her when she took Gummy out for a walk in front of the house.


She is crazy.

I'm hanging by my fingernails for my therapy session tomorrow morning. Between her and the tedious in-laws who have major issues with overstepping boundaries*, Mr. A and I are both doing MAJOR work on our issues on setting boundaries with scary, authoritarian parental figures. And doing that work with the actual scary, authoritarian parents themselves. So far, neither of us have gone up in flames, but we keep expecting to be psychically destroyed by each our narcissistic parent.** So far, everyone's psyche is somewhat intact, although personally, I'm rattled.*** And to be honest, Mr. A is looking worse for wear.


Bedtime routine is going swimmingly. I do it on my own all the time and it feels like a well rehearsed dance, with room for improvisation, but with the steps mostly defined. And my dance partner is well rehearsed.

We started sleep training the weekend my mother was here. That was a poor choice. But it had to be done and Mr. A was home. And Gummy (and Augusta) were ready. It was awful for at least 2 nights. But it's much better now. We do have a few things to iron out, but at this point, she is waking up infrequently, and when she does, a simple replacement of the soother in her mouth does the trick. Still, I want to get to the point of putting her to bed and picking her back up 12 hours later. Not always, but most of the time. I'm pretty sure she is capable of it.

But right now we are sticking with the expectations of 10 hours in her crib without being picked up. And after those few rough nights, she has been fine with it. But the window is 7pm to 5am, and most mornings, she, like the birds, is up at 5am. Back down from 7am to 9am, but there is a two-somewhat-difficult-hour window when she is up and one of us needs to be up with her. And it's mostly me.

I am hoping that she will soon knit those 2 extra hours of sleep into her night sleep, so that she can sleep 7pm to 7am. But I am not holding my breath. And frankly, it's easier for me to be up early than to be up late at night.

There are lots of pros and cons to sleep training. I feel like I can see why people are against it. And I also see why people would love to do it but it's just not something that they can do. It's emotionally difficult to hear your child cry and not respond (or wait 15 minutes to respond). You have to have a clear idea of why you are doing this. You also need to believe that your child is fundamentally ok. It is the right thing for us and I'm glad we are doing it. But please know that this is not a comment on your parenting decisions.

Ok, Gummy Girl is up from her nap and I  want to post this now. More on eating and day care to come.

* Mr. A's father stating that they would be coming over for a visit EVERY WEEK.

** My kingdom for psychoanalytical training.

*** I broke some dishes a few days ago in a fit of desperation and rage. Gummy was asleep upstairs and Mr. A was gone and the cat was outside. No one was hurt. Except the dishes. And my sense of being a sane person. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Looking Pail: Bedtime

It has come to this, reader. Joyfully for me, and perhaps not so for you. But this is the juncture at which my blog veers off from infertility (and pregnancy after infertility) head first into parenting themes. I'm not apologizing. I'm stating it because it is so. If you need to stop reading, I understand and I'm not mad at you or sad for me. I write for me. You read for you. When what I like to write and what you like to read intersects, that's fine. When it doesn't intersect, that's fine too.

This is the extent of what I'll do for the transition. I'm not changing the blog, renaming it, changing the address, or whatever. It's a personal decision, and this is what I see as working for me. I want to continue blogging, but I may not be writing about infertility quite as much, and will be writing about parenting a great deal more.

Today, a boring post about bedtime; that magical time of day when your hands mildly start shaking because your glass of red is just so close, you can almost taste it.

For the first 5 months of life, Gummy didn't have much of a bedtime routine. It basically consisted of: 1) Going to Bed. As a newborn, sleep is the main activity all day/all night, with regular intervals of eating. Wakefulness was sparse at first, as is true for many newborns (but not all. If that's the case for yours, I'm sorry). But by the time she was 2-3 months old, she slept more at night and less during the day (and slept through the night at least one out of every two nights. You can hate me).

I had been harbouring some fears about my baby's sleep before she was born, admittedly not so much for her as for Mr. A and I. We work best with ample sleep. On my end, I tend to be a complete bitch when I'm deprived of food or sleep. Mr. A just becomes more absentminded than he already is, which amounts to forgetting more than remembering. And putting his cell phone in the washing machine.

Then Gummy arrived and she LOVED to sleep. Truly, she was an olympic sleeper. We never went so far as to have to wake her up in the first few weeks to feed her (since, you'll remember, she also LOVED sucking and ate very well), but I have on several occasions had to check to see if she was breathing because I expected her to be awake when she was asleep.

So as I said earlier, the bedtime routine used to be simple. Baby is tired. Wrap baby up. Put baby in crib* But it niggled at me. I have extolled the virtues of a proper bedtime routine for children (and adults) countless times in my job, and here I was basically throwing my baby in bed.**

Now, there were a number of things we were doing consistently that made for somewhat of a routine. Sleep works best if you can have a ritual around it, whether you're a baby, a kid or an adult. So, we always wrapped her up in a little pea pod with a zipper (I've just now learned those are called woombies). We always put the sleep sheep to the same setting (rain). We always put her on her back (of course). We put her to bed at 7pm, plus or minus an hour depending on how she was doing.

