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.