Sunday, 7 May 2017

Other Kids' Parents

We flew down to LA this past weekend for a mini Ex-pats reunion. Our friends Barney and Robin served as hosts. I should say from the start, I really didn't like Robin the first time I met her. We ended up going shopping, and I had to watch her try on (yes, pose in front of a mirror) various $800-$1,000 purses; I wrote her off as a pretentious LA bitch. Yes over the years, I would come to learn that she is more down to earth. She was one of the first to whom I disclosed our fertility struggles, and she was surprisingly supportive. We bonded further when we were pregnant and new mothers together, often texting various questions or admitting when aspects are hard. However, outside of motherhood, we have very little in common.

Still, I was looking forward to getting together and meeting their daughter Little Myrtle (who has the same name as the other Little Myrtle and as Robin is again pregnant after another first attempt, so the nickname fits). Yet, I would learn that motherhood can unknowingly change the dynamics of your friendships, especially when it seems like your friends are mothering your kid. I have to acknowledge one rookie parent error; when we visit another kid's house, I have to ask their parents 'what are your house rules?' Where is food allowed? Shoes on or off? I get the no shoes rule, we do the same thing in my house, but are you allowed to walk one foot in the door before you remove the shoes, or do you have to take them off as you pass through the threshold? Also can you also appreciate that my daughter's shoes Velcro in the back so that she can't take them off herself before you scold her for not taking off her shoes? If she tries to climb up on the couch, is that allowed or is it considered 'climbing on furnature'?

I feel that I should have asked these questions, so that I could have done more to teach Kate about how we behave we were are a guest in someone else's house, and maybe I wouldn't have felt that I was walking of eggshells, so afraid I was going to get admonished for doing the wrong thing. But what really getting to me was the way she was interacting with Kate.

"Kate, do you know what colour this is?"
"Kate, can you sing a song?"
"Kate, [after she placed a sticker in the wrong spot of a sticker book] that sticker is improperly placed. Can you say 'improperly placed?'"

I should realise that she was just trying to engage her, but it was annoying the shit out of me. "She knows her colours." I informed Robin, while wanting to add; she's a bit overstimulated in a new environment, and you're a stranger, please don't expect her to perform. Of course, I interpreted her questions to Kate as an interrogation of my parenting skills, where she was checking in to see that Kate was learning appropriately.

At the same time, the visit did serve as a useful learning opportunity. Little Myrtle is about two and a half months older than Kate, which is a significant gap for their ages. Her speech is very progressive, she's speaking in small sentences. She can recognise letters and numbers very well. We probably should do more singing with Kate, although I think she does quite a bit at school, as she knew 'The Itsy-Bitsy Spider' and 'Wheels on the Bus' before Robin tried to take credit for "I got her to sing 'The Itsy-Bitsy Spider!'". We definitely need to work on manners, expecting her to say 'please' and 'thank you'. Maybe I just feel so resentful as I was able to make these observations myself without Robin pointing them out to me. Or rather, I feel that I didn't need her to tell these things to Kate, and make me feel like I'm not doing my job as a parent. In what ways are friends allowed to extend parenting to our kids?

I'm in such an unfamiliar territory; yet I also have to admit that I'm guilty of judging other people's parenting in the way I felt it was done to me. I went through the Denver Development check list with my cousin's sons to make sure they were meeting their milestones, and I actually got down on my hands and knees to show my cousin's nine month old son how to crawl. I've been silently critical of the ways Myrtle is raising her little Myrtle. At the same time, I was acknowledging our deficiencies during this trip, I was scoring the areas where we are ahead. Kate is physicially stronger. Kate is ahead in potty training. We use less screen time. We serve healthier foods. I lost my pregnancy weight (okay, that last one was just me being petty).

Why do we do this? Parenting is really hard. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Some of us are better at disclipine. Others are more creative at thinking up games and activities. No one is perfect. We're all really making it up as we go along, just trying to get from one day to the next. We're on the same team. But how do we work at teammates? How do you incorporate your friends who are parents with your kids?

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Right Now -May 2017

Celebrating: We've had a few birthdays this past month. My Dad's was over a week ago, and my aunt's 80th was over this past weekend. We attended a party for a colleague's 4 year old son and Kate has been singing "Happy Dirthday" since then.

Reading: I finished Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus by Matt Taibbi. I had a free subscription to Rolling Stone for a year and I love Taibbi's writing style. It was probably the only section I read of the magazine. I also just downloaded Diaper Free by Three on to my Kindle. A friend who is a Urology PA recently posted an article written by a pediatric urologist who concludes that just about every pediatric urologic disorder is the result of potty training too early and he insists the ideal age is between 3 and 4. I've been reminding myself that he is a specalists who justs sees the problem cases and not normal healthy kids, but it freaked me out a bit, so I had to do some back up reading, even though the points in Diaper Free were already stated in the previous book I read (almost on the borderline of plagiarism)

Watching: I haven't yet cancelled my subscription to Netflix, so I'm still making my way through the Gilmore Girls. I had conversations with a few people who felt surprised a what a spoilt little bitch Rory had become in the revival, but then realised she was always like that. I think I found the episode that reveals just how obtuse she was. (Spoiler Alert, Risa!) In season 5, Rory practically stalks Marty (aka 'Naked Guy' from her freshman year) and invites him to hang out with her, even though he clears doeesn't want to. He reluctantly agrees to get together for a Marx brothers movie marathon. She makes quite an effort; dressing in costume, hanging movie posters around her room and offering an array of snacks. There is an awkard tension at first, but the both seem to relax, especially as Rory has her legs over Marty's lap. Then Logan shows up to see if she wants to join him and his friends for Chinese food. Rory knows exactly how Working Class Marty and Spoilt Rich Kid Logan feel about each other as her first encounter with Logan was to confront his disparagaing and demeaning behaviour toward Marty. Nonetheless, she offers little resistance and Logan invites Marty along as "if you're going to be hanging out with Ace, I should get to know you outside your uniform." A pointed dig and a bit territorial. (BTW, the nickname 'Ace' seems really ridiculous as we now know she was a failed journalist) Poor Marty is forced to listen to the rich guys brag about their drunken escapades at their fancy foreign private schools while he watches Logan play with Rory's hair. Then he's subjected to more humiliation as he can't pay $75 for his share as he doesn't have the cash in his wallet nor his bank account. Rory lends him the money just so he can save face (Logan payed for her) which does beg the question why he didn't just give a credit card. Rory is sensible enough to pass up the post Chinese food night clubbing and walks embarassed Marty home, where he admits he has feelings for her and she reveals that she likes Logan, just in case it wasn't obvious. Then she begs Marty to still be her friend, making you wonder if they ever were truly friends, and suggests coming back to finish their movie marathon. Logan has to spell it out for her that Duck Soup is one of his favourite movies and doesn't want that movie to be tarnished with his memories of such a shitty night.

I also finished watching the second season of The Detour. Although the ending was strange, it's a brilliant series and worth watching just for the parody of Hamilton.

Listening: I really don't listen to any pod casts, but when I google searched Insane Clown President to check the spelling of Matt Taibbi's name, I noticed there is an audio version of the book narriated by the author. Almost exactly 10 years ago, I struck up a conversation with the most intimidating perinatologist in our department as he noticed by copy of Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them. A few days later, I was in clinic when he paged me. I was struck with panic. It is never a good thing when the perinatologist is paging you. Except this time he wanted to share that he bought the audio version of Lies after he read a chaper of my book and wanted to share that I had to hear the words in Al Franken's voice. He was right, listening to the audio version enhanced my experience of that book.

Drinking: I've been making my own version of Cacao Almond Milk. Safeway sells it, but at $3.49 for 8oz, it's a rip-off. I read the ingredents and bought some cacao powder, liquid dates, and Himalayan sea salt. Now I can make it whenever I want for much less.

Eating: I've been struggling to find a balance. I completed another Whole 30 in March and my game plan was to follow the Whole 30 rules during the week, but give myself some freedom on the weekends. Sounds easy right? Well I think I've been over doing it on the weekends when I am compliant, or I'll bend a little during the week, as I'm not doing a "true" Whole 30. As a result my weight fluctuates with my eating. If I have an occasional glass of wine, baked treat or Friday night pizza, my weight will balloon to pre-pregnancy digits at 155. If I avoid temptations, I can get down to 151. I have to decide which is more important to me.

Wearning: An old but favourite long sleeve Nike shirt and gym shorts. This is kind of a pervey question.

Loving: So many things, I'm feeling like I have a good rhythm with work and family and I never thought I'd be this happy.