But I've noticed that with this parenting thing, one must have an idea of where things are going, so as to lay the foundation for it early on. I wanted her to sleep independently from us in her own room. That's not where I started (she was in a bassinet beside our bed), but I thought of the steps to make that happen and we worked our way to her sleeping independently in her crib.

In terms of the routine, I was thinking about her being a toddler and going to daycare. And that she would need to be bathed much more frequently than we bathed her as an infant. So, I knew bathtime had to make an appearance in the bedtime routine. We started feeding her solids 2 weeks ago, mostly at dinner time. Bathing no longer is optional when your child is squishing peaches and avocado slices between her fingers, around her mouth (what am I saying, in the general area of her head) and up her arms. This is when I started considering the eating bandana suggested by Bunny and endorsed by Bun Bun.

It seems a bedtime routine is emerging. Thus far we have:
1) Eating (and there's another post on that coming). This includes cleaning her with a washcloth afterwards where a tug of war ensues over the washcloth. She has the crack addict intensity need to have it in her mouth.
2) Bath (after several bathroom floor floods (because we were too chicken to actually put her infant tub in the tub), I bathed her in her tub inside the big tub. Nobody was injured. More eating of washcloths. Also, she plays with a plastic baby hippo, and more recently a pink pig.
3) Diaper and pyjamas.
3.5) If Mr. A is not there, this is when I go downstairs to fetch formula. If we are both home, one of us gets the formula while the other does step 3.
4) put her halfway in the pea pod (woombie) and start the sleep sheep.
5) walk around with her while telling her about all she did that day. In French. Very calmly. (this is where I would like to read her a bedtime story, but all she wants to do is eat the books. I've tried giving her a book to chew on while reading her another book, but then she wants to chew on all the books and I have nothing to read).
6) She drinks a vat of formula
7) She dozes off. I kiss her, wrap her up completely and leave her be.

The bedtime routine has been working well. Except when Mr. A tries to do it. Somehow when he does it, she freaks out from steps 3 to 5. I usually have to intervene for steps 6 & 7 to happen. He's feeling down about that. I'm not sure why she freaks out when he puts her to bed. When we talked about it last night, I said I thought maybe she likes dad for fun things and likes mom for comfort, and bedtime is a hard transition so she needs comfort. But who the hell knows? Infants don't talk***
Gummy Girl is now having a terrible time sleeping. But whatever. She has a great bedtime routine.

* We started her in the crib at 2 months. Some will say that's a bit early, but her room is close enough to ours to hear her and be cribside in about 5 steps. It was important to me to have her learn very early on that this is where she sleeps.  

** Before your call children's aid, I say that as a figure of speech. 

***although they shriek, as she started to do last week. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Friendships: online and off

A few months ago, a friend who is struggling with IF said something negative about IF blogs during lunch. I can't say I fully understand the context in which she said this, so I won't elaborate too much. But the comment niggled at me for a while. It went something like "When you follow IF blogs, other women get pregnant before you and it hurts."

It rolled around my head like a marble in a tupperware. Why did it bug me so much?

A) Some of it has to do with where that particular friendship was at at the time the comment was made (really, English grammar, are you going to let me get away with a double preposition?). My dear friend, struggling with her own infertility was keeping her distance from me in my new role as mother*. Also, because she is so big hearted, she was keeping her distance so as to protect me from the drudgery of IF now that I have a delicious baby to kiss. And I, having spent waaaaayyyyy more time being infertile than being a mother, am still an active member of the IF club (and a hesitant member of the mothers' club at best, having skipped the pregnant club entirely since, you know, I hardly believed it was going to result in a baby), was baffled by the irony of the distance, the CHASM between my friend and I at a time when I REALLY knew something about how awful she felt. So our friendship was rocky. And the comment just pushed my I-want-to-support-you-but-you-won't-let-me button.**

B) It made me think about what happened for me when you all got pregnant. It was definitely not as difficult to handle as when women around me got pregnant. By orders of magnitude. I remember at times feeling left out when all of a sudden many women were successful in their treatments or adopted, but mostly, I was just relieved that they were finally out of the painful awful place I knew too well. It was a lot easier to displace my rage about my situation onto women I didn't know very well but with whom I was in direct contact. I despised pregnant women at work. Very secretly despised them. And this of course, confirmed my fears that I was a rotten person inside. But I cried tears of joy and relief when your babies were born. In a way, it was a chance for me to experience the normal part of being a woman in my 30s, and feeling happy for others who become mothers. It was easier to do with all of you.

C) I (mis)heard the comment as "IF blogs blow." That is not what my friend said and not what she meant. But there was already all that stuff described above and I bristled. I feel super protective of the friendships I have made here in blogland, and of the online IF community as a whole. I didn't know anyone going through IF when I started treatments and after the TERRIBLE day of October 1, 2009, I was gutted and alone. I did have some extraordinary beings in my life who supported me (including the the above mentioned friend), but very, very few who were in the same awful soup of infertility***

Blogging is not everyone's cup of tea. There is this whole putting yourself out there for anyone to find. There is the part about suspecting that you have an overinflated sense of self because you describe the minutia of your sorrows to an audience. There is the part about writing, and whether that's something you dig or not. There is a part about not knowing at first whether this will be a way to receive support or not. There is also a part about how everyone's situation is so much worse than yours, how can you even be entitled to your own sorrow, let alone spread it out like Christmas dinner for everyone to see.

When I started writing this blog, I did it because that's what I do when I'm lost: I write. Writing helped me turn the ugly pain into (somewhat) less ugly posts.  But as I started following other blogs and as you started following mine and leaving comments, it transformed into writing + an experience of social support/community.

But it don't stop there, folks. Not for me.

Many of you are my friends.That is how I think of you, in the same legitimate right as my Pleasantville friends or my friends in the Commonwealth. I think I did at first make a separation between IRL and Interwebs friends, but that line faded for me. You guys know more about my experiences than many people I interact with regularly. And I know more about you than you choose to tell a lot of people in your lives. Most importantly though, you are real to me. I think of you inside of your lives, with your babies and husbands and in-laws and jobs and dreams and fears and hopes and sorrows. You are not just words to me. You do not only live inside the computer.

If that's true, then it only stands to reason that I would want to connect with you outside the interwebs.

And so, I've been doing that.

First it was Pumpkin. She and I go way back to July 1, 2011. We met in Montreal, when Pumpling was just an embryo. And then again when coming back from our first consult at SG in January 2012, when Pumpling was a month away from arriving. And then I visited the Pumpkin family in late May, which was so entirely delightful. This time, Pumpling was 15 months and AMAZING! I loved hanging out with her, her mama and her dad. That Pumpkin family is full of zest and energy, full of love and warmth. They hosted me with great generosity. As a bonus, I got to meet CGD during that trip. And she is just as lovely in person as she is/was on her (now shut down) blog. She is a genuinely caring, warm person and even though I didn't spend a lot of time with her or follow her blog for many years,  I was very touched that I got to meet her. And also, it meant a lot to me that she was willing to hold Gummy Girl, given that she has not yet become a mother. I have this great photo of Pumpkin, Pumpling, CGD and Gummy together.

And then, I'm getting goose bumps, THEN.... I met Bunny.

And meeting Bunny was magical. Truly.**** In trying to process how wonderful I've felt our visit was, I've described it to myself as entering inside my favourite book and spending time with all the characters. Except that they weren't characters, they were real, delightful humans. Bun Bun was just So. Much. Fun. and Bunlet was a beautiful, contemplative little boy. And Mr. Bunny was kind and easy to talk to and so gentle with gummy girl. But I must say folks, sitting on Bunny's kitchen floor with her while feeding gummy a bottle and sharing together in our experiences as mothers, infertiles, daughters, wives, bloggers, women....well, that was priceless. It was like we had known each other for years. Because we have. I've harboured such great admiration for Bunny (which I realize left me so intimidated at first, I realize now that I read her blog for months without commenting), and meeting her in person only made that admiration grow. She is wonderful. And beautiful. And genuine. And warm. And such an amazing mother to those two Buns.

This meandering post has a point. Or several:

1) I love my friend even if her comment about IF blogs upset me. Also, we needed to work on our friendship. We did. It's better now.
2) IF blogs saved me from shrivelling up like a lonely, desiccated raisin.
3) Meeting blog friends = a gift I recommend you all put on your Christmas wish list.
4) Friendship in general is a pretty beautiful thing.

*which is entirely healthy and acceptable in my books, and which I have had to do in my awful years in IF hell.

**And in my own awful narcissism, if I can't support you, how do I validate my own existence. right? Shrinks have issues, people. Believe it.

***(except you, dear S from the East, if you are reading).  

**** So for all those who are jealous of me because I met Bunny in person, YOU HAVE REASON TO BE JEALOUS. Now, go meet her too.

Monday, August 5, 2013

the robin (part 2)*

There are two pillars holding up the roof to the front porch of our house. Robins like to nest there.

This spring, we had a mama robin who had 4 baby birds. The mother watched us carefully in our comings and goings, always avoiding us as much as possible, but also risking it all to bring food to her young. She nursed these 4 baby robins to a hefty size. Then one day, they all flew away.  

A few weeks later, another robin came to nest atop the other pillar. She was just as valiant as the last mama. She worked hard to eat well so she would produce warmth to incubate her young. She too avoided us as much as she could, but also risked it all to get back to her nest and lay on her eggs.

One day last week, I noticed I hadn't seen her for a few days. How odd, I thought. I haven't even seen the babies. Could they have been born and left already? After a few days of not seeing her, I got a stool and climbed up. I couldn't see inside the nest, but took a picture and then looked at it.

One egg. Never to become a baby bird.

I like to think that the mama had to leave and continue her bird life, and hopefully nest again soon.

Thank you for all the comments you left for my friend Veronica. Her baby bird also did not make it.      

*I wrote about robins way back when my blog was just wee. Here is the link. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My friend needs YOUR help

Lovelies, my friend is in the dark land of limbo. A place most of you have visited once, if not several times. I need your help in supporting her.