Anticipating: We're going away this weekend to visit our friends Robin and Barney in LA. They have a daughter who is 3 months older than Kate and are expecting their second.

Hoping: Trump gets impeached soon.

Following: I haven't done so yet; but a few of my teammates follow [Olympic Gold Medal swimmer] Nathan Adrian and I'm tempted to join because he posts pictures of his cats.

Wondering: If I am doing the right thing by potty training Kate now versus waiting until later. My instinct tells me that I am, but that article got in my head a bit.

Trying: New recepies, fitting in some more exercise. I've had to miss some swim practices or gym nights due to my work and husband's work schedule. I started a sticker chart and I'm trying to at least get some squats or push up done on the nights I miss.

Planning: I have to figure out meals for the week we come back from LA. We land at 2 PM and I'll need to hit the store and do meal prep

Contemplating: How to best spend my time when I have a parent's day out on the Saturday before Mother's Day. My plan is to clean the deck, so I can set an outdoor play area for Kate. I also should do some gardening. I know I will have unrealistic expectations for what I can get accomplished. I should hit Lowe's earlier in the week so I don't waste time on Saturday.

Monday, 10 April 2017

21 months

I survived my first weekend away from Kate. I had a 7:15 flight, so I needed to leave the house before 5 AM and I didn't get a chance to say good bye to her. I did give Tyler some cuddles before I left, which induced some mom guilt that I said good-bye to the cat and not my baby, but Husband begged me not to risk waking her. As soon as I got to the airport, I immediately spotted three mamas baby wearing and felt that something was missing. My heart started to ache for Kate. It just didn't feel right to be travelling with out her. However, once I borded the plane and was able to take a nap after take-off, and not deal with an antsy kid, I was enjoying my taste of freedom.

Freedom that was to be short-lived. I was released from responsibilites as a parent, but was returned to the role of daughter as I met my parents at our hotel in Dallas. Once we were checked in, my mother suggested that she and my dad may need a nap before attending the basketball games later that evening. As I slept for a few hours on my flight, I announced that I would go sit by the pool and read.

My Mother (to my Dad): "Someone has to go with her. Jane can't go by herself"
Me: "I'm almost 41 years old. I think I'm ready to go to the hotel pool by myself."
My Mother: "There's no Life Guard on duty..."
My Dad "Jane is a swimmer. She is the Life Guard"
Me: "I didn't say that I was going to swim. I swim four times a week, why would I swim in the hotel kiddie pool? I just want to go relax by the pool, which is something I can't do at home."
My mother still seems hesitant
Me: "You can see the pool from our room."
Me: "I'm a big girl. I go pee-pee in the potty."

I grabbed my phone, book and room key and left for the pool. I managed to get through maybe twenty pages of my book before my mother texted that she was coming down to join me. We could have had a nice mother-daughter chat while sitting pool side, but I was still pissed off over the fact that she felt I needed a guardian. This continued for the rest of the weekend. I was supposed to try to meet up with some Dallas friends, but one had moved to Chicago and the other was in labour. It's just as well that they were unavailable, as my mother probably would have chaperoned my visit.

I get that you never stop being a parent, but I would think that living on my own for more than twenty years and having a kid of my own has built me some credit. At the same time, I admit that the thought of letting Kate venture out on her own terrifies me. Yet, I can't contain her and I can't always be by her side to protect her. I have to teach her how to survive on her own and hope these lessons will serve as a virtual presence. I'll have to trust her and the job I did preparing her for the real world. At minimum, if we're walking somewhere, I'll trust the navigation system on her electronic device and won't feel the need verify the directions with a paper map.

Overall, I enjoyed my trip. Dallas is seriously nice, y'all. It is very kid friendly, which made me miss Kate at times. We ate at some really nice restaurants, drank some fun cocktails, did some historical sight seeing and recovered from the disappointment that our team didn't win a National Championship for the first time in 5 years.

Weight 28.2 lbs (on my scale)
Height: Not sure

Teeth: The incisors on the top have finally started to break through, but they seem to be taking their own sweet time.

Hair: It's finally getting a bit longer and thicker and I can just about pull it into a ponytail (for all of three seconds before she pulls it out). She's rocking the look of Carol Brady.

Eating: She's a Paleo baby! She's been going through this indecisive phase where she'll sign that she's hungery, but does not want anything that we offer her. (Although I think we may have to stop giving her so many options and limit her choices to [in the voice of Dr Evil from Austin Powers] "Frickin A or Frickin B") One day, a frustrated Husband held her up to the pantry cubbard and she went right for my Whole 30 provisions. She loves Lara bars (fortunately they make small sized bars as she would open one of my bars, but not eat the whole thing, and I would have to eat it as I can't bear to let them go to any waste.) She's also into Epic bars, which does make me concerned about the sodium, but it is a good source of protein, especially for a day when all she wants to eat is fruit. I brought her to the gym with me one time and looked over to the play area to find her drinking out of my water bottle. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but when I discovered that she downed the entire bottle (leaving nothing for me post workout) I remembered it was coconut water! She's been a really good water drinker, but if I add a little coconut water to her sippee cup, she'll gulp it down. So far we've avoiding giving her any juice... with the exception that we've done a few trips to Jamba Juice.

She's also getting fussy about how she wants her food. One day she was refusing her beloved chicken nuggets that I had cut up for her, but reached over an grabbed one that was still intact. It was as if to announce "I'm a big girl now and I don't need you to cut my food up for me." She also wants her strawberries whole, except if it's the cut strawberries for my lunch. Then she has to have those, and even if you cut up her strawberries, it's not the same thing. Also, if you open a box of raisins from the wrong end; they cease to be raisins and are unacceptable for consumption. Close the bottom and open them from the top? No, the bottom was open. They are tainted. (For the record, I ended up giving her a fresh box and I taped up the one inadvertently open at the wrong end. I haven't yet tried to offer it to her). I learned another lesson about coconut water when she saw me take a swig from the container. Even though she watched me pour the Zico coconut water (generously) into her sippee cup, that wasn't acceptable. She wanted to drink from the container too. It brought me back to when I was a child and saw my dad drink out of the milk carton for the first time. To a kid, drinking out of the carton is cool. It's totally badass. It's only to adults that it's considered gauche and undignified.

We're getting a little better at eating in a more civilised manner. I'll place her plate on the table and she'll actually try to climb into her booster seat herself to sit down at the table. I find that she does better if someone is sitting with her and sometimes, I'll need to spoon feed her to get her to eat; which does feel a bit like we're taking one step forward and two steps back. Yet I do feel strongly that we have to reinforce designated eating areas. 1. I don't want to be cleaning up food messes all over the hours (we're prone to ant invasions). 2. Such rules exist in other places (recently she had a meltdown at the play gym as they are strict about no food in the play area).

Sleeping: Surprisingly, we all did well with the jet lag coming back from England. Within a week, she was back to her normal schedule and I feared we'd hit another setback as the Daylight Savings adjustment was just a week away, but she handled that well too. I know I am so fortunate to have such a good sleeper, but I do fear that will come to an end once Kate transitions to a big girl bed and can get escape. Myrtle kept Little Myrtle in her crib until she was almost four years old, which I was silently and very much unknowingly judging as my comparison were my cousins gave us their crib when my nephew was just two and a half. (I also suspected it was because Little Myrtle's room is really small) Now I understand her logic. It's a whole new ballgame when they can roam free at night. Kate was showing signs of looking to climb out of her crib, but she hasn't done so lately. Good. Keep it that way. My mom used to have a set of jingle bells that she kept on our front door and our cat would ring the bells when she wanted to be let out. I'm going to ask my mom if she still has them for me to use on Kate's door when she goes to a big girl bed. It feels so circle of life.

We're still trying to have her nap in her crib on weekends, but lately we've been so busy that she's napped in the car or in her stroller. As the rain has stopped and the weather has been warmer, I've gone back to taking her to the pool for Tuesday Nap Time/Mummy Work-outs. One day she woke up really early and it was perhaps the one time I was happy to be doing a 200 IM set as I think she enjoyed watching everyone swimming different strokes and was content to sit patiently in her stroller. Husband recently had the challenge of getting her to nap in her crib. If the thirty minutes of crying wasn't enough to let him know how she felt about taking a nap, she made sure her feeling were known.

Likes: I got her a toy stroller and dolly for Christimas, figuring she would probably be more interested in pushing the pram, but she's really getting into her dolls. When we get ready to leave, she puts her baby in the stroller and pushes her toward the door (and sometimes down the steps leading into the garage). We've started taking baby with us when we go out, and I need to consider getting a back up doll as I fear we (I) could lose it somewhere. Her favourite activity with her dolls? Putting them down for a nap. She's place her dolls face down on the ground and will cover them with anything she can find (a blanket, burp cloth,towel, pillow a jacket) and will pat their backs saying "night, night" Yeah, it's pretty adorable.