Veronica is my IRL friend who has been struggling with secondary infertility. She is awesome. You would love her.

Here are a few details of her story:
  • Had a successful pregnancy with OE, then Secondary IF
  • Moved on to DE after failed infertility treatment
  • Had first DE transfer of handsome 5-day blastocyst on 01/07. 
  • Nice initial betas: 1000+ at 16dp5dt and 2300+ at 18dp5dt.   

Veronica went in for her first u/s today at 6w1d. She measured on target, but there was only a very small yolk sack, and no sign of a fetal pole. Beta was 12000+

My sense from what I've read is that it could go either way at this point. Her local doc thinks it could be a blighted ovum. But I'm guessing it could also be a slow start. She's due for another u/s next week, which will hopefully determine what is going on.

Friends, if you have stories of things going well after a similar start, it would help Veronica to read stories of hope. If you have a story like that or have read someone's else's blog with a similar start, can you please link it in your comment. She reads my blog regularly and will be so grateful to read your thoughts.

Thank you

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Postscript addendum

Yes, I'm long winded. You knew that already. So,  seven posts for the birth story. It's a little much. I know.

I just had to illustrate point #9 on my previous entry

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Birth Story: The postscript

A few side notes before I begin. 'Gusta gots herself a new computer. Loving my new mac book air so far. 

And now for the bullet points.

What I learned from surviving and writing about the birth:

1) Childbirth = one risky proposition. Seriously people. I had heard it before, but I couldn't fathom that what happened to me could even happen. This has given me a new perspective on birth announcement that read: "Mother and baby are doing well"

2) So, hum, yeah, I couldn't breastfeed.

3) And, yeah,....I had some mild PTSD symptoms

4) I should make it a policy never to be discharged from a hospital without talking to an actual physician. I got discharged from the actual birth on Sunday evening, not having seen a physician since Friday morning. That was an error, and I should have picked up on it (but admittedly, I was busy and my brain wasn't fully functional).

5) I'm not sure I ever want to do that again. When I think about having another child, I can't get past the obvious imperative of giving birth to said hypothetical second child. And that's where it stops for me. I am at high risk of getting another placenta accreta (or worse. Increta. Precreta. Scary stuff indeed) and needing a hysterectomy at the birth (IVF, previous c-section and previous D&Cs all increase the risk). If you don't know what that's like, go on over to my friend E's Dreaming of Babies. She has just survived this procedure (and given birth to a beautiful baby girl. CONGRATS E). It scared the shit out of her. And it scares the shit out of me.

6) Always, always, ALWAYS bring the cell phone charger with me.

7) I need to write a letter to the hospital about Dr. TdC. I have thought about this a lot and I need to do it to wrap up the experience fully. I wrote lots of thank you cards to docs and nurses who helped use during that time, but I also need to let someone know that we were not treated respectfully. I don't think it is a matter of contacting the college of physicians because there was no clear malpractice. However, he treated Mr. A and I like shit and we should let the hospital know that despite having a reportedly "great surgeon" on staff, he is causing a lot of harm to patients on an interpersonal level.

8) Despite retreating from my Pleasantville community for years while I was going through IF hell, they rallied and surrounded us with love and support when we needed it most. We have generous, good hearted people in our lives and for that we are immensely grateful. It would have been easier to give up on me as a friend because I was not available during those years, but many just waited patiently for me to emerge from that dark fog. And when they were asked to help in that first week of March and in the weeks after, so many of them helped us in small and big ways. I find this amazing, and tried to thank each of these friends as best I could.

9) I would do it all over in a heartbeat because the end result was that I now have my gummy girl. She lights up my life the way the sun could never manage to.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The pre postscript

So, I went on vacation and came back to the black screen of death on my Mac. I guess like my cat, it was pissed at me for leaving. I wish it were easier to comment on my phone but it is what it is. I apologize for my absence in your comment section (or, ahem, you are welcome. I'm glad you enjoy my more succinct comments).

A few things, not in any meaningful order:

•I mean to write a few thoughts about the epic birth story but do you really want me to rattle on about that for a sixth post? i still may, hence the title.

• traveling with a baby is exhausting in a different way than a seven-day backpacking loop in the Yukon. Perhaps more exhausting.

• my mother tried to say that my baby girl was fat. While I could never stand up for myself when she said the same of me in the past, I firmly told her that this was unacceptable behavior. 

• we visited with our good friends in Boston and western MA. Oh, how I wish we all lived closer to one another.

• traveling is fun, but it's good to be home.

• a good IRL friend had a DE IVF transfer recently. I am holding my breath for a BFP.

• I've been sad to read about the recent miscarriages in this community. And sad that Adele is closing up shop and that CGD has too.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Birth Story Act V: the hemorrhage

Cast of Characters
(see Act I through IV)
Gwenneth: our friend who is also a midwife 
Dr. Kind: lovely OB who did my D&C when I had the m/c in 2011. I also saw her in triage a few days before Gummy's birth.
Dr. Coffee: The OB who cared for me during this hospitalization

Are you tired of all this drama yet? I am. I just have to write out this last part, which, by the way, is the MOST dramatic. And then I promise I'll go back to the business of writing a meek little pedestrian blog with unicorns and rainbows and a cute baby, and the occasional first world rant. But lest I keep avoiding this hardest episode, here goes...
(and if you are about to give birth or sensitive to stories involving guts and blood, you should skip this)

Scene 1
It's now March 6, our third wedding anniversary. And Oat's birthday. We are home and planing on staying home until we feel ready to emerge, which right now is unimaginable. We are feeling a bit lost with the breastfeeding, but our friend Gwenneth, who is a midwife, has offered to come over and help us.

When Gwen comes over on Thursday, she very patiently listens to the whole birth story and how breastfeeding has gone so far. She is encouraging and makes great suggestions. She helps with the latch. She feels that not all is lost, and that my milk will come in. She has a wealth of information to offer, but does not overwhelm us with it. As you can see, she is a total pearl.

That's about all for March 6, 7 & 8. I do remember thinking that March 8 was the day I was supposed to stop work. Ha!

Scene 2
We all go to bed tired on Friday night, us in our bed and Gummy in her little bassinet beside our bed. At 2:45 am, Gummy starts to issue her little sounds of hunger with increasing insistence. Mr. A and I are sleeping the sleep of the dead. We are exhausted, of course, and when we go to bed, we sleep so profoundly that each time we wake up, we aren't sure where we are. This is exactly how we wake up this time: disoriented. Mr. A gets out of bed before me and heads to the bathroom. I am becoming aware that I am quite wet, and my underwear feels like jello (sorry about that image). Mr. A thinks I have peed myself. I pull the covers and see a lot of blood. A huge fucking pool of blood. I get up and the blood follows me to the bathroom. As I sit on the toilet, I feel like I'm about to pass out and say so. Mr. A quickly comes to get me, making footprints in the blood. He takes me back to the bed, and lays me down on the (white) duvet cover. We have a quick back and forth about next steps. Should we call an ambulance? Yes, I think that's the thing to do. Gummy stays quiet. Does she sense that things aren't right?

Mr. A tries to tell the 911 operator what is happening. He is afraid they won't understand what he means by blood. I have not passed out, so I can say 'hemorrhage'. He is able to tell them our address, but not the nearest intersection. I am staring at the ceiling, trying to focus on what he is saying and not passing out.

The ambulance gets there quick. The first responders (a man and a woman) are in my room. I am naked from the waist down. They ask me when I had the baby. They ask me if I have pants. Mr. A said the woman asked to see all the blood, and though she didn't say anything, her facial expression was tense apparently. Mr. A gets me the grey jogging pants I got in first year university and which I wear on random Sundays when nothing else is clean. The first responders walk me down the stairs very slowly and carefully. They put on my coat front to back (arms in, back of the coat to the front of my body). They help me put on my boots, but as you saw in the last post, because my feet are still so swollen, it requires work. We walk out to the stretcher on the sidewalk. I cannot look back at my house or my husband or my baby upstairs. My focus has narrowed greatly.

I am awake in the ambulance and try to guess what intersection we are at when it stops. I can feel the blood gushing out of me.

Scene 3 
I am at the ER of Pleasantville General Hospital, stopped at the spot where ambulance arrivals are triaged. I am directly facing the cot on which I spent 10 hours on Tuesday. This time, the resuscitation pod (ICU) is to my left and the nursing station to my right. An ICU nurse sees me and remembers me. Yes, I was just here this week, I say. The blood is still gushing. I think about Mr. A and Gummy. I hope he will take her to our close friends with a toddler.

I am moved to the observation pod, where there is 1 nurse to 8 patients. I am transferred to a hospital bed so the first responders can get their stretcher back. I note that my grey jogging pants now have a saddle-shaped blood stain down to the knees. The nurses draw blood (one can think of an easier access to my blood at this point), start an IV for fluids and start to clean me out. I tell them to throw the pants away. My mental acuity is sharp in many ways. I ask questions, I engage the nurses. I ask them all for their names. I am holding on to consciousness with all my might. After cleaning me out once, it seems they have to do it again.

At this point, I hear they are moving me. Nurse Kim, who had gotten me some supper and chocolate pudding on Tuesday wheels my bed over. She is still nice, but she looks tense. I don't understand, but I thank her again for the pudding*. I am moved to the resuscitation pod, or their version of ICU. Full circle.

I have my very own nurse who won't take her eyes off me. The emerge doc comes to see me, in between two blood clean ups. He is upbeat and makes a joke. He tells me they are waiting on my hemoglobin results, and once they have that, they will connect with the OB on call. I brace myself. Who is the OB on call, I ask? (please don't let it be Dr. TdC. PLEASE don't let it be Dr. TdC). It's Dr. Kind. IMMENSE relief. Dr. Kind is very trustworthy in my eyes. She is a seasoned OB. She will know what to do.