She also loves stickers. Shortly after she transitioned to spending a full day at Day Care, she started getting clingy and crying at drop off. I would try my Harvey Karp techniques to get her to calm down, but some days I would run out of time before I needed to leave for work and would leave the poor teachers to deal with my crying and screaming kid. Then one day, the instructor pulled out a sheet of stickers for Kate. She just turned to me and said "Bye-bye" Of course, what she was really staying was; Um, I have stickers now. What are you still doing here? We're using stickers very sparingly and stragetically as we don't want them to lose their magic too soon. The good thing is that you can find stickers almost anywhere. Clothes shopping at G.ap? Just plaster the size stickers all over her and she's as happy as a pig in mud. Our swim coach has us use sticker charts to keep track of how many practice sessions we attend and if Kate makes it through a practice, she gets some stickers too.

She's also discovered that her clothes have pockets and they are the best things ever. She loves keeping her hands in her pockets as well as finding small things to stash in her pockets. I need to start checking pockets before doing her laundry from now on. Here she is multi-tasking while talking on her 'phone'.

Dislikes: Bibs. She won't even do the IKEA smock any more. As we've had some many problems getting her to sit and eat, I've recognised that I just have to pick my battles. Even with a bib, she'd probably figure out how to get her clothes dirty anyway and she's just going to out grow them. Actually, I've gotten pretty good at removing stubborn stains, something else I can add to my list of Mom skills.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It just means they won't be eligible to conseign or pass on to someone else. Not everyone understands this. When we were in England, I was so pleased that Kate was sitting at the little table her hosts set up for her and was using a spoon to eat her soup that I didn't even notice that she dripped some on her dress. "Do you need a bib?" asked our hostess. "No thank you." I replied "I have an extra set of clothes, I'll just change her after lunch." "I have a bib I can give to her. We still have some lying around." she ignored every word I said. "No, really it's okay..." I protested as she started looking through a drawer. I though it was universally known in the Mom Code that when a fellow Mom says "No, that's okay." what she really means is FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I SAID NO! Sure enough Kate was interested in what she was looking for in the drawer and abruptly got up from the table spilling the soup everywhere...

Cutting her nails. I can really use some help with this one. I used to do it at the begining of Baby Music. Kate would sometimes take a light snooze during the drive and would be a bit sleepy, or she would be in shy mode at the begining of class and just want to sit on my lab where the nail clippers were lurking in my pocket. I realise that it's socially unacceptable to cut your nails in public, but this was my only opportunity. Sometimes, I only get to cut one side of a nail, leaving a more dangerous sharp side, which I question if it is worse than just leaving the nails long, but smoothe. I tried letting her watch TV or a viedo on the iPad or iPhone. That worked once. Now she hides her hands behind her back. My only shot is to sit her in our bathroom sink so I have some leverage on my side. Sometimes she'll turn on the tap with her feet and get wet, necessitating a PJ change, but it's a casualty worth risking. Sometimes she's squirm out and I'll wrestle her to the counter and try to clip. I even cut the cat's nails in front of her to demonstrate that it's no big deal. (Tyler is the easiest cat ever as he actually purrs while he sits in my lap and lets me cut his nails). Maybe I'll try to do mine the next time I to do hers.

She's also not a fan of getting dressed. She's not yet the kid who takes off her clothes and runs around naked, but there are times when she'll duck to avoid something being put over her head, or she'll push it off her head before I can get her arms in. Oddly, she does love putting her shoes and jacket on, as she knows this means we're going out. It broke my heart when Husband and I were leaving her with my in-laws one night in London. She saw use putting on our shoes and jacket and grabbed hers as well. Now that we're back home, every time she gets her coat, she starts mentioning the names "Lilly" and "Alex" thinking that she's going to Day Care.

Clothing: Children sizes are so funny. I have some 12 month sized onesies that still fit, but as I'm trying to transition to separate, I got a bunch of 18-24 month long sleeved shirts. "Are you trying to make our daughter wear compression wear?" asked Husband when I dressed her in one of the Tees. Yeah, they are totally snug, but I'm trying to make one get at least one wearing. I recently hit some clearance racks and stocked up on a bunch of 2T and even some 3T shirts. Oh remember how I went a bit overboard at a boutique in London as I wanted her to stand out wearing some clothes no one else would have? Yeah, the first day she debuted a new outfit they played outside and her pants were caked in mud. I soaked and scubbed but the dirt was just absorbed into the fabric and my cleansing efforts wore away some of the color and the fabric. Why do I bother? Well, I thought I learned my lesson until one day I saw Lilly in a cute little dress and my mind registers 'game on!' and the next day I dressed Kate in another London outfit. That was the first day they learned how to paint. [face palm] "Children cannot run and play and do all the things they are supposed to do if they're worried that they'll mess up their clothes" Sigh. Yes, Fraulein Maria, you are right. At least now Kate has some very stylish play clothes and one very foolish mother.

Diapering: My potty training book describes that Pull-ups are essentially diapers and should not be used for training, but I picked up a box as I'm so sick of the wrestling match every time that we change, I'm curious to see if Easy-ups may be easier until we're fully potty trained. I recently placed my first order of tiny undies!

Health Issues: At our 18 month check up, Husband pointed out that Kate's second toe overlaps her big toe. Our pedi commented that it's very common in kids, but thought hers was a bit extreme and suggested seeing a podiatrist. "Do you remember Dr Tarsal?" he asked me. I hadn't heard that name in years, but I absolutely remembered. Years ago my Pedi and I worked for a different medical group. I split my time between two offices and when I was in the satelite office, I used a desk that was shared with Dr Tarsal. One day he left a plastic container with bloody toenails on the desk. Yes, it was just as disgusting as it sounds, and I'm not using the word bloody in the British sense. I left a note asking that we remember to respect that the desk is a shared space. The next time I was in the office, I found my note in the garbage bin and the toenails hadn't moved. In retaliation, I littered the desk with gynaecology parphanillia. Uterus post-it notes. A plastic model vagina and an actual Nuva Ring that I used for demonstration purposes, but would be open to speculation. My message was clear. You do not want to get into this with me. Two weeks later the toe nails were finally removed.
Fortunately, at her visit, Dr Tarsal didn't recognise me as the one who passive agressively decorated his desk with vagina stuff and I didn't volunteer the information. He said the overlap is either due to a tight tendon or underdeveloped metatarsal bone, and should resolve by the age of three. In the meantime, he suggested using toe spilts at night to help keep her toes in line. You can imagine how much fun it is to get them on each night. Add that to the list of dislikes.

Milestones: I had an interesting conversation about developmental milestones with an unlikely source while I was in London. Rico Suave is a handsome and charming bachelor in his mid-thirties. I thought he might be thinking about settling down as he's nearing the big 4-0, least to avoid being the creepy old guy in the club; but he met up with two girls that he swiped on Tinder while attending a gathering at a bar for a friend's birthday. He asked about my experience with motherhood, and I replied that I didn't go in with any expectations, but I'm fascinated watching Kate develop. "I'm so easily impressed with how she's learning. I'm convinced that she advanced and that she's brilliant, but then I talk to other mothers, I learn their babies are doing the same thing." Rico replied, "You know it really doesn't matter when you hit your milestones as long as you achieve them." He elaborated that he dated a woman who didn't learn to read until she was 12, but graduated at the top of her class and is a successful doctor. I privately questioned how smart she was to be dating someone who is nicknamed 'Sex Pest' and has probably had every minor STD at least once, but I appreciated his point. It helps to keep some perspective. Just because your kid can use the potty; remember, so can your cat. She walked at only 10 months? Stephen Hawking will tell you walking is not a function of intellegence. She's talking up a storm? Yeah, someone else claims, "I know words. I have the best words." It doesn't mean you have anything profound to say.

Anyway, Kate's language exploded as soon as she hit 18 months, but I was getting concerned as it seemed to have slowed down after we returned from England. Maybe she was just taking a break as her vocabulary seems to be blossoming again. She's exhibiting at least 1-2 new words per day and she's starting to string some words together. She kind of said her first sentance, but it took a lot of prompting and signing from Mummy. She was fussing while having her diaper changed, so I pointed to her dolly that she had just made go 'night, night' and said "Shhh, baby sleeping" and she parroted it back with words and signs. Now when we're out, if she sees another mom or dad pushing a pram, she'll alert me, "Shh, baby sleeping."

She enjoys looking at picture books and can name objects when asked or can point to particular objects. When she sees the picture of a computer and a picture of a TV set, she says 'Daddy'. We're giving her credit for that answer. She's also starting to identify colours. Socially, she scored two invites to playdates with her Day Care classmates, which we have to work on setting up with her parents. My fear is that we'll have to return the favour, and I'm not sure how to host a play date. She's also mastered walking up stairs as she had a lot of opportunity to practice while we were in England.

The most exciting event: she went pee-pee in the potty! One night we were in the kitchen and she grabbed my hand and let me to our guest bathroom and pointed to the toilet. I ran and grabbed her potty (which I had been storing in the garage), but she started to freak out once I showed it to her. I left the Bjorn potty in our main bathroom and thought I'd put one of her dolls or stuffed animals on it. Then next morning, I actually found her putting one of her dolls on the potty! That evening when we came home from Day Care, I had to pee, so I put her on the potty while I went on the big potty and success! I'm happy that she peed after the first time she sat on the potty. I'm planning to pull the diapers over Memorial Day weekend, but we'll keep practicing. She's gone from no clue to recognising when she's peed. She'll either grab her crotch, place her hands down the back of her pants or start to undress. We'll take her to the potty, she'll sit for a few minutes [without peeing] and then wipe herself. When I returned from Dallas, I found that she was standing over the potty... just as she observes Daddy doing... It was amusing, but not something I want her doing!

Looking forward to: To quote Calvin and Hobbs 'the days are just packed' We have two birthday parties and a 5K this month. I thought we had a free weekend, but I checked the calender and that's Easter Sunday, so we'll go to my aunt's house for brunch. Then, we're visiting friends in LA during the first weekend in May, the following weekend is Mother's Day and our Day Care is offering a Parents Day out. Then it's the weekend just before my birthday and finally it will be Memorial Day weekend and we lead into the potty training adventure. It's going to be a lot of fun, but I'd be happy with a weekend where we didn't have to go anywhere or do anything except hang out and figure out how to slow time down.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

10 Ways I'm Rocking Motherhood

When I first started blogging, I was so excited when I started getting nominated for various blogging awards from fellow bloggers. Then I realised that they really are modern chain letters and I started to find them annoying and stopped participating. It seemed that everyone else grew tired of them as I hadn't seen anyone else promoting a blog award. Then I read a post by my bloggie bestie Risa on 10 Ways I'm Rocking Motherhood. I thought it was just a creative list, so I was quite shocked to discover at the end it was one of these chain letter blog posts, but I was even more shocked to see my name! What me? I'm rocking motherhood? Seriously?

I decided to take the plunge and list my motherhood highlights and I really encourage others to do the same. We're so hard on ourselves. We're our toughest critics. It's worthwhile to remember all the things we do well.

1. I'm the Executive Chef of our house

I make all our meals. I google search for new recepie ideas. I plan our weekly meals with attention to what leftovers can work for lunch, effortless meals for my late nights and gym nights. If I make a simple mistake, such as forgetting to defrost some chicken... it can wreck my delicately crafted plans. I also have to work around the fact that Husband won't eat leftovers for dinner as he doesn't like to eat the same meal two nights in a row. I could be sympathetic if this were an OCD thing; but it's not. His mother let him get away with being a spoilt little brat. I used to make a large meal on Sunday, so we could just re-heat it on Monday, when I work late, but he started boycotting leftovers for a second night's dinner. I tasked him with coming up with an alternative and noted that it had to be specific. "Something easy" he replied. Still not specific. "Something quick" Like re-heating leftovers!!! I thought my head was going to explode.        
I create meal plans. Then I make shopping lists. Then Kate and I do the shopping. Then I run out during my lunch at work and pick up stuff I forgot during my weekend shopping trips. On Sundays, we go to the Farmer's Market. Then I come home and cut up fruits and veggies for Kate's and my lunches for the week. I still make my own packets for her. I used to make a big meal on Sunday (so we could have leftovers on Monday), but now I do something simple since lunch prep takes up so much time. Meal prep extends throughout the week. After cleaning up dinner, I cut veggies, meat and prepare dry ingredients to make quick work of cooking. Yes, the crock pot is awesome, just walk in the door at night and dinner is ready! Yet, you still have to spend time doing your prep work. I know this doesn't really make me a rockstar of a mom, as it's sort of my job, but it's exhausting. Often unappreciated by my spoilt brat Husband who will decide at the last minute that he doesn't feel like having what I've planned, prepped and started making. As if I have a back up alternate meal ready to go. (I'm so close to declaring every night a FUFFY -Fuck yoU Fend For Yourself-) If Kate doesn't like something, she'll throw it on the ground, which also makes me feel unappreciated. (Earlier this week, I hear myself cry out 'You zoodled the cat!') Actually, she's become a little more polite and sometimes she'll hand her food back to me, which still makes me wonder why I bother. I'm sure most every mom has these same challenges and the same struggles, so I acknowlegde that I'm no different, but I want to give a shout out to everyone who feels their meal planning/prepping/cooking efforts go unappreciated. I appreciate all the work you do. It's all consuming and exhausting.

2. I still make myself a priority

I still remember when my cousins had their first baby. We went to visit them a few months into their journey and listened to them describe how time consuming a little infant can be. "If you guys have kids.." My cousin's husband warned "all the sports and activities you do will go right out the window." I thought it was an odd remark considering that my cousin and her husband didn't do any sports or activities before they had kids. I smugly thought to myself Challenge Accepted! Well in a way he was right. As my mother abruptly pointed out, I'm no longer playing tennis or field hockey, but technically those stopped before Kate. I'm not bothered about field hockey, although I miss hanging out with my old teammates (I was so happy to get together with our old goalkeeper while I was in London. The goalies and sweepers are bonded for life). I'd really like to play tennis again, but I can just about manage to keep up with swimming and going to the gym. Let me tell you; it doesn't always happen. There are days when she wakes up early in the morning and especially if she has a cough or cold, the mom guily overwhelms me and I'll stay home from swimming. Then I'll log on to and see what I missed at practice and the swimmer's guilt sets in. I'll try to take her to the gym while she's napping and sometimes she sleeps, sometimes she wakes up after I've barely rowed 500 meters. But there are some days where one of the life guards at the poool will play with her if she wakes during swim practice, or I'll coordinate with another Cross Fit mom to bring her kids to play with Kate in the gym's kiddie area. Kate recently hit a PR and stayed in the play area for an entire workout. No it, doesn't always happen, but it will never happen if I don't try.        
Yes, gone are the days when I could run 1-2 10 Ks per month and aim to complete 3-4 half marathons per year. At least for now. My fantasy of being the long distance stroller pushing mom is being dashed by the reality that Kate doesn't like being in the stroller for a long period of time. A 5K is her max and race strategy is now all about making her milk and snacks stretch thoughtout the race. Maybe when we move up from the jogging stroller to the little thing that is like a tent on wheels and she doesn't have to be restrained, it will be more fun for her. Or maybe I'll just have to wait until she's big enough to run along with me. Maybe the window is closed for now; but out the window? That's not going to happen.

3. I made sure Husband was going to be a 'Hands-on Dad'

When Kate was only a few months old, I read an article on Scary Mommy, or some other parenting website. The author had two kids, aged 5 and 8 and one day she discovered that her husband was so inept that he couldn't even call their local pizza parlor and place an order for the same pizza and sides that they have every Saturday night for the past few years. It dawned on her that she had been parenting all by herself all this time. As moms usually do, she blamed herself for not ever requiring her husband to share any responsibility or teaching him what to do. I felt that this article carried a warning: don't let this happen to you! I consulted the lone Dad in our New Parents Group. The poor guy who is now probably permanently cross-eyed from trying to avert his eyes away from all the breastfeeding moms sitting around the circle. "Don't just ask for help," he advised "Assign a specific task". "Lists are also useful" he offered. I wrote out the inventory of the diaper bag on a little index card and I'm thinking I should do the same for packing Kate's lunch. When I gave Husband the task of washing pump parts and preparing Kate's bottles, he took it very seriously and I feel he earns some of the credt for giving Kate breast milk for one year.

Don't let me lure you into thinking that we operate in some kind of utopia where the work load is split 50/50. Ha! Most of the time, I feel like I am the default parent. I take care of packing the lunches, her school bag, giving her bath, putting her to bed, picking out her clothes to wear. I do most of the diapering, because Husband admits he is "lazy" about it. Sigh.  At least I know that he can do these tasks when I need him to. He gives Kate her dinner, does her bath and puts her to bed on nights when I have my department dinner meetings. Once he cmplained that I didn't have any food ready for her dinner. "Oh, you mean you had to figure out how to heat up some meatballs? It's a good thing you have a doctorate" On Friday mornings when I leave the house by 6:30, sometimes Kate is still asleep and he has to give her breakfast and get her ready for Day Care all on his own. It may mean that on some mornings, such a last Friday, "breakfast" involves giving her a container of blueberries and letting her walk around the house with them... but I've learned to let that go. I did not think about smushed up blueberries all over the house as I drove to work. That was his problem.        