I am told my hemoglobin has come in and it's not too low, for now. The emerge doc says he's called Dr. Kind and that she's ordered I be given oxytocin and misop.rostol. By the time she gets down to emerge, I am having nasty cramps, which is exactly the point: make the uterus contract to stop the bleeding. I reach my hand out to her and she takes it. I am so relieved to see her. She takes my covers off and asks me where my pregnancy weight has gone. I don't have an answer. Dr. Kind says she has just read Dr. Smiley's notes from the c-section, and that they say the placenta was sticky and that this leads her to believe there are retained products of pregnancy in my uterus. She says that she hopes the blood will stop with the meds, but that if it doesn't, I will need a hysterectomy. I say I'd rather not, but  that between my uterus and my life, I pick my life since I have a newborn to parent.

I don't know what time it is now. Maybe 5-5:30am. Mr. A arrives. He is muted. He later tells me that my lips were completely white and that it scared him. He says Gummy is with our friends with the toddler, the ones I was hoping she'd go to.

The blood has slowed down. They need to put a cather in. Because the cramping is pretty bad, Dr. Kind asks if I want any pain medication. Sure. She gives me dem.erol and I stop being able to put words together.

It is now 6am and I am being moved to the Family Birthing Unit. Nurse Eileen is there waiting. More sweet Irish pet names. She is talking fast, and saying something about us bringing gummy as soon as we want, and everything being ok. She is saying that she will put us in a better room later on in the morning.

Scene 4  
We are in a shared room with east facing windows. Mr. A is on a chair next to me, and I am somewhat aware that he is there. The sun is rising brightly. He makes a few phone calls with a muted voice. At 9am, an army of nurses come in my room, including Nurse Kelly. There is this tension in the room, and I come to understand (knowing something about hospital politics by now) that there is a porter here ready to take me to have an ultrasound, but that the nurses have barely just finished shift change. In their deep empathy, the nurses were hoping to clean me up before I go down to have an ultrasound because I am a bloody mess. Nurse Kelly decides that she will do a cursory job of it for now, but that she is not sending me through the halls of the hospital like that, thereby royally pissing off the porter. Bless her.

The abdominal ultrasound doesn't say much, and (you all know where I'm going here) the technician very apologetically asks if we can do a vaginal ultrasound. Yes. I've had one (ahem, 30) done before. She's pretty sure she sees stuff in there. One last (more modest) pool of blood when she removes the vagcam. The bleeding has all but stopped. Thank all the deities.

As soon as we are in our new room, Dr. Patel arrives. I know that he is not even on call at the hospital, but that he saw (through the online hospital system) that I had been admitted and decided to come see me. He notes that I have taken the fastest way to decrease my blood pressure - by loosing litres of blood. 

Our friend Gwenneth is texting and calling, asking to come over. She arrives at 10am and stays for the day. She helps me understand what the hell just happened. She's not sure why someone who has a c-section then goes on to have a late postpartum hemorrhage. I tell her the placenta was described as sticky. Placenta accreta. It must have been.

Gwen is amazing. She has hospital privileges here, so she goes and checks my file. She helps me plan for what's next, for how to talk to the doctor. Is there still a chance that they will take my uterus even though the bleeding has stopped? She encourages me to tell the doctor I'd like to keep it if possible.

In the mean time, Gummy is with our friends with the toddler. Said toddler commences to vomit at around 10:30am. Our male friend takes Gummy out for a walk in the carrier, while our female friend cares for her son. Nobody wants Gummy to get sick, so Mr. A arranges to get her asap and bring her to the hospital.

Once the u/s results are in, Dr. Coffee comes in and talks with us (Gwen stays and helps me advocate for myself). He says a D&C will be required. My white blood cell count is high, meaning that whatever's in there is infected. He doubts that my uterus will have to be removed, since I have stopped bleeding.

Gummy arrives and she lights up the room. Oh, what a sweet girl she is. Breastfeeding is now on hold, but I still hold her and cuddle her as I wait for news of the surgery. No food. No water. Just ice chips and IV fluids. I'm not super happy about that situation. Nurse Kelly takes my order, and says she will have a large ice water and large ginger ale ready for when I get back from surgery.

I am finally wheeled down to the 3rd floor OR and am in surgery by 7pm. It's Saturday, and a bit harder to line up the crew for these things. In the recovery room, I am next to a young woman who has just had a D&C because of a m/c. My heart aches for her and I remember being there.

When I get back upstairs, Mr. A and Sattva and Gummy are waiting for me. Sattva has agreed to bring Gummy to her house overnight and I am infinitely reassured to know that Gummy will be looked after by her.

Scene 5 
It is Sunday now. I can eat again. Nurse Kelly says my hemoglobin is at 77 (should be between 120-140). I need a blood transfusion. I feel a bit uncertain, but she convinces me that's the thing to do. Gummy is brought back by Sattva and her eldest daughter Anne, who regales me with cute observations about Gummy. At night, my mom arrives from Montreal. She takes Gummy to the hotel with her for the night so that Mr. A and I can sleep through the night again.

Scene 6 
And now it's Monday, March 11: my due date. I wake up in the hospital, but not with my baby. My blood pressure is very high again. The nurses are coming in and checking it very often. Dr. Coffee has come in to check on me even though he is not on call. Nice. He insists that I call him at the office later on in the week to let him know how I am.