4. I involve her in the household chores

Shit has to get done! I want her to appreciate that life is not all fun and games and we all need to work at times. She'll help with the laundry and emptying the dishwasher. She's still really curious about the vacuum and I know that when I've vacuuming, she'll actually sit still for five minutes and I don't have to worry about her getting into anything. She's also getting a bit better at engaging in her own independent play while I'm cooking or putting her clothes away.      

5. I enjoy my time away from her

I love that little girl with all my heart and then some more. Everyday I feel fortunate to have her in my life. But I need a break now and then. It's nice to have some separation and to go out of the house and spend a few hours away from being mommy. There are some mornings where I don't really feel up to going to the gym. Then I remember it's a hour of kid-free time, plus driving time and suddenly I feel like working out! I used to feel guilty about the fact that I didn't cry dropping her off at Day Care and I don't think about her during the day, but NonSequitur Chica reassured me that it means I feel comfortable with her Day Care Attendants and I'm busy at my job. We'll see how I do when I go to Dallas for the weekend at the end of the month. I realised it will be the first time being away from her for a night since she was placed in my uterus in embryo form on October 21, 2014. How much I miss her may also depend on if my parents are driving me nuts.

6. I can manage parenting solo

I totally admit I was terrified when Husband had his first business trip after I went back to work and I was left on my own with Kate. Not only did we manage; it wasn't too hard at all (not that I'll admit that to him). My biggest challenge was trying to get up before she woke so that I could shower and would hope that she wouldn't wake up while I was in the shower. Not I opt to sleep as long as I can and I'll give her some milk and brings some toys into the bathroom while I scrub. I know I've said it a million times and I'll say it again, that I don't know how single parents manage and I'm in ever in such awe, but I can manage for a few nights or a week every now and then. Actually, last month when Husband was away, I found that with Kate going to bed earlier and sleeping through the night, I could enjoy having the house to myself like the good old days.

7. I'm a master bargain shopper

Since we don't need to buy them that frequently due to our cloth service, I only buy diapers when they are on sale or sponoring a promotion. I never waste a BBB 20% discount or $5 off coupon. My parents are also signed up and they forward me their emails and mail circulars. I've been known to make separate transaction during the same trip when I have multiple coupons available. I would often purchase exactly $25 worth of Baby.ganics stuff so I could earn another $5 BBB gift card. I make use of all my's Reward points and Gymbucks and Gap Cash.  I shop the Clearance racks and looks for Kate's next size. I've sold a lot of her used baby equipment on a group and I frequent a local conseignment shop. At least a third of their inventory are clothes that have never been worn or worn once or twice maximum. I hit the Dollar Store when I need cheap toys for travelling. As soon as I can be confident she won't destroy the books, we'll start going to our library.

8. We follow the No TV Before Two rule (sort of)

Please note! I am not criticising any mom who lets her kids watch TV! Actually I'm a little bit in the camp of "My mom let me watch Sesame Street before I was 2 and I turned out okay". I can say to this day that I still remember a lot of what I learned on the Street. I still sing 1-2-3-4-5, 6-7-8-9-10, 11, Tweeeellllvvvveee! I often play 'one of these things is not like the other' I learned cultural awarness. As we lived in Wonderbread Whitetown, the first people of colour I saw were characters on Sesame Street. I discovered people speak different languages because there are other countries and other languages. The first Spanish words I learned were from Luis and Maria. I learned about death when they said good-bye to Mr Hooper and I first learned about adoption when Gordon and Susan brought little Miles into their family.

More so, it was a call to action for Husband and I to cut down our own TV time. In the words of the great Eleanor Roosevelt, "You cannot ask of others that which you are not willing to do yourself". We ditched cable and switched to Roku. Now we only watch a handful of shows in our room and we listen to Pandora in the kitchen. I decided I was going to have to break my no TV for Kate rule when we flew back from England (direct to SFO is 11 hours). Years back, I worked with a women who flew a lot with her 4 year old and thought that personal DVD players were magic. "The key to it's success" she explained "is that it's only a treat for the plane. We tell her it doesn't work at home." Ah, take advantage of your kids while you can. In my case it backfired. Kate had no interest in watching The Secret Life of Pets or Finding Dory. (I enjoyed them both, but I watched them with subtitles, so I feel I need to see both again to appreciate the movie with the voice actors) I downloaded some signing videos for my iPad and that held her interest... for maybe 20 minutes. Then she tried to send an email to Kimberly Q.

Our rule has been that the only time TV is on in front of Kate is if it's sports. [and the Gilmore Girls revival] When the election was in it's final weeks, we started watching political news shows while she was in the room. Now that it's a total shit show and we want to be aware of just how much is fucked up, we're kind of watching political stuff all the time. I'm recognising that I need to be careful with Real Time with Bill and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, not only for the language, but a recent episode led her to dance along with "A Man Like Putin"

9. I'm doing things I said I would never do.

Well actually, it all started when I said that I would never do IVF... Two stim cycles and five transfers later, I'm going to Mommy and Me singing activities with Kate. I have a horrible singing voice. I was rejected from school chorus in the Fourth Grade and I have traumatic memories from that. I always said that I was never going to do any activity that involved mommies sitting in a circle singing with their babies. That's why I signed us up for signing classes...and we learned songs on the first day. Then I tried Baby Yoga... and there was also sitting in a circle and singing! Finally I relented and we started going to baby music. In the privacy of the dance studio, I sing, dance and play instruments. Something I never wanted to do and for such a long time, never thought I would never have the opportunity to do.

10. I know I just really lucked out

I have to be humble and admit that some of the things that make Kate a great baby are just sheer luck and I can't take any credit for it. Nursing went well, but it wasn't because I have any special skills. She's a good sleeper because that's just the way she is and not because of anything I did. She just happens to be an easy kid and fso far parenting her has been pretty easy. So much so, that I really fear she's saving all the hard stuff for her teenage years.

I nominate all the moms who read this blog to write your own list of the ways you are rocking motherhood. Maybe it's an idea for your next post, or the post that brings you out of blogging hibernation. Maybe just write it down on a piece of paper and stick it in your sock drawer. Reflect on it the next time it feels like motherhood is rocking you and know; you've got this.


Thursday, 23 February 2017

19.5 Months

Setting new fashion trends...

My swim coach has us do kicking drills that she calls "underwaters". The objective is to swim one full length of the pool without taking a breath. The purpose is to try to build breath control so that you learn to take fewer time stealing breaths. To offer some encouragement, or at least perspective, she often reminds us; "it's only twenty seconds of your life..."

It's only twenty seconds of your life. I was applying that mentality as I was facing the visit with my in-laws. I was really dreading the trip as I still have PTSD from their last visit. Yet, it needed to be done. They need to spend time with Kate and their son and I just have to put on my game face and suck it up. Place your hands in streamline position. Squeeze your ears between your biceps, take a deep breath and kick until you get to the other side. It's only twenty seconds of your life. Except in this case, it's not twenty seconds, it's two weeks or give or take 1,209,600 seconds.

So far, we're one week into our stay, and it hasn't been too bad. Kate provides a welcome ice breaker to the awkard silence. While I wouldn't say that I feel comfortable in my in-laws house, I'm feeling slightly less uncomfortable. I'm finding it easier to talk with my MIL, my FIL; not so much. It has helped that we've been getting out every other day, including a visit with another infertility survivor and her two amazing IVF miracles. However, I am holding my breath. Literally. Their shower broke the day before we arrived. My FIL ordered the part that he needed online and it was due to arrive on Monday. Since, we weren't doing anything on Sunday except recovering from the jet-lag, I figured I could make the most of the fact that I rarely get to spend the entire day in my pajamas. Then Husband pointed out that as the part was ordered late on Friday night, the company probably wouldn't process the order until Monday morning, which means we wouldn't get the part until Tuesday.

I hadn't showered since Thrusday night and couldn't go one more day. I had to ask my MIL if she could ask their neighbour if Kate and I could use their shower. "Oh, I suppose I could" she responded. Thank you. I know it's not their fault the shower broke, and I'm impressed that my 82 year old FIL can fix it himself and I understand that they may not be able to afford a plummer, but I was annoyed that they didn't try to provide more of a solution other than putting a plastic cup in the shower and nothing that we could stand in the shower and pour water over your head. On Monday afternoon, my FIL checked the order to make sure it was processed and the part would be sent overnight. He saw that it would only be sent by first class mail and asked Husband to call the company to complain. "Let me check the invoice first" Husband thought it was wise to do so. "Dad, you didn't request overnight service, only first class mail. Didn't you think it was odd to be paying only three pound fifty for overnight service?" I was really struggling to contain laughter.

The part arrived on Tuesday afternoon. Husband and his dad worked to install it on Wednesday. They spent hours at it and at last I heard the sound of water running out of the spicket. Success at last! Not exactly, it was ice cold.  I had showered at the neighbour's house and Chris's aunt's house (two showers with the weakest shower pressure ever, but beggars can't be choosers) I also went to a Sportscentre and paid 15 pounds for the daily rate and longily walked past all the gym equipment as I felt lazy only going into a gym to use a shower. On Thursday, I had to take a freezing cold shower and was still shivering hours later. My ILs haven't showered at all during this time. Husband later figured out why the water was cold. The mixing valve had broke, so water that came out of the shower was either freezing cold or scalding hot. He ordered a new part to be shipped overnight (which cost twenty pounds for overnight service). The part arrived on schedule at 9 AM on Friday morning, and at press time (5 PM) they're still working on the shower and I'm still in my pajamas, holding my breath...

Stats: 26 lbs 32 inches

Teeth: At her 18 month check, my pediatrician thought her incisors were coming in, but so far, not yet. 

Eating: This has become a little bit of a struggle. As Kate transitioned to the toddler class, I think they are keeping her busier that when she was in the infant group and she's really tired when she comes home. Some nights she's been so tired that she fussies and cries and refuses to eat and we end up just putting her to bed, which makes me feel like this:

I love Fowl Language Comics 

The trouble is that the difficulty with feeding carries on into the morning. Especially on the mornings when I swim, Husband was finding that she would resist sitting in her chair and so he would take her out and let her eat on his lap, or walk around the house making a mess where ever she goes. We hit a bit of a parental disagreement, as I want him to be firm and insist that she eats at the table (we transitioned her from the high chair to a booster chair), as she does with me. I feel he gives in too easily with her at times. We came up with a bit of compromise and set up her table in the kitchen, so she can eat at her own table.

Table for One

Since we arrived in England, the time change and unfamiliar setting has intensified her eating struggles. She's been picky about what she eats and refuses to sit. So far, it's been yoghurt to the rescue, as it's providing some protein and she'll actually sit and eat with a spoon. I'm hoping that these eating struggles are part of a phase that will pass soon. If I'm the only one in the room, she'll sit and eat, but when anyone else is present (mainly Husband) she'll fuss and squirm to get down. Obviously, this is not ideal. 

She still really loves her milk. As we've been trying to wean her off a bit, it's become more difficult to
hide it from her. If we're going out, I have to prepare she sippee cups with her out of the room, otherwise she'll start making the milk sign as soon as she hears the fridge door opening. When we're stopping, she recognises the red carton of Horizon Organic Whole Milk. Husband and I used to refer to it as M-L-K, but now she's starting to recognise those initials so we've been calling it Martin Luther King or Harvey, but then realised it may be a little inappropriate to be referencing two slain civil rights leaders in such a manner.

Sleeping: Since the toddler class wears her out, we've had to move her bedtime up to 7:00 from 7:30. She still falls asleep really well. Our routine is really simple, change into jammies, read stories whilst she drinks her milk and she's been doing the sign for brushing teeth when we finish with the books. After brining her back into her room after teeth cleaning, if I say "night, night" she'll parrot back 'night, night' as she gives me a kiss. I'll tell her "I love you!" and she'll respond with Mwa-mwa-wah-wah [insert Charlie Brown teacher voice] which only I can intrepret as "I love you, too" and my heart just melts into a big puddle on the floor. Some nights there is no crying or fussing once I place her in her bed. Since she's been going to sleep a little earlier... it does mean she's been waking a bit earlier. If she wakes up after 5 AM but before 6 AM, we'll bring her back to our bed, and most times, she'll fall asleep for another hour or so. Again, not ideal, but we're rolling with it for now. 

Her napping has been better. I was a bit concerned as her day care providers in the infant class noted that she needed to be held and cuddles for quite a while before going down, which was the struggle I have and sometimes leads to her napping in my arms. The toddler class does more of a group nap, where they drag out a bunch of mats and blankets and the kids each lie down and go to sleep. Maybe she's sucombing to peer pressure, as her attendants report that they have no problems getting her to nap with this approach. As it's been a bit colder, I've lost the option of putting her in the stroller to fall asleep as the cold air and any blowing winds keeps her awake. I've had to switch to Cross-Fit classes on Tuesday, as it's just been too cold to keep her by the pool. I was worried about what we would do while we were visiting my in-laws, where we would face the same problem of cold and rainy weather removing the stroller option, but she's not had any issues napping in her crib like a civilised baby. She does want to mimic her night time routine and signs to brush her teeth after reading. No problem. We can add an extra teeth cleaning if it gets you to nap. 

So, I'm hoping that the napping success carries over when we go back home, but I'm dreading what we'll face when we re-adjust to the time change. For the first few nights, Kate would wake up in in the middle of the night and we'd take her back to bed, where she'd toss and turn for 2-4 hours before falling back to sleep. One night, she was in a more playful mood and starting slapping Husband and me in the face. She was instructed to stop and was threatened that she'd have to go back to her bed and she responded by giving me a stinging slap that left a red mark. I brought her back to her bed and we let her cry it out, which lasted just over 35 minutes, which was also the same time it took for the stinging sensation wear off my cheek. However, she slept through the night that night and has been sleeping through every night since then. We did have some explaining to do to my ILs in the morning. "You know we have rules against that in this country" my FIL told husband (because they don't have such laws in the states and apparently we're child abusers), until Husband informed him, "no, Kate hit Jane..." 

I consulted another ex-pat, who has done the England trip with her toddler a few times, to see if she had any advice. "Not really, just wishing you luck." She replied. She checked in a few days later after Kate's sleeping schedule had adjusted. "So, how is it when you go back..?" I was almost afraid to ask. "Oh, it's much worse, since you have to go back to work and don't have the luxery of napping during the day" she replied with brutal honesty. 

Milestones: I was starting to feel a little frustrated with her language progress, as one of the claims with baby sign language is that toddlers will actually have a larger vocabulary than their non-signing peers. One particular reference book has a comparison chart and Kate's number of words for her age was more consistent with a non-signing child. What the hell? However, when I went throught the signing book to count the number of signs, which was over 30, I had to acknowledge that she does know all the words for those signs, even if she doesn't always use the word when she signs. I've noticed that signing is also helping her appreciate homonyms. The sign for pig is the same sign that is used for the word 'dirty' and within the span of an hour she correctly excuted the 'dirty' sign when she was trying to touch her diaper pail and then later did the same sign when she saw a picture of a pig. She also can use the 'orange' sign to recognise the fruit and the colour. 

So, I've been pushing on with the sign language and I've been introuducing Spanish. We have an animal book and a colours book that are in both English and Spanish and we sign as we read. My pediatrician wants her to know 3-5 colors by her 2 year check up and my goal is to have her know those colour names in English, Spanish and ASL. It seems to be paying off, as she's really excellerated her spoken words and signing in the past few weeks (she now knows the signs for 3 colours -4 if you count orange). The little play kitchen that Myrtle gave her teaches some Spanish; specifically 'abierto' and 'cerrado' for when the fridge door is opened and closed. If she wants something opened (a packet, or a door) she'll ask "Abri! Abri" I don't think she's ever used the word 'open', so it's the first word that she only knows in Spanish, which makes me feel quite proud.  Actually, she also only knows 'beso' (kiss) in Spanish. Husband taught it to her, as I think it's the only Spanish word he knows.

I'm finding that it's becoming frustrating to go out with her to do shopping or errands. She doesn't like being in the stroller as she wants to get out and walk. Physically she's capable of walking for long distances, but she has no focus. She just runs around and gets into everything. It's become another aspect of parental disagreement. As soon as she exhibits the slightest bit of fussing, Husband urges "Get her out." Right while we're going through Immigration and still have to schlep to baggage claim. Do you really want to be chasing her through a busy airport? I insist that we can't give in every time she fusses (additionally I read that kids sometimes fuss in the pram when they need to pee) but I often try to appease her/keep her occupied = quiet while she's in the pram by giving her something to eat or drink, which is also not ideal. The other aspect of the struggle is that Houdini can wiggle her way free. She's been able to pop her arms out of the shoulder restraint for a while, even after we re-adjusted it to match her new height. Today, she demonstrated that she can stand on the seat and work her way out of the lap belt. Such a spirited little shit. I'm looking into to getting a harness for the chest, but I'm not too far off from using a bungee cord. 