Dr. Kind also stops by and I tell her that it meant the world to me to see her in the ER, and that she took excellent care of me. She seems genuinely thankful to hear my say that.

Dr. Smiley is just back from vacation, and although she is also not on call, she makes an appearance. She looks more stressed than all the others and implores me to stop having postpartum complications. I want nothing more.

Right when I think I'm getting discharged, my blood pressure is just too high. It ends up being 3pm before I get discharged, not because it lowered, but because Dr. Smiley had to make the call and she said "Augusta knows what to do if she has more symptoms. If she wants to go home, let her"

We went home with Gummy, and had a few stressful days while my mom was there, the worst of which when we were also visited by my in-laws. But when they all left, my blood pressure started to go down. So far, I haven't had to go back to the hospital since March 11.

There are more reflections to share on this whole birth in 5 acts, but I am no longer reflective at this late hour. I do want to thank you for reading and commenting. It has helped me to write this all out, and to have that be witnessed. It was drawn out and detailed and I'm sure often boring. But know that it helped me to put words to those experiences and have those words read. Thank you, dearest women. 

*I guess I've come to think that she was worried for me at that point.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A year today

Today is the one year anniversary of our transfer. The one that worked. The one where Gummy Girl came home.

We've had a glorious day together the three of us. My heart is so full.

June 23, 2012 

June 23, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Birth Story Act IV: Under Pressure

Cast of Characters
Augusta + Mr. August + Gummy Girl
Dr. Smiley: my dear OB
Sattva: our dear friend and first egg donor. 
Dr. Good: OB who saw me in the office when Dr. Smiley was away
Nurse Eileen: beloved delivery nurse
Nurse Kelly: beloved nurse
Dr. TdC: how could you forget him
Baby Leah and her parents: our friends in Pleasantville who looked after Gummy
Dr. Patel: An internal medicine doctor
Nurse Kim: ER nurse

Before I launch into these next two acts, let me say this. I think that the story so far, what happened to me up to this point is well within the range of what is typical for births. In fact, I don't even think it was particularly harrowing compared to some of the stories I've read on your blogs or what other women tell me, now that I ask because I am interested in birth stories (instead of shrinking away in utter pain when birth and babies are mentioned). I'm pretty sure that what comes next is beyond the realm of what's typical, although I know that these things happen, and that it has happened to some of you. It's been helpful to write this stuff out, ladies. Thank you for reading and commenting. Your Augusta is infinitely grateful.

Scene 1
We have just gotten home with our baby and our Thai food and the millions of bags we brought to the hospital (why I thought I would wear anything else than my yoga pants and my softest fleece cardigan is beyond me). Once home, I realize that I forgot to ask about my labe.talol (blood pressure meds). Because of the epidural, my bp had been low on Thursday (day of the birth) and Friday, but had started to creep up again on Saturday. The nurses would take my blood pressure and pulse regularly and had some  thresholds they followed for deciding whether or not I would get my dose of labet.alol. Because it lowers one's pulse, they avoided giving it to me when my heart rate was below some number (50, I think). Well, I have really slow pulse on a good day. And these, from my body's point of view, were not good days. So I only got the meds a few times during that weekend.

I called the nursing station at 10pm on Sunday and asked what I should do. The consensus was that now that the baby was out, it would do more harm to take it than to not take it. So I should not take it. That sounded fishy to me. My beloved friend Dragonfly had pre-eclampsia and was on this med for 6 weeks postpartum (now, I didn't have pre-eclampsia, just PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension), but still figured I might be on it a few weeks postpartum).

Scene 2
I decide that a call to my OB's office was in order first thing on Monday morning. Dr. Smiley had gone on vacation right after her shift at the hospital Friday morning, so I knew I wasn't going to see her, but I let the nurse at the office know that I needed direction right away. She agreed.

At this point, my feet were unrecognizable.
whaaa? whose feet are those. Also, please excuse the mess in my house.

On Monday, Sattva came over in the morning. It was amazing to share this moment with her. She didn't get to hold Gummy, but did get to see her sleeping.

By Monday evening, I have a strange headache. By strange, I just mean not one of my usual types of headaches. Not sure how to describe it, but I remember noting that this was unusual. When we sit down to watch some television series (was it House? The West Wing?), I started seeing stars. This was a symptom I was told to watch for during the hypertension before gummy's arrival. I make the executive decision to take a dose of

Scene 3
Tuesday morning, I make my way to the OB's office, praying that of the 3 OBs not on vacation, I wouldn't have to suffer Dr. TdC. The nurse has me come in and asks about my girl and the birth. She takes my blood pressure. Takes it again. Takes it again. She says it's high. Dr. Good, the only OB in that practice I haven't met yet walks in. He tells me my blood pressure is 200/122. Shit. I can't even interpret that number, since it's higher than any readings I've ever had. I start to cry and apologize profusely for crying. Dr. Good normalizes this for me, and says that with what I've just been through and how badly I want to be home with my girl, I have every right to cry. He says things like "we'll get you healthy again, and you can be back with your daughter. "

He reluctantly lets me drive myself to the hospital. He says I can't go home, I must go directly to the hospital. He writes out this page of notes that he faxes to triage. Dr. Good says I should never have been discharged. He thinks the labetal.ol is the wrong medication for me given my history of low heart rate. He insists that I need to be assessed, and likely admitted. He swears that the Family Birthing Unit will re-admit me to fix their mistake, and so I can have Gummy with me at the hospital.

I get into the car and call Mr. A. I sob some more (is there enough sobbing in this story for your taste?). We decide that I'll go to the hospital as directed and that he will borrow friends' car to take Gummy to her first doctor's appointment with our family doctor.

Scene 4
I get up to triage and Nurse Eileen greets me. She is beside herself and with her thick Irish accent, starts to call me sweet pet names I've never heard of. She hugs me and says she has a wheelchair ready for me. Turns out they can't keep me up there and will have to take me down to the ER. And what OB is on call, you ask. Dr. TdC and he has disregarded Dr. Good's directives. It's a busy day in the FBU and nurse Kelly wheels me down to the ER despite not really having time for it. I'm pretty sure they both feel rotten about this clinical decision, but that their hands are tied.

It's March 5. Otherwise known as winter in Canada. Otherwise known as cold and flu season. The ER is packed to the gills. It's noon and I'm starving. I buy a sandwich. Tears stream down as I eat my sandwich. All I can think about, all I can see when I close my eyes is my darling girl. I cannot bear to be away from her.* At 2pm, I am called in and put on a cot, facing the ambulance entrance, next to the resuscitation pod (their version of ICU) and across from the nursing station.

My phone is almost out of juice. I have not brought my charger. Shit. I cannot distract myself by reading about what maternity clothes Kate is wearing.

I use what's left of the battery on my phone to talk to Mr. A. He says he will bring Gummy. Are you effing kidding me? There was a woman with C difficile who just go wheeled 2 inches next to me. Goodness knows what else there is in here. Gummy is only 5 days old. No newborns in the emergency department. He says he will find a pump and bring it to me. I would like to pump. I am thinking that today would be the day that possibly my milk would come in. But I am in the middle of the hallway and feeling very exposed. My boobs are tingling a little, but I am not confident to pump in the hallway of the super busy ER. As the hours pass, I am feeling more powerless.

Scene 5
Dr. TdC saunters into the ER nursing station at about 3pm. He talks to me from a distance of 20 feet. He is an asshole. The nurses hate him. I hate him. You hate him. He quickly decides he can do nothing for me, and says he needs Dr. Patel** Well, I thought, I'm not too sad to bid him adieu.

By 5pm, I am starving again. Look people, I have just given birth and I AM HUNGRY. If I thought I was hungry while pregnant, I was wrong. This is what hungry looks like. I politely interrupt nurse Kim who is doing paper work to ask if I can go get myself another sandwich. Very apologetically says I shouldn't eat until I see Dr. Patel. I gnaw at my fists.

5:30ish, Nurses Eileen and Nurse Kelly come down with a stack of magazines (finally can catch up with the duchess of Cambridge and her pregnancy) and offer to get me coffee and something to eat at the cafeteria (I decline. see above). They ask about Gummy and Mr. A, and say encouraging things to me.

At 6pm, nurse Kim decides that this waiting is ludicrous and decides to get me food (probably has kids of her own and knows how fucking hungry I am). Also, she has seen me cry several times on that cot and feels sorry for me. She gets me a little lunch pack with a sandwich, juice, crackers, and adds an extra chocolate pudding. I say thank you 100 times at least.

Mr. A and Dr. Patel show up at about the same time, shortly after 6pm. Dr. Patel is amazing (and so is Mr. A). He takes the time to hear my story and explain what he is thinking would be a good plan of action. He is kind and charming and everyone in the ER is pleased to see him, most of all me. He decides to try a med cocktail check back on things an hour later. Things are still dire, so he decides to try something else. No change by 10:30pm. He has to admit me overnight. I am feeling defeated, and react very little. Gummy is with baby Leah and her beautiful parents, and they are taking good care of her. And I am missing her beyond words.

I am moved to a medical floor and share my room with an elderly woman who has sustained a fall. Mr. A has brought a pump and I wake up at regular intervals to pump. Each time the bottle is dry. Always dry. But I persist.

The diuretic and blood pressure med finally take effect, and when Dr. Patel arrives at 8am the next morning, he says I can be discharged. I wonder about the effect of the new med (can't remember it right now) on breastfeeding, and he goes and talks to the hospital pharmacist. He says there are no studies with this particular drug with regards to breastfeeding and he doesn't want to turn me into a science experiment. So back on, with an added hydro.chloro.thiazide for shits and giggles.

We go pick up our Gummy girl at our friends' house. More crying when I see my girl, but I am taking her home and I am determined to spend every moment for the foreseeable future in her company.       

*Gosh, that was so intense physically. Every cell in my body couldn't stand being separated.
**He expects the nurses to page him once Dr. Patel pages in to the ER, which is not possible in their communication system and he should know that. So this delays the process greatly.