Likes: Even before Kate was born, Husband and I agreed that we were going to try to be 'low-tech" parents. So I became annoyed when he started giving her his iphone to hold when she was just four month old. "She's going to discover that it does stuff..." I warned. [of Note, Husband finally stopped handing over his phone to her after she threw it in the cat's waterbowl and ruined it. He wasn't planning on getting the iphone7, as he had just finished paying off his old phone, but he is quite content with his upgrade] If either of us leave our phones within her grasp, she'll snag it. As I leave my screen locked, she'll mostly just press the main button to make it beep and will occasionally summon Siri. I know there is an emergency call feature, but she'll randomly Face time people. Such as contacts from a former job that I never got around to deleting. Kate's random Face timing had become the new butt dialing. I decided I needed to take a fight fire with fire appoach and I picked up a Price toy cell phone for her. It has a mirror and makes the 'click' sound so she can take selfies. It also has a 'swoosh' for when she sends emails and 'tweets', so techincally Kate is on twitter before we are. Oh, it also plays music and actually rings, so she'll know phones are used to call people, which she often will hold it up to her ear. Husband and I have vowed to be more vigalant about not playing on our phones in front of her. 

She really loves her baby doll. Whenever we are getting ready to go out, she puts her dolly in her pram and pushes her toward the door. There have been a few occasions when we've had to take the doll and her stroller with us. She's also getting really good at puzzles. Not puzzles with interlocking pieces, but the ones with cut out shapes and little pegs. She's showing that she can play independently for a few minutes, but when she wants to you play with her, she'll let you know my grabbing your hand (if you're sitting down, let's say trying to sip your morning coffee) and will demand "Up!" She is also really into washing her hands. I had a travel sized bottle of hand sanitizer attached to her diaper bag, which I had to remove as she kept flipping the top and squeezing a small amount onto her hands. I'm wondering if there is anything in the sanitizer that is appealing to toddler, as she kept running back for more like a junkie. She's a junkie of a different kind. My kid has OCD. 

Her Daddy-itis has become much worse. While we're at home, she definately shows a preference for him. Since we've been in England, she'll go into full-blown tantrum mode if he has the audacity to leave the room. Of course, this makes him look like a rock star parent in front of his parents, which is very good, but it does make me wonder what they think of me as a mother. I've had the opportunity to practice the Harvey Karp Toddler-ease Fast Food Rule to deal with her tantrums "Kate want Daddy? Kate wants to see Daddy. It will be okay. It will be okay. Let's go read some books" It has been working like a charm, but I hope it's effectiveness doesn't wear off from overuse. 

Oh, remember how I said that I didn't want to do extended breastfeeding as I didn't want her to be putting her hands down my shirt? Yeah, she does it anyway.

Diapering: While my mother was visiting over Christmas, she noticed that Kate has a fairly obvious tell when she is doing a #2. I felt embarassed as I've been rather oblivious to it, but once we recognised her moves, we started teaching her the sign for 'poop' and now she'll alert us when she needs a change. She's also started wiping herself. Since we change her whilst standing, I once handed her a wipe just to keep her occupied, but she demonstrated that she knew what to do with it. I've decided that we're ready to start potty training.

Clothing: Her legs are skinny, but she still has a round baby belly. I've been dressing her in sweaters (as it's been colder) and trousers with a onesie underneath as her sweater or top tends to ride up and would expose her skin without the onesie. In preparation of potty training, I've been shopping for regular shirts in a size 2T, large enough to hopefully keep her skin covered. I wanted to do some clothes shopping while we were in England to pick up some items that we couldn't get back home and I ended up going a bit mad. Will need to have a glass of wine it's time to pay the bills as I can't remember the last time I spent this much on clothes for myself... 

Looking forward to: Potty training! Seriously! I know there is a bit of debate about doing it early versus waiting until they're ready, so all I'll say is that I think this is the right time for us. Okay, I will admit that I am a bit motivated by the fact that my cousins and Myrtle didn't have their kids completely potty trained until after the age of 4. I've just be contemplating the timing. I figure it will take some time the re-adjust once we get back and we'll be busy getting back into our usual routine. I have a swim meet in the middle of March and then two weekends later, I'll be in Dallas. (My friend did get the job and moved to Chicago last week, so hopefully I'll still get to visit my other friend if she's not in labour). We have a week off from Day Care, but I only have two days off that week and my parents will be visiting. I'm not sure it would be the best idea to potty train during their visit as my Dad probably won't help at all (just being honest) and my mother will have her own opinions on how we should be doing things. Not ideal.

I have a big swim meet the following weekend and then we're planning to see our friends Robin and Barney and their two year old daughter for a weekend in early May, and I don't want to take her to someone else's house until she's really got the potty thing down and isn't having accidents, so I'm looking to start it over Memorial Day weekend and I'll take the rest of the week off from work and keep her home from Day Care. Wish us luck! In the meantime, I'm working on gathering supplies and teaching communication for when she needs to pee. My plan is to dress her in a shirt and diaper and make notes when I see the line turn blue.

This Friday we're gathering with our friends in London who are single, or don't have kids and my in-laws will baby sit. The get-together is actually to celebrate a friend's birthday and for some reason both Husband and I thought the event was last Friday and didn't realise our error until that morning. I suggested that maybe we could go out for a date night since my in-laws had already agreed to let us go out for the night. Husband took me to the restaurant where we had our rehersal dinner. It was great to recount the memories of that night and the years that followed and it was great to see that the pub (which had just recently opened when we held our event) is doing so well that they built an addition to accomodate more seating and created an outdoor seating area. We are fortunate that we get a night out every now and then thanks to Kate's Day Care offerning Saturday night baby sitting, but some how, we always end up at our usual pub. We ate at the bar of this pub for both Mother's and Father's Day (although I admit it was because we were watching the Warriors in a playoff game and bar seating has the best view) and recently we tried a new restaurant only to find it was really disappointing, so we ended up back at the bar of our favourite pub. Not that I'm complaining in any way, it just was really nice to feel like an adult by having a proper fancy three course meal back at the place where it all began.

We ended up sneaking another night out as our friends Leonard and Penny have divorced. Due to their custody arrangements and the fact that he and Penny don't even speak to each other, let alone be in the same room, we ended up having dinner with Lenoard one night as Penny will be the one attending the birthday drinks. It will be an early night and a light one too, as we fly out early the next morning and the only thing possible worse than an 11 hour flight with a toddler, would be an 11 hour flight with a toddler whilst hungover. Still, I'm just looking forward to being in a bar in London, overlooking the Themes and the city landmarks. Brings back so many memories...

I'm also looking forward to my home shower. Oh, how I miss my outdoor pool deck best shower in the world! We visited friends over the weekend, and I was treated to a bubble bath complete with a glass of wine! It was so decadent! I was able to get a shower on Sunday, but when we came back, the shower still wasn't fixed, so Husband and his father spent most of the day working on it. They installed all the parts, but kept finding leaks. Finally, they were able to get it to a point where the leak was slow enough that my FIL figured we could use the shower for brief periods of time. We were able to use the shower on Tuesday, but my FIL had left the hot water heater off, so it was another cold shower. On Wednesday, we had hot water, but I had to keep my shower really quick as I also needed to wash Kate as well and I didn't rinse the conditioner fully out of my hair. Throughout this time, my in-laws still haven't showered (although they do 'wash up' each day) and my FIL isn't planning to finish the work until after we leave. Holding my breath. 1,209,600 seconds of my life. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

"Why don't you take a vacation?"

I am a mother to a nineteen month old daughter. I have three fro-yos in the freezer. I am currently using Nex.planon for birth control. Yet, I am still infertile. I am still infertile as I get annoyed with stupid shit well meaning people tell their infertile friends. Nothing grinds my gears more than hearing the suggestion to take a vacation. I think this one really gets me as Myrtle really pushed it. When I told her that Husband was diagnosed as having mild male factor infertility due to a low sperm count, her response was "Fuck the fact that you're staying at your in-laws and try to conceive in England" [This was a few months before our scheduled trip to go to London for the 2012 Olympics] Apparently, her logic followed that maybe if he were back in his home country, his sperm count would go back to normal? She pushed it again when I visited her for her baby shower one week before we left for London. [I had a positive OPK that weekend and thus missed another month to make a futile attempt at conception] "I still think you should try when you're in England" she advised. Sigh. I tried explaining that I have a long follicular phase and wouldn't ovulate until we returned, and by the way, we're staying in the House of Abstinence, but maybe she thought I was going to be the next immaculate conception after the Virgin Mary.

Two and a half years later, after many failed infertility treatments, she was still insisting that taking a vacation was integral to success. She suggested that we take a trip to Hawaii after our embryo transfer. As a fertile trust fund baby, she had no idea that one is a bit cash poor after paying about five thousand dollars for a transfer and it would be difficult to coordinate as I wouldn't know my exact transfer date until 1-2 weeks before the date was set. We had to endure even more theories about Hawaii promoting conception from my cousin. She experienced infertility and was a first time IVF success. After their son's first birthday, they decided not to pursue any more transfers with their frozen embryos and would embrace their only child. A month later, they went to Hawaii for a holiday and brought home a special souvenir. "Oh, we were just so relaxed," I had to listen to her say that over and over again and I felt those words were a betrayal to the infertility community every time I heard them. No, you were just lax about birth control! I said to myself at that time. Now, as I've done a vacation to Hawaii with an infant, I call double bullshit on that statement. You are not relaxing while on holiday with a baby.

A few months ago I gave an infertility primer lecture to our primary care department. I had seen a few cases where patients weren't counselled about when to have labs drawn, or they were interpreted incorrectly. As I had heard that one doctor advised a patient to "just relax", I included a section busting common myths. "People take their infertility diagnoses with them when they travel," I explained "Maui may be magical, but it does not enhance fertility potential" I ad-libbed. Then I thought of something else to include; "actually, traveling can be rather stressful."

Warning: what will follow is some serious first world problem whining and I apologise for that; but if you stay with me, I may actually have a point. I want to go beyond explaining that a sandy beach is not a sperm producing, ovulation inducing, fallopian tube opening and implantation welcoming paradise (correlation is not causation) and introduce the notion that a vacation can carry bring just as much stress (if not more) compared to the amount of relaxation. Here's what went down preparing for our recent trip. (Full disclosure: There is no potential for conception during this trip, thanks to two highly effective contraceptive methods. Nex.planon and staying with my in-laws)

  • Looking at our schedules to find a time for a holiday
  • Both Husband and I need to secure the time off from work
  • Purchase airfare. In this case we needed to coordinate Kate and I flying into New York, and then all of us departing New York to London. After a few searches, we found some flight prices that weren't too bad. There is always the possibility that you can make the purchase only to see the price drop in a few days, or alternatively you can wait and see the prices rise and feel like an idiot for not snatching the lower price earlier
  • Obtain passport for Kate and re-new my expired passport. Pay additional $50 for expedited service as we delayed getting this done, which still wouldn't guarantee that we would receive the passports in time. Fortunately, they arrived rather quickly, making me think we probably didn't need the rush order. Better safe than sorry
  • Text my swim teammate, who lives nearby to see if she can take care of the cats. She's been swimming at a different time and I rarely see her, so I start to feel guilty that I only contact her when I need a pet minder. Once again, I vow to invite her out for dinner some time. To save some effort, I asked my swim coach to facilitate passing on our spare key.
  • Finish a shopping trip and discover and I forgot to pick up a box of cake mix and frosting, which is the payment my cat sitter requests. I'm sure I'll need to go to Tar.get later this week
  • Swing by a drive through ATM to get some cash for cat sitter. Although, she only requests cake mix with frosting and Annie's Mac and Cheese (I'm re-gifting a few boxes that my mum sent me for Kate) I pay her in real money when it's a long trip. Actually this part is not too stressful. Drive through ATMs are genius.
  • Contact cleaners to cancel cleaning service while we're away
  • Request to hold the mail
  • Email our diaper service to coordinate a vacation hold
  • Message our pediatrician to have him refill Kate's prescription for Nystatin. I'm sure she'll get a diaper rash and I want to be prepared. Make a mental note to pack her antibiotic eye drops (She had conjunctivitis a few weeks ago and a recent playmate was diagnosed with it) as well as the leftover Amox.icillin from her last ear infection
  • Swing by the pharmacy after picking up Kate from Day Care. It's really busy at this time and her patience is thin
  • Spend the last week at work frantically trying to tie up any loose ends. Work on contacting patients with results so they don't wait over two weeks for my return. I also need to finish closing charts as it will be the last day of the month when I return
  • Do multiple loads of laundry in preparation for packing
  • I figured I would bring two weeks worth of night-time diapers, so we don't have to buy a full box in England. Discover I only have 8 left. Need to run out on Wednesday during lunch to buy more diapers. Pick up the cake mix and frosting.
  • Clear the fridge of perishable foods. Get a little carried away and remove condiments and sauces that have passed their expiration date
  • Prepare to mix up the cats' dry food. Fuck! We're out of dry food. Will need to go out on Thursday, which will cut into my work time.
  • Get soaked, as it's absolutely pouring down rain when I run out to get the dry food for the cats. 
  • Make reservation at the off-sight long-term airport parking. Last trip, I didn't make a reservation, they were full and I had to park in the airport parking garage at $25 per day. Ouch
  • Write instructions for the cat minder, even though everything is easy enough to figure out and she's done this before. Still feel this is something I should do.
  • Pack. Discover that I'm packing way to much stuff for Kate and I'm running out of room for my clothes. Re-evaluate what I need for Kate. Decide I don't have enough room for the nighttime diapers
  • Charge iPad and phone
  • Pack the diaper bag with toys and lots of snacks for the flight
  • Decide I can't be bothered to weigh my suitcase. I need everything in it. If it's overweight, will have to pay extra
  • Load up my car. I have to remove the jogging stroller from the boot and to do this, I need to have the garage door open to have the extra space. I realise this defeats the purpose of having an attached garage and being able to discreetly pack your car so that others don't know you'll be away. 
  • Try to spend some quality time with Tyler. He's keenly aware that we'll be leaving him
  • Wake up at 0330 as I need to leave the house by 0400. Our flight is at 0700.
  • It's raining as we leave. I seem to be hitting every pothole on the road and I'm surprised I haven't broken my car's suspension
  • Arrive at the parking garage. There are signs indicating that the elevator is broken. Valet parking is encouraged. I'm tempted, but the price is $21.95 per day, which isn't too much less than the rip-off airport parking. However, I could get my car washed... which is needed as some birds have shat on it. Decide against it, dump the suitcase, pram and diaper bag on the curb
  • Place sleepy Kate in the carrier as we take the shuttle to the airport
  • Discover the suitcase is 5 lbs overweight and the fee is $100, which is quite a sticker shock. I figured I would have to pay $35, which is the fee for a second bag. Grab some items from the suitcase that I can stash in the basket in the pram. Stop at the airport gift shop to pick up a plastic bag so I can better secure the items in the basket
  • Go through Security. Get pulled aside so they can inspect Kate's milk
  • Uneventful flight with Kate -she actually napped for 90 minutes! Arrive in New York and meet up with Husband. Check in and go through security again.
  • It was a long flight to London. Kate didn't want to sleep and I felt travel sick. Realise I haven't slept properly for three nights in a row
  • Kate gives us priority status so we go to the head of the queue at Immigration and our bags arrive early off the carousel. 
  • Despite the fact that Husband had a valid UK driver's license, for some reason it takes us three times as long to get our rental car as others in the queues. Kate is about to lose it during this wait and I'm not far behind her. Wait is extended a bit as Husband takes his own photos of the car before we leave the lot. 
  • We're off to start our vacation, feeling absolutely exhausted

Even when you are going on a proper holiday, like last year when we went to Maui, there are still some stresses. Finding your destination. Wondering if the actual facility is anything like the photos on the webpage. Checking in and lugging the suitcases out of the car. Figuring out where to eat. If there was a time change, jet lag can take a serious toll on your body. I've always found that for each hours deviated from your home time, it takes that many days to adjust to the local time. Even if there is not a time change involved, some people find that they don't sleep as well in a new place for the first few nights. Although you're not supposed to think about work; sometimes it's inevitable. Work doesn't stop just because you're on holiday. Yes, it is a total American thing that we can't ever relax and check out of work. I find it's better to log in and keep up with my results and messages as it make an easier return when I get back. Even if you are able to do something fun or relaxing, sometimes people feel a certain pressure to make sure they're making the most of their vacation time, or making sure the vacation is living up to expectations. Sometimes there's also an unspoken pressure to have sex, because that's what you're supposed to be doing on vacation, even though you'd rather catch up on sleep. I'm actually surprised that anyone conceived while on holiday